Category Archives: News

How You Type is More Important Than What You Type

People often ask how it is that we do what we do. In an age where the only QWERTY most people interface with is on a tiny touch screen, hitting manual keys in sonic manipulation is unfathomably archaic. While the concepts of rhythm rarely enter into most people’s concept of typing, with an ensemble that doesn’t produce any paper artifacts, that is the most integral part of what we do. For those interested in joining our ranks or setting up satellite branches of our orchestra in their own city, the key is to learn your basic typing methods and practice, practice, practice.

Start with good posture.

Oh Smith Coronie

UPDATE: We’ve posted the music so you can hear what we did sans Perry


back to the original story……………

Everyone knows the degree of geekery that it takes to create a crew of people who set out to make music on manual typewriters alone. Ok, maybe not everyone, but hey something about what we do intrigued you enough to come visit this site, so you probably are too. While Boston may be the only place that’s produced a group like ours, other crews of people have gathered together for similarly ludicrous enterprises. Among those is the group responsible for the seminal internet video series Yacht Rock that put a name to a specific brand of smooth music. Now they have resurfaced with a great new podcast, Beyond Yacht Rock, and this week we have contributed to the mayhem by adding bumpers to help announce each step of their countdown.

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Usually the episodes of this podcast develop arbitrary genres and count down the top 10 songs that fit into this paradigm. We’ve been tapped to fill in one of their special episodes that come on the 5s with a more particular theme(#5 was Van Halen vs Van Hagar). This time around it’s an in depth exploration and discussion of Journey frontman Steve Perry’s solo magnum opus “Oh Sherrie.” Sometimes these podcasts are tough to describe to someone who’s never listened before, this one is nearly impossible, so just listen and you can hear some fine snippets of Boston Typewriter Orchestra wedged between each track.

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If you are a neophyte and need to catch up with the past, Hunter Stair (Kenny Loggins) has HD versions of all of the Yacht Rock episodes on his YouTube channel. Start here and don’t stop until you are done. It’s an hour that you won’t regret wasting online.

We Don’t Need a Licence

Before we had the magic of manual keystrokes to guide our love for sound, members of the typing pool have dipped their toes in various musical waters. For Jeff, his first genuine venture beyond some high school dalliances was working as a college radio disc jockey in the middle of Missouri. While for most those efforts peak with an overnight shift ornately crafting musical themes that are sent via the airwaves into space, he made a real splash working with a friend and booking an on-campus spring concert. That’s not generally such a big deal either of course, except these efforts brought about the reunion of one of his favorite bands, and led to a compact disc release of that very performance.

Today, for Record Store Day, that concert has been revisited by Sony Legacy recordings and is being restored to it’s full glory, putting in lost performances, appending the entire encore, and replacing banter, including an introduction where you can hear Jeff’s voice calling the band to stage. If you’re heading out to brave the geekery of RSD lines and folks elbowing their way to bins, this album is the best use of your time and money of those new titles available.

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Big Star “Complete Columbia: Live at University of Missouri 4/25/93”
recordstoreday.com/SpecialRelease/8394

*Digital audio to be appended later, but for now, like us, this one is just analog

Merry Typewriter Christmas

With wrapping paper crumpled by tree skirts without care it seems that Christmas day is already here. While today’s apparel in Boston brings shorts and T’s, we hope no matter the weather that you have fun and do as you please.

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We’re ramping up for a fun 2016, with a Kickstarter in the works to make a real record of sorts and shows shaping up both near and far (today’s weather makes me warier for how it may be in Maine during February), we bring you this piece of festive holiday cheer that we worked up for Chandler Travis’ Holiday Extravaganza that raised over $14,000 for the homeless (and that was just the Boston show). Feed the world, or at least enjoy some holiday goose.

LEGEN (wait for it… visit NH… ok now we’re back) DARY

Our practice space is in East Boston. We gather there weekly to see what magic the typewriters can make us conjure from them. It’s Jay’s place and he grew up in the neighborhood with Richie. While initial dreams were only the hope to play a single public performance, things have obviously lived far beyond those aspirations. Now there’s a new book from Eastie native and Rutgers journalism professor Dr. Regina Marchi, Legen-

Sol Lewitt at Currier Museum of Art, Manchester NH

Sol Lewitt at Currier Museum of Art, Manchester NH

-dary Locals of East Boston. Among profiles of JFK’s dad and governors John Winthrop and John Bates, and the world’s first female clipper ship navigator Mary Patten, women’s suffrage activist Judith Winsor Smith, and the first Civil War nurse Armeda Gibbs is the Boston Typewriter Orchestra. How do you like that?

