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Here We Go

It’s begun. It’s a thing now that at least partially exists, so there is no going back. To be honest, we’re not even sure what IT is yet…. but that doesn’t matter now. It must be completed, no matter who or what stands in it’s path.

New Holland Pennsylvania is as an unlikely place as Millheim, but that’s where it will all go down. That is where these ideas that have only existed in my mind for the past year or two, will become songs. It’s as good a place as any and way better than some to make an album. Honestly, the overwhelming amount of pizza shops is a little disconcerting. I mean don’t get me wrong, I think Pizza Access is something we all have a right to, but they’ve got it more than covered down there, with a few shops to spare. Anyhow, tucked away, right across the street from (you guessed it) a pizza shop, is Prava Studio. We got there Friday, ready to close ourselves off in the Prava compound, ready to go on lock down and make a record.

12191397_1674357249514921_5794112795629921228_nThe first day is always kind of tough for anxiety ridden, impatient guys like myself. I’ve got a bunch of songs, a million different ideas, and the attention span of a house cat all doped up on the ‘nip. It all starts with setting up, tuning, and placing roughly 4,000 microphones around the drums. Dave the engineer says, “Okay, let’s hear the kick drum”….. then for the next 15 minutes (If your lucky), THUD,THUD,THUD,THUD…this goes on for each individual drum.
By the time we finally get to the floor tom, I’m losing my damn mind. LET’S PLAY!!!! 4 mics down, 3,996 to go…
It must be done though, the whole deal depends on those drums sounding great, not just “good enough”. Dave is on that page, Forrest is playing the drums, he’s on that page. I’m on that page. We’ve got that going for us.

12226971_1674357292848250_2543164426455232053_nNext comes an infinity of recording the drums, tweaking, recording the drums, tweaking some more…”Hey, let’s hook up this ol’ beater of a tape machine and see what happens”. Down the rabbit hole you go! You take a smoke break and realize you’ve entered a time warp. “How the hell is it dark out already? Wait, it’s midnight?!?!”.

But Dave’s got it locked in now, there’s enough gas left in the tank to try and get something down tonight. I walk into the isolation room across from Forrest. I’ve got a nice big window, but I can just barely see him around all 4,000 mics surrounding the drums. I take my place in front of my own butternut squash sized microphone that I’ll be pouring my guts into for the next 3 days. I put on my headphones, they sound real nice, just a touch of reverb and delay. I look over to my left and see the thumbs up from Dave, sitting in the control room. Red light is on. It never lies. It never forgets, like some Saturday night dancing fool all revved up on Jager bombs will. So don’t fuck it up. Deep breath… OK, here we go. ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR!

Best Front Porch on the Planet

Ahhh, Monday….it’s a great day to be in a band. I’m just hanging on the porch. So far, two cars and one big-ass tractor rolled by. No horse and buggies yet, but I’ll be sure to keep yuz posted on that… I thought I heard a train whistle earlier, but that makes no sense at all.
Anyway, it was a great week criss-crossing the state with the Rumblers. We played with a whole bunch of damn good bands, met some new friends, and got really familiar with the ol’ PATurnpike.
… we even got to ride in the EZpass lane…check that off the bucket list.
Now we’re back home and ready to take a little breather for a month or two…..don’t worry now… we still have a few shows planned for the summer and we’ll keep you updated, but for now it’s nice to take a break. Forrest is going to head off to Colorado for a while. Mark is going to play some shows with American Babies. I’ll be recording and playing with Raven and the Wren and we’ll both be playing some with Marah. Ryan, I believe, will be heading off to an undisclosed wooded area to hike and live off the land. We’ll be back soon enough.
But for now, it’s the front porch, humming birds, tulips, and watching Dale on his tractor. I was going to mow the lawn, but it looks like some rain blowing in…. I’ll probably just sit here and see if we get some lightning.11062050_770056086445848_3972921187773082986_o

Chris Rattie is a Fat Summer Pigeon That Shits Music

By Serge Bielanko

Sometimes on summer evenings, as the pigeons start roosting in the belfry and

shitting out their day all over the old church bell up there, I sit on my back porch

and light a smoke and start listening to the evening hush. It only takes a moment

to let something like a mid-June dusk massage your scalp and your bones and

even your inner-thigh if you want it to, but you gotta play ball with the universe,

you know? You can’t just sit out there and light a smoke or sip a glass of wine and

expect the warm air to do all the work.

You have to want it. You have to need it.

