getcher hand outta there. you'll gum up the werks.
  hot damn, ethel. looks like it werks. and yes, mike golay lives here.
home | frivolities | geetar
   »whinge blog
   »et cetera

Mikey's Twangville Gazette: Recordings | Across the Bridge

Jump to a category:
News | Music | Dates | Reviews | Bio | Media | Gear | Tech | Links | Buy | Merch. | Press

Like Mike. become a fan. go on.
For detailed booking information and requirements, please click here.

»Subscribe to the Mike Golay Podcast Series subscribe to mike golay's podcast series.
»All About Across the Bridge, the latest solo record
»All About Half Pint, my first solo record
»The Bumby Tapes: 10 Questions and Answers
»Q&A with the Portland Press Herald

Mike Golay: Across the Bridge - Solo Acoustic Guitar
Across the Bridge - Solo Acoustic Guitar
Down the Slippy Slide, Wearing Short Pants

Ah yes. The recording of my second album. Think Carly Simon hit.

Oh I do go on...:
You Again?
Session Notes
Session Gear
The Mix
Guitar Gear
Tune Notes, Technical and Otherwise
Buy It!

You Again?
Yes. And there's nothing you can do about it.

From the liner notes:

well hello there. and welcome. this selection of music was written over the course of the past few years, in various spots around the globe, on too many day trips, long weekends and glorious getways to document in this little space. when i leave the nest, i try to pack light, but i usually bring a guitar, to the occasional chagrin of my travel companions. still, nothing has inspired my music as much as the places i've been and the things i've seen in this last little while. and here you have it. i hope you enjoy this offering, wherever you may be and wherever you may roam. it's all about where we're going, after all.
mike golay, maine, june 2005

And so we have a new record, after a few years of searching, finding and... forgetting the toothbrush. Again.

This very special collection of music - road music, really - comes from all sorts of places. Pack up yer bag and come along for the ride.

The Sessions
I recorded the record in three sessions. The first was a three-day affair (it might have been four but the first day was scrapped to level setting and various twidgeting) in which I got 15 of the tunes - all of them on the main guitar - down. I did my absolute best to get live takes on all of the tunes with a minimum of editing. With only a few exceptions, which I hope aren't obvious, I succeeded. There were a lot things I could have gone back and fixed or re-recorded, but to be honest, I had a very short period on which I could work on this project and it was more important to me to complete it than to make it technically perfect. We're going to call it "organic." Yes. That will do nicely.

Life - and inclement weather - intervened shortly after the first session and I had to wait a few weeks before I got the slide tune ("Between the Rains," a very important tune for me to have done, and one that I wrote in very little time) done in one take.

I had to wait almost a month to get the final two tunes - on baritone ukulele - down. It took a take apiece in the space of one day to get them both. I went to the beach between takes. Casco Bay isn't the Nepali Coast, but it would do that weekend.

All in all this was a fairly easy birthing of material. I confess that I was a bit distraught when I first started. I had a large number of tunes (and actually I failed to get to a few - they'll have to wait - ultimately replacing them with the slide and 'uke tunes) I wanted to capture and very little time to do so. I hadn't recorded in some time and I had forgotten how physical a process it can all be. I probably wasn't prepared - to suffer - enough. And mentally it's always a trick getting in the right frame of mind to record. But after a day or two I found a rhythm and it all sort of fell together. I remember being pretty shocked after the first session when I counted up the tunes (15). It gave me the confidence to finish the final three. And then I slept for a long time.

When I woke and worked a few weeks later with Al Petteway on the mixing and collaboration on four tunes... it was probably the most incredible - and very brief - bit of Vulcan mind-melding in which I have engaged. I had a couple of tunes ("Somewhere I Have Never Travelled," "Resolucíon") on which I wanted a drum track (yes, I have one of the world's greatest guitarists on my record and I asked him to play drums). It was Al's idea to play the drum tracks on the guitar, and to tune the guitar in a tuning that would complement the guitar part I was playing. Al is a smart man. Worked perfectly. Al just got it on both tracks. The next morning we sat on the couch and I nervously played him "Peggy Gordon" and he started improvising a second part, which instantly made me play better. His wife Amy and their visiting friend started swooning and cooing and we knew we had something very, very nice. "Welcome to Funkstown" was, I have no ego... just a groove. I played it for Al and suggested a bass line. He was on it. I remember saying to him, about the little spurt of melody: "This is me very loosely trying to sound like Clapton" (referring to a tiny bend that I was doing; I don't really do bends and when I do I am very, very proud of myself) and Al said, "Yes. I hear that. Very loosely." When I left Al hadn't tracked anything other than the guitdrum stuff, but I felt totally comfortable leaving everything in his hands. Literally. I couldn't think of anyone better suited to play on those two tunes than Al. A few weeks later he had finished "Peggy" but hadn't quite gotten through "Funkstown." I got an email from him on Fourth of July weekend in which he said, "Amy says I need to play more stuff on top of what I have in a bass part." And then he asked, "Would it be really bad of me to add a high-energy solo part on top of our other two parts?" I sat doubled over at the keyboard after spewing a very nice cabernet sauvignon on the screen. "I can't believe," I wrote back, "that I have Al-Freakin'-Petteway asking me 'if it would be okay' if he 'took another turn' on my tune! Of course!!!"

