Laila and Smitty

by Kenny Warren

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about

One thing I always looked forward to as a kid was the biennial Hagemeier family reunion at the farmer’s union in Bailey, Colorado. I can still remember the excitement and anticipation, and my brother and I preparing ourselves for what seemed like an endless drive. To help us fathom this back seat eternity my mom would help us measure the time in terms we could understand, “one Sesame Street, and one Mr. Rogers”. Turns out it was no more than an hour and a half into the foothills from the Denver suburb where we grew up. The digs were pretty simple on the farmer union grounds, one giant A-frame building with a concrete floor, a small cafeteria, ping-pong and pool tables, and a little platform stage. The women all slept in the attic of the A-frame and the men in bunks out back. There was a stream for fishing, horse shoes, a swing set, and a baseball diamond. You could even take a nice short hike up the mountain across the stream and look down on the farmer union grounds, the valley and the road. At night we would stay up late eating my Aunt Maryland’s caramel corn or Aunt Laila’s famous bailey cookies and playing the family card game, pitch.
My Grandma Grace, Me-Ma, was one of ten. She had eight sisters and a brother. The story goes that her father wanted sons so they could be baseball players, and they kept trying and trying until soon enough they had a full nine player roster of girls. Me-Ma grew up working on the farm and playing baseball with her sisters. Me-Ma, and my Grandpa Roy, Pop-Pop, were born at the height of the great depression near a tiny town in Northeastern Colorado called Sterling. They went to school together in a one room school house, and in High School they were cast together as leads in the school play. The story goes that they were supposed to kiss on stage, something that terrified them both, so they agreed that they would pretend to kiss for all the rehearsals, and save that first kiss for the night of the play. When that big moment came around my grandpa still wouldn’t kiss her. MeMa says it was six dates before he finally got the courage up. They ended up getting married at 19, and raising my Uncle Mark while they both attended CU in Boulder.
At the reunions in Bailey there was a whole cast of loving characters from another time. I remember my Uncle Archie playing harmonica in the family talent show even though he’d lost two or three fingers a decade earlier in a tractor accident. I remember Uncle Rod out back smoking a pipe, big hugs from Aunt Vonnie, and Aunt Pat, and three generation of ladies all with the same warm smile: Aunt June, her daughter Dee, and Dee’s daughter Mindy.
For reasons I can’t even remember exactly, I was always especially fond of Me-Ma’s oldest sister Eulalia and her husband Smitty. We’d visit them occasionally up in Sterling. My brother and I would run around in their back yard until lunch was served, Laila was a great cook, and Smitty could always make us laugh. They’d been married since 1947, and their love for each other seemed to be endless and effortless. I know I was young and naïve, but in my memory they represent a sort of innocent old time ideal. They grew up poor as dirt, but they had made a nice comfortable middle class life for themselves in the same town where they were born. They had a couple of kids and a handful of grandkids. I’m sure there’s a lot more to their story. I’m sure it wasn’t all as bright for them as it seemed, but as a kid at those reunions I sure couldn’t see it. They were simple happy folks, and it made me happy to be around them.
When I was eight Laila died. I remember visiting her in the hospital in Greeley with my dad. She was the first person I knew to make that transition, and I felt profoundly sad about it for a long time. Eventually I would mostly just think about her in church on Sunday, but at first I thought about her all the time. I grew up a lot that year that Laila died.
Recently I lost another important woman in my life. No, thankfully, she didn’t die, in fact I still see her now and then, but my love of nine years and I split up. In keenly un-old-time fashion, or at least in keenly un-Laila and Smitty fashion, un-MeMa and PopPop fashion, we finally decided that we needed to go our separate ways if we were ever going to really be happy and continue to grow. When you listen to this record, you’ll soon realize that these songs are really more about her than they are about Laila and Smitty or my Grandparents. Heartache is nothing new. This record, and my first excursion into lyric writing was spurred by the same hurt that's inspired song-writers for as long as there have been songs. But in this modern age of the cult of self, an almost paralyzing abundance of information, and cook-up culture, I find myself drawing hope and comfort from the thought of a simple life, lasting love and family who still gather every other year in the mountains to remember the past and embrace the future.

credits

released May 9, 2014

Kenny Warren - trumpet, voice
Jeremiah Lockwood - guitars
MYK Freedman - lap steel
Josh Myers - bass
Carlo Costa - drums

Pretty Polymorphous Records

℗ © 2014 Kenny Warren
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Special thanks to the Hagemeier Family, Mom and Dad, Sarah Zitnay, Don Godwin, Alec Spiegelman, Noah Garabedian, Adam Hopkins, Michael Bailey and especially, the band.

