getcher hand outta there. you'll gum up the werks.
  hot damn, ethel. looks like it werks. and yes, mike golay lives here.
home | frivolities | geetar
   »whinge blog
   »et cetera

Mikey's Twangville Gazette: Recordings | Half Pint

Jump to a category:
News | Music | Dates | Reviews | Bio | Media | Gear | Tech | Links | Buy | Merch. | Press

Like Mike. become a fan. go on.
For detailed booking information and requirements, please click here.

»Subscribe to the Mike Golay Podcast Series subscribe to mike golay's podcast series.
»All About Across the Bridge, the latest solo record
»All About Half Pint, my first solo record
»The Bumby Tapes: 10 Questions and Answers
»Q&A with the Portland Press Herald

Mike Golay: Half Pint - Solo Acoustic Guitar
Half Pint - Solo Acoustic Guitar
Record Session Notes, Nerdy Bits and Various Miscellany

Far more than you'll ever want to know about the recording of my first album.

In which I impart:
Why Did You Do This to Me?
Session Notes
Session Gear
The Mix
Guitar Gear
Tune Notes, Technical and Otherwise
Buy It!
About Ocscar the Pug

Why Make a Record?
The first matter needing attending, I think, is the answering of the question: "Why would you record an album?" (And more to the point, "Why would you record an album?") I find it hard to answer the question simply. This is because there were and are so many reasons I could come up with to answer in the reverse; I could list countless reasons for why I probably shouldn't have made a record. But I did, so that's done.

I made a record because I felt I needed some focus with respect to playing. I'd been noodling on guitar since I was quite young - my parents gave me a junior acoustic when I was around eight - but other than doing that: noodling, I hadn't really done much with the instrument other than making little bendy noises and mangling Jeff Beck licks (I have a long history with percussion - that's where the vast majority of my time in music has been spent over the last 20 years). I've never had the hair for rock and/or roll.

I'd gotten interested in open/altered tunings while living in New York in the '90s as a result of having an old beater Harmony guitar laying around the apartment, picking up a copy of Acoustic Guitar magazine and trying to play through some of the tunes in it. But other than learning some transcribed music (the first tune I learned was Adrian Legg's "Queenie's Waltz" in CGDGAD), I hadn't gotten far. I noodled a little further for the next decade.

I began studying guitar, very loosely and quite fortunately, with Al Petteway in 2001. Al imparted some very, very important things to me over the course of a fistful of lessons in the space of a year or so, and I am immensely grateful to him for his guidance and insights (not to mention the fact that I think he's one of the very best players out there, and a gifted producer, and it was a lot of fun hanging with him, and he's the nicest guy on earth, and his wife Amy is the nicest gal on earth, and you see where I'm going here).

At a certain point, feeling like I was getting simultaneously somewhere or another, while also going noplace in particular, I got it in my head to write a bunch of tunes. It was a project, something defined, on which to work. I had done a few rudimentary home demos, but I hadn't worked on things very hard.

Somewhere along the way, in writing some of my stuff, I decided that it might be good to have a document of that stuff, i.e., a record. So I started reading up on recording techniques and equipment and I acquired a few things. As much as I'd have liked to have someone engineer the document, I knew I'd need more time than I could likely justify expense. Time really is money where recording is concerned.

It took me about three months, all told, to write the music on Half Pint, though there are a couple of tunes on the record that I've been playing for a year or more. Some tunes were written in a few hours, others were things I worked on for considerably longer - weeks to months. Some were simple thoughts I'd had and never completed, so I had to go back and establish a relationship with the tunes, get to know them. On some, I just needed to add a little connective tissue. A couple had been in my head for half a year or more, but were shy and only decided to make an audible appearance after much coaxing.