You have to really need the hands of something bigger and better (and more

beautiful than any woman you have ever even seen) to slide its hands up and

down your spine and whisper things to you, things you have been waiting to hear

for a very long time, since yesterday even.

“Shhhhh.” That’s what the husky voice of any summer evening says to me. “Hush,

Big Daddy. Mama gonna rub all them kinks away now.”

Oh, Jesus. I dig that so much.

And I guess it’s because I always want that to happen to me that I never have any

problems. I need to relax and I know it. And listen, I don’t have any money for

relaxation. So I need it to come for free, from the sky, or from the goddamn birds

getting ready for bed.

That’s when Chris Rattie and the Brush Valley Rumblers usually start jamming in

the church beside my yard. I’ll just be sitting there letting nature seduce me,

sinking slowly under her sexy spell, hoping against hope that she might want to

kiss my neck and maybe do other stuff to me that I need and I’m not getting and

just then: boom: I hear the amps start humming /the snare gets slapped a couple

times/a bass note/another bass note/the organ firing up/a guitar chord slipping

through the old church wall like the ghost of some fat guy who died long ago from

too much work/from too many big breakfasts/too much greasy bacon and eggs

cooked in so much butter that you could eat the goddamn ancient cast-iron pan

they got cooked in and it would taste pretty good.

It’s not music yet. It’s the music before the music. It’s the magical poinks and blips

that come in the moments before a band begin to play together. It’s a beautiful

thing usually. The uncertain notes of a band about to be a band, it’s the sort of

sound that either moves you in a very real way or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, you’re

probably a douchebag. I can’t help you with that. Neither can Rattie. It’s all on


But if it does move you, than you will dig what I’m about to tell you. Because this

guy and the music he makes with his band, it does something strange to me. At

first, it pisses me off a little. I mean, look, I’m out here to get off on evening

nature or whatever and here they come stomping all over it, right? But I’ve been

in a band before and so I have this forgiving heart. I understand the need to play. I

get what they’re doing over there in the old church.

They kick in then and it’s fucking glorious. There is a filter obviously. A thick

church wall from a long time ago doesn’t just let rock’n’music escape at will. It

tries to eat some of it before it can get out. And it does; it bites off good-size

chunks. So what I hear over in my yard is obviously just a layer or two of what is

really going down over in there, but that’s cool with me.

I can still hear the birds, you see. I can still catch the sound of the pigeons flapping

their wings in weird unison as they pitch themselves off the top roof in one

syncopated maneuver when the deep bass notes rumble up through their pigeon


I light a smoke and wait for it.

The band is thirty, forty seconds into the first song of rehearsal when it comes.

Chris Rattie must have been moving to the microphone right when I was kicking

my legs out to recline on my old wood block I use as a chair because now that I’m

leaning into the wall he is starting to sing.

I know the songs now and I like how I know them, too. It’s so rare to come to

really know a band this good, to begin to vibe on songs this cool in the way that

I’ve been able to do. I have become familiar with a man’s music without the same

old drills, not by constantly playing his album in my car or by seeing him and the

boys play live a hundred times or whatever.

I have come to know Chris Rattie and The Brush Valley Rumblers through a

fucking church wall that squishes their music into a squat apparition before it

shoves the little fat fuck out into the summer night where I’m sitting there waiting

like some closing time bum leaning up against the pizza place dumpster, a big

goofy smile swiped across my face.

Here I am, you bastards.

Feed me sorry ass, will ya?

And they always do. Even though they don’t know I’m out there listening, I’m

there. I’m listening, getting fed. I’m tuned in to the sound of a rock’n’roll spilling

up into the ether of a world that is winding its way back towards a cooler, gentler

night and do you know how badass that is? Do you get how good it is to have a

band become a part of your own personal cooling down at the end of one more

sticky shit summer day?

It’s unreal.

It’s magic.

Hey, let me be honest here, okay? If I could change the band, if I somehow had

the power to switch out Rattie and his crew for any band from any era ever in the

history of music, would I even do that?

Let me think about that for a sec.

Okay, I’m ready.

You’re goddamn right I would do it!

I would replace them with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band from 1978.

My God, that would be magnificent, wouldn’t it? I would make that shit happen in

a heartbeat if I could, listening to that band every night of the summer from

across my freaking tiny-ass backyard, are you kidding me? Forget about it. You’d

do it too. Even if you hate Bruce, you’d do it, you sweet lying son-of-a-bitch.

