Category Archives: Indy

Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker

Who’s Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker? After this blog post you’ll be asking the greater question. Why have I never heard of him? If you’re ahead of the game and know all about Baker, then you’re either really into history, Indiana, or motorcycles.

I got my first taste of Baker from an IndyStar article published a couple weeks ago. I was blown away my this man, and even more so that he slipped under my radar for so long. Here are some facts I found interesting about Baker.

  • He lived in Garfield Park just a stone’s throw away from where I used to live when I first got married, and since moving, now only about a mile and a half away.
  • He won the first motorized race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909, which was a 10-mile motorcycle race. Side note: the first race ever at the IMS was a balloon race.
  • He also raced in the Indianapolis 500 in 1922 and finished 11th.
  • He made more than 143 attempts at a variety of timed, long-distance records. One of his most noteworthy transcontinental rides was in 1914 when he rode from San Diego to New York City in 11 days, 12 hours, and 10 minutes.
  • He rode and drove roughly 5.5 million miles from 1908 to 1933.
  • He is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.

These are just a few facts that sparked my attention. It just so happens that we are in the midst of the 103rd anniversary of his record-setting 1914 ride. He began on May 3, 1914 (today is May 4) and finished May 14, 1914.

I found a website that has Baker’s journal notes from his 1914 trip. It was such a wondrous story, I had to write a song about it. I just finished it today, so I thought I would  share the lyrics with you. I typically don’t like to share the lyrics right after finishing a song, but it seemed fitting.

Verse 1:
Headed East from San Diego
to the City of New York.
For a record-setting ride,
I filled my canteen to the cork.
The sand pushed me to the limit
as I pushed my two-speed horse.
With only a few paved miles laid out,
I would have to set the course.

Verse 2:
Spent the morning in the desert
at triple-digit degrees.
By the time I called it quits,
I rode a mile above the sea.
I worked my way toward the valley
full of bleached-white cattle bones.
Would this machine keep me alive,
or would it become my tombstone?

Verse 3:
Took all day to cross the river
that was swollen on all sides.
I looked for a shallow answer,
but learned the depth of my pride.
I had thousands of miles ahead
with no easy route in sight.
I worried about tomorrow
before I made it to tonight.

Verse 4:
Tried to not let the storm catch me,
so I mounted my machine.
With no time to stop for breakfast,
the thought of mud was my caffeine.
I rode atop the railroad ties
to escape the tough terrain.
“Clear the road: I am a-coming”
was the native-spread refrain.

Verse 5:
Made up my mind I would not stop
till I touched the city streets.
As my journey came to a close,
it all felt so bittersweet.
I came in strong though late at night
upon my seven-horse steed.
Little did I know that I’d be called
the pioneer of speed.

 

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Music Videos

While I’m saving money in order to record my next album, I still want to be producing new content. You know, for my “fans.” So far, I’ve made two videos. The first is what I call a music videoette for the song Victory. The second was a near-full-length video for Dwell.

IMG_2565Both videos were shot on my iPhone 6s using a Osmo mobile stabilizer and edited with iMovie. Pretty primitive equipment compared to the gear that’s on the market today, but if I don’t have the money to record an album, I definitely don’t have the money to spend on video equipment.

The simplicity and limitations of these videos parallel my music nicely. If someone commissioned me to write and record an album entirely with an acoustic guitar and my vocals, without any kind of layering, I would be ok with that. That’s how all my songs start out anyways.

I plan to make at least two more music videos. I’m just waiting for the sun to come out and the temperature to rise.

Click the links above to watch. Please like, share, tweet, blog, etc.

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Full-Time Musician

The title says it all. I’m officially a full-time musician. After being laid

off from my full-time job, my wife and I made the decision for me to

pursue my music. I’ve never done anything this unsure and unstable.

It’s like I’m in the ocean, and there’s no land in sight. I don’t know

which way to swim, if I’m surrounded by sharks, or if I’ll ever be

rescued. Right now I’m looking for land, for shallow water, for a boat,

and anything that floats. I’m not drowning, but a bit overwhelmed at

the moment.

Here are a couple simple ways you can be a life vest at the moment:

  1. You can like/ follow me on social media (links below). It might
    not feel like much but it means a lot.

    1. Facebook: to stay up-to-date.
    2. Instagram: to stay up-to-date with cool visuals.
    3. Twitter: to stay up-to-date with what the kids are doing.
  2. You can invite your friends to like/ follow as well.

 

That’s all for now. The game is afoot.

 

 

 

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Avenoo Blues – Song 2

My second song is about Indiana Avenue, and the music

scene during the early to mid 1900s. Blues was one of

the popular genres during the Avenue’s heydays. The

song is written from the perspective of someone who

knew the saloons, bars, and juke joints during its golden

years, which is why they are singing the blues. They miss

the greatness that once was. I also did my darnedest to make

it sound as if it was recorded during that time period. Give it

a listen here.

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Victory – Song 1

I can’t believe this is my first post of the new year.

On the other hand, I’ve been living my life more in

the real world instead of online, so I guess I can believe

it.

 

My most recent and exciting endeavor is my 10-week

music residency at the Harrison Center for the Arts. I’m

in the middle of my third week, and I have to write and

record one song per week. Each song must be placed-based,

so it has to be about Indianapolis in some way. My first song,

which you can listen to here, is about Lady Victory atop the

Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

 

This is my first attempt at recording all by myself, so it’s

not perfect but it’s a great learning experience. With that

said, it turned out pretty good. I definitely have a greater

respect for sound engineers. Make sure to give it a listen

and stay tuned for the next 9 songs.

