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COMPOSURE, was the first of two collections released in 2010. It's all instrumental; ten pieces I composed and arranged through the years. Composure debuted a new recording branch of Front Room Music we call Kokobilly Music...inspired by the jammin’ desert immortalized in silhouette and song. After thirty years and 21 releases, Skinny Man has taken a well-deserved retirement. Since we expect a lot of our sales on these particular titles to be downloads through our digital affiliates like iTunes and CD Baby, we only offered 100 CDs (in DigiPaks) for sale, and less than 20 remain in stock! If you want a copy for your library, order it soon. I released Composure on January 16, 2010, as a 22nd anniversary gift to Leslie, who shot the photo of me in the yellow jacket at the Brown Palace. Michelle Rahbar, formerly of BAH! Design, designed the artwork around my concept of Kokopelli and Kokobilly.

I’m very proud of Composure and want to thank all the musicians who helped make the tunes sound so good: Guitars - George Coyne, Greg Lowry, Kyle Pratt, Rick McCrae, Ted Arbogast; Keyboards - Floyd Domino, Jamie Hilboldt; Horns - Joey Colorusso; Harmonica - Cara Cooke; Mandolin - Doug Taylor; Percussion - James Fenner; Kit Drums & Tamborine - Kevin Hall; Basses - Doug Taylor, Mike Roberts, Ted Arbogast. Thanks to George Coyne for your considerable studio skills in making this collection a reality. I sincerely hope you enjoy Composure.


ST. ELMO-TEL ~ In our south Austin neighborhood, there was once a motel along South Congress that could have told many interesting stories before it was torn down. Its colored neon sign still flashes in my memory. This jazzy little jam is my musical contribution to keeping Austin weird. (Originally released on Stay Tuned)

MICKEY’S TUNE ~ composed in ’97 as a tribute to superb guitarist Mickey Baker, whose Complete Course in Jazz Guitar was an epiphany to me. Some of my best songs from this collection and Universal Sigh came about from chord studies I gleaned from Mickey. I have to say that it was technically the most difficult guitar work I’ve ever been challenged to do! When Grammy-winning keyboardist Floyd Domino was recording his piano part on this tune, he paid me a great compliment, saying, “I think Mickey owes you for this one, Jim.”

WOLF RANCH BOOGIE ~ a Merle Travis-esque jam written in about twenty minutes prior to a gig at Wolf Ranch Shopping Center in Georgetown. I want to thank one of Texas’ most devoted musical sons…K.R. Woods for inviting me to join him and fellow pickers “dangerous” Doug Taylor and “lonesome” Greg Lowry for that job. Thanks also to my talented cousin Richard Stricklan for showing up out of the blue with his custom 5-string banjo! I’ll never forget us backing that mariachi band, Rick!!

GET A LIFE ~ a relatively simple G jam that began as a spontaneous exercise and took off to a slightly more ambitious place in my eclectic musical universe. I probably owe John Fahey subconsciously for this one, having played a lot of his stuff on KBPI-FM in 1972. I seem to recall that, like me, he had a thing for turtles and guitar pieces in open tunings. This tune would probably sound better in open G, but being lazy, I tend to do it in regular.

SAMBA for SURF GUITAR ~ what started as an experiment in my home studio, playing the 1962 Gibson ES-125 through a chorus pedal and into my Tascam mixer-recorder. This was originally a demo included on my Daydreamer 3 CD. Kevin Hall added the drums and percussion years later at Parrot Tracks and George managed to make it sound really cool. Maybe I deserve some credit too, for the symbiosis of styles and knocking it out in one take.

PORT ARANSAS SAMBA ~ you’ve probably noticed by now that I have a thing for samba. Well, if I weren’t so modest (and I’m not), I’d have to say this is as close to a masterpiece as I’ve come in my musical journey of stumbling toward ecstasy. This is beautifully played and produced, and is short and sweet to top it off. I can’t help thinking it belongs in a movie sound-track…or at least a lovely evening beach party. (Originally released on Stay Tuned).

BLACK EYED SUSAN ~ composed after Leslie and I first moved to Austin with a marvelous view of black-eyed susans growing near the duplex where we lived at the time. Wild flowers are perfect examples of nature’s eye-candy, waiting for—and most deserving of music accompaniment. “Terlingua” Ted Arbogast played fretless bass and second guitar on this number, and produced the Elysian Fields CD on which it was originally released. It’s been re-mastered a couple of times since then, and I believe it sounds better than ever.

STONEFEATHER ~ a composition probably owing a tip of the hat to Mason Williams, among others. Originally titled Neveau Departe, it has evolved through the years, into the mature quiescence presented here. Kyle Pratt quickly learned the tune and we rehearsed it as a piece featuring almost identical guitar lines. As often happens in the studio, the song re-shaped itself; this time with Kyle’s excellent nylon-string melody playing and my subtle rhythm backing him. It’s been renamed in honor of Stonefeather—the country estate of my brother Douglas and his wife Cindi—and I dedicate the piece to them with gratitude for all the magical visits I've enjoyed there.

CATNAP WALTZ ~ composed for our senior calico and sub-titled “Beautiful Xena,” this hypnotic waltz was inspired by many years observing the exquisite Zen of cat-napping. A rather rough demo was included on Daydreamer 3, and ever since, I’ve wanted to record it properly. I believe we did it justice this time around since the felines seem happy. And you know what critics they can be sometimes! Thanks Doug for your beautiful mandolin work.

FINDING YOU ~ one of my oldest guitar compositions, dating back to around 1980-81. It’s a meditative work that, to me, is both spiritual and romantic in nature. But essentially a song of affirmation…about finding faith in the One true source of universal love. I believe it would make a beautiful piano arrangement, but, alas…one must work with the tools at hand. Lord only knows how many times I’ve played this piece over the years. We were finally able to capture it on tape…or digital data.

~ js ~


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photos by George Diego Photography