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Rough Lightning

foothilltribe on September 02, 2012 03:02

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    “Rough Lightning” is the final track on our low-fi, bootleg, instrumental, improv jam album “Ruckus Amuckus.”

    Every time we would get together and rehearse we would record the session. Early on we ran two room microphones into two channels on a Fostex 4 track cassette recorder. Later, after the Fostex broke, we would record on a crappy, little boom box cassette recorder strategically placed somewhere in the room. In the case of this particular track we were using the boom box. Most of the time the improvisational jams were misses more than hits, but every so often we would catch lightning in a bottle (no pun intended). “Rough Lightning” is indeed one of those moments where the band was firing on all cylinders, delivering a super charged, scorching hot, mostly instrumental improvisational jam.

    The beauty of a performance like this is that it’s so ethereal in nature. One moment it’s there, and the next it’s gone. Nothing was preplanned. We just flipped on the amps and launched into the music flying by the seat of our pants. The setting outside was chaotic as a vicious lightning storm raged across the Florida Gulf Coast. After a few riffs into the jam, our bass player, Danny Bertram, walks over to the light switch and turns it off. Everything you hear on this track was recorded in total darkness, except for the momentary, strobing effects of the lightning. You can hear the band ebb and flow along with the storm as it oscillated between varying levels of intensity. We had seamlessly fused to become one with the violent hostility of Mother Nature!

    Eventually the lightning became too intense and, for the greater good of protecting our equipment from a dreaded power surge, we brought the jam to an end. Before, the music stops, you can hear our drummer, Rob Gilmore, say “That’s some pretty rough lightning,” which is how the track got its title. You can hear me the guitar player, Clay, exclaim “Woooowwww” in dazed astonishment at the spectacle of the storm and the intensity of the jam. Then Danny walks over to the tape deck saying “Let’s kill it for a few,” and the recording is shut off with decisive finality, bringing the Ruckus Amuckus album to completion.

    Clay Urquhart


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