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Three clips.

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Same deal currently applies that usually applies when I go missing for a while:

  • Rough stretch at work.
  • Creative mind occupied by things other than blogging.
  • Not bursting with anything to say, and not usually in the mood to say stuff just to say stuff.

But I’ll stop in anyway just to share a couple of YouTube highlights.

There’s this evergreen. It’s one of the highlights of a generally overlooked album, and a knockout victor over Steely Dan’s “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo” in the category of Best Twenties Jazz/Blues Cover By A Seventies Rock Band.

It also does that thing where a blues or gospel tune, having been stepped up into double-time, is suddenly corralled back into its regular tempo to delicious effect. (Dunno what this maneuver is called, but Hot Tuna does the same thing on its version of the Rev. Gary Davis’s “True Religion,” as heard here.)

Blow some, Magic Dick:

When I get down or stressed, I’ll often to listen to New Orleans music. There’s something about that knock-kneed strut that lifts my spirits, just about every time.

I’ve needed that lately, which brings me to this next tune (tunes?): Professor Longhair’s “Big Chief (Parts I and II),” an amiable novelty that also happens to be danceable.

There’s funkier Longhair out there, and there’s rawer Longhair too, but this song (these songs?) have their own small but interesting distinction.

Between them, they show up on 14 local radio airplay surveys in the invaluable ARSA database, all between February and April of 1965. They’re the only Longhair songs in the ARSA database to make a local airplay chart outside the city of New Orleans, getting play on stations in South Carolina, Florida and Georgia.

(It’s old DJ practice, I’ve learned, to keep some instrumentals around to lead into the news at the top of the hour — the kind of records that could get cut off a little early and no one would mind. I bet “Big Chief (Part I)” got some spins for that purpose.)

Some of these charts are from R&B stations, like WAME in Miami. But others are from Top 40 stations, like WTMA in Charleston or WPLO in Atlanta.

I like the thought that this snaggletoothed, eccentric, whistling veteran of New Orleans’ wildest dives could sneak onto the airwaves in between “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter,” “I’m Telling You Now,” and “Ferry Cross the Mersey.”

Never let it be said that, when the British Invasion swept America, New Orleans didn’t step up and fight back.

The tune(s), anyway:

And finally there’s this one, which came from the same exploration of the YouTube “Shang-a-Lang” Bay City Rollers archive I wrote about in my previous post.

In unreconstructed Edinburghese, the Rollers’ Derek Longmuir introduces a “fillum” clip that features three then-current British stars — Mud, the Rubettes, and the Glitter Band — miming the title song from a movie called Never Too Young to Rock.

Watching the unison struts and leg-kicks, I can’t get around how processed the whole thing is, how free of any threat or sweat. This is “rock music” as something you might find in a plastic packet at the bottom of a box of cereal, performed (or mimed) by bands that have clearly mastered the showband steps and stage tricks that would make them acceptable in any supper club in England.

(Edit: I almost feel sorry for these guys. They came along too late to do National Service, but they got press-ganged into pointless and tightly scripted maneuvers anyway.)

Of course, one does not watch the Bay City Rollers’ TV show for authentic raw rock n’ roll juice. Mainstream British cinema of the ’70s is probably not a great source for it either. And any movie called Never Too Young To Rock is probably going to be aimed at a pre-teen fan base — not a crowd that demands lots of R-rated banter and 60-cycle hum in its stage presentations.

Still, the “fillum” gives you a sense of the sort of cultural plasticity that people like Johnny Rotten, Joe Strummer and Siouxsie Sioux would shortly come along and run a rusty knife through.

And, it gives you a sense of why young people might have welcomed that.

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As I ran with the gang.

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The passing of Alan Longmuir led me to discover the following today:

-The Bay City Rollers had a 20-episode TV show called “Shang-A-Lang” on British TV in 1975.

-A bunch of episodes are on YouTube.

-Each one features a couple of lip-synched Rollers numbers … a musical guest, also lipping … a dance segment … and some sort of Fifties rock nostalgia sequence, that sort of thing being big in Blimey back in the day.

First-call British studio guitarist “Big Jim” Sullivan is also on hand in each episode to do some fancy pickin’, as well as some chattin’ and teachin’ with the Rollers’ callow guitar players, Eric Faulkner and Woody Wood.

(The studio audience of teenyboppers seems to accept the intrusion of this hirsute thirtysomething well enough, perhaps because they knew Eric and Woody would be along soon enough.)

