From The Desk Of The Innocence Mission: Studying Classical Guitar

Next year marks the 30th anniversary of the first innocence mission album. Since then, the Lancaster, Pa., band—wife/husband duo Karen and Don Peris (both play multiple instruments and sing) and bassist Mike Bitts—has released nine more LPs. The latest is Sun On The Square (Badman), which also features Peris children Anna (viola) and Drew (violin) on a couple tracks. Karen and Don will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Don: The sound of the nylon-string classical guitar is transporting, both of the moment and otherworldly. Sometimes I am asked, as a guitarist, “What is a good way to improve musically and emotionally?” And, while I am sure there are so many ways to do so, one way for me has been to study classical guitar. I find that this pursuit kinda helps me align my thinking, atune my heart and even sometimes restore my creativity. Perhaps it is the clarity that comes from the discipline of any study, but for a messy-minded musician like myself this has often been a help. I also like the demand that is placed upon the right hand, a responsibility to foster a gracefulness in the sounding of the strings. I like the connectedness to the span of centuries, a participation in a long timeline. And, even as I move from nylon string to electric guitar, I find that I can carry some of those learned skills with me. Anyway, I bought this book in college, and it remains a place of refuge.

From The Desk Of The Innocence Mission: Tom Rosenthal

Next year marks the 30th anniversary of the first innocence mission album. Since then, the Lancaster, Pa., band—wife/husband duo Karen and Don Peris (both play multiple instruments and sing) and bassist Mike Bitts—has released nine more LPs. The latest is Sun On The Square (Badman), which also features Peris children Anna (viola) and Drew (violin) on a couple tracks. Karen and Don will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Karen: A few years ago, an acquaintance of ours, a high-school senior at the time, went to Germany for part of the summer with a study-abroad program. While there, she heard some music she wanted to tell us about, by a British songwriter named Tom Rosenthal. I’m thankful that she thought of us and opened the door on a whole world of amazing songs written, usually on piano, by the same man. One of my favorites is this one, “Bob In The Rain And The Lizard Of Hope,” from the album pictured above. The reasons for liking this song are many, but one thing is that my dad’s name was Bob, and I miss him every day, so it is good to hear his name, and to sing along with Tom Rosenthal, “It’s going to be all right, Bob.”

From The Desk Of The Innocence Mission: “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet Of 1812”

Next year marks the 30th anniversary of the first innocence mission album. Since then, the Lancaster, Pa., band—wife/husband duo Karen and Don Peris (both play multiple instruments and sing) and bassist Mike Bitts—has released nine more LPs. The latest is Sun On The Square (Badman), which also features Peris children Anna (viola) and Drew (violin) on a couple tracks. Karen and Don will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Don: This Broadway musical is an amazing combination of Tolstoy, brilliant songwriting, youthful emotional confusion, the destructiveness of irresponsible desire, faithful friendship and the awakening of a man who thought his life was without meaning, to the care and love of an innocent. Composer/lyricist Dave Malloy is a wonder.

From The Desk Of The Innocence Mission: The Beatles’ “Julia”

Next year marks the 30th anniversary of the first innocence mission album. Since then, the Lancaster, Pa., band—wife/husband duo Karen and Don Peris (both play multiple instruments and sing) and bassist Mike Bitts—has released nine more LPs. The latest is Sun On The Square (Badman), which also features Peris children Anna (viola) and Drew (violin) on a couple tracks. Karen and Don will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Don: One night a few years ago, I was doing some late-night grocery shopping and “Julia,” John Lennon’s song from the White Album, came on the overhead. I stood in the cereal aisle until the song was finished. A few folks passed me standing there. and if they would have asked what I stopped for, I would have told them it was not to pick out Cap’n Crunch, but rather for this beautiful work of art. There has always been something about this song, even as a boy, that makes me tear up. John’s voice, his guitar part, the very sound of the track. In a world full of wonderful songs and astounding creations, this remains my favorite.

From The Desk Of The Innocence Mission: Paul Buchanan

Next year marks the 30th anniversary of the first innocence mission album. Since then, the Lancaster, Pa., band—wife/husband duo Karen and Don Peris (both play multiple instruments and sing) and bassist Mike Bitts—has released nine more LPs. The latest is Sun On The Square (Badman), which also features Peris children Anna (viola) and Drew (violin) on a couple tracks. Karen and Don will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Karen: Recently, I found myself wondering aloud how Paul Buchanan is doing. Which was mildly odd since I don’t know Paul Buchanan. Not personally. But in his brilliant songs, with the Blue Nile and on his own, and his wondrous and wonderfully warm voice, he seems like someone who is a friend. His songs have been like friends to me for many, many years, while also being small, mysterious worlds to visit. (When we signed to a label—A&M Records—for our first album, the most important, most exciting fact we knew about it was that this was the company that put out the Blue Nile albums in the U.S. ) He is also known to be a kind and genuine and humble person.

So, anyway, I am thrilled to find out that there has been a great radio documentary about the Blue Nile made within the past year. (How did I not know this?) I want to share it with you in case you also had missed it. You can still hear it on Soundcloud:

And best of all: Paul Buchanan will soon have a new album! Though I know they are beloved around the world, if you don’t happen to know the Blue Nile— or Paul Buchanan’s most recent album, Mid Air—I hope you will look them up. If I could suggest a song to start with, it would be “Easter Parade” (from A Walk Across The Rooftops), which is my absolute favorite. I have a difficult time describing music, but this quote by Paul Buchanan says a lot and can give a good idea of what kind of artist and person he is:

“You hope that someday in the future some kid will be walking along the beach and find a little piece of green glass that has been worn down by the waves,” he once explained to The Sydney Morning Herald. “He’ll pick it up and put it in his pocket, take it home and love it. He won’t necessarily know why he loves it, but he’ll love it. Those are the kind of records we try to make.”

