Game Changer Story, Part 4 (5-7)

The story of the music on my new album Game Changer now continues, with details of songs five through seven.

   For my next trick, we come to song five, Deep Soul Kiss. This joint is pure Soul Blues, a Slo- Jamm, 50’s style. I wanted to capture the memory of that first romantic slow dance at your very first dance, in the gym, in junior high school. The scratches on those old 45’s that night in the gym made it on there too.  😉
   Inside the studio:  This was one of many times where I had every intention of throwing some “scratch” (practice) vocals and some rough-ideas/guitar solos down, kinda throwaway, to sketch the song structure out.   When recording the slide solo, I couldn’t even hear myself. Engineer Jimmy and I were excited about the statement we could make later with some re-takes and overdubs, on both guitar and re-done vocals, when we came back to Greaseland the next week.
   But……… when I got home to listen to what I’d come up with, each listen reinforced an absolutely wild concept, one that I came to embrace throughout the rest of the album: the first take was so un-self conscious, soulful and unpretentious, so deep, so pure, so sensual, that nothing, no matter how well thought out, could top it.
   Add to that, there are some very personal lyrics. Not used to sharing so much, but yo, this IS a Game Changer.

   It took a minute or two, but Mr. Jimmy came around to recognizing and appreciating the raw starkness of the initial guit-tar and vocal work, all done in one take, and it stayed untouched. Deep Soul Kiss became an instant classic.
   Song six brings us to Hard Times. It has some Hard Slide on it, and some Hard lyrics, directly from some tough times in my life. It was also my chance to pay homage to Latin music I have been exposed to.
   I lived in the Southwest for several years and heard everything from Flamenco to Spanish classical guitar, Mariachi groups with horns and those fat guitarrons, to big band Latin percussion orchestras on the juke boxes of local cantinas.
   Add to that a peculiar performance situation a few years back: my band was playing a restaurant in a casino, and the club was sited for a noise violation. They wanted to keep our scheduled dates, but the use of a full drum kit was out of the question.
    My drummer at the time, Tony Robinson, suggested that he could bring in congas and bongos. We could keep the gigs, keep the beat and play at a quieter level. Innovate, adapt, overcome. It worked, and as we played our regular repertoire with a Latin feel at the casino, I resolved to write a song that would capture that vibe.
   Since he was there when I hatched the song concept, it was only appropriate to have TR come in and do some timbales, congas and Latin groove. He nailed it, of course.
   I also heard guiro, timbales, triangles and a variety of drums and percussion, and it was all achieved on Hard Times.
   One of MANY Secret Weapons on Hard Times was an old lead pipe rescued from the back yard at my Mom and Dad’s place. And, in keeping with the now almost-daily spiritual/coincidental weirdness, the dirt caked inside the pipe made it resonate in PERFECT pitch with the key of the song! The Grease Brothers could only shake their heads, LOL.
   Add a Van Halen slide meltdown at the end and a surprise appearance by my Army Nurse Aunt Martha’s bells she picked up in Egypt, and we have Latin Blues, Bluesman style.
   Song seven, WORK, is one of the standouts on Game Changer, and is near and dear to my heart. It takes me back to a very important stage of my musical development, back in the ’70’s. I was a member of the Gospel Choir at University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, and I played guitar for them.
   I was raised Methodist, kinda low key and not much holy roller involved. I heard good black quartet style music on the radio, like the Fruitland Harmonizers and the Zionaires, and always loved it. I was making the switch from acoustic Blues to electric Blues, and wanted to get used to playing electric in public. Here was my chance to play Gospel at the same time. Cool-Ness.
   We travelled around the Eastern Shore and made appearances in churches and at concerts, and I got to hear some GREAT Gospel singing. I also caught many of the touring Gospel acts of the day, and got to see the Consolers, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Shirley Cesar, the Five Blind Boys of Alabama, and many others. My style of singing was absolutely affected by the soulful music I heard in those days. I kept my ears and eyes open, and learned a lot.
   As mentioned earlier in this Game Changer series, I met my first TLBB rhythm section during those Gospel days, Pipsie and Reesy James. One of my choir friends was Pipsie’s cousin Jasper Handy, who was also a member of the Zionaires, a famous Gospel quartet from Princess Anne, Md. Work was my chance to go back and play tribute to this important part of my musical make up.
   Studio info:   I reached out to Jasper about appearing on my Gospel song, and he was happy to help. He brought in the vocalists of the Zionaires to sing the real deal. Jasper, Terrell Taylor and C. Thomas Kellam sang great, solid, amazingly tight harmonies, and when I asked for a Dixie Hummingbird’s vibe, Thomas just KILLED IT! On the spot I nicknamed him Ice PICK!
  Thanks so much to my brothers, the Zionaires. If you ever get a chance to see them live, by all means, please do. Great vocalists, great men, and dear friends of mine.
  For the record, when I pray, every day, I mostly say Thank You for all of the blessings in my life. When I do need something, I do not ask for any miracles or free stuff. I am a workaholic, I like to work, and am quite willing to work for what I need. That is the message of this song: “show me the way Lord, and I’ll do the work.”
   Stay tuned for the next installment of the Game Changer Story- it get’s real an-er-stin!  😉
1311 Zionaires w  TL sang!

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