When I first set out to do the record I'd wanted to do something like 16-20 tunes. That's a lot of tunes. About two months before I started recording, feeling totally overwhelmed, I cut the number in half, ending up with ten pieces. That's where the title comes from (there are 20 ounces in a pint glass, the proper kind, and no, I'm not high-brow about beer... and before you disagree with me, yes, conventionally there are 16 ounces in a pint - but Nonic pint glasses, the standard British Government-stamped "pint" glasses, come in 20oz. (pint) and 10oz. (half-pint) sizes, trust me, it's true... and also, I had 10 tunes, so it was convenient), despite persistent rumours that I have a thing for Melissa Gilbert.

Making Half Pint is one of the more rewarding things I've done in my life. It feels like it took a year, but really, with everything involved, it was done, from the recording to editing to mastering, in roughly 10 days, over the course of three months. I did all the recording on my lonesone and other than some very helpful feedback received from my friend Mike Aaron along the way (Mike has had my back for a long time and I've really appreciated his honesty and willingness to listen throughout), I only enlisted help with the final mixing and mastering. It's probably the hardest thing I've ever done, in total. But I'm happy to have done it. You know, now that it's over.

I put this record out on my own dime, on my own little label, Banshee Records. I certainly didn't do it for the money. It was good to focus. I hope you like it. I'm looking forward to making another soon.

The Sessions
I did the record in two sessions, though I'd intended to do it in one. The first was during a week prior to Thanksgiving 2002, in Baltimore, at a small studio apartment I invaded for a little while. The second session was done over two days at my good friend Brian's townhouse, located in a place I call Hoodlyville, in return for a dog-feeding-and-walking deal we'd hammered out. I also did one tune in my living room at home, sort of on accident. I had a raging case of tendonitis through both sessions with which I dealt by dangerously heavily dosing on aspirin and drinking entirely too much coffee, which I chased... with aspirin. I'm better now. What with the new lead-lined stomach and all...

A consequence of recording in so-called "home studios" is that, quite obviously, you're often dealing with an acoustically inferior room. Most (but not all) rooms can be made to sound decent, either by treating them using various tricks, or digital diddling after the fact. What you're mostly up against, however, is external noise. There's very little one can do about the dump truck out on the street at 10am, idling for two hours, or the 400 lbs. kid flopping around upstairs, or the neighbors blasting trance music between 2pm and 4pm, or the water heater's random pop and churn, or the hatchlings in the nest on the fire escape, or the electric whir and hum of the security floodlight outside the window. The critical listener will likely hear what I had to deal with. It's the price I didn't pay...

I still think, for the type of music I'm trying to make, that DIY is the way to go. I just need a bunker of some type, dug deep, somewhere around three miles distant from the earth's core.

I have to admit, for the record, that I had no idea whatsoever about what I was doing in terms of engineering. I had a couple of manuals, I'd read a few articles, and I just winged it. I didn't listen back much at all in the sessions. I just tried to get good, live takes and hoped I wouldn't get complete crap at the end of it all.

If you're interested in reading a kind of blow-by-blow on either session, I wrote some stuff on Session #1 here, and on Session #2 here.

Session Setups, Gear, et al
The record was done in two rooms, using slightly different recording techniques in each.

Baltimore Session #1
Room: Wood floors, 10'x20', lots of reflections which I did little to nothing about, a lot of external noise: trucks on the street, water heater popping, tendons crunching, me swallowing and fidgeting and fussing around in my seat, all directly into the mics.
Signal chain: guitar -> two condenser mics + pickup split via Boss RV-3 pedal (off) into two outputs (a,b) -> Mackie 1202 mixer recorded into 4 channels -> a/d = Roland UA-30 USB device -> digital at 44.1k/16-bit into Sony VAIO laptop (underpowered) running Cool Edit Pro 2, controlled by a Syntrillium Red Rover audio remote control.
Mics: AKG c2000b large-diaphragm condenser (l) ~12" from lower bout, slightly behind bridge, slightly angled toward the floor; AKG c1000s small-diaphragm condenser (r) ~10-12" from neck, pointed ~12th fret. Mics went into channels 1,2 (panned l,r). Both mics were cardioid pattern.
Pickups: Pickup went into channels 3,4 (panned l,r). The pickup was only 5-10% of the total mix.
Taylor: Fishman Blender. 50/50 split between piezo and condenser. EQ flat.
Ovation (high-strung): Undersaddle piezo. EQ flat.
Monitors: Monitoring was done through a pair of Behringer Truth monitors, and I used a pair of Sony MDR-7506 headphones to listen back and do what little editing needed to be done.
General notes:
- There was lots of exterior noise. It nearly broke me.
- The mics I used are far from top of the line. I had to record at a fairly low level due to self-noise issuing from the c1000s. Still, the sound I got isn't too bad, I don't think.
- Mic positions changed slightly per tune but not by much.

