Click on the pic to see the YouTube video

You couldn’t ask for a better friend than Cowboy Pickles.  He has a recording studio outside Washington, D.C.  It’s a studio, yes.  But it’s really just a small spare room, in his humble home that’s close to the University of Maryland.

I did the first Slim Man CD there.  The second one, too.

The room is about 20 feet long and 15 feet wide.  It is stacked, floor-to-ceiling with audio equipment—old, new and everything in-between.

Cowboy has never gotten rid of anything.  Fender Rhodes electric pianos, old Hammond B3 organs, Hohner Clavinets, Mini-Moogs, Commodore 64 computers, old JBL speakers, amplifiers, cassette recorders, 8 track tape machines…every microphone, guitar, keyboard he’s ever bought, he still owns.  Some of it is junk.  Some of it is priceless.

Cowboy Pickles has an old rifle by the studio door—the kind you might see in an old Western movie.  He has an ax–a big ax–by his toilet, as if he were expecting some crazed Meth-Head to come crashing through his bathroom window.

Walking through the studio is like walking through a small maze.  One false move and a wall of junk might fall on you and bust your cranium.

Can you spot the rifle?

Batu loves Cowboy Pickles’ studio.  He lays down on the floor and listens to the music, eyes half-closed like he’s in a state of bliss.

The Pickles Compound is near a railroad track.  It’s close to a small airport.  And it’s so close to the University of Maryland that you can hear the marching band rehearsing in the distance.

Cowboy Pickles gets some amazing sounds out of that little spare room.

Recording vocals was a challenge.  The timing had to be just right or else the microphone would pick up all those noises…planes taking off, trains passing by.

And the air conditioner had to be shut off or else the mic would pick up the hum.  Which wasn’t bad in winter.  But in the dead of summer, when it’s 90 degrees and 90% humidity, it was murder without AC.

And we did most of our recording in the summer.  Cowboy Pickles is a music teacher–he gives private piano and guitar lessons.  And when his students went on summer vacation, we’d have a lot of time to record.

Whenever we got ready to do vocals, we’d shut off the AC.  Then we’d open the windows and listen for…planes, trains, marching bands, lawn mowers, dogs barking.

If all was quiet on the Eastern Front, we’d record.

Sometimes, we’d get a great vocal take.  But when we’d listen back to the track all by itself, we’d sometimes hear a plane landing.  Or a train going by.  Or a car horn.

Birds chirping was OK.  I kinda liked the way it sounded.

But a marching band…unless it was somehow miraculously in time with the song we were working on, we’d have to start all over.  Any time there was an open microphone—vocals, sax, etc., we had to listen closely for all kinds of extraneous noises.

Most of them we caught.  Some we didn’t…

We were mixing a song called Shelter From A Storm, from the stunning Slim Man debut CD, “End of the Rainbow.”  Mixing is the final part of the process where you determine the volume and tone of the tracks you’ve recorded.  We were listening to the song, and I heard the phone ring.  I yelled to Cowboy Pickles…

“Answer the phone!”

Cowboy picked up the phone.  No one there.

We went back to mixing the song.  I heard the phone ring again.

“Answer the phone!”

Cowboy picked up.  No one there.  It happened a third time.  We stopped mixing.  We took a listen to my vocal track.  We listened to it ‘solo’, which means…all by itself.

And sure enough, there was a phone ringing on the vocal track.  Plain as day.   In one spot, you could hear…


So we had a decision to make.  Start all over…re-record the whole vocal track.  Or just leave it in.  We left it in.

So…if you’re listening to the first Slim Man CD, and you hear a phone ringing…don’t answer it!

When the CD was finished, we had a CD release party and concert at a club in downtown Baltimore.  We invited every newspaper, magazine, reporter, TV station, radio station–we invited everybody.  Anybody.

Nobody showed up.  I counted 16 people in a place that held 200.  I went home that night, and was about as down-low as you can go.  I was convinced the CD was gonna flop.

I was playing piano at a waterfront dive bar in Baltimore called “The Horse You Came In On”.  It’s one of the oldest bars in America.  I played Friday afternoons, mostly to a group of guys that called themselves “The Knuckleheads”.

They wore hats like Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble wore to their lodge meetings–hats that looked like furry coneheads with steerhorns sticking out each side.

One Friday, the phone rang at the bar.  The bartender, Annabelle, answered it, listened, and then called out:

“Looks like you’re  number 27!”

I had no idea what she was talking about.  Neither did The Knuckleheads.  But apparently, the radio promoter I had hired was finally starting to get some interest.

The next week…

”You’re number 21!”

It continued to climb the charts, week by week.  It got all the way to #9.  Nationwide.

Cowboy Pickles on keys

So technically, it was a Top Ten Hit.  We started selling tons of CDs, we went out on tour, we played all over the US and Europe…

All from a little studio, in a spare room, next to an airport, near a train track and within earshot of a marching band.

Codfish Cakes

In Baltimore, where I spent most of my Slim Boyhood, almost every little grocery store had coddies–codfish cakes.  The two ingredients were codfish and mashed potatoes.  The coddies were displayed on a tray, along with Saltine crackers and plain yellow mustard.

I loved ‘em.

When codfish went on sale a few weeks ago at the local grocery store near Slim’s Shady Trailer Park in Palm Springs, I thought it would be a great time to create my own codfish cake recipe.  I call my new creation…

Slim Man’s Cod Pieces


3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut into cubes (about 2 cups)

1 pound codfish filet, skinless, cut into cubes (about 2 cups)

2 tablespoons minced shallot

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

2 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper…to taste

6 cups water

1 egg

½ cup of panko breadcrumbs (I used Progresso Panko Italian Style)



Get a large pot, put in 6 cups of water or so, put it on the highest heat ya gots.

Put the taters in the water.

When almost tender—it took mine about 10 minutes after the water came to a boil—add the fish cubes.  That’s right, put the fish right in the boiling water with the potatoes.

Cook for 5 minutes.

Drain in a colander.

Put the fish and the potatoes in a bowl, add 1 tablespoon of butter, add salt and pepper, and mash coarsely.

Let it sit and cool as you…

Get a sauté pan and put it over medium heat.  I used a 10-inch pan.

Add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

When the butter starts to bubble, add the garlic and shallot.

Saute for 3 minutes until the shallots are clear and the garlic is pale gold.

Add the rosemary and stir a few times.

Cook for 2 minutes.

Take the shallot/garlic/rosemary mixture that’s in the pan and add it to the codfish and potatoes.

Mix it up.

Grab your egg, put it in a bowl, and beat it.

Add it to the codfish and taters, and mix.

Add the breadcrumbs and mix by hand.

If the mixture is too liquidy, add more breadcrumbs.

When the mixture feels right—not too liquidy, not too bready–make cakes.

I like my cakes about the size of a yo-yo.  This recipe yielded 8 codfish cakes.

Put ‘em on a plate.

Take the sauté pan that you used for the garlic/shallots/rosemary.

Put it over medium-high heat.

Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

As the oil heats up…

Get a flat plate, put some flour on it.

Lightly dredge each codfish cake in the flour.

When the olive oil is hot, put the cakes in the pan, and saute for 3 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown.

Flip ‘em over—be gentle–and cook on the other side for 3 minutes, until golden brown.

Place on paper towels when done.

Serve with spicy brown mustard, or plain old yellow mustard like we used to do in Bawlmer!