A Map and a Pocket Knife

by Daniel Slama

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In April of 2013, with a microphone and an obsolete, malfunctioning Roland VS1880 Digital Studio Workstation (top of the line home digital recording in 1999) I began recording some original songs in the bedroom of a Huntington Beach, CA apartment. My original intention was to make a rough demo with the sole purpose of recruiting musicians to start a band - but as I became more involved in the process, started to really believe in the material and learned more about recording and mixing techniques - I also became more inspired to attempt to create something I felt was interesting, creative and professional enough to share with everyone as 'art'. In May of 2015 I finally called it finished - the final CD being entirely written, produced, engineered, recorded, mixed, released and set up for manufacture and distribution by me - as I did my best to learn as much about the process as I could along the way. My brother Chris Slama sings backup vocals on many of the tracks (and whistles on one) and Viking plays bass on 3 of the tracks but besides that all of the performances are mine - tracking out one layer of guitar on top of the other, then bass, then vocals, etc.

I knew I would be facing many obstacles that perhaps wouldn't be present if I had chosen to record in a studio - but I was determined. The first thing I had to do once I had settled on this more lofty goal for the recording was to go back and redo any take that had a dog barking, kids playing, a car horn honking, a door slamming, traffic sounds, car alarms, helicopter, etc in the background - which was pretty much all of them. Eventually what became a "good take" was not the performance with the most inspiration, emotion, passion or skill - but the take without kids playing handball against the back apartment wall. Another major obstacle was the Roland - I thought it would suffice when I first began the project but as I learned more about mixing I realized how limited I was by having to do all my mixing inside that box, limited to 15 year old technology, 15 year old signal processing, only being able to use 4 effects at once, a hard drive that kept crashing, and an effects signal path that would create digital clicks in my recordings. Many times I wanted to start over on modern computer recording software just to be able to have a 4 band EQ and compressor available for each separate track (with only 4 effects I could only use compression and EQ on 2 tracks at once) and to not be forced to negotiate around digital clicking noises on the recordings - but I had already come so far. Money and time also became a challenge because I wasn't gainfully employed so there were times when I would be couch surfing, loading all my studio equipment into my car, setting it all up at a generous friend's house to get some mixing done, then loading it all back up and moving to a new place to continue working (all the while keeping up an active festival/ camping/ unemployed lifestyle). Not only was this a tactical challenge but it was tough adapting my ears to new mixing environments while trying to keep the same direction on how I wanted the mix to eventually sound. I am forever grateful to all the friends and family that helped me out along the way - and it all has been a very fun adventure and learning experience.

Recording alone also was a challenge because my songs were absolutely written for a 'band vibe'. A drummer, bass player, keys player, guitar player, etc all bringing their own tastes, influences, skills, interpretations, etc into the song structures and all playing off each other, adapting to each other and grooving with each other definitely have more potential to produce a danceable CD than one guy layering guitars on top of guitars in the digital recording realm. Even a different producer or mix engineer adds a lot of variety, taste and input to a final product that would make it more dynamic and multi dimensional than just one person following their vision. As I was finishing tracking the performances I realized this and asked my brother Chris Slama (a great singer/ arranger of vocal harmonies) to listen to my rough mixes and see if he had any ideas. In the following weeks - through hot, sweaty, summer afternoons locked up in my apartment bedroom with all the doors and windows closed (for outside noise) - he dreamed up, figured out, and sang all his backup vocal parts into the mic with more enthusiasm and energy than I thought would ever be possible in a professional studio on some engineer's clock. Those moments were such a pleasure for me to produce and witness and his contributions are a delight to listen to on the CD. I knew the CD needed more groove also, so I asked a local bass player friend Viking (of Delta Nove and other funk, fusion bands) to see if he could track some bass. In one night, in just a few hours, he came over and listened to three of the songs, learned the changes, the nuances, figured out what the songs needed and in a few takes put his low end, groovy, funky magic on those three tracks. When I listen to those tracks now I'm still amazed by how quickly, efficiently, skillfully and tastefully he had worked, that we did all that in a few hours in one night, and how lucky and grateful I am that he lent a hand.

