Cat Jams


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Cat Jams Label releases appear at Maude Vintage Clothing and Costumes, the Peace Nook, Whizz Records, Ragtag CinemaCafe, Slackers, and Apop Records, and the on-campus University Bookstore in downtown Columbia, Missouri, as well as the Slackers in Jefferson City.

Cat Jams Label releases are in format at Columbia radio stations KCOU 88.1 FM and KOPN 89.5 FM.

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since 11/13/03 

©2003-5 Cat Jams Label / Blanche Braden / Aaron Arnoldy / authors & artists / Channing Kennedy


3/29/2008 making the best vs. making the most
So Cat Jams is now officially over. The final show was held at Ragtag Cinemacafe in Columbia, Missouri, on Sunday, January 20 2008; it featured a reunion performance by the Pows (Zach and Rex playing as the Pows for the first time since 2005, with Terry, who played with the group at their inception in 2002), and a farewell performance by OBELISK & MC Cat Genius, as well as a retrospective of Cat Jams family video works, and the release of the final Cat Jams catalog item. Four days later, I began a week-long cross-country trip with my nine-years-no-see father and six-months-no-see girlfriend, which ended with me and Emily living in San Francisco, where I'm attending a four-month six-day-a-week digital video production workshop at San Francisco State University. For me, it means saying goodbye to Columbia, the only town I've ever loved, after six years; it's also the first time I've left Missouri, with no plans to return, since my family moved here in 1993. Missouri, the only state I've ever hated. Aw, it's not that bad.

This is a partial post while I continue preparing the official Cat Jams obituary. Yeah, I know Cat Jams shut down more than two months ago.


Tribune article (pre-show)
badly archived version of the Move article (post-show)
Jeff Lautenberger's photos of the show, for Move / The Maneater ***LOOK AT THESE***

The Move article has several blatant factual inaccuracies (natch) but overall does a good job of conveying what went down at the last show. The photos are absolutely fantastic; you should definitely look at those. And the Tribune article is the last thing Mary Nguyen ever wrote for the Tribune; Chris Boeckmann took over her position because they can pay him less (and he's also a very talented writer). Mary is one of the only journalists I have actually looked forward to working with, because she has excellent taste in restaurants.


Jason Reamer who did the artwork for the OBECat EP. Dante's Wharf is what it's called *** LOOK AT THIS """

• Emily Foster has been showing her films, including a new one, in a shit-ton of places. San Francisco, Columbia, Chicago, Italy, fuck y'all.

James Harvey has been doing too much great stuff to enumerate.


The final Cat Jams catalog item,

RIP Cat Jams Label 2002-2008,
January 20 2008,
519 tracks 4.3 gigabytes,
limited run of 60,

is now unavailable. If you had any interest in this, you probably already have one, or one is in the mail to you. If those two categories do not include you, email me and I'll send you a burn with no packaging.

This release includes, as an mp3 data DVD-R, everything that I never got around to releasing with Cat Jams, as well as some Cat Jams-related releases and recordings. Here, more or less, is the tracklist, in PDF form (your tracklist may vary).

The final release is packaged in the 60ish jewel cases I had left in my closet, and burned on the 60ish DVD-Rs I had left on a spindle. The artwork is themed around the death of label owner Blanche Braden, my cat (in spirit if not realty), who is not dead, but who is going to be if she doesn't stop pooping in the house. The discs are beautifully silkscreened in four alternate two-color schemes, designed and printed by Matt Verges (1, 2). The white one glows in the dark. The back artwork is by Brian Blomerth. The front cover artwork was done by sixteen different artists, with a range of Cat Jams pedigrees. Here is a Flickr set with all of the artwork from the release.

The liner notes, which you may scroll down to read, were provided by like nine different dudes. The paper was folded and stuffed behind the front cover. The liners included a space to write one's own reminiscences.

For the unveiling, the individual pieces of the packaging were laid out on a table, so that a person could pick and choose a cover design and CD color. The final touch to the release was a massive pile of photographs of past events / candid shots / Facebook profile pics / dumb gifs / etc., culled from my incorrigibly sentimental iPhoto library; assemblers were instructed to hide 1-3 prints under the tray of their jewel case.

As with most Cat Jams releases, this release included (at least) one secret compromise, which is:
I only got like 16 discs burned in time for the show. I was busy. I brought the spindle of printed but unburned DVDs to the show and set them on the table next to the burned ones (already clicked into their trays). If you pulled a disc off the spindle... it's blank. I figured most people wouldn't know what to do with a data DVD-R in the first place. Fuck you. Nah, just playing. If you want a real disc to copy on to your blank disc, just let me know. But seriously, you probably didn't pay me anyway, punk.

