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Goodbye, Joe Cocker


Obit-Joe-Cocker_Acco-1024x741Joe Cocker has died.

My first exposure to Cocker was when my oldest brother, John, played “Feelin’ Alright” for me to hear. I was just a wee little lad, but there was something about his voice that made me want to hear more. I remember asking my brother if he had other music from Joe Cocker, and my brother then pointed out that he sang a song I had probably heard before, the wonderful duet with Jennifer Warnes, “Up Where We Belong.”

“THAT’S Joe Cocker???” I asked.

What an incredibly versatile singer… especially with the kind of voice that sounds like his diet consists of sandpaper, nuts and bolts, and steel wool.

So for a while, I drowned myself in Joe Cocker music. I picked up his debut album, then the classic live Mad Dogs and Englishmen record (one of the BEST live albums ever), and then found a 4-disc box set, The Long Voyage Home.

In this box set, I discovered the greatest Joe Cocker song you probably haven’t heard before.

“Wake Up Little Susie,” The Everly Brothers’ hit, has been completely transformed here into a groovin’, movin’, bad-ass harpoonin’ song that always leaves me breathless. It’s just drums, piano, bass, some percussion, and Joe. The credits include Leon Russell, and Chris Stainton… I wish I knew the rest of the players on this awesome track. Who knows? Maybe everything was played by these guys. I don’t know.

What I do know, though, is that you must listen to this. MUST.

I’ve already played it 5 times in a row. I’m completely jazzed up right now and I want to play some music.

And that’s what Joe Cocker has always done for me: he makes me want to PLAY. He makes me want to find a song and not only play it, but figure out what it means to me and play it THAT way. In my opinion, Cocker is one of the great music interpreters. He makes the song his own and isn’t shy about it. We all know how he took “With a Little Help From My Friends” away from The Beatles… well, this version of “Wake Up Little Susie” is the only version I listen to now. I honestly can’t even listen to the original anymore. That’s not a knock on The Everly Brothers… I’m just saying that, to me, Joe Cocker’s version is THAT good.

Did you listen to it yet? If you haven’t, you’re truly missing out.

And now we will be missing out… we lost one of the great singers/musicians/artists in the world. He helped shape rock music. He brought the blues to another demographic. He changed what a touring band means. He did so many things, least of which include inspiring me to continue to work on my craft.

Thank you, Joe. We never met, but you made a difference in my life. That’s the beauty of art… you never know who you are going to touch.

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Frontloader Sessions: Alice Wallace (Pt. 1)

It’s a beautiful morning here in the Inland Empire. I’m sitting here on my bed, typing this, listening to the Frontloader Session with Alice Wallace. Perfect match, if you ask me.

1688694_1509261409349904_3832214545668796657_nAlice Wallace is a country/folk/blues singer here in Southern California. She has a gorgeously gorgeous voice that hits “it” every single time. That “it” I mention is probably different for everyone… for me, “it” is the feeling that I get in my gut that tells me, “Dude. That’s it!”

Yes, I know I didn’t make much sense there, but you get my point: Alice is awesome.

On a cool Monday morning, Alice, Tom Bremer (guitar), and Robert Bowman (stand-up bass), ready to record. I had never recorded a stand-up bass before, so Robert was kind enough to show me how it’s usually mic’d (one mic pointed more or less at the bridge, one at an f-hole). The full, booming tone was such a pleasure to hear through the monitors. I have GOT to get myself one of those things. It’d help if I first learned how to play it, of course.

Bremer’s Telecaster ran through a Bassman (if memory serves). The Tele’s 60-cycle hum was evident but thankfully it wasn’t too prominent in the mix. I loved Tom’s playing… very tasteful, subtle, and kept the song moving with his flavorful runs. Plus, his Telecaster was cool. I would say, “I have GOT to get myself one of those things!” as well, but I already have one… wait… I can have ANOTHER one!!!!

