The vision for this project developed out of a determination to grow musically by taking on the most difficult task of all: to make music that I like and that could be a source of personal pride. During years of creating bespoke music for Radio and TV commercials I learned of course to collaborate with others more talented than I and I’ve certainly done that here. The set list is diverse but I hope I’ve shown my devotion to roots music and it’s practitioners, including the ones I’ve been lucky enough to perform and/or record with back in the day. I tell my Berklee students that music is a journey, not a destination. My journey so far hasn’t exactly been the shortest distance between two points, so it’s time to get busy!
For those who follow these things, my guitar heroes include Robert Johnson, Pop Staples, Steve Cropper, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Johnny Guitar Watson, Freddy King and so many more.
Here are some thoughts about the songs:
Whatever I’m Doing grew out of an idea supplied by Adam Smirnoff, and a creative partnership between the amazing Melissa Bolling, bass-man Lenny Bradford and me during our years long Sunday night residency at the Barking Crab Restaurant in Boston. Lydia Harrell’s vocals on Whatever are scary good, she should be in the dictionary next to “the real thing”. I am unworthy but lucky. 🙂
Pouring Water on a Downing Man has been on my list since Willie Murphy turned me on to James Carr way back in the day. Grateful to the freakishly talented Chris Cote, definitely one of the only living humans on earth who can do this song justice. Hope your walls are freshly painted.
Gimme A Break is an ode to the music of my misspent youth. I miss it.
Do Unto was also written in the good old Barking Crab days by our trio, Melissa, Lenny and me. Melissa sings like an angel and World-Class Mark Walker does righteous bodily harmony to the drums.
Cold Shot – Ok I know I have no right. I would never have the nerve to sing if it weren’t for the urging of my Godfather, David Mash. Blame him! Big thanks to Trumpet and Trombone star Izzi Guzman, who showed up in my Logic Pro class at Berklee and shined like a light.
Why Get Up features the team of Fred and Gail – Talent, brilliance, and coolness.; The king and queen of old school R & B around here.
Natural Ball is a tune I’ve been wanting to do since I first heard Billy Briggs do it in a bar in Cambridge in days of yore, and later of course Albert King. Jesse Williams is fire on this tune.
Back Into Life is a creative collaboration featuring the gifted Aleena Solomon who wrote lyrics to celebrate the post-Covid emergence from the cocoon.
Thank you Bruce Nifong for sharing your prodigious talent all over this thing. Thank you to Chris Rival for weighing in on the mixes just in time.
One final note. I couldn’t have done this work without the friendship and leadership of David Mash. I’m grateful. Just sayin’, Peter Bell