Randy Bachman Talks About Heavy Blues

March, 2015

randybachman2015Whether you were a teen in the late sixties or in the early to mid seventies, chances are pretty much one hundred percent that The Guess Who or Bachman Turner Overdrive banged around a bit on your ear drums.  Songs like “American Woman,” “Undone,” “These Eyes” or “Takin’ Care of Business,” “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” and “Let It Ride” dominated the airwaves in those days, insuring that those tunes are indelibly burned into the recesses of our minds.

One of the men behind those iconic musical memories is Canadian born Randy Bachman – co-founder of both bands as well as songwriter, guitarist and co-vocalist. Referred to as the architect of Canadian rock, Bachman is soon releasing a new CD of straight forward blues/rock entitled, “Heavy Blues.”

Joining Bachman’s three piece band in recording the album are heavy weights like Peter Frampton, Neil Young, Joe Bonamassa, Robert Randolph, and the late Jeff Healey. The result is some amazing, new blues that will blow you away.

Boomerocity recently chatted with Bachman about “Heavy Blues.” We started out by talking about what was different about making this album compared to all of the other albums he has recorded.

“Well the first album I made was with The Guess Who. This is very similar in that there was no over dubs. It was live off the floor. If you made a mistake you lived with it. You embraced it. 

“I remember when we cut “Shaking All Over” in 1964, we took the version that had the least amount of mistakes. You're sitting on pins and needles. You're playing a brand new song. You don't really record songs that you've been playing for 10 years. You're doing a song you've just written or you're copying a song or you're doing a cover of a song you've just heard. So you're all sitting in the room on chairs and it's all recorded mono or 2 track and somebody makes a mistake you start over and it goes on and on.  

“As you get near the end if there's a mistake there you leave it in and that's the great thing about some old classic records is little notes and bass notes and endings and things that are there that kind of give it some charm and shows that it's real people. 

“So that was the same cut in this album, it was live with the girls. We had no rehearsal. No getting to know each other - none of that. I found a great drummer.  I found a great bass player. I thought, ‘I'm going to do something weird, I'm gonna get two ladies to back me up.’ They play incredible. One plays like Jeff Bruce and John Entwistle on bass and the drummer plays like John Bonham and Keith Moon on drums. Holy cow this is the British blues! This is what I always wanted. Wildness! 

“I said to them both when we started I said to Dale Anne Brendon - the drummer, ‘I don't want you to play drums, I want you to beat the drums. I want you to pound the drums.’ 

“Have you ever seen the black and white from BBC - the early photos of Led Zeppelin? You can Google that. John Bonham doesn't play the drums. It's literally like he's chopping a tree down with an axe. He's just pounding the drums. If you look at Cream with Ginger Baker, it's the same thing, He’s just pounding the drums. The bass player is hammering away at the bass. 

“I said, ‘That's what I want. I don't want a little light, polite groove. I don't want a 2 and 4 and 1 and 3 on the kick and snare. I want a maniac. I want Keith Moon drums.’ He was the most exciting drummer. The next exciting is John Bonham with his most incredible sound. He'd leave spaces and then he'd fill the holes up. 

“This is the kind of what I want in these songs. I'm writing new songs. I'm writing blues songs, which has a lot of spaces and not a lot of chords. There's accent on the lyrics. I'm writing really bluesy lyrics for the first time about the devil and the devil made me do it and all the blues songs - a Rufus Reid kind of thing. I didn't tell them anything other than just to let it rip and play everything they ever wanted to play on record that nobody would let them play cause it went a little wild. 

“This is the first record that I've been in love with once it's done because when it's usually done I'm so sick of it, I've lived with it so long and overdubbed it so long, it's enough already. This is so fresh and new and happened so quickly -like in 5 days recording and 5 days of mixing and after the solos came in because obviously the guest soloist were not there. We had to send them (the guest soloists) the tracks and get them back. Kevin Shirley laid them in and sent them to me one at a time. 

“The solos were such a revelation of such incredible guitar playing and these guys giving a bit of their heart and soul and personality to each song. It just blew me away. As a guitar player, if I wasn't on this, this would be one of my favorite albums. The guitar playing from each guy gives each song such a distinct look into their own style laid up against blues thing. For me it was just a wonderful experience.

Artists typically have their tunes worked up and ready to record before running the clock on expensive studio time. I got the impression from Bachman that this wasn’t the case so I asked him about it.

“I had a couple of songs because I knew I was going to try a blues thing. I was going to do a tribute to a lot of blues artists. I had a Howlin' Wolf song. I had a Frankie Lee Sims song. Guys that I had their 45's.  I got all my 45's out and even 78's. This is how I learned to play guitar. I got out Muddy Waters and I go to Jimmy Reed and I had them in my song list and I was there in the studio and I start to play. Kevin Shirley would come in and say, ‘What is this?’ And I say, ‘Well this is Jimmy Reed my favorite song, Baby What You Want Me To Do. I've been doing this since I was 15 years old. 

“He said, ‘Yeah, but everybody else has been playing these songs. You can't do cover songs if you're going to do a blues album. Haven't you heard like 2 years ago Jimmy Ray Vaughn and Al Omar from the Howlers did a whole Jimmy Reed album?’ I said yeah, ‘I saw them on TV doing their song. He said, ‘Yeah, well, it's already been done. Everybody's done Close To You Baby by Bobby Blue Bland. There's another song that I love. 

“He said, You've got to take these songs and write your own songs that are kind of like them and speed them up and make them real heavy blues.’ And I go, ‘Uh oh. Heavy blues. Great title.’ 

“So I take Baby What You Want Me To Do and that becomes my first line in Learn To Fly, Fly Away and I'm singing it like Jimmy Reed would do it but it's faster, it's sped up like ZZ Top doing LaGrange. 

“So, Kevin comes in and says you can boot all these songs up, if this is heavy blues it got to be heavy and fast so kick everything up a notch. So once we did that we got into this late 60's British trio power trip like Hendrix and Cream and The Who and Zeppelin and we just had the time of our lives. It's just as if we went to a party and found old drums and old bass and old guitars and said, ‘Let's do late British blues for an hour and played Sunshine Of Your Love and My Generation and Whole Lotta Love and then went home and forgot about it -like a Wayne's World kind of thing. But we did it and we kept it and it's become the album. We can't wait to play on stage and do this cause it is such a flashback to the late 60's.

I was dying to ask about all of the artists who contributed to this album but we were short on time so I asked what the story was on the Jeff Healey contribution. 

