Train Song – Stop Motion Animation

This past week, we released a video for Train Song.  It’s our second video from our album Hotdish Army.  Making this video was quite a process and we are thrilled with the result.

Last Summer, a high school friend of mine posted an approximately twenty-eight second stop motion video that his son Josh had put together. I was amazed with the video.  It was a short clip of Lego’s moving around, as if of their own accord.  Josh worked on every step of the process and the attention to detail was apparent.  I’ve always been drawn to stop motion videos.  The affinity for this type of animation goes back to my formative years watching Gumby. In the back of my mind, I always thought one day it would be great to make one.


Most of last summer we spent driving back and forth from 27 Years Studio in New Ulm recording Hotdish Army.  We dedicated the album to Dave and Drew Brown’s nephew, Austin, who passed away from cancer at the age of six.  As the album progressed, I began to see a connection between dedicating the album to Austin and the possibility to continue to honor him with a video made by Chris’ son, Josh, who is only twelve.  In that way, the youthful energy and creativity of the video could be as much of a gift as we have tried to make the album.


And yes. The Train Song Video was made by a twelve-year old.


I took a chance, out of the blue, and talked to Chris to see if Josh would be interested in tackling such an enormous project. Chris said he would talk to Josh and get back to me.  When Chris got back to me, I was thrilled.  Josh was into the idea and Chris was behind it.  I couldn’t have been happier.  Now, Chris works for a pretty neat company called Fusion North.  He is a phenomenal artist in his own right and is definitely a creative role model for his son.  And because of Chris’ job, the editing software used in the process was a step above what I have on my personal computer.


Josh was in charge of the project and on December 12, 2016 I drove out to the Fusion Media North building and met with Josh and Chris. Upon arrival, I got the full tour of the place and then was brought into the conference room where Josh produced his story boards.  I was impressed.  He told me he had left the good ones at home and had scribbled down new ones before I had arrived.  I knew right then that the project was in capable hands.  I gave them both some swag, cds, a handful of pink army men and a couple other possible props to use that were left over from the album art photo shoot.  We then shook hands and I walked out of the building into the cold and snow.  I left the rest in Josh’s hands.


I contacted Chris in March to check on progress and then again in late April. He told me to hang tight, that they had it under control and I would be very pleased with the outcome.  So we waited.


On Tuesday June 19th, Chris contacted me and told me that Josh had a video ready for us.  It stopped me in my tracks.  I was over the moon.  I couldn’t wait to see it.  The whole process took a little over six months to complete.  That’s half a year!  The process is so detailed.  You get the theme and the lighting, take thousands of pictures and then you edit them all together.  It’s a serious undertaking.  We left it in the hands of a supremely capable young man and he delivered beyond our expectations.


Please take a moment to watch the Train Song video Josh worked so hard to put together.  Share it on your social media.  Show your friends.  We cannot thank Josh enough for his hard work.  Thanks for listening and watching and reading.  This video is for you.  Your support means the world to us.


“People who get into animation tend to be kids. We don’t have to grow up.  But also, animators are great observers and there’s this childlike wonder and interest in the world, the observation of little things that happen in life.”     – John Lasseter


Revelry at Reverie

Reverie setlistOn Friday night, we played Reverie Café on the NE corner of Franklin and Nicollet for the last time. We’ve always had a great experience there and Friday was no different.


We showed up at the Venue around 8:30 and loaded in our gear. It was a unique experience because Flowerstalks, who we were sharing the bill with, were back lining for a quicker set change time.  And that means they were bringing all the amps and even drums.  It worked out that Dave and Shane and I didn’t have to lug our amps around per usual.  Beau needed only to bring his cymbals.  So we loaded in and it didn’t seem like we did much of anything at all.  We set up our merch table and waited for the Flowerstalks to arrive with the heavy gear.


The Flowerstalks started arriving shortly after us and so did the sound guy. They started setting up their amps on the back of the stage and assembling their kit and Corey started setting up his keyboard rig.  There was a bunch of commotion on stage.  Amps getting plugged into power sources, chords into instruments, Dave and I set up our pedal boards and moved them to the side and we were ready to roll. We were just waiting for Beau to get off work and set up his cymbals.


The first act, which was a comedian, started closer to 10 pm. He had about a twenty minute set and he had the crowd right there in the room with him.  We were on stage and set up and ready to go as soon as he wrapped up.  It was a lively, sweaty affair.  The room was full of people coming out to a sticky bar to support the bands and they hung around for most of the night.  We fed off the energy from the crowd and the sweat pouring down our faces in the dead heat of the night.  Reverie doesn’t have AC, just a few industrial fans trying to stir up the damp of the place.  It was hot in every corner of the bar, not just under the red stage lights.  There was no way around it.  Still, the crowd was there and into it and we were grateful.


We left the stage after playing ten songs. The Flowerstalks followed shortly after with hardly any tear down time for us.  They brought an energetic and eclectic mix of tunes to the stage.  If you haven’t heard the Caterpillar song, you’re missing out.  Chris Vogel is a solid songsmith and I look forward to hearing more of his stuff.  Kansas City Keith is so good.  I love watching him perform.  The Neighbors family, brother on bass and the singing sisters was a fine compliment to the sound.  They also had a drummer, Luke, who was performing his first show with them.  Their set was spirited and sincere.  They share a certain esthetic with us and we’re glad to have been asked to join the bill.  We’d do it again.