I had finished recording just about all the performances by winter of 2013 and had read a few books on mixing - but I had no idea what I was in for. It's amazing how much information (and misinformation) is out there on the internet on just about any subject - and from there my self teaching began (and months of trial and error). Come summer of 2014 I thought the mixes were nearing completion and it occurred to me I had no art work for this CD which I was considering releasing as 'art'. It didn't bug me much, I just figured I would put my name and the album name in black and white across the front - but some articles which I had read convinced me this would be a bad way to go if I ever wanted even a chance that people would take the CD seriously. I have zero visual art or graphic design skills so I started bouncing concept ideas off people who did. Eventually my friend Cat Riley painted up a map concept - like a fantasy, adventure filled planet floating in a starry sky - for the CD artwork. I was so touched by what she had created I felt obligated to create something that would be worthy of that cover art so I went back to trying to work more kinks out of the rough mixes I had almost been ready to call finished. In November of 2014 I began talking with printers and packaging people and was told the different digital formats and sizes and such my artwork needed to be in to be usable (none of this made any sense to me). I sat and looked at this beautiful painting which Cat had made, holding it my hand, scratched my head, picked up the phone and called my dear friend Connie Benedict. With her expertise in this field we had it digitally scanned, photo shopped, digitally sized correctly, album and artist name put across it in the perfect, artistic, handpicked, stylistic font for the existing art and matched up to the printers template and ready for print. Connie also took the art idea and ran with it to set up the CD surface art and the background of the back cover. When I look at the CD art and packaging now I'm still filled with wonder by my friend's talents and generosity and how it all came together - how I went from having nothing to watching everything come together and really having no idea how..... but here it is.

In December of 2014 the project started to seem never ending, I was having a hard time finishing the mixes and money was running out. I started a Kickstarter campaign to raise some funds but as I did so I also realized that the moral support and encouragement I received from my friends was just as needed to inspire me and keep me enthusiastic about completing the CD. I met my goal and was able to use the funds to get the final mix mastered (once it was completed in May 2015) and I'm so thankful to all those who contributed. Thanks not only for the financial contribution - but for caring.... it means a lot. It's really hard to get people to care about his sort of thing (funny, it seems there are actually people that will subtly root against you when you're trying something like this) and I know it will be hard to even get people to take a listen, but I'm happy I tried. And to anybody out there that may be reading this, maybe even after listening to the CD, I sincerely thank you for taking the time and giving it a little bit of attention when there are just so many things out there competing for your time and attention at every moment. And let's all keep rooting each other on.

And be on the lookout for a band setup up in the future. Jam band with electric guitar rather than acoustic, edgier, more jammy, dancey, funky, psychedelic, energetic and hopefully more layered as different, diverse musicians add their input and influences to the vibe.


released June 2, 2015

Daniel Slama - vocals, guitar, bass, drum machine, hand claps
Chris Slama - backup vocals and whistling
Viking - bass on tracks 1, 6 and 7

All Songs Written by Daniel Slama

Produced, Recorded, Mixed by Daniel Slama in different rooms of various homes and apartments from Huntington Beach to Fallbrook, CA between April 2013 and May 2015

Cover Art by Cat Riley

Cover Layout design by Connie Benedict

Mastered by Ron Leeper at Sound Affair Mastering, Santa Ana, CA

(c) 2011 Daniel Slama
(c) (p) 2015 Daniel Slama
All rights reserved. Lyrics used by permission only.

This CD would not have been possible without the support of: Mom and Dad thanks for everything - you guys are the greatest and I love you very much; Jason Corbin wow! so much gratitude for all that you do; Chris Slama thanks for all of your encouragement, support and patience and for rocking the backup vocals; Khalid Raza thanks for your kindness and spirit.

Thanks to Jeremy Frieze this whole thing wouldn't have been much fun without you; special thanks to Shanaz Raza; thanks to everyone who contributed on Kickstarter - Damon Barry you're awesome.

Thanks to Connie, Cat and Viking for your contributions to this CD - the heart, talent, expertise, time and effort you put in is greatly appreciated.

Thanks to all the friends, family and casual acquaintances who inspired and roused me; and all the cosmic strangers which I have met, danced with and/or strummed songs with at shows, festivals, trails, campgrounds and highways along the way and all the artists that made all the music which helped bring us all together - you're all in here.