My mom once asked me, “You can only play one at a time. Why you need so many guitars?” My reply? “Why not?”

My mom didn’t seem to like that answer. She shook her head and said something in Chinese that I think… I THINK meant, “My son is an idiot.”

Everyone set up in a semi-circle and they started with “If I Knew,” the opening track to Alice’s album, A Thousand Miles From Home.

I tried a 3-camera set up this time: 2 stationary and one I carried around. I’m pretty happy with the results… one issue I had was making the clips from each camera look the same. Not sure if I achieved this, but I think I got close.

“If I Knew” deals with what we all realize: hindsight is 20/20. The question Alice asks, though, is even though hindsight is 20/20, would she still do the same things again? Interesting lyric… made me think. Hey! Alice made me THINK! Cool.

“If I Knew”

If you get a chance, listen to this session through headphones (a good set!) and you’ll be able to hear how the electric guitar floats around the stereo space. I was quite pleased with the sound.

“A Waltz” is one of my favorite songs of the session. Yes, just as the title says, the song is a waltz. During the recording, I found myself wanting to sing along, even though I didn’t know the words. That’s how much I dug this song. As I listen to it now, I can’t help but sing along at the “La dee die” part.

From 2:54-3:00, the look on Robert’s face is priceless. I’m so glad I got that on film.

“A Waltz”

And finally, here’s “Long Road,” just a great way to end this first part of her session. Tom’s funky country guitar picking chimes throughout this fun, toe-tapping number.

“Long Road”

I’ll say this about the whole session with Alice: it was great to watch them perform and feed off of each other. Their knowledge of not only the style, but their playing was a joy to hear. The discussions about which type of chord to end on, which scale to use for the solos, and how to go about getting the right feel for the song in this setting… it showed me just how dedicated each musician is to their craft. While I am guilty of just “banging it out” as well, it’s great to be reminded that the drama is in the details.

Be sure to catch Alice in concert! Here are some upcoming dates:

Dec 27, 8:30pm @ Yves Restaurant and Wine Bar in Anaheim Hills, CA
Dec 31, 8:00pm @ Westin Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, CA
Jan 03, 7:00pm @ Ranch Party @ EB’s Beer and Wine Bar Farmers Market in Los Angeles, CA
Jan 04, 6:00pm @ The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa, CA
Jan 16, 8:30pm @ Yves’ Bistro in Anaheim Hills, CA
Jan 31, 8:30pm @ Yves’ Bistro in Anaheim Hills, CA

Thanks to Alice, Tom, and Robert for coming out for the session! I hope we can all do this again sometime soon.

Alice Wallace on: [Official] [Facebook]

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Sally Jaye: Too Many Heartaches, Pt.1

We’ve been blessed with rain here in Southern California. Much. Needed. Rain. These rainy days keep me in bed and thanking the computer gods that laptops were created. I’m enjoying the crisp, clean air as I type this… spinning the latest Sally Jaye record, Too Many Heartaches pt.1.

“Waaaaaitaminute, there… Sally Jaye? That name sounds familiar!”

Yup. You should know that name because we wrote about Sally back in 2008 when I came across her album, Amarillo, one of my favorite albums of that year. I still listen to it every now and then, especially the title track… one of my favorite songs of the century so far.

0003685250_10Too Many Heartaches, pt.1 definitely continues my goobing-out over her music. I’ve been listening to it for a few weeks now (it was released earlier this month), and just like Amarillo, I just know that I’m going to continue listening to this record for a long time to come. The reason why it’s just “part 1” is because the sessions were actually split into two parts: one before she was pregnant, and one after she discovered she was with her first child. Jaye states in her bio, “I was beyond thrilled that I was going to be a mom, but I also knew that meant I needed to get some more songs recorded from this chapter of my life before I moved on to a whole new one.” She went back into the studio and recorded what became part 2 (to be released early 2015). “When I came back to record Pt. 2, I felt like yelling them out a little more versus the softer approach I was feeling in the first sessions,” Sally explains.