And so he did. When I heard what Al had done on those two tunes... I was just bowled over. The second part on "Peggy" was and is so beautiful and well crafted. I hope Al and I can play it together (again, for real). When I listened to "Funkstown"... Let me put it this way: I'm still listening to "Funkstown." Every time I listen I hear something new. I couldn't have asked for more. Al took my little groove-o-lody and made a tune out it. And it is phunky.

Al, among many other things, made this project come together. Ain't nobody better.

Session Setups, Gear, et al
All of my solo tunes and my parts for the duo and trio tunes on the record were done in one room in my home studio. The only real differences were in mics for one guitar/tune and gain on the mic-pre changed slightly for one or two more percussive tunes and for the Weissenborn and ukulele tunes.

Room: Home studio/office with wood floor, various relections mostly ignored and a rug or two. 12'x12'. Less on the jets overhead, more on the trains on a nearby railroad, the occasional truck and/or lawnmower and heavy downpours. An improvement over previous environments, believe it or don't. The next studio will be better still. Dig that bunker... Dig...
Signal chain: Guitar or 'uke -> stereo pair of Gefell M300 small-diaphragm condensers (except for the Weissenborn, see below) -> Great River MP-2MH 2-channel mic preamp -> a/d = Presonus Firepod channel 1,2 -> digital at 88.2k/24-bit into Dell Inspiron 8600 laptop running Cool Edit Pro 2, controlled by a Syntrillium Red Rover audio remote control.
Mics: For the main guitar and the ukulele I used the stereo pair of Gefells in ORTF configuration, with the center of the pair at roughly where the neck met the body of the instrument, about 8" away. The bridge side is in the left speaker, neck side is in the right speaker. For the Weissenborn I used two large-diaphragm condensers in spaced pair configuration close-mic'd about 4" above the guitar: an AKG c2000b (r) above the 12th fret, and an AKG c4000b (l) on the lower bout, just below the bridge.
Monitors: Since I'd decided to have Al mix, I bascially did no monitoring on this record, though I do have studio monitors. I used a pair of Sony MDR-7506 headphones to listen back and do what little editing needed to be done. I listened to the tracks through 30-watt Polk Audio speakers on my home stereo.
General notes:
- I think it sounds pretty fine.
- The signal chain is appreciably quieter than what I used on the first record.
- The main guitar just totally kicked ass.

Al tracked the guitdrum parts and his duo/trio guitar parts at Fairewood Studios at his home in North Carolina, using a a pair of Sennheiser small-diaphragm condensers in spaced pair, pre-amped by a Presonus MP80, going in to a MOTU 896 a/d at 88.2k/24-bit and finally to a Mac G5 running Digital Performer.

Mixing and Mastering Processes
I had asked Al a few years ago, after my first record came out, if he'd be interested in working with me on my second, if and when I got around to it. He said he would, and I started hoping he meant it. Initially I had wanted to have him engineer the whole thing, but with he and his wife Amy White's move from Maryland to North Carolina and my own move from Virginia to Maine, the idea of my recording in Al's studio became less practical. In the mean time I upgraded my own studio and kept in touch with Al. When I decided once and for all that I was going to do the record, I talked to Al about mixing and perhaps collaborating on a few pieces. He graciously agreed to help. This was a huge shot in the arm for me (wait, I need that arm...), knowing that a guy as talented as Al 1) was interested, 2) might actually sign up to deal with my crushing neuroses. Little did he know...

(Actually, he knew.)

After I was done recording and editing I flew down to Al's place for a day and a half in June. We knew we had a lot of work in front of us, but it couldn't have gone more smoothly. We throttled through the mix (I didn't say the nights weren't late), and Al managed to lay down the two guitdrum (he plays the top and sides of the guitar with his hands) tracks while I was there, upstairs, talking to Amy. Al recorded his guitar parts for "Peggy Gordon" and "Welcome to Funkstown" a few weeks later, after I had left. It was probably a month later that I heard them and I was, of course, blown away.

In terms of the mixing process, everything was done on Al's Mac G5 using Digital Performer. Al made a few minor EQ adjustments using MOTU filters, mostly spiking the lowest fundamental frequency, dipping the mids just slightly, and adding a very small amount of boost to certain high-end frequencies. He used a Lexicon MPX500 reverb unit with various Hall settings. It's important to note that he ran the mix through the analog unit and recorded a reverb track, rather than lay a digital filter track on. Al feels this makes a difference, and while my ears aren't nearly so golden, I trust his. I think Al did a remarkable job, and I couldn't have done it without him. Working with him was one of the best times I've had with a musician. I owe him a great debt for his help, ears, hands and spirit. Thanks, Al.

