Tag Archives: solo record

When the Morning Comes

IMG_6636 (1)

When the Morning Comes

I decided, after much deliberation and fretting and sweating and stress, that the first single from our recording session should come out.  This even though we’re still in the process of rehearsing and recording the rest of my record.

Why?

Because I . . . and frankly all the musicians in the Ain’t Got No time (Rock and Blues) Band were moved by the results.  That’s not something happens all the time.  The mixture of the acoustic guitar along with the beautiful vocals that Matt Retz and Eric Rosander arranged for the tune were so stirring I felt that the time was right to release it.

When the Morning Comes will be the first single, released April 22nd in iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, YouTube Music, iHeart Radio, whatever the hell that thing Jay-Z and Beyonce have is called . . . hell I’ll beam it to Pluto so the aliens can broadcast it to the computer chip in your fillings if you want.

So let me regale you with the background of this song, if you will.

I came up with two lines in the very beginning, and that was some time ago, not long after losing my wife, Andrea.  She passed away on March 26th, 2011.

I’m broken and bent, beat down ’cause I spent my time fighting my battles of the heart.

I also had the chorus:

I see the moon…rising in the midnight sky, I see your headlights as you pass me by.
Though I wait here for you you’ve left me behind

Some years later the aching and pain started to fade and were replaced with some yearning.  Not for who I lost but for wanting to find someone else.  When that came I realized that meeting, seeing, hearing someone new was just as exciting and lovely as what I had.  So the last line of the chorus just fell into place:
And she’ll be here when the morning comes

The song is about loss, about love, and about the drive and enjoyment of moving ahead.  Sometimes you lose and you never recover.  Sometimes . . . life catches you by surprise.

This project…it’s just such a personal one, and as a musician that’s what you want, I suppose.  You grab deep into your soul, find themes that are universal, and bring them to the fore.  You don’t have to lose someone . . . we all have had breakups, arguments, divorce, loss takes all forms and faces.  I feel like this song could apply in so many ways.

My colleagues and fellow musicians say they can hear so many of my influences, from the Allman Brothers Band (particularly in the guitar solo) to The Black Crowes to The Eagles (particularly in the harmonies).  In the end, though, that combination of all of those makes this uniquely our own creation.

April 22nd the song drops.  I hope you are touched by it as much as we were.

 

Advertisements

A Time to Release . . .

IMG_6586 (1)

A Time to Release

Things have been a bit radio silent here for the last several weeks.  It’s time you knew why.

The picture up there is from last Monday, the 28th of March.  Just two days after the anniversary of my wife’s passing . . . two days past what would have been my 23rd wedding anniversary (we married young, and yes…they are the same day) I was in a recording studio.

Fancying myself a bit of a storyteller let me give you the long-winded explanation of why this is significant.  It comes, essentially, in two parts.

First . . . this whole thing started in the week or so following my wife, Andrea’s death.  I binge-watched in a sleepless week the entire TV series The Wire, which was good, from what I remember.  Then I did something my wife disliked…I picked up a guitar, in the living room, at 3am.  A song started to form and the anger and frustration I had got my blood going and in my sleepless state I had inspiration for music.   All the anger and emotion flooded out and I wrote a song about where I was at.

Then the writer’s block hit.  For more than a year-and-a-half I was unable to write music.  It was frustrating.  After that time, though, the dam burst and I was nearly prolific.  The result was close to a dozen or more songs that I was constantly honing and re-recording in demo form.

Fast forward a few years . . . my oldest daughter was struggling with what her career choice would be.  Deep down she wanted to do one thing but was clinging to what her mother wanted: something in the medical field.  She would have been good at it, it’s a noble thing to do . . . but I knew she didn’t want to.  So I told her to look at herself, her life, this was her time, after all.  “Find something you love, what you’re passionate about and work really hard at it and you will be happy.  Maybe not rich, but you will be fulfilled.”  (Or words to that effect)  My daughter turned that around on me a year later.  “When are you going to do that, Dad?”

I was floored.

“You need to go into the recording studio again.  You’re too good and you talk a good game . . . but don’t use us (the kids) as an excuse.  Find a way.”

So I have taken my own advice.

I joined a band . . . the Ain’t Got No Time (rock and blues) Band.  This is a group of some of the most talented people I know.  We started gigging first, a couple free fundraisers for charity.

Then I asked them if they’d record an album with me.  I even considered, at their suggestion, whether or not this could be a band album.  I almost did that . . . but a couple things stopped me:

  • Much of the material (most of it, in fact) helped me get through the struggles, the grief and confusion.  I wrote what I felt and this was a very personal project.
  • I wasn’t going to say this was “the band’s” record when I wrote all the material.  These guys all write and they write amazing stuff.  The world needs to hear a full band record, too.  That will come later.

