Many years ago, I became familiar with the Small Faces. I’ve always had a love for that punky feeling, and I perceived the Small Faces earlier stuff as straight up punk rock, just like the upbeat Ike & Tina stuff I was also hearing at the time. The loved that firm little twists that made the individual songs unique, in the midst of incredibly simple and “regular” song structure. On that note, I believe that the idea of elevating a traditionally arranged song by bluntly inserting a little “concept” moment into it was perfected by Smokey Robinson, whom I think wrote lots of traditional sounding songs where the “concept” of the song totally annihilates and dominates the rest of the song; not just a hook and filler, but strung out self-validating manifestations of the simple, original concept. Anyways, I was a child of the grunge musical movement, particularly the tenets that dictated personal expression over all else to the degree that if your songs resembled an existing song in any way, then it was not genuine.
The Glinting Gems was my effort to write some more “regular” sounding songs in the vein of traditional 60′s “punk”. This must have been in around 2002 or so (???) and I was still a child of grunge, so this group was extremely extra-curricular, but it does signify my willingness to embrace tradition in songwriting, which means I was beginning to become an adult. Around this same time, I also wrote a lot of ”garage rock” style songs for Red Bennies. And that’s when I fell in love with Smokey Robinson.
Here’s some highlight from the groups history:
1. I played Guitar and sang, and my wife, Leena Rinne, of Stiletto fame, played bass and sang backups. Later in the group, I played the Guitorgan. The Guitorgan is a unique instrument made by one guy and his company Musiconics in the 70′s (?) and he made about 2000 of these guitorgan things which were: A knock off Gibson-style slim hollowbody guitar with organ tone generators stuffed into the body. Each fret was split into six segments, and wires ran up the neck to each segment. The circuits were completed when a string touched and of those segments, and the organ volume was controlled by a volume pedal on the floor (that also contained the power supply for the organ PCB’s), so you could (for example) play a guitar chord, and then fade in a organ accompaniment of the same chord. Wow! what an instrument! It’s like handling a rubber band machine gun with a hair trigger. Shout out to Oliver Callis for introducing me his Guitorgan, and thanks to Brian Crabtree for magically returning mine to me after it got stolen one time. Leena and I were voted “Cutest Couple in a Band” by the City Weekly music awards for doing our signature move of singing into the same mic on some songs. We have that trophy.
2. Ned Clayton played drums for a show or two at the first. He was famous for Sunshine And The Biffs, Fifty Dollar Face, and Star No Star, but his real claim to everlasting and eternal fame is that he’s one of the only people (if not the only one) in Salt Lake City who knows how to make and fix tube amplifiers. The math and everything. He knows Ohms Law. The group was called “The Breaks” back then.
3. Mike Sartain played drums for a long time. One show, we played in the unfinished basement of my house in that nosy neighborhood in Sugarhouse while my Grampa and Gramma had a dance party. That suburban hell hole neighborhood sucked and we just bought the house to sell it again and get out which we were able to do before the market crashed in 2006 so suck it, Sugarhouse!
4. Dan Thomas of Red Bennies, Tolchock Trio, and JPO fame played drums next. We played a show at the SLC city library, where we played songs in the fancy auditorium in between interviews with Jamie Gadett, and right before, Mike Sartain gave me a drink of his “snapple” (booze). Cosmology and my physiology aligned in some horrible way leaving me so drunk that I couldn’t feel my hands till after the strum, and couldn’t comprehend Jamie’s questions until halfway through my response. And NOBODY FIGURED IT OUT. Ta da! Also, at that show, Dan had the great idea of decorating the stage like a living room, including rugs, chairs, and lamps. During the process, he broke the class off of my lamp, and I still suffer from that loss daily. Another time, we played at a Wedding out in the street in front of a house in the suburbs, and during our funkiest song, everyone got in front of us and cowboy line danced.
At another show, Dan made it clear to me and Leena that if we played wrong notes throughout an entire song, it made him uncomfortable to a degree that he couldn’t bear.
5. Cathy Foy, of Strong Words, Sea Monster, and The Future Of The Ghost fame, played drums next. We had a routine for a few years of trying to set up weekly at Nobrow Coffee right near my house and playing what we called “Glinting Gems B-Squad”. That’s where we played very softly, which was a revolutionary idea at the time. The “B-Squad” had a history before that, doing a similar thing, on late and empty Sunday nights at the Urban Lounge. That version was usually minus Leena, played down tempo, and featured tons of sitar.