Bill Wolf is the absolute top in the business of mastering acoustic music. I knew I wanted him to master (oh that black art) this record. He agreed. When Bill Wolf says he'll do your record, here's what you do: you send him that record and you shut up. Bill knows what to do. His only question for me was "How loud do you want it?" "Not-too-soft-bordering-on-loud-enough" was my not very helpful answer. But damn if Bill didn't nail it just the same. Bill rocks. Bill rolls. Bill is the best.

Notes on the Guitars Used
I used two guitars and one baritone ukulele on the record. Al used a bunch o' twangers. Details follow.

  • The main guitar is a cedar/sapele custom jumbo cutaway made by David at Berkowitz Guitars which we've dubbed "The Bumby." It is tricked out in ways most wouldn't comprehend (or care to try). I used one set of Dean Markley Alchemy GoldPhos strings in custom .56, .42, .32, .25, .16, .13 gauges. The guitar truly has mammoth stones.
  • I used a solid mahogany Gold Tone Weissenborn Style 3 copy on one tune. Strings are a D'Addario Flattop resophonic set, .56-.16.
  • Due to some TSA-inspired changes in plan, I went to Hawaii for two weeks without a guitar. While there I freaked out, fell in love with and bought a baritone ukulele. It is a handcrafted (in China) Lanikai CKB in curly koa (veneer). I used GHS bari 'uke strings in whatever gauges those come in. The guy in Hanalei who sold me the strings pushed the silver-plated/black nylon pack because "black is cooler." I found myself utterly unable to disagree.
  • Al used three (little) guitars variously: a Larry Sifel spruce/maple which he played in the conventional sense - which is to say: phenomenally, a Larry Sifel spruce/rosewood which he banged on ("guitdrum"), and an alien-modified Rainsong OM-1000 which he tunes all the way down to AADGAD and thumps mercilessly. Al plays Dean Markley strings.

The Backstory Obscured by the Underbelly (fad diets be damned)
Some mindless minutiae withheld from the liner notes follow. Because by now you'd expect no less.

You may listen to song clips by clicking the links below. Those with fast connections may listen to all of the clips by clicking here.

1. Somewhere I Have Never Travelled - Golay
Germinations began in: Southern Maine to Boston, MA, USA
Tuning: BbFBbFBbD
Guitar: Berkowitz J6CW custom
Guitdrum: Al on a Sifel Sitka/Rosewood custom
Technical notes:
     This is, simply put, the most difficult tune I've recorded to date. It involves continuous crosspicking throughout and it's very important to let the notes ring into one another. It's just... hard. When I initially came up with the opening lines on a trip up the northeast coast I wondered if I would [ever] be able to get it up to tempo and have the stamina to play it straight through. Of course, months later, as things progressed, I became more comfortable with it. But it's still a bear. It's another one of my "simple in concept, easy to cock up utterly" tunes. If I don't practice it regularly (like, say: now) it just goes to Hell. After I finished recording it (an epic battle) I heard a very simple drum part - which wasn't there - a la Pat Metheny's "Last Train Home." I asked Al to lay one down a month later at his studio. Al did a great job and I think the part propels the tune along nicely.
The story behind the tune:
     After my first record came out in 2003 I had a number of events conspire to rob me of any time for... anything other than the dealing. Throughout that time I was trying to write new material and ready a followup. When I could carve the time I would frequently make great progress, only to be sidelined by something that would take me away from the guitar for weeks or more. This cycle went on for some time and tended to breed a lot of frustration. I had a handful of demos I had managed to put down and on a whim I had sent them to Al Petteway, my former teacher, and his wife Amy White. It was one of those "please tell me I don't totally suck, even if I do totally suck" moments. I didn't hear anything back for several weeks and in all honesty I was considering abandoning the project, and possibly the guitar - not because of lack of response, but because I was just that tired. But timing is a funny thing. I did a short road trip, came back late one night and found an email waiting from Al. I still remember the message. "Amy and I love 'Somewhere.' One of the coolest tunes we've ever heard. It should be your opener for the new record. The tunes sound great. It's going to be an awesome album." And you know, it's the little things. This simple gesture by Al and Amy was, in large part, what got me going again on the guitar, and on the record. It was something very important for me to do, I realized, and the support, perfectly timed, was just what I needed to keep going (even if it was another year before I finally had the time to record). In tribute and thanks (and Easter egg fashion), I worked the opening melody of Al and Amy's "Gratitude" (with permission) in to the B section of "Somewhere." Theirs is a very special tune to my wife and I (Al and Amy played it as a surprise dedication to us in concert) and it fit perfectly. That Al plays along is truly special to me. The title is taken from e.e. cummings' "somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond," which is my favorite poem and which was read at our wedding. Like many of my generation, I first heard/read it in Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters," one of my favorite movies. Less for the affairs depicted, more for the Manhattan architectural tour. Thanks to Liveright Publishing for permission to use the title and the lines from the poem on the record.

