Roadside Dog

The Music of

Steve Watkins

Home

 
September 2019
 
Hi. My name is Steve Watkins.
 
This Roadside Dog Website represents the latest phase of my music
as a collection of songs and stories and my attempts to make sense of the universe.


Listen to the Music
 
Click on the Sound Icons to the right to hear some of my music.
 
Recording credits:
Backup vocals: Carol and Bill Gardner, Maggie Wing
Drums: Chris Nesbet, Jimmy Fox, Steve Battelle
Bass:  Michael Manring (Windham Hill), Murray Officer, Dirk Andrews
Guitar: Luke Barrington, Grant Maher
Keyboards: Mitch Schrift
Horns: Steve Abrams, Gary Regina, Stan Soroken, Elaine Beggelman
Strings: Linley Young, Andy Montiero, Anne-Marie McNerney
 

The Current State of Planet Earth in a Few Lines

A polar bear was drifting on an ice floe

Sun beating down from the sky

Politicians gathered for a summit

And came away with nothing to decide.

-- Neil Young from Peaceful Valley Boulevard

Same as it ever was.
-- David Byrne from Once in a Lifetime

We're never gonna win the world
We're never gonna stop the war
We're never gonna beat this
If belief is what we're fighting for.
- John Mayer from Belief
My Take

Do you see what I see,

And wonder how the world goes on?

Seems so crazy, must be madness,

Is there order far below?

Green forests burning, blue oceans turning,

Black oil floating, we're not learning.

We've got Wall Street crooks and corporate gangsters,

Calling on Superman, no one answers.

-- from Do You See?

 

Why this Website

 
I am hoping this Website will:
 
  • Help me to continue finding other musicians in San Diego for a performance project, especially really good singers to front the group. Play covers, your originals and my originals

 

  • Find video artists who will create visual stories to go along with the musical stories

  • Make connections with TV, film and video people looking for soundtracks

  • Find musicians who want help creating backing tracks, especially with Band in a Box

 

  • Provide a platform where I can express some ideas to get them out of my brain
 
What is a Roadside Dog?
 
A Roadside Dog is a mythical dog that stands by the side of the road,
barking at people passing by. Sometimes people pay attention, and
sometimes they just move on and ignore him. The Roadside Dog
especially doesn’t like politicians. He has no direct power, he only barks.
But sometimes barking can lead to action and change.
 
Roadside Dog is also a book by Polish author Czeslaw Milosz.
Milosz won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980.
 
Next Performance Project
 
I would like to put together another performance project in San Diego.
The last band I was in, the Railheads, lasted about 10 years,
but we are in limbo now since several Railheads have moved out of town.
 
So I am jamming with local San Diego musicians and hoping to
put something together that resembles Gorillaz.
Trying to find a way to put on a good show,
while being informal and allowing different players to come and go.
Hope to combine sets of live music with sets of DJ music:
 
  • Live music                        1st half of the night
  • DJ "Dance till You Drop"    2nd half of the night
 
Part of the idea of adding DJ "Dance till You Drop" (Occupy the Dance Floor)
is to somehow blur the boundary between the performers and the audience.
Not really sure about this idea yet,
but it's something I've been thinking about for a while.
 
Current Projects
 
I have developed a TED Talk about Music and Artificial Intelligence.
Presented at a couple of venues and I am looking for more venues,
especially local high schools.
Mostly I am jamming informally with people and looking for that right mix.
 
I played keyboard for a few gigs with the Quality Snake Oil Blues Band.
Also played a few gigs with the "Pay It Forward Band" organization.
They put together multiple bands, mostly playing gigs in California.
The bands play one-hour shows in nursing homes featuring jazz and rock.
If you're interested in hooking up with this good cause, here's a link:
 
 
Recent News
 
Did a "Listen Local Radio" camp out set up by Cathryn Beeks.
Heard a lot of good singer/songwriters and lot of good
original songs. The campground was Woods Valley Kampground,
close enough to San Diego, but far enough away to be peaceful.
Went on a whirlwind tour of Europe recently.
Didn't play any gigs, just revisited some places that inspired
some of my music (Paris and London) and visited some new places in Italy
(Palermo, Reggio Calabria, Rome, Florence, the Cinque Terre and Venice).

We also have a new Roadside Dog named Ginger.
You can see pictures of Ginger and some of the places we visited in Italy
on the About 1 page.

Video and Animation Experiments
 
Started experimenting with video and animation to create some
YouTube videos. This is slow going because this project involves a
huge learning curve. Going to have to spend a lot of time shooting video,
editing and playing with animation tools. Probably also need to take
a few film classes.
 
One offshoot of getting into video is that I have recently become
a "Golden Age of Hollywood" history nut. Over the past few years
I've been on 4 Hollywood tours (Paramount, Sony, Stars Homes,
TCM LA Locations) and have been watching every TV documentary
on the history of Hollywood that I run across; examples: the 3-part
TCM When the Lion Roars and TCM 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year.
 