Please say hello at DanielSlama.com, Facebook.com/DanielSlamaMusic, or DanielJ714@gmail.com



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Daniel Slama Los Angeles, California

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Track Name: Three Falls
"i've seen too many cloudy days"
he said through his teeth as he stared up towards the sky
"not to say that i'm always expecting rain
the temperature drops, i stop, don't ask me why"

three falls strand a man of might
if two wrongs won't fix it up right
when the bow leaks, the boat sinks in its own good time

"springtime the river always floods
look there toward those trees, you can see, it ain't nothin new
you can't farm in five feet of swap and mud
you can't sell when it's worth less then what's still due"

three falls strand a man of might
if two wrongs won't fix it up right
when the bow leaks, the boat sinks in its own good time

"i've talked less since the day i took a life
with debts left unpaid, i schemed how to make ends meet
a banker, a briefcase and a knife
his long walk home down that quiet, deserted street"

three falls strand a man of might
if two wrongs won't fix it up right
when the bow leaks, the boat sinks in its own good time

one shot to jump that morning train
seems a last chance has always been my fate?
when the rules never change
still lookin for a break cuz there's always
an angle left to play

an outlaw, he's tired, he's on the run
caught by the law as he's headin for the door
shot down, reaching for his gun
five feet away across the dirty plywood floor
Track Name: Truth or Dare
truth or dare is a timid way of exposing mysteries
'bout time i step back and take a fresh new look at things
cuz i've read about women collecting men for this twisted little game
to build him up just to tear him down

there's no mistakin the way you toss that line to see what tangles in
i could never escape no matter how hard i try - so i'm here again
but i saw you itchin as you faked your way through another one
it's times like these that make me want you more

tongue tied, twisting like a sari
from a misfire to complete desire like my rocio
just like my rocio

one's so sweet, one got some many friends, one got money to see you through
and when you can never be sure where their patience will end
you want no one to follow you
cuz when they come knocking on your front door you close the blinds and pace the floor
you'll know how it feels to be pushed around

"truth" she said, "is there something you need?" i asked like i gave a damn
"just to be here with you, this is not about greed" she said as she stroked my hand
but don't trust your instincts when this kind of love it comes on to
flatter you
take it from me you'll be better off in the end
Track Name: Tug-of-War
there's nothing more to say about this thing tonight
when we had met you smiled and said you'd like to keep things light
telling me how cool it was i needed time alone
when i was cuttin off them talks with you at night on the telephone

but now you're calling me
just like you said you wouldn't need to do only minutes before
you're reminding me
i continue loosing ground to you i better check upon the score
cuz we're playin tug-a-war
but i can see the rope is frayed
and i know i shouldn't stay
but babe you blew me away
with a gentle touch.
the one i needed way too much
and i feel it's emptiness
but it takes my breath
yeah i didn't my best
but i got one more lesson to learn
i'm still singin about you girl

a matted dress, a sweet caress, the damage done
the falling drapes leave no escape good God here comes the morning sun
as streams of light flow through the room the darkness trickles out
and the desire that has left us here we both forgot what that was all about

my spots to hide in the summertime you know them well
and i'll ask you where you're coming from though i know you're never gonna tell
but i can see by the way you move you've got somethin to say
and no matter how i leave you baby you're gonna be saying it anyway
Track Name: Bag of Tricks
sometimes an emotion takes you by surprise
sometimes the better life, it seems, never passed you by
i saw you trip, you stumbled, you made it look like some new dance move
but it didn't show there's no one that know except for me and you

but it's all right sister
i got a map and a pocket knife
it's all i could lift from that bag of tricks that grandpa left behind

now what's the fuss with ana - she got a ladder to the top shelf
she's wishin it was her idea, wishin she was someone else
that gal she kinda reckless - she'll hand you scissors with the pointed end
and if you're asking me she's all right company but i'll never call her my friend

boxcar jim was twenty to one so i wagered on his side
you see i knew him on the streets i seen that fightin was his way of life
i went to the match last saturday night jim was nowhere to be found
he's tired of loosin he's at the rail yards boozin with his friends from the fairground

it's getting kind of breezy, we got our clothes out on the line
i guess then when i go get yours i might as well go grab mine
but what's the point in cleaning up when your livin in this dirty town?
trust me dear the way they build things 'round here it'll all come crashin on down
Track Name: Westhaven, CA
my blood it rises, i hope that it don't show
ah but she got that look in her eyes i'm wondering how she knows
well i don't belong here i'm singing to myself
should never have come here should've gone somewhere else

you can't find no place you're gonna settle down
when you're all torn up inside
these times are heavy they're gonna weigh me down
but it's wintertime and there's a fire that feels so right

there's a wood furnace fire burning i can smell it in the air
the kinda thing make you start thinking 'bout forgotten years
when i see the smoke rise up i know memories fade
but the feeling it's always here when i can't recall the days

the rain pouring down i was knocking on an antique door
in the dead of night she opened up and said "come on inside"
and i swear mama we've been here so many times before
when it's wintertime and there's a fire that feels so right

i've taken no notice of time since arriving here
and how i came and how i'll leave it's still unclear
for the trail's unmarked on which i tread upon
and though its labors have cut my skin my heart grows strong

