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MP3 Triple Fret - Songs in Borrowed Time

Highly eclectic rock for big people. Featuring layers of stinging guitars and soaring lap steel.

12 MP3 Songs in this album (57:22) !
Related styles: Rock: Album Rock, Blues: Blues-Rock, Featuring Guitar

People who are interested in Paul Simon Roy Buchanan Steve Kimock should consider this download.

Local favorites in North Carolina’s Triangle region for over a decade, Triple Fret finally took a little time out to get some of their eclectic compositions down on disc. The album is a variety pack of genres, including Afro-pop, Latin, jazzy folk-rock, and even a little rockabilly. (One engineer called the album "Paul Simon meets Robbie Robertson.") As disparate as this may sound on the surface, all these varied flavors are tied together by recurring threads: layers of soaring steel guitars and Babyak’s raspy voice, energetic percussion from Raleigh’s favorite session drummer, Mike Rosado, and flawless deep bass lines from Chapel’s Hill E. Scott Warren. The songs also range in lyrical content from simple on-the-sleeve love songs to deeply-felt laments about social injustice.

Notes on production
We recorded this album in fits and starts between December 2009 and September 2010. Bass and drum tracks along with rhythm guitar and main vocals were recorded at Bongo John’s Studio in Morrisville, NC over three sessions. In some cases the rhythm guitar and main vocals from those sessions were used for the final cut. Most of the main vocals were added during several subsequent sessions at Bongo’s. All other guitar, steel, and background vocals were recorded later at my home studio in Durham, NC. Apart from the occasional splice of a couple of guitar parts that I though sounded good together, we did very little digital surgery. Almost all of the “sound effects” are produced by a steel guitar of one type or another. Las Almas Heridas was recorded entirely in my studio using whatever African and Caribbean rattles I had laying around, a kalimba, a Hawaiian guitar, a Telecaster with an ebow, and an iphone with the Bloom app by Eno and Chilvers. The final mixes were processed through 2” tape during mastering.

Notes on the tunes from Mike Babyak

1. Flora Linda: Why not start with a love song? An uptempo waltz about the happy misery of infatuation.

2. Lucy: A song about a little shih-tzu named Lucy who was one of those one-in-a-lifetime animal friends. Lucy had a depth of personality and an ability to connect with humans in a way that is rarely seen. Her premature death from cancer struck us deeply in a way we could hardly have anticipated. I still get choked up thinking about her. I copped the first two guitar breaks directly from the brilliant guitarist Diblo Dibala.

3. Sweet Life: I’m related by marriage to a family of Haitians who emigrated to the Dominican Republic in the 1960s to work in the sugar cane fields (Bateyes). Even now, many of the workers on the Bateyes are essentially slaves, with no legal status in the country and no practical way off the Batey. Sugar companies have also been known to conscript Haitians to the Batey at gunpoint. The conditions on most Bateyes remain dire, often with no clean water, no electricity, and rarely any medical care. The Bateyes in turn are part of a powerful and corrupt industrial-political monstrosity in which our own political leaders participate. The tune isn’t really meant to scold, but rather to bring attention to the fact that many things we enjoy and take for granted, like sugar, come at a high cost to others.

4. Skin a Cat: A song about being a has-been and being really bitter about it. Inspired by a professor I encountered in school. At one time he had been very famous in his field, only to have the field completely change direction. Within his lifetime he saw not only his fame and reputation evaporate, but he also suffered the ignominious fate of having his life’s work transformed from great ideas into curious, often ridiculed, antiquities.

5. Everybody’s Africa: Conceived as I was driving through a section of Durham, NC known as Hayti (pronounced HEY tie). Hayti was a thriving African American neighborhood that became a victim of what the government called “Urban Renewal,” which was essentially a program to knock down the neighborhoods of the poor and packing them off to crowded “projects” farther away from town (I think you call them council houses in the UK). In the 1960s, a major highway was thrust directly through Hayti’s heart. As I was driving on this very highway, I heard a radio report on the devastating effects of HIV in Africa and how it was virtually impossible for the average African to afford treatment. It occurred to me how important Africa was to all of us in the so-called first world. Our first ancestors emerged in Africa, making us all ultimately African. Moreover, virtually all of the music I love has African roots, music which in turn effectively changed the western world in the latter part of the 20th century. Growing up, I wanted to be Jimi Hendrix. And John Coltrane. And Sly Stone. Yet, to most of us Africa is essentially a remote place with a lot of problems, far removed from our daily thoughts. The song is just a reminder that, especially given the current HIV crisis, we owe more to Africa than just our occasional distant sympathy.

6. Eyes on the Prize (Big Things): Regardless of your politics, there is no disputing the magnitude of the election of Barack Obama, a man belonging to an ethnic group who were second class citizens by law and by social convention just a generation ago. The song is a stream of consciousness list of things of considerable magnitude, with the underlying thread that to achieve those things you can’t get bogged down by the trivial.

7. Malmedy: The true story of Carl Daub, a brave man who survived the massacre of Malmedy during the Battle of the Bulge in WWII. He survived physically, but his spirit was deeply wounded. After many years those wounds resurfaced and ultimately led to unspeakable tragedy for him and those who loved him.

8. The Man with the X-Ray Eyes: A little rockabilly tribute to the final scene in my favorite B movie starring Ray Milland. Milland is a scientist who discovers a substance that, when dropped into his eyes, gives him x-ray vision. At first, it seems a great gift, but the vision becomes stronger and stronger and soon he is able to see into the depths of humanity, including our ability to destroy ourselves with powerful weapons. He is overwhelmed by what he sees. In the final dramatic tableau, he stumbles into an old time revival meeting in the Nevada desert:
Preacher: Are you a sinner? Do you wish to be saved?
Dr. James Xavier: Saved? No. I''ve come to tell you what I see. There are great darknesses. Farther than time itself. And beyond the darkness... a light that glows, changes... and in the center of the universe... the eye that sees us all.
[Looks up at the sky]
Dr. James Xavier: No!
Preacher: You see sin and the devil! But the lord has told us what to do about it. Said Matthew in Chapter Five, "If thine eye offends thee... pluck it out!"

9. Mexolina Dream: North Carolina currently has the fastest growing Hispanic population in the United States. Men from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras can be seen virtually everywhere, and when seen, they are inevitably working. All days of the week, well into the night. My own grandparents were immigrants from Eastern Europe who came to the United States for work, in the process enduring great hardship and loneliness, often separated from their loved ones for long periods, even entire lifetimes. I thought about the parallels between their lives and those of the newer immigrants, and the strength it must require to endure the hard work and loneliness.

10. Beethoven’s Birthday: I was literally having a beer on the couch while listening to Beethoven on his birthday. In my somewhat hazy state, I pondered Beethoven’s life, and was struck by one parallel with my own life, that neither of us had children. Over the next few days, the idea percolated. Having children can be a sort of automatic meaning-maker in a life. Those of us without children are perhaps faced with a choice, either to resign and perhaps withdraw into a world of too much beer or other such distractions, or to find ways to contribute to the lives of others and find meaning in such contributions.

11. Love is the Test: The only cover tune on the album, written by dear old friends Billy and Frank Goodman. Faith, endurance, salvation, funny little men with guitars.

12. Las Almas Heridas No Quieren Ser Olvidadas (Wounded Souls Do Not Wish to be Forgotten): Originally meant to be an unlisted hidden track, at least on the CD, but the digital age made it a bit pointless. Just a few minutes of atmospheric instrumental music trying to pay respect to those who have suffered injustice, hardship, and deprivation in the past, present, and future.

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