Also have been surfing film history Websites like crazy. Here are two
Websites that have a lot of great info on the "Golden Age of Hollywood":
 
 
 
Wanted: Video Artists to Create YouTube Viral Videos ($1000 prize)
 
I will always be more of a musician than a visual artist, so I'm trying
to find some video artists to collaborate with. If you would like to help me
create a video, please feel free to use any of the songs on this Website.
 
I am offering three $1000 prizes to the first three people or groups
to make videos using any of my songs as a soundtrack that go viral
on YouTube (1,000,000 hits or more).
 
Contact me if you have any questions or would like to get together
(click on Contact link on left side of this page).

Past Musical Influences

 

The Allman Brothers Band, Pink Floyd, Aretha, Billie Holiday,

Traffic, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Little Feat, Santana,

Bob Marley, The Eagles, The Byrds, early Fleetwood Mac,

The Temptations, Sam and Dave, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones,

Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, The Glenn Miller Orchestra,

Gregorian Chant, Erik Satie and Mozart.

 
Recent Musical Influences
 
Joe Bonamassa, Walk Off the Earth, Deep Forest, Sublime, Gorillaz,
The Avett Brothers, Keb Mo, Daryl Hall, John Mayer, Daft Punk, Nickel Creek
 
Some of my favorites videos right now are Walk Off the Earth covering Gotye
and Radiohead, and sessions with Daryl Hall at Live From Daryl's House:
 
 
 

www.livefromdarylshouse.com/

 

Local San Diego and Charlottesville musical influences

 
Steve Poltz, Amber Rubarth, Janu and the Whalesharks, Molly Jenson,
Cathryn Beeks and Wendy Repass.


More Thoughts on Music, Video and Other Media
 
Our culture, our thoughts and our behavior are all influenced by media;
by media I mean any form of human communication, which could be:
 
  • Talk: word-of-mouth between people, phone, texting, radio, TV
  • The Internet: browsing, email, social media, news, retail, YouTube
  • Live art: live theater, dance, stand-up comedy, live concerts
  • Music: MP3, CD, vinyl, radio, music video, live concerts
  • Moving pictures: film, video, video games, TV
  • Static media: hand writing, print, photography, painting, graffiti
 
Of course there is some overlap (for example, live concerts are both music
and live art), but I think you get the picture of these general types of media.
 
Marshall McLuhan proposed his famous idea that "the medium is the message",
meaning that the form of the media type is embedded in the message, that the medium
is connecting with the subconscious mind while the message content is connecting with
the conscious mind. McLuhan said that each of the above media types has its own
unique, inherent message, and that this built-in message is more powerful than the
actual message content. This may or may not be true, but from my point of view,
what's important is that all forms of media have power, and we need to use all forms
of media if we want to change in the world.
 
Future
 
Keep looking for like-minded people to play with.
Add vocals on more of my unfinished Sketch songs and publish on the Website.

Create more MP3 versions of Sketch songs and replace Wav files with MP3's for faster download.

Work with someone to create at least one video for use on Website and to post on YouTube.

 

May or may not keep the Blog Page. I'm skeptical about blogging in general.
Most of us are already in a state of information overload. May add Facebook and Twitter links
with limited advertising, but only if they can help set up live shows.
 
For now, this is it.
 

Choice of Media Player Affects Playback Delays

 
Playback results of the direct link Wav and MP3 files depend on your media player:
iTunes/QuickTime, Windows Media Player or others.
 
When iTunes/QuickTime is your default media player,
the Wav and MP3 files may take multiple minutes to load.
 
When Windows Media Player is your default media player,
the Wav and MP3 files should start playing almost immediately
(but you may want to pause the player for 5 or 10 seconds to let the buffering get ahead).
 
For example:
To set Windows Media Player 11 as your default media player in Windows XP:
Open the Control Panel
Choose "Add or Rermove Programs"
Choose "Set Program Access and Defaults"
Click Custom in the "Choose a configuration" Box
Click on the Scroll Down Control on the right side until you see "Choose a default media player"
Click on Windows Media Player to set it as your default media player.

  

Some Notes on Surfing this Website
 
There's a lot of stuff on this Website:
Music recordings, pictures, links and words; probably too many words.
 
The Songs pages (Songs 1, Songs 2 and Songs 3) refer either to:
 
  • Songs on iTunes
  • OR direct links to Wav (.wav) and/or MP3 files of Sketch songs on this Website.

 

The Sketch songs at the bottom of the Songs pages are mostly big Wav files.
They are backing tracks with minimal lead guitar and without vocals.
The iTunes songs are available on iTunes under The Railheads.
Happy surfing.