“Well, he and I were great friends. We both had radio shows on CBC where he explored jazz. He collected old jazz 78's and he would play them on his radio show. l have a radio show that's still going called Randy's Vinyl Tap on every Saturday night. I play all my old vinyl and I tell the stories behind The Who, Zeppelin and The Beach Boys. Everybody I've met and I tell my own stories that aren't in any bio or Wikipedia. It's me and Elvis or me and Duke Ellingtion and whoever the stories about. 

“So, we had that in common and every time he would be playing around Victoria, Vancouver, even in London, I'd call him up and he'd invite me down and I'd go and see his gig. I'd have dinner with him and the band. I'd go on stage and play with him. There's a wonderful video of me playing with him at Islington Music Center Academy in London doing While My Guitar Gently Weeps. When I watch it brings tears to my eyes because that's one of the last times I played with him. 

“Right after that I recorded live with him at Massey Hall in Toronto and I was going to put it on an album. It just never happened. I got busy doing other things and he got serious cancer and passed away. I thought here I am doing Jeff Healey's stuff and so I sent a little email to his wife, Cristie. 

“Previously, the year before, I played the Jeff Healey playground thing. It's a playground for kids. So I came to this thing in Toronto on behalf of Jeff Healey and here I am on stage with Jack Bruce, Ian Gillan and all these others and we're doing Smoke On The Water, Sunshine Of Your Love with all these guys. It was absolutely incredible. I'm a kid in a candy store playing with these guys. And I think, ‘Gee, Jeff would like to be on this album!’ So, I say to Christi, ‘Can I go to some of these tracks that I did with Jeff Healey? I've got them, no one else has heard them - can I take one of his guitar solos and write a song around it?’ 

“She said, ‘Oh my God! Jeff would love to be on this album with you. You have my blessing. I'll send you his amp, I'll send you his guitar.’ I said, ‘No, I just need permission. He and I recorded a BB King song called Early In The Morning. It was one of his standard encore kind of songs. So I write a song that was in the same beats per minute and I'd leave it all in the key of G and it becomes, Confessin’ To The Devil. Every lick that he plays fits into this and you'll notice, if you listen to the song, he sounds very much like BB King because he's actually playing BB King’s licks from Early In The Morning, which is one of BB King's great signature songs and one of Jeff Healey's. 

“It fits in there like he's in the room. When I'm doing it, it's like, Jeff is here. ‘Hi, Jeff. Nice that you showed up.’ He's kind of there in spirit. It's pretty amazing. 

“And the same thing happened with a lot of the other guys. Peter Frampton, I did a Guitar Circus with him and Robert Randolph at the Hollywood Bowl in August. I've known Peter since the early 70's. He came and opened for BTO and we'd open for him and vice versa. So I said, ‘Would you do me the favor of a solo on my album?’ 

“Joe Bonamassa was one of the first ones in and once Joe was in it gave it real credibility and I thought maybe I should invite a couple of other guys to play. So, after I got Joe Bonamassa, I got Jeff Healey, I think I'll ask a couple of other guys. 

“So, I asked Rival Sons’s Scott Holiday and he's totally into it and then Frampton says he's in and Randy Randolph says he's in and I get these solos and they blow me away. They give the songs on the album such soul and depth and love because no one asked for any money. All I asked for was their time and I didn't give any directions but get into the song. ‘Give me a piece of your heart, a piece of your soul. Play your butt off. Do your best. I'll mix you loud. I'll give you credit and we'll see what happens.’ And they all did it and it came back in. Even getting a solo from Neil Young - which I don't think anyone else in the world gets these days. It took three, four or five times to get his blessing on it saying, ‘Go ahead, I love it.’

“They'd send me the stuff and we'd comp it and lay it into the mix and send them an MP3 back to get their okay. Everybody loved it and everybody that came that did their solos just blew me away. Some guys couldn't show up for the gig. Like, I was waiting on Billy Gibbons, who was on tour and he couldn't do it. Neither could Kenny Wayne Sheppard. So now my label is already asking me for the next album. Yeah these guys are left over cause they couldn't do it because of scheduling. I had a deadline to get it mixed and mastered. 

“Having seven guys in there as guest soloist was enough that it gave me time to leave some of my solo playing in there ‘cause I can still play pretty good. It led my way to a contest where now once you buy the album you could go to a website and get the seven songs without the solos. So if you're little Joe Guitar Player and your 14 or you’re 40 or whatever age you are, it doesn't matter - or if you're a woman it doesn't matter.  You download these songs without the solos. You play your own solos. You YouTube it. You put it up on YouTube and when I come to that town we are going to have – with the radio stations - you can come on stage and play that song with me when I'm playing in Cleveland or Texas, whereever I'm playing - or L.A, whatever. 

“You'll get a brand new Epiphone Standard Les Paul. You'll get a couple sets of guitar strings and heavy blues guitar picks and you come on stage and play this song with the Bachman band. You play Taking Care Of Business and you become a little guitar hero on your own little corner of the world. That's a contest that's going to be running. 

“Q107's going to do it in Toronto. It's going to be like The Voice because when you hear a guitar solo, you wanna know who it is. You're going to say, “That's a good guitar solo. Who is this? Oh, it’s Jimmy Smith or it's little Jody Smith. Let's call them up. I'm playing in Cleveland or I'm playing in Dallas in a month or in 3 weeks. Have them get ready and have the radio station hype it up.’ They’ll come on stage and play with me and, because they won the solo thing, they get the guitar. 

“If you go now to 'Randy’s Heavy Blues’ on Amazon or Itunes and pre-buy it, when it comes out in April, you would get a couple of free downloads that aren't even on it. And you'll get the song Heavy Blues, which is the one Peter Frampton is soloing on is one that you can play a blues solo over it and send us your YouTube of you playing in with your own band. If we like it then you win that contest. 

“We're giving two hundred Epiphone Les Paul guitars, ten  thousand sets of Optima heavy blues guitar strings, ten  thousand guitar picks from Tusk, which make a wonderful triangular heavy pick that has harmonics in it that will give you that Billy Gibbons sound. I got the same kind of harmonics on Wild Texas Rider, if you listen to my solo of these double high harmonics when you're playing the notes from this Tusk guitar pick. We have these contests that are going to be amazing. This is going to be an album for all guitar players to get because the amount of guitar soloing on it by some of the greatest in the world is pretty mind boggling."

What about tour plans?