But, here’s the thing, okay? Other than that band, from that particular point in

time, I’d have to say I’d honestly pick this one. Seriously. It might sound nuts, but

I’d pick Chris Rattie and the Brush Valley Rumblers, 2015.


Well, because look: they are one of the best bands I’ve heard in a long long time.

And Chris’s songs are damn fine ones. And because, even when I’m all geared up

for pigeon wings and wine and the sound of a small town sighing away the live-

long day, when Rattie’s crew fires up over in the church, I get pretty excited.

And so it goes.

This band, during this period of time, at this point in the history of the world, they

have come to define summer nights for me. They basically own a part of my

psyche, a part of my soul in a way. Organically, they’ve come to represent

something powerful and real and relaxing as hell to me.

And so, come this summer, when 7 or 8pm rolls around and you’re probably all

stuffed up inside your living room, trying to hear the TV trying to climb up over

the drone of the air-conditioner, remember this. There will be me: summertime

kissing me softly up the ear.

And I’ll know I’ve got it made, man; just a poor bastard smoking a cigarette, out

there alone in the sinking light, listening to the sound of a rock’n’roll band

colliding up in the sky with pigeons, with the distant cars, with the high traveling

airplanes twinkling away from me.

And, you wanna know something for real?

That right there makes them the greatest band in the history of the

motherfucking world.

The end.

The Prava Sessions — Full Episode

I Love it When a Plan Comes Together

“I wish there had been a music business 101 course I could have taken.” Kurt Cobain

” I love it when a plan comes together.”  John “Hannibal” Smith- leader of The A-Team



We’re coming up close to a year since we started this whole thing, me and The Brush Valley Rumblers.

Last year at this time, I was most likely in a field of endless Christmas trees, meticulously pruning each one, and listening to what would become the album “All These Things” on a crappy set of headphones…. If it sounded decent on them, it would sound good on anything.FrontCover2

“Was the mix right? “

“Was it ready?”

“Do I have any idea what the f*$k I’m doing?”



…Just a few of the thoughts I was rapid cycling through. I had a little bit of money stashed away for mastering and pressing…(do you “press” a cd? I don’t know, but you know what I mean)….   I had a group of guys, a yet unnamed band, ready to play the songs, AND I had album release shows booked, but no album as of yet. Anyone will tell you, RULE #1: Do not set a release date until it’s done…but screw that, I’m way too impatient. Beyond trying to make a good recording of what had been floating around in my head and having a kick-ass band to play those songs, there was no plan…. then again, if you have those two things, a good album and a good band, who needs a plan…right?


Well, kinda….


So now, here we are a year later. We started with Joel on bass, a great dude. Joel moved to Peru ( PERU OF ALL PLACES!!!). Now we have Mark, who came in and saved our asses when we only had about 2 weeks until our big show. We started with Oz on the drums, another great dude, really the guy who pushed us to get out there…and now we’ve got Forrest who saved our asses as well. Ryan and John have stuck with it from the start….God bless em!   We’ve played some damn good shows together so far,  had some crazy late night drives.  We had a man in a chicken costume dance on stage with us and we drank more shitty cups of coffee from Sheetz then we’d care to admit.  We’ve probably spent more money then we’ve earned, but what the hell, this very loose “plan” is working so far.


So, onto the next thing then… I got me an old Tascam recording console…it’s a hulk.IMG_0443 It would be called “completely impractical” by a lot of guys who’d rather record it all on their iphone.

It’s sitting downstairs in what used to be a living room in this old farmhouse. I’ve been scouting ebay for old tape machines and any other weird, old shit I can find. If you know of any weird old shit out there, maybe something in your attic with big glass tubes in it, maybe it looks like something from a Flash Gordon movie, send it our way! The plan is to turn this place into a studio and make a record together. Ya, know like they used to, capturing a bunch of guys creating a musical moment rather than emailing each other tracks from across the country.  I can’t wait. We’ve got to rewire some electricity into the room, we’ve got to hook up about 15 miles of cable, we’ve got to figure out where the good sounds are in the house, and I’ve got to write some more songs.IMG_0452

The “plan” will be the same as last year…. Make a righteous album and see where it takes us.  I’m just too impatient to even think about the rest of it…..anyone want to manage a band?

We’ll be out and about in the next few months, check out the Shows! page for upcoming dates. We’ll be road testing some new songs and bringing back some old ones that got lost along the way. Don’t miss it! Check back here and we’ll keep yuz posted on the new album, the new happnin’s, and stuff.