Recorded on November 12, 2019 by Scott Herzog (Third Story Recording) at David Ford’s home in West Philly, then mixed/mastered by me in Jan/Feb 2020, this album is now available on Bandcamp. Everything on “Spontaneous Oasis” was played live, no overdubs, and improvised.
I first met Sonic Sandbox after seeing the group advertised as part of Porchfest 2019 in West Philly. I didn’t get a chance to see them, but followed up later and eventually became part of their 2019 lineup. We later performed at Philly Maker Faire.
When I joined, the group technically had a bass player – Jonathan Wilder, also from Philly. Ironically, I met Jonathan previously through the open mic scene, and didn’t know he was part of the group. It was fun to see that Philly is also a closely knit music town, something I still miss from my long history in Central PA. Jonathan and I swapped bass playing roles from time to time.
I definitely prefer playing bass in the improv format. We tried two bass players, just for kicks, but it was not satisfying for me. Bass players operate in a certain sonic range, and there is such thing as too much bass. Thankfully, I can also play guitar, so for weekly practice sessions, when I wasn’t playing bass, I played Strat with some crazy effect pedals. That also gave me a chance to explore some electronic-leaning interests, and try odd combinations of effect pedals.
The group hadn’t recorded before. Bob, our electric violinist, wanted a recording for posterity. I considered running the recording session, but opted to suggesting we get someone else to come in because performing and recording at the same time can be too much at once. The original plan for this recording was for Jonathan to play bass and for me to play guitar. On the night of the session, Jonathan was suddenly ill or not available. I already had my guitar rig in the car and was halfway to the session. So I played guitar and there was NO bass player! If there was more lead time, I would have brought my bass rig instead. Such is life.
We hoped to put this out as a physical disc, but COVID and other considerations delayed the digital release until late June 2020. I’m not sure we’ll do a physical release now. The result is certainly unique and unlike anything I’ve done before or since. ”Spontaneous Oasis” is not for everyone, but I know some listeners will appreciate the free flow of ideas and explorative playing from everyone. You can learn more about the players on the Bandcamp page, and the mission of Sonic Sandbox on their site.