Sullivan’s Wiki page doesn’t indicate that he played on any Rollers records. But he was said to be the first guitarist in England to use a Les Paul, and he played on roughly 750 U.K. chart hits, including 54 Number Ones.

Many of these were not big U.S. hits, but you’ve probably heard a few songs with Sullivan’s playing — like Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Clair” and “Get Down,” Dusty Springfield’s “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me,” Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air,” and the New Seekers’ “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.”

Anyway, Sullivan was also reportedly an early champion of the voice-box guitar effect.

And when you combine the voice box with a big dose of Seventies tartan style, you get to see … this.

(You’ll never unsee it.)

Pilots in flight.

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The other day I went to a place where a long-gone and largely unmourned empire once threw up its short-lived flag and invited people to pledge their allegiance.

Which is a fancier-than-usual way to introduce my annual round of summer ballpark pictures.

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I imagine sports journalists are already doing interviews and gathering string for next summer, when they’ll write a whole mess of long-reads and oral histories marking the 50th anniversary of the Seattle Pilots’ only season in Major League Baseball.

The Pilots, one of four expansion teams to start play in 1969, were swept into the American League by circumstances beyond their control.

And, at all turns, they weren’t ready. The players couldn’t keep the pace on the field. The owners didn’t have any money off it. The ballpark was minor-league by any standard. And the fans stayed away in droves.

After months of uncertainty, the Pilots declared bankruptcy six days before the start of the 1970 season. The team was then sold to a group that immediately moved it to Milwaukee, where it continues to operate today as the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Pilots’ failure has to be the quickest and most embarrassing exit ever made by a modern major-league sports team. (The NFL had a one-year team in the Fifties, and the NHL a two-year team in the Seventies, but neither league had the prestige and status of Major League Baseball at the time.)

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So what’s this got to do with my vacation?

Well, just as the Confederacy had a patent office, the Seattle Pilots had a more-or-less full minor-league system.

While the big-league club made the headlines, Pilots farmhands labored in obscurity in places like Vancouver, B.C.; Clinton, Iowa; and Billings, Montana. Like minor-leaguers everywhere, they spent their summers grinding out dusty doubleheaders and all-night bus rides, dreaming of seeing their names in the Opening Day lineup for the ’72 or ’73 Pilots.

It just so happens that one of those Pilots farm clubs, the Co-Pilots, called Colburn Park in the tiny town of Newark, N.Y., home.

In 1968 and ’69, the Newark Co-Pilots played in the Class A New York-Penn League. (You’ve heard me hold forth at length about the NYPL before.) I believe they were the only Pilots farm team east of the Mississippi, though I might be mistaken.

Five members of those 1968 and ’69 Newark ballclubs made the major leagues, none with the Pilots. Unless you’re a box-score obsessive, the only Co-Pilot whose name you probably know is Tom Kelly, who played a single year for the Minnesota Twins and then won two World Series as their manager.

(You may be better acquainted with Robin Yount, whose only year in the minor leagues was spent as a 17-year-old shortstop with the Co-Pilots in 1973, when they were a Brewers farm team. He played at Colburn Park too.)

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I didn’t see much at Colburn Park to remind me of its connection to big-league history. There’s one paint-peeling section of bleachers down the left-field line that could be original (or at least plenty old), but most of the park looks to have been renovated in the recent past.

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There’s also a Newark Co-Pilots banner behind the beer counter, with a pilot-wheel logo on it, but it looks too new and colorful to be fifty years old.

Of course, there was also a thunderstorm threatening when I showed up, and rather than look for plaques or pictures, I was mostly looking for a roof. There wasn’t any.

But the storm did not materialize, and my evening at Colburn Park turned out to be perfectly lovely.

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Like a bunch of other former New York-Penn League parks in places like Geneva and Elmira, Colburn Park now hosts summer-league ball for college players — specifically, the Newark Pilots of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.

Most of the players in these leagues are not strong major-league prospects. But they play hard, and tickets are cheap, and the seats are up close, and the whole setup makes for a nice night.

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A guy who walked into one of my pictures (not shown here) even came up and introduced himself a minute or two later; his name is Bob, and he owns the team. I enjoyed a couple minutes’ chat with him before wandering off to buy a $3 Brooklyn Summer Ale on draft.

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The Pilots and Geneva Red Wings played a seesaw game before what couldn’t have been 200 spectators. (Bob said the weather kept the gate down, and I imagine he was right.) There were a few errors here and there, but by and large it was a well-played game, with fans of both teams making themselves known.