I was so excited when I got an email from Sally, telling me about the coming of this record. Ignoring all of the liner notes, I went straight to the music and lost myself for about 30 minutes. Opening with “Maggie the Superstar,” Jaye sets up an album that is acoustic and rich with color with traditional country flavors. The record captures Jaye in a storytelling mood, with characters that we all have lurking somewhere deep inside of us. There’s regret, there’s longing, there’s misunderstanding, there’s envy… perhaps things we don’t usually want to face or admit, but it’s there. It took me multiple listens to each song to find out what her message is to me, and you’ll probably experience the same thing. The interesting thing is, though, that I think each person will find their own meanings, as the lyrics paint such a broad yet vivid picture.

One thing I have always loved about Sally’s voice is that it doesn’t get in the way of the story. Dynamic in delivery, her vocal highlights the lyric, propels the song forward, and lets the listener sink right into the mindset of the protagonist.

She has such a pure voice.

My favorite track off Too Many Heartaches, pt.1 has to be “All I Ask For.” Poignant and sad, the song discusses a family’s tragedy and how they not only deal with it themselves, but also how they must still face the knowing public each and every day. Jaye writes, “I just want my messed up boy to be all right / That’s all I ask for.” I got sucked into the story immediately and played the track a few times in a row even before moving on…

Take a listen to “All I Ask For.”

The record closes with her interpretation of Townes Van Zandt’s “At My Window.” Jaye’s performance is subdued to almost a whisper. You won’t want to miss this performance.

I could write a 2,000 word essay on why I dig this record… and another 2,000 on why you should pick it up… but I’m not going to do that because all the words in the world do not compare to listening for yourself. Lucky for you, Sally Jaye is giving the album away for free.

“FOR FREE?” you say. Yes, for free. That’s all Sally wants for Christmas (via her Facebook page)… “Dear Santa – All I want for Christmas is a ton of people to download this record (it’s free). Oh and I’d also like a new pocket knife, some warm shoes (that aren’t Uggs, because I just have to take a bunch of crap from my husband when I wear those), and a really high quality large skillet. Thank you. – sj”

I’m guessing that most of you want to make Sally happy, so do the easiest thing on the list: download the record.

“Where do I download it???” you may be asking.

Click on the image and WHAMMO! You will be instantly transported to how you will spend the next 30 minutes of your life.

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Sally Jaye on: [Official] [Facebook] [Twitter]

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Frontloader Sessions: Treble Down (part 2)

As promised, here is part 2 of our Frontloader Session with Treble Down! Yes, it took me a little longer to complete these videos, but I did it with time to spare!

“Time to spare? Was there a deadline?”

Well, of course! There is always a deadline! I had the Arrow dude staring me down as I worked on these videos… just like this:

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He kept saying, “YOU HAVE FAILED THIS CITY!!!”

Me: “What? How did I do that?”
Him: “YOU HAVE FAILED THIS ZIP CODE!
Me: “HOW???”
Him: “YOU HAVE FAILED TREBLE DOWN!”
Me: “Ohhhh… well, yeah… if I don’t finish these. Good point, Arrow guy!”
Him: “Got any Cheetos?”

If you don’t watch Arrow, you’re missing out on good television.

So with his encouragement, I finished the videos. It’s always good to step away from something, for when you come back to it, you get a different (and sometimes just as fresh) perspective on things. My excitement for this session was rekindled and I, once again, was drawn into Treble Down’s music.

“Bottom” was one of the first songs I had requested the band to play. They had told me that other songs were already chosen, but if there were time, they’d give it a go… so you can imagine how pleased I was when there ended up to be enough time to have a run through of the tune. The opening of this video cracks me up every single time! One take, one camera angle, one cool ass song (the ending of the video is pretty Jurassic, too):

“Bottom”

LOVE the kick drum work. I’m a big fan of more kick drum. Some people want more cowbell, I want more kick drum.