From The Desk Of The Innocence Mission: Angelo De Augustine

Next year marks the 30th anniversary of the first innocence mission album. Since then, the Lancaster, Pa., band—wife/husband duo Karen and Don Peris (both play multiple instruments and sing) and bassist Mike Bitts—has released nine more LPs. The latest is Sun On The Square (Badman), which also features Peris children Anna (viola) and Drew (violin) on a couple tracks. Karen and Don will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Don: Over lunch in early 2018, my old friend Denison Witmer gave me a CD of the record Swim Inside The Moon by Angelo De Augustine, a super-inspiring artist on the Asthmatic Kitty label. The CD stayed in my car player on repeat until my parked car got hit and demolished earlier this year. One of the last items I retrieved from the dash before the car was carried off was this CD. He has a sound that makes me want to pick up my guitar and write.

From The Desk Of The Innocence Mission: Laura Carlin And Beatrice Alemagna

Next year marks the 30th anniversary of the first innocence mission album. Since then, the Lancaster, Pa., band—wife/husband duo Karen and Don Peris (both play multiple instruments and sing) and bassist Mike Bitts—has released nine more LPs. The latest is Sun On The Square (Badman), which also features Peris children Anna (viola) and Drew (violin) on a couple tracks. Karen and Don will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Karen: If, like me, you are very fond of great picture-book art, maybe you will enjoy these, too. The images here are from fairly recent work by two of my favorite illustrators. Laura Carlin and Beatrice Alemagna create unique and interesting and beautiful illustrations that are rich in texture and resonate with emotional connection. I really enjoyed watching this short film of Beatrice in her studio …

… and this interview with Laura about illustrating The Promise:

From The Desk Of The Innocence Mission: Bill Fay

Next year marks the 30th anniversary of the first innocence mission album. Since then, the Lancaster, Pa., band—wife/husband duo Karen and Don Peris (both play multiple instruments and sing) and bassist Mike Bitts—has released nine more LPs. The latest is Sun On The Square (Badman), which also features Peris children Anna (viola) and Drew (violin) on a couple tracks. Karen and Don will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Don: A student of mine, Levi, turned me on to Bill Fay. Two of his songs contain lyrics that, for me, transcend the boundaries of mere words. On his 2012 song “Cosmic Concerto,” Bill sings, simply, that “Life is people/Life is people.” Not things, nor money, nor prestige, class, politics, religion. It’s simple and profound. We all know this truth. but it is sometimes good to be reminded.

On “The Never Ending Happening,”Bill sings this about life: “Just to be a part of it is astonishing to me.” I really love that.

From The Desk Of Simon Love: Now Is The Time To Say Goodbye

Welsh singer/songwriter Simon Love just released his sophomore solo album, Sincerely, S. Love x (Tapete). You should buy it immediately. The foul-mouthed Love will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Just in case you aren’t yet aware of this former frontman for the Loves, he took the liberty of introducing himself to you, dear MAGNET reader. And remember, kids: Love is all around and all you need.

Love: 

All good things must come to an end and so must my tenure as guest editor of MAGNET. Thanks so much for having me.

Au revoir my dudes.

Sincerely,
S. Love x

From The Desk Of Simon Love: All Of My Friends

Welsh singer/songwriter Simon Love just released his sophomore solo album, Sincerely, S. Love x (Tapete). You should buy it immediately. The foul-mouthed Love will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Just in case you aren’t yet aware of this former frontman for the Loves, he took the liberty of introducing himself to you, dear MAGNET reader. And remember, kids: Love is all around and all you need.

Love: This is where I very generously throw the spotlight on some of my friends bands.

The School
Liz, the mastermind behind the School, was in my old group the Loves, where I taught her everything I know about how not to do everything. She’s got one of the purest voices I’ve ever heard. Lovely ’60s-influenced, girl-group pop music.

Mikey Georgeson
The first band I saw live when I moved to London was David Devant And His Spirit Wife. I met Mikey not long afterwards but didn’t recognise him as The Vessel because he didn’t have the wig on. Fast-forward five years, and I was honoured to be asked to be in his backing band, the Civilised Scene, and to play chug-a-lug guitar on his brilliant Blood And Brambles album.

Tender Prey
Sometimes, you meet someone and you think, “Yep, you’re one of the good ones.” This is how I felt when I met Laura (a.k.a. Tender Prey) a few years ago. Her first LP, Organ Calzone, is outstanding. I especially recommend “Strong Feelings.” Her second record, Falling Off Chairs, is weirder. In a good way.

Language Of Prarie Dogs
I wrote “Motherfuckers” as the b-side for LOPD‘s first single, “Lone Giant,” with the brief from my old friend, the actor Matthew A. Kaufman, of “Write something Christmassy.” Hmm. They’ve just released their first LP, The Water Boatman, and I can highly recommend it.

Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard
Not “friends” as such (I only met them the other night) but genuinely one of the best bands I’ve seen in a loooooooong time. Amazingly tight ’70s glam-rock songs coupled with some smooth moves from frontman Tom.

Radiophonic Tuckshop
The latest incarnation of my Celtic psych brother and professional Paul McCartney: Joe Kane. A kaleidoscope of sound from the mind of someone obsessed with the best bits of pop music. The Christmas LP released in 2017 is a wonder to behold.

Alexander Christopher Hale
I covered Alex‘s “Seasonal Affective Disorder #2” on my Tennis Fan EP in 2016, and I’m sad he’s not done more recently. Get your finger out, Alex.