Big Monti

by Big Monti Amundson

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1.
My American Dreams I was only seventeen When they took my daddy’s farm Workin’ day and night Had finally lost its charm No irrigation pipes to move No fences to mend on our island in the stream ‘Cause that day they shot holes in my American dream I been a long time on the road Just playin’ in a rock n roll band I been so many places man It helps me understand In their eyes a reflection Of a once great nation it seems Where all have lost sight of their American dreams Where all have lost sight Of their American dreams Are you feeling all right I’m not feeling to good myself Are you feeling all right I’m not feeling to good myself What if you woke up tomorrow And everything was gone Living out of your SUV And told to move along We all want the good life But brother to what extreme There begin to be holes in the American dream Holes turn into canyons In my American dreams
2.
You Make A Bad Thing Worse You know sometimes I wonder What kind of fool am I To listen to a word you say When all you do is lie Last time we were together You got into a jam You left me there in Paris Now I see you here in Amsterdam How low must we go Why not remove this curse You make a bad thing worse You make it evil and a sin You make a bad thing worse I don’t know where to begin You took my car out drinking You left the keys inside And sure enough some foolish kids They took it for a ride But that ride don’t compare The one I’m on with you Why am I surprised At anything you do Every time I come home early I find you with another man You blow smoke right in my face Try to get me raise my hand Now you’re here like nothin’s happened You sure do got your nerve You say you’ll take me back But it’s more than I deserve
3.
Dirt Brown Duplex Sittin’ on the front porch of my Oregon City Dirt brown duplex my stepfather owns It come to me man it was time for getting’ over it Time for leaving everything, everything I know I was paralyzed but I came around Don’t know if it’s me or this here town Sittin’ in my Ford O-conoline turnin’ the ignition I hope it fires into action sometime today It come to me that I, I might do better To set the thing on fire and just walk away Sittin’ at the station of the man who wears the star Dirt brown uniform and you can trust your car But you can’t trust time to slow things down Better get some highway and clear out of town
4.
Go On Living Blues Never again lord will I hold my baby all night long Never again lord will I hold my baby all night long Living just don’t mean nothin’ ever since my baby gone Lord it come to me this morning my whole life is a lie Do I jump into the river, man - I can’t decide Never again lord will I hold my baby all night long Living just don’t mean nothin’ ever since my baby’s gone Never again lord will I have a woman by my side Never again lord will I have a woman by my side Lord I swear I won’t start drinkin’ But go on livin’ - I can’t decide
5.
Still Got Her Suitcase I still got her suitcase It’s been all around the world I still got her suitcase It’s been all around the world I got a sticker for every country I just don’t got the girl I still got her suitcase Why I aint got a clue I still got her suitcase Why I aint got a clue On the bus and on the plane I just check it right on through I still got her suitcase It just sits there by the door I still got her suitcase It just sits there by door It reminds me to keep on moving She don’t love me anymore
6.
When You Love Somebody I’m the guy walkin’ down the street I smile at everybody that I meet I wonder just how many, how many been here too When you love somebody When you love somebody When you love somebody and they don’t love you I’m the guy trottin’ ‘round the globe Sometimes I feel a little bit like Job I’ve had every kind of tribulation a man can go through When you love somebody When you love somebody When you love somebody and they don’t love you What can you do can you do What can you do can you do When you love somebody and they don’t love you I’m the guy breezes into town I play the fool and I act the clown I wonder how much longer before I’m through When you love somebody When you love somebody When you love somebody and they don’t love you What can you do can you do What can you do can you do When you love somebody and they don’t love you
7.
Begging For Your Arms Why must I be brought so low Why You said goodbye to me a million years ago You said that you would always be there I turned away I said I just don’t care Here I am I’m begging for your arms again Why must I be brought so low Why Out on the street when it’s ten below You said that you would always be there To lift me up from my despair
8.
Red Hot Wire 03:08
Red Hot Wire She’s got a red hot wire And sparks fly Regular four alarm fire She’s so fine She is my heart’s desire Baby I would die She got a red hot wire Red hot wire She’s like a loaded gun I’m staring down the barrel She’s nitroglycerin One has to be careful ‘Cause any sudden moves Baby we gonna lose She’s got a red hot wire Red hot wire It was only yesterday she killed me with her smile Now she want to put my love on trial You can see the smoke a risin’ a mile away ‘Specially when there’s hell to pay She’s got my buttons all marked and labeled It aint coincidence I seem so unstable It is by her design Baby I aint lying My nervous system is in disrepair She treat my body like I got a spare My ozone layer gotta gigantic hole She burnin’ me down inside my soul
9.
Not A Day Goes By Not a day goes by Where I don’t spend some time in outer space One part psycho –history Part mental case If my girlfriend tries to call I may not hear the phone And if I did there is a chance She’s talking to my clone That’s all right Baby that’s all right Not a day goes by where I don’t lose these blues and fly So high Not a day goes by Where I don’t rocket from the atmosphere I’m not talkin’ ‘bout substances My mind’s completely clear That’s not to say the snare won’t melt Or I won’t go insane In fact I, I woke up this morning with a positronic brain Not a day goes by Where I don’t orbit ‘round a distant sun My hyperspace experience Is not to be outdone So if you’ve come unannounced And you’re knocking at my door I might be on Trantor baby I never know for sure
10.
Signs Of Life I’ve stepped over souls On the street passed out It could be you or me But that’s not what I’m talkin’ about I’m talkin’ about things that you don’t get taught You move your hand when the fire’s hot I just want to roll with you tonight When I’m with you I’m a deer in your headlights I’ve choked on tears That fell like high ideals When I tried to change the world I found myself beneath its wheels Some days the tire tracks I don’t mind Some days they’re the only signs of life that I can find I’ve looked the other way I’ve made words into walls I walk amongst the victims But I cannot hear their calls
11.
Six Shots 03:44
Six Shots I woke up lower than I have ever been You know I push off the bottom every now and again This time is different, the needle’s in the red No matter what I do can’t get you outta my head Give me six shots All in a line I been mistreated and I don’t mind dyin’ Give me six shots and I’ll be fine Just give me six shots I knew from drop one it was going to be bad All that I’ve lost that I once have had I don’t like feeling the way that I do How long baby ‘till I’m over you I don’t need someone to tell me - it’s understood The way I live my life - it’s just no good Gave everything I had ‘till there was nothin’ left to lose What I do from here on out is for me to choose

