Category Archives: Lonely Whistle Music

Don Campau – Just Passing Through


Don Campau holds a very special place in the underground scene.

He is a musician since 1969, he is a radio host since the early 80’s and he is mentioned in wikipedia as one of the hundreds of American artists who “…recorded numerous albums available only on cassette throughout the late ’80s and well into the ’90s.” (click HERE to read about the Cassette Culture)

Well, Don still composes and releases his own music on CDs. You can either download them for free or buy them from HERE.

He took part in the documentary “Grindstone Redux” (click HERE for more information) and his radioshow “No pigeonholes” is open to all musicians (click HERE to listen to his show).

All this activity got him in touch with a vast number of musicians and friends…

Last year he released the album “The Best of Don Campau Vol. 2 (2000-2009)” and now he returns with a new one, titled “Just Passing Through”.

A number of very interesting people are helping him on this album, such as Bryan Baker on drums, guitar, bass (he is best known as the publisher of GAJOOB, a little zine and website about the art of homemademusic and the people around the world making it. He also helped start Tapegerm, which is a community of artists collaborating on music by exchanging source files online.)

Barry Phillips plays the cello, mandolin and takes care of the mixing on “Secret Shoes”. (Barry has an astonishing list of releases featuring the 3-cd set “SHANKARAGAMALA – students of Ravi Shankar” that was produced by him under the direction of Ravi Shankar). Click HERE for Barry Phillips.

Arzathon (Ralf “Gypsy” Bevis) took care of the music production of the funky flavored song “Sinking Down”. (Arathon is an original and complex audio sculpted psychedelic project founded during the 80s by Ralf ‘gypsy’ Bevis, founder of Rodent Tapes. Some pieces are heavily influenced by early krautrock infectious grooves but the whole musical signature consists of audio sculpted psychedelic electronic epics covered by harmonized acid rockin dynamics. Largely improvised and dangerously lysergic sounding experience.)

Robin O’Brien is doing the back vocals on “Prepare This Heart (For Reaping)” (you can read about her solo album “The Apple in ManHERE).

Robin has a new album too. We will write about it one of the next day…

Unfortunately I couldn’t find any information about Greg Gray, Joe Menichetti, Al Scheller and Chris Campau.

“Just Passing Through” starts with the punk rock track “I’m Here” (Campau featured it on his last album too) and closes with the ambient track “Just Passing Through” and its romantic lyrics.
In between there are 12 hard rock and electronica songs as well as jazz ballads.
The album is professionally mastered with handmade, handstamped covers.

I believe this is Don Campau’s best release.

Click HERE for this album or click HERE to visit Don’s bandcamp.


The Best of Don Campau Vol. 2 (2000-2009)

After listening to each of the tracks on this album, I silently laughed at the idea of how uncomfortable this album would make some people feel from any one of a multitude of record labels…
The artist is not some rookie in the music world.
Music world, not music business.
He managed to keep himself clear from the blood thirsty/soul chewing music industry for almost 40 years.  Through the underground network, in which Don Campau is one of the most vital tentacles, he offers his own music compositions.  Available on cassettes or CDs, the one I am writing about today is the second compilation of his songs covering the era 2000-2009. 
The Best of…Vol. 2” is a rock’n’roll album all the way.
It’s a fast, speedy album and carries some strong garage punk elements, fun, very little folk melodies, sarcasm, aggression, as well as some surprises … such as the closing track “So I Pretend To Be (Suite)”.  A retrospective collection of 18 songs, Campau is offering his voice on all the tracks and plays most of the instruments himself.  Some tracks are also featured in albums he released during this past decade with Greg Gray, Eric Wallack, Fate Sanders (unreleased), Ray Carmen, Chris Phinney, Dino DiMuro, Kevyn Dymond, Michael J. Bowman and Mars Dark.
My favorite tracks: “Stop, Don’t Go”,  “Man on A Mission”, “Mr. Hyde”, “Why Do I Do This?”, “Djakarta Get Out”.
You can get in touch with the artist here