2. Damhsa na Saoirse - Golay
Germinations began in: Philadelphia, PA, USA
Tuning: DADGAD, capo II
Guitar: Berkowitz J6CW custom
Technical notes:
     Let's see... Not much to report. One thing I did realize shortly before I started to record, as I was working with the metronome, is that the A section is in 4/4, while the break is in 3/4. I, um... meant to do that.
The story behind the tune:
     I had been listening to Amrit Sond's brilliant album "Circular Motion" in a hotel room in Philadelphia. I remember trying to play something back from one of his tunes and falling into a chord shape that held many possibilites. I only had a few minutes to play before it was time to head out for the day. As I walked around the City of Brotherly [Sh]ove, visiting the various historic areas, I continued working bits of melody in my head. I recall that it began to rain, and I recall that I was wearing a particularly de Sadian pair of sandals that were beginning to make hamburger of my feet. We ended up walking (limping, for me) to an Indian festival on the river, where we had some tikka masala and watched some traditional dance exhibitions - not so much Bollywood fare as just sort of heartwarming - little girls, probably around six years of age, in costume, dancing together, and there was the one, there's always one, that is just slightly but very visibly out of synch, and she's wearing thick, black-framed glasses (like Norah Jones' high school picture, if you've seen it). And you just root for her. And I was, and I did. But I digress. At one point a president of a local association began speaking about having come to America, and how thankful he and his family were for the freedoms we have in this country, and for allowing so many people to make a fresh start. It was a very moving moment for me, standing there, a native, in the birthplace of American liberty, hearing a man from far away expressing his heartfelt thanks for the same sorts of freedoms many of us "from around here" take for granted (and no, that was not a political statement). I tried to capture something of the spirit of the day in the title. I didn't think I'd be able to pronounce anything in Hindi without greatly offending someone, so I sought out another country from which many have come to this land. The title is Irish Gaelic for "Freedom Dance."

3. A&P - Golay
Germinations began in: Boston, MA, USA
Tuning: CGDGCD, capo III
Guitar: Berkowitz J6CW custom
Technical notes:
      I had learned a few tunes in "Orkney" tuning, which in recent years has been made [more] popular by the great guitarist Steve Baughman. I don't recall why or how I ended up in that tuning the day I began to write the tune, but... obviously I did. This tune is all about space and timing. I think one of the hardest things to do with solo guitar is... simply... wait... hold it... wait... etc. It's so much easier to play a lot of notes than to play just a few... evenly spaced... and let them speak. That's what I tried to do. The intro has a somewhat odd juxtaposition of Celtic and Asian motifs. Yeah. I don't know either.
The story behind the tune:
     This one started by a pool. For a while it was just the melody in the A section. The B section (which I have been told sounds like a Bonnie Raitt tune that, until recently, I had never heard) was written a few days before I recorded the tune, and the intro was written only minutes before the red light came on. I wanted to do something for Al, and this is the one. I don't think it necessarily sounds like Al's stuff, though there is one chord in the B section that, whenever I play it, I think: "Al," and specifically something Al does in his "A Waltz for Rebecca." I think more than anything the impact that Al has made on me is in composition. He is a master guitarist, certainly, but when I listen to his music I find myself very quickly pulled past the idea that I'm listening to a guitarist play, and I just hear the compositions. As it should be, I think. Al uses space the same way Miles Davis (my biggest musical influence by far) used space. Very, very effectively. And they both have/had great hair.

4. Lost on the Way to Fingal - trad./Golay
Germinations began in: Nice, France
Tuning: DADEAD, capo II
Guitar: Berkowitz J6CW custom
Technical notes:
     I have to be honest. This is a warmup I initially had no intention of using. I was having a bit of a hard time getting started on the sessions for the record and played this tune to get a level and to try to shake out the cobwebs. I liked what I got, in one take, and decided to keep it. It was the kickstart I needed.
The story behind the tune:
     Pierre Bensusan recorded the traditional "The Return from Fingal" on his second album. I had spent perhaps five minutes trying to learn his version (in DADGAD) and found myself playing one very brief bit he does in the B section over and over. As time went on I developed my own phrasing (or, as I like to call many of my explorations, "another 'Bensusan Misunderstanding'") and started to develop a short melody. I had been playing in a family of A/E tunings (DADEAD, DADEAE, EADEAE, etc.) quite a lot at the time (all appear on the record), and what I was playing worked nicely in DADEAD. On a trip to Nice, where many of the tunes on the record took shape, I wrote a quick B Section and worked the groove (things were coming out tres Pierre on that trip to France). When I met Pierre at the Canadian Guitar Festival in 2005 I mentioned that I had written a tune "inspired" by the recording he had done many years ago. I identified the tune and... he sang it to me on the spot. I explained that I had "borrowed" a tiny piece of what he had played, continued with my botch-job, got a little bit off track (not always a bad thing), wrote a second section and... got a tune out of it. "That's one way to do it," Pierre replied. I laughed. I'm not sure that he did.

