Wood Wire Vibes & Slide
Incubated in Baton Rouge Blue Room Studio by Tom and a few select guests over the time frame of 2008-2010 and expertly tweezered, mixed, mastered, and generally glossified to a shining lustre by Devon Kirkpatrick at Sockit Studio, this Album represents the cumulative shape of everything that ever stimulated the cilia along my cochlea's length to vibrate and reward the brain with a soothing bath of endorphins. A summary of Southern stylings from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast to the West Coast flavors in soulful rockin' jazzy fatback funk with all manner of slide guitars from the Firebird (both white (as pictured on the front cover) and Dachshund/Doberman (back cover)), Les Paul, Stratocaster, Telecaster, Pete Andersen, Flatroc (my new fave...) solid and semi-hollow electric families and the Dobro and Martin acoustic families. I started this sonic sculpture as a solo endeavor while recuperating from surgery and then got tired of myself, so I invited a few friends over to sing along (Patty Houk and Debbie Landry) and/or inhale and exhale over vibrating reeds (Dave 'The Tube Guy' Long on harmonica and amp repairs...) while the stereo stew of Hammond C-3 organ thru a spinning Leslie speaker and several sorts of synthesized waveforms in both real and imaginary instrument incarnations thickened the roux in this gumbo while the percussive parts pounded a fatback funk in the foreground (please pardon the potentially annoying annihilated alliteration...). Track tales: track 1. 'You're The Star' - I always like to start off with a bouncy, fun vibe and this is yet another of my Little Feat-influenced groove things (RIP Richie Hayward... a huge influence on my drumming!). Patty and I do the Slim Harpo tune "I'm a King Bee" and it's her fave blues tune and that playful lyric style stuck in my mind and I wanted to get some of that spirit in here, hence the hive and the honey jar. The Reverend Pete Anderson guitar gets a workout in open G slide in a little tip of the hat to George Thorogood sonically and Johnny Winter melodically and Lowell George methodically... Bill Payne's Wurlitzer electric piano stylings (... all hail the 'King of Wurly"...) weave their way in and out here and there in combination with a couple cheap tricks provided by yours truly... track 2. 'Gotta Get You By My Side' - a bit of daydreaming about what it might be like to be involved with a 'celebutante' and be pursued by pesky paparazzi while living the 'reality-show' life and then waking up from the nightmare. No Stone left unturned here - Keef chords in open E, Charlie's Gretsch kit with the signature tom-tomming and press rolls, Bill's bouncing basslines that jump registers, MJ's 'outlook' and chicken neck, and occasional Nicky flicks of the wrist on some barrelhouse piano thingies... and some Duane-ish slide thrown in for 'good measure'... ;) ... track 3. 'Gimme Back My Bullets' - Lynyrd Skynyrd cover - I got to meet Gary and Allen when I lived in Jax and we opened for them and it struck me how funky their interaction was with their guitar parts, and I always liked this tune, so I tried to put some of my funk side forward on this re-casting of the tune. Kudos to Carmine Appice for the displaced ride cymbal bell accents that found their way down from New York to Florida and to Artimus Pyle for the 'ruffage' (gotta love a bad drumming pun....) and Jack Bruce for the displaced bass syncopation and Leon for the bass foundation. The percolating sounds that abound around the edges are from my slide guitar run thru the Pigtronix Mothership (ring modulation in a LS cover... yeah, baby) and a Roland/Boss Slicer pedal (instant Baba... get it? LS opened for The Who ... it made sense to me....). I tweaked a few words to personalize the song as I was recovering from prostate cancer surgery, and it was a theme of rebirth and restoration for me at the time! Track 4. 'Chevrolet / Chevrolet' Medley - 1st Chevy is a Robben Ford & The Blue Line cover and the 2nd Chevy is a ZZ Top cover - I've always loved both Robben and Billy and these two tunes, so I decided to mash them up and put the funky groove from the 1st one under the 2nd one. This one also features my Gretch drumkit and the fat tone suggested the Zigaboo meets Charlie twist that steams the tune along. This one definitely makes the trip out west for the LA / L.A. and points north thereof connection in my mind and the electric piano with Hammond organ vibe comes from that school with more Bill Payne references along with Billy Preston and Billy Powell tricks sneaking along for the ride - I brought all 3 of my favorite B.P.'s along. White Firebird slide is beaming thru the ring modulator and a Fulltone Ultimate Octave box (yes, I have a bad case of 'pedalitis'... all you purists can line up to throw stones on the left...) and I was not thinking of anyone on this one... for once, I tried not to think of anything at all, and just slide the slide up and down until my ears were unbound by the sound. Track 5. 'Gonna Live With It' - This track came about after hearing and seeing the "Jeff Beck Live at Ronnie Scott's" DVD and just falling in love with the sound of a Stratocaster all over again for the quadrillionth time - JB has that effect on lots of folks and I'm certainly a disciple. Vinnie and Tal also had me spellbound with their crisp, intricate rhythms so I wanted to get that tight tight right vibe going on this track with the dry clicking hats and the punching bass that Devon ran thru his nifty Distressor to make it even more insistent in it's' simplicity. Jason is a new fave of mine and his throbbing clusters of electro-retro piano made me pull out the phase shifter and put on a Weather Report to get the forecast for which route to take thru the progression. The story is a top-secret reference to an early 'aughties' party that may or may not have occurred in or near my house and the name(s) have been erased to obscure the guilty. Track 6. 