The band behind this track...
The band behind this track… I could talk about this band all night. .. every one of these guys (are).. modern day masters … they represent on a level that very few artists are able to inhabit these days: a spiritually evolved place .. where music is still live… vibrations.. air moving through space, .. harmonics that sway the architecture .. old school soul stuff… elegant , refined … powerful and uplifting … magic sounding stuff … that’s what these guys are made of . It’s a line up like someone in New Orleans would dream up at closing time, only to say ..”you must be drunk .you could never get all those guys together for a record.” Well here we are. Sometimes It’s better to be lucky than smart.
It started with the song. I just kept coming back to the groove every day . It was really stuck in my head. The feel and the story started coming together and I realized … I had been playing it down for couple of months and not only was I not tired of it ..It just sounded better and better to me. So I picked up the phone and I called Shannon Powell. Everybody knows he's the man. as a drummer hes such a lyrical stylist so versatile hes a clearing house of funk and one of the best musical directors in the city.
I really didn’t know what to say to him at first except I knew he was the right guy If I could get him on board somehow.. then everything else would fit together down the line . I really felt this . I told him “ I got this song “ I said “ its real simple 3 chords” I said “I wanna cut it over at Studio in the Country and I think I told him I wanted a Pop Staples .. Junior Walker kinda thing “ .. I remember he said “Who’s in the band?” and I said “well right now its just me and you….” we laughed.
Grant Green Jr. and I knew each other from New York in the eighties. That was a deep scene. So many talented people crossing over musically at that time .. very creative period .. very cool Grant was down with all the cats from the Black Rock Coalition : Living Colour , the (Expensive) Winos We had a lot of mutual friends and we would hang out at the XR Bar (Crossroads) back in the John Campbell days. All these years later you have to say we are survivors for sure and working with him now its so meaningful He came down from Atlanta (where he lives now) a couple of days early to help with the arrangement and get sounds
I heard about Ike Stubblefield before I ever had a chance to hear him live. Friends of mine were goin to see him for a while..One night a few years back I happened into Grant on Frenchman Street It had been such a long time..It felt great to run into him.. He says “come upstairs at Blue Nile Im playing with Ike”. I said Ike Stubblefield.? he said yea . so I did. That gig was teleportational. mindblowing part organ trio part sonic wormhole
I wish every kid with a musical dream in this city could have been there that night .. what a lesson they would have learned .. its never about the volume .. volume is a function .. not a goal .. its about listening and hearing .. The way Ike probes a room .. he searches through its frequencies.. and exposes its harmonic resonance seizing it seducing it exploiting it bending it its about texture and nuance and dynamic range He’s like an alchemist from another age coaxing solid objects to tremble and liquify. For real. Never miss a chance to see him live especially if Grant is on guitar. They play with a singlemindedness of soul. I still think about that gig. ..
I told Shannon I was gonna leave the bass player up to him. I had been so long off the music scene I didn’t know anyone and I really didn’t have anyone in mind. I could hear the parts in my head though .. it was so just a roots thing ..very rudimentary.. I wanted a lilting .. lyrical quality.. but it had to be fat . I told Shannon “ its just such a simple idea… don’t ask some really sophisticated jazz cat, cause Im afraid they might get bored with something like this really quick”. Plus I was pretty rusty, and I explained to him I needed someone who could bear with me if I needed some extra takes,. He never hesitated .. “You want Chris” he said, “Chris Severin”. When you google Chris Severin, prepare to be overwhelmed. Some people have no idea the depth of this guy. He has been a central part of so many important things. He is a master bassist. It was a great privilege to work with him. He is a truly gracious cat and a class act. He’s out there making a difference in peoples lives on a daily basis as an artist and and educator. Thanks Chris for being there for me.
I’d like to thank our engineer Jay Wesley for all the cool things he did do make us sound so good out there at Studio In the Country. I knew about this place since I was a kid. Lots of great records came outta this room. Its kinda like a time tunnel back to the seventies. There’s a vibe, a flavor in that room it was the right place for us. Also Jay is a great drummer I wanna thank him and Evan Jones (who assisted in the booth) for being my rhythm section in rehearsals. You guys were awesome.
Introducing Grant to Shannon and Chris was real moment for everyone. Hard to believe they had never played together before this. We went to work We started about 10 in the morning and we ran it a few times with a chart .. but the chart wasn’t happening,… so we ditched it …. we took a break for lunch and came back we just just grooved it for a while and let it relax .. there’s added bars and beats, like in a lot of my stuff…it takes a while to feel the ins and outs…..around mid afternoon we did a long take…. I said, “ lets just go to the top and I’ll cue the changes best I can … I was doing a guide vocal anyway .. I knew I was gonna re-sing it because of the accordion bleed ….. that take grooved big time … and the ending was perfect…real church…… it was around 4 in the afternoon I knew we had it then the edits would be easy because the tempo was so tight.
I love the final mix by Mike Napolitano . He has been a good friend of mine for a long time. He’s a musician as well and played with Cyril Neville’s band back in the day. We met in nyc in the early 90’s when he built out a room on Crosby street for Reny Lopez..He mixed the Dobbs Ferry record for Loup Garou here in New Orleans .. that was 2001… and we’ve been close ever since .. we are neighbors now and his home studio is amazing .. we did the backup singing and post stuff there ..I’ve been around this business for forty years and only met a couple of other people with ears like his. He’s a perfectionist and you need that …. also he recommended Bruce Barielle who did the mastering…..thanks Bruce for a great job. Hope to have some more songs for you this year.
This brings me to Nyo. Nyo Jones. This lady she has “it”… star quality … she’s an artist you will be hearing from in the future… Once again thanks to Shannon for bringing her in.. I love the way she sounds.. I’d love to do something else with her down the road
And a shout out to Alex Ehbert. Thank you for letting me use your vocal rig at Piety St. you rock .
special thanks to my very talented partner Sarah Borealis who took time from her busy production schedule to help with this session and all that went into it .. and that’s alot….including introducing me to Shannon back when I first got here . She’s made big differences like that in my life and I am truly grateful for her continued love and support all these years.
Thanks to publicist extraordinaire Laura Tennyson for helping pull together all the loose ends and for all her expert media consultation and PR work . Check her out at LuraBelleProductions.com
Thanks to Matthew Foreman for his killer technical skills and really great Art Direction. Check him out at MattForemanArt.com