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Somebody's Got An Axe To Grind
2013

J. Free: vocals, guitars, bass, keyboard, acoustic percussion, mandolin, harmonicas, drum programming

When your band is booked for a gig, and they can't all get the night off work, what do you do?

If you're me, apparently you rummage through about thirty-some-odd years of your own material, drag half of your home studio to the bar, and decide to play a solo gig. And if you're really me, it seems like such a good time that you wonder why you hadn't thought of doing it before. So you do it again, and suddenly, it's your new band! Or, something like that.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.


J.

Somebody's Got An Axe To Grind; live at Tonic Lounge, Portland

[ - from the offical bio - ]

"Somebody's Got An Axe To Grind" is the lengthy, tongue-in-cheek nom de plume for Minnesota ex-patriate, poet, and noise-maker J. Free. It's just as well, since his own name is simply a letter and a punctuation mark. But that's another story.

J. is yet another escapee from the Minneapolis scene, who found refuge in Portland (OR), just shortly before the official name change to Portlandia placed it on everyone's radar (which is only a coincidence, really). J.'s first outing as a poet / provocateur came in the guise of The Sacred Version, whose claim to fame was being the first band to grace the stage of the esteemed 7th Street Entry in Mpls, and which resulted in that group being the first to be banned from the venue. Since those humble beginnings, J. has performed as a sound engineer, spoken word artist and multi-instrumentalist in a number of largely un-heard of, mostly un-lamented regional bands; including Borrowed Time (before all those other Borrowed Time bands), Hytones, Dancing In The Dark, and Demolition Factor. J. has also loaned out his skills to The Summer People, The Pushrods, and Panel Of Experts, among others. In Portland, J. also collaborates with Grackle, and in another alter-ego, performs as Jean Gemet, one half of avant-duo Gemet Gemet.

Upholding the noble tradition of "less is more"; as a solo artist in his own right, J. steers that concept in an opposite direction. Banging around for nearly 40 years in various bands, collaborative projects, and a pioneer of the early '80s home-studio cassette album revolution, J. holds the "American primitive" banner high. Whether narrating imaginary soundtracks to city skylines or art museums, singing songs about past, present and future friends, or performing anthems for kittens, every performance is as fresh and vital as it is unpredictable. Side-stepping, rather than defying genre categorization, J. combines multiple styles of musical composition with a brash, off-the-cuff sensibility and a devil-may-care attitude that is sure to inspire listeners to shave off their beards in glowing solidarity.

Keep your ears peeled back for the forthcoming vinyl album, "Songs From The Sacred Version", and a few other surprises, tentatively slated for release in late 2015.


Somebody’s Got An Axe To Grind - online:

Soundcloud Bandcamp

booking and other inquiries: axe AT sonicarchives DOT com


"Eh, Wot?" is an improvisation based on a poem written and performed with the avant-garde duo, Gemet Gemet. The piece itself may be considered a dedication to some of the thinkers who either influenced or inspired me in my younger days, including Alvin Toffler, Charles A. Reich, and Marshall McLuhan.

"Modern Art" and "Buildings" are somewhat recently reworked versions of poems which I wrote and performed in 1981 with the art-punk combo The Sacred Version.

"Modern Art" was inspired during my tenure at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, immediately following a legendary Picasso exhibit in the early '80s. Suffice it to say I was stunned by the absence of personality in an environment which was designed for the display of visual art; once said art no longer adorned the walls of the barren space. Apparently we really are what we wear.

"Buildings" was inspired largely by architectural changes to metropolitan skylines in many cities - including Minneapolis, Minnesota - during my younger days. This version is dedicated to my wife Faye, who loves this song in particular.

Both "Modern Art" and "Buildings" are dedicated to the memory of Shawn Ian Pike (RIP), who performed the original versions with me a number of times in The Sacred Version.


Somebody's Got An Axe To Grind: Live At Tonic
Recorded at the Tonic Lounge (RIP) in Portland, Oregon; 19 May 2013

Is Everything Okay?:
[dedicated to Max & Bill]

This started out as an attempt to conjure up some magic similar to Acid Mothers Temple's "Pink Lady Lemonade"; but quickly morphed into an homage to our feline family - Bill and Maxmillian - who were both present during the recording of these tracks, and who contributed to them in their own style. Our friends Max and Bill passed away within the last year, during the time this piece was being worked on, and they got to hear a few of the live renditions I performed in some of my favorite Portland venues. Bill (ever the critic) just rolled his eyes and yawned through these sessions, but Max tried his best to participate in a lot of these tracks. If my audience never got bigger than Max, that would suit me just fine. He really liked this stuff, and he loved being a part of the recording sessions. I guess I'll have to finish this one without him, but he's already in the mix somewhere, so I hope he digs this arrangement.

All My Friends [big AM rock remix]:
Dancing In The Dark v.3.0 version

Here's an old song I had to bring back out when I started playing live again, and in some form or another, it will surely come out on vinyl within the year. In the meantime, you get this version to tap your toes to. Half of this was recorded in a one room apartment with the ever-revolving project called Dancing In The Dark, featuring the sizzling violin histrionics of Irving Safari. Everything else was done about five years later. The overdubs are so obvious that it's not even funny. Or maybe it is.

Somebody's Got An Axe To Grind: All My Friends
Live From Slabtown [R.I.P.] in Portland, Oregon; 1 June 2013]

Solo live performance by J. Free [aka Somebody's Got An Axe To Grind].
Standalone video capture, using a Kodak PlayFull HD video camera.
Additional audio recorded live on stage by J. Free, using a Roland RC-50 Loop Station, a Mackie 1202 console, and a Zoom 24; digitally captured in 24/48.
The Zoom audio source was synched by ear to blend in with the audio from the video source.
The mix ratio was 100% Zoom source and 5% Kodak source.
Video mastering (including visual enhancements) and audio mix was done in iMovie.

I tried to write a few pop tunes in my life, and this is one that I dusted off recently. This is the garage version.

Dedicated to Wendell "Win" Patrick (RIP), who performed the original version with me a number of times in Dancing In The Dark, and various incarnations of Borrowed Time.

All words and music © J. Free / Sonic Archives
original version of Buildings and Modern Art ©1981; The Sacred Version

Solo live performance by J. Free [aka Somebody's Got An Axe To Grind].
Video capture by Faye Ackeret, using a Kodak PlayFull digital HD video camera.
Additional audio recorded live on stage by J. Free, using a Roland RC-50 Loop Station, a Mackie 1202 console, and a Zoom 24; digitally captured in 24/48.
For the video clips, the Zoom audio source was synched by ear to blend in with the audio from the video source.
The mix ratio was 100% Zoom source and 60% Kodak source.
Video mastering (including visual enhancements) and audio mix was done in iMovie.
For the audio-only tracks on the CD, only the Zoom 24 audio source was used.


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