about

BIG MONTI is part of a 4-CD set called "The Songwriter" but is available separately as well.

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It's like this: One day in Portland I ran into Billy Triplett on the street. He was on his way to The Roseland where he was mixing a band that night. He'd been living in Orange County and I hadn't seen him in awhile. He didn't look very good and come to find out his sister had just died. So we got together the next day to do some catching-up.

I'd just lost somebody too and we were both feeling finite - like we should do something with the time we had left. There were some hard feelings left over from the last project we did together (The Obvious Rock) and we agreed it was time for getting over it.

So we decided to make another record together - make things right. Basic tracks were recorded at my house. Then I'd fly down to Billy's to do some overdubs. There was no big rush. My career had been stalled for some time now and there weren't any record companies beating down my door.

Billy was having a hard time of it and I offered him a place to stay until he got back on his feet again. He moved in and we went to work. Still no rush, no pressure. The only problem is Billy and I both got a thing for alcohol.

To say that Billy Triplett can drink a lot is a spectacular understatement. In Amsterdam I watched him drink The Hell's Angels (Holland Chapter) under the table in their own club. With me it's drinking or not drinking. I'm not a glass of wine for dinner kind of guy. I'm a fifth of vodka kind of guy. Billy likes to party - I just don't want to feel anything. Sometimes we're not so good together.

Billy had been living with me for several months when he learned of his brother's death. Man, I don't know what's going on in the universe to rain down so much pain on one man - but he snapped. A couple days later he moved out and I didn't see him again for months.

I was fighting demons of my own so I put the recording project on the shelf. For months I didn't even want to think about it. One night I rented a movie called "Heart of Darkness", a movie about the making of the movie "Apocalypse Now". I strongly recommend this movie to anyone who is struggling with an artistic endeavor of any kind. It gave me the courage to dust the tapes off and get back to work.

Enter Steve Branson. Billy, Steve and I go way back and it was an obvious choice to have Steve help me finish the album. He wasn't happy with the sound quality of the vocals so we did them all over again. You singers out there know how much work is involved to record vocals for an entire album. Well, imagine doing it twice. There was a lot of work to do and it took several months to finish.

Years later? I love this album. This is by far my favorite body of work - and I won't spend another second thinking about how hard it was to make. It doesn't matter now. I just like the fact that this album exists.

-Big Monti

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Monti Amundson - Big Monti

The Stevie Ray Vaughan box can be a tough one to break free from, but "Big Monti," Portland guitarist Monti Amundson's first CD in five years, proves that he's his own man.

Amundson richly deserves comparison to the late Texas bluesrocker, thanks to a 440-volt guitar sound, telegraphic songwriting and fiery playing and singing. But the Stevie Ray box is confining because it's crammed full of players who haven't had an original idea since the flood - "Texas Flood," that is.

As "Big Monti" proves, Amundson is not one of those. "I'm afraid this album might surprise people. It's an honest record, but maybe a little too honest." The first surprise is "My American Dreams," which opens the new album and roisters out of the speakers riding a ringing "Revolver"-era Beatles riff: "What if you woke up tomorrow and everything was gone? / Living out of your SUV and told to move along"...