Hoodlyville Session #2
Room: Wood floors, open doorways, dining room spilling into open area. The space was ~20'x30'. Some reflections but not too bad. A big couch to the right absorbing lots of sound, likely. There was a small amount of external noise, mostly fridge, wind and the occasional jet overhead. Ah, the joy of living in a flight path.
Signal chain: guitar -> two condenser mics + pickup to Crate 30-watt amp, lined out, pickup signal split via Boss RV-3 pedal (off) into two outputs (a,b) -> Mackie 1202 mixer recorded into 4 channels -> a/d = Roland UA-30 USB device -> digital at 44.1Hz into Sony VAIO laptop (underpowered) running Cool Edit Pro 2, controlled by a Syntrillium Red Rover audio remote control.
Amp notes: I used the amp to create a sort of room w/in the room, as the acoustics were not perfect and I wanted a more contained sound. I cheated a bit here and I vacillate between liking the sound and thinking it perhaps colored the signal a bit too much. The gain was set at 1/4, bass was boosted ~5%/mid cut 5%/treble cut 5%. I used a very small to small amount of reverb per tune, except on St. Martin's (Lowdown), where, if I remember correctly, I used all reverb available. I have the deadest living room in the known universe. Just so we're clear, the amp didn't run into the board; I was just picking up a slight amp sound with a mic on omni. Thanks to Mike Aaron for the idea.
Mics: AKG c4000b large-diaphragm condenser (l) ~12" from lower bout, slightly behind bridge, slightly angled toward the floor, set on omnidirectional to pick up amp and room; AKG c2000b large-diaphragm condenser (cardioid) (r) ~10-12" from neck, pointed ~12th fret. mics went into channels 1,2 (panned l,r).
Pickups: pickup went into channels 3,4 (panned l,r). The pickup was only 5-10% of the total mix.
Taylor: Fishman Blender. 50/50 split between piezo and condenser. EQ flat.
Dobro: Fishman reso. Just a contact on the cone. No EQ or preamp.
Monitors: I didn't use any monitors on the second session, and for that matter, I really didn't listen back to anything I tracked, because I was quite sick of hearing me at that point. I didn't even play with headphones on. Later I again used Sony MDR-7506 headphones for editing and listened to my raw cuts on my Onkyo 50-watt receiver played through 30-watt Polk Audio speakers. I was kinda beat.
General notes:
- I can really hear the difference between the two rooms and the two mic'ing techniques.
- I got rid of the c1000s and brought in a c4000b.
- Mic positions changed only on the dobro tune.
- If you listen really closely you can hear the wind outside on a couple of the takes.

The Mixing Process
As clueless as I was about recording and engineering, I was even more so about the final mix, and mastering is such a black art that I dare not even speak its name, though I'm obviously a bit late on that score.

Scott Spelbring and I had worked together at our respective day jobs. Scott had built a house on a hill out in the country, and had made half of it a studio. Scott's studio has done numerous Big Label productions. I had been working up the nerve to ask him for help with my little effort. I ran into him and his girlfriend at a restaurant just before I started recording and took the meeting as fortuitous. We set up a date to work soon after I completed my sessions.