“Early April is the big kick off at the big classic rock station in Toronto, Q107, where they're gonna have the contest with the winning solo gets to play with either, we're going to announce the winner, gonna have a big club date at a rock and roll club here in town. And we're going to do that in Montreal and then we're going to do that in Hamilton. Then ,we're going to the west coast of Canada and working my way across Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, that kind of thing. 

“In the middle of April, we're doing the Cleveland Blues Festival and the Chicago Blues Festival, where we're going to run the same contest. We're taking offers. We just got one from California yesterday. Radio stations said they love the idea of the contest. We’re going from New York - they love the idea of the contest. They want to run it. They want to promote the whole thing give away the guitar; have a lguest soloist appear. Play on stage. So, where ever we're getting phone calls from different radios or different cities, we're now planning a tour of maybe Hard Rock Cafes or Houses of Blues or radio stations promotions. 

“This is like the 70's again, where we're getting into radio stations promoting stuff. I can't believe it because I put out this record thinking I'm not going to get any airplay and I don't even care. This is for me and all guitar players out there. Maybe the internet will do something. I'm not really savvy on how much the internet can do yet because I'm not Justin Bieber with 30 million followers. I don't even do Twitter because I don't want people to know where I am. I enjoy my privacy. 

“Things are starting to happen. I'm getting incredible response from guys like yourself who are previewing the album and radio that are hearing it. We want to do this contest. This is like the 70's again. You’re bringing some life back to radio. It's interactive with the crowd and listeners and everybody's getting in to it. 

“I got to thank Gibson/Epiphone Guitars. I’m getting a couple hundred guitars. Thirty for Canada. Thirty for England. One hundred for the states. Thirty for Germany. So I've got to suddenly be everywhere in the world at once. So we're trying to balance it out. I can do a few in Canada, a few in the states, a few in England, a couple in Germany. Come back to the states and do a few more. 

“You can't go out and lose money so you've got to get a big money paying gig and then you fly and do a couple of promotions gigs around something else. The radio station might rent a club. So you could have the door and it will hold twelve hundred people and run the contest so I can get there. I've got a record label that has said anything you do we'll support you. That hasn't happened in decades. I feel very blessed and fortunate and lucky. I'm actually in training now for what's coming. For me, it's a marathon that starts early April. A bloody marathon.

As we wrapped up our chat, I asked Randy Bachman what he hoped his legacy would be and how he wished to be remembered.

“Well, this was a good guy. He wrote some good songs. He was a better than average guitar player. He helped out young kids playing guitar and played on the records and taught them how to write songs and he took care of business.”

 

 

 

 

Neal Morse Discusses His "Grand Experiment"

March, 2015

nealmorsebandloresAmong prog rock fans, when they hear the name, “Neal Morse,” bands such as Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic, or, more recently, Flying Colors come to mind. Of course, really hard core prog rockers think of Neal Morse as an amazingly prolific artist in his right. 

That hold on the mind share of fans of the genre will grow stronger with the release of Morse’s latest solo project, “Grand Experiment,” a project that is as bold in its approach to creating as it is in its musical brilliance.

I recently called Neal (my second interview with him) at his Nashville area studio to chat about “Grand Experiment.”  After a bit of small talk, I asked him if the album pre-prepped or was this a “winging it” kind of project.

“Most of my albums are 90% there - before I fly people in to record them. Sometimes a little less, maybe, sometime even more. The “Testimony” album, Mike just played to what I had already recorded on the computer at that time. They vary. I think the one album that we messed with a bit more. Some albums we shaped more than others when Randy, Mike and I got together. 

“Generally, yeah, it's pretty mapped out. I like to kind of feel like I've got enough really strong material before I commit to going in that far. But this time I felt to take more of a risk and not prepare really anything and just get together with the guys and see what happened. I think that's why this one seems to have a real fresh sound and feel to it. It can really all be accredited to the band.”

Is it fair to say that this album is a prog improvisation project or is that a fair way to describe it?

“No, I don’t think so. I don't think it will come across that way at all. I think it comes across like a really strong, fresh, prog project with some rock and pop songs in there too. I think it comes off like a Neal Morse album, though, with a different twist and a lot of other singers. It's very accessible - in fact maybe even more accessible than some of my other albums.”

It stands to reason that this approach had to have some surprises so I asked if there were any using this approach.

“For me, the whole album is a surprise, really. Many different things happened that surprised me. ‘The Grand Experiment’ song surprised me by how good it came out. I had that chorus and that riff that I was playing on keyboard.  I think of it as kind of a piano and organ riff. Eric (Gillette) started playing it heavy and we started  playing a little faster. Then Mike had this idea, he was just sloshing away on the drums going, ‘oh yeah, it'll be awesome !’ and adding his ideas to it.

“I'm thinking, ‘Okay …’ You only know if it is anything ‘til it all kind of comes together with the words and everything. I was still seeing how it was all gonna turn out ‘til we put it all together and I went ‘Wow! This really came out really special!’ That's part of the adventure and the mystery of creating in a group. That's why I think groups are so cool is that stuff happens that you would never expect and you would never create on your own.”

As for whether or not the lyrics and been pre-written, Neal said:

“The words were not entirely created when we shot the video. We couldn’t use any of Mike’s video footage, hardly, of him singing because he hadn’t written the words – his little after parts in the verses – he hadn’t written those. So he was mouthing the wrong words in the video so we couldn’t use any of the shots.

“We shot that at Morsefest and we were still in the middle of overdubbing and we weren’t really done with all of our parts yet. It was amazing that it all came together as well as it did because it was kind of very spontaneous.”

Within a group, the dynamic is such that members don’t always receive a change in the formula of what has worked in the past. I asked Morse if there was any resistance to this freewheeling approach.

“I think Randy (George) and Mike (Portnoy) were totally into it. I think Bill (Hubauer), maybe, was a little uncomfortable. He would say to me, ‘I know you worked like this before,’ because I have with Flying Colors and, to some respect, Transatlantic is that way, too. A lot of adventure going on. 

“Bill usually maps things out. He’s a pretty organized sort of guy, too. I don’t know, man, you’re sort of flying an airplane by the seat of your pants and you’re not sure how you’re gonna land!”

Neal and the guys always come across as having a lot of fun making their records and videos, coming across as being quite crazy, sometimes. I asked if the zaniness took place in the studio as much as it does on the videos.

“Mike, himself, is a nut! He ranges from a very high powered New York business man to, like, a two year old child within minutes. He can be really intense and really serious and super driven. Then, the next thing, he’s standing on the table making noise like Jerry Lewis or somebody. You kinda never know what you’re gonna get! 

