Filtering by Tag: Sturgeon Bay


BHA has been getting together to finish that pAt tune.  Barrett's pumped out a batch of new fun rock songs for the band to break out!  Word is that pAt tribute disk will be released at Steelbridge Songfest in Sturgeon Bay, WI in June.  We've also been working on establishing a new residency for BHA.  We had a blast at Lonie's last year, look forward to getting back there... ...yet, another neighborhood calls!  Keep ya posted on this!

Barrett's #Songfamily Strikes again!

Every 4 months or so, Barrett disappears to "Spin-the-bottle" songwriting construction zone at The Holiday Music Motel, in historic Sturgeon Bay, WI.  As the entrance to the Door County peninsula, Sturgeon Bay is a meeting point of the ship working industry, arts hub, and tourist town.  In the dead of winter it seems sleepy, but don't be fooled!  Behind most barroom doors are musicians worth listening to.  Wednesday at Butch's (Local #333 Musicians Non-Union), Thursday at the Tambourine Lounge (Songwriters Night) and regular entertainment from all over Wisconsin and the Mid-West cover the weekends at Brick Lot, Red Room, and the like.  The Holiday Music Motel is seemingly the center piece of this scene.  After saving the bridge into town (Steelbridge Songfest) they've continued to host and expand these songwriting week long writing and recording sessions.  This "Love on Holiday 5" was Barrett's seventh songwriting festival.  Participating as a writer, multi-instrumentalist enabler, and audio engineer - there's no part of this social, communal, creative environment he doesn't thrive in.  These fests have yielded Barrett's Hidden Agenda staples such as "Blood in the River" and "Dumb Down."  At this point, the back log of tunes from these fests could create it's own record for the band to put out, honoring the fests, songs co-writers, and creative director of the events: pAt mAcdonald.  He wouldn't be running these fests without melaniejane, an amazing talent in her own right, but together as "purgatory hill" they raise the bar of stomp, swampy, character fueled, blues based rock that takes you back to Robert Johnson, and forward to uncharted waters.  Needless to say, Barrett is recharged from a week in the sun (Phoeniz, AZ) and a week in below zero temps (Sturgeon Bay, WI) and is charging forward with the next phase for the BHA story.

Barrett's bottle spins yielded 2 drastically different tunes.  With Jerod K and Nici Pepper a female mantra empowerment opus was composed in a Fela Kuti style, "Hoja Mwili."  Meaning 'move your body' in Swahili, it was drawn out of an art piece by Jeanie Kuhns.  The other, also with Jerod K, but with Matt Spotal, an 'on the edge' love song, "Gonna Fill Your Hole" was written.  pAt's comment was it's very funky, but Frank Zappa-esque.  More than likely, "Hole" will wind up in the BHA setlist, as it's quite the jam.  Besides the joy of creating and layering with the talent pool at hand, an honor was bestowed onto both tracks - closing out the Friday night(Gonna Fill Your Hole) and Saturday night (Hoja Mwili) live performances of the songs composed during the week at Third Ave. Playhouse.

If you haven't already, book yourself a room for Steelbridge Songfest 11, June 9-12 in Sturgeon Bay, WI, DO SO NOW!  You won't regret it, and you'll blown away by the community and the music, some of which will be written THAT WEEK.

a weekend full...

...of chipping at the bit.  Fixed up the studio space a bunch, rewired some of the racks, chipped away at the mixing of "Woman Ain't Happy" and "Dopamine."  Most importantly, filled up on some quality family time, and the bonus of shoveling! Also, made the trek into Wisconsin and back, near Lake Winnabego for a Wifee and The Huzzband rehearsal.  Been playing keys with them basically since the summer, and we've got a bunch of shows lined up this holiday weekend, and into the holiday season, capping off with a New Years Eve show in Sturgeon Bay, WI at Stone Harbor.

More importantly for you BHA fans - we've booked another show!  This will be the first friday of the year.