I had never done anything like what I was doing, and in the interest of full disclosure, the mixing process was very confusing and not a little painful for me. About three minutes into it I lost all objectivity... only to regain it in the middle of the night, say, around 3am, on several occasions. I made numerous discoveries at and about that wee hour, which of course compelled me to write between 3 to 40 stuttering emails stating precisely nothing tangible or convertible to action. Also coloring both my view and hearing, we did the first mix session whilst I recovered from salmonella. There was some amount of trauma.

In the end, I am indebted to Scott and could not have completed this project without his contribution. He was very patient, and incredibly capable. He did a great job with the thing, and his attention to detail, skill with the fiddly bits, as well as his ability to give helpful perspective, was just what I needed.

The record was mixed using a Digidesign console with ProTools and a few filters (mostly EQ [Focusrite], a small amount of compression and a little reverb [TCX] here and there). Scott ran the mix through outboard Neve 1066 pres to add a little warmth and used their EQ on three or four tunes before going back into digital. Other than some level adjustments at key spots where I'd recorded too hot a signal (due to ignorance, or clamming, depending), we didn't do much to the final tracks. We listened to the mix through a pair of Genelec 1031s, a pair of Yamaha NS-10s, and a Yamaha subwoofer. What you hear is pretty much what I got, only slightly doctored. I didn't do any overdubbing or punching in, because I didn't know how and I was too tired anyway.

I wrote a bit more on the mixing process here, should you be interested.

Notes on the Guitars Used
I used three guitars on the record, though I'd intended to use four (a Yamaha classical was used on a multitrack trio that went unused).

  • On ten of the twelve tracks the guitar is a Taylor 612ce with sitka spruce top and maple back and sides. It's a custom job, with a wider fingerboard, a custom nut and a few other little things I requested. And it's very, very blue. Strings are D'Addario Phosphor Bronze, .56, .42, .32, .24, .16, .13. I had EXPs on St. Martin's (Lowdown) in the same gauges. I don't really recall why. I prefer uncoated strings.
  • I used a modified (Quarterman cone, bone nut, maple/ebony bridge) mahogany Regal squareneck resophonic on one tune. Strings are a special Paul Beard resophonic set, .56-.18. I don't play with thumb- or fingerpicks (as is typical of most dobro players); it's just flesh and nail. I think the tone is a little "rounder" as a result.
  • An Ovation Celebrity Deluxe makes an appearance on the last tune on the record. I typically leave that guitar in a high-strung tuning of some sort or another, meaning the lowest four strings are up an octave, with a special set of strings to handle the tension. Strings are a John Pearse Phosphor Bronze High-Strung set, .30, .23, .16, .12, .16, .12.

I was forced to make a few very practical decisions in the course of recording the album. While changing strings the night before the Baltimore session (something which became a nightly ritual), I noticed that a number of frets on the Taylor had become quite worn. I capo a lot, and I retune a lot, which translates to fret wear. I had noticed a few buzzes on a few frets and a couple of other odd things about the guitar, but sort of assumed it was just nerves on my part. During the session things got gradually worse, and later I realized I was having humidity level problems, which lowered an already quite low action and made the guitar harder to play and... pretty durn noisy as it fought against itself. It was noticeable enough on a few takes that I decided to do a second session. I hear certain things related to the guitar's deteriorating setup in the Baltimore takes that I wish weren't there. But they are.

There's not a whole lot you can do for a guitar that's badly in need of a drink. The guitar had gotten very dry and it can take as long as a month of steady rehumidifying to get things back to normal. I decided to go see Joe Latham at Latham Guitars in Leesburg, VA. Joe prescribed a long period of rehumidification, followed by a neck adjustment and some fretwork. That was fine, but I didn't have a month. Joe very kindly cut me a new saddle, a slightly higher one (which raised the action), and told me, "That should get you through the war." It did.

