Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Close Enough For Rock And Roll

     Ever since my Uncle Manny gave my family his old Magnavox record player in the late 50s, and bought one of those new-fangled hi-fi's, I have been an adoring fan of American pop music, and a ruthless critic of it in all its imperfection.
    The first time I remember hearing a mistake in a pop recording was in the early 60s.  The song was Angel Baby by Rosie and the Originals, a school gym slow dance favorite and a Top 40 smash.  I loved it as well as anyone else, but there was no getting around it, that little skip beat by the piano player coming out of the saxophone interlude was clearly unintentional, and also the first time I can recall discovering a blemish in the perfection of rock and roll.  This was, of course, in a time when complete takes were done in one shot, with the studio clock ticking, I imagine somebody suggesting "Let's move on".  Maybe they even said "Close enough for rock and roll". Who knows?  Since that time I have come to savor these moments of recorded imperfection, but I have also also gotten a perverse pleasure from their discovery.
     One of my all time favorites is the now famous "tambourine drop" that occurs in the middle  of I'm Looking Through You by the Beatles from the Rubber Soul sessions.  Happening in a verse during which the tambourine is not being played, this random one beat jingle is attributed to Paul McCartney. I now treasure it as a great moment in Rock and Roll history as it puts a human touch into the mythic status of the Fabs.  Earlier in the Beatles evolution in 1963, in the middle eight of I'll Get You, there is a charming lyrical faux pas wherein John and Paul part ways on a lyric, one of them singing "change your mind" as the other sings "make you mine".  Given that this was the B side of their breakout hit She Loves You there was probably a bit of pressure to move on. Again, on the Past Masters version of Revolution a couple of years later, there's a little glitch in the first verse, wherein the third syllable of the word "revolution" has a [punched in or maybe just sung live] syllable from  the word "constitution" that was left in, giving the effect of something that that sounds like "revotution". Apparently it was not a problem for legions of Beatles fans at that time or ever since.
     Bob Dylan's 1975 tour de force Blood on the Tracks contains the sardonic Idiot Wind, which in turn contains a little vocal stumble from which Bob apparently tried to regroup in real time.  He may have gotten away with it, in fact I only discovered it recently myself. By 1975 it would have been easier to fix, but now I would miss it if it were gone.
     The cowbell intro to the Stones Honky Tonk Women is one of the most familiar licks of all time, yet when I listen to it for a few more bars after Charlie and then the band come in, I get the impression that the part breaks down and becomes quite random, almost as if the cowbell player has lost interest or was thrown for a loop by Charlie's entrance. Charlie Watts has been quoted as saying it's a mistake by either  himself or producer Jimmy Miller who was playing cowbell, but also that it's a mistake with its own inherent coolness.  I agree.  Similarly, Don Henley's entry on drums for the Eagles Take it Easy is either hip for days, or a mistake that didn't get fixed in the mix, or both.
     Earth Wind and Fire, elegant funksters that they are, always had a penchant for inane lyrics, but a particular favorite of mine from Reasons is "all our illusions are just a parade".  I think they probably meant "charade", which would have made only slightly more sense. Try reading the lyrics for Reasons as poetry sometime, and you'll see what I mean.
    Otis Redding in the classic Try a Little Tenderness sings the line "wearing that same old shaggy dress".  In an otherwise perfect soul song I can't help but wish he'd have said "shabby",  as the visual of a women wearing a garment made of yak fur is almost too much to bear.

Editors Note: I'd love to hear from my readers (if I actually have any) about their own experiences with detecting quirky little imperfections in this music we love.  maybe I'll write a sequel with your input.












Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Performance Schedule



12-31-15 Brattlyn Brothers @ The Marina, Brattleboro, Vt (New Years w/ fireworks) 9-12

1-5-16     Classic Country  @ Howe Village in Spencer, Mass 2-3 pm (private engagement)

1-16-16   Eddie and the Giants @ Townshend Town Hall 6pm potluck 7 pm music

2-10-16   Classic Country @ Holy Family Terrace, No. Adams, Ma

3-15-16   American Pop @ Brownstone II in East Longmeadow, Ma

3-17-16   Irish Rovers Duo @ Joseph Cefalo House, Melrose, Ma

3-18-16   American Pop @ Harper Ctr, Williamstown, Ma

3-24-16   American Pop @ Orchard View, Easthampton, Ma

4-5-16   American Pop @ Linwood Mills, Whitinsville, Ma

4-7-16     American Pop @ Tannery Two in Peabody, Ma

4-11-16   Mill House in Greenfield, Ma

4-14-16   American Pop @ College Hwy Apts, Easthampton, Ma

4-20-16   American Pop @ General Shepard Apartments, Westfield, Ma @ 1pm (private)

5-10-16   Classic Country @ Bolton Country Manor, Bolton, Ma 11 to 12 noon @ (private)