i rode nine hundred miles to see my natalie
natalie say "it ain't gonna be enough this time"
she said it so loud, so proud and so easily
but it's wintertime and this fire still feels so right
when it's wintertime and there's a fire that feels so right
Track Name: Tea Party
well isn't this just one ordinary world?
so much for solitude and disarray
i'm leaning on a shelter built from stray driftwood
you're lining tin cans up and take your aim
then one by one they fall
church bells sound as your shots ring out
then nothing's said at all

then a cloud wanders by the path of the setting sun
and its light shines down as if in rays
reflecting off the barrel of your hot, smoking gun
like some coded SOS in the amber haze
then a breeze blows by your face
throws your hair back, makes me feel
a little out of place

but i can see your watch it reads 'time for war'
your battles know no shame
i know you're stalking me to my front door
i hear your steps and i feel your breath and i know your pain

and jo you know i love the way you sometimes play
like some five year old in your own made up game
and i never meant to be the one to stop and say
"there's no tea in these cups" well i just drank
but you've sent invites to all my friends
i guess it's time we all ask what's real
and what's pretend?

cuz i can see your watch it reads 'time for war'
with your glass eye and your cane
i know you're stalking me to my front door
i hear your steps and i feel your breath and i know your pain

and i remember how you tried to teach me life's not fair
and we'd go on and on over who was right
in return i had to prove there are things you can't repair
and that not everything is worth such a fight
so if we've got some fence to mend
well you got time, i got sense - you work it out, yeah work it out
maybe tell me how it ends?

cuz i can see your watch is it time for war?
well don't expect some sweet reply
tell me exactly what it is that you're waiting for?
some kind of sign? like 'please be mine'? scrolled across the sky?

is there something in the night tapping on my window?
is there an icy grip crawling up my spine?
are these walls stretching out is the clock movin way too slow?
have i lost all sense of space and time?
rehearsing words i should never say
there may be hearts i'd sure like to steal
just not that way

cuz i'm not the one i'm just a shadow of
this love that no longer remains
just pack it up and say "what's done is done"
as the clouds roll in - can you stop the wind? or the driving rain?
Track Name: The Mix Up
that month was too much i thought i had it rough
searching for peace of mind
enough's enough i think i'll pack it up
and settle down inside
holding the reins of what appears to be
a magic steed with a magic name in a land of uncertainty

but a few more days
it don't take long to find out
that horse went lame
now who's to tell i though i'd seen it all

i can't define what i put on the line
what would be the use?
of adding up all i've left behind
when there's nothing left to lose

i jumped a train to sit and count the days
a face can hold a smile
they found me out they were lookin for a stowaway
i didn't stick around for that trial
i was thrown from a cage moving fast through an autumn storm
i landed face down in the rain i just slept there until the mornin

the sky has cleared
i wake up to the sunshine
i lost that fear
now who'd a thought i'd get up from that fall?

yesterday seems so different now
played in a different time
who it was? what was it all about?
this mix up may have been mine
throwing a line through a scene in a picture book
i'm taking in all sorts of signs looking lightly for their worth

but nowhere to run
there's nothing left to run from
it has begun
not just me or my account of
it's like a wave
it heaves across the skyline
now taking shape
many times i've heard that same voice call
Track Name: Songs of Yesterday
the rain has stopped
thunder once roared now has moved on
take my first breath
as these strange new skies are born again
no time for rest
they’ll run downhill
like streams they trickle through the field
into the night
i hear their thoughts
like time they filter to an end
but still they fight
the war is long
it’s fought in every lonely heart of man
they’re taking aim
the time has come i can’t resist and i can’t move on

beloved one
some wait so patient, some persist
and some turn back
some gather much
and in secret places they cry out
for still they lack
the kingdom of God
it’s boundless it provides without an end

the songs of yesterday i start to sing
from high on this mountaintop so my heart won’t freeze
it’s warmer now, my thoughts are clear
yeah i’ll find my way back down form here
all night i wait
for you to sing me into sleep like you did that day

wait not till spring
rise forth you early blooming child
you morning star
you’ll take my heart
i grow so weak, so weak my dear
i’ve come so far
my feet give out
with one last sigh I fall into your arms

the songs of yesterday i start to sing
from high on this mountaintop so my heart won’t freeze
it’s warmer now, my thoughts are clear
yeah i’ll find my way back down form here
look close my love
you may mistake my eyes for stars, my mouth for wind
look close my love
you may find where you thought i’d end is where i begin