The closer was an intricate acoustic guitar player named Mark. He didn’t get to experience the same crowd as we and the Flowerstalks did.  He put on a great display for those who stuck around.  It was definitely hot in there, but the free water was flowing and sours and wines were on full display all night long.


I have to give a shout out to everyone who came out to the show. I was pleasantly surprised.  So, thank you so much!  It was great to see you all and chat a bit.  It means the world to us.


Looking ahead we’ll be working on arranging a few older tunes and a couple newer ones. We’ve changed our rehearsal structure around a bit and it seems to be working well for us.  So we’ll just keep trucking away.


“I wear black because I’m comfortable in it. But then in the summertime when it’s hot, I’m comfortable in light blue.”     –  Johnny Cash

Schools Out

Here we are at the end of another school year. A little Alice Cooper seems appropriate.  Watch out for all those kids on bikes and I hope your air conditioner works well.


There are grad parties galore, echoes of the glory days or some such. So many mistakes still yet to be made.  I remember stashing beer in the neighbor’s bushes during my grad party, then driving up to someone’s cabin the next day to drink it lukewarm.  All with a certain ignorant panache.   I mean, some things never change, but I’ll have a cold beer, thank you.


Liz is working on a design for a T-Shirt. It is not the picture at the bottom of this post.  That is just another cool thing that she drew.  When she completes the art for the shirt, we might just leak the image right here in the blog.  We’ve decided to make them ourselves, so we need to get screens made and squeegees and paint.  Then we will put them all together for you.  Handmade, originals.


Remember: This Friday, June 16th.  Music starts at 9 with Mark Verdin.  We’ll be on at 10, followed by the Flowerstalks and Karl Kooiker will close out the night.  $5.


As a side note, I told some folks that this past weekend was the 6th year anniversary of King Fish Crow’s first show.  That is not true.  The seven year anniversary will be on September 15th.  I apologize for any confusion.


Watch out for the kids in the streets.


Go Twins and Go Saints!


“In the split second from the time the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand until it reaches the plate you have to think about your stride, your hip action, your wrist action, determine how much, if any, the ball is going to break and then decide whether to swing at it.”          -Duke Snider   LizbirdKFC.JPG

Coming Up

Here in the Bunker we’re prepping for a few really cool shows. We’ll be playing Reverie next Friday and in Osceola, WI in July.

Next Friday, June 16th, we’re playing Reverie Café one more time before it moves.  It’s a great room and we fit the stage comfortably.  Seriously, it’s almost laughable to mention, but we have six people in the band.  Have you seen us perform at Palmer’s?  Anyway, we’ll be sharing the stage with the Flowerstalks, a super talented local Alternative/Americana band.  We’re thrilled to be on the bill with them.  Their tunes are top notch and Kansas City Keith has always been one of my favorite local guitar players.  There will be an acoustic opener and a comedian closing out the night.  It will be our grand farewell to Reverie on the corner of Franklin and Nicollet.  So come out and join us if you can.  Next Friday.

In July, we will be going back to the Wild Springs Festival in Osceola, Wisconsin. Save the weekend of July 29th and 30th and get your tickets now!  This event is held on a beautiful little farm next to a quiet lake.  Hosted by our friends Dan and Emily of Wailing Loons, we are thrilled to be a part of it again.  Last year was beautiful and sunny and a complete blast.  Come out and camp with us.  It’s destined to be the highlight of our summer.  There will be tons of great music, fantastic food and flowing beer (if you like that sort of thing) and, of course, fine folks.  There are trails to hike, water activities and that doesn’t include the crew that bikes in from the cities.  If you’re looking for something to do in late July, throw your tent and sleeping bag in your car, grab a friend and we’ll meet you at the farm.

We’re working on some new tunes as well. We have a few we’ve been performing at recent shows and a few we have yet to unveil.  We aren’t trying to get too far ahead of ourselves, but we are looking at going back into the studio in 2018.  That’s a big ballpark, but we’ll take out time and craft what looks like will be our first full length album.  So stay tuned.  Download your copy of Hotdish Army and tell everyone you know.

In September, we have been invited to curate the music and perform for the first annual benefit concert for the Austin Strong Foundation. Austin Smith was Dave and Drew’s nephew.  Dave is King Fish Crow’s electric guitar player and Drew, his brother, has been our saxophone player even after moving to Madison.  Austin was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when he was five years old.  He died a year later, the day we began recording Hotdish Army.  As a tight knit band, we were deeply affected by the struggle of someone so young and so close to our hearts.  At the same time, we were greatly impacted by Austin’s courage as he bravely battled what would eventually take his life.  We have nothing but love and support to show to the whole family.  If you would like to stand up and fight against childhood cancer, support the Austin Strong Foundation and stay tuned for a date and location for the upcoming benefit concert.

Thank you so much.  Keep reaching.

“Predicting rain doesn’t count. Building arks does.”     – Warren Buffet