Railroad Earth's Tim Carbone with Lou Rogai Performing James Joyce

Tim Carbone keeps a busy schedule. In addition to touring constantly with Railroad Earth and recording new material with The Contribution, Carbone has produced many up-and-coming as well as veteran artists in the jamband and new grass scene, from Gipsy Moon to Hot Buttered Rum.

Carbone’s latest creation is a collaboration with Lewis & Clarke’s Lou Rogai, performing James Joyce’s famously strange book Finnegans Wake. Billing their duo as Cedar Sparks, Carbone and Rogai’s recording is part of Waywords and Meansigns, an ongoing international project setting Finnegans Wake to music.

Finnegans Wake was celebrated by Terence McKenna, Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson as a tool for consciousness expansion and the book has inspired countless musicians, including members of the Grateful Dead. As Robert Hunter told Steve Silberman in a 1992 interview, “Before I was writing songs, I was a stoned James Joyce head, Finnegans Wake head.”

This is Tim Carbone’s second time contributing to Waywords and Meansigns, having recorded an entire chapter of Finnegans Wake in 2015. Carbone’s 2015 recording also featured Railroad Earth’s Andy Goessling on zither, and piano from The Contribution bandmate Phil Ferlino. Carbone described that recording process as “one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever undertaken. The language alone is incredibly hard to grasp and the amount of music needed to be created (an hour plus) on top of it all [was] frightening and amazing at the same time.”

With the 2017 release of Waywords and Meansigns upcoming on May 4th, we have selected a playlist of tracks to premiere with Grateful Web readers. The first is from Tim Carbone and Lou Rogai as Cedar Sparks.

The second track is from musician Mr. Smolin, former host of the Jammy award-winning radio show The Music Never Stops and current host of KPFK’s Head Room. Mr. Smolin previously contributed to the 2016 release of Waywords and Meansigns, recording an entire chapter of the book, fronting the surf noir, jazz on acid band Double Naught Spy Car.

The third track is from Steve Fly. Steve Fly is a DJ heavily influenced by Robert Anton Wilson, recently creating RAW-inspired tune packs for Ninja Jamm. Fly is currently working to establish the John Sinclair Foundation in Amsterdam, to celebrate the legacy of activist, poet and MC5 manager John Sinclair. Steve Fly appears on two Garaj Mahal albums, Mondo Garaj and Blueberry Cave, as DJ Fly Agaric 23. Steve Fly previously recorded an entire chapter for the 2015 release of Waywords and Meansigns.

The final track is from Joe Fee. Joe Fee was the drummer for the New Jersey jamband Scarecrow Collection. In recent years Fee has dedicated himself to composing, with an emphasis on text and dance as well as microtonal music. Joe Fee received a 2017 Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

All audio from the 2017 release of Waywords and Meansigns will be distributed freely via the project’s website on May 4th. Additional musicians involved in the upcoming release include punk icon Mike Watt, Mercury Rev veteran Jason Russo, “krautrock” pioneer Jean-Hervé Péron of faUSt, and many more. Waywords and Meansigns invites listeners to record their own passage of Finnegans Wake for future release, so get involved!

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