Two-City Tour shirt remainders

Two-City Tour shirt remainders

You know how it is, life takes you where it does, and some of us just aren’t lucky enough to have it drop our boat on the shores of either Lake Philadelphia or the Baltimore Sea (unusually for me, that’s not sarcasm. I’m originally Philadelphian (more or less) and we’ve got a soft spot in our shared Jarvik 7 of a band heart for Baltimore, having played over 35,000 shows there, going back to Jerry’s college years at nearby State U.).

So even if you couldn’t attend our bi-state-area tour last month, you can now shop as if you did, lucky consumers. We’ve got a few leftover shirts from the shows, in a few different colors, and while supplies last, they’re for sale here in our store.

The camera phone is iffy, but the design is basically the same as the front page of our website, sans Darko-cum-Harvey rabbit. It’s a photo taken on Rt. 17 in New Jersey, showing tilted phone poles & power lines, the aftermath of the same storm that clobbered Kev’s house with a 90-year-old oak tree.

Design by a wren, hand-silkscreening by a wren, crappy photos by a wren.

the wrens
Biting off more than they can chew…Since 1989.

As always, thanks, here’s hoping you’re well, and hopefully see you at the next one,

the wrens

The Wrens National Two-City Tour

Maybe “national” is a stretch. Ok, even “tour” is a stretch. But with two consecutive nights’ shows booked for the first time in at least one SXSW ago, (Philadelphia, May 21st at the First Unitarian Church and Baltimore, May 22nd at Sonar), this, for us, constitutes a tour.

Even as I type this, bags are being packed, family farewells are in the offing, estate planning is under way, personal papers are being put in order, a tour bus has been arranged (SEPTA via NJ Transit), smoke-machine-repairpersons have been hired, vast amounts of road drugs have been grown, refined & processed…

[Clarifier: road drugs in our case being pretty much packaged snack foods (think: donuts) turning the dream cliché of “sex, drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll” into more like “conceiving legitimate children within the bonds of marriage, donuts & enthusiastically-performed song-craft in the rapidly-aging rock‘n’roll style”.
Again, for us at least.]

But what better way to ease back into touring than a wren-breaking two-day itinerary spanning as many cities, in neighboring states, over 90 miles apart?

We sincerely hope to see you there….

Show - Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church

On Fri May 21, 2010 we'll be playing in Philadelphia, PA at First Unitarian Church.

Tickets available here.

More about the show...

More info here, but our sweeping bi-state May tour commences in Philadelphia...

Show - Baltimore, MD @ Sonar

On Sat May 22, 2010 we'll be playing in Baltimore, MD at Sonar.

Tickets available here.

More about the show...

....and comes to an end over 90 miles away, in Maryland. How much younger we were back at the start of all this, in Philadelphia.

More info on both shows here.

Haiti Benefit show, January 27th, at the Bell House (Brooklyn)

Haiti Benefit show, January 27th at the Bell House (Brooklyn)

As mentioned last week, we’re playing as part of a larger benefit show for Haiti, and details (as well as tickets) are available today.

The show is Wednesday, January 27th, at the Bell House in Brooklyn, doors open at 6:00, and 100% of the proceeds will be split between Save the Children and Partners in Health.

All sets are short, stripped-down affairs and we should be on about 9:15 or so. Although with a line-up like this, it’s worth making a full evening of it:

NY State Senator Diane Savino

The Wahoo Skiffle Crazies

Pat Kiernan (of NY 1)

Here We Go Magic

Eugene Mirman

Matthew Caws & ? (TBA)

Eugene Mirman

Sondre Lerche

Todd Barry

The Wrens

AC Newman + Rhett Miller + Nicole Atkins + Charles Bissell as The Seekers

Ted Leo

Jimmy Fallon

Cold War Kids

…with others still to be confirmed (and note Charles’ ’60s Australian folkie turn as part of the Seekers cover set w/ A.C. Newman, Rhett Miller & Nicole Atkins). If you’re there between 6:30 – 7:30, enjoy free food courtesy of Great Jones Café, Dub Pies, and more. And there’s a special two hour edition of keyboard karaoke hosted by Sara Schaefer and fellow South Jerseyan, Joe McGinty, in the front lounge from 11pm-1am.

Again, tickets are on sale as of noon today (here). And if you’re not in the NYC-area but still looking for a way to donate the much-needed money for immediate help and long-term rebuilding, see our list of organizations already in Haiti, doing great and difficult work there (one post down the page), courtesy of our friends at Air Traffic Control.

