November 23rd - "You gotta get up in the morning take your heavy load and you gotta keep goin' down the long black road" - Electric Light Orchestra
First let me apologize for the long gap between previous update and this one. The dog days of summer were long and difficult times, and the fall and the onset of winter brought a whole lot of hurry up and wait.
And then there is the part I never wanted to think about much less talk about.
Lee went into the hospital for another round of surgery at the beginning of summer. We all - family, friends and his medical team - had nothing but high hopes and positive vibes. Alas, things never really got better. After a huge and valiant effort by his medical team, he went into hospice just as the fall weather finally graced us with its presence.
I crossed my fingers and hoped he could hang in there to see his record on vinyl... and he did, though not quite the way I had envisioned.
On a cool fall day I brought him his test pressing. It came in a plain black jacket and black dust sleeve with a standard Third Man Pressing test label in the center. The record was heavy, black 180g vinyl. The real fuckng deal. Not the colorful green and blue splatter nor the gorgeous sleeve with Lee's shining face one side and his dad jumping off a bucking bull on the other. Not the final product, but damnit it was his record on vinyl.
He smiled big as he held it in his hands. I set it where he could see it and picked up his guitar. I noodled around on some Django Reinhardt riffs while he watched football. It was a peaceful scene. That was the last time I saw my friend.
Lee died on November 16th, 2022 at 9:55 am.
Just a few days earlier I'd received word that the final production pressing run was in the pipe and should arrive in December.
Look. I'll be honest with you. I'm not good at this part. Some folks seem to be able to just handle everything and process like some weird kind of "normal." I started and abandoned a bunch of versions of updates for you guys over the course of the summer, and this is around the 10th time I've tried to write this update specifically. I get a few sentences in and stop to go lay down for a while. The only thing I have been able to do through this whole project is keep recording and mixing and talking to vendors and trying to steward this project toward completion. This I did to the best of my ability.
While Lee was still active before the last surgery, he and I did some great work on songs for his 2nd album. It's unknown at this time whether I'll get to produce his posthumous work, but I'm damn well going to try to make that happen. As the summer progressed I kept my head down and did the work:
I shipped out t-shirts and CDs to a whole bunch of you wonderful people.
I successfully negotiated with the pressing plant to get our vinyl run into the schedule before next year (and I have to say Third Man Pressing has been amazing to work with, and they did everything in their power to advance the timeline.)
I sculpted and shipped several sets of protection demons for our top supporters.
I went over the test pressings with a fine toothed comb and consulted with TMP on some microscopic details that I wanted to make sure were ok on their end.
And I sat staring into the middle distance. A lot.
There are some things I haven't done. Back in the spring I started working on the limited edition cassette. But, as Lee's condition worsened, it became hard for me to listen to the raw material. It's emotional stuff, and given situation unfolding, I couldn't handle the weight of it at that time.
But as the burn of his passing cools and I find my footing in the new normal where Lee transmits his ideas psychically from his perch in the great beyond, I will absolutely pickup the thread and work to make the limited edition cassette. And as I alluded above, it is my full intention to collect his remaining material into a 2nd album. We had some great ideas and inspiring performances go onto tape before he went into the hospital. I haven't heard any of it since the last day of recording, but I know there is some amazing material there. Plus, I have 4-track recordings from the 1990s that I can bring in to round things out. I actually think that stuff would make a lovely contrast. Like etherial transmissions from a time when we were young fools in full bloom.
I want to thank each and every one of you for your support and patience. This project has forever changed my life. An odyssey in the fullest sense.
I have every reason to believe that the finished records will arrive sometime in December. The day they land at my door I will be shouting about it from the rooftops (and here of course!)
I love all of you. Please be safe and have a great Thanksgiving holiday. Even in the most trying times, there is a ton to be thankful for.
Brute Florist - San Marcos, TX - November 23rd, 2022
June 22nd - The Vinyl Train Is Rolling Down The Track!
I am pleased as punch to report that all steps in the process of producing "First Time Slow Second Time Drunk" on glorious green/blue splatter vinyl are complete!
The album tracks have been mastered by the excellent Bill Skibbe, lead Mastering Engineer at Third Man Mastering, and they sound awesome!
