Sunday, September 27, 2009

Brandon's Baltimore Four

Brandon Bigelow - Early 4 track Bigelow (1999-2000)
1. Nipples Like Pancakes
2. Lame Little Boy
3. Iron Maiden T-shirt
4. You Do Not Know
Brandon Bigelow - vocals, guitar, metronome, electric air-organ
Gaby Cardall - vocals (1)
Rand - clarinet, vocals (3)

Brandon Bigelow hails from Kernersville, but lived everywhere from Germanton to Virginia. By 1997 his parents had moved to Illinois. That year he traveled to Las Vegas, lived in the desert, checked out the Pacific Northwest, went sightseeing in California and meanered back to Illinois; breaking down in Nebraska before he got back home. Out of money, he lived in Illinois for 6 months.

Meantime, Steve and Blake Tesh, and Dave Franklin moved to Baltimore from The Wherehouse in October, and invited him to join them. Brandon moved in New Year's Eve; and stayed till September 1998. They lived at the Adler Gallery; which was a three story split row-house managed by Bill Adler; the first floor Gallery owner. Blake and Steve lived on the second floor, Dave and Brandon on the third; and their new friends James & Jasmin in the basement on the other side of the split house. At the beginning they had all day jams on Wednesdays, but over the course of the nine months these became 'whenever'. A number of tapes exist, mainly when Blake would lay down tracks on his 4-track & bring the others in to add parts. This group of recordings was eventually given the group name; The Baltimorons (which we'll get to later). In September 1998, Blake and Steve, Dave Franklin and Jeff Chapelle moved into a squat called the Laugh & Spit. Brandon moved into what has been described as, "the most depressing little two room apartment ever". It had only two windows, which both looked into the alley; and was located on the opposite side of town from everybody else. He only lived there a few months, before moving into a place in the middle of town occupied by Gaby Cardall, who he'd met at Louis' Bookstore Cafe. They stayed at this location for a little over four years, before moving to The Wherehouse at the end of 2002.

This quick history sets the stage for some 4-track tapes with a strange destiny. Although Brandon had a 4-track when he was in the Greensboro band Creamy Velour (before the whole Illinois thing); these tunes were the first solo material recorded on a 4-track in Baltimore. For this session, he had aquired a black Electronic metronome, with only four beat settings and borrowed Jeff Chappelle's portable 4-track. "Nipples Like Pancakes" is his first (and only) musical collaboration with Gaby; and features him on bass & guitar. The vocals were ad libbed with Gaby in a single take. "Lame Little Boy" features an electric air-organ and more ad libbed lyrics that he says provide; 'a scary window into my mind'. "Iron Maiden T-shirt" features a panned radio, chorus and delay pedal 'zooms & farts', Brandon's pal Rand on Gaby's clarinet and both guys on vocals. "You Do Not Know" is a quick number composed of layered guitars and vocals by Brandon.

The reason you might say this tape had a strange destiny, involves a fire at The Werehouse on April 15, 2003. A guest at the house accidentally left a candle unattended, resulting in a fire that consumed a room and severely damaged those to either side (the kitchen and Chris Leiser's room). This left the house unoccupiable for several months, while cleanup and renovating took place. Brandon and Gaby lived in such a small room at The Wherehouse, that they used another to store many of their possessions. This was the room that caught fire, and many of their things were destroyed. A few (like a block of melted cassettes) were so invaluable they remained as a heartbreaking keepsake. On the off chance that something could be salvaged, Samb and Brandon broke open an unidentifiable test tape, installed it in an empty shell, and discovered that it was a playable 4-track tape containing these four songs. To this day, Brandon continues the process of salvaging magnetic tape from the withered shells (for future release here, perhaps)! If that story doesn't make you want to listen to this stuff; I got nothing else for ya.

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