“I’m probably a little more staid in the studio. Playing live, I’m more animated. I think I enjoy that maybe a little bit – not that I enjoy it more, it’s just a different experience. I love being in the studio, as well.”

What was the most fun for Morse and the band working in this manner?

“Well, it was either breakfast or dinner. I’m not sure which. But I would have to say dinner, I think. I love recording at home, ‘cause my wife and son cook these amazing meals. That’s definitely a fun part. Recording “The Grand Experiment” was awesome. That was a very fun one to do. Some of the extra tracks were really fun. I really enjoyed recording “The Call,” you know, with all the different changes and all the things that were thrown into that one. That was a gas. It’s a hodge podge of hard work and the most fun you’ve ever had in your life at the same time.”

As for negatives to using this approach, Morse said:

“Well, sometimes I wasn’t sure if what we were doing was good enough. And there were times I was doubting. That’s not a good place to be.”

Did any of those doubts materialize?

“No, they didn’t materialize on the album. You know, once it all came together, it becomes great and how it should be. A lot of things work themselves out. When you’re collaborating, you’re trying things. It’s like you’re traveling, and you go down a road, and maybe some people in the car are like, ‘I don’t know. Maybe we should turn back.’ But, eventually, you arrive. You get there. And we definitely got there on this record.

When I asked Neal if there were there any epiphanies or “lightbulb moments” regarding previous albums while you were working on this album, he said:

“No, I don’t think so. There were a lot of things that we thought about, and when we started to do it, I thought, ‘Oh yea, this is really going to be special.’ I really don’t compare things too much. 

“A lot of times, I’ve forgotten what I did before. People actually tell me, ‘Oh, that sounds like something you did before.’ I don’t really think about what I did before very much. So I need people around me to keep me honest, so to speak. 

“When we came up with the a cappella beginning, Eric, Bill, and I just started singing that in the room. That was a real special moment. I was like, ‘Oh, yea, what a cool way to open the record.’ I can’t remember if I’ve ever opened a record with a cappella three-part vocals on anything I’ve been involved in. I was just really happy about it. I think the beginning of the album particularly has a great, fresh energy.”

I asked Neal if he was taking anything from his “Grand Experiment” method of album making to future projects.

“I try not to hold on to methods. It’s easy to think that, because something worked once, we should do it again. Sometimes that’s good- you know, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For example, I’ve used Rich Mouser to mix for years, because if you love it, why change it? 

“I try not to predict the future because I never know what the Lord has in store. But I’m pretty sure we’ll do another Neal Morse Band record. If we do, I’d really like to be together when we do some of the overdubbing, particularly the vocals. It was a challenge to get all of the vocal phrasing right when you’re not in the same state. But we did manage to do it through the miracles of modern technology and new cutting things. It was a crazy way to make a record. 

“After the initial sessions, we were all overdubbing in our respective homes. And sometimes I’d listen to a mix, then I’d text grandexperimentcoverhiresBill and Eric, ‘Hey, man. I don’t like the phrasing on this line.’ or ‘I’d like to change the lyrics to this line. Eric, can you sing this?’ So he’d sing it, send it to Rich in California who would then line it up and tie it into the master that he’s mixing. Then he’d remix the session, send me an MP3, and I’d listen to it on my phone from whoever knows where I was. I was traveling a lot during that time. I was on vacation with my family and whatnot. So I’d listen to it on my phone and go, ‘Yea, cool, approved!’ or ‘Maybe we should phrase it a little differently…’ Sometimes I would sing things the way I wanted them phrased into the Memos on my phone, and then send it to the guy. There’s a million different ways to sing a line, you know what I mean? The line that we kept texting and e-mailing to each other was ‘This is a crazy way to make a record.’”

I posited that he must be thankful for the types of technologies that improve affordability and prevent him and the band from settling for something that is less than what they envisioned, he agreed.

“Yea, it’s a matter of affordability, and also being able to do other things we already have planned. It would take a lot longer if we all had to be in the same place at the same time. Also, we all get to be at home with our families for the holidays. A lot of this took place during the holidays, and that would be pretty rough. So yea, I’m thankful.”

I asked Morse which song from “Grand Experiment” he would use as the album’s calling card.

“For me, it’s ‘The Call.’ I think everyone is really well represented on that. It’s real ‘progy.’ It’s got the three part harmonies. It’s got different guys singing lead on different parts, and everybody’s killing it. Mike’s killing it. The instrumentals are great. To me, that’s the quintessential Neal Morse Band song right now. That’s how I feel about it.”

I tried to pry out of Morse whether or not there was any left over material that from Grand Experiment that would be used for the next album. 

“We used pretty much everything between this and the bonus disc. There are some other ideas we didn’t get to, but everything that we got to is on the three disc special edition.”

As for tour plans in support of Grand Experiment, Morse said:

“Well, we’re doing seven or eight shows in North America starting February 21 in Nashville. We’re doing a few dates in Canada as well. L.A., Chicago, East Coast. And then we go to Europe, and we’re doing nine dates in Europe. So we’ll be out for about three weeks, maybe a little more, which is just right for me. I don’t like to be away from my family that long.”

And after the tour?

“I’m working on a piece for musical theater, actually. It’s very different than anything I’ve done before, so I’m hoping to see about getting that on the stage. I’m also writing some worship songs, more singer-songwriter songs. Then, later in the year, there’s probably going to be a MorseFest Deluxe package with both the live albums and the live DVD. The whole MorseFest experience will probably be coming out in the fall. I’m not sure what else will be coming, but I’m sure it will be good. I know there’ll probably be at Flying Colors live this year from the last tour. And maybe some other surprises.”

Morse fans, no doubt, can’t wait to see what those surprises are. In the mean time, they can indulge themselves in his “Grand Experiment” for a musical extravaganza. 

 

 

Dave Baker

 Posted January 2015

 

DaveBaker0001If you’ve read any stories at all about musicians trying to make it in the music business – especially in Nashville, Tennessee – you’ve heard story upon story about just how incredibly long it took for them to get any traction at all – if at all. The stories of Keith Urban and Blake Shelton come to mind where, despite all of their best efforts, their desired success didn’t come until many years of trying finally paid off. 

Not so with a remarkable guitarist by the name of Dave Baker. Dave wanted to be a working session guitarist with, maybe, a regular gig with a band, artist or his own solo work from time to time. In a relatively short period he accomplished all of those goals, including serving as guitarist for the lovely Kellie Pickler.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Baker about his new CD, 71 South – an amazing debut CD of jaw-dropping guitar work. As we started our chat, I asked Dave to tell Boomerocity readers a little bit about himself.