Up next is perhaps my new favorite song of the session. “Taking Us Away” is another great example Melissa Salas’ vocal ability. Her delivery is poignant yet powerful, showing her range as not only a belter-outer, but as that of a balladeer as well. Salas posted on Facebook that this was the first song she had ever written. Sometimes you hit a homerun on the first swing. Totally love this song:

“Taking Us Away”

This next song is a great example of Treble Down’s songwriting style. The intro starts off slow, establishing the vocal hook. Then there’s a good groove/riff to latch onto, which is always a plus for me. The bridge section feels like a car putting on the breaks (in this case, changing the time signature) in order to avoid driving straight off of a cliff. Top all of that with a bluesy vocal line that has an almost conversational phrasing to it and you’ve got something. “Keep Your Name Out Your Mouth” flows so well with all of these parts. Take a listen:

“Keep My Name Out Your Mouth”

Apparently, this performance of “Metamorphasis” is the only existing recording of the song. Pretty cool! I’d be very interested in hearing an electrified version to hear the band’s vision of guitar tones. I’m so used to hearing their music performed acoustically, I’m sure the electric version would be like a huge wall of sound hitting me in the face like a pizza pie.

“Metamorphasis”

Treble Down is performing TONIGHT, so all of you in Southern California… you know what to do. Go see this dynamic band live and get a pizza pie in the face.

    12-18-14: Rockefellas at 8:00pm in Corona, California

Thanks again to the band for coming out for the session!

Treble Down on: [Facebook] [Twitter] [Bandcamp]

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Frontloader Sessions: Steve Maggiora

A momentous occasion occurred this weekend… yes, I’m talking about the addition of Frank “The Tank” Hippo to TheFrontloader.com. For those of you saying to yourself, “A HIPPO? Dude, you’re going off the deep end,” I say to you, “Why NOT a hippo?” Hippos don’t get the kind of recognition they deserve, nor do they get their own internet shows. It’s about time!

10801826_1514519002157478_5572636639885645547_nSo this last weekend on Cathryn Beeks’ Listen Local Show, Frank introduced you to today’s artist, Steve Maggiora. I came across Maggiora one night whilst perusing the internet for music. His songwriting on this Demos and Roughs EP grabbed me instantly, but I have to say that I was not prepared to witness a live performance.

Steve showed up on an overcast Monday afternoon for a short session with his guitar. Once he saw the Fender Rhodes in the studio, he suggested that it be used. Up to that point, the only other artist that had wanted to use keyboards were Twin Oaks. I readily agreed and requested that he sing “Only,” off the EP, to which he readily agreed to.

“Only” is one of those songs that make you say, “I can TOTALLY hear that on the radio right now!” I love the buildup, and when Steve belted out the chorus, I remember saying to myself, “That’s Jurassic.”

Regarding the writing of the song, Steve told me how it was written in open D tuning on the guitar. It seems that someone had left the guitar tuned like that when he picked it up… at first he was puzzled, but then once he started to noodle around, the song presented itself.

“Only”

The next song required the Rhodes. I hadn’t mic’d it up for a while, so it took me a bit to find the sweet spot in the speaker cabinet. This particular Rhodes is the suitcase model, so it comes in 2 pieces: the keyboard and the amplifier it sits upon. I love the sound of this thing, and with the tremolo engaged… pure milk and honey. As I set up the microphones, Steve played a bit of the song he chose to perform. “Whiskey” is a most appropriate name for the lyrical content. It’ll make you want to grab your babe and do what comes naturally. Just trust me on this.

“Whiskey”

Man ALIVE that’s a great song!

Maggiora has a few shows coming up that you’ll want to check out. He works with other artists around town and just recently got back from doing a few shows with Robert Jon and The Wreck. Steve is what I would describe as an all-around musician (his website states, “I do a lot. Call me”)… he sings, writes, produces, plays for other artists, does solo material… plus, he’s one hell of a nice guy. I highly recommend catching a show and saying hello.

