Life Is in Session
LIFE IS IN SESSION by Allan Comeau For Allan Comeau, the stuff of songs are the found objects of life's experience. A homeless man, there one day and gone the next; a conversation with a producer about a play that dramatized a family's loss of their son in Iraq; watching his son's performance in "The Wizard of Oz" and hearing Dorothy's parting words, over and over again; sitting next to a mental health director talking about "things that everybody needs," and so on. These are the moments that ignite, for Comeau, a singular and compelling urge to write, sing, and record. A practicing clinical psychologist and psychotherapist for the past thirty years, Comeau is a graduate of the University of Southern California and Ryokan College, earning doctorates from both institutions. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychology at the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. For the past seven years he has written a syndicated mental health column, "Your Mind Matters," which he is presently editing into a book, "How to Change Your Mind." Comeau's songs are distillations of personal experience, growing up a young victim of the last polio epidemic and coming from the same town that gave us colonial hero Hannah Dustin, transcendental poet John Greenleaf Whittier, Archie Comics' creator Bob Montana, and heavy metal guitarist and filmmaker Rob Zombie. "With that kind of cultural zeitgeist," he says, "anything is possible." His songs speak to the heart and mind with themes of compassion, social justice, reconciliation, and, at times, a sense of outright silliness and good fun. "Everything changes," he says and has printed on his psychotherapy office business card, "When you see everything as an opportunity for some good." His music, his health writing, and his clinical work all consistently reflect that philosophy. Although the CD project started out as a solo adventure, much like a classic journey, as the story and the songs unfolded, others joined Comeau in his quest. Loni Specter, a longtime member of the LA music scene, was there at the start as a cowriter. When recording began, Loni joined as coproducer. Former Frank Zappa bassman, guitar hero, and friend Arthur Barrow provided the studio, and each of the songs was painstakingly laid out, re-created, and recorded in his "vintage" Lotek Studios in Venice. Barrow's bass guitar moves from haunting to popping, as his steady riffs provide vital momentum and pacing. His use of the fretless bass on "Best Man" is uncanny. Barrow, who also composes for silent films, plays keyboards and lead guitar on several songs. Percussionists Joseph McDonald-who flew in from New York for a session-and LA-based Mel Lee provide not only the beat, but also convey in rhythm the messages that are usually reserved only for words. Choral teacher and master keyboardist Leonard Krubsack adds everything from the honky-tonk to the classical in his performances of "You Can't Catch Me," and "O Katrina." Psychologist in his day job Evan Shapiro plays a masterful set of lead fills on covers of Chuck Berry's "The Promised Land" and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah. Specter adds a signature lead solo to "Sin to Be Saved" and sings backup on several songs, along with Rox Diamond frontman Paul Daniels, Moira Marquis (who did the mastering at her own "Mo's Garage"), Patty Fiden, Johnny Szmyd (who will accompany Allan in some of his live performances), and a then ten-year-old Julian Comeau. LIFE IS IN SESSION was coproduced by Allan J. Comeau and Loni Specter and includes newly arranged covers of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and Chuck Berry's "The Promised Land" plus twelve original songs, including "You Can't Catch Me," "Sin to Be Saved," "Best Man," "Lately," "Lay Down Your Guns," "Homeless Man," "Everybody Needs," "Teacher," "This Day," "With a Little Bit of Luck...," "No Place Like Home," and O Katrina," presented with a prelude by pianist Leonard Krubsack. LIFE IS IN SESSION will be in full release in early October. A Southern California and regional tour is in the planning stages.