5. Peggy Gordon - trad., arr. Golay
Germinations began in: Portland, ME, USA
Tuning: DADGAD, capo II
Guitar 1: Berkowitz J6CW custom
Guitar 2: Al on a Sifel Spruce/Maple custom, DADGAD, capo IX
Technical notes:
     A very simple rendering (on my part) of an incredibly beautiful tune. It was one of the great joys of my musical life to sit down with Al in his living room overlooking the mountains of North Carolina and play this tune together.
The story behind the tune:
     I first heard this traditional Scots tune on Sinead O'Connor's lovely "Sean-Nos Nua" album. In particular, I love the lyrics. It is, as I have mentioned elsewhere, the unrequited love ballad to end all unrequited love ballads. It is your sophomore year of college. Addtionally, while we're at it, I think it's quite a lot of fun to take these trad. tunes and translate them into today's vernacular.

To wit:
I leaned myself on a cask of brandy
It was my fancy, I do declare
For when I'm drinking, I'm always thinking
Wishing Peggy Gordon was there

Translated into modern verse:
i'm a drunk
and when i'm pissed, which is to say often,
peggy, you are on my mind
booty call?

6. Reunion March - Golay
Germinations began in: Northern Virigina, USA
Tuning: DADEAE
Guitar: Berkowitz J6CW custom
Technical notes:
     I think what got me interested in the tuning was Don Ross' "Thin Air." Once I settled in, I found many possibilities. It's a great and versatile tuning for lots of styles, including grooves like this one. The hardest part is working in the harmonic bits, which involve some trickery with the thumb and some lengthy stretches. About the marching band thing... I was on the drumline for many years. One of the more fun things to do in a parade, or when playing cadences to get the band on or off the field, was to just rush the heck out of things, just go nuts, and watch everyone stutter-step their way along. A terrible abuse of power - and at such a young age, too. The tag at the end is my attempt at recreating such an event. Sadly, this time, the joke's on me and me alone. And... this is different... from...
The story behind the tune:
     I was watching the Grammys a few years ago. I believe John Mayer was on, doing a medley with Norah Jones (Norah again?). There were a bunch of acoustic arists that year. And there was a tribute to Joe Strummer at the end, which was incredibly cool. I love The Clash, and always will. Beyond all of that business, I was playing guitar, watching TV, and this groove came out. It took eight years to complete the journey back to where I belong. It was worth it, but I do regret the choice of wooden clogs for footwear. Don't know what I was thinking.

7. Anam Cara - Golay
Germinations began in: Northern Virginia, USA
Tuning: DADEAE, capo II
Guitar: Berkowitz J6CW custom
Technical notes:
     I just wanted to write a pretty tune. Is that so wrong?
The story behind the tune:
     Though nearly all of the tunes on the record are inspired by my relationship with my wife, this is the one that means the most to me. The title is Irish Gaelic for "Soul Mate."