Oh, and this being the Christmas season and all… pick up his Christmas album here. Beautiful piano music.

@ SOCIAL in Costa Mesa, CA: Friday, December 19, 2014 at 10:00PM
@ SOCIAL in Costa Mesa, CA: Friday, December 26, 2014 at 10:00PM
@ The Warehome in Orange, CA: Saturday, December 27, 2014 at 8:00PM
@ The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa, CA: Sunday, January 11, 2015 at 4:00PM

Thanks to Steve for coming into the studio. It was fantastic meeting him and I definitely hope to have him back sometime. He’s a musician with much depth, and it’s been great uncovering all of his talents.

Steve Maggiora on: [Official] [Facebook] [Twitter]

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Who Is Frank “The Tank” Hippo?


mq1I used to have a lot of time on my hands. A LOT of time.

So much time, in fact, that I got bored and needed something to do.

In these times of extreme boredom, I created Sherman Bear. Then on tour, I found this hippo in a gift store and bought 2 of them. I went back to the bus and asked everyone what the hippo’s name should be. Someone said, “Francis.”

We were all very into the movie Anchorman at the time. I believe we played it at least 5 times a day.

Thus Frank “The Tank” Hippo was born.

I made a few videos of Frank being stupid, and unfortunately, only two are left in this world. I have no idea what happened to the rest of them. If memory serves… Frank interviewed a Bo Bice calendar, he interviewed Heath Clark (awesome guitarist), he did some Secret Santa thing with his crew, and he fought with a Teletubby. The red one. I can’t remember who won.

Frank did some more stuff, but like I said, all those videos are gone.

The only two left are quite ridiculous, but I laugh every time I see them.

The first one has Frank jumping off a cliff into a Taco Bell cup. You have to see it to believe it:

“A Request Fulfilled”

Ha Ho Hee!!!!! Love it.

Frank was always working to improve his show. He constantly complained about his budget, and was constantly harassing Jerry… I have no idea what Jerry does on the show, but he always gets yelled at.

In this next segment, Frank introduces you to his show’s new theme song. Plus, he yells at Jerry.

“Theme Song”

HAHAHAHA! I love that one.

Now, you’re probably wondering, “Dude, were you on drugs when you did these videos?” I assure you, I was not. I was just incredibly bored and needed to amuse myself.

You’re probably also wondering, “Why are you showing us these videos?”

Well, the reason why I bring up Frank “The Tank” Hippo is because he’s going to take over the Frontloader segment on the Listen Local Show that comes on every Sunday at noon. Cathryn Beeks, the show’s gracious host, invited us to share artists that appear for our Frontloader Sessions… I did the first few segments and now I’m handing it over to Frank.

I have no idea what Frank is going to do, but you can bet he’s going to yell at Jerry.

Tune in this Sunday here. There are a number of shows already in the back catalog. Go spend some time and discover new music!

And be sure to welcome Frank to TheFrontloader.com.

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Frontloader Sessions: Sheyna Gee Christmas Edition

As of this writing, there are 15 days until Christmas! The big question that has been thrown around work is, “Are you ready?” I usually reply with, “Absolutely not!” or some version of that. Sadly enough, I am one of those Christmas Eve shoppers, scrounging around for a gift moments before everybody comes together to celebrate.

How sad is that?

Up until that moment, you would probably find me doing the things I normally do… putting on new shoelaces, vacuuming my hair, reorganizing my junk drawer… pretty typical stuff.

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Well, this year is already different. I had the pleasure of kicking off this season by having Sheyna Gee in the studio to record some Christmas songs. She came with her usual enthusiastic self and had two songs ready to go: “Nuttin’ For Christmas,” and, “Silent Night.”