I've never written a political song before, but I've never been so disillusioned. I really think this country is going backwards," Amundson said. His father, who was denied veteran's benefits and faced ruinous medical bills, inspired the song. "You could do all the right things: serve your country, work hard, pay your taxes, and they could take it all away from you like they did to my father."

Then there's "Signs Of Life," with it's world-weary vocal, angelic chorus and a guitar line that ripples like pebbles tossed into a deep, dark well. It's a tremendously affecting and effective piece of music, the unflinching testament of a 47-year-old artist who, 20 years younger and leaner, ruled stages around the region and throughout Europe. Not that he's gone all arty on us; there are departures and surprising excursions into uncharted territory here, but the foundation, the crackling guitar solos, the urgent vocals, are still very much in evidence.

-John Foyston, The Oregonian

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With the album, “Big Monti”, Monti Amundson has achieved something that I would have thought unlikely or perhaps even impossible…a new statement in American Blues.

Yes, there are echoes of great rock and blues masters that came before him present in these tracks, but what sets Monti’s tracks apart from both his predecessors and contemporaries alike is that he has somehow made them his own with his lyrics, his incendiary guitar, his humor and his honest articulation…there is no artifice here, no attempt to sound like anyone else or any particular allusion to a favorite artist.

The influences on this music are plain, but they do not render it derivative, they merely inform and place into context the artist’s statement. This is not strictly a “blues” record, per se. This is, in my opinion, a blues oriented Rock album, and a damn good one at that. It isn’t to say that there is no blues here. Songs like “Her Suitcase” give a unique world-spanning perspective on loss in the form of Tex-mex blues and “Six Shots” seems ambivalent as to whether the singer plans to drink himself to death or blow his brains out. These are heart-rending tributes to lost love, and display the fundamental push toward the blues that is evident in everything done by Big Monti.

There is also some humor evident in this context, with “Dirt Brown Duplex” taking the blues into the region of 20-something-angst. This isn’t ‘My Baby Done Left Me’ music…its something else altogether.

The record goes way beyond the blues in other aspects; there are indications here of influences that veer toward the progressive, without carrying all that top-heavy weight, but are instead well integrated into the pure blues-rock statement ultimately presented. “Signs of Life” with which Monti shares a writing credit in the name of Noel Trusty, carries a spooky, stratospheric, layered guitar hook reminiscent of both Hendrix and Pink Floyd and a mean, acid-blues telephone-EQ talking vocal, evincing a sensation of dread and loss.

The guitars on this album, all played by Monti, are raw and driven, with Stratocaster tones that range from sweetly introspective blues birdsong to over the top “brown” tones that would cause Eddie Van Halen to divorce his wife (oh yeah…never mind), and slide guitar chops that tend to pick up where Johnny Winter left (is leaving) off. Be prepared to hear what a Strat through a Marshall stack is really capable of in your sickest dreams.

The bass, drums and sparsely-utilized keys all do yeoman service to the original music here, and add very well to these recordings without attempting to carve their own path. In particular, the drums played by Portland drummer Cory Burden are solid and powerful, with well-placed fills, and are well-recorded and positioned in the mix. Also bearing mention is the outstanding and soulful blues-harp work on the song “Six Shots”.

Monti has plainly paid his dues, as evidenced by his ability to communicate the requisite “suffering” generally required of ‘blues’ artists if they are to be taken seriously. He has also amply displayed the eclectic nature of his musical influences, and his evident attention not only to the blues, but to great music in general, be it rock, blues, jazz, et al, and in the final analysis, Monti has created an ultimate act of communication in having distilled lifelong musical and life experiences into musical statements that are uniquely his.

This record is fresh, strident, and a must-listen for any fan of blues-rock.

-Max Ferry

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credits

released April 1, 2005

Produced by Monti Amundson
Recorded in Portland, Oregon by Billy Triplett
Recorded, mixed and Mastered by Steve Branson at Buzz Klickenpop Digital Recording
Graphic design by Cory Burden at Cedar House Media
Photo of Monti Amundson by Ross Hamilton
Photo of Willy and Cory by Jayson Pakulak


Monti Amundson - Guitar and Vocals on all tracks
Cory Burden - Drums on all tracks except 6
Louie Samora - Drums on track 6
Stan Becraft - Bass on tracks 1,8,9,10
Willy Barber - Bass on tracks 2,4,7
Johnny Wilmont - Bass on tracks 3,5,6,11 and Organ on tracks 1,9
D.K. Stewart - Piano on tracks 6,8
Andy Strange - Harp on track 11

All songs written by Monti Amundson except:
My American Dreams - Amundson/Mason
Signs Of Life - Amundson/Trusty

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