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Mike Coykendall's Past, Present And Maybe Future Collide On New Album

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Michael Bordelon
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Former Kansan Mike Coykendall has a new album out, which features new material as well as songs from some of his favorite songwriters. KMUW's Jedd Beaudoin recently spoke to Coykendall and has more.

A few years ago Mike Coykendall found himself performing one-man shows with his guitar, a bass drum and a few other auxiliary instruments.

Without having a band to rehearse, Coykendall found that he had new freedom. That approach bled into his new album, Half Past, Present Pending.

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“I could play anything I wanted at any time, and I started enjoying that aspect," Coykendall says. "So that’s how I treated the recording sessions too. If I had a new song, I might record that, and if I felt like playing a cover, that would be OK. And if I wanted to do an old song in a different way, that was fine too. So, I did.”

Among the songs that Coykendall pulled from elsewhere was “Travel Round The World,” written by his good friend Carlos Forster, who he met while he and his wife Jill were living in San Francisco and finishing their first album as the Americana group Old Joe Clarks. Recording engineer Wally Sound helped facilitate Forster and Coykendall’s initial meetings.

“He was playing some stuff after a session—we were just sitting and talking—and every second or third song would really hit me hard and I liked all of it," Coykendall says. "They were just four-track demos that Carlos and his friends had made. So, I went and saw him play in San Francisco and went up and introduced myself and gave him a CD and he liked my music too. We just started hanging out and listening to records and stuff like that. The friendship stuck, and we’ve stayed in touch most of the time. I just played a run of shows with him here in the Northwest and one down in San Francisco.”

Half Past, Present Pending also features “Late Night,” written by Syd Barrett and “Paranoid Eyes,” written by Roger Waters—founding members of one of Coykendall’s favorite bands, Pink Floyd. Here, Coykendall remembers his evolution from reluctant to enthusiastic Floyd fan.

“My brother Robert he was 11 years older than me and he had Piper At The Gates of Dawn when it came out in ’67 or ’68, which was probably pretty forward considering that we were in Norwich, Kansas," he says. "I think he gave me Relics on 8-track and I didn’t really like it very much. It sounded like noise because I was listening to The Beatles, which is much more accessible, I’d say, and more well played and well recorded. But slowly the Pink Floyd stuff growing on me and then I think I heard Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall came out and about that time I’d been reading about Syd Barrett in a book from the library there in Wichita in a book on rock ‘n’ roll. He had a little paragraph in there. He sounded interesting. So, I found his records at Camelot Music. There was a double album set of his first two solo records packaged together. They kept marking it down a dollar a week. I kept going back and when it got down to six bucks, I was, like, ‘OK. I’m going to buy it.’ I bought it and took it home and thought, ‘This is the weird stuff I’ve ever heard.’ But I liked it a few tracks enough to keep wanting to come back to it and then pretty soon I started liking almost all of it.”

A perhaps unexpected cover on Coykendall’s new record is “In The Summertime,” written by Roger Miller.

“There was a record that we had around the house that was bought from the Country Music Association—it was actually bought over the TV I think," Coykendall says. "I researched it a little bit. It was a compilation of about 25 artists, each with one of their hit songs, so I got my introduction to all the country greats from the ‘40s and ‘50s on that record—maybe up to the early ‘60s or something. That Roger Miller song was on that record. We didn’t have many records around the house. I think that that was the only one that wasn’t a kids’ record or something like that. So, I played it a lot.”

Mike Coykendall’s Half Past, Present Pending is out now on Fluff and Gravy Records.

Coykendall performs this Saturday evening at Barleycorn’s.

Watch Mike Coykendall perform songs for KMUW's Currency Exchange:

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Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.