8. Between the Rains - Golay
Germinations began in: Portland, ME, USA
Tuning: CGCEGC
Guitar: Gold Tone Weissenborn Style 3
Technical notes:
     I had done a tune on dobro on my first record and I was keen to try another slide piece, though I have very little facility or understanding when it comes to working with the bar. I had become interested in the Weissenborn after hearing Ed Gerhard's work on the instrument and had acquired a decent copy, made by Gold Tone. This tune was written very quickly and is largely built around an improvised line which I was fortunate enough to be able to recall for the repeat.
The story behind the tune:
     Shortly after my first record came out I was terribly saddened to find out that a friend of mine had died. Sean Layton was, and I mean this genuinely, devoid of hyperbole, simply the most talented human being I have ever met in my life. Sean was an amazing drummer and percussionist whom I met when he was still a senior in high school. At the time I was also playing skins, and I had designs on being the next Elvin Jones/Tony Williams/Jack DeJohnette. And then I heard Sean, and I remember thinking very clearly, "It's all over." He was, even at that age, just... evolved. Oddly enough, I never felt intimidated by Sean's playing. If anything he inspired me to abandon any rigid technical quests and just pursue being musical (which led me in other directions altogether, and ultimately, to the guitar). He quickly made a name for himself locally and was one of the founding members of Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. Sean and I overlapped one year of college and we played in a few ensembles together. I feel very fortunate to have known him. What I am writing now, years later, doesn't come close to doing him justice, and it's still difficult to communicate my feelings about him or convey his impact. We shared a common "quirkiness," we'll call it. Sean made me laugh harder than anyone before or since. We lost touch when I left Oklahoma and moved to New York in 1992, though we did correspond briefly after I moved. I saw Fred, as their fans call them, at a show in Virginia about a decade later. They were opening for John Scofield, a hero to Sean and I (and it occurs to me just now as I write this that Sean introduced me to Sco's music, which was, as I think through things, what made me finally want to learn to play the guitar). At the time I hadn't heard of Fred, but they were great players (Sean had left the group a few years earlier) and after their set I went up and introduced myself to Reed Mathis, the group's superb bass player. The band was from my home[ish]town of Tulsa, and Reed and I, though we hadn't previously met, had friends and musician-acquaintances in common. When I later found out that Sean had passed away I contacted Reed and he kindly filled me in on the circumstances, which are, frankly, heartbreaking. I told Reed that if and when I did a new record I would have a piece dedicated to Sean on it. I had written one tune in the interim and had attempted to record it for the session but it wasn't coming off the way I intended and it just didn't feel right. I ran out of time after I recorded 15 of the 18 tunes for the record but I knew I needed to complete something for Sean. We had a very heavy Spring in terms of rainfall and minutes after I put the finishing touches on the first session the wet began to fall... and continued for two weeks solid. In the mean time I pulled out the slide and started to work on a tune, between listening back and editing the finished pieces. I improvised a melody and the rest of the piece fell together quickly. I set up the mics and waited. The rain stopped for exactly one hour, and I got it in one take, just before the clouds opened up again. All of this just one day before leaving for my wedding (which was thankfully dry). The tune is right. I miss the guy. I wish like anything he was here. I know I'd have a massive headache from the laughing. There are more stories, and maybe I'll tell them someday. For now, I'll just say: Thanks, Sean. I still try to be sub-til.

9. Pukana la Kalalea - Golay
Germinations began in: Kaua'i, Hawaii, USA
Tuning: DF#BD
Guitar: Lanikai baritone ukulele
Technical notes:
     There are two baritone uke tunes on the record. A bari uke is typically tuned DGBE, like the first four strings on a guitar in Standard. Because I play in a lot of open/alternate tunings, I thought I'd try an open G tuning of sorts. I tuned the uke to DGBD (or so I thought) and quickly wrote two tunes in a morning. It was only the next morning as I was tuning up that I realized that I'd actually been in DF#BD, which was, I must tell you, pretty embarassing. It works, though. It's now my standard baritone ukulele tuning.
The story behind the tune:
     On our honeymoon in Kaua'i my wife and I stayed at a house owned by Mark and Debra Gehrke, two former-dairy belt vegetarians (go figure) who relocated and opened a small, out of the way retreat called Kalalea Kaua'i outside Anahola. This quasi-Ragtime tune came together as I sat out on their lanai and played to the mountain overlooking the backyard. A snapshot of the view is included on the CD booklet. It does not suck. The title is Hawaiian for "[Mt.] Kalalea Sunrise."

10. Maine Waltz - Golay
Germinations began in: Lewiston, ME, USA
Tuning: CGCGCD
Guitar: Berkowitz J6CW custom
Technical notes:
     My friend Jim Tozier, on hearing this tune for the first time, said, "Ah. A waltz in 4/4." Riiiiiiiiight. Count it how you like. I'm waltzin'. (It's actually a fast waltz - to me anyway - in one.) I started this on a 6-string, later began playing and developing it on a 12-string, had a C section in the middle that I excised just prior to recording due to fumbling, and ended up going back to the 6-string for the record. If you hear me play this one live and and I have it along, it'll probably be the 12-banger. And hopefully it won't sound too Baroque-n. Oh, that's rich.
The story behind the tune:
     When I first moved to Maine my wife [then fianceé] had this smallish apartment with a somewhat dingy kitchen. Kind of dark is all I'm saying. Cobwebs in the corner. That sort of thing. Inspires the sort of introspection in which one tends to self-importantly immerse oneself in the colder months (eight or so of the twelve on the calendar) up north. Is there any wonder why liquor is sold in supermarkets here?

11. Resolucíon - Golay
Germinations began in: Portland, ME, USA/Nice, France
Tuning: DADEAD, capo II
Guitar 1: Berkowitz J6CW custom
Guitdrum: Al on a Sifel Sitka/Rosewood custom, EBEEBE
Technical notes:
     My attempt at sounding [somewhat] Brazillian. Begun in Maine, shelved for months, reappeared, fully formed, while on the Côte d'Azur. I suppose I'll need to get back to the Mediterranean, then. Which isn't Brazil, I know. Be quiet.
The story behind the tune:
     Having Al play guitdrum on this one was a real treat. Sometimes things just come together.