I used my "winter" saddle on the second session. I will tell you, having become accustomed to a much lower action with my "summer" saddle, it was a bit tough playing the guitar. To compensate, on a few tunes I tuned down as much as a whole step from a particular tuning and capoed back up to bring the guitar back to the key I wanted. It was purely practical. I regularly tune down to D and perhaps even more often to C, variously. There are a couple of tunes on the record where I tune all the way down to Bb, which is really, really low, especially for such a small-bodied instrument as the 612. But it worked. I can hear major tonal differences between the first and second session as a result (and due to a different mic and a slightly different signal chain and recording technique), but it worked.

The Notes Behind The Notes
Here's some additional information on the tunes that you won't find in the liner notes as they appear on the record. Because I prefer to be needlessly self-indulgent on my own time.

You may listen to song clips by clicking the links below. Those with fast connections may listen to all of the clips by clicking here.

1oz: Beverly Jane - Golay
Location: The Doghouse, Hoodlyville
Tuning: BbFBbFBbC, capo II (giving Csus2)
Guitar: Taylor 612ce
Technical notes:
     This is me trying and failing to sound like Don Ross. Don did a tune called "This Dragon Won't Sleep," which is where, in an NPR video, I saw him slapping the fretboard rhythmically to set up a backbeat. I took the technique and shamelessly exploited it. This is probably the most involved tune on the record, but I really try to relax when I play it, the consequence being that it totally falls apart otherwise. This is one I tuned down on and capoed up. I've done various versions of the tune capoed at IV, II, uncapoed. I'm really not sure where I like it most. I'll probably do another version of it someday. I've played it faster in the past, but I was afraid of blowing it in the session. I'd wrestled with it long enough.
The story behind the tune:
     I was noodling the basic groove one day when I got a call from my mother. Her mother, my grandmother, Leatha McDaniel, had died suddenly. My mother's pain and sadness at the loss burnt a hole in my core. I wanted to write an antidote to the suffering, and this was what I came up with. I named it after her. It's not the prettiest thing I've done, but there are spots where I tried to make it a bit motherly. In the middle section, which is equal parts sock hop and disco breakdown, I imagine riding very, very fast in a '50s Cadillac down Main Street in a small town. So, you know, around 49mph or so, Officer Opie close behind. But not quite close enough.

2oz: Waltz for Brooklyn - Golay
Location: Le Studio, Baltimore
Tuning: DADGAD, capo II
Guitar: Taylor 612ce
Technical notes:
     This is a very simple tune that is quite easy for me to screw up badly. I wanted to do a kind of mini-epic, with several linked themes. I have to be careful to not uncouple along the way.
The story behind the tune:
     I'd been playing the piece for a little more than a year before I recorded it. I started my life over in Brooklyn. I had some very fine days there. There is more, but some things you keep to yourself. This is a very emotional piece for me.

3oz: Jack of Hearts - Golay
Location: The Doghouse, Hoodlyville
Tuning: CGCGCD, capo II (Csus2)
Guitar: Taylor 612ce
Technical notes:
     I picked up the tuning (Csus2) from Al Petteway, who used it to fantastic effect on "Caledon Wood," one of the best guitar records I've heard. The melody and structure owes a lot to the ageless Scots tune "Jock O'Hazeldean," which Al did beautifully. I was going for the same feel. Martin Simpson did a version of "Rose of Allendale," and there is a slight influence from a section of its melody as well. Finally, there's a recurring motif that occurs in the soundtrack of Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in America," which happened to be on while I was writing the tune, and it probably made a vaguely perceptible mark (it's a very long film). Having said all of that, it took me about half an hour to write the tune. It's probably the simplest on the record and fell together more quickly than anything I've done. The tune is about a drunk - as such, I refer to the tempo as rubato, inebriato. As I play it, I can see Jack shuffling across the floor from table to table. The phrasing lopes.
The story behind the tune:
     This is a very long tale which I'm going to shorten significantly. "Jack" was a guy I met, on many occasions, in a bar on the West Side. He was one of those guys whose second home (or first, who knows?) was on a stool, bellied up. I probably "met" him six or seven times. He never remembered who I was, and we had the same conversation each time, almost verbatim. The last time I saw him he was a bit more coherent than usual and I asked him what was up. He told me, in hushed tones, that a certain lady awaited his arrival in a downtown hotel, and that he'd cut himself off early to save cab fare. I'll probably never know how Jack played that hand. And maybe that's not a bad thing. Despite all of the aforementioned facts, this is a fairly happy tune, as far as I'm concerned.

