Sunday, July 26, 2009

These Days

It's only been a little bit ago but it seems like a long while. I was living up above Chateau Marmont in the hollywood hills. Getting around Los Angeles as best I could. I lucked out and found one of the finest Ozark hillbilly guitar pickers masqueradeing as a punk rock bass player in the Circle Jerks. Yeah, Zander's a full on trip. He lives up to any myths or rumors you might of heard. I grew up around ornery old flat pickers and never wanted a damned thing to do with it. I was like "fuck a bunch of bluegrass." When I was cutting my teeth, first chance I got I ran off down to Atlanta from Carolina and got on some rap tracks. 'Bout as far away from "Good Ol' Rocky Top" as I could get, which suited me just fine. The scene in Atlanta was thick with Goody Mob and a young OutKast. Killer R&B.

Anyways, I'd been out west for a minute and was beginning to get nostalgic if not homesick for sweet tea and fish & grits. I discovered people out there were digging the way I talked though. Especially girls. So being homesick and finding new approval and appreciation for a vernacular I couldn't seem to shake, I found myself pickin' & singing songs that Ol' Mountain John would be proud of. Right there in the middle of LA Zander and I got busy getting our twang on. He's hillbilly as a split rail fence too. One night he gathered a motley crew of players and we went to he buddy Stefan's loft studio in down town LA to lay down some tracks. Stefan's a Jersy imagrant with a thick accent of his own. 'Bout the third thing he'll say to a girl is "I like ya shews..." On drums he got this Russian, Alexander Gudenoff- On guitar rone, Juan Hernandez, from a working mariachi band with a white straw cowboy hat and mustache, hencho Mexico. The russian had a couple girls in tow and Juan brought his pittbull. One of the girls was wearing a gold lame top and brown bellbottom slacks. The other had on a sheer gray jump suit with green panties and orange ankle boots.

We all met in the alley outside Stefan's building, introduced our selves, grabbed up our instruments and piled in the freight elevator. The ride up was interesting. Juan's bulldog walked across the elevator and buried his head in the girl with the jump suit's ass and she just squatted and used his head like a stool. The other girl looked and smiled, Juan was expressionless and said nothing to his dog.

The russian played a kit Stefan had already miced up. As we were unpacking guitars and tuning up he started playing a slow soulful waltz. I figured it was some Slavic type of thing, then I heard him humming the melody to "So Lonesome I Could Cry". Zander walked across the room pickin' out the melody, I grabbed a chord and Juan fell in with his guitar rone cinched up under his chin. Right off the bat it was a fierce jug band jangle. Kick- high hat- snare- the russian had bad ass swing and Juan was tight and specific and primitive. We played a couple tunes and then went over the arrangement for "The Bleeding Song". We played it down one time and that's the recording. The Russian did overdub the spoons while the girl in the gold lame top was running her fingers through his hair. Then we did "Six Weeks In A Motel".
Those recordings are Lo-Fi as hell and not even mixed. Just what was on the board to do the session. They're pretty cool though 'cause they sound like what they are. I mean that was quite a scene that night with those characters and that bulldog up in Stefan's loft, down town LA, mannequins hangin' on the wall, Christmas lights draped about the place and those damned girls... Hell, Gary Katz gets a kick out of "The Bleeding Song".

Anyways, I take a couple of mixes with me and send them off to some folks. Not more than a day or so later I get a phone call from a guy I'd met at a craps table in Vegas. He says "Boo Ray, We love that music! What're you doing tomorrow? I'm sending you a plane ticket and'll pick up in Nashville." He's got a publishing company and they manage a successful singer. So I get to Nashville and these guys show me the town. We go down on Broadway and they throw me up on stage at Tootsies with some of their friends and down the block again at Legends. We're having a ball and end up the night at this joint called "Looser's". We walk in and don't get half way across the floor when this big corn fed motherfucker on the mic says "motherfuckin' Boo Ray! Get your ass over here boy!" It's my long time friend Jared. He throws me a guitar and busts into "Ooo That Smell" and plays song after song and won't let me off the stage. We finally take a break. Now Jared's pretty smooth and likes to hear girls sing, so he turns the mic over to this redhead girl and she gets up there singin' and just brings the place to it's knees. I mean she sounded so fucking good, we're all laughing about it and beside ourselves. She's got this beautiful Louisiana accent and plays and sings her ass off. I'm struck right there in my boots.

Then, in walks Two Foot Fred from Big & Rich flanked by two vixens. The scene was so thick I had to pinch myself to make sure it was real. The red headed girl sings a few more to our delight and then I jump up and join her on Angel From Montgomery. We're instant friends. Jared takes us all deep into the night and we all sing and carry on 'till 4am.

I get back to LA a couple of days later and sit down that evening at a table looking out a 70' wide wall of glass over all of Los Angeles. Santa Monica and the ocean to the west and all the way down sunset boulevard to my left, downtown LA and Dodger Stadium miles away. I'm reeling about this trip to Nashville and just want to sing with this girl again. I watch the sun go down and the lights begin to flicker as as my heart drowns out there over LA. The stars in the sky are like a reflection of the lights swimming in the city of Los Angeles.

That night I wrote "These Days" and put it down on a little four track. I sent an mp3 of it off to the red headed girl. She sent it back the next day with her vocal on it and I spent another night drowning over LA while I listened to her sing that song over and over again all night long. That's the acoustic record's been up on the web page. We recut that song with "Q" a cool producer in Atlanta and it's on my new album which which will be released in October '09.

The red head is Jodi James and we've become good friends and still make music together. She's a great singer and song writer. Her song "I don't live Here Any More" just get's all the way to me. "Josephine" 's killer too... And then "Crazy Sometimes"...stops me dead in my tracks. She just sounds great. I always keep an ear out for Jodi James.

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