Sunday, May 2, 2010

Shards-God's Little Fingers (2003)[fulltext]=mark-pino-on-drums

Shards was a group that existed very briefly.  Its genesis occurred in Ilan Laks's  basement; he was renting a house in the Outer Richmond district of San Francisco.  In December, 2002, George Earth and I began jamming in Ilan's jam room, a space not much larger than a walk-in closet.  It contained a funky, beat up old drum set (my absolute favorite kind of kit, always), a Rhodes, and several vintage guitars and amps.
George had just come off of a several year gig with the band Switchblade Symphony, and I had just quit my job as a modular furniture installer.   I was also sensing that my band Birdsaw was starting to end, and as such had begun casting about for a new musical project.  We'd meet up once or twice a week and work out ideas.  I really wanted to play instrumental music of a more experimental bent, and it seemed like George had a similar vision.
The name Shards had been on my "cool band name" list since 1996 or so, and I was very happy to finally have a chance to use it.  Next time you read a book, please note how many times this cool word comes up in the text.   I have seen it used as a band name once since that time, as "the Shards", a band playing Irish/Rock fusion in Ontario, Canada. 
The song writing for this recording spanned about two months, after which Shards began to play gigs in SF at the Hotel Utah (this will be treated with a longer post), in Santa Cruz at a dive bar right off of Highway 1, a party in the hills near Gilroy, and at an independently produced music festival in rural Mendocino County.
Most of these tunes were recorded over a weekend in June of that year, inside of the beautiful Malibu house of one of George's high school friends from Santa Cruz.  We spent two days tracking, interspersed with copious lounging, beer drinking, and meat grilling.
There was a strange fellow who was also at the house.  I wish that his name had stayed with me, but it's lost from my mind.  I do remember parts of his story.  He told me of his exploits as a semi-successful singer/songwriter in Germany and Scandinavia.  As recalled, he had been touring in those parts of Europe for some time, but had recently retired from music making to raise a child.  Who knows how much of it was jive, but he was a really nice person, and, towards the end of the session, he told me "your drumming has a really joyful feeling to it".  That may have been the best compliment I've ever received.
As I was leaving Malibu at the end of that fun filled weekend, I pulled my trusty Ford Ranger over to the side of the Pacific Coast Highway, ran down to the water, and swam for an hour or so.   Driving north, back up to my rented room in Union City, I felt the sand of Malibu between my toes and the rays of the sun on my left arm.  I also felt like new possibilities were opening up to me.
All songs Copyright George Earth and Mark Pino, 2003
except California Dreamin', copyright John Phillips/the Mama's and the Papa's

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