Doodle All the Day

So we were on Google’s Doodle a few weeks back, now that we’re given them space, we’re showing off the process. We recorded this track with 6 of us mashing away at keys. To make it more “jazzy” Alex had a friend add a trombone track. The final result was us behind a piano track that Google found someone to throw on top of us. Choose for yourself.

Hyping Langston is the News

Happy 113rd Birthday Langston Hughes! Amazingly enough, we have been asked by the Google Corporation to help celebrate the greatest poet of the Harlem Renaissance by providing a soundtrack to a Doodle on their website commemorating the date.

We’ll be posting our unadorned backing track later this week, as well as an alternate version with trombone rather than the piano version that is used here. But since that’s not around to link to just yet, we’ll toss this in your inbox: typist Jeff’s first Most Bitter album actually kicked off with an adaptation of Hughes’ poem “Sunset in Dixie.”

Words on Paper

Without pushbrooms or anything else to clear jammed keys, our esteemed typist Brendan recently spoke with the Boston Globe West (It’s like the Boston Globe but only gets sent out once a week to people who live too far from the city to commute regularly) and found a succinct summation of our proper place in the pop culture pantheon: “It’s like ‘STOMP’ meets ‘The Office.’”

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In other literary news, the BTO is scheduled to make an appearance in The Typewriter Revolution: A 21st-Century Typist’s Companion, a book by Richard Polt due this fall from Countryman Press.

It’s a New Year

Welcome to 2015. The Year of the BTO Machine.

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Last year we continued our museum and library tour throughout New England with stops in Lexington, MA, Providence, RI, Boston Univ., Brandeis Univ., and Manchester, NH. Never mind the wild weekend with “And I AM Not Lying…” with shows in NYC and Washington DC, with an all-too-memorable stopover at the Howard Johnson at Newark Airport.

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For anyone anticipating our triple album, Workstation To Workstation, like the second Avalanches record, sometimes life happens, at least we’re getting there. We’re seeking mad scientists to help with recording to create the maximum effect for our audience.

Sometime soon, we’ll deliver:

Break Time
Harold, Step Into My Office
Butterfly Bit
Floating Holiday
Angry Factory
Autographed Picture Of The Boss’ Wife
Savvy Peanut
Accounting Sally

…and a few others that will spring from Alex’s need to pound on a typewriter as the best release there is.

Please Stay Tuned.

How Was Your Weekend? Tour Report

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A full work day in the city for the Boston Typewriter Orchestra meant that we got to New York City just in time for a midnight performance at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. Alumni/emeritus member Jim bussed in from Jersey City to fill the depleted ranks as only Jay, Brendan, and Jeff were able to truly represent Boston on this weekend. We kicked off the performance to a haggard crowd of city dwellers and kept on-stage Yankee sniping to a minimum. A night at the Newark HoJos would have been better spent sleeping off a drunken stupor in the UCB’s walk-in.

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With Jim regaling us of tales from beyond the typing pool in the wild world of liquor distribution (we’re too greedy to share, being far more inclined to mere liquor consumption), we sped off down the Jersey Turnpike in the morning heading for our nation’s capitol.

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Outside the Black Cat, we met up with Jeff Simmermon, the force that pried us away from New England for this weekend. These shows (titled And I Am Not Lying) were a whole night’s entertainment in one crazy swoop, with comedians, burlesque dancers, a boylesque dancer, and Simmermon as an officiant, comedian, and raconteur all in one. The Black Cat is DC’s finest den of iniquity, and stepping into the room to load in a bunch of typewriters it seemed like a mighty daunting space to fill.

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With seating and tables added to the room, and some of the best sound men on the case, not only did the four of us sound like a whole orchestra of typewriters, but even we were able to hear it with monitors bringing the thump-thwack at us just as hard. With a deadline to return for back in Boston, we made a quick departure after the show concluded. The overnight livery service proved just reliable enough to make it home without catastrophe.

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Friday March 14, 2014
And I Am Not Lying, midnight
Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, East Village NYC

Saturday March 15, 2014
And I Am Not Lying, 9pm
Black Cat, Washington, DC