We’re Gonna Talk About THE REAL THING! (Mix Tape 2022)
In these twenty-six minutes, we play some wacky organ music with my family in Bucks County, I ring in 2022 in Belle Mead, New Jersey, I make up strange music between “real” songs for a pre-taped radio performance, I use my looper pedal and a cheap microphone to create a strangely hypnotic instrumental song, I turn a voicemail from Righteous Jolly into a Butthole Surfers-like fever dream, I record someone at Acadia National Park stating “I want a naked mole rat” before asking “why don’t you want to be a [sic] otter?”, William Joseph (the town cryer of Belvidere, New Jersey) states “your favorite aunt loved them more than potted plants” seconds before a Fourth Of July firework is launched in Manlius, New York.
Friends from South Philly are then heard talking about someone getting “snuck in the face.” Suddenly we are at the ocean in Nags Head, North Carolina while some strange E-bow music is briefly heard, blending into ambient sound following a performance in a DIY venue in Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Next, I make electronic beats with a Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator and blend that with sounds picked up by my Zoom recorder while walking around New Hope, Pennsylvania on a summer day.
Those crowds quickly fall away and you’re with me listening to the water flow under a walking bridge in the woods at Tyler State Park. Before long, the GPS tells us to make a turn onto Old Route 13. But somehow we get stuck at the train station in Langhorne where the CSX rail yard wreaks havoc on Woodbourne Road. We’ve been stuck at this crossing for ridiculous lengths of times dozens of times, even using it as an excuse for being late to work, but for the first time, we have the Zoom recorder. With these good microphones, the train noise comes out strangely musical. As it fades away, you can begin to hear the calliope from the Steamboat Natchez riverboat on the Mississippi River in New Orleans, and then some chatter from the 183-year-old hotel we’re sleeping in.
We’re home earlier than we’d like and we’re secretly recording Christian singers at a private event we’re working. They are reversed, slowed-down, reverbed, and heavily filtered in order to preserve the texture of their sound but not any of the specific melodies. We generate a strange, slow rhythm with the Pocket Operator and blend it with the Christians. We add applause from an unrelated performance at Trenton’s Tir na nOg. A grandfather’s clock chimes at Woodmere Art Museum, unknowingly representing the imminent death of my grandfather.
We drag our wedding ring across our guitar strings for an interesting effect. It doesn’t sound dissimilar from that delightfully out-of-tune New Orleans calliope.
Upon my request, a crowd at a luxury hotel in New Hope creates a surprisingly cohesive rhythm using percussion instruments they were given by one of their fellow guests. I tell them I am filming them for my wife. Soon, we are listening to a gifted musician playing the piano at Ellerslie Art Museum in Trenton before dropping in on A Levittown Christmas Carol at Broken Goblet Brewing where I’m one of the electric guitarists. Righteous checks in on Judy, having fallen off his bicycle in her vicinity.
We end with pre-recorded bird sounds from Northlandz, “The World’s Largest Miniature Wonderland & Model Railroad Museum,” applause from a sound effects record, and a snippet of a discussion with my friend upon the discovery of a tampon that has been thrown onto our stage.
“Every Time A Bell Rings” (Improvisation)
A December night in Lambertville, New Jersey. I set up my electric guitar gear but plug my acoustic bass into it. I like how that acoustic bass sounds with the fuzz pedal.
I hit play on a tape that my niece and nephew recorded in my studio on Thanksgiving Day, kind of an imagined radio broadcast during which they warn of impending hurricanes, tornadoes, dragons, and even TELEVISION OUTAGES.
(At one point, Penny claims that Santa won’t be coming this year. I snipped that out of the recording. I censored my five-year-old niece.)
Steve Guarino helps the completely improvised piece take shape with his great drumming, alongside our new friend Cierra.
The piece’s other MVP is Righteous Jolly who eventually begins to improvise a catchy “every time a bell rings” refrain and gets others to sing along. We have just enough microphones set up to make a satisfactory mix of this freewheeling jam session.
We say “Happy Holidays, New Jersey!” at the end, just in case it is played during Jon Solomon’s Christmas marathon on WPRB.
It is! Sometime before dawn. Hopefully having some strange effect on the dreams of at least one listener who, despite their best efforts to hear all twenty-five hours of the marathon, has dozed off.
with Penny & Nolan Crescenzo, Righteous Jolly, Steve Guarino, Cierra, Billie Frees, and more
photograph by Kate O’Hare
Uncle Greg Feat. Nolan and Penny – “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town“
“This Is A Kazoo” (Sound Collage)
“just as the rain stopped” (Sound Collage)
This album was inspired by and is dedicated to the Bucks County artist Marcella Di Sandro.
“Greg unconvers that little glimmer of something beautiful, hidden beneath the grey snow of loss. A bud of promise sewn in memory.
It reminds me of the people who have swept through my life and passed through me, leaving strands of their own being twined through mine forever. Which is a precious mystery hinting at our oneness.
How something brief and beautiful that grabs our inner longing becomes an incomprehensible truth that makes you cry and laugh in wonder when it’s gone.
How people change you, and how one person can leave such an impact on another that even when they are gone from this world, they live; in more than memories, but as part of your being itself.
I’ve always felt that I carry all those I’ve ever loved with me. I don’t get over people. I carry them with me and never let them go. They become songs and memories and drawings, emerge in dreams and become legend that transforms my heart and being through space and time.
Thanks Greg McGarvey for this expression of beauty.”
“He is a troubadour from another era.
This album has been worked on for a long while. It has been full of ups downs, lefts, rights, pauses and whirlpools of emotional tumult.
The album also contains all of that and more!
No doubt a cathartic piece of art for Greg, but perhaps for anyone who could use to listen to, or feel ‘you-can-get-through-it vibes’.
Count The Colors is a celebration of life and its comet hailing curveballs. It tells the story of a young artist, friend, and partner who exhibited grace and strength during what anyone else would consider a hellstorm.
But it is in its essence an exhibition and exercise in love and accentuating the positive even when you are scared and breaking.
Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. And Greg McGarvey uses every word and experience he has had to curate and create art. Period. When it’s so easy to be wrecked, by so many things, Greg McGarvey takes it all, focuses, and rewraps the gifts of life and loss so that he, and we can breathe deeper to write another a day.
Tennyson wrote, “I am a part of all that I have met…” …now meet Greg and Marcella.”
– Righteous Jolly
“Why Don’t U Laugh at Ur Ugly Self” (Instrumental)
“Uncle Ted’s Porch” (Instrumental)
“Peekaboo VHS Noise” (Sound Collage)
“Theme From Detective O’Garv” (Instrumental)
“Get That Camera Out Of My Face” (Sound Collage)
“Mount Trashmore” (Sound Collage)
One day, I started shifting some loose sound insulation panels around, made echoing microphone feedback into a Gorilla amp somebody left at my house, played some Christmas carols and other melodies on bass, rang my Liberty Bell pencil sharpener, shook some faux decorative plants that had beads in them, blended it together (some parts backwards), and called it “12-06-1999” because that’s what day it was.