4oz: Chincoteague Drive-In Saturday Night - Golay
Location: The Doghouse, Hoodlyville
Tuning: DADGAD down a 1/2 step, capo V (giving Gbsus4)
Guitar: Taylor 612ce
Technical notes:
     I used a combination of string pulling, slapping, thwacking and frailing in this piece. It's essentially a banjo tune. It took me a while to figure it all out and get everything in its proper place. I originally wanted to do this as a duet with a bodhran (Irish drum), but I couldn't find the time and energy to double-track it. Someday I'd love to go back and record it with a fiddle and bodhran or tabla player, and maybe an upright bass.
The story behind the tune:
     I don't really do beaches very well, but occasionally I'll go. On one very chilly June day, sitting on a blanket, wrapped in foul weather gear, pretending that this was a good idea as sand blew into our faces with a ferocity that would have cracked Rommel, the melody came to me, almost fully realized, in my head. I'd pay it a visit now and again, but it wouldn't always answer the door and frequently seemed to be out. It wasn't for another six months that I was able to coax it out on the twanger. There's a great roller rink done in '50s motif as you drive into Chincoteague, a beach on the coast of Virginia. It's called The Dream and it's painted pale yellow. Behind it stands an aging, closed (in the 70s, I think) drive-in, done in similar style. I'm betting a lot of fun happened there, back in the day. The place is probably responsible for half of the town residents' offspring.

5oz: St. Martin's - Golay
Location: Le Studio, Baltimore
Tuning: CGCGCE (Open C)
Guitar: Taylor 612ce
Technical notes:
     In some ways this is a very, very simple tune, and in others it's quite complex. Adrian Legg has done many sustained pieces which incorporate a banjo roll - at ungodly speeds - played in a quasi-classical style. His stuff is really beautiful and his music has made a profound impact upon me. I wanted to try something similar. The piece makes use of a continuous arpeggiated forward/backward roll, which really never stops throughout. I wanted to try to play things as evenly, both in terms of tempo and volume, as possible. It's a simple form. Technically the only real challenge is keeping the thing moving. The truth is I'd love to play this one a little faster, but five and a half minutes is a very long time. You can hear me getting tired. I'll almost certainly re-record this one someday. I'd like to do it with a cello, on a high-strung guitar, and do it a little more uptempo. I played a portion of this for Al one time and he played it back to me twice as fast. I went home and cried.
The story behind the tune:
     For four years or so I lived a block from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. It is, to this day, probably the most meaningful locale in the world to me. I spent a lot of time there. The church houses seven chapels. Each is used for a different purpose. St. Martin's chapel was always very quiet and was seldom inhabited. I used to go in there and sit for long stretches of time and gaze at my navel. I don't know how I missed it, but one day, after years of coming in and out, I noticed the sign on the door: "St. Martin's Chapel is reserved exclusively for prayer." I hope I am forgiven. This one means a lot, about a lot.

6oz: Tune for Ruthie
Location: Le Studio, Baltimore
Tuning: DADGBE, capo II
Guitar: Taylor 612ce
Technical notes:
     This is the first tune I ever wrote in a tuning that isn't open or severely altered. I did a very old demo of it that was a bit different, and I sort of liked it, but I can't remember how to play it like I used to. So the new will have to do. This is kind of where and how I taught myself to Travis pick. Sort of. This is another one that, when the mood strikes, I'll play a lot faster.
The story behind the tune:
     Everyone who hears this says it sounds like a Beatles tune. Which I suppose is just fine. The sad fact is that I only very recently started listening to the Beatles. They're pretty good. I think they should go far.

