Bear & Joe

My sister’s co-worker and friend Allison has a brother, Scott, and Scott’s friend Jon was a staff member of Joe Biden’s in the Senate. (That’s four degrees of separation, if you’re counting.) (Thanks to Allison for telling this story on FB a couple weeks ago and reminding us of some of the details. I also think Lisa Silberstein was involved from Bear’s posts on the 6th, but I’m not sure how.)

As Bear’s cancer was progressing in 2014, Allison and Scott asked Jon if he could get Joe to send a selfie or something to give her a little boost. It doesn’t sound like Jon was optimistic, but said he’d try.

On March 6, Joe actually called and left a voicemail:

Mary, Mary, Mary, this is Joe Biden, Vice-President Biden. I just called to say hello to you and tell you I’ve kind of been where you are, and you’re an incredible young woman. And also to wish you happy birthday, and I hope if I’m around Chicago on March the 20th I’d come to your birthday, I don’t know whether they’re going to have me…

I’ll try you again but I just wanted to, I hear nothing but wonderful things about you, and you know, you’re going through hell now, and that’s happened to my family too, but guess what; don’t give up hope, don’t give up hope…

I’m going to try you again if that’s OK, and I hope I’m not being presumptuous calling you, but I’m going to try again later. Love you, kid. Keep it up.

Joe Biden to Mary Howard, 2014 March 6

Remember that Joe’s son Beau was also in treatment for brain cancer at this time, having been diagnosed in 2013.

True to his word, he called back on the 20th and left another message, only hours after returning from Poland following Russia’s incursion into Ukraine. Bear was unconscious by then but we’re told she could hear, and Joe’s message was played for her:

Mary, happy birthday, this is Vice-President Joe Biden. I told you I’d call you on your birthday kiddo, and I’m thinking a lot about you. I’ll try you again but I just want you to know I’m thinking about you, you’re a wonderful woman. Anyway, happy 30th birthday, child.

Joe Biden to Mary Howard, 2014 March 20

Fight Songs

I’ve mentioned it in passing before, but here it is officially; recording for “Fight Songs,” my seventh solo record as Sally Ride and first since 2015, is well underway.

“Fight Songs” is the punk-, Motown-, and Elvis Costello-influenced follow-up to “Ventura” (“Valiance” being a kind of one-off).

The view for the next few weeks

My aim on “Fight Songs” is to absolutely nail the rhythmic feel of those influences, and the key to that is the bass. I’m using a James Jamerson-style rig, with the foam-deadened strings you can see above and a fully DI sound.

Customizations to the bass sound include:

  • Running the pickups in series for a bigger timbre
  • Using my Falcon Heavy prototype pedal for some clipping and saturation
  • Using my Wheeler Leveling Amplifier pedal
  • Using a transformer-based DI box with a wider pass band than Jamerson had available (I may end up high- and low-passing the signal a bit more in the mix)

I’m really happy with the timbre, have four songs down (out of 14, one of which will be a Cool Drugs song), and am working at a pace of a couple songs per week.

Writing bass parts has become one of my favorite things to do, musically. It utilizes all of my rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic sensibilities while not requiring me to step into the spotlight like a vocal or solo would. Mid-major solo artists and bands seeking ringer bassists, get at me! Cory and Drew can provide unbiased references!!

ORBITAL DEBRIS VOL. 1 | Asterales x Night Mode

We are so excited to share this music with you, and appreciate everyone who takes the time to listen and support it! We also understand that being able to invest time, effort, and focus into this creative pursuit during a raging pandemic and tumultuous political, environmental, and economic landscape is a privilege; one for which we are particularly grateful.

Though we’re not making an explicit statement with our instrumental electro music, we can make a statement by donating our proceeds to worthy causes and organizations: those educating and fighting for racial, social, economic, or environmental justice, COVID supplies and relief, GOTV efforts, bail funds, and local organizations committed to helping our communities.

Through Dec 1, 2020 all proceeds from “Orbital Debris Vol. 1” will be donated and we will hold ourselves accountable by providing receipts for all sales and donations. Once again we want to thank you for your time and support and hope you enjoy listening to the record as much as we enjoyed making it!

– Howie & Nate