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Life Update

It’s been almost a month since my last post. I left off

by breaking down each song of my new “LA” EP. I released

it almost one month ago, and then I fell of the face of the

earth. Sorry about that. I lost my job, was looking for a new one,

and the EP took a backseat. I’d like to play the EP at some shows/

house shows around Indy, but I’m still trying to figure out what kind

of instrumentation to use. Also, it would be great to get a couple

other people to play with me in order to add more layers.

 

Hopefully I’ll be posting regularly again now that life is becoming

a little more regular. I’ll have to play it by ear for now. Until then,

pick up my EP from raywyatt.bandcamp.com. It’s only $5, so get

yourself a digital stocking stuffer.

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Song 5 and 6 “Boss Angeles” and “LAX

I figured I would combine the last two songs

into one blog post just to keep it brief. I won’t

say much about “Boss Angeles.” It’s similar

to “City of Angels” but slightly different. “City

of Angles” is meant to be ironic, and “Boss Angeles”

is meant to be satirical. That’s all I’ll say about it.

Go ahead and listen to the songs, and you’ll see what

I mean.

 

“LAX” is the most uplifting, happy, and resolved song

on the EP. Every other song is full of questions, doubt,

darkness, uncertainty, and ends on an unresolved note

musically. This song has no questions or uncertainty,

just a sense of longing and waiting. But it’s not the kind

of waiting that causes doubt, uncertainty, strife, and

uneasiness. Like when you go to the doctor to have major

tests done, and you’re anxiously waiting for the results

for the results. It’s a waiting filled with trust, certainty,

rest, and patience. Like when you’re sick and tired of winter

and you long for spring. You know spring will come, the

snow will melt, the sun will come out, and the temperature

will rise.

 

This is the kind of longing found in this song. It’s the

resolution we’ve been waiting for the whole EP. The

peace we’ve been seeking for the previous five tracks.

Just as the first five songs long to be resolved and the

tension dismissed by the sixth, so to do our souls long

to be resolved, the tension dismissed, and wholeness

ushered in.

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Artist Statement

I plan to do some revisions and tightening up on this artist statement, but this will do for now. I had people read this at the listening party a couple nights ago. It seemed to aid them in their listening and interpretation of the EP.

For a little context and back-story, I wrote five of the six tracks on January 6, 2014, and the sixth track was written a few days before them. I had some preplanned themes for each song, but no music or lyrics were written before hand. This EP was an in-the-moment creation where I wrote, critiqued, rewrote, and fine-tuned in a compact time frame. Normally I’ll critique and rewrite one song over a number of weeks or months, so to do all of this for five songs in one day was a new experience to say the least. Please take this into account as you digest these songs.

Now onto the EP itself, Los Angeles is a mask, filler, and a stand-in. By inserting the word Los Angeles, it gives a face and identity to generic pronouns. This allows the listener to better identify with what would have previously been labeled as he, she, you, it, them, etc.

We all know Los Angeles, either from first hand travels or media stereotypes, we all have a picture of Los Angeles in our mind’s eye. My picture probably doesn’t look exactly the same as yours, but there is most likely overlap along the way.

Sounds a lot like life doesn’t it? No two lives are exactly the same, but we share many similarities: characteristics, attributes, emotions, desires, needs, and values. We’re not all that different even though we live in such an independent and self-reliant culture. We all want to make a name for ourselves just as Los Angeles has made a name for itself, so much so that even the initials, L.A., conjure up hundreds of connotations.

I cover themes of home, place, self-image, self-awareness, excess, culture, love and multiple sub-themes. Everyone has different definitions for these themes, which is why each listener will have an independent experience, all the while knowing others near you will hold similar thoughts and feel similar emotions. They may come at different times during the song or on a different song altogether. It all depends how you answer the question and fill in the blank.

What’s your LA?

Song 4 – “City of Angels”

With the title “City of Angels,” you might think this

song captures the beauty and highlights of Los

Angeles. I took the ironic approach, and decided

to cover some of the darker themes of Los Angeles.

Just to clarify, I don’t want to come off as if I’m bashing

L.A., because these themes and issues can be true of

any city. I also don’t want people to think the darkness

is “out there” somewhere in the city, but the darkness

spreads to you and me. It’s in all of us. We might think

our bodies are cities of angels, but when I look into the

heart of my city, I’m no angel.

The verses of this song point out the dark aspects of

L.A., but the chorus starts out affirming the “City of Angels”

slogan. The last line of the chorus ends with a hint of doubt

that maybe L.A. isn’t what he thought it was. Maybe it’s not

the “City of Angels.”

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Song 3 – “Los Angeles II”

This song is a bit of a continuation from the last one.

The individual is trying to deal with love, and trying

to deal with the implications of sacrificial love. Each

line starts with a question, and then makes a statement

based off his question. These questions reveal the man’s

doubts and fears of trying to love someone, and being loved

by someone. He knows his weaknesses and short comings,

and wonders if they will be too much, and will hinder him

from ever being loved.

It’s the fear we all have to some degree. We don’t want to

die alone, and go through this life without the love of at least

one person. It’s also the longing of being known, but also the

fear of being known. Will the other person use this knowledge

for my good or for their gain? Will this person be scared away,

or will they stay anyway?

It’s a song of questions, doubts, longings, inner agony, and

living through the unknown. Musically it’s repetitive and goes

in cycles. I don’t think I did this intentionally but maybe

subconsciously. This is totally how my brain works when I’m

looking for answers or struggling with doubts and fears. It’s

an endless cycle causing me to lose sleep and lose track of

reality. I get swept away in the monotonous cycle of questions

wondering when it will cease.

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