Along with the discs, Matt Verges also silkscreened 25 shirts (collected from the sale rack at Maude) with the disc print, which were distributed to the artists and writers who contributed to the final release. If you see somebody wearing a shirt like that, be well aware that you are in the presence of a badass. Speaking of which: Takashi and Julia, give me your addresses so I can send you your shirts. UPDATE: I don't have enough money to mail them.

Here is the artwork, in all its variations, from the last release. &&& LOOK AT THESE &&&

And here are the liner notes. %%%% LOOK AT THIS &&&&
I realized a month later that I fucked up the column layout. Ha ha

Concerning the last show:


Not to be confused with overall last label impressions. I felt that the final Cat Jams show was a big success because it presented in microcosm the major themes of Cat Jams.

Like the article said, the event was falsely billed as my 30th birthday party; there were anagrammatical cupcakes to this effect, courtesy of the incomparable Leah, with a sheet for anagrams so dorks would have something to do. (Instead people just wrote some palindromes, IDIOTS) This was inspired by a party recently attended by myself and Gregg and Nick Lambeth and Rotten Milk, at which we rearranged some 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATIE' cupcakes to say 'HAPPY FARTY DIK-BATH' and how excited we were about it, since we didn't know too many people at that party, especially not Katie. The kindly journalist who showed up from Move got had a little bit, because I made her buy me a sandwich and then forgot to pay her back for it. Try it! Thanks, Lindsey, btw. Plus one time I took her pad from her and started writing stuff.

When we tested the video setup, everything was fine, which was good since the evening focused around video. Needless to say, as soon as things got started, the video feed fucked up. Suddenly we could only project in grayscale. Gregg had agreed to host the opening video retrospective under the condition that he get to wear a ridiculous outfit; however, his fake mustache got lost at the last moment.

Also, the video retrospective went on for too long. Sean later pointed out, rightly, that some of the videos I played were basically just in-jokes from a couple years past, and Gregg's intentionally indiscernible random narration did little to relieve the monotony of an hour of jokes about people you don't know. In my defense: When I talked to people (Ben Cianciosi) about the video retrospective, they (he) said 'Oh great, you can play the Miami Dragons memorial video!' And I thought 'Oh... oh yeah, I could do that. It seems sort of like an in-joke now, but all those cool kids who were implicated in it will be in the audience.' When the video was actually being played, guess where said cool kids were? Skipping out on the screening at the bar area! because they're cool! So everyone who saw it was categorically too uncool to know why it's funny to see a naked photo of Tim Kaiser. Sorry. I should have seen that one coming. Still, the Tape Store Whisper Slide killed, because hot moves don't know color (from grayscale).

The Pows played a great set, as you can tell from the audio recording of the show that you're currently listening to. Since Ryan and Adam were unavailable, Terry (of Flowers and the Starbaskets) played bass; I've only ever seen Terry play bass with the Pows once, at the first show of theirs I ever saw, in the basement of Maude, when they were all fifteen and they were on the bill for the last-ever show by the Eatting C.H.i.P.S. w/ Süëzën, Punk Rock Ian's beautiful tribute to youth, and Corey the Emo Stand-Up Comedian. I really wish I had put out an album by the C.H.i.P.S. but what are you going to do, magic is where you find it when you find it. The Pows did an old-fashioned fifteen-minute set, screaming through a bunch of old faves from Neoon Winteer, and a couple of non-album jams. I think Zach is even more shy on stage now than he used to be; he's gotten soft in that department following so many post-Pows shows in a mask and a robe and at the back of the stage and with eight other guys up there. I hugged everybody afterwards and it was totally gay. Then I forgot to say "Stick around for OBELISK & MC Cat Genius," or maybe I didn't forget -- most of the crowd left, is what I'm saying.

Before the Pows set, I changed into most of my Cat Genius costume for the night, for which I'd chosen a black wool tux with two cummerbunds. During the Pows' set, I became acutely aware that said outfit was astonishingly uncomfortably hot. At the end of their set, I figured: last show ever, what the fuck, might as well make it count. So I stripped down to my underwear. Well, I was also wearing socks on my hands, gray spats over white shoes with cat toes drawn on them, one gold cummerbund with large black tail attached, white fur chestpiece, gold bowtie, and (of course) my Piccolo mask sans hood. Most of which I was still putting on as the first song, 'Save It For Hat Day' over the backing track from 'You Don't Know My Name', was rapidly getting over; I made OBELISK hold the microphone up to my face so I could have my hands free to put my stuff on. During the phone call skit (during which I called Blanche to say that I found out the label was breaking up), I squeezed out a new joke after inviting everyone in the audience out to karaoke: "The room only seats 24, so some of you might have to sit on my face." I knew we had become tight as a band because I no longer became too nervous to remember the great jokes I'd thought up while rehearsing in the shower the previous week.