'Backwoods BBQ' - A trip to Tabby's Blues Box 'round midnight with a busload of Japanese tourists taking snapshots on my retina while flashing back to Siegen Lane at Perkins Road at my grandma's house hiking in the woods with cousin Johnny and dealing with spiders and snakes while riding horses in the woods around the bayou. It's now a concrete parking lot, subdivision, rest home, shopping center and YMCA and it's such a strange sight... ahh, the future is present, the past has left the building - it's blues time! Hats off and on to Canned Heat (and the Muffler shop for using their tune in the ads....) and to Tabby Thomas for the mental images that his swamp blues conjured to form the foundation of this tune's vibe while John Lisi was sliding around his Dobro and stomping double-time on his wonder wah wah funk that I took to outer space with some quarter-speed Mike Stern licks played on slide in open G while in the key of D (long a favorite trick of mine...) to make this a true 'fusion-blues' thing (once again, all you purists can line up to the left to throw those stones again...). Long live the spirit of Oklahoma in the form of one Leon Russell and the spirit of Memphis in the form of a Howlin' Wolf... track 7. 'All Down The Line' - Rolling Stones cover - This song came booming out of the speakers during a Dennis Hopper (R.I.P.) movie in the early 90s and I just about fell outta my seat it hit me so hard! I was a bit late to the party for 'Exile On Main Street", and it became my co-favorite Stones album with Sticky Fingers after that movie (I think it's called "Flashback") and we had so much fun with "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" on the 'Thirds... & More' CD that I went back to the well for this one. I tried to get the vibe with one guitar part instead of six or so and I was hoping that would let the brilliant slide work from Mick Taylor pop thru a bit more while keeping the Keef in the mix between the piano and the Tele in open G chording while the organ covers for the horn parts and car parts that make the giant wall of sound come to life. Kudos to Patty Houk and Debbie Landry for fleshing out my harmony vocal obsession so well on this one with my cryptic instructions to make it sound like yer at a big party on a train... whatever that means. I'm still in physical therapy for the tendonitis from shaking the massive maracas so maniacally to capture the pulse from the original.... track 8. 'I'll Still Be There' - I often have a mental picture of Gregg Allman while I'm singing - this tune is about capturing the spirit of his soulful blues phrasing and melding that with the fancy chord changes that span everything from Memphis to New Orleans music and beyond. This one is dedicated to my beautiful wife Esther and it shows how important it is to have a life partner who you know will be around to share the joys and help shoulder the sorrows as the years flow by - and how this gets more important over time. A theme as old as humanity itself. Once again, the Hammond C-3 organ plays a pivotal role here behind the slide that borrows a page from Terje Rypdal's book by oozing thru a volume pedal before heading to the fjord echo and a nod to Sonny Landreth with his crafty trick of fretting a note or two behind the slide while playing others on the slide to create piano-like tone clusters - I bet you didn't know a 2.5 inch tube around yer little finger could take you all the way from Lafayette, Louisiana (Sonny) to Oslo, Norway (Terje)! track 9. 'Midnight Rider' - Gregg Allman / Allman Brothers Band cover - Gregg as important as Duane to me - his vocals along with Steve Winwood and Paul Rodgers captured my ear in the early 70s and with John Lennon, John Fogerty and Jack Bruce in the 60s, their sounds all combined to form the sound I hear in my mind whenever I open my mouth to sing. To my ear, Gregg covers every base in his vocal on this song, and I got Patty to sing it with me because her voice has many of the elements of warmth and soul that make Gregg's so appealing and we've been doing the song to great response in our duo for 15 years now. I wanted to feature the Dobro on this one to capture the 'singing' tone it has that touches something deep inside the American music landscape and blends so well with the piano and upright bass. Track 10.'Preacher's Passion' - my little 'Blues Ballad' - imagine 'The Band' does the story of Son House (the preacher) and Muddy Waters (the young man) after reading 'Deep Blues' by Robert Palmer ... that's where all the little references like Stovall and Aristocrat records came from - this song has been trying to find it's' way onto one of my CDs since 1998 - it just never seemed to fit the flow until now... Debbie Landry's vocal put the icing on the cake and it was a done deal at that point. This song sprang from the classic sound of the Martin D-35 acoustic guitar and it evolved from a folk song to it's' current incarnation after reading "Deep Blues" and making so many trips to the Mississippi Delta to visit Esther's family and