We started rehearsals:

IMG_2555

And the band seriously became nearly de-facto producers of the record.

Here are the cast of characters of AGNT:

IMG_6543Kevin Mooney is the drummer.  He basically looked up, said “who do you want this to sound like,” and counted off the beat.  When we said more he gave more.  When we needed a break in the song he hit it dead-on.

IMG_6565Eric Rosander plays bass and sings backup (at least here).  He sings in an a capella   group so his vocal arrangements are strong.  He plays upright, and is one of the best bassists I’ve ever played with.

IMG_6569 (1)Matt Retz plays guitar – rhythm and lead – and sings.  He and Eric arranged backup vocals for my first single that sound like a full chorus of people behind us.  It simultaneously evokes gospel meets The Eagles and I’m so proud of it all.  Matt took some of the reigns and helped produce an amazing three songs.

IMG_0752Then there’s Robert Sabino…our keyboard player…though he’s so much more.  A resume that includes Bowie, Madonna, Simon and Garfunkel, Mick Jagger, and a who’s who of people from the 70’s-90’s and beyond.  Rob helped so much with arrangements that made the songs so much more than I ever thought they would be.  Between Rob and Matt the material didn’t just get better, it sang.

So two days in the studio, a massive amount of guitar amplification and a set of torched vocal chords by the end and I have two full songs and an acoustic instrumental that may be my proudest work so far in my life.

This was certainly something I did for me, for sure.  But without this band and these people it certainly wouldn’t be the material it is.  I love them all and they are truly magical people to be around.

So . . . that said . . . instead of working toward a full record and holding off, I’m so proud of this material I’m going to release a single in the coming weeks.  I am simply waiting on the publishing and copyright paperwork to clear.

Stay tuned for updates . . . hopefully the term “radio silence” will not be applicable is so many more ways.

Marshalling a Rehearsal

IMG_6228

Marshalling a Rehearsal

(See what I did there?)

The first rehearsal for new material.  I was nervous as it’s my material, stuff I’ve written, and for the most part the most personal music I’ve ever written.

I wasn’t nervous about doing arrangements and playing the material, that’s not my big concern.  The musicians I’m playing with, affectionately dubbed the “Ain’t Got No Time Band” which is shorter than “Ain’t Got No Time Rock and Blues Review” and any other number of names we’ve come up with.  They are consummate musicians and I’m quite proud to be playing with them.

We sat down to go over the first tune, a rocker called How Much More that was one of the first tunes I wrote after the passing of my wife.  How Much More is literally the angriest song I’ve ever written.  It came after losing my wife, my house, and having my salary drastically cut.  The first line of the song is, literally, “How much more can I take?”

As is typical when you get really good musicians together, the demo I recorded is simply a road map.  With the others in the band we spent four hours, first playing the verse section over and over to get a groove.  Then came the chorus, which is different the first time from the last two.  Then we weaved the opening interlude into each section between verses.

By the end, the entire ending of the song had changed – for the better.  What started as one thing became far better, the keyboard player, Rob Sabino, conducting and moving as I soloed at the end of the song.

Debate rattles around my head…the offer was put up to make this a band album, gigging to pay for it, taking our time, writing other material too.  The collaboration is so very attractive.  The other side is that this is kind of a finality to one part of my life.  Shutting the door, closing the cover on the first story.  It transitions to the next, with songs that speak of love, loss, and finding love again.  It’s almost a story in itself, nearly a concept album.  I still waffle which would be better . . .

Regardless, to get the tone I want as well I broke down and pulled the trigger on a 50 watt Marshall amplifier.  That’s the one you see up there.  I picked it up today, knowing full well it needed work.

IMG_6229

The evening was spent swapping out tubes.  Yes…the amplifier uses vacuum tubes, an old-school technology.  But I am kind of old school anyway and they just sound better.  Marshall amplifiers are a staple of rock and roll.  Jimmy Page with Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, with Cream, and even solo used them.  It is a quintessential tone and one I wanted in my musical toolbox for years.  I just didn’t want a 100 watt version that could cause my ears to bleed when only turned to 3 on the volume.

Thus the 50 watt combo, same amplifier, smaller and I don’t have to spring for a separate cabinet.

So after testing tubes and swapping out I got it working . . . one speaker is a piece of junk but it works.  The other is a high quality Celestion.  The bigger issue – the desirable high output jack seems to not work.  I consulted a great amp tech (read my brother the wunderkind and uber talented amp builder and musician) and the two jacks are actually connected.

So this week will be cleaning, repairing and working.

Decisions have to be made, repairs have to be made . . . and I have to make up my mind.  But still . . . it’s a great week.