The audience had thinned out considerably, but that really only meant that we were down to the hardcore fans who were down to have a Time. So when we brought on the Garfield & Friends theme ("Come on in, come to the place where fun never ends / A giant anthropomorphic cat-man and his friend"), a new version of My Nuts (with Paul Simon layered in, and the video and lyrics changed to be about NBA star Manute Bol), and a bunch of cans of silly string and giant balloons, the audience stepped up to the plate by brutally fucking assaulting us with silly string. And they also stuck with us through the technical problems,

O! the technical problems. Not only was our labored-over backing video still inexplicably grayscale, but the backing audio was now wantonly dropping out, usually when I had something really dirty to say and Isabel was right in front of me and Isabel's mom was right behind her. I dunno if you know much about rap shows, but the backing track is a fairly integral part of the sum audio output. The staff was stumped. So -- and this is what I mean when I say 'microcosm of Cat Jams' -- we worked within these new boundaries. The first time the audio cut out (I believe during Lettuce Dance right before the altered line 'Let's make a date, I can't wait / How 'bout the night before I leave town forever?' which I shrugged out on), we paused for a moment, and then...

We got the audience to form a human pyramid.

Yeah. Fuck you. How many times did you ever get your audience to form a human pyramid while you waited for your sound to come back on so you could rap again? Not very many I bet. The sound went out again a couple songs later and I declared Spoken Word Night and recited the opening verse from Much Ado About Nothing. The third time the audio went out, um I think we tried to beatbox, we were sorta out of ideas by then. Stephen did say 'Unless otherwise noted, all of our songs have sound,' which I thought was pretty good. Oh yeah, another secret to get the audience to be on your side is to bring ten large cans of black Sparks to the show and give them out, one per song, to the most enthusiastic dancer. Don't give one to Isabel, she's like 14.

Other show notes: we had a shadow puppet contest during Cash, and Stephen chose a winner based on merit (Wynde Noel); I covered Stephen's cover of Real Big and altered a line to 'Hey yo peep my outfit / This is wool and this must be felt' and palmed Jessica's boob (get it?); at the end of Lettuce Dance Stephen turned his microphone over to Zach who just started chanting 'LETTUCE DAANCE. CABBAGE PAAATCH.' from over in the corner and I couldn't stop laughing; we did This Song Is Really Good with lyrics for the first time and it really was really good, especially Stephen's verse -- he's so much better at punchlines than I'll ever be. He took his pants off for that song, but then in the photos you can see him putting them back on again during the pyramid. I wanted to change our Myspace profile picture to both of us in our underwear, but our packages were never photographed together, implying that our packages are the same person.

The last song of the night was Aviators, a new mashup against Creed's 'Higher'; we got people to dance to Creed! That was the last Cat Jams song that will ever be performed. At the end we tore off our costumes and tossed them into the crowd (I kept my underwear on thx). I tore up my three-year-old, only recently functional mask into little bits, like at the end of Mean Girls, and I tried to tear up my tail but discovered that I wasn't physiologically capable of it (and neither was Ben Klasner). I spun it around until some of the stuffing came out, and then threw it and it landed on Bob. When everything calmed down a bit, I called up everyone in the audience who had been on Cat Jams (who would admit it), and we all took a scene-closing bow. I tried to give a little speech but got choked up; then Zach handed me some artificial flowers that we had brought to have handed to us, and then Zach and Erik carried me on their shoulders out into the lobby and the sidewalk, where it was revealed to be cold.

On the one hand, it was boring to have a band that neither of us had the time or skill for and that thus had been playing the same songs for three years. But, according to Cat Jams philosophy of work, we made the most of it and put our energy into presenting those songs in a new way each show, with new terrible mashups and new outfits and new audience involvement tactics, and we were becoming a really great live act, fuck the studio, our concept sells itself. In a lot of ways it was our best show and it sucks that we aren't doing any more anytime soon.

Phil Chiles stayed late and helped clean up the silly string. Thanks, Phil.


Here is a special mix I made of my favorite Cat Jams tracks. This file is huge. You have that Jay Chou / Savage Garden mashup memorized, you can delete it to make room.

Cat Jams Best Gems by CK
80 minutes 130 megs

I'll upload the audio from the show for next post.

I started a new blog and a new Flickr page. The blog is empty still but the Flickr page has lots of sweet cell phone camerage. Oh, and Stephen and I have separate myspace pages now.

Later: last label impressions, individual release memories, stuff I forgot.


Thanks for all your hard work helping to make Columbia and Missouri (I guess) a better place over the years. CatJams will always be a fond memory in a lot of people's minds. Cheers to your next project, whatever it may be. Please don't ever stop making crazy in your own special way. The world needs more people like Channing and the CatJams crew willing to do the legwork to make our lives more interesting.

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