7oz: Jerry Said - Golay
Location: The Doghouse, Hoodlyville
Tuning: GBDGBD
Guitar: modified Regal squareneck resophonic
Technical notes:
     I heard Jerry Douglas play something very similar to the opening line once. It stuck. If I could sound like anyone on anything, it would be Jerry on his dobro. I'm not a bluegrass player by any stretch, and I have very little facility on slide. I'd only been playing the instrument for a couple of months when I recorded this, and this is the "other tune I know" on dobro. This is the sit down, put it in your lap, play it with a bar, kind of reso guitar.
The story behind the tune:
     I wanted to do something for my dad, and this is it. One thing I found is that slide guitar, when played at high volume through a very nice, powerful set of monitors, is great for neutralizing noisy neighbors.

8oz: 111 Archer Avenue - Golay
Location: Le Studio, Baltimore
Tuning: DADGBE, capo V
Guitar: Taylor 612ce
Technical notes:
     A very, very simple tune recorded just because. It's probably the oddest in terms of style. This is easily the worst in terms of external noise that made it onto disk. You can hear the water heater, me swallowing, breathing and fidgeting, and a good many large trucks on the street outside. But it all gives the recording a certain... texture, we'll call it.
The story behind the tune:
     I wrote this while watching, for the third or fourth time, "The Royal Tenenbaums" on DVD. The film was the first time I'd heard Nico. I really like the guitar work on "Chelsea Girl."
I stopped my rambling
I don't do too much gambling
these days...

9oz: Baby With a Hammer - Golay
Location: The Doghouse, Hoodlyville
Tuning: CGCFGC, capo II
Guitar: Taylor 612ce
Technical notes:
     The tuning and capoing gives DADGAD (Dsus4), which is what I normally play this in, capoed at II. I like it a bit lower, actually, and got there due to my "winter" saddle compensation. This is really just a series of hammer-ons, pull-offs and roll patterns played successively, and, like most of the record, it's pretty simple. I was going for a real low-end growl on this one that I'm not quite sure that I captured, but I think the groove is still there, which is probably the most important thing.
The story behind the tune:
     I saw Leo Kottke at the Avalon in Easton, Md. one night, and I went home and tried to Be Like Leo. I had the bones of the melody down and a rough demo when I heard from a friend that he and his wife had had their second baby, a boy. I thought it was the least I could do for Chip, Mary and Owen Finn Chenery. I didn't finish writing the tune until a day before I recorded it, however. I gave it another shot in the second session and kept the result.

10oz: Morning Prayer - Coste - public domain; arr. Golay
Location: The Doghouse, Hoodlyville
Tuning: EADGBE, capo VII
Guitar: Taylor 612ce
Technical notes:
     I had initially arranged this beautiful, easy classical study as a trio for steel, nylon and high-strung guitars. I got a take in Baltimore that wasn't bad, but was a little bit flawed due to some multi-tracking technical difficulties I couldn't grok at the time and never really had the energy to address. I finally just decided to capo up a fifth and do it solo. Al has done a few pieces in a similar vein, capoed at VII. There were many times on the sessions where I would ask myself, "How would Al play this?" And the answer would come back, "Better than that, but... sort of like this..."
The story behind the tune:
     I think I just told you everything I know. I wanted to go out with a whimper.


I put two alternate takes at the end of the CD. Because it's mine and I can do what I wanna. You go make your own CD.