seeing the heartland of the blues first person in living color. Track 11.'Waitin' For The Bus' - ZZ Top cover - I didn't have enough minutes left of the 74 available for a standard CD, so I had to cut out Jesus from the original - he still lives in my hard drive and my heart! I lived near Houston, Texas from 1970 to 1974, and the "Tres Hombres" LP became an obsession because every single sound that emanated from the grooves was absolute perfection to my ears and the LP was omnipresent in ZZ's hometown. Radio played it in heavy rotation, stores featured it prominently in their displays, everyone seemed to have a copy at home and bring it to school and it never got old. Even the TV news and other media got in on the action with their expose reports about the Chicken Ranch in LaGrange that lives on in infamy thru the song and the movie with Bert and Dolly and the Broadway play and so forth. We moved back to my hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1974, and then the sounds of Cajun music re-entered my ears and my version of the song here borrows the accordion and puts in into the mix of electronica and Americana with the Dobro thru envelope filter, phaser, and wah wah juxtaposed with acoustic bass, drums and Dave Long's burnin' blues harp mic'd with Elvis's bullet mic thru a clean 1957 Silvertone amp that Dave restored.. track 12.'Shake Your Hips' - Slim Harpo cover - he's from right across the river from Baton Rouge (Lobdell, LA) and Patty and I do a couple more of his tunes in our duo and the Stones "Exile On Main Street" re-release made me wanna do it a bit different - imagine Cajun accordion jamming with Blues harmonica from my pal Dave 'The Tube Guy' Long and Dobro with Upright bass and a jumpy drummer... I've even had the pleasure of jamming with Slim's guitarists Rudy Richard and James Johnson who both still reside in the Baton Rouge area. Track 13.'Red & Orange Stratus' - 'Red & Orange' is a Jan Hammer tune from the John Abercrombie LP 'Timeless' from 1974 and 'Stratus' is a tune by Billy Cobham from his 1973 LP 'Spectrum' - people are gonna think I fed the recorder some psychedelic software or something... OK, let's 'fess up about the drums right here - I recorded this after I had hurt my hip and couldn't move much, so the drums are sequenced samples of my neato green Birch Mapex kit and I played the cymbals and hihats as overdubs... this is the first thing I did with the Cubase software that came with my little Roland SP-555 DJ sampler box that has the coolest little built-in theremin which is what I used to do the strange synth solo in the middle - I just spastically waved my hand over the invisible beam and out came the cool melodic minor figures... also listen for the little backwards 'gong dipped in water bucket' samples and little snippets of guitars from my old recordings flipped backwards and slowed down or sped up and such ... they're coming to take me away, ha ha, ho ho, he he, .... ah-hem ... track 14.'Zoot Allures' - Frank Zappa cover from the 1976 LP of the same name - featuring the Eventide Pitch Factor pedal that takes the slide guitar thru the 'Room Full Of Mirrors' and back... yes, the vibes are sequenced sounds from my synths - I get carpal tunnel just thinking about Ruth playing all those fancy parts with mallets on bars. Terry Bozzio's drumming blew my mind when I saw Zappa live in '79 or so, and I wanted to learn his unusual approach deeper back in my drummer days, so this was a chance to put my spin on Terry's flourishes and to indulge my desire to feature my shiny new sizzle cymbal to make the hairs stand up on the back of the speaker's neck. Frank's harmony sense was the direct cause of my turntable's demise as I was constantly dropping the needle in an attempt to locate the 'mystery note' in those crazy chord changes! Many a guitar shop customer has been seranaded with this tune as it is one of my first choices when evaluating a guitar's appeal. Track 15.'Monkey Hill' - Gov't Mule cover (from their first album 16 years ago) with my new lyrics - you know that story from the daily news... The new lyrics I added are my rant about the 'royal ruling super-rich' and their meat puppets up on Monkey Hill (...uh, I mean Capitol Hill...) who are terminally addicted to debt and deficit spending much like the subject(s) of the original lyrics was/were addicted to opiates - now debt is the new opiate of the political masses. This one features my new pet guitar - a Reverend Flatroc Duo in Halloween Orange with the 'throbbinest' pickups I've ever played and the vocals and organ are going thru everything and then everything else in my FX collection - warbly, maaaannnn..... track 16.'Timeshift' - my instrumental tribute to Duane Allman (the locomotion factor), Dickey Betts (the melodic factor), Berry Oakley (the walking bass from outer space), Jaimoe (the congas), Butch (the left hand), Gregg (the tone and the warmth), Jan Hammer (he never gets props for his creative B3 sounds, voicings and playing), John Abercrombie (some of the more 'outside' jazzy figures...), John Coltrane (the weird diminished harmony things in the breakdown section...) and Miles Davis (the 'So What' chord voicings here and there...Bill Evans gets props, too...). Once again, this project can't decide which way it wants to go, so I went to every corner of the map... wait for it.................. and 'all points in between' ... Hope you all enjoy it and it can find some space in between yer ears in need of seven sorts of stimulation....