Pony Jams: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1

May 15, 2015
PonyJamsCoverFINAL

My first day at Fast Horse involved a legendary ride on the “Hot Mess” – not exactly a traditional way to meet your co-workers. But within minutes, I was talking guitar gear with Shaun and discussing prog legends Mahavishnu Orchestra with Alex G. Music is now part of my daily work experience. One day I’m chatting with Jorg about our shared vinyl addiction; the next, Scott’s explaining his defining sonic experience at Red Rocks.

Recently, I was talking music with Alex G., who — in addition to editing this blog — is a drummer and burgeoning DJ, and we found ourselves spiraling down the rabbit hole of MySpace, which, to my delight, still houses countless songs and other memorabilia, including embarrassing photos of my high-school rock bands.

Left and right, Ponies chimed in with Myspace memories, and I realized that many people here have unique ties to music – as musicians, writers, visual artists – and I was determined to share my findings. There’s too much to share in a single post, so let’s kick things off with “Pony Jams: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1.” (Credit for the luscious cover art goes to our uber-talented designer, John Gilman.)

Track No. 1 – The Professor of Rock

Shayla “The Professor” Stern must’ve gotten her Ph.D. in rock ‘n roll. In the following track, you can hear her laying down smooth bass lines for Brother Lowdown, a Chicago-based group she played with for seven years.

Goth Mother

You can (and should) buy their album on iTunes. Oh yeah — Shayla’s also in an a cappella goth choir called “Goth Mother.” (See the photo on the right.) Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up, people.

Track No. 2 – Amateur Prog Hour

Next, I’ll sheepishly share from my own archives. My musical journey has involved everything from Kamikaze Kite – a Dischord Records-influenced spazz fest – to Mrs. Ippi, a grindcore band with a lot of screaming (don’t worry; I’ll spare you). My more serious projects were Every Effort Made, a high-school group I started with my twin brother, and Forest History, an instrumental band I formed in college during an unhealthy obsession with ’70s prog. Here’s a taste:

Track No. 3 – The John Mayer “Interview” for Rolling Stone

Okay, not all of these “tracks” involve audio. But the Fast Horse stable is chock-full of music scribes who deserve their due. Case in point: Andrew Miller, who earned a first-place prize in the “I’m From Rolling Stone” writing competition. The 10 questions he submitted to Rolling Stone — hypothetical ones he’d ask John Mayer in an interview — won him an electric guitar and an mp3 player. In fact, it nearly earned him an internship at RS – and Mayer actually answered Andrew’s hypothetical questions. (Mayer’s blog is no longer active, but some of the answers can be found scattered around the Internet.)

Track No. 4 – Supporting the Local Scene

Fast Horse also has a history of working directly with music. For example, a few of us recently had the honor of helping lead a pro bono project for Music Makes Us Whole, which brought together tons of organizations to promote music education. Fast Horse has also worked on the Minnesota Beatle Project, making videos with local legends like Mason Jennings and P.O.S.

Mike, Alex W. and Andrew also helped concept and produce the following video for local band Rogue Valley. Great stuff.

Track No. 5 – The Intern Sings!

When Erin mentioned she “recorded a few songs with a s*****y mic and guitar in her college dorm room instead of going out on a Friday night one time,” she failed to mention that those songs are fantastic. Here’s a really lovely track from our talented intern, who also writes for the Stereofox music blog.

Track No. 6 – Rita, the Reclusive Artist/Bongo Soloist

When I floated the idea for this blog, creative stories came out of the woodwork – some less expected than others. Rita, office manager extraordinaire, surprised me by digging around in her attic and unearthing some absolute gems. Turns out, from the late ’80s to mid-’90s, Rita ran with a musical crowd and designed their album covers. For some, she handled layout; for others, photography as well.

RitaCoversFINAL

Rita also disclosed that, while attending a recent women’s retreat put on by a friend’s church, the bongo player suffered an injury – so the keyboard player asked Rita, who’d never played bongos, to step in. She admirably heeded the call and found herself playing before 60 other women. To that I say: Rock on, Rita. Rock on.

The Fast Horse team’s musical talents can’t be contained in a single blog post. Stay tuned for Pony Jams: Greatest Hits, Vol. 2., which will likely feature shred-master Shaun, Teri’s killer vocal numbers, and perhaps even a short-lived Prince cover band called “Dirty Mindzz.”