Newark took a 7-5 lead into the top of the ninth, at which point I put in the Jerry Garcia Band mix I save for visits to central New York and drove merrily home in the perfect 70-degree summer night, bombing down county roads flanked by darkened fields and feeling generally right with the world.

The Seattle Pilots may be dead and gone, but at least they don’t seem to have left behind any disagreeable ghosts.

A few more shots from Colburn Park:

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Knobby knees and frozen bananas.

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It took the Internet to get me to appreciate Dan Ingram — and really, all decent DJs.

I’ve mentioned before that, when I was a kid, I felt like the music was all that mattered on the radio. There was no DJ shtick, no personality, and no routine that was as interesting to me as the tunes, so everything that came between the songs was an interruption to be (barely and briefly) tolerated.

(Perhaps this is a comment on the quality of DJs in 1980s provincial America. Or maybe it was a foreshadowing at the similar short attention span I now display jumping from tab to tab on my desktop.)

I knew of Ingram’s name because my dad mentioned him. In college, he and his fraternity buddies frequently listened to Big Dan on WABC.

Ingram seemed to have left his mark. I remember being told as a kid that the phrase “his knobby knees and her orchestra” — an on-air riff of Ingram’s, slightly modified — was one of the laugh lines in the best man’s toast at my parents’ rehearsal dinner.

(Appropriately enough, my mom was indeed a music major and violinist. I can’t speak to what my dad’s knees looked like in 1967.)

When I finally got to hear Ingram years later, via the excellent Musicradio77.com website, I understood what the fuss was about. He was quick, irreverent, inventive and engaging. After hearing him, I had a better appreciation for what a good DJ can bring to a radio station.

One especially fascinating snippet of vintage Ingram can be found here. It’s a standby tape, recorded around 1969 and stored at WABC’s transmitter site for emergency broadcast in case technical problems knocked the connection to the studio offline.

Faced with a potentially serious situation to cover, Ingram riffs merrily along. He explains every five minutes that something’s wrong, yet still manages to be soothing, in the same way that an airline pilot who’s good on the microphone can make a sideways flight seem like a minor diversion.

In an excellent blog post, former colleague Scott Goldstein summed him up as a DJ who could somehow recognize the interests of all his stakeholders — from the program director, to the advertisers, to the most casual of pop music fans — and give them all what they wanted, break after break.

I suppose I also enjoyed listening to Ingram because it put me in touch, at least a little bit, with my dad’s younger life.

As readers of my other blog know, I’m a sucker for trips into the day-to-day mundanities of the past, particularly as they relate to the lives of my family members.

Old ballgame tickets, old owner’s manuals for old cars, old beer ads in old newspapers — I’d rather look at those than read the assembled speeches of Abraham Lincoln. And when you can actually hear the historical record in a spoken voice, not just look at it, that’s even cooler.

I spent some time yesterday wondering if I’m leaving behind red herrings for future generations, with all my fascination with the past.

If I have a grandkid, and they inherit my historical bent, there may come a day when they say, “Oh, look, radio broadcasts from 2018. I bet that’s what my grandpa listened to, because he was alive then! I’m gonna put this on and imagine I’m in his shoes.”

And what he/she won’t know is that I spent my 2018 listening to Dan Ingram talk to me from 1964 … and my 2008 listening to the Grateful Dead playing to me from 1973 … and like that.

I haven’t totally tuned out my current surroundings, but I’ve been content to spend a fair amount of time avoiding them — especially once the Internet brought me a whole new world of sounds from the past.

I’m not too concerned about totally disappearing into the dusty ether, though.

This post is a day later than it should be because my mom and dad were visiting at my house last night, and I camped myself firmly in the present. I knew I felt like writing about Dan Ingram, but I knew it would wait; no exploring old sound clips or staying up late to write.

Instead, I spent last night cooking my folks a pretty good dinner … and introducing them to the wonders of frozen-banana “nice cream” … and listening to my dad talk at length about Dixieland jazz. Didn’t even want to turn the computer on.

While I’m still fascinated by everyday history, this reassures me that perhaps my past-vs.-present priorities are not completely out of whack.

Boss.

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It’s been a weekend of highlights … but the best event among them has been my first reading of Ryan H. Walsh’s Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968.

Walsh’s book is chiefly about Van Morrison’s period of exile in Boston and Cambridge, during which he wrote the music on his celebrated album Astral Weeks.

Walsh frames the Morrison saga by writing about a dozen individual social and cultural streams also surfacing in the city at the time — everything from avant-garde experimental TV, to spiritualism, to Boston’s most prominent cult, to Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. (The Velvets were basically in residence in Boston at the time, playing there considerably more often than their hometown of New York City.)

