“Bad Thing” (too)

So the first song I tried to record was a version of this one, much truncated — I hadn’t really intended to do anything with it; the attempt was just a way for me to learn how to do very basic recording. Here’s a more finished version, with, you know, an intro, a solo, another verse…

Like a lot of my songs lately, this is another one about mortality and regret, with maybe a little acceptance mixed in.

As I was working on it, I got some sad news about a good friend. Not like we need more reminders during this insane time, but treasure your friends and your loved ones. Treasure your days and your nights.

Thanks as always to Tony Mandracchia for the beautiful guitar parts, and even more so for the friendship.

New Song! “Any Wonder”!

Okay, well, this is a weird one, so enjoy this photo of a weird tree while you listen. Thanks as always to the awesome Tony Mandracchia, who provided the stellar guitars including that crazy carousel scale at the end…you’ll get what I mean when you hear it!

Silver Dollar

This is the first song I wrote after my long hiatus from music. Plunderbund played it and I really like the arrangement we had — I wish we were out playing it now. But there’s no point spending too much time mourning what can’t be done. Instead I’m celebrating what I can. I am so grateful to have Tony Mandracchia as a collaborator on this track, bringing the song to life. I still have some work to do on the mix (dobros are complicated, and my skill set is minimal), there are vocal oopses here and there, and I really would love to have real drums instead of robots — but I think this gets the feel of the song across.

SILVER DOLLAR is about a lot of things. Mostly it’s about getting older, trying to put one’s life experiences in context, mourning some things, celebrating others.

Take advantage of the time you’ve got. You never know how long that will be…

EDIT: Here’s the new mix!

Another plague song…

So here’s the second song I mentioned, the first written entirely during the coronavirus lockdown. When I was writing “Elephant,” I didn’t think it was about the pandemic but I think it kind of is. I’ll probably do another mix of this to bring up the bass a bit and bring down the vocals at the end a little. And maybe even some live drums! Stay tuned…

Okay, here’s a better bass — I used my ancient Jazz bass and it just has such a great sound!

Once again, huge thanks to Tony Mandracchia for the awesome guitars and Dan Westrick for the technical assists!

Songs from the pandemic…

So. We’ve all found different way to cope with the utterly surreal situation in which we’ve all collectively found ourselves. Me? I decided to — finally — experiment with home recording. Never something I’d been very interested in learning about. Back when I was doing the Pickups, recording was more complicated and required a pretty hefty investment in equipment, and there were plenty of people who were very good at it.

Plus, I can sing and I can play bass, but I can’t play guitar. It seemed sorta silly.

And then I took 17 years off from playing.

But now? A decent computer and about $300 will get you what you absolutely have to have to record. And the technology is such that you can work with other musicians remotely and it’s really pretty damn easy!

So, here is my first ever recording. There are plenty of deficiencies — I just sorta rammed ahead without paying a lot of attention to levels and such on the vocals, and it shows — and I’d love to have a real life drummer instead of an Apple Bot, but you know? It gets the song across.

Thanks to Tony Mandracchia for the wonderful guitar work — it’s so much fun working together again! And to Dan Westrick, my current bandmate, for walking me through what I needed to get and giving me the confidence to try.

(Dan btw has some serious chops for the tech/recording stuff. I expect you will be hearing a lot of local San Diego musicians recorded in the PlunderCave when we’re able to do such things again!)

Starred Review for BLACK SWAN RISING audio!

Library Journal gives the BLACK SWAN RISING audio book a starred review! Since it’s subscription only, here’s the whole thing:

Brackmann’s timely political thriller is a cautionary tale about the intersection of extremism, social media, and access to firearms. It is also filled with insider information about how political campaigns operate. Set in San Diego, parallel stories revolve around the congressional election of Matt Cason. Casey Cheng, Channel 9 reporter, is shot in the back at a mass shooting. She returns to work, perhaps too soon, to pursue the story of her assailant Alan Chastain. She finds he is connected to #TrueMen, who continue to troll her. Meanwhile, Sarah Price works on social media for the Cason campaign. But Sarah has a secret. She was the victim of a horrific sexual assault that was filmed and released to the Internet. After the trial, she changed her name, moved away, and started over. Now someone who knows about her past is sending her graphic, threatening emails, and she is terrified. When an assassination attempt is made on Matt Cason’s life, Casey’s and Sarah’s stories intersect. Christina Delaine expertly captures the vocal nuances of the many personalities. VERDICT: Listeners will enjoy this story of smart, capable women standing up for themselves. It’s thrilling, suspenseful, and thought provoking. Highly recommended.—Judy Murray, Monroe City Lib. Syst., Temperance, MI.


Todd wanted to play this next time so I pulled it out to listen. One of those tunes that was so much fun to play, and I am gratified that the bass part came back to me so quickly!

“Where’s Dana?”


Well, it is too late for me to post about the fabulous book launch party we had at Mysterious Galaxy for BLACK SWAN RISING. But it is not too late to post about some other stuff I have coming up!

Sept. 25: TODAY! The amazing and awesome Steph Cha hosts me at the equally awesome Chevalier’s Books, 7 pm, 126 N Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004 Find out more here!

Sept. 26: I’m appearing with the wonderful David Corbett at the amazing Janet Rudolph’s salon! Berkeley CA! Details and RSVP here!

Sept. 29: Okay, I am out of superlatives. ALL of them apply to this next event: Me! Dana Fredsti! At Borderlands Books, San Francisco! 1:00 PM! 866 Valencia St., San Francisco CA 94110

Nov. 10: INSERT ALL THE SUPERLATIVES! I’m appearing with none other than Tim Hallinan! At Book Carnival! 2 pm! 348 S. Tustin Street, Orange, CA 92866!

More events as I continue to book them, including another San Diego appearance in October!


Music Time

“A tambourine in the wrong hands…is a dangerous weapon”

So as I’ve been re-embarking on this whole playing in a band thing (which is a head trip in many ways), I’m rediscovering tunes that I wrote that I barely remember. Here’s one of them. It had been sitting on a cassette and I hadn’t heard it in 18 years or so (thanks to Dan Westrick for ripping it to digital so I could listen. Who has a cassette player any more? Not me).

Strange for me to hear it again. The musicianship was really solid–hearing Tony and Todd just made me happy. I don’t think Dana was on this tune for some reason — it sounds like me doing the backups (which is too bad, because I always liked the way our voices blended and balanced).

As for the song, it made me sad because it was about sad stuff, and it’s a sad song.

On the other hand, it’s very…musical. Like what’s the next TV show that wants to do a musical episode? Call me.

BLACK SWAN RISING reviewed by International Noir Fiction!

Always happy to get a review from International Noir Fiction—Glenn Harper’s analyses are so thoughtful and smart!

Brackmann’s novel isn’t only dark and foreboding, it’s also human and humane. The characters take us along this difficult journey through their compelling personal engagement with what’s going on. And the action of the novel doesn’t indulge in the cliches of the genre: The twists and turns of the plot are uniquely Brackmann’s.

Brackmann’s previous two series, one set in the gaming and art worlds of China, the other a more straightforward pair of noir novels set in the drug trade of Mexico, the southern and western U.S., establish the writer’s conversational narrative voice, which continues in Black Swan, but the new novel has more urgency and more contemporary impact, as if this is a novel that Brackmann had to write. I don’t know of any other book that captures the actual social and cyber threats to democracy in the U.S. so effectively. We can hope for more, whether a sequel or a new angle on our times in future books.