5-21-16   Brattlyn Brothers @ Townshend Town Hall 6 pm potluck, music 7-9

6-3-16     American Pop @ Michaels House, Northampton, Ma

6-18-16   Ralph Sherman -private party Townshend, Vt

6-21-16   Classic Country @ Harper Ctr, Williamstown, Ma

6-24-16   Classic Country @ Bostwick Gardens, Great Barrington, Ma

6-29-16   American Pop @ Msgr. Neagle Apts, Malden, Ma

6-30-16     American Pop @ Green Hill Towers, Worcester, Ma

7-7-16     Brattlyn Brothers @ The Marina Restaurant, Brattleboro, Vt 8 pm

7-11-16   Classic Country @ East Mountain View, Westfield, Ma

7-12-16   Classic Country @ Capitol Square, Pittfield, Ma

7-13-16   American Pop Duo @ Francis Cabot Lowell Mill, Waltham

7-19-16   Classic Country @ Epworth Apts, Pittsfield, Ma

7-20-16   American Pop @ Holy Family Terrace, No. Adams, Ma

7-21-16   Classic Country @ Hyde Place, Lee, Ma

7-22-16     Chris Lynch @ Westfield River Brewing Co, Southwick, Ma 6-9 pm

7-26-16   Brattlyn Brothers @ Brattleboro Town Common Gazebo free evening concert

7-27-16   American Pop @ Villa Michelangelo, Boston

8-3-16     American Pop @ Slater Estates, Webster, Ma

8-5-16     Classic Country @ Jacksonville, Vt Farmers Market 4-7 pm

8-6-16     Eddie & the Giants @ Grace Cottage Hospital Fair, Townshend, Vt

8-16-16   American Pop @ Rockdale Apartments  in Northbridge, Ma

8-18-16   Ten Gallon Swing @ Joseph Cefalo Complex, Melrose, Ma

8-27-16   Eddy and the Giants @ Rick's Tavern, Newfane, Vt 7-11pm

8-31-16   Classic Country @ Plantation Apartments, Stow, Ma

9-4-16     Brattlyn Brothers @ Guilford Fair  10-12 am

9-14-16   American Pop @ Villa Michelangelo, Boston

9-16-16   American Pop @ Groton Commons, Groton, Ma

9-29-16   Classic Country  @ Hubbardston House, Hubbardston, Ma.

9-30-16   American Pop @ Peters Grove, Hudson, Ma

10-1-16   Next Right Thing-  private engagement (wedding in Londonderry, Vt)

10-5-16   American Pop @ Clark House, Amherst, Ma

10-12-16 American Pop @ Townsend Woods, Townsend, Ma

10-15-16  Resurrection Airmen @ Soldier's Home, Holyoke, Ma

10-18-16 American Pop @ Roslindale House, Roslindale, Ma

10-26-16 American Pop @Merrimack Valley Apartments, Methuen, Ma

11-10-16  AmPop and ClasCo-doubleheader @ Rock Harbor, Orleans, Ma

11-12-16  Eddie and the Giants @ Rick's Tavern, Newfane, Vt

11-14-16  Classic Country @ Mill House, Greenfield, Ma

11-15-16  American Pop @ Beachmont Apartments, Revere, Ma

11-16-16  Classic Country @ General Shepard Apartments, Westfield, Ma

12-8-16    American Pop Duo @ Norwood, Ma Senior Center

12-14-16  American Pop @ Berkshire Town, Pittsfield, Ma

12-31-16  Brattlyn Brothers @ The Marina, Brattleboro, Vt

1-11-17    Classic Country @ Howe Village, Spencer, Ma

6-24-17    AmPop/ClasCo private party in Brownsville, Vt 6-10 pm




  
                                       






















Thursday, April 24, 2014

CD Review: Joinery (802 Records 2014)

Joinery Personnel:  
Chuck Davison-lead acoustic guitar and mandolin and backing vocals
John Pozzi-lead vocals and acoustic rhythm guitar
Andy Foster-lap steel guitar and backing vocals
Colin Blazej-upright bass and backing vocals

Guest Musicians:
Vocals-Laura Molinelli, Lizzie Ross, Ruby DeFelice, Rebecca Way, Nora, Will, and Liz Mc Teigue, Donnie Davison, Jennings Berger, Mary Merill, Erin Carroll, Suzanne Jackson, Terry Davison.
Hammond B3 Organ-Felix McTeigue, Drums and Percussion-Tony Leone, Drew Guido, Bones-Tommy "Bones" Logan, Djembe-Perry Ryan, Cello-Eugene Friesen.