It would be a fascinating book even if I didn’t have connections to Boston. Still, it seemed like I kept running into people, places or things I knew when I lived there. A few examples:

–Walsh’s book touches on Frederick Wiseman’s controversial documentary Titicut Follies, banned in the state of Massachusetts shortly after its release in 1967.

As a freshman at Boston University in 1991-92, I went to either the first or second public screening of the movie in Massachusetts in a quarter-century. The ban had just been lifted, and the film was being shown at (if I recall correctly) the Boston Public Library. I read about it in the Boston Phoenix, which college kids could get for free, and decided to go check it out. It was as grim as described.

(My older son is about to go to college in Boston, and is interested in getting out and seeing the city. I wonder what his Titicut Follies will be.)

–Mention is made of an incoherent performance by Morrison at Wayland High School. My second-ever job as a newspaper reporter involved covering the town of Wayland, a leafy, affluent, everything’s-just-fine-here sort of town in Boston’s western suburbs. I was in Wayland High a couple of times; never would have guessed that Van Morrison had played there.

(Wayland is the northern neighbor of Natick, which is also mentioned in the book as Jonathan Richman’s hometown, and where I also lived for a year and a half, once upon a time.)

–WBCN-FM’s transformation from a classical station to an anything-goes hippie-rock hoedown gets mentioned. I wrote almost exactly three years ago about finding a relic from the original WBCN right here in Allentown — which opened my eyes to the station’s backstory, which I’d never heard.

–The second person mentioned in the thank-yous, after Walsh’s wife, is a former colleague of mine on the early-’90s Boston University Daily Free Press. I knew him pretty well to speak to at the time, though we probably wouldn’t recognize each other if we walked past each other on Comm. Ave. now. He later became the editor of the aforementioned Boston Phoenix, and I believe he’s still in the media business somewhere.

(Forgive me for running Walsh’s book through a self-centered lens. I’ve figured myself for dead, gone and boring since I left Boston for Allentown 16 years ago. So it’s an ego boost to read a really cool book that has a bunch of things I recognize in it. Convinces me I wasn’t always so lame.)

Another fascinating thread in Walsh’s book involves “the Bosstown Sound,” a 1968 hype campaign orchestrated by MGM Records and producer Alan Lorber promoting Boston as the new epicenter of youth music.

By all tellings, the (often unwitting) Boston bands recruited into the campaign did well for a short while. But when Rolling Stone and other underground press outlets unmasked the hype, sales plummeted, and the bands were dumped.

I decided to look up the three most commonly cited Bosstown Sound bands in the invaluable ARSA database of local radio airplay charts, just to see who was spinning them, in 1968 and further on:

Ultimate Spinach: I used to have a bootleg recording of these guys that was just awful; they sounded like the most pretentious asses in the world. I used to play one song in particular to my young children and make fun of it, which perhaps reflects poorly on my notion of fatherhood, but so be it.

Anyway, the Spinach’s first album produced a cut, “Ego Trip,” that landed on two charts at the Hobart and William Smith College radio station in Geneva, N.Y., in March 1968. Meanwhile, spring 1969’s “(Just Like) Romeo & Juliet” landed on five local airplay charts — four of them in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where the record peaked at No. 13.

The band’s first album shows up on only eight local charts — but it did very well on two of them, with Top Ten placements at stations in New Haven and St. Louis. The second Spinach LP, Behold & See, shows up on one local chart from Salisbury, Md., near the end of the summer of ’68.

And that, friends, was the end of America’s love affair with Ultimate Spinach.

Orpheus: The ARSA database doesn’t necessarily paint a full picture, because what’s in there is just the surveys people saved, not all the surveys that came out.

Still, based solely on ARSA, Orpheus appears to have been the champs of Beantown: Their singles show up on roughly 110 separate local charts.

The song “Can’t Find The Time,” in particular, kept bobbing up and getting play on different stations every year between 1968 and 1971.

On its first go-round, in early ’68, it was Top Ten on the Hobart and William Smith station and in Worcester, Mass. It popped up again on 37 charts in the late summer and early fall of 1969, this time going Top Ten at stations in Wichita and Fort Lauderdale.

In April 1970, it hit Number One at a station in Honolulu. And as late as July 1971 — when the Bosstown Sound was buried, gone and forgotten — “Can’t Find The Time” was once again getting regular spins on a station in New Haven.

