Todd Steed endorses UNMIND: A Solution For Modern Living (a post about a new project by one of East Tennessee’s more talented, fascinating artists)
For most people, one of the new projects posted today to iTunes would, on the surface, appear as just another self-help audio book, the latest addition to the “let-us-help-you-because-you-can’t-do-it-on-your-own-and-we-like-your-money” industry that’s been popular for several years now.
(Editor’s note: Self-help programs, groups, books, etc., are a wonderful thing. It’s no secret I’m a member of a certain 12-Step recovery group, so I in no way mock or deride the self-help industry. But you gotta admit, it’s getting a little out of hand.)
However, local music scene fans will be pleased to know that it’s the latest project by one Mr. Todd Steed, a local music scene icon and veteran of such bands as Smokin’ Dave and the Premo Dopes, Apelife, Opposable Thumbs and his current project, Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere. It’s a complicated thing to explain, so bear with us.
First, the truth, as Steed wrote me this week:
“After my folks passed away (within a year of each other), I went into a low funk. Listened to a lot of ’self help’ audio books and read several as well — a lot of stuff inspired by Eastern philosophy, which I learned a bit about while being abroad.
“Some of the books were really great, but I couldn’t help but see humor in the whole New Age Eastern thing. And I thought, I should create my own self help book! And make it a lot funnier and perhaps a bit political as I was also in a funk due to the really sorry state of affairs brought about by these wars and bad economic policy. So, I just started writing, having freshly quit my job and having lots of time. And sure enough, all that writing turned into this audio book. It’s really an odd project — as it’s truly not all humor, but I don’t know what it is. There actually may be some good advice hidden in it.
“And, ironically, making this thing helped get me out of the funk I was in.”
God bless you, sir, for channeling your grief into art and having the stones to venture into experimental territory where, too often, musicians fear to tread. And so, Todd Steed and long-time co-conspirator/creative partner/long-time friend Bob Deck give you … “UNMIND: A Solution For Modern Living,” presented by The Unmind Institute For Positive Waves and your host, Manfred Minsk (played by Deck).
Manfred Minsk. Photo found buried in West Virginia.
Before you read this press release, we would like to RELEASE you from the PRESSure. The PRESSure of modern life.
Avert your addictive scare from your computer screen for just a moment. Inhale. Hold. Release. See. That’s easy. Just do that until you no longer feel like strangling your editor. Or your ex-roommate or a random political leader. Or me.
This recording that is now in your possession is the result several hours of hard work with limited tea breaks. UNMIND: A Solution For Modern Living was created in a lab off I-79 in wild, wonderful West Virginia, complete with an overnight soaking in sacred goat urine and WD-40. Then erased and re-recorded in Knoxville, TN.
UNMIND is a new philosophy based on forgotten sects of Zen, the behavior of well-trained circus monkeys, Revelations, the Ghost of Cas Walker, samples of the sacred liquid of goats, and of nature itself in all it’s wet jungle glory and divine desert dryness.
It is our wish that all beings be happy. Or, at least, that all beings become less likely to explode.
Through the UNMIND technique, we feel that all humans and and a small percentage of dolphins can reach a higher level of consciousness. From there, they can go on to a more productive and meaningful life, full of laughter and organic cane juice. Manfred Minsk, noted unthought specialist, will guide you there.
Manfred Minsk Biography
Often forgotten as being the second Test Tube Baby, Manfred Minsk was ‘born’ in Daugavpils, Latvia on the brink of a forgotten European war. From there, he attended Fresno State for two semesters where his academic focus was difficult to describe. On a trip to Japan to retrieve a lost meditation spoon, he accidentally knocked over a defrocked Zen Monk which turned out to be Roshi Umegashima Sencha the 48th. He followed RUS48 around for a number of years until RUS48 became severely ‘minded’ and scooted him away. Manfred founded Unmind Institute For Positive Waves when he couldn’t think of anything else.
EDITOR’S NOTE, AGAIN: Steed sent me a track off of “Unmind,” and I have to say … it’s wonderful. Ever since Deck recorded one of the spoken word (the intro, maybe?) pieces on Steed’s last album, “Eskimo Hair,” I’ve thought his voice would be perfect for an extended spoken-word piece. The track, “The Problems of Life,” is both politically witty (”If you still have your curiosity, and don’t sit around like a sheep waiting for Rush Limbaugh to tell you what to think, you are well ahead of most of the country right now!”), funny as hell (”Problems are everywhere these days; as common as Crocs footwear, and almost as annoying …”) and inspiring in an oddball, heartwarming sort of way. Underneath Deck’s animated reading of the script, Steed layers a little slinky jazz guitar, giving the whole thing a snake oil vibe that’s spot-on.
Seriously. This should be entertaining as all get out. Go purchase, now.
As for celebrating a proper CD release, Steed writes, “We have been incorporating bits of this into the Suns of Phere show. People seem to enjoy it, actually. We may do a reading at a bookstore for the release. But for the Christmas show (the annual “I Hate Christmas Songs” Christmas Eve performance on the WDVX-FM “Blue Plate Special,” broadcast live and open to the public at noon on Dec. 24 from WDVX Studios, 301 S. Gay St. in downtown Knoxville), we’ll create segments to be interspersed.”