Produced by Don Godwin and Kenny Warren

All tracks recorded in Brooklyn, NY in November 2012 at the Can Factory with Don Godwin except for "Warm My Soul", recorded in Denver, CO in December 2012 with Michael Bailey

Mixed in Brooklyn, NY with Don Godwin in Spring 2013

Mastered in New Windsor, NY in December 2013 and February 2014 by Alan Douches, West West Side Music

Art and design by TJ Huff

Album cover photography by Marissa Brown

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Your Well by Kenny Warren © 2014, BMI

Hey Talks to Machines (and Sometimes They to Him) by MYK Freedman © 2014, SOCAN

Warm My Soul by Kenny Warren © 2014, BMI

Colorado by Kenny Warren © 2014, BMI

Travelers and Wanderers by Kenny Warren © 2014, BMI

County Line Waltz by Kenny Warren © 2014, BMI

To Know by Kenny Warren © 2014, BMI

Questions by Kenny Warren © 2014, BMI

Lost and Found by Kenny Warren © 2014, BMI

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about

Kenny Warren Brooklyn, New York

...from Colorado, lives in Brooklyn, plays trumpet with Slavic Soul Party, ZhirtZ n ZkinZ, Rob Brown's Quartet, Nashaz, Zozizmos, NOOK, and Big Butter & the Eggmen. He leads/writes/plays/sings for Laila and Smitty. He's toured with The Walkmen and Budos Band, played MSG with Spoon, and recorded for The Wu Tang Clan, and the Beasts of the Southern Wild soundtrack. ... more

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Track Name: Your Well
I saw my reflection on the surface of the water of your well. And boy did I look happy, and you called me, I belonged there, I could tell. So I waded in your water, warm spring water.

With a smile you swam beside me, you embraced me, turned you gaze up to the sky. And my skin was so thirsty, your warm body, and the sunlight in you eyes. And as our hearts beat stronger, we submerged slowly.

The joy of going under, refreshing water, your stone well wall held us near. But who were you really, what was down there, could I make my home here? We had to know the answers, so we swam deeper.

The water it grew colder, it grew darker as we traveled further down. And seven miles under we realized there was no turning around. The warmth of your body, there was no bottom. Your mystery is endless, I'll never know you.
Track Name: Warm My Soul
Let the sun warm the sky, and let the sky warm the air, and let air warm the earth, and let the earth warm my body,

Let my body warm my mind, let my mind warm my spirit, let my spirit warm my soul, warm my soul, warm my soul.

There's a song that we sang, from the mountains together, but on account of weather, we couldn't sing it forever,

And all the good times we had, when there was nothing to it, and the ways that we blew it, and the ways that we got through it,

And I want you to be, who you are when you're dreaming, who you are when you're drinking, but without all the drinking,

You're so bottled, you're so scared, and you're waiting for something, so that you can be happy, but you're waiting for nothing,

A train riding off of the tracks. A treasure slipped right through the cracks. I'm cold and I still want you.

So let the sun warm the sky, and let the sky warm the air, and let the air warm the earth, and let the earth warm my body,

Let my body warm my mind, let my mind warm my spirit, let my spirit warm my soul, warm my soul, warm my soul.
Track Name: Travelers and Wanderers
I got love hangin' off my sleeve
I carry it around like a bag of bees
Honey sweet but those bastards sting
Maybe I shoulda bought you a ring
Or maybe I shoulda left long ago
Time'll go by and I'll never know.

A traveler moves on and a wanderer does the same
Storm is getting stronger, but God knows we need the rain
There's a whole lot a joy, and a whole lot pain
And every now and then, they are one in the same

We met up 'bout five months later
We made love on an elevator
Are we goin up, or we goin down?
I don't know baby, don't make a sound
And don't ask me those kinds of questions
Those are too complicated to mention
And if all we got are these memories
Then lay them on me baby please

A traveler moves on and a wanderer does the same
Storm is getting stronger, but God knows we need the rain
There's a whole lot of joy, and whole lot of pain,
And some of the time they are one in the same

A traveler moves on and a wanderer does the same
Storm is getting stronger, but God knows we need the rain,
There's a whole lot of joy, and whole lot of pain,
And most of the time they're one in the same
Track Name: Questions
Is there such a thing as love that never fades and never grows cold slowly? Will there ever be a time for me when I have answered all my questions? I keep seeking as the seasons slip by surely. Will I ever know beyond the shadow of doubt that I have found her, and forever she’ll be mine and mine only? Will I find the one that waits for me and has the power to complete me, and if I do will my heart be open? Can I find the truth through all this strange exasperation? Am I patient? Am I too goddamn patient? She was my first love, but then again I’ve loved so many things, I know, I hope, I pray there’s something deeper. Cut this scar again, I hardly feel it any more, I want the real thing, want you flowing through my veins for now, for always. Will you be the one that pulls it out of me, and I won’t have to try, and I can lose myself inside your eyes forever? Helpless to resist your call, gladly yours, heart soul and all.
Track Name: Lost and Found
Well it ain't about somethin'
It sure ain't about nothin'
So give me the gumption to do
To do somethin' about out
Cause I'm lost without it
And loosin' it's findin' it too

If ain't about one thing
It must be about another
And I tell you brother, I'm through
Well it's a love like no other
A child for his mother
I'm growed up, and I'm leaving you

There's a time for believin'
The time times come for leavin'
And my heart's been theivin' so long
So I'm off the new places
New songs with new faces
I better be gittin' along

Well it ain't about somethin'
It sure ain't about nothin'
So give me the gumption to do
To do somethin' about out
Cause I'm lost without it
And loosin' it's findin' it too