Milwaukee Ticket Giveaway

April 19th, 2011

UPDATE (This contest has ended – the secret time was 2:37 PM and the winner is twitter user @baddox. Congratulations @baddox, email me through that contact link up there and I’ll get you your sweet delicious free tickets to the Milwaukee show. I’m sorry the rest of you didn’t win, I wish everything could be free all the time to everyone and the world was made of candy!) END UPDATE

In an effort to nearly DOUBLE the size of the audience for the Milwaukee show this Sunday, I’m giving away a pair of tickets to one lucky winner. I stole this contest mechanism from Scalzi, and I love it because it demands practically zero work from me! So here’s the deal:

I have chosen a time of day today that is secret because it is KNOWN ONLY TO ME. To enter this contest you must simply @ reply to me (I am @jonathancoulton) on Twitter and include the hashtag #JoCoInMilwaukee. The person whose tweet is tagged with the time closest to my secret time without going over will win the tickets. Times will all be in my time zone here in NYC. You may give away one or both tickets to someone else if you win. You may enter more than once but please no bots – I will know if you are using some sort of trickery because my reply stream will be flooded with minute-by-minute replies from you all day long.

In case there is something dumb this contest – my final decision is final even if it’s totally unfair, I am the boss of you on any media known or hereafter devised, throughout the known universe in perpetuity, etc. etc. I will hear no bellyaching!

It is currently 9:41 in New York City. The winning time is some minute after that. Go!

JoCo Update #Umpteen

April 18th, 2011

Just sent this to the mailing list (but you already know most of it don’t you?):

Hello! This is an update about where I will be, when I will be there, and what I will be doing.

First! Good news for those of you in the Midwest: I’m bringing the band to Chicago, Madison and Milwaukee. That’s right, band PLUS Paul and Storm, which is practically a show with TWO ORCHESTRAS! Did I mention Madison and Milwaukee? Because those were recently added to this trip and I just wanted to make sure I had mentioned them. Great!

Second! More good news for some of you in the UK: I’m going to go to there! Details still in the works, and tickets will be on sale soon, but for now I can tell you Bristol June 9, Manchester June 10, and London June 11. Plus incredible bonus city which is not in the UK, Amsterdam, on Monday June 13. Watch the Twitter and the mailing list, more announcements about those gigs coming soon.

Third! Album! Yes! Release date is not 2013, despite what you may have heard. Release date is more likely some time this Summer. You will know soon.

Chicago, IL – Park West
Friday April 22 at 8PM
Band show with Paul and Storm

Madison, WI – Majestic Theater
Saturday April 23 at 8PM
Band show with Paul and Storm

Milwaukee, WI – Shank Hall
Sunday April 24 at 8PM
Band show with Paul and Storm

Minneapolis, MN – Guthrie Theater
Monday April 25 at 7:30PM
Acoustic show with Paul and Storm

Richmond, VA – Hat Factory
Thursday May 5 at 7:30PM
Acoustic show with Paul and Storm

Alexandria, VA – The Birchmere
Friday May 6 at 7:30 PM
Acoustic show with Paul and Storm

Annapolis, MD – Ram’s Head Tavern
Saturday May 7 at 8:30 PM
Acoustic show with Paul and Storm

Ottawa, ON – Gladstone Theater
Friday May 27 at 8 PM
Acoustic show with Paul and Storm

Toronto, ON – The Mod Club
Saturday May 28 at 8 PM
Acoustic show with Paul and Storm

That’s all I got. Happy tax day, suckers.


Thing a Week 30: The Presidents This is a song that I wrote…

April 15th, 2011

Thing a Week 30: The Presidents

This is a song that I wrote last year for a Presidents Day edition of Little Gray Books – one small fact about every US president (thanks Wikipedia). Some of you more dedicated Coulton scholars may have already heard the live version in episode 7 of the Little Gray Books Podcast. Back then I performed it with the Hungry March Band, the most energetic stoner marching band I’ve ever seen. They played the Hail to the Chief part in between verses – since I have no marching band here, I had to make do with toy instruments. This new recording may be a little rough because there are men hammering and sawing and drilling in my kitchen all week, not exactly the best thing to have on the other side of the studio wall. You may hear some of it here and there, but hey: this is Thing a Week, people.

PRESENT DAY JOCO SAYS: Right, jeez, this is when there were four contractors in my two bedroom apartment for a couple of months. My studio stuff was all in my daughter’s room. She was still just a dumb baby for the first part of Thing a Week, but it got harder to keep my stuff in her room the more she turned into an actual child. We had this enormous kitchen, and since at this point it seemed like this was going to be my job at least for a while, it made sense to steal some square footage from it and make a little studio room. It was tiny, about 4x8, but it was a room with a door and there were no babies in there. Before that was done, a lot of the tracks were mixed with my daughter sleeping in a crib a few feet away, and I remember at least a couple of times when I was trying to finish up some background vocals on a Friday afternoon, holding her in my arms, hoping she would stay quiet while I sang into the microphone.