And for whatever you can do, thanks very much,

the wrens

Haiti Earthquake Relief

By now, most of us have seen the heartbreaking scenes of destruction, suffering and death coming from Haiti, following the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck there at 4:53pm local time, January 12th, approximately 10 miles from Port-au-Prince. Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people are feared dead, as the capital city has been devastated.

To do our small part in helping to raise money for this cause, we’ll be performing at a benefit show here in New York City, along with a handful of other musicians, and we’ll post details on that as they’re finalized in the next day or two.

When disasters of this magnitude occur, sometimes amidst the media coverage and discussion, it can be less clear to know where to go to help or to donate the much-needed money for relief and eventual recovery. So with thanks to our friends at Air Traffic Control for putting this together, here is a concise shortlist of organizations that are already in place to help, and that you can help, by donating whatever you can….

Established disaster recovery organizations and national governments have been mobilized. Click on the names of any of the following organizations which are also raising funds for relief efforts:

Doctors Without Borders
Wyclef Jean’s Yele Foundation:

Crucial recovery and rebuilding efforts are always under-funded in comparison to immediate relief efforts. Here are three organizations that have distributed staff in the country now and more importantly, have a long-standing, grassroots presence in Haiti and are well positioned to aid in the long-term recovery effort: 

Partners in Health
The Lambi Fund of Haiti

Making things even easier, you can also make a set-amount donation via text-message (U.S. Only). The amount of the donation will be added to your cell phone bill:

Text the word “YELE” to 501501 to donate $5 to Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund

Or, text the word “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross.

A good wrap-up of the relief efforts currently under way, here.

Thank you,
the wrens

More laurels...

More laurels to rest (your head) on

Perhaps you know Stylus Magazine – they were a great online music (& movies) site that unfortunately stopped publishing new content a couple years back, (although you can still peruse the archive of articles here).

Decennially, they reconvened this past month to put up a series of decade wrap-up lists & articles and super flatteringly, they put the Meadowlands as their #76 album ‘o the aughts. We’re pretty sure they’re about 75 slots off (meadowlands feels like a #151 at best) but there it is.

Decennially means every 10 years, which isn’t accurate, I just wanted to type it.

You can see the rest of the Stylus Decade here.

Thanks very much, Stylus, sincerely.

Q409 Annual Report to Shareholders – pt.3

B-B-B-B…But so where does that leave us?

So although we haven’t started new recording yet (I know, I know, believe me), in a very real way, we’ve never been more ahead or more prepared. Or had more plans or ideas. Weird, I know, but sometimes such are one’s middle years.

the brighter star in the firmament
Kevin has been demo-ing for the last year or two, really for the first time ever (strange as that sounds), and he’s got over 100 songs recorded, mixed, with parts and pretty xylophones and rockly operatic lyrics wherein he embodies the character known only as the Rake.
Wait, that’s not us.
But he does have 100+ demos done and one of them's quite good. No, really.

the star's mysterious brother
And he & Greg have been getting together a few nights a week for quite a while going over those songs, working out parts & variations. Greg spent more money & time getting his guitar equipment together this year than in the previous 19 band years combined (multiplied by a large-ish whole number). He’s even been taking guitar lessons for the first time so clearly, someone’s buckling down. And he’s now a dad for round two, so the buckle comes off as well, ladies.

the other one who insists on singing
Charles?...also now a parent. In his case the stay-at-home-dad kind which means only a few half-hour-naps'-worth of available band/work time each day. And even that has to be fit around swapping Bed-Stuy gossip with like-minded neighbors over one of those top-half-open barn-style backdoors like an extra on Hee-Haw.

So to better put that time towards something productive and art-like, as of today, he’s hereby relinquishing & handing off all boring band-business stuff to our new foncy ponts management (see Part 2) and is now, officially, after a false start last summer, trading his “From the Desk of Charles Dickhead” business bond laid paper letterhead (with matching band gavel), for a guitar, a carbon mic and a Non-Remy Weft hair weave to try his hand making records again. He hasn’t been this jazzed about music since he was 40 and playing in Kenton’s band.

the cuddly likable one
Jerry has this way of holding his head that looks smashing on film. So band photos should be a breeze now. In his spare time, he continues to lead the world in the production of smaller MacDonalds (currently four street models to choose from).