Beacon Street Union: I’ve written about these guys before (and had the pleasure of getting a kindly comment from their lead guitar player).

The BSU’s first album crept onto charts in Philadelphia, Orlando, and Storrs, Conn., the home of the University of Connecticut.

(If there’s anything noteworthy about the ARSA results for these Bosstown bands, it’s how few Boston radio charts they show up on. Either a lot of those Boston charts have gone missing, or the local stations weren’t so sold on the Big Local Sound.)

The band’s most successful tune, “South End Incident (I’m Afraid),” reached 17 charts in late 1967 and early ’68 in Cleveland, Columbus, Orlando and Geneva, N.Y. (Apparently the kids at Hobart and William Smith really bought into the Bosstown Sound.)

Their cover of the venerable “Blue Suede Shoes” made nine additional local charts in May and June ’68.

And the very last BSU song to show up on a local chart, “Mayola,” appears as hitbound on exactly one chart … the one from Nov. 17, 1968, from none other than WAEB 790-AM here in Allentown.

I’m not gonna put that one up, just because I still think the title track of The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens deserves all the spins it can get:

Rio Grande mud.

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A few minutes of communing with the ARSA database of local radio airplay charts is always good for turning up a random anniversary or a forgotten 45.

And so, around this time of year 46 years ago, we find radio listeners in the rest of America beginning to get to know a three-piece band from Texas with its own no-frills spin on blues and boogie.

ZZ Top’s earliest handful of chart appearances in the ARSA database — for 1969’s “Salt Lick” and the 1970 follow-up “(Somebody Else Been) Shakin’ Your Tree” — all come from KILT or KNUZ, two stations from the band’s hometown of Houston.

The band would have to wait until late May and early June of ’72 to start getting a foothold on the radio elsewhere. The single “Francine” (sometimes spelled “Francene”) from the Rio Grande Mud album did the trick, showing up on late-spring radio station surveys from Boston, Hartford and New Haven, in addition to old faithful KNUZ.

Meanwhile, Rio Grande Mud made similar headway on local album charts outside of Houston, showing up on surveys from May and June ’72 from Pensacola, Denver, San Jose, San Antonio, Dallas and Memphis.

According to Wiki (usual disclaimer applies), the single hit No. 69 nationally and the album reached No. 104 — both steps up from the group’s first album and single, which failed to reach Billboard‘s notice.

A few thousand more road miles, a few more flashes of inspiration, and the stage would be set for Tres Hombres, the record that turned the band into stars and produced some of their most enduring material.

If there’s any downside to this particular historical memory, it’s that the song in question isn’t that great.

Sure, “Francine”/”Francene” would fit comfortably on most any ZZ Top album, with its energetic, stripped-down blues style. But it’s also a song about an older guy and an underage girl (yes, “Francine” rhymes with “thirteen”), and those are dreadful and skeevy no matter who sings ’em.

Doesn’t matter if it’s the Beach Boys singing “Roller Skating Child,” KISS doing “Christine Sixteen” or the reprehensible Steven Tyler singing “Jailbait“: There’s no lyrical angle and no combination of riffs that makes that subject matter anything but gross.

(Dunno when or why I decided that this offends me to such a degree. But it does, and it’s my blog, so you get to hear me complain.)

Anyway, here’s what was sneaking onto the airwaves here and there in New England in the late spring of 1972:

While we’re talking about early ZZ Top trying to dial in their sound, you might also enjoy “Salt Lick,” which features an early lineup of the band including, of all things, a big heavy Hammond B-3 organ:

And here’s “(Somebody Else Been) Shakin’ Your Tree”:

A flat fifth.

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Brace yourself for the least interesting ends-in-zero-or-five anniversary post you’ll read this year … or at least until September, when Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert reaches the big four-five.

The Great Kurt Blumenau Musical Experiment has reached its fifth birthday, and I think that calls for a formal accounting and report to the public.

Five years ago I reserved a Bandcamp page, as a means to put out the “solo album” I’d a1174372079_16long joked and daydreamed about but never acted on. There were noises in my head, and I wanted to get them out.

(The album — more of an EP — followed about two weeks later; that’s the cover at right. If you’re new here and missed the full explanation the first time around, it may be worth reading.)

We’re now up to nine releases, and more will be coming. They tend to alternate between unlistenable noise and equally unlistenable conventional songs. The former is supposed to come next, but I might mix things up. We’ll see.

Anyway, I decided to lift the hood and give the world a five-year progress report on My Life as a Basement Rock Star.