Sure, everyone is probably familiar with “Silent Night,” but how many of you know the other song? I had not heard of “Nuttin’ For Christmas” before, to which Sheyna reacted with, “What? Are you serious?” Usually when people react like that, it means that I’m missing out on something quite good.

The song has been around since 1955 and has been recorded numerous times, the highest charting version being that of Art Mooney and His Orchestra. Money’s version has a 6-year old Barry Gordon singing lead.

Sheyna ran through the song a few times and decided to adjust the lyrics to suit her style. This country-flavored version finds Sheyna camping it up with the camera, adding to the hilarity of the song. Throughout this video series, I’ve been telling artists to avoid looking right into the camera. With this song, though, it just didn’t feel quite right. Sheyna did a couple of takes playing it straight, and on the last take I told her to go ahead and look into the camera. She said, “Oh, I can do that!” and that last take ended up being the final take.

“Nuttin’ For Christmas”

“Silent Night” was composed in 1818. That’s a really long time ago. Here are a few things this song is older than:

1) cell phones
2) Me
3) the food I’m eating right now
4) You

I’ve heard (and probably sung) this song hundreds of times, and it still remains one of my favorite Christmas carols. Franz Gruber and Joseph Mohr did a bang-up job on this one… faring far better than their follow-up collaboration, the destined-to-be-doomed, “Really Frikkin’ Silent Night.” Yes, the word “frikkin'” has been around since at least 1818. Don’t let people fool you about that little bit of trivia.

We used the Gretsch for this song. The acoustic guitar just didn’t quite get the sound we were looking for. On a side note, I love that Gretsch. It has TV Jones Classic pickups that make that guitar SING. I ran it through my old Fender Blues Deville and we were off and running…

“Silent Night”

Sheyna is currently in the process of recording a record and performs regularly around Southern California. Here is the rest of her December schedule:

12/13- Bel Vino @ 12-4 & Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill Rancho Cucamonga CA CA @9pm
12/19- Stubrik’s SteakHouse & Bar @ 10pm
12/27- Dale Bros Brewery @6pm
Sixty6 Sports Lounge @ 7pm EVERY Tuesday

Thanks to Sheyna Gee for dropping in and spreading the holiday cheer. I’m reminded that this season perhaps means something different to everyone, but I think we can all agree that peace, joy, happiness, and especially love are at the top of the list. I hope you all find those things in all that you do!

Before leaving the studio, Sheyna turned to me and said, “Next time, let’s record some originals!”

I look forward to that session.

Sheyna Gee online: [official site] [Facebook] [Twitter] [YouTube]

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Frontloader Sessions: Eva & The Vagabond Tales (Part 2)

IMG_0418A few weeks back, we posted part 1 of the Frontloader session with Eva & The Vagabond Tales (EVT). Well, as you might have guessed, there’s a part 2 to this session… and here it is!

Pretty shocking, huh? I mean, who would’ve guessed? A part TWO that follows part ONE? 

I remember when I saw the Mel Brooks’ film, History of the World, Part 1. I thought it was the funniest movie ever… when I asked my dad if we could watch part 2, he told me that it was never made. I was sad and from that day, I swore that if I made a part 1, I’d make a part 2.

Now, you probably didn’t care about any of that, to which I would say, ”Good show, old bean!” because frankly, I don’t really care, either. What I DO care about, though is that you get to see the rest of the songs EVT performed in the studio.

”Train Travelers” is a track off their album, Letters From the Moon.”. This performance features Eva on the harmonica. I must admit that I am impressed that she is able to pick out single notes on the harmonica, especially since she’s not holding it in her hands. Whenever I use the neck holder thingy for the harmonica, I play Bob Dylan style, meaning that I pretty much screech the darn thing. Not much finesse.

This is one of my favorite tracks off the album, so it was a joy to hear it performed live.

”Train Travelers”

Next up is their cover of ”I’ve Just Seen a Face” by The Beatles. Interesting thing about this song: it first appeared on the UK version of Help!, but in the US, it was put on the Rubber Soul record. Don’t you love it when there are two different versions of albums? You have to spend twice the amount of money for pretty much the same content. Wiley Liverpool lads.