By Don Campau

I am a lucky guy. Three years ago I retired from a job pushing out vegetables which I had done for over 30 years. Don’t get me wrong, I liked my job. It was physical, not mental, the way I like it. It afforded me an opportunity to meet and talk to strangers and stay in OK shape because of the heavy lifting and endless walking. However, it did take a real toll. After all this time getting up at 3 or 4 in the morning it was starting to hurt and I was just tired. Thank goodness I had a union job that put away money for my “golden years”.

This job allowed me to have my afternoons free so that I could work on my various projects: my own music, my web sites, my radio shows and all the things I do.

My favorite part of all this good luck is this. I leisurely get up at 7:30 or 8 am and with my own kids ( and my wife’s) long gone with their own lives and families there is very little happening in our house. My wife Robin might already be gone or quietly reading. There is no noise or stress to speak of.

So, I make my coffee, and begin my day…in my recliner chair. I put on some music but not just any music, this is music that has no melody, no rhythm and at the lowest possible volume. Almost as if it is not there. This is not new age candy fluff but mainly experimental ambient music by musicians such as Mathias Grasnow, Mark Wastell, Tomas Koner, Oophoi and  others.

It is just about perfect. The cat on my lap, the warm coffee heating my hands. I tend to fall into some kind of hypnagogic state between waking and sleep which I absolutely love. I usually sit there with the sun coming out as I gaze at times through our back window into our suburban yard with the trees swaying and the neighborhood not yet active. I’ll sit there for half and hour or even longer some days. It is a little piece of heaven for me.

I realize how lucky I am and I am quite thankful. Many, or even most, people will rarely get this kind of luxury that I have carved out for myself. No people grouching at me first thing in the morning, no waiting in a traffic jam to get to a busy and stressful job, nothing to keep me from staying calm and collected. And yet, I have periods of great stress.

I lay awake at night worrying about ridiculous things. I fret over the smallest problems and allow them to create tension. The computer, the bills, my health, the kids and grandkids, the car. So, it looks like I have only removed a layer or two of the things that were aging and dragging me down.

Years ago I practiced meditation and am thinking I should get back to it. It helped me at the time get through some difficult personal moments of my first marriage and health issues. Maybe I should go back to the gym and kick up my exercise program like I did when I first retired. Perhaps I should travel and leave my cares behind while I enjoy the sights of some place else. Maybe donate my time to a charity that feeds and helps the homeless and destitute.

But no. For now, I will just sit in my chair and think about nothing for now with the sun making my toes glow, with the cat purring, with the coffee steaming in my hands and with the sound of the drone off in the distance but close in my head.


Lonely Whistle Music

By Don Campau

Recently, I had a face book debate about giving  my music away for free or trade. This happened  on a guys page who happens to be a performing  musician, a guitar teacher and runs a web site that is fighting illegal downloads and piracy. He’s a good guy and a fine musician. Plus, he’s probably 30 years younger than me. He works hard, practices hard and puts his heart into his music.

Well, after I mentioned that I give or trade all of my music away ( people can buy it if they insist as well) all hell broke loose. He and his friends started really going off and one of them even started attacking me for daring to have my own opinions about my own music. I mean, I wasn’t asking them to give away their music but comments like “so I guess you think your music is worthless” started getting flung around. I calmly stated that I was not interested in the music business and explained why. The ugliness of the commercial industry, the fact that I’ve never met an indie musician that really had “success” in the way I define it. And here’s how I define it. Remember, this is my definition only:

Being able to pay the bills, buy a house, support my family, have health insurance and put something away for retirement and the future.

I have known plenty of musicians that actually did OK in their local areas and even some that have had international followings but NONE that meet my criteria of “success”. I have played several thousand artists on my “No Pigeonholes” shows and as far as I know, none of them have been able to achieve anything even close to this.