I'm originally from Cleveland, Ohio and I moved to Nashville about four years ago.  Ironically, I didn't come here for music. I came here because my wife graduated from grad school in Cleveland and she had a difficult time getting a job there. Vanderbilt recruited her and we kind of looked at each other and she said, “How do you feel about dropping everything and moving to Nashville?” I was scared but I said, “Okay, let's give it a shot and if it's cool with you let's hold on to our little condo here in Cleveland until we both feel like it's a good move.”

We have a good understanding, my wife and I; we have great communication. We moved down here and I would say within five months I had a decent artist gig. It was pretty good and it was pretty quick, so I said, “Let's sell the house in Cleveland.” Up to that point I was commuting. I would live half the month in Cleveland and half the month in Nashville because I was still working so much in Cleveland. I finally let go of those ties and I committed to Nashville 100%. About a year after that I landed the gig with Kellie Pickler. That's kind of the story of my commute and, say, the last four years of everything that's taken place. It is pretty interesting for me to reluctantly move here, my wife kind of dragging me. Everything worked out!

Responding to my point earlier about those who’ve not had as good of luck as Dave in getting established in Music City, he said:

I've known people that have moved here since I’ve moved here - and that were good players - that have left already. It's disheartening. It's crazy to think about what is going on here in Nashville. You have so many great musicians in one concentrated area.  You have to work that much harder to be that much more motivated.  You have to have practiced that much more. 

There's more than just that - the planets aligning a lot of times. It's also being a good guy and being easy to get along with and being engaging. I mean everything. I don't know, I should write it all down one day. I think all of it matters, every nuance. It's not black and white, and it's not like this guy’s a great player so he's going to make it big. There's no way that's going to happen. There are all of the other nuances that go along with it.

With a monster musical talent like Dave Baker, I had to ask him who his musical influences were while he was growing up.

Well I would say I was influenced by a lot of different people and I think it reflects on my CD. I was DaveBakerKelliePickler0001influenced by a lot of classic rock, and then I was also influenced by everybody from shredders like Yngwie Malmsteen to George Benson to Wes Montgomery to Chet Atkins to Les Paul. Al Di Meola, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck go without saying; I love 'em.

I'm always trying to stay grounded toward something that would be more or less blues-based. I love first-, second- and third-generation blues. I love how it's evolved into what we hear now. I'll always listen for any form of music that I enjoy and most of the time if it's something that I enjoy, it's blues-based. There's an overtone of the language that's in there. I would say that probably off the top of my head.

With such a who’s who of great guitarists having influenced him, has Baker worked with any of them?

I haven't had the opportunity to work with a lot of my influences. I wish I could and, having said that, I wouldn't call myself new to Nashville but that I'm newer to Nashville. I would say that about a lot of people that have been here awhile, and I think that time could possibly come because there are some great players right here in town. I'll see other players and different things going on: like I met James Burke a couple of years ago at a show. I was giddy about it because there, again, he's another influence. Albert Lee influenced my country playing more than anyone; I'd love to meet Albert Lee one day. To get to play with him would be great.

I asked Dave what prompted him to take up the guitar to begin with.

Everybody on my father's side of the family plays guitar. My dad's mom played guitar and sang on the radio back in the mid- to late-‘30s; she even backed up Roy Rogers at one point.  I still have her guitar and I had her promo shot blown up with her and the guitar. It's pretty amazing. She kind of had a history in the music business.  I think that's what she did when she was younger for a living. But they all played guitar so I would say first and foremost I'm a guitar player, and then I just happened to dabble a little bit in some other things.

When I play with Kellie, I play electric and acoustic guitar. I play mandolin, and then I even play lap steel. I juggle four things with her, plus sing. She stays pretty active so I do an average of about a hundred shows a year with her, which is actually perfect because then I can have a whole life. I can have other musical endeavors that I can call upon on a regular basis: anything from doing sessions to collaborating on production. I still do jingles and I teach also.

With our conversation turning towards his new CD, “71 South,” I asked about the significance of the title.

That's the highway from Cleveland to Nashville. At least it's the highway from Cleveland to Louisville until it turns into 65. Most of my routes were 71 South. It took eight hours door to door.

 

The album is great, an eclectic mix of genres. Knowing that he couldn’t pick a favorite from it because it would be like picking a favorite child, I asked Dave which song he would point Boomerocity readers to as a sample or calling card for the entire album.

That's a tough one. I would probably have to say either, I think, track numbers 3 and 4 or both, “Sandy Spit” and “Spaghetti Western.” The reason why is because they’re more improvisational - what's going on there - than I planned out. “Spaghetti Western” has that definite country overtone to it, and I think that comes across in my playing even when I'm playing hard rock. 

There are certain elements of country that kind of poke their head out here and there. It could be the way I approach things, it could be a technique I'm doing, and it could be just a tone I'm getting. I think those would have a lot to do with it. Maybe even track number 6, “Baker’s Boogie,” because there's the blues influence again. “Closer To Home” and “Geneva” have very much of an Eric Johnson feel to them, and the first song, “Guitar Center Saturday,” that's probably where you’re hearing a little George Lynch. It's just complete shredding, almost like an Yngwie/Joe Satriani-type piece.”  

Since Dave Baker has worked on all sorts of different albums, I asked him if there was any difference working on his own disc by comparison.

First of all, I think just being that it's all-instrumental you don't have the focal point of a vocal song. With any song, you’re telling a story. I think that was the hardest thing for me to keep in my head: even though there are no vocals on this, I'm still telling a story. I have to have an introduction to my story. I have to have the middle part of the story. I have to have climaxes, peaks and valleys, and everything that keeps a story interesting. I have to try to do that with my guitar. So that was probably the challenge of it. I wanted to appeal to a person who doesn't play guitar, too. I wanted to appeal on a pedestrian level. Somebody that maybe doesn't play anything and they just enjoy music. I wanted to appeal to them. I wanted to be able to be engaging with what I'm doing.

As for tour support for the CD, Baker had this to say:

Well here is what I do other than touring with Kellie; Kellie's my first priority.

