Goodbye, Almira album reaches ten-year milestone

Original cover of Goodbye, Almira by Alex Battles

Goodbye, Almira

Original liner notes by Shafer Hall

September, 2011

Few songwriters in contemporary New York City are as considerate to their audiences as Alex Battles. From JFK Airport to the foothills of the Rockies, Alex gives us everything from old blue pickups to fondue. There is something of the country and something of the city in this extraordinary young man. 

And that is just his lyrical content. His melodies and arrangements take us from the polka halls of the Midwest all the way down to the cantinas of Mexico.

If a show at Hank’s Saloon calls for raucousness, Alex and the band will rock. If it’s midnight at Sunny’s in Red Hook, he can play quietly with the folkies. The amazing thins is that at both places he will play the same songs. 

This collection of songs is the lost and found of the heart; this album is the box beneath the pool table win the back room where you left your innocence, and I left my dignity. Alex is the emotional designated driver for our late night souls. 

If it’s true, as a young man once said, that Alex is akin to Kirk Douglas’s nephew Sam Douglas, and that the Whisky Rebellion is like Sam’s entourage, then the Brooklyn night burns bright with this celebrity. There is another Fifth Avenue just south of the one you know; let Alex show you around.

~ Shafer Hall is the author of Never Cry Woof ~


Goodbye, Almira is available for purchase and streaming on bandcamp.

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One night in Bangkok

Taking a look at the lichess.org 2020 wrap-up, one notices two distinct bumps in chess players; the first stemming from the pandemic, the second from the popularity of the Queen’s Gambit.

As a new chess player myself, I wanted to recommend the Perpetual Chess Podcast, which interviews individuals involved in all levels of the world of chess. I was especially inspired by the interview with Thibault Duplessis, the founder of the free and ad-free lichess.org. Another interview I enjoyed was with adult improver Neal Bruce discussing Yasser Sereiwan’s book Winning Chess Strategies.

The picture below is a “berserker” from the historic Lewis chessmen.

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Say goodbye, Lester.

I’ve taken myself off of social media because I no longer trust myself with presenting honest, thoughtful opinions in these difficult times. I have long believed that Thou Shalt Not Kill is a pretty important commandment. Unfortunately, we live in a world where the guns will always win. As a pacifist, I will always be on the losing side. And yet for some reason, I cling to such empty human concepts as hope, love, and peace.

From now on, I will share whatever I need to share on this website.

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A new songwriting collaboration with Paisley Fields

Paisley Fields is on the Grammy ballot!
I’m excited to announce that Paisley Fields new album is on the Grammy ballot! A list of the collaborators on the record is above. My story about meeting and working with Paisley Fields follows.
Paisley Fields

When I first met Paisley Fields, he was playing the piano at the Jalopy Tavern. At the time, I was in a bit of a rut as a songwriter. My guitar was providing no inspiration. Witnessing an instrumentalist as effortless as Fields led me back to my first instrument. The piano.

About a year later, Fields proposed that we get together to work on a songwriting collaboration. I was thrilled. Fields’s knowledge of American popular standards, coupled with his enthusiasm for country music made me excited about what we might come up with. Eventually, we were able to get together twice, resulting in two distinct compositions, one of which,”Shuffling Fool” ended up on the new Paisley Fields album, Electric Park Ballroom.

A line dance song about the challenges of line dancing, “Shuffling Fool” tells a story very close to my heart, During our songwriting session, I admitted to Paisley that while I had always been a fan of line-dancing, I was never able to master even the simplest series of steps. Fields agreed that this would be a fun topic to explore. Line by line, we discussed what would make the song the most truthful. We worked hard to make sure our song was a song that everyone would enjoy. Once we had finished the words, Fields said, “What were you thinking for a melody?”

Throughout the writing process, I had been writing to a tune in my head. I walked over to the keyboard where Mr. Fields was sitting and tried to show him what I was thinking of. I was immediately frustrated though. Despite my re-dedication to the piano since I’d met Paisley Fields, I was still in the same melodic rut. “Forget that,” I told Fields. “That’s not what we’re looking for.”

“What ARE we looking for?” Fields asked me.

“Well, you’re Miley.” I told him, “You’re gonna sing it. It’s gotta work for you. But,” I continued, “before you came over, I was hoping we could write a disco song.”