Production:
Producer-Felix McTeigue
Sound Engineer/Mixer-DrewGuido
Photos-Karen Knight, Gene Peroni
Design-sketchiedesign@sbcglobal.net
Recorded and mixed at- Vel Studios, Brooklyn, NY and Chuck's cabin, Londonderry, Vt
Mastered by Tom Hutton-Chester, Vt

 This review evolved out of a chance meeting with Colin Blazej one recent evening at The Works in Downtown Brattleboro.  I'd known the Joinery bassist since the early 80's, but we would only run into each other about every decade or so.  At one of our earlier encounters, Colin told me he had been learning to play the bass.  At this recent meeting, he'd been at it for 14 years and was pleased to report that this band he's a part of had just finished their first CD.  Caught up in his enthusiasm about the project, I offered to give it a listen and review it.  One of the nice thing about Vermont musicians in general is that they tend not to be aggressively competitive, and big egos are the exception rather than the rule.  By and large, we support each other's efforts and celebrate each other's successes.

Joinery's debut is a collection six originals; four vocal tunes by John Pozzi, and a pair of instrumentals by Chuck Davison.  Pozzi writes and sings with his heart on his sleeve, with a pop inflected presence that draws the listener into his world.  Davison's instrumentals are varied and deliciously exploratory.  The repertoire is rounded out with an eclectic batch of tunes by other artists which I would hesitate to call "covers" by any stretch.  One of the obvious strengths of this collective of craftsmen is their ability to recognize a strongly lyrical piece of music and to boldly take it to where it's never been.  Sam Cooke's Good News is rendered in a style that is reminiscent of certain Southern White Gospel at it's joyous and rural best.  Pink Floyd's Time is stripped down and re-purposed in a Bluegrass bag that lets the vocal have the prominence it deserves without the Floyd's signature plodding denseness.  A high point for me, Billy Bragg's You Woke up My Neighborhood features a "cast of thousands" approach to the backing vocal chorus; I wish I'd been there, it sounds like a splendid time was had by all as Joinery brought a little bit of Vermont to Brooklyn. 

Richard Mayer

April 25, 2014


   



Sunday, March 23, 2014

CD Review: Doug Hewitt: Roots in the Sky

Produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by: Doug Hewitt at Motif Recording Studio, Amherst, Ma 2014.  www.hewittunes.com
Personnel: Doug Hewitt-guitars, bass, keys, percussion, vocals.  Mitch Pine-piano, organ.
Rudi Weeks-bass.  Joe Fitzpatrick-drums.  Bill Shontz-alto/tenor sax, clarinet, flute.  Frank Newton-alto sax.  Michael Akrep-baritone horn.  Dave Bilodeau-trumpets, flugelhorn.  Stephen Katz-cello.  David Tasgal-violin, cello.  Arielle Parkington-viola.  Megan Rollins-harmony vocals.  Danielle Lorenzo-harmony vocals.

Western Massachusetts guitarist/singer Doug Hewitt has put his romantic heart and soul into this most recent offering.  Roots in the Sky comprises ten solid jazz/rock originals by Hewitt as well as a lovely rendition of the jazz staple I'll Remember April which is a seamless fit with the rest of the program.  For this outing, Hewitt called in a sizable cast of other local professionals to ensure that his compositions would be fully realized.  The love and workmanship invested in each tune is evident, the end result being a musically complex yet totally accessible experience for the listener.  Different combinations of ensemble players were used throughout, the effect being sustained diversity, color and interest from start to finish.

 I spoke to Doug Hewitt during the writing of this piece to get a sense of his creative process.  He told me that conceptually this collection has been in the works ever since Picasso Tomato and that he essentially composed the work in its entirety, then negotiated solo space with the players in the studio.  He was enthusiastic about the contributions of his players, who both honored his vision for the project while bringing there own creativity to the process.  

This was not Mr. Hewitt's first rodeo by any means; he has been writing songs since he first picked up a guitar back in 1970.  He produced an earlier collection of his music ( Picasso Tomato, also available at CD Baby) in 2006, as well as earlier ventures with the Zen Cats.  And Zen cat he is, with subject matter that runs the gamut from existential concerns to a love affair with the Cosmos and the love of a woman right down here on Earth.  All that love has made for a beautiful listening experience.  I look forward to the next one.

Richard Mayer

3-23-14


























Sunday, January 26, 2014

Old Joe's Hittin the Jug-a film by Luke Jaeger 2000

This is project I had the privilege of participating in several years ago. The recording by Stuff Smith didn't run quite as long as the video did, so I was hired to play a "period" drum solo as the credits rolled. I improvised randomly for about an hour with various beats and effects, and engineer Dan Richardson actually created the solo by putting the pieces of my improvisations into an order that worked for the film and ended when it needed to. I'm not sure if it was a Pro Tools or similar program that he used but I was pleased with the results. My copy was a VCR tape at the time, so I was pleased to find that it made its way to YouTube eventually. My solo starts at about 3:05 following the Stuff Smith tune.  Enjoy!
► 3:56