This morning I tuned my original lap steel, the Oahu, to a Hawaiian tuning (GBEGBD)…for the first time in the seven years since I discovered lap steel, whose very origin is Hawaiian. What a difference one string (and only one step up) makes – the sound of that tuning instantly conjures up a Salvation Army basement brimming with huge piles of damp Hawiian records from the 20s. I had an impulse to pair it with a quick beat and write a song with loose origins in my grandfather’s work as a carpenter/cabinetrymaker/Superindent in the Auburn Prison in upstate New York. His labour force – thus his trainees and colleagues – were the inmates. It was a 30-year career that began in the 20s. (I have a press photo of him helping to carry out a bloodied guard during the big riot of 1929.) I’m curious to see where this goes.

(Sent from my Palm phone).