”I’ve Just Seen a Face”

Last up is ”Thoughts,” a track that (moments before the performance) didn’t have a name. I remember someone asking, ”What’s this song called?” with the reply, ”I don’t know. Let’s call it ‘Thoughts’,” to which everyone else agreed. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how song names are created. It’s as simple as that.

So yes, to answer your question, this song does not appear on the Letters From the Moon album. And to answer your next question… yes, I am eating a sandwich right now.

”Thoughts”

I’ll say it again – the sound and vibe that EVT create is so inviting. Their sad, melancholy music reminds me of a time that only exists in my imagination. That’s the beauty I’ve found in their style: it makes me paint not only a picture in my head, but a TIME in my head. I can’t think of many other artists that do that for me.

If you haven’t picked up Letters From the Moon yet, I highly encourage you to do that today. Click here now!

Eva & The Vagabond Tales have a few shows this month:

12/12 @ 8pm – The Lounge 22 in Redlands, CA
12/14 @ 8pm – Maint St. & University Stage in Riverside, CA
12/20 @ the Mission Tobacco Lounge in Riverside, CA

Go catch a show, but some swag, share it with friends…. keep the music going.

Eva and The Vagabond Tales: [Facebook] [Twitter] [Bandcamp]

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Frontloader Sessions: Marie Danielle

I wrote about Marie Danielle back in October, explaining how I discovered her through a Halloween show poster. Well, here we are a month later and I am pleased to say that Marie came in for a Frontloader Session! I’ll tell you… if there’s one thing I’ve learned from doing these sessions is this: you won’t get squat unless you ask.

Sure, you may not get what you ask for, but you’re guaranteed to not get it if you DON’t ask.

Any shot is better than no shot, right?

So Marie arrives one mildly cold night and amazingly enough, the studio actually looks kind of warm and welcoming. I’ve got all the lamps on, INCLUDING the Christmas lights on the curtain. Check it out:

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Like I said: warm and welcoming.

I was looking forward to hearing some more of her songs, especially “Tinsel Town,” the track that initially grabbed my attention. We talked about her love for The Felice Brothers and her experience working with Simone Felice, describing it as exciting and nervewracking… “amazing,” and an “unbelievable opportunity,” were ways she recounted the time.

Boy oh boy, could I relate to that feeling. Back in Nashville, I had the chance to work with Steve Gorman, the drummer for one of my favorite bands, The Black Crowes. Gorman was quiet for most of the session, but when I finally got the guts to ask for his autograph, he opened up and was the coolest cat in the world. I think he would’ve signed everything I put in front of him. So cool.

We ran through a few songs and finally decided to start with “Tinsel Town,” mainly because I asked her to (ask and you shall receive!). I really couldn’t wait to hear that song performed live. Marie delivered and we were off to a running start. The stillness in her body at the end of the song… priceless.

“Tinsel Town”

What a song! I mentioned to Marie how much I dug the little vibrato/wavering in her voice… it made the song much more intimate and painful for me. She laughed and told me that it was weird singing to just a camera, and how that was more difficult than singing to a room of people. I don’t know how many of you performers out there agree with me, but I’ve found it more difficult to sing to a handful of people than a packed house.

Next up was “One of My Kind,” another song that is ending up on her soon-to-be-released album. One thing to note in this recording – I barely touched the guitar in the mix. I don’t even think I EQ’d it. I liked Marie’s playing style and how much the guitar rang from her fingers.

“One of My Kind”

For the next song, Marie decided to do a Felice Brothers tune, “Wonderful Life.” She asked me if it was cheesy to do that song, considering who’s producing her album. I said, “Yeah, that’s pretty cheesy,” and she did it anyway… which was the right choice because I’m rarely ever right about things outside of being wrong.