12. Across the Bridge - Golay
Germinations began in: Northern Virginia, USA
Tuning: DADEAD, capo III
Guitar: Berkowitz J6CW custom
Technical notes:
     This is, physically/technically speaking, one of the most challenging tunes on the album. I can't really tell you why, other than to say there are some very tricky left-hand positions.
The story behind the tune:
     My wife and I met 10 years ago in New York. After about six months of casual acquaintance, we lost touch. I moved. She travelled the world. For whatever reason, I never got her out my mind, and I always wondered how she was doing. Many years later I decided to find out. Once we reconnected, we would not let go again. On 23 December 2003, she and I took a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, the structure that connects our two former homes (I lived in Brooklyn when we met; she in Manhattan). I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. She did not do a "Saturday Night Fever."

13. The Handsome Young Maidens - trad., arr. Golay
Germinations began in: New York, NY, USA/Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland
Tuning: DGDGCD, capo II
Guitar: Berkowitz J6CW custom
Technical notes:
     I initially half-learned a David Surrette arrangement of this tune during very early (and soon hiatused) guitar explorations about 12 years ago. Other than my own interpretation, I have never heard it played, actually, and my version differs considerably from David's, at this point. David, it should be noted, is a fantastic player based in New Hampshire whose brother Jim has put up some of the hardest climbs on the East Coast (for those of you who might care about these sorts of things). This was certainly the first Celtic tune I learned to play on guitar and possibly the first tune I learned to play on guitar, period. Kind of a goof. Did it as a warmup, liked it, kept it.
The story behind the tune:
     All I wanted to do when I visited Ireland in 1997 was sit in with the locals and play an Irish tune. Pity the only one I knew was this one. While in Dingle I popped in many a pub, and in nearly every one I found a group of older, red-faced gentlemen playing jigs at breakneck pace. I dared not sit down. I finally ended up at Dick Mack's, where a battered 6-string sat propped next to the register behind the bar. I asked the barkeep if I could play the guitar. He smiled and handed it over. I sat down on a stool and tuned to DGDGCD. The place was full of patrons and very loud - another sort of Irish Blessing. I started to play this tune, and a Welsh guy on holiday kept leaning in to me, through the whole thing, "Louder, eh? Louder?" I did my best. Mission accomplished.

14. We Breathe - Golay
Germinations began in: Northern Viriginia, USA
Tuning: CGDGAD, capo V
Guitar: Berkowitz J6CW custom
Technical notes:
     I did a demo of this tune a few years ago that I felt was possibly the best take I could have gotten. Unfortunately the rig I used differed significantly from what I used a couple of years later for the record (which was recorded at a higher resolution), and I could really hear the difference in signal chains. It's not a particularly difficult tune to play, save for a few big stretches, but I didn't have a lot of confidence in being able to recreate the emotion and timing I got on that first demo. Fortunately, I think I got it again a few years later.
The story behind the tune:
     This is the only tune I've done (so far) that was written in a car.

15. Welcome to Funkstown - Golay
Germinations began in: Big Sur, CA, USA
Tuning: EADEAE
Guitar 1: Berkowitz J6CW custom
Guitar 2: Al on a Sifel Spruce/Maple custom, DADGAD, capo II
Guitar 3: Alphonso on a Rainsong OM-1000, AADGAD
Technical notes:
     I wrote a disco tune. Sue me. I definitely had Al in mind for a second part. He gave me a second, and a third. Al just crushes on this thing.
The story behind the tune:
     There really is a Funkstown, MD, and it's totally not funky there. It is totally funky in Carmel, CA, but it's less a vibe and more something quite rotten oozing into the tap water. It smells like permanent wave solution - like an old salon catering to the blue hair crowd. And that's why you run, jabbering mad, out of that freakshow and head south on Highway 1, as soon as is humanly possible.

16. Second Chance - Golay
Germinations began in: Lewiston, ME, USA
Tuning: EADEAE
Guitar: Berkowitz J6CW custom
Technical notes:
     Probably the most difficult thing about this piece is settling in on a tempo. It's one of those that has a pulse of sorts, but also a mind of its own. I feel like I rushed it a little, frankly. There needs to be some huge, gated, '80s snare backbeat behind it. Some day.
The story behind the tune:
     See Track #12. I am a very, very simple man.

17. What Took You So Long? - Golay
Germinations began in: Portland, ME, USA
Tuning: DADGBE, capo II
Guitar: Berkowitz J6CW custom
Technical notes:
     The funny (or not) thing about this one is that shortly after I recorded it I started playing it with a kind of hip-hop swing to the eighth-notes and it got way funkier.
The story behind the tune:
     This is the first tune I wrote on my new custom guitar, which, due to various, took a while to arrive and/or be willing to... "work with me," we'll say. These things happen, and David did make me a truly incredible instrument. And also, if you're going to be late at the martini bar while I wait dinner, pick up the phone. Plus, I could have done this record a year earlier, but... stuff.