The masters have been approved for lacquer cutting and press metal production.
The order for vinyl pressing with Third Man Pressing has been submitted, approved.
The jacket printing order with Imprint Indie Printing has been submitted, the printing proof approved, and the print run is in the pipe!
Now... we wait.
Behind the scenes a cosmic choreography happens over the next seven to nine months. The next exciting step will be when we receive the test pressings! It's going to be wicked cool getting to hear these songs on vinyl for the first time and approving the test pressing for final production!
But as they rightly say, there is no rest for the wicked cool. I have work to do. Now I get to turn my attention to phase 2: creating the CD and digital versions of the album and the producing the t-shirt.
The cool part is everything builds on the work that has already been done for the vinyl release. The CD graphics, though having different format requirements, are based on the album jacket design. So, that will come together quickly. The t-shirt art is finished and ready to set up on the vendor's template and order a test print. I will use all of the graphics, plus song lyrics and some cool extras in the design of the eBooklet that will be included with the digital release of the album.
My friends, on behalf of Lee and myself, let me express our intense gratitude for your support and patience. This project is happening because of you. I give you my word - as a man who exists solely create and perpetuate art of all kinds - I will make it worth the wait.
Brute Florist ◉ San Marcos, Texas
June 8th, 2022 - Hitting Lots Of Exciting Milestones!
May 30th, 2022 - Orders and Vendors and Licensing oh my!
Challenges are for overcoming...
The focus of my activity has been on getting everything in place for the vinyl record. As we know, vinyl takes the longest and is the most complicated piece of the puzzle. It makes sense to complete that first.
I've submitted orders for audio mastering, vinyl printing and jacket printing. While this is exciting, there are challenges to be overcome. The biggest one is dealing with the main photo for the front cover of the album jacket. The original high resolution photo is not available. The version I have is from Facebook. Unfortunately it's not high enough resolution for a crisp print when expanded to the size of an album cover. I suspected that this would be an issue, and it was confirmed by the printer.
But do not despair! For I have an ace in the hole. My partner here at Heavy Mediums, Fernando Carpenter, is a badass graphic designer and photographer. We talked about possible solutions and came up with a plan. In a nutshell, we're going to make a high quality, small print of the existing photo and then photograph the photograph. We'll also do a super high resolution scan and see which looks more natural. If neither of these work to our satisfaction, I have another idea percolating. Rest assured, the album jacket will look awesome. This I promise.
Another of this week's tasks that I'm very excited about is the center label of the vinyl. Fernando is doing design work so it's going to be awesome! He is also designing the new logo for Heavy Mediums and it will debut on the center label! We're lucky to have Fernando. His eye for detail and extensive experience ensures that all the graphics in every project we do look fantastic!
There are a lot of other wheels turning, but this is where I'll leave off this week. I hope you are having an awesome weekend! Talk soon!
Brute Florist ◉ San Marcos, Texas
P.S. My daughter graduated from high school this weekend! Yes, I'm tripping out! She's awesome and has big things ahead. It's going to be fun to watch her build her universe!
May 19th, 2022 - The Wayayting Is The Hardest Part...
Once a fully funded Kickstarter campaign ends, it takes up to 14 days for them to collect the funds and release them. It makes sense now that I think about it, but in my mind I was thinking the campaign ends, money comes the next day. All this is a longwinded way of saying... we're still waiting on the funds.
But don't fret! This has just given me extra time to get all our ducks in a row. I've mostly completed the graphic design for the LP jacket (Screenshot of the back cover below - turned out really nice!) I'm now working on the CD version which is coming together pretty quickly.
To recap the next steps in the process: once the funds drop the album tracks go to the mastering house, after mastering they get uploaded to Bandcamp, I send out download codes to all of our Kickstarter backers!
A couple things I haven't mentioned lately are the studio outtakes cassette and the magic protection demon sculptures for our top pledgers.
