Pocket Hang Glider
“Pocket Hang Glider” is a solitary project in every aspect. No other players were employed on this album. It is pure concentrated Boris. Can you handle it? You will find, no surprise, that you more than can. McCutcheon will debut this new album in Holland and the EU, offering first-ever live performances to Dutch audiences during the HOTH Brothers
“Pocket Hang Glider” is a solitary project in every aspect. No other players were employed on this album. It is pure concentrated Boris. Can you handle it? You will find, no surprise, that you more than can. McCutcheon will debut this new album in Holland and the EU, offering first-ever live performances to Dutch audiences during the HOTH Brothers tour. This is a special moment in McCutcheon‘s career, his first truly stripped-down authentic, intimate set of songs, emphasizing his poetic lyricism. At no other time in his two decades of touring in the Netherlands has he released a strictly do-it-your-self solo album stuffed with his own songs. Weaving through his HOTH Brothers sets with Bard Edrington V and introducing their phenomenal singer and bass player Sarah Ferrell, fans will also get some solo Boris. Pocket Hang Glider was recorded, mixed and produced by Boris McCutcheon himself, at his Dead Skunk Studios in northern New Mexico. The new CD will be available for sale, along with the albums of all the artists on tour. ••••• We asked Boris why he created Pocket Hang Glider?
A: In the Fall of 2021 I was wondering what I should do next. I was trying to get a read on the direction of HOTH Brothers. Sarah was starting a new massage school and was dedicated to that dream for good reason. Bard had recorded a collection of hunting songs by himself to promote to various publications in that vein. As I had amassed a collection of some pretty decent songs worthy of
recording, I thought to myself: should I make a trippy folk rock album with the Gral Brothers out of Albuquerque? Wouldn’t that would be a cool, a get out of my comfort zone project? Or should I push making another HOTH Brothers album? By the end of November in the middle of COVID, I decided to just stay home and work on my own projects here at the Dead Skunk Studios. I chose to finish up an old project that I had been kicking around for years with my old East Coast bandmates Jeff Berlin and Steve Mayone. We had been sharing files for months back-and-forth between Brooklyn, Vermont and New Mexico. The still-unnamed project is a file-swapping collage of misfit tunes being polished by guitar genius Steve Mayone (producer of “I’m Here Let Me In”) and the best drummer in the northeast, Jeff Berlin. This project continues and it’ll be another story to tell down the road upon its eventual release. In December 2021 while this was happening, I began recording my own project. It was a second thought. I had some new songs I wanted to freshly capture in my own studio in the same way that I had captured new songs on my phone and sent them to Jeff and Steve. I began with a song barely out of the oven called, “New Mexico Bound “, written about my family’s annual Thanksgiving pilgrimage to Moab Utah and back. It’s the most stripped down song of the album — a waltz about coming home. Later In a phone conversation with Jeff Berlin he joked about me “huffing in my shed” too much. This set me off on a new song called “Old Crow”, that I wrote and simultaneously recorded. After tracking “Old Crow” and “New Mexico Bound” I felt excited to have things working out well in my studio. I decided to continue onward and use this new energy and momentum to return to some older material with the next songs “Apple Shine” and “Golden Shovel”. These songs are complete opposites of each other. “Apple Shine” is the infinitely hopeful opening track, while “Golden Shovel” is probably the darkest song I have ever written. I had not played these songs for a long time and by ignoring them, I was now allowed to remove myself and not be intimidated by them in the recording process. I recording “Apple Shine” and “Golden Shovel “ in a relaxed manner, retelling the stories without too much pent-up feeling, and got the job done. In fact this is how I proceeded throughout the rest of the album. I viewed it with a bit of a distance — a job that needed to be done. No screwing around and no musicians to herd. Ironically, it became an album of songs with significant emotional heft.
With a rekindled interest in the recording and mixing process itself, I finished up an older song called, “Mack Attack” and recorded it with double mandolins creating a new technique for the mandolin parts. The rock track, ”PTSD” follows, earning forgiveness points for its content by delivering a delicious Chuck Berry groove with Mose Allison phrasing. I can’t remember what I recorded next, it could’ve been the track, “Niamh‘s Bum Lamb”, a song I wrote on octave mandolin about an orphan lamb my daughter Niamh raised during the pandemic. Easterner meets Westerner in the track “Walking My Mandolin” which probably came next. I wrote this song while hiking and playing my mandolin in the mountains about the folk hero, musician/ethnomusicologist Ralph Rinzler. Ralph was an old employer of mine and he had learned how to play banjo from Elizabeth Cotten. He later taught me the power of three chords. The somewhat psychedelic work song “Staring at the Sun”— a track that might’ve been called, “the orchardist” — needs to be explained. It was written in an apple tree whilst pruning in an old orchard I prune every year in the Catholic pilgrim-destination town of Chimayo, New Mexico. There in the Sanctuario they sell sacred soil to tourists. While pruning I had a vision of my past and my future coming together inside an apple tree. It was a quiet sunny winter day and the lambs were bleating in the corrals in the next field. I was fixated on destiny and It felt like I was pruning myself, pruning the dark branches shading out my youth. Clarity and yet unshakable fate. The banjo-laden baritone guitar flanging,”Trouble and Pain” leaves you satisfied in a way that only a true country-blues song can, with tongue in cheek of course. ”The Mystery” is another song that came to me in Española NM, driving past the aptly named hair salon called, “Do or Dye”. It’s the only song I have that touches on the unsolved cattle mutilations blamed on aliens and hippies — a phenomenon singular to the mountains and canyons of New Mexico. I went for a long walk before Christmas and wrote the last song, “Pocket Hang Glider”. Pocket Hang Glider is a reference to an imaginary contraption you can extract from a pocket in order to fly across beautiful quiet lands beyond. This glider in your pocket can become larger than life with some faith, grit and a little drop of water. It comes from something I say to people after climbing to unforgettable vantage points... “Hey! This would be a good time to get out a PHG.” It’s also a reference to traveling in your mind through space and time — something I used to do a lot when I was young, after my parents gave me a
book called “The Universe”. PHG can also be a reference to human consciousness or even a time machine, or host of other things we summon from our imagination. It ends the album with a final consideration of the darkness, and a flight into hope and light. •••• For the album, Boris’s long-time friend and fellow musician Mark Ray Lewis (Trilobite) wrote a pensive and luxurious memoir of simpler and younger times they spent together. “When We Were In the Garden” will become liner notes for the vinyl LP of Pocket Hang Glider, no release date yet. Mark Ray Lewis, a former Wallace Stegner Fellow, is the winner of the 2008 O.Henry award for his short story “Scordatura.”