I play two nights a week locally, but I have one night that's my night. Every Monday night I play down on Broadway at one of the honky tonks, Whiskey Bent Saloon, and I do 6:00 to 10:00 PM. It's under my own name, Dave Baker, and we play everything from older country to ‘90s country. I have a really talented girl in the band that sings and plays fiddle, and she's awesome; we go back and forth on fiddle and guitar. We'll do everything from “Orange Blossom Special” to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and it's a great band. Awesome band. I've been doing that gig now four years in February...ever since I moved here pretty much. It's one of the first gigs I got, playing the honky tonks.

I think everybody kind of goes through a very similar growing process when they move here, especially if they don't have any ties and don't know anybody here. You’ve got to start from square one and then kind of move up. I still enjoy playing locally once a week. People come out to hang and enjoy the show, and I also enjoy it because I can stretch out with my chops. I couldn't even put a price on that because I'm honestly doing it for my soul. Then I play on Tuesday nights at a pretty famous place called Tootsies; I back a girl up with other members of a band. That's basically my local gigs that I do and on the Mondays particularly I sell my CD.

With regards to feedback on the album, Dave said:

My feedback so far has been great! It's been positive. Once again, people have their favorites that they'll point out to me, “Well, I really like when you do this” or “I really like when you do that.” I also have people that are like, “Man, if you could have just done this I think you would get a wider audience.” I know that happens once in a while but this particular guitar record is all over the map. It really is, for better or worse.

Some people prefer just to listen to one thing, one style. If you buy a Joe Satriani album you know exactly what you're going to get every time, and that goes for anybody that kind of does that. If you buy a Chet Atkins album you know what you are going to get, and that means you're getting nothing even close to “Guitar Center Saturday” on a Chet Atkins album! I don't think you would hear anything like “The Brothel” on a Joe Satriani album.

Being nosey, I asked if he had leftover material together for another album this year.

I would say the answer is yes - but I wouldn't say it's leftover stuff. It is material that I've been writing since this album was completed. My intent is to put out another one - and I'm not sure if I would put out another one within the year but I would definitely try.  I've already started writing and, yeah, it's definitely something I'm going to do.

I think my next endeavor will probably be a little bit more focused, but it's hard for me to shake the diversity because I'm constantly being asked to play in a diverse fashion whether it's a session or an artist gig. It can change all the time. I think because I've had to wear so many different hats in the past that has kind of lead me to do something like this.

 

DaveBaker0003As far as focusing, would that be more focusing on the blues?

I think it would be definitely in the spirit of that a little bit more.  Maybe a little bit more in that direction, too. I don't know if I would necessarily say a Bonamassa-type thing - although I love Bonamassa - but it would be something that would be more blues-based. You would hear it in my playing a little bit more than you do maybe on this album. Even though I always try to stay grounded, sometimes the song might lend itself for me to go in a different direction. I think I've had songs that lent themselves to stay in that arena a little bit more.

Baker said of his future plans:

In early 2015 I'll be getting ready to start more tour dates with Kellie, which is great. I love doing that; I love playing for her. She's an amazing artist, an amazing person and an amazing employer. But I also plan on possibly booking some things that coincide with her tour dates. So, if I'm playing in Biloxi with Kellie doing a gig, I may try to do some sort of clinic during the day at a local music store or university music class. I would be there pushing my product as well as playing PRS guitars, McPherson acoustics, Dr. Z amplifiers - all of my endorsement companies been very good to me. Doing things like that to help out the companies that have helped me. I’m also doing more product demos (Baker has been doing video demos for Dr. Z Amps since 2009, as well as other guitar products). And I’m doing more commercial music: I started playing on commercial jingles about 15 years ago. Since then I've " allowtransparency="no" width="120" height="240">honed my production chops by writing and producing spots for everyone from dating websites to major network news packages. Most of what I do is produced in my home studio although, given a bigger budget, at times I will record full production pieces at larger studios. Doing jingles has been another great creative outlet that is always challenging yet fun. Of course I’ll be putting out more albums in the next few years, things in the spirit of this, plus doing more sessions as a player and/or producer.

Whether you’re catching one of the shows by the adorable, Kellie Pickler, or are going to be in the Nashville area, please be sure to catch Dave Baker’s work. The man will blow your mind!

http://www.davebakerguitar.com

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/davebaker12

Steve Lukather Talks About TOTO XIV

March, 2015

lukather steve mar2015 001If you’re a music aficionado at all, you’ve heard of Toto and are familiar with their mega huge hits like “Africa,” Rosanna,” “99,” “I Won’t Hold You Back,” “I’ll Be Over You,” and many other hits.

What you may not be aware of are these absolutely amazing statistics:

•They have recently celebrated their 35th anniversary as a band

•Have sold over 35 million albums

•Band members were South Park characters, while Family Guy did an entire episode on the band’s hit “Africa.” 

•Collectively, the members of the band of made their mark on over 5,000 different albums that total a half billion units in record sales

•It’s been estimated that 95% of the world’s population has heard a performance by a band member of TOTO

The band is releasing their first studio album of new material in ten years entitled, “TOTO XIV.”  I recently chatted with founding member, guitarist and vocalist, Steve Lukather (“Luke”), about the album. I contacted him at his hotel room in Birmingham, Alabama, while he was on the road performing with Ringo Starr (yeah, THE Ringo Starr).

Luke accounts for much of the previously mentioned statistics. He’s contributed to approximately 2,000 albums for artists such as Michael Jackson (including much of the “Thriller” album), Rod Stewart, Miles Davis, Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick, Roger Waters, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Larry Carlton and countless others. 

Before discussing the new album, I asked Luke what he’s been up to.

“Well, I’m out with Ringo right now, and I just started. This is, like, day three or something like that. It’s going great! I’ve been working on promoting the album, and I’m kinda managing the band and getting the tour together. It’s like juggling a chainsaw, razorblade, and a toothpick at the same time. But I’m doing ok.”

When asked about TOTO XIV, he said:

“I never thought we’d do another record, actually. When we got back together in 2010, it was to help our brother, Mike Porcaro, with some of his medical bills. He’s been tragically hit with ALS, and sadly, he’s really not doing well right now. It’s eight years into it, and it’s a tragic, horrible, insidious, cruel disease. That was hard. 

“We decided to help him in 2010. We put the band back together with the high school brothers- Joseph Williams, Steve Porcaro, myself, and David Paich. We did a tour, and it was really a lot of fun. It was like the band had been reincarnated, and Joseph came back so strong as a singer. He didn’t go on the road and burn his voice out. He was doing television and film for twenty years as a composer along with a few solo albums here and there. But when he came back to the stage, his voice was incredibly strong, and it just kept getting stronger. We did a couple summer tours to help Mike, and we all have bills to pay so everybody wins. 