St. Martin's (Lowdown) - Golay
Location: Chez Golay, Hoodlyville
Tuning: BbFBbFBbD (Open Bb)
Guitar: Taylor 612ce
Technical notes:
     I had decided to try re-recording a few things at my apartment following the Baltimore session. The guitar was in Open C, down a step to Bb (more "winter" saddle pragmatics). I hit Record to get a level and played the piece as a warmup. There are definite flaws, but I like the end result, so I used it. This is considerably slower that the other take, but it feels nice. This is all I got from that day and it was a total accident.
The story behind the tune:
     There really are some low frequencies on this one. This is kundalini-vibe low.

Little Ruthie (high-strung) - Golay
Location: Le Studio, Baltimore
Tuning:cgcfAD or dadgBE (can't remember), capo II
Guitar: Ovation Celebrity Deluxe, high-strung
Technical notes:
     A total goof. I had the high-strung guitar out after finishing a discarded take of "Morning Prayer" and played through the opening of "Tune for Ruthie" just to see what it sounded like in the tuning.
The story behind the tune:
     Scott thought it might be cool to digitally scratch this one up as a fade-out to the record. At first I was highly opposed to the idea, being all haughty and such ("This is an acoustic album..."). But the idea grew on me and it wasn't long before I knew we had to do it. People have listened to it and not gotten it. These people have typically never seen a tone arm in their life.

Here are the credits as they appear on the record.

produced and engineered by mike golay. blame me. it’s almost certainly my fault.
mixed and mastered by scott spelbring, dragonflyeast, haymarket, va.

recorded 25-26 november 2002 at le studio, baltimore, and 14-15 december 2002 at the doghouse, hoodlyville, va. st. martin’s (lowdown) was recorded on a fluke in my living room on 12 december 2002. rough, but ready.

cover and inset photos by ruth stine and mike golay.
concept, design and low-level freakout by mike golay.

all music composed and performed by michael k. golay, bmi, unless otherwise noted.
copyright ©2003 banshee werks. all rights reserved. unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

thanks to: al petteway and amy white for positivity and kindness. mike aaron for feedback, as well as reduction of feedback. brian, jennifer and nutmeg connors for space, time, french lessons. joe latham at latham guitars for getting me through the war. paul and the gang at beard guitars for hospitality, strategic routing and drilling. sylvan beach café, donna’s, ok natural foods, café hon for sustenance. my friends high and low for this, that and the other.

special thanks to: ruthie for everything. lucy for a thing or two. beverly jane and jerry for being my mom and dad (sorry about the “accidental” fires). scott for faith, patience, impromptu slalom chauffeuring. everyone for your generous support. namaste.

recorded utilizing the diddledy twidget process (dtp) with taylor 612ce kinda custom, modified regal squareneck resophonic and ovation celebrity deluxe (high-strung) guitars. there were no overdubs on this record, not necessarily because i’m opposed to them, but moreover because i didn’t know how. maybe next time. thanks.

distributed by banshee records, hoodlyville, va.

for more information about mike golay, his music and various other tendencies, or to, hey, buy stuff, or to encourage others to buy stuff, visit

All music composed and performed
by Michael K. Golay, BMI, unless otherwise noted.
Copyright ©2003 Banshee Werks. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

About Oscar the Pug
While doing the first record session for Half Pint in Baltimore, I had to go to the Rite-Aid on Thanksgiving Day to get something that they ended up not having in the first place (though they were open, bless them). Anyway, this pug was tied up outside, I had my camera with me, and I took a few shots. I didn't think much about it, but later liked the shot enough to use it on the record. Several months later I was back in Baltimore and saw a dog tied up outside Eddie's Grocery. It looked familiar. I crossed the street and met the owner. I asked him if the dog had been outside Rite-Aid on Thanksgiving. Sure enough. His name is Oscar. Before I knew his name I called him "Flip." Now he's "Oscar the Thanksgiving Wonder Pug." He's collecting fat royalties, I can assure you. Milkbones are great payback...

»Back to Geetar

All contents ©1996-2018, Banshee Werks.
Please direct all comments to Banshee Werks.
Last updated, fixified, or otherwise jiggered: 03/27/07.