How many hits does one get when one tries something like this? How many plays? How many downloads? Any response at all?

Well, if you do it like I do it, things go like this:

Plays: The songs of Kurt Blumenau have been played 1,047 times in five years. That’s about one play every other day, or about four per week. Of course, they’re not evenly spaced; the plays tend to be tightly clustered around release dates, with periods of silence in the middle.

About 23 percent of the plays were “complete” plays (at least 90 percent of the song played) while another 23 percent were “skips,” or stopped before the 10 percent mark.

The remaining 50-odd percent were stopped somewhere between 10 and 90 percent, which is a pretty broad range — imagine the difference between listening to 10 percent of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” and listening to 90 percent of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” But, there you go.

Page visits: Officially I have 3,205 site visits in five years — about one-and-three-quarters per day, or a little more than 12 per week.

The difference between the number of visits and the number of plays makes me think most of my “visits” come from bots. If a real person bothered to find my page, one would imagine they’d play at least one song while there. But, many are the stretches of time when I get page visits without plays.

Sales and downloads: A little back-of-the-envelope math suggests that I’ve moved as many copies in five years as Taylor Swift moves in 20 seconds.

The grand total thus far: 34 downloads, in 19 of which money changed hands. (I’ve made almost all my recordings available for free, on the grounds that that’s really what they’re worth. Bandcamp says you move more if you charge people for them, but I can’t bring myself.)

My dad, my brother and the old friend/drummer who sometimes works with me account for the largest percentage of the downloads and sales.

There are still at least a couple downloads I’ve never been able to account for, which is MidnightLoneliness4probably the coolest part of the whole endeavor — the knowledge that there’s someone a step or two removed from me, or maybe even a total stranger, who decided they wanted a copy of Night Train to Sideways or The Midnight Loneliness of the Sunflower.

(The “commercial” high point of the whole trip came a couple of releases ago, when some guy in Britain with an Internet radio show devoted to experimental music came across one of my recordings and included a song in his show. It didn’t bring people flocking, but it was cool enough.)

My inability to get my crap into people’s hands on a permanent basis does not especially bother me, as I like it on the down-low.

I don’t promote my music very actively; I acknowledge it’s not very good; and I know there’s a wide gap between “hmm, I’ll go check this out” and “I must possess my own copy of this.”

And maybe, like Duke Ellington, fate doesn’t want me to be too famous too young.

The greatest hits: So, which albums and songs have been favored with the most public attention? (We all know the biggest hits aren’t always the best ones, of course.)

Among the albums, Hope’s Treat – the official soundtrack of my other blog – leads with eight downloads, followed by the diddley-bow showcases Night Train to Sideways and In The City of Churches and Cannons with six apiece. I really ought to get back to the diddley bow sometime.

The least popular, meanwhile, is We Have Succeeded in Nothing Anywhere, whose combination of theremin solos with the speeches of Gerald Ford drew exactly one download. (My dad, bless him, will download anything I put out.)

In terms of purchases, the particularly difficult-to-love Films About Airplanes is the current clubhouse leader: It’s one of three releases that’s been bought three times, and the $32 it’s brought in is more than any other release. I am powerless to explain this.

Among the individual songs, the most-played tunes tend to be the featured songs for each album — the songs that are cued up to play when you go to each album’s home page. (These are not necessarily the first song from the album – you can set any track as the featured song.)

The current Kurt Blumenau Top Five at Five is as follows:

  1. “Part I: Fingers Grow Back,” the featured track from Things We Burned, 69 plays.
  2. “Art Thief,” the lead track from Summer Games, 52 plays.
  3. La Valse du Auto-Stoppeur (The Hitchhiker’s Waltz),” featured track from The Midnight Loneliness of the Sunflower, 48 plays.
  4. “April 23, 1975: New Orleans,” the featured track from We Have Succeeded in Nothing Anywhere, 48 plays.
  5. “Search for the Tropical Puddingbeak,” the lead track from Night Train to Sideways, 46 plays.

My favorite: Of the nine releases so far, which do I like the best?

It’s a tough choice, but thingsweburned1if I had to listen to one, it would probably be Things We Burned, a chopped-and-sliced fever dream based on a locally pressed high school concert band album from the Seventies. My dad, without nudge or provocation, said parts of it reminded him of Charles Ives; I’ve rarely been so thrilled in my life.

That said, I happen to like all of them; there’s nothing I’ve put out that I wouldn’t listen to for my own pleasure. When (if) I get to that point, it’s probably time to stop.

For better or worse, I’m not there yet.