This was was particularly rough weekend in the renovation - dust, noise, people. It’s even harder to write when you’re afraid someone is listening to all your bad ideas. So I grabbed something from the catalog and gave myself an easy week. The song is OK, it’s a little bit of an easy target I think. Musically it’s not that interesting (OK, one good modulation), and it steals pretty heavily from the soup of country novelty songs that’s always simmering in my head. I still can’t remember all the lyrics, they just run together in my head for some reason, and I’ve done it wrong live enough times that I fear I know the mistakes better than I know the correct version. That’s always part of the fun though, at least that’s what I tell myself.

Mistakes that are built into the lyrics include the Garfield assassination date (1881, not 1882), and referring to George H. W. Bush as “George Bush Senior” which makes no sense because he has different initials from W. I have corrected one but not the other in my live lyrics, at least when I sing them correctly.

When Obama was elected I changed the last lines a little bit to reflect that. At first I did it in a way that was kind of snarky toward George W., and when I played it that way in Texas I got a few angry emails from people in the audience who said they were so offended that they weren’t going to be fans anymore. I find that a little silly. I mean, OK, but…really? Mostly I was amazed to encounter people in my audience who looked back on W’s presidency and thought he had done a great job. It just goes to show you what a liberal bubble we have here in NYC. It’s also yet another example of how polarizing red/blue issues have become. These people were really upset, more upset than anyone who’s ever emailed me to complain about anything. They did have one good point though, which is that if the last line is “I don’t like to make political statements” then maybe I should not make any political statements dum-dum. Evolution of the lyrics has been like this (according to my own wiki):

W’s legacy’s a work in progress.
That is all the Presidents so far

After Obama was elected:
W’s reign of terror is finally over
Obama’s been pretty excellent so far

After the Texans got angry:
W decided he was the decider
(not sure what the next line was, maybe the same as above?)

For Hodgman’s audio book, and this one stuck because I liked it:
W decided he was the decider
Obama has a peg-leg and a scar

I think that walks the line quite nicely thank you very much. Obviously it doesn’t reveal a lot about Obama’s presidency in a historical context (EXCEPT THE TRUTH!), but we’ll have to wait and see what happens, won’t we? Unless you read this as a satirical backhand slap to the Birthers and the other crazies who think he is not a citizen, that he is a secret Muslim, that he was born in Kenya, that he is a terrorist, that having him in power threatens our nation to the extent that we might have to get a bunch of guns and start killing people, etc.

You are, of course, free to read it however you like, because this is America.

You can find more info on this song, a store where you can listen to everything, and also other stuff at

Since you are collecting songs to release in a single, monumental blast, you must still abide by the notion of an "album." Why not release songs as soon as they are finished? Do songs released individually lack the power associated with a massive tune cluster motherlode?<br /> <br /> (Of course, if you’re cooking up a modern-day Winterreise, never mind.)<br /> <br /> No matter what, I’m really looking forward to hearing "Je Suis Rick Springfield."<br /> <br /> Thanks!

April 13th, 2011

A fine question. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, since I’m currently working on a thing that is an album, a bunch of songs that nobody hears until they hear the whole bunch of songs all together. Why am I doing that?

I grew up with albums, and while I too am sometimes only interested in a song at a time, I still like to sit down and listen to entire albums by certain bands. I think there’s something great about an album, even if there’s no theme or concept or consistency, it still represents the stuff that an artist was working on at a particular period of time. And so the whole of it takes on some kind of meaning that way.

When I finished Thing a Week, I was pretty sure the album was dead. I had just released 53 songs one by one, and some of them did really well, and everything was moving along fine without the album construct. Except that Thing a Week WAS a kind of album. A long one to be sure, but even if I didn’t sell it as a single physical object (I do), I think it still would be possible to experience it as one big thing. It very powerfully represents quite a bit about my life and creative work and general freak outs at that time.

After Thing a Week I was tired. It took a while, but I eventually started releasing songs again in a slow trickle. I like a lot of them, but I feel sad that they don’t LIVE anywhere. I group all of them under the heading “The Aftermath” but I’m not sure how much that means. Maybe because they’re too spaced out in time to feel like they belong together.
Working on this new album has meant a lot of intense and fast writing, a lot of thinking about the larger picture: the album title, the mix of styles, the track list, the artwork. It feels like a large important thing, and there’s something kind of thrilling about knowing I have 15 recordings that nobody’s ever heard, and someday soon they’re all going to leave the nest at once. It’s just more fun, and it just feels more normal to me.
Shorter version: I am old.

UK Trip in the Works

April 13th, 2011

Stop asking! I am working on it!

In fact, I can give you some details right now. Unfortunately due to various travel and recording schedules, I have to do a kind of shortened trip this year. I am extremely sorry and PERSONALLY DISAPPOINTED to tell you that I will not be coming to Ireland, or Glasgow or Edinburgh. I love all those places, but I couldn’t make it work. That’s the bad news. I swear that once this new record is out I’ll have more time to plan a longer and more extensive tour in the future, and just try and stop me from coming back to those cities when I do.

The good news is that I will play acoustic shows with Paul and Storm in Bristol on June 9th, Manchester on June 10th, and London on June 11th. I think I’m also going to be able to sneak in a first time ever Amsterdam show (!) on June 13th. I’ll post the specifics here and on the twitters and to the mailing list when I have them, which hopefully should be sometime soon.

Houseboat, emmer effers.