Immaculate Misconceptions (2006)
Immaculate Misconceptions, recorded in June 2006, is an all-acoustic CD featuring music from and inspired by the play Immaculate Misconceptions by long-time collaborator Stephen Schrum. The play opened on June 16th and 17th, 2006 in Greensburg, PA. There was a reprise performance in Oct 2006. Fans can purchase the album of full-length songs and read about the making of the album below.
My first solo album in seven years (since Cadillacs & Tarantulas), Immaculate Misconceptions was primarily an acoustic offering. The music was first premiered in Stephen Schrum’s monologue “Immaculate Misconceptions” at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. The play is a humorous, and sometimes serious tale about Catholic grade school and high school, finding the humorous and serious aspects of the positive (and negative) role models of Schrum’s youth. With references to secular events (such as the Kennedy Assassination and the NASA moon landing), as well as more religious happenings (the world’s oldest nun giving sex advice, another nun teaching Marriage Class and, of course, Vatican II and the Baltimore Catechism), Schrum seeks to discover how his Catholic school education shaped the college professor he is today. The play premiered in Greensburg, PA in June 2006,
Even though Steve only needed short snippets of music throughout the play, it was very hard to contain the creativity that resulted from our collaboration. The writing also took place during what is usually a productive period for me (Winter/Spring), and my location in a new studio facility only added to the inspiration and possibilities. So along with the smaller segments that he requested, I fleshed out an entire album’s worth of material. In retrospect, it may be some of my best work to date. The music on this album is primarily acoustic with light percussion (hand drums, brushes).
For years I’ve been consciously avoiding outright political or ‘activist’ music. My spiritual beliefs (heavily impacted by Buddhism and Sufi poetry) along with my rhetorical studies led me to believe that music was not necessarily the most effective medium for such expression. So instead I went inward, examining my life and values, and chose to either learn other people’s music or write about less controversial subjects. I felt that there was just so much more to figure out before affixing my thoughts to songs that would be part of my creative legacy. Then Steve came along with his play and, well, it was like a fountain opened. Many of the ideas that had been kicking around for so many years finally found a catalyst. A number of other factors conspired to lift my ban on topical songs. Everything from current world conflicts to my reading, to becoming a home owner. The result is a collection of rather raw and, at times, humorous songs. Steve’s experiences often triggered something similar in my own life, or related to something going on in the news. Probably the most difficult part was determining: Am I writing this for Steve… for myself… neither? I tried not to self-censor too much, and prefer to look at this project as a part of a larger journey.
Immaculate Misconceptions is the first project to come out of the new location of Mothership Studios in Bloomsburg. Mothership is a small project studio that has grown from an idea to a reality since my first recording, Mandala in 1999 when I was based in Harrisburg. Today, Mothership is an incubation tank for roots music and experimental projects, both solo and collaborative. Very early in my career I had an interest in sound recording, so I prefer to do all of my own production and engineering. That’s a double-edged sword because it is easy to get caught up in the technology. With this project, my recording philosophy was to capture the freshness of the songs without getting too worried about technical matters. So there are rough spots, for sure, but I think the energy, spontaneity and honesty shows through.
Music or Politics? Maybe the listener shouldn’t care what I, personally, think. But behind every artist (whether it is me or anyone else), there is likely a group that feels the same way. In many places, like the Middle East and throughout Africa, music is often the only thing people have to communicate their message. In some cases, artists and producers are even executed or banned from state-controlled media. So when those of us with the power (and it is Power) can reach out with our music, I just think we should. Out of politeness, politics and religion tend to be avoided in discussion. I’d like to see that change, but in a civil, non-violent way.
“Five years ago, I couldn’t have predicted the music that I’ve written here. So, five years from now, who knows!” – Jeremy
“Strive for perfection, achieve excellence!” – Steve
The music on this album is primarily acoustic with light percussion (hand drums, brushes).
1. Immaculate Misconceptions 1:51
2. Transition 0:45
3. Our Town 2:29
4. Hard Day Comin’ 3:16
5. Minor Organ 0:49
6. Usher Chant 2:14
7. Mother Taught Me 1:56
8. Tempest 6:13
9. Sister 2:46
10. Shadow Box 2:36
11. Chaos Factory 4:05
12. Incidental Madness 0:14
13. Chindra’s Lament 2:25
14. Questions That I Ask 3:12