If you notice at 1:53, Marie briefly smiles. I asked her why she smiles every now and then during a song, and she told me “I smile when I mess up.” Now, I honestly can’t tell where she messed up in the song, so I’m going to say that she smiled because she is glad she didn’t listen to me and not play the song.

“Wonderful Life”

The last song of the night was “Darling You Know.” The lyrics here are so painfully lonely.

My favorite lines:

And if there was any money left
Well, darling you know that you could take it
And if there was a heart in my chest
Well, darling you know that you would break it

If memory serves, Marie told me that Simone Felice mentioned how much he liked those lines as well. You know what they say about great minds, right? Ha HAAAAA!!!!

“Darling You Know”

These sessions allow me the opportunity to get to know the artist a little more. Marie was as open about her music and life as she was in the initial emails we exchanged about doing a session. It’s this kind of honesty that overflows through her music. Beautiful melodies, lonely lyrics, and a voice that ties it all together. I can’t wait to hear her album.

Thanks again to Marie for performing in the studio! I had a great time and this is a session that I will be playing on my own for a while to come. Visit Marie Danielle’s social media sites below and get to know her!

Marie Danielle on: [Facebook]

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Holy Crap: There Are FOUR Versions of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

I was sitting around the other day at work and decided to listen to one of my favorite Christmas songs. Seeing as I did not have the song in my iPhone, I looked it up on YouTube.

Band-Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” may be a pompous, egotistical piece of music, but I still love it. How can you NOT love lines like…

“And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy”

“But say a prayer to pray for the other ones
At Christmastime, it’s hard, but when you’re having fun”

Those are life lessons I try to instill into today’s youth.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that there are FOUR versions of this song. Not one… not two… not five… but FOUR. That’s a whole lot of “Do They Know It’s Christmas”-ing. Being a curious lad, I decided to start with the original and move my way through the years.

Original:

Ahhhh, the original. Nice and innocent. Completely oblivious of what they were doing (except for maybe Bono). Midge Ure (the cowriter and engineer of the session), stated that “I think there’s a power in naiveté, and there was an awful lot of naiveté in putting Band Aid together. Our goal at the time was simply to try and get a No. 1 record in the U.K., which would have raised in the region of 100,000 pounds. We couldn’t see beyond that.” (read full interview here)

In that same interview, he offers his opinion of the song: “as a song, it’s OK. As a record, it’s exceptional; as a moment in time, it’s phenomenal for what it was. But as a song, meh.”

I still get goosebumps when I hear this version. I love the baseline, the Phil Collins drums, and being a huge U2 fan, my favorite part is Bono belting out, “Well, tonight thank God it’s them instead of you!!!!”

Jump to 1989 and we find a completely new cast: Band Aid II.

Band Aid II

To quote Midge Ure: “Meh.”

It’s just not that good. I don’t feel any passion from the performers, and the music is too pop for my tastes. I can’t even name more than 4 of the singers. At least Bananarama came back.

Who the heck sings that “Thank God it’s them instead of you” line? AWFUL.

In 2004, the whole thing was done yet again…

Band Aid 20

Good lord, that was bad. And Bono did NOT sound good. He sounded like he was trying too hard to sound bad.

Who is the trio singing at 1:10? They were comatose. It’s hard to believe someone said, “That’s the take! Fantastic job, girls!”

And the rapping? Oh, no no no. That’s terrible.

They should leave well enough alone.

But they didn’t.

In November, the whole thing was done yet again (spoken like Forrest Gump). This time it’s to raise awareness about Ebola. They lyrics reflect this change in focus.

Band Aid 30

I have to say it…. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Holy crap that was awful. And Bono? You just need to stop. You’re ruining it for me.

if-you-could-fanpk2

The lesson to be learned: You CAN have too much of a good thing, especially if that good thing gets suckier and suckier throughout the years because people keep messing with it because they think they can do as good of a job but they can’t because they suck.