Fields’s eyes lit up. Grabbing the handwritten lyrics and slamming them on top of the keyboard, he began pumping away at my borrowed Fender Rhodes piano like a cross between Jerry Lee Lewis and Elton John. Within minutes, Fields had finished a demo recording, while I nervously held my breath in the background, careful not to disturb the flow of his inspiration.


A few months later, I received an email from Fields in Nashville where he was working on the Electric Park Ballroom recording session. I was very excited with the progress. But when the album came out. I was blown away! I cried tears of joy when I heard what Paisley Fields had done with the song we had written together. I grew up listening to and loving disco. “Shuffling Fool” is every bit the disco masterpiece I had ever dreamed of and so much more. I would like to thank Paisley Fields and all the musicians who worked on the Electric Park Ballroom album from the bottom of my heart for making such a wonderful record.

Electric Park Ballroom is available now on pink splatter vinyl from Don Giovanni Records. It is also available on compact disc, and as a digital download. As it is the season for Grammy nominations, I would like to share some of the press reviews the album has received so far.


“Paisley Fields brings a roguish cabaret-style sensibility to “The Other Boys,” from his upcoming album Electric Park Ballroom. …describing the often-solitary experience of many gay men with a knowing mixture of humor and sadness.” – Rolling Stone

“Electric Park Ballroom probably won’t be embraced by the Nashville country-pop scene any time soon (the frisky “Ride Me Cowboy” is about exactly what you think), but it’s smart, fun music for folks who want to give new queer country a spin.” – Chicago Reader

“Electric Park Ballroom is a rarity, an album that is perfect from start to finish” – Country Queer

“Fields makes mischievous use of down-home symbolism on his frolicsome tune “Ride Me Cowboy,” upending the conventions of stoic, range-riding masculinity with winking, queer flirtation.” – NPR

“But ultimately the varied sonic palette Fields is exploring here is what makes Electric Park Ballroom an exciting listen, from the theatrical piano bar drive of the near-disco cut “Shuffling Fool” to the fiercely witty murder ballad “Time’s Up, Brad.” Highlights include the triumphant, live-or-die nature of “Thunder Road” (which does the namesake proud) and there is a hooky pop punk stomp to “Winter Night.” There hasn’t been a shortage of fascinating, exciting under-the-radar country artists over the last several years, and Fields should unquestionably be on any list of performers helping to redefine the genre.” – Merry Go Round Magazine

“One of the mainstays of the Queer Country Quarterly is Paisley Fields, whose first album Not Gonna Be Friends debuted to critical acclaim in 2014, and latest album is this year’s Ride Me Cowboy. Paisley, who grew up in the Midwest where he was a church pianist as a teenager, remembers country music, and specifically line dancing, as a means of expressing (if covertly) his sexuality in a conservative setting. “When I was line dancing I could just dance around and be a little gay boy and no one would judge me for it,” he recalls. Along with touring with his own band, Paisley is also a member of the reactivated Lavender Country.” – BBC

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Theme song to One Magical Hour, A Matthew & Shafer Podcast Spectacular

Listening to the One Magical Hour Podcast on SpotifyBefore production began on his new Austin, Texas based podcast, Shafer Hall, one of the two hosts of One Magical Hour: A Matthew & Shafer Podcast Spectacular asked me to provide him with a theme song. As I turned the title over in my head, Matthew & Shafer set sail on their podcasting adventure.

By the time I was ready to work on the theme, Matthew and Shafer had just released Episode 19. It was clear that I had work to do. I donned my headphones, opened Garage Band, and put my favorite Harold Lloyd movie on the television with the sound turned down.

I started with the beat, then added some whistling, synthesizers, and vocals. My first version clocked in at over six minutes. Over the next two days, I was able to edit this down to a three minute version, which makes its debut at the end of Episode 21.

One Magical Hour Episode 21

A shorter version of theme opens and closes Episode 22. And then opens all subsequent episodes beginning with Episode 25.

Episode 22 of One Magical Hour, A Matthew & Shafer Podcast Spectacular

You can catch up on all the adventures of Matthew & Shafer over at onemagicalhour.com

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Copyright 2014 Alex Battles.