6. Leena was pregnant with twins at one point, and Terrence Warburton, of Red Bennies, KNVS, and Night Sweats fame played bass. When Leena was ready to play again, Terrence moved to guitar for some shows.
Tusk Task: Tsk, Tsk, Tsk
2009. This album is the internet release of work the group had done over the previous three or so years. It also marks the first time I had done an internet album release. It took less than an hour, and that rules. From the dank unfinished basement of the the house Leena and I bought in Sugarhouse, in the horrible neighborhood with the nosy neighbors, where we lost my mother’s dog, and I unwittingly taped up a “lost dog” flyer directly beneath a “dog found” flyer (same dog, RIP), to the finely dug out and finished basement of the same house, to the wedding reception where everyone cowboy danced to our funky song, to the library show dan decorated like a living room, and broke the shade to my lamp that is still now a naked bulb in my office, to when my sister bought me a saxaphone for producing the second half of her album, to my love for alliteration, here are the tracks included on this fine rock album.
Baby Baby This song was written by the infamous Smoky Robinson, and was a favorite of ours to play, was always too high for me to sing, and was recorded by Leena and I in the basement of our house downtown. I had recently learned the flute.
Bird Shit Bombs This is a song I wrote for Puri-do a very long time ago, then re-did with Kyrbir for Purr Bats. We were practicing at our practice space in the basement of the westgate business center, and Scott recorded our practice. It’s me and Dan and Terrence. I tried my hardest to remember Kyrbir’s lyrics.
The Breaks The is the B Squad version of the song! Read later for what the song’s about. I think I recorded this one all by myself. I think it was a test to show the bandmates how I wanted to do B Squad at TTTTT (a repeated event: Time To Talk ‘Tween Tunes).
Going Down This was recorded at westgate, too. Me, Leena, and Dan on the drums. The song’s about domination in a relationship.
Into the Future This song narrates a walk I took to Leena’s house in the middle of the night when I was a teenager, and it talks about hacking love after the “singularity”. Dan on the drums again.
Introduction This one is a pretty ditty designed to play at the beginning of a set. It features the guitorgan pretty heavily.
Love is a Hurtin’ Thing I got the Time Warner Soul Collection, and listened to it a lot while taking care of my infant girls. Lou Rawls sang this song, we slowed it down a lot and added an ambiguous key change to the outro that I was proud of. I played this one myself in my office, and used the sax I had just gotten from my sister. It’s a lavender colored alto from China. That sax solo in the middle is literaly (take and everything) my first time since I played first chair as “The Tongue” in Gene Sartain’s 8th grade Jazz Band. Gene is Mike’s dad.
More Heat This song describes time I spent with Leena in her little apartment in downtown Provo. Later, we had a friend named Naoko Inazuka who was an amazing artist going to school in Orem, who did a lot of artwork for Red Bennies, and who also painted a nice picture of me as a hero loving video games. The song aludes to a picture she drew of two lovers lying in the grass thinking different things.
My Puppy This song was written originally for Blue Sparks (aka Optimus Prime). I had been listening to Ike and Tina Turner and wrote it at the group home I worked at with Amber, Jesse, and Eli. Amber was in Blue Sparks with me.
Running Away This song describes running away from your girlfriend after a fight through a field leaving a path in the mist behind you. Also about crazily playing in the cats litter box. I’m a cat person. And I believe love could do that to you.
Someone Loves You This song describes the feeling of watching someone you love wish a different person loved them.
Tell it to Another Man This song, also written for Amber to sing in Blue Sparks, is about being nice and telling the lover who just dumped you to warn other people about you.
The Breaks This song describes in detail the day I left the group home I worked at for the last time. It was a warm, early summer day, and I rode my Honda Metro scooter as fast as I could to Leena’s loving arms. It was her who gave me permission to quite that hellish job and pursue teaching music instead.
White Lilly Mike and I had a private joke for a very long time about starting a goth band or singing in a goth band about white lillys. The song’s actually just about being sad, taking sleeping pills and rolling around in bed all day. That’s pretty goth I suppose.
Glinting Gems vid playing “You Sank My Battleship”
One of my students wrote the words to this song. It’s about her best friends steady relationship with her boyfriend that had lasted 7 years. they were young teenagers at the time.