Game Changer Story, Pt. 2

 1311 jagged slide
   The first session for the new CD was in early March of 2015, and it marked the beginning of an amazing journey. The project took place at the home studio of my recording engineer, Jimmy Rowbottom, who I came to call Jimmy Engineer,  to avoid confusion with the other Jimmy I work with on stage, my bass player, Jimi Kozmik Stewart.
   I had no prior experience working with Jimmy, but we fell into a rhythm and soon developed a great working relationship. I have no doubt that I brought a lot of different types of music into the project that Mr. Jimmy was not used to, but he adapted quickly and absolutely gave me what I required to make the music I heard in my head come to life as a recording.
  That right there is the wonderful part of the recording experience: having music that only I could hear in my brain actually come true and be a listenable product. Absolutely astounding!
  Once we hit our stride, I dubbed us the Grease Brothers, referring to a style of doing things “behind the beat.” I heard it, felt it, and Mr. Jimmy made it happen. I also named his studio Greaseland, a nod to Elvis’ crib and also very descriptive of the greasy, funky music we were turning out!
  As the project moved ahead, I experienced something different, and very special; I have always gotten excited about upcoming shows and live performances with the band. I found myself getting excited the night before a studio session, hatching ideas for the upcoming session, and looking forward to the creative part of making music in the studio, just as I always did before a big gig. Both are creative and exciting, and it was a revelation. Very cool.
   The idea of this album was to make a major statement as a performer, as a songwriter, and as a producer. I had very distinct ideas about how I wanted the music to sound, and how it wouldn’t sound. Mr. Jimmy was very patient with me, and, even when we disagreed, he gave me what I needed.
   In addition to the statement I was making with recording techniques, as a songwriter I was going back to all the styles of music that have ever influenced me, writing in those genres, also while expanding my turf and claiming new territory in fresh areas. (It’s a Viking thang, we do that).   I will do a song by song examination of each tune later in this series, but for now I will say that the diversity of the types of songs is one of the major statements made by this album.
   Swing Blues, Hard Blues, Latin Blues, Gospel, Acoustic Blues, Jazz/ Bebop, Contemporary Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Funk and Hip Hop, all bluesy and all Bluesman. There it is.
  The combination of Mr. Jimmy’s meticulous attention to technical details and my Let’s Do This Now! No-Retakes-or-Overdubbing attitude was a great balance, and we achieved great results. We worked two days a week, on Mondays and Tuesdays. That way we would accomplish quite a bit, then have 5 days to digest what we’d done, review and come back fresh and full of enthusiasm.
   One of the techniques that I came to develop was the “Secret Weapon.” For every song, there was a special trick that made the song pop, made it danceable and gave it the “hook.”
   On From the Country, it was a backbeat played on a coffee can! The bass line on that cut is played with a jug! On Side Piece it was the shakers/percussion, on Hard Times it was the many layers of Latin instruments, on Dryer Blues it was playing over a rhythm that I heard in my Mom’s dryer one day! Every song had something different, special and distinctive. That pretty much sums up the whole album, right there.
   I must also say that this whole album and the entire recording process was very spiritual and other-worldly. From the very beginning, things started happening in the studio that were not planned, and actually were beyond our control. Somehow, whatever the occurrence, it always meant something special, beneficial and cool.
   From doors opening and closing by themselves, to the spirits of ?? coming and going in the back of the tracks, to the reverb that magically appeared on the Gospel song Work, to utilizing odd percussion tools that strangely were in the perfect key/pitch for the song, the list is way too long to itemize. The odd and unbelievable became routine, amazing as it was. Let’s just say that the whole process was blessed and almost preordained. It came to pass exactly as it was supposed to.
  Slowly and deliberately we progressed, and every time we thought we had a song done, we would learn something new, then go back and rework it again. It was a very educational journey, and both Mr. Jimmy and I learned quite a bit, every step of the way.
  We felt we were onto something very special, and for the most part, kept things under wraps. When we did share some of the music with friends or family, the response was overwhelmingly good.
  As a matter of fact, when I ran some of the tunes by a retired music professional I had worked successfully with back in the 90’s/2000’s,(Mary Ellen, Gemini 2 Promotions,) she liked the music so much that she decided to come back to the music bidness to promote the CD! Her input was helpful and appreciated.
  The fans kept up with posts I made on Facebook and their interest and enthusiasm was great to experience. Thanks for tha love, I felt it.
  Besides the working title of 1311, there were a couple of other album names considered. However, somewhere during the process, I realized just how different this album was becoming, and how different it would be from anything I’d ever done before. With the combination of the musical performances, the songwriting and the production, it was definitely a Game Changer, across the board. Nuff said.
  I had expected to wrap up recording by September 2015, but it just wasn’t done to our satisfaction. (Mr. Tom and Mr. Jimmy are particular!) We kept learning and kept tweaking, and finally, in January of 2016, we were “done-de-done Done!”
  Stay tuned for Game Changer Part 3, where I will explain the details about each individual song.

1 Comment

  1. Carol Lundy aka "B"

    A Viking thang……no not you…..and yes indeedy honey you are a fine specimen of a Grown Ass Man. 🙂

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