Volume 1, March 2020

Buenos Dios, buckaroos and buckarettes!

Welcome to the Tales of the Western Hemisphere inaugural issue... 

I'm Bob. You may know me from the band Big Medicine Head or daytime television.  This monthly missive from the land of tumbleweeds and the lonesome six string guitar will feature news from the frontier, music and prose.  Each issue will have a downloadable track and lyrics, along with the backstory of the song. I figure that I can go about five years doing this once a month until I have to repeat a song, but by that time I will have written more songs. Can I keep up this grueling pace?

Stay tuned to find out.

Austin Texas and South by Southwest

I'll be playing with the Dirt Preachers Union (more on that later) in March for gigs in Austin during South by Southwest. We'll be playing The Austin Shindig - an outdoor festival hosted by the Joe Koizen Entertainment Consortium - on March 21, bracketed by gigs at The Barn.  Joe Koizen is a heavyweight impresario, and he has a jukebox loaded with my music!  You'll have to ask Joe why I am sandwiched between Jim Croce, Meatloaf and Elton John. What message is Joe trying to send to me?

The Joepalooza lineup includes The Swinging LightsThor and FriendsFits of Pleasure ("sock knocking rock and roll"), Spoken Tones and Geannie Friedman and Stan Gillespie.  The Barn show on March 19th will also feature The Swinging Lights, an Americana/Alt-country from Salt Lake City, Utah. My favorite bit from their bio: 

"We are Utahn.  We play our instruments. We try to breath our woes and wonders into something memorable without lying.  We want our cave paintings we leave behind to be accurate.  We only have the truth."  

March 19
The Barn
6218 Brodie Lane
Austin, TX

March 21
3617 Country White Lane
Austin, TX
March 22
The Barn
6218 Brodie Lane
Austin, TX

Proceeds from Joepalooza will benefit the SIMS Foundation, supporting mental health and substance abuse recovery for musicians.

What a time we've had...

We've been working a rich seam in the coal mine, everyone. The last several months have included the release of my album Parts and Labor, a trip to Nashville for AmericanaFest, the organization of the Dirt Preachers Union, and an appearance on KPIG 107.5 radio in Freedom, CA. 

Parts and Labor

Parts and Labor is my first solo effort after a number of albums with Big Medicine Head.  On this album I was able to tap into some musical influences that had gone unattended in previous efforts. For instance, this is included in the liner notes for Big Chrome Moon:

"Burt Bacharach, Curtis Mayfield, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Justin Hayward walk into a bar. They've each got 25 cents for the jukebox, but it's a buck a song. The four gentlemen line up to contribute their quarters one by one and then hit "play". Big Chrome Moon is what comes out".

The album works a progressive vein. Parts and Labor includes a union fight song, a labor ballad, and themes around climate change and immigration. Parts and Labor is available at bobgemmell.com , iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, Amazon and all reputable online purveyors of music. 

Dirt Preachers Union 

The Dirt Preachers Union is an affiliation of all my songwriting pals who have roots in Santa Cruz, CA. We have our individual music paths and projects, but stay connected through this fraternal and sororial organization - sort of like Crosby Stills Nash and Young. We exist in association with Sterno Bums International and The Railroad Bums Songwriters Guild.

Charlie RamsayJD Devros  Jailhouse Johnny McGuire and me will represent Dirt Preachers Union Local 12 for the Austin gigs in March.

On the Air - KPIG radio...

KPIG radio is the best and oldest Americana radio station on the planet. It broadcasts from Freedom, CA, a small community in the Santa Cruz area - my musical hometown. Sleepy John Sandidge welcomed me and Laura Burian, John McGuire, Bruce Rockwell and Liam Rockwell to KPIG for an opportunity to chat and to throw down some music. We did Parts and Labor, Radio Star, and Confessionary Tree, representing Dirt Preachers Union Local 15.

(side note: Bruce Rockwell is also in Big Medicine Head. What are the chances that a rock band would have a member named Rock-well? It's like Bookman, the library cop from Seinfeld. That's only supposed to happen on TV)

We appreciate Sleepy John and everything he's done over the years to promote live music and local artists. With this in mind, we have made Sleepy John Sandidge an honorary member of the Dirt Preachers Union. We did not ask his permission to do this. We hope he doesn't mind. 

Song of the Month 

10 Miles South of Nowhere is this month's featured song. You may be asking yourself, "with all those songs to choose from, what made Bob choose this one? Was it the quality of the lyrics? The topicality and relevance of the subject matter? The Americana style that is so popular with the young folk these days?"  Actually, this one came first alphabetically.

This song was written in Nevada. By this point in my writing career two themes were beginning to emerge: songs about larger than life characters, libations and wide open spaces. 

Don't give me too much credit for writing this song, because here's a secret between you and me:  I actually just took the chords to Neil Young's "Revolution Blues", sped them up, and added a new melody line and lyrics. Sorry, Neil.

10 Miles South of Nowhere

Well I’ve never been to Memphis
but I kind of like the drawl
I’ll drink with any man who knows
the Lonesome Desert Crawl
I know some words
but I don’t know them all
I like my baby
stupid poetry and all
I’m 10 miles south of nowhere
10 miles from the nearest bar

I rolled out of suburbia
at half past 24
I had a couple beers
I had a couple more
I lost my way
someone nailed me to the wall
I’m legless now
I’m learning how to crawl
I’m 10 miles south of nowhere
10 miles from the nearest bar

I danced with blind Republicans
I mowed the White House lawn
I drank like Frank Sinatra
‘til the cops showed up at dawn
I ruled the world
yeah, I was feeling pretty good
I scored some points when no one thought I would
I’m 10 miles south of nowhere
10 miles from the nearest bar

Well I’ve never been to Memphis
guess I’ll never get there now
I’ll look just like a ghost
when I’m passing through your town
but I ran with kings
and I slummed with movie stars
now I’m just a phantom on the tar
I’m 10 miles south of nowhere
10 miles from the nearest bar

To stream this song, follow this link

To download this song, follow the instructions below - see you next month!