“When we decided to do the 35th anniversary DVD, we found out that one of our ex-managers had signed something saying if we ever do anything, we have to deliver a studio album. At first, we sort of fought that, but our lawyers said ‘Look, you should make the freakin’ record.’ 

“So we all looked at each other and said, ‘If we’re going to do this, we gotta do a really good one. We can’t just phone it in and make this a fulfillment of an obligation.’ 

“We figured we owed it to the people who have been supporting us for forty years, so we need to come up with something really good. It’s been ten years since we sat down to write a record, so we dug deep. We decided if we were going to do this, we were going to go for it, really go for it. We wanted to dispel the myth that the album is dead, and old guys can’t write music. We said, ‘f*** that- we’re gonna go for it.’ 

“We spent ten months in the studio making this record. What you hear is the result of blood, sweat, soul, tears, laughter, pain, screaming, arguing, hugging, and working. To me, I figure it’s the best version of the band to be in 2015. We have a lot of old friends back- Lenny Castro, a percussionist and workaholic. David Hungate is back after 33 years, and he’s going to tour with us. It’s an exciting time for us. The DVD went #1 all over the world, and that was a big surprise. 

“The world is looking at us differently. We’re the classic rock band that hasn’t done every summer in eight configurations. The band is playing better than they ever have, so we are sort of a surprise wild card at this point. There are a lot of great bands out there making the circuit, but it’s the same eight guys in various configurations. We kinda came out of nowhere last year in the U.S.”

Then, as a little tease, Luke said, “There’s a big surprise which I can’t tell you about yet- I’d like to, but I can’t. We’re going to be touring with somebody really cool, and

it’s not anybody obvious at all. The U.S. tour starts in August/September, but we’re doing two months in Europe. Those gigs lukather steve mar2015 002are selling out- 10,000 seaters are selling out months in advance without getting the record out yet! The UK is going clean, and it was really a surprise to hear Holland with 10,000 seats gone already. We’re co-headlining Sweden Rock with Def Leppard and a bunch of people. We’re doing a bunch of other gigs and headlining other festivals with 35,000 people, so it’s a very exciting time for us right now when a lot of people had maybe written us off. We’re back strong. Everyone is super healthy and focused, and we’re going to prove everybody wrong about the idea that these old guys have nothing new to give. I don’t believe in that, you know?”

I was a guest of Luke’s at the band’s Atlanta show last year that included Michael McDonald. I mentioned that the pairing of McDonald with TOTO was a masterful pairing.

“Well, Michael’s part of our family. We go way back. Michael was in Steely Dan with Jeff when I was still in high school. At one point, Michael was actually considered to be the lead singer of Toto, but he had just joined The Doobie Brothers. I worked on his first solo album, played on ‘I Keep Forgettin’’ and all that stuff. He sang on ‘I’ll Be Over You’, so we’ve always been friends. At that time we had the same manager, so that didn’t work out. But Michael and all of us have stayed dear friends and always will. That was a great, special tour for us, and it opened up a lot of doors that were closed for a long time. 

“Now we’re doing something even wilder and bigger. The U.S. is starting to catch up, and that’s always been an Achilles heel to us. Now the doors are opening that were closed for so long, because we just had poor management and a poor view of us. Our record company wasn’t behind us. It was an uphill battle which all of the sudden seems to have been broken down after persistence and a lot of years… a lot of not taking no for an answer. Like, ‘F*** you, I don’t believe that this is no!’ Now we’re sitting in the situation to be able to do what we’ve always wanted to do in front of the people of our own country as well as the rest of the world.”

I asked Luke what made this album different for him as compared with the previous thirteen.

“First off, it’s been ten years since we’ve made any new music. I’m back with Steve Porcaro and Joseph Williams- we haven’t made a record since 1987. And yet, we came to this with a fresh attitude, like ‘We’re going to try to nail this.’ I’m back with my high school friends again, and everybody’s inspired and healthy. It’s a lot of fun, and I think we did something good. Now it’s up to God and the world to see how this all turns out. So far, so good.”

What surprises on the album can Toto fans expect?

“Is anything a surprise anymore? We live in this world where people are filming your every move with an iPhone camera. Their opinions are on the internet whether good or bad. 

“Anyways, we’ve got a couple hundred songs we can grab to play outside of hits with all these records we’ve made. David Hungate’s back. Lenny Castro’s back on the road with us along with Steve, me, Dave, and Joe. We’ve got a killer band to bring on the road, and we’re going to perform this new stuff. We’re going to play a lot of the old stuff we haven’t been able to play. It’s just a really exciting time for us.”

As for which song from “XIV” he would point to as the “calling card” for the whole album, Luke said:

“I think my favorite track that we have ever recorded is a song called ‘Great Expectations’ which is written by Dave, Joe, and I. It’s an epic little piece. It’s really what I always imagined the band to sound like. Obviously, the hits have been really good. I can’t deny any of that, and we’ll play them for you- I promise! But this one has a little bit more depth to it. It hearkens back to our love for Seventies prog stuff like Yes and Pink Floyd with an odd twist to it. There’s three lead singers on it- Dave, me, and Joe. Everybody gets to shine on it. It’s a great calling card for where we are in 2015.”

Is there a story behind the album cover?

“Heather Porcaro, Steve’s oldest daughter, and her team put the whole art package together. We wanted to bring back the four in a different way. The XIV is interesting, because it’s a Roman numeral. It’s also a multiple of seven which is a reference to Joseph and The Seventh One album. It also has four from the Toto IV album. 

“We were sitting around throwing ideas out, and Heather and her team came up with this great thing. We thought, ‘Wow, that’s really cool!’ The last thing we wanted to do was put hearts, skulls, angels, typical artwork. It’s so cliché. They came up with something darker and more mature. It’s new, but it’s old. Is this in China? Is this in LA? Where is this photo, this place? We ended up loving what she did with that, and it keeps it in the family as well. I’m really proud of her. We’ve been getting a lot of love on that.

“She did this little video piece, too. We didn’t want to do a video. We’re not going to do MTV videos- there’s no budget for that. So we asked, ‘Can you put something together for this?’ She was out on the road with us filming stuff, and she just threw that together in an afternoon. She’s a very creative person, and I love keeping stuff in the family. I like to use the people around us. They care, and they’ve grown up with it and been a part of it. It means something to them. It’s not just hiring an art guy and saying, ‘Here, make something for us.’”

toto mar2015 001Luke also shared some info about the guitar gear he used in the making of the album.

