Still spending what for us is a lot of time in the studio. As our recording endeavors are still completely self-funded (pro: we do whatever we want without a label or outside producer telling us what songs to record or how, con: money, money, money) whatever time we spend in the studio is augmented up to tenfold with prep time and listening time. For example, last night I added keys and tambourine to "Learning Lessons." For several days prior I practiced the keyboard part using my Yamaha and a boom box with a repeater track function to the point that last night we played through the song twice - once to check we liked the sound we were getting, once to record the part. It took maybe 30 minutes. Cheap, easy, effective. A signed major label act would've developed the part in the studio, practicing at the rate of what could easily be hundreds of dollars an hour when you add together the pay for a high end recording studio + engineer + producer. More money would probably have gotten this record done more quickly, but I don't think our new stuff could sound any better. I hope y'all are as excited about it as we are! New Year's Day I went to a most fabulous party. It's become a bit of a tradition with a certain crowd we know. Not to sound like too big of a hermit crab, but having several times played New Year's Eve when even a great local like the Ratner-endagered Freddy's at least half fills up with over-dressed newbies and drunken amateurs, and the icy hours after midnight end up spent guarding the gear from idiots on the one hand and trying to get a car service on the other, we decided this year we wouldn't go through it unless offered more than a minimum amount of payment. But I don't know that we would've been able to scoff the Eve so blithely if we hadn't had the guarantee of this fabulous, warm house-party the next day. Well apartment-party would be more accurate, with tons of home made baked goods and a lighted liquor fountain juicing champagne and cranberry. On a high floor in Downtown Brooklyn, the pre-war windows letting in the changing of the sunset winter sky amidst the warmth of a great crowd of creative and kind people I'd love to see more often if we weren't all so absorbed in the artistic and political work of creating culture in America. Lots of people brought bottles of red wine. We discovered one extra good bottle, and Andy educated us with his culinary experience about the phenomenon of vineyards releasing a limited number of special taster bottles to decide if a vintage is good enough to widely distribute. And you thought all he could do is play the bass. After the really good bottle, the wine-drinking crowd gathered in the kitchen thought that opening another bottle of red wine was in order, so our friend Peter takes the corkscrew and the last remaining bottle of red wine and he's trying to open it, trying to open it... having such a problem... the corkscrew doesn't really want to penetrate the cork... then at last the point goes through... the screw top. That's right, it was a screw top bottle of wine. Well, I didn't need Finnish Virpi and her horseshoes* to tell my New Year's Day message for '08 (although the lack of her effervescent presence was felt). It's something about paying close attention and not doing things the hard way. Which is difficult for me because I have a soft spot for the hard way... * Here is a blog describing the Finnish melting tin horseshoes to tell your fortune at New Year's tradition. Scroll past the dog & cat pics if you're interested.