Still, I wished them good luck and I meant it. Perhaps they are young idealists and good for them. Maybe I am an old jaded man and in fact they all said I was being negative. OK, maybe that’s one interpretation. To me though, it is just being realistic. I gave up the idea of a career in music about 35 years ago. Long before the internet, longer even then these guys have been alive. However, they are welcome to their opinions and their experiences are valid. They kept complaining about being hurt by downloaders. Ok, how many people have downloaded their material illegally? Would it be enough to pay the rent, make ends meet, even buy lunch? I realize every dollar counts to anybody just making it these days. I am not questioning their experience but I do question their anger placement.

They kept using terms mouthed directly from the commercial industry itself like: “target demographic”. I pointed out the folly of the commercial music industry: mafia/ corporate control, using people as products, the degradation of women, the “ageist” bias, etc. Did they really want to be part of this side of the industry? Or did they want to be independent rockers, which is what I assumed. I really don’t know but I suggested another way, a new model of business, one where community is more important than lame ass jewel case CD profits. In fact, I’d say the idea of an independent musician making money, real money, on a regular CD is long over. In fact, it may never have existed to begin with.

I stated that a new model will offer something to people, to fans, that is special and cannot be downloaded. Things like hand signed CDs, private mp3s, special art work, handmade copies. These are things that cannot be downloaded ( well, maybe the private mp3s can be). I mentioned that Nine Inch Nails and Tool seem to “get it” by offering fans something unique. My own experience with NIN is getting the free downloads and then buying the actual release and buying the tickets to see them live. For me, it worked. Tool offers incredible art work with their commercial releases. Sure, some people are going to rip you off. Are they “real” fans? I doubt it. That’s where the community angle comes into play I said. Real friends are going to support and watch out for you much as my neighbors and us look out for each other when we are gone. There is the well known example of Radiohead having people pay what they like. Evidently, they did very well with this approach. Of course, these are groups that have huge followings and a large fan base. Still, the idea is to create a loyal fan base. That means a lot of hard work, and usually tireless and endless touring. And even after that, it is more luck than anything else is seems to me.

One of their arguments is that they went to music school, took out big loans and felt they deserved a living in their chosen career. That logic sort of shocked me really. I mean … you seriously think this ? I said there are too many bands, in other words too much supply for the supply and demand system. They countered with their experience that downloaders could be talked into valuing the music and creating more demand. Ok, point taken, but is that a game changer? Will that turn people who could care less into fans and then will they be willing to shell out hard earned money on a product and artist they know very little about? Hmm…I doubt it. No one owes you a living. It’s like having too many carpenters in this economy where very few houses are being built.

In the end, the main guy said that a “hobbyist” like me should not be able to comment in a blog about “professional“ musicians. To me, that’s not some big slap though. I like being a hobbyist. And are they really “professionals”?, not by my definition, no. By my definition, they are “amateurs”. And I don’t mean this in a vituperative or demeaning way. I really do wish them well with their careers.

Many of my brethren in home recording and Cassette Culture take offense to the term “hobbyist” because when we get done with our actual day jobs our minds turn to creating music for the fun and art of it. Then we make our Cds by hand, trade them with other like minded individuals worldwide, perhaps play music live and sell a few Cds, or , gasp… give them away. In other words, spend most of our waking hours away from work being “hobbyists”. I personally do three radio shows where I listen to indie bands, play their music, make the playlists, contact each musician personally to let them know I received their CD and played it on the air, post a podcast, and become a cheerleader for their music. And I have done this everyday since 1985. I have never made one cent for my efforts. In fact, it costs me money to do it. I do it because I love contact, community and the music many of these artists create. Does someone owe me a living? Definitely not. It’s been my choice all the way.

Once again, I am not suggesting that other people follow this path but for heavens sake, let me.


Posted by on October 14, 2010 in Cassette Scene, Lonely Whistle Music