“My big guitar is my Music Man, my L3. I do use a couple of the other versions. I use the Bogner amp, but I also use the Kemper Profiling amp which some of the weird, clean sounds came from that.  C.J. Vanston , our co-producer, really had a lot to do with putting this whole thing together. I gotta give him some love. C.J. worked real hard on this. Sometimes he’d just grab my guitar chord and plug it into his box that goes into the computer, and we’d just kinda scroll through to find some weird sound that worked. I kept an open mind and said, ‘I’ll try anything you guys want!’ Sometimes the sound inspired a different idea, a different part. 

“It was like putting five bulls in a pen with one cow. We’re all very strong personalities, so we needed somebody to referee that. CJ Vanston was that guy. In the end, we all kept an open mind to try new and interesting things, and that’s what came out. I use Yamaha acoustic guitars, which are great.”

What’s up after the Toto tour?

“I can’t predict where I’m going to be in two years. I hope I’m still talking to you on the phone, healthy and happy and raving about the great success we have. That’s where I’m focused right now. In a couple years, who knows? Maybe I’ll do a solo record. Maybe I’ll take a vacation. I’ve got little kids I’d like to spend a little time with. This is what I do for a living. I’ve been doing it for forty years of my life. I don’t see anything changing other than just creating new music. 

“I’m loving being on the Ringo tour. I just did this thing with Larry Carlton, and there will be a DVD out on that. That happened literally two weeks ago. That’s a different side of things, and I might do a couple live gigs with him if we can squeeze it in somewhere. I’m always trying to reinvent the wheel and doing fresh things.”

Wrapping up our chat, I asked Luke how he would summarize his life right now.

“I’ve had an interesting life, man. The dream came true. What can I say? 

When I was a little kid, I saw The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. And here I stand, in a hotel room working with Ringo. Last year, I did the 50th anniversary Beatles show with Paul and Ringo. I’m standing there right before we go on stage looking at them. They played ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, and there was a certain realization I had. When I was a little kid, if you told me that fifty years later I’d be standing here with these guys… and all these things that have happened in my career… just the records and the success that we’ve had. All the sessions and all the great artists I’ve had the chance to work with. I’ve got four great kids. I’ve had a couple great wives. I’ve met a lot of beautiful girls in my life. I’ve had a million laughs. Partied like a f***ing rock star, but I don’t do that anymore. I’ve had a very interesting life. 

“There are a few things I’d go back and change. I never wanted to hurt anybody’s feelings. I should have never done any drugs of any kind, but ask anybody who’s been through that, and they’ll tell you the same thing. It was a weird, wacky time we all went through. I would save my money a little differently. But I’ve got nothing to complain about. I’m healthy, I’m happy, I’ve lived the dream. I’m very grateful to the people who’ve supported me and the band through the years. I’m sorry for a few things that went wrong, and I lost my way there for a minute. But when you’ve lived the life I have, it’s not uncommon. 

“I’ve been given a great gift, and I’m very, very grateful for it - probably more so now than I’ve ever been. Thank you for life. It’s like that movie, ‘Defending Your Life’, where you have to sit and watch all the rough spots. I hope God has a great sense of humor.”

Catch the latest on all things TOTO here and read the Boomerocity review of TOTO XIV here.

Antonia Bennett Discusses Embrace Me

Posted December, 2014

antoniabennett2014bIn this day and age when families – both “average” and celebrity – are torn apart, it’s always refreshing to see a family who appears to have it all together. This is especially true of any family whose life is lived in a fish bowl and in the spotlight of fame. 

Such is the case of Tony Bennett and his relationship with his lovely daughter, Antonia.  These two have the fortunate blessing of being able to work together on stage often in recent years.  Classically trained and further schooled by her legendary father, Antonia is receiving kudos as a singer in her own right with successful touring and catalog of work that is garnering lots of positive attention.

During a recent chat with Boomerocity, Antonia chatted about her dad’s influence on her career so far and her new album, Embrace Me.

Commenting on how it is working with Mr. Bennett and what she’s observed, Antonia offers, “We really get along with one another and care about each other and I do realize what a special opportunity this is. There are not very many people who have got to do this with their parents. I do understand what a blessing it is.”

What she’s learned from travelling and performing with her dad, Ms. Bennett says, “I think the biggest things is really his endurance level and how he never really complains about things. If something comes up last minute and he just has to do it, he does it and he's less tired than any of us. I don't know how to explain it because it's just something that he innately has or because he grew up in the depression and it's a different mentality. I think that's part of it but I think, with him, it goes beyond that. He definitely has this surge of energy in moments where we all should be extraordinarily tired or are always extraordinarily tired. He finds the energy to push though and make it happen in a very natural and effortless way and still in a very kind of thankful way.

“I think that the other thing is . . . when you see somebody of his stature that has had such a long career - and he really has had a remarkable long career - we all wish that we could have the longevity that he does. But I’ve seen him through a lot of different phases in my life. In my lifetime, I've seen his career go through a lot of phases. The thing that comes home to me is that, whatever level you're at, there's always perks and there's always problems. 

Problems and the perks might be different on one level than they are another but it's the same thing. It just manifests in kind antoniabennettcouch1bof a different way. The idea of being able to look at something and problem solve and again push through it and really be thankful for the experience and to be there and to be able to do this in front of people and they love what you are doing and you love what you're doing. That's really such a special thing.”

Anotonia continues by saying, “It is interesting how you feel when something like that happens when you watch your parents get older. Obviously my dad is in great health. You see the changes. It is interesting how it puts you in a position to be able to let go of a lot of stuff when you’re thinking for them or of them in that way.” 

Antonia excitedly talked about her new album, Embrace me.

“The songs on this record are really the songs that I grew up listening to. This record was made really spur of the moment. I knew I had always wanted to do a jazz project. I was in New York and I called up my friend, Paul Nowinski, who was the bass player on that record, and I said, ‘I'm in town.’  He said, ‘Oh, I have great trio right now that I'm working with and you should see if you can get some studio time.’ So, it kind of manifested like that.

“It was a very natural progression and because we had played together for so many years there was a comfort level there. We did some of our favorite songs. It was a very collaborative process. We went into the studio and I think that you can really see the collaborative nature between the musicians. You can see that we're having a good time. It's something, again, that I really feel came very naturally and organically. We have wishful thinking for a potential Grammy nomination and we're just kind of moving forward and hoping to get this out there.”

Embrace Me is available online and wherever quality music is sold.