Friday, January 8th, 2016 at 8pm

Barrett's Hidden Agenda

LIVE! at

Lonie Walker's Underground Wonder Bar

710 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

Mark your calendar!

Back from Dark Song 2015

Monsters, ghouls, ghosts oh my!  Just fresh back from my 6th songwriting week at The Holiday Music Motel.  As Vince Gates put it, "You've now spent a month and a half of your life doing this."  52 songs crafted by 40+ musicians in a single week.  All written and recorded, most of which were then performed at the Third Ave. Playhouse in downtown Sturgeon Bay, WI.

I had the luck of drawing amazing talent for a bottle spin, Christa Ebert, aka "The Uno Lady," who comes in from Cleveland, OH, along with the gift and deverse Jamey Clark, a local to 'Sturge.'  He holds down the fort for "The Dirty Duece." They just released a live record produced by Teflon, the resident engineer (and SOOOO much more) in 'The Lab' underneath The Tambourine Lounge.  Between my tonal instruments, Christa's vocals, and Jamey's rhythym, it was simply put - a perfect spin.  

All we needed was a song.  

LA comedian by way of Virginia, Wisconsin, and Chicago, Rick Wood and I had spent time together leading up to Dark Songs.  One thought he brought up was how as humans we are basically a glorified bag of water.  I was thinking about this while listening to the collection of songs that is Dark Songs Volume 6, and came up with the response to 'bag of water' with, "You can't deny the dirt."  This became the theme and eventual title to our song.

Christa tirelessly grabbed lines and thoughts that the 3 of us spewed on the subject of coming from and returning to the dirt.  We wanted to cover some philosphy, while still personalizing the experience via anecdote.  Once we had too much chose from, it became pretty clear on how to crush it down into form, and it was actually straightforward.  At that point in the process I always bring up the idea of 'getting out of the song's way.'  The ideas are there, the goal is obvious, just follow through and quite getting your brain involved.

While drumming up the ideas for the lyrics, I had laid out some chordal thoughts to push Christa's melodic brain, and Jamey instantly grabbed onto the main idea and created a fascinating pattern with just his hands on the table.  Pushing all of this together in a 24 hour time frame, it became clear where the song wanted to go.  Heading towards a 'dia de muerte' vibe, or dark cubanismo, I had Jamey play the drumkit with a moving blanket covering it, he brought up the point of using mallets instead of sticks.  That muffled attack of the drums, with a reverb to carry it brought out the 'thick/morbid' vibe in the lyrics.  I played strict piano chords, bringing out the story and melody Christa performed beautifully.  Then I laid down an overdub of the piano part with embellishments to accent Jamey's toms, and Christa's vocal performance.

We knew the song would need a little bit more to thicken it up, and the uprigh bass seemed obvious.  Newbie to the construction zone, Wade Coisman of "Devil to Drag" was brough in to play.  The always patient enabler Teve Mith ran the board in Rear Recieving Studios, capturing the heaviness and delicacy of the tune.  (Heavy in concept, not sound) Once everybody thought we were done tracking and left, I overdubbed my vocals, and layered a few percussion tracks to enhance the rhythmic craftmanship that Jamey performed on the drum kit.  The clavas, tambo, and shakers brought out the voodoo/caribian vibe even more, yet still subtle enough to not detract from the tom wor of Jamey, nor the effortless vocals of Christa.

I am so proud of this track, and more so about how easily it came together in collaborative form amongst us regulars to these events.  I look forward to its reincarnation as a Hidden Agenda track.  I'm sure it will take on a new life of it's own.  Once "Don't Deny the Dirt" is remixed to creative director pAt mAcdonald's standards, I will be able to share the original version with you.  He might want to wait the year and release it as part of next years Dark Songs collection.

I can't wait to work with these two again.

All contents property of Barrett's Hidden Agenda (BHA LLC), All photos by Phil Stosur