Resolutions and Predictions

So, for like the dozenth time, official full-band recording starts next Wednesday, January 13th, 2010, at approximately 6:00pm E.S.T. in a New Jersey basement studio not far from Rudy Van Gelder’s original Hackensack one.
And bonkers as it sounds, I’m going on record predicting that we’re mostly done with the next album by say….June.
No, this June.
I don’t blame you for not believing me, I kinda don’t. And yet, there it is. In writing, no less.

‘Cause it really is about time now. The goal is to go from being one of the least prolific bands in indie rock, to one of the most, putting out say, two albums a year ‘60s-style, and deep-sixing whatever goodwill we’ve engendered over the years by flooding the market with product. Cheap, formulaic product with a hand-applied art veneer.

Or maybe we’ll just get going and see where that takes us…

Either way, thanks as always, especially for the patience, and may your 2010 be as fruitful as we fantasize our own will be,

the wrens

The Me(adowlands) Decade

Addendum to the addendum

Again, we don't have a press page and have always been iffy about putting up a whole page of flattering press (also too lazy to go ahead and write that press ourselves). But we were so knocked out that some people had put the Meadowlands on their lists of favorite albums of the decade that that we went ahead and broke our own little convention here and then again here when someone pointed out that we'd hilariously missed Pitchfork.

So now we're kind of stuck on this train (and it ain't a bad ride) and adding two more as an addendum to the addendum:

First, Steve Holtje put us in his Top Albums of the 2000s on CultureCatch, which like the other ones, is just bonkers. It means a lot to us because (1) Steve works at Sound Fix Records in Brooklyn so (1a) he hears a LOT of music and (1b) Charles actually shops there because (1c) everyone there is really nice and there's pretty much zero snob-factor...and (2) because Steve is a wonderful musician & composer in his own right.

And for those of you of the Facebook persuasion, James Bradley also put us in his Top 100 Albums of the Decade. James owns Sound Fix (notice a theme here?). So maybe consider this not only a self-administered back-pat but a plug for one of our favorite record stores anywhere.

Thanks, Steve & James, sincerely,

the wrens

Q409 Annual Report to Shareholders – pt.2

[approaches dais, clears throat]

"Thank you, shareholders and thank you to our parent company, Berkshire Hathaway. During this last fiscal year…well, you’ve probably read in the trade & industry journals that our cutting-edge R&D team is well under way with new product development and recording and…well, this is Wrens & Co. Inc. LLC and we will mic no drum before its time. So yeah, we both aren’t and we are..."

Here’s what we have done:

See our Report to Shareholders Part 1, here.

Here’s what we haven’t done:

Start recording yet.
Yep. Not a typo.

Here’s why: Um…

Um…we’ll get to that in detail later in this shiny new year. But for now, suffice it to say that a big part of what’s taken so long has been undoing/redoing 20-year habits of how we um, do things, especially how we make records.

Vowed when we were done the Meadowlands that we’d never make another record that way or take that long to do it, again. Of course, the irony is that it took about 6 years to set everything up to ensure that it would never take 4 years to make another record. See the kind of Lewis Carroll world we inhabit?

A not-insignificant part of all that is the nuts & bolts of running any small business, the knowing (or learning / cramming last-minute) enough about a sultan’s variety of aspects of music business to keep your own small-business boat not only floating but solvent, handling the more mundane emails & calls and things faxed, not too mention gaining the experience to make the big plays, head things off at passes, negotiate forks in the road, generate business clichés, etc.

And doing that yourself around real life (i.e. jobs, children and their ceaseless petty demands) seems to mean that as a musician, you often find yourself taking conference calls but rarely setting up mic’s.
Let’s call it Death by D.I.Y.

talk to our people

So in an effort to reverse that ratio, and for a thousand other reasons that are proved almost daily lately, it gives me nearly immeasurable happiness to announce that….we’ve signed on with official management – Ben Dickey, and his wonderful team of do-greaters at Constant Artists.
They technically start on the job the first week in January (hey, that’s this week) so be sure to drop them a line and present them with your “actionable” business model for bringing us acclaim and riches.

And they’ll quash it so we don’t have to.

With Ben riding at our side, the last piece of the apocalyptic puzzle is now in place and so begins the End of Days. Only regret we didn’t do this sooner.

Still to come: What’s to come?

Timeline 2010, wrens-style, in Part 3.

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