Filtering by Tag: pAt mAcdonald


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!


Sure, 2016 had some downs, some outs, and some heavy losses, but WE'RE ALIVE.  That's worth a LOT.  As a group, we can't wait to dive into 2017.  Our last show of 2016 (last week) was a true blast.  Friends and family came out, we found some great music supporters in the community that want to help BHA grow.  So, we've been hunkering down, working on the finishing touches of the album, with most of the layout already to go.

We're itching to get the new songs onto it, and we just might... ...without slowing the process down.  We do have to do some tracking, for our contribution to pAt mAcdonald's VOL.III tribute disk.  We're tackling our second Timbuk 3 track from his past.  We brought "I Need You" to new sonic heights for VOL. II, and had so much fun toying with it, we re-recorded an entirely different version of it that we are also submitting for the third installation towards this american under-the-radar songwriter on the same level as the greats.

We do want to thank YOU for listening, caring, loving, and living.  Most importantly, for taking the time in your busy day, life, and mind, to enjoy our music.  We hope you find joy and inspiration in our sounds.  I know for me (and us) i find much relief in making this music in the studio, and live.

Once again, we thank you, and are honored to get your ears.  Happy Holicraze.

Barrett's Hidden Agenda

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.

Wowza! The holidaze are upon us!

Quite the long weekend in the Hidden Agenda family, all off on their own adventures!

 Barrett spent much of the long weekend (Wednesday - Sunday) playing on the road with Wifee and the Huzzband. Wednesday's show in Milwaukee at Shank Hall was a spectacular show, including some amazing horn arrangments on some Christmas classics done by bandleader Stephan Cooper.  Friday's show at Door County Brewery was filled to the brim!  The place was packed and rocking!  The great staff and quality brew kept the band crankin' from the first downbeat to the infamous dancing closer, "The Get Down."  Among the highlights was pAt mAcdonald sitting in on the raucous jam, "The Girl Can't Take It."  The cresendo of the band interacting with him took the roof off.  To close out the Thanksgiving Tour/Cooper's 40th Birthday weeklong party was a great show at Millcreek in Appleton, WI.  Fantastic stage, super supportive staff, and a fun crowd led to late night Sunday fun!

On another front - Sarah's other band, Sugar Still, was also out on the road in Michigan.  They did quite the stretch of playing at Pigeon Hill Brewery in Muskegon, Newaygo Brewing Company, Quinn and Tuites in Grand Rapids, Phoenix Cafe in Hazel Park, Unity Vibration Kombucha Bar and Tea in Ypsilanti and Tapistry Brewing in Bridgeman. Sometime in the middle of all that Charlie and Sarah had their own Thanksgiving feast in some lucky motel in Michigan.

Andrew has continued to work with his new puppy, training away.  Takes a lot of work to save a pit bull, and raise'em right!

Jon had his family all back in the house, and had some quality time in 'burbs.  He's been putting the finishing touches on a new tune, that hopefully will get the band treatment in time for the record.  Certainly upcoming live shows!

Keith and Cheryl, well, those love birds enjoyed time together, and away from the rest of us!  

I think we're all recharged to finish off the last batch of studio songs, which will bring the song count for the record up to 8.  We've already got the list of the next 8 tracks.  Now to rehearse, mix, book studio time, and play these shows!

Hope you had a meaningful Thanksgiving weekend with yours, and know how lucky we all are.


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