Studio Outtakes Cassette
I've been going through the backlog of recordings and picking gems for the cassette. This is really fun... and also fairly time consuming. When the orders for the LPs, CD, and t-shirts are in the pipeline, I will move into high gear on the cassette. And I gotta tell ya, it is going to be very cool. This cassette is a creative project that stands all on its own. A true companion to the vinyl record. It's not simply a bunch of tracks tossed onto tape. I'm curating, mixing and enhancing the sounds, making them flow in a unique and sonically entrancing way. It's more akin to an old school re-mix of a movie soundtrack.
Magic Protection Demons
For those of you who don't know me and my weird ecosystem of music and art, you may be puzzling at this item. If you saw the Kickstarter page, you may not even have noticed them in the pledge level rewards for $1000 and above. I have been making and giving away these little heads, which I call Protection Demons, for decades. My friendly little demons are living and protecting creative spaces and awesome people all over the place - there is even a pair protecting a rehearsal space in Nova Scotia. I actually do a ritual as I form them in which I embue them with the universal protective force. I do actually believe that this works. (Lee has several sets.) How do I know they work? Well, here is an example. One night in Oakland, my beautiful new girlfriend (now my wife) and I very, very narrowly escaped what would have been a terrible car accident. When I got back to my apartment, two of my demons were tipped over and had broken horns. They were not that way when I left. It gave me the chills. There are many stories, mine and other peoples, just like that. Narrowly averted calamity, the demons took the blow. Ok, yes. I'm a weirdo. And so are you. In any case, I've finished the first set that will go to our most generous Kickstarter pledgers. Check em out below!
Ok! Last and best...
As we know, the LP is the icing on the the golden ticket... and it will be worth the wait! Have a gander at the back side of the album cover yo!
Ok, that's the update! The next time you hear from me things should really be humming!
Brute Florist ◉ San Marcos, Texas
May 9th, 2022 - Time To Make Some Gorgeous-ass Vinyl!
Now the fun begins...
Well here we are! The campaign is fully funded and then some. Tomorrow we move to the next phase. It's time to put the wheels in motion to produce these records and all of the awesome rewards for our amazing Kickstarter backers.
Over the last week I've finished off the legwork for the very first step: mastering the mixes. It cannot be overstated how important this step is to sound of the record. Which is why we're not skimping here. We're using the incredibly talented and accomplished mastering engineers at Third Man Mastering.
The mastering process is estimated to take about two weeks. Once we have the masters back, three major milestones will occur:
placing the vinyl pressing order with Third Man Pressing
updating the tracks on Lee's Bandcamp page with the mastered tracks, generating the download codes and sending them to you so you can download your digital version of the complete record
placing the order for production of the limited edition run of CDs
In the interim while we're waiting for the masters to come back I'll be doing some behind the scenes work to finalize the album jacket artwork and get ready to have the t-shirts printed. Needless to say this is all incredibly exciting!
So, lots of work to be done. I will be updating you on our progress every week for the duration of the project. Again, thank you so much for making this happen. Lee is incredibly happy and grateful for all of your support, and I'm so pleased and privileged to shepherd this project across the finish line and put this great music into your hands and out into the world.
Have a great week, and I look forward to checking back in with you next Sunday!
Brute Florist ◉ San Marcos, Texas
May 1st, 2022 - We Are 100% Funded!
This is such an awesome feeling and we owe it all to you! This project suddenly became very real! Lee Ahlbrandt's awesome album "First Time Slow Second Time Drunk" will officially be pressed on vinyl and released on Heavy Mediums!
To our Kickstarter backers: Thank you, thank you and thank you again for your support! It's going to be so fun putting the wheels in motion to produce and ship all the cool stuff in the various pledge packages - and especially the vinyl record!
I'll have a more in depth update later, but for now I just wanted to express our immense gratitude for your support. Have a great day!
- Brute Florist ◉ May 1st, 2022
April 17th, 2022 - Road To Vinyl First Week Update: 75% Funded!!!
Hello lovely people! I just wanted to quietly make mention of the fact that...
We are 75% funded!
This is way beyond where I thought we would be 8 days into our 30 day campaign. Needless to say, we are beyond pleased, and so very grateful for your generosity. Like, no exaggeration, it has brought tears to both my and Lee's eyes.
This brings us to the next phase, which is both difficult and exciting.