18. Mele Ho'oluluhi - Golay
Germinations began in: Kaua'i, Hawaii, USA
Tuning: DF#BD
Guitar: Lanikai baritone ukulele
Technical notes:
     There are none.
The story behind the tune:
     There are three phrases in the Hawaiian language for the English word "lullabye." I picked the easiest to pronounce. This one is for anyone in need of rest, particularly my good friends Brian and Jennifer Connors, and their beautiful baby daughter, Lauren. And Nutmeg, their dog, who is so over this whole drama. Sleep well. All of you. Goodnight.

Here are the credits as they appear on the record.

mike golay co-produced and engineered the maine sessions. al petteway co-produced, mixed and engineered the north carolina sessions at fairewood studios ( bill wolf mastered at wolf productions, arlington, va (

concept and design by mike golay.
design production by woodworth associates (
cover, overleaf photos by cabot philbrick and lorca shepperd (
back cover photo by adam cataldo. inset photos by mike golay.

the lines from "somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond" copyright 1931, ©1959, 1991 by the trustees for the e.e. cumming trust. copyright ©1979 by george james firmage, from complete poems: 1904-1962 by e.e. cummings, edited by george j. firmage. used by permission of liveright publishing corporation.

track 1 includes a quote from "gratitude" by amy white and al petteway, bmi. used with permission.

recorded 20-22 april 2005 at chez golay, twangville, maine. track 8 was recorded during a one-hour drought on 9 may 2005. tracks 9 and 18 were written in a morning in late-may on the island of kaua'i and recorded back on the mainland on 4 june 2005, sandwiched around a visit to willard beach. gotta keep the vibe at all costs.

al petteway joins on guitdrum on tracks 1 and 11 and on guitar in the conventional sense on tracks 5 and 15. ain't he great?

all music composed and performed by michael k. golay, bmi, unless otherwise noted.
copyright ©2005 banshee werks. all rights reserved. unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws. please don't steal music. baby needs new shoes.

i made this record for my one and only, kristin, for whom i've waited my whole life. you are my anam cara. thank you for finding your way back to me. we're home now. lovely view, yes?

thanks to
ed gerhard for rye whiskey. don ross for is-ought controversy. steve baughman for being the orkniest hombre west of skye. michael chapdelaine for buddha nature. el mcmeen for showing what's possible with an acoustic guitar and a big heart. jake shimabukuro for inspiration and elevation. amrit sond for calling from london just to say 'allo, mate. jim tozier for being such a fine player and dear friend. guy and christine crosby for everything, but especially for tolerating my playing in your kitchen. cabot, lorca and adam for forgiving me twice in one day: 1) when i was too honest with albany, 2) when the camera battery died. rachel's wood grill, wild horse vineyards, bastide des hautes moures, kalaheo coffee co., caffe coco, polynesian café and kalalea kaua'i for care and feeding. and of course to oscar the thanksgiving wonder pug. you are, without a doubt, the pugliest.

special thanks to
al petteway for being the ball, getting it intuitively, for playing like a reformed angel who has done a little hard time and for invaluably helping me bring this music out into the world. amy white for rockin' the mic like a vandal. dean markley for making the best strings on earth. david d. berkowitz (and blue, r.i.p.) for building a guitar that will gladly fight any and all of you. everyone for your continued support.

go raibh míle maith agat. muchas gracias. merci beaucoup. mahalo. namasté. a'yuh. yo!

for propeller heads
this record was recorded at 88.2k/24-bit utilizing the diddledy twidget process (dtp) 2.0. the primary guitar is a custom j6cw dubbed "the bumby," handbuilt by david at berkowitz guitars (, washington, d.c. i used one set of dean markley alchemy goldphos strings in custom gauges ( the guitar on track 8 is a mahogany weissenborn style 3 copy by gold tone. the baritone ukulele on tracks 9 and 18 is of curly koa, made by lanikai. i use avalon guitars ( and mcintyre pickups ( on the road. i used 12 tunings on this record, none of which i pretend to comprehend.

al plays a larry sifel maple custom guitar on tracks 5 and 15 and a beautifully beat-up sifel rosewood custom on tracks 1 and 11. alphonso plays a rainsong om-1000 on track 15.

distributed by
banshee records, twangville, me. |

for further information
on mike and his music please visit pick up mike's debut cd half pint, also on banshee records.

All music composed and performed
by Michael K. Golay, BMI, unless otherwise noted.
Copyright ©2005 Banshee Werks. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

»Back to Geetar

All contents ©1996-2018, Banshee Werks.
Please direct all comments to Banshee Werks.
Last updated, fixified, or otherwise jiggered: 03/27/07.