We have just shy of $2500 to go before we're funded. As I've mentioned before, with Kickstarter, it's all or nothing. So Lee and I know our job is not done, and in fact we're at the hardest part. There are plenty of examples of Kickstarters who got to 75% but didn't make it to 100%.
Our job now is to get this campaign into the minds of people we don't know. The amazing part is when someone looks at our campaign the first thing they're going to see is that we've already raised over $7500. I cannot understate how important that is in helping new people feel like this project is worth investing in. So, again, thank you for supporting us so strongly in our first week! You've put us in the best possible position to get the rest of the way.
It is from this strong platform that I am now sending out press releases and getting in touch with Texas music enthusiasts on social media.
Now. There is one more way you can help us out. Feels a little weird saying that considering how much you have already done. But, this is easy and could make all the difference: simply keep thinking about sharing our campaign. If somebody pops into your head who likes interesting singer-songwriters or DIY projects or independent record labels or is an analog audio enthusiast or can relate to Lee's health struggles or whatever connection it may be - shoot em the link!
I hope you're enjoying the long weekend and thanks so much for your time! We'll check in again next Sunday. Until then enjoy the photos below of mockups for our bonus items!
Brute Florist ◉ San Marcos, TX
April 22, 2022 - Off To An Incredible Start! Thank You!
Hey thanks so much for an amazing first two days of our Kickstarter campaign to press First Time Slow Second Time Drunk on vinyl!
We're completely humbled by your response, and we appreciate it so much. We've been live for less than two days and we're over 30% funded! That's so incredibly encouraging. But we know that we can't sleep on this. The vinyl record isn't funded until it's 100% funded.
So, over the next week I'll be reaching out to a variety of Texas music bloggers, social media folks, and various other organizations to get more exposure to our campaign. (If you have any suggestions please don't hesitate to send them!)
One easy way to push the process along is to share this campaign. Whether it's the music or the story, or just the opportunity to support independent music, there are a lot of ways different folks might find our story compelling. Don't hesitate to share with anybody you know that might appreciate this project in some way.
Ok! That's the first update! We'll check back in next week sometime. In the meantime have a look at the album cover graphic below!
Thanks for all that you do!
Brute Florist ◉ San Marcos, Texas
February 4th, 2022 - We Launched A Record Store Pop-Up And It Actually Worked!
We had our first pop-up at Austin Chic's awesome market at 7th and Cesar Chavez in Austin on a bright and sunny day in January. We purposely kept it on the DL because this was very much a "work out the kinks" run. We sold a bunch of records and a good amount of clothes. Fernando and Brute Florist and kept the jams flowing with a groovy, funky, smooth, and exquisitely curated DJ set that lasted over 5 hours! The event was a huge success and immediately opened some new and amazing possibilities!
We're looking forward to getting more pop-ups and some DJ only gigs onto the calendar (see below!) Keep checking back here for more updates!
Brute Florist ◉ Austin, Texas
April 10th, 2022 - New Market, New Vinyl Stock & A Great Summer Ahead!
As you may have seen in the calendar section above, we're extremely excited to be working on putting together our own Vinyl & Vintage market! We have some superb vendors lined up, and are talking with a couple of possible venues. This market will probably start off as a once per month event. Once it's going and we have our sea legs, we'll look to expanding to more days and possibly additional venues. Stay tuned!
We recently got a great deal on some awesome vinyl stock! We got haul of around 100 12" records, mostly vintage and all of the titles are great! The trove includes a bunch of Harry Belafonte, several Barbara Streisand, some classic Texas acts, and just a bunch of unique records, all in excellent condition! They're in the boxes just waiting for our next market!
We're really stoked for this summer. It's looking like a mostly covid free time which is a huge relief! In addition to the cool stuff we have brewing for the record store, there are some really cool projects happening for our record label Heavy Mediums. We've got a Kickstarter campaign to press gorgeous, color vinyl copies of "First Time Slow Second Time Drunk" by Lee Ahlbrandt. We're positively giddy about that! Also coming down the pipe is a very cool cassette project by Brute Florist called 4 Barrel Loop Engine. Look for more info on both of these projects in the coming weeks!
Until next time, keep spinning and have an awesome spring!
Brute Florist ◉ Austin, Texas