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Horns Are On The Way!

Big news in the world of my new album. Tonight, my producer Adam and I met with our next key player. I am thrilled, honored and blessed to announce who will be contributing the horns to my record: Larry O. Williams and Rahmlee Davis . I invite you to check out their websites! The two of them bring a whole new musical level to the proceedings and they will be featured on four of my new songs. Between Mr. Williams and Mr. Davis, they have performed and/or recorded with some of my all-time favorites: the Gap Band, Little Richard, Phil Collins and Earth, Wind & Fire. I am so thankful. Meeting Larry was extraordinarily cool and I get the sense that he and Rahmlee are going to have some fun putting down the sax and trumpet parts, respectively. The dates will be within the next week, which accelerates our production. Adam and I anticipate having all of the recording done by or around Jan. 1, which puts me back on track for an early February release. We also have confirmed our masterin

Mixing It Up

Adam Marsland and I had a productive mixing session on Monday at the studio. We cranked through preliminary mixes for five of the new cuts on the album. This was mainly to mold the dough. We still have a few more sessions to add vocal filigree; percussion and lastly HORNS! I am very excited about our prospects for horn players. Two very respected men are on our sonar/radar for participating. Can't tell you yet, but suffice to say, they both appear on several of my favorite recordings from back in the day. The album is simmering, just got to get that extra spice in there. Been listening to plenty of new music as this week my preliminary Grammy ballot is due. The award categories were restructured so it feels there are fewer entries than in years past. Anyway, I have my favorites. Perhaps this will be the Beastie Boys' year. I picked up the new Tom Waits' LP, Bad As Me . Actually bought the vinyl version at Amoeba which included a copy of the CD. Smart marketing, the album

Shameless

That is my producer Adam's new one word review of the work we have wrought so far at Karma Frog. Shameless like Black Eyed Peas. Shameless like Culture Club. Shameless like Chic. I'm-a take it. I don't know if I could make an earnest album. In fact, most of my favorite records are shameless. Tom Waits may not be pop but he isn't ponderous. The second word that comes to mind with these sessions is fun. I am making the album I want to listen to, that I want to dance to and this has been an utterly joyful experience and I think you'll be able to hear it in every performance. Last night was a night of harmony. Literally. One of my favorite recording sessions ever. I got to work voice-to-voice with the Ladies of Chaos, Teresa Cowles and the inimitable Evie Sands , on three part harmonies for five tracks on the new record. In this context, I was the weak link; but better that. As I figured, Adam and the three of us put down sweet vox. We started with the album's big

Cruising Toward Albumdom

Today, we wrapped guitar parts for the LP. Bryan Farrar added his rock and roll axe to "Supermodels With Gatling Gun." He also put down wah-wah tracks for the album closer "A Miracle Is On The Way" and the ballad "Our Love Is Known By Name." While we were listening to playback of "Miracle" I kept thinking about how much fun this record will be for dancing. Last week, we passed the 100 hour mark in studio time. I looked back at the notes on my lyric sheets and saw that it was four months ago today that I arrived at the rearrangement of "Miracle." Time has flown; but this has truly been the most fun and satisfying album recording experience for me yet. Matched only by the session for the single of "A Talent For Loving" at Monnow Valley. My producer Adam said that their are moments that the record channels everything good about 1979. I'll take that. On facebook, I put up a post asking, "Who has roller skates?" It&

Lead Vocals Reach Logical Conclusion

Soul Citizens, today marked the end of the principal recording of lead vocals for my new album. Wow, it took a little under three hours to get good takes for the last three sides. The songs I sang are "She's My Go To," "A Miracle Is On The Way" and "Saffron Dancer." Lots of disco/dance going on. The basic tracks are stunning and the studio was a particularly conducive setting this afternoon. That made getting the work done a lot of fun. I thank God that I got through all of the principal vocals without being sick once or having an laryngitis issues, etc. And yes, that has usually happened in the past. We passed 100 hours of studio time for this album, but Adam has kept me on target and we have maximized the time. This coming week, we have sessions with Bryan Farrar who will supply lead guitar parts on a few more tracks. Then we bring in the backing vocalists (the Ladies) and this is something that will be a thrill. Adam is brilliant at arranging voca

Relive The 5 Towers

More video has been posted to YouTube from Saturday's supersonic soul show at the 5 Towers on CityWalk. Check it out: The show stopping U Had The $ . The show closing A Talent For Loving . More to come. Enjoy these and get up off that chair and dance.

Epic Show At 5 Towers [Show Recap]

Salutations, Soul Citizens. Last night's show at the 5 Towers on Universal CityWalk was simply epic. The stage was dazzling, the audience was beautiful and the band was jumping! I'm so grateful for every opportunity to entertain the masses and there were many hundreds of people at this show. Did I mention the band. They were tight and the mood was joyful. It helped that the sound crew for the 5 Towers were handling biz expertly. We started the show with Fall Out . It was nice to be able to make an entrance at the top of the show. Adam Beesley, the MC, did a fab job of the introduction. But we came out amps ablazin'. From the top of the show, the energy was tremendous. Bryan's playing last night was on point and he kicked off our second number, Everyone's Ingenue . His guitar work was so much fun; and since I didn't play bass, I really got to watch and hear what he was doing. Omar D. Brancato, who handled the low end strings, was also a marvel. He was all ove

My Five Favorite LP Covers

Once upon a time, when you bought recorded music, it came in cardboard packaging measuring 12 inches by 12 inches. This was the main advertisement for the record. On the front side of an LP would be a posed shot of the artist. The back would feature the track listing, maybe another photo or lyrics. With the advent of files for music, the art of the cover has been minimized, although you can still find strong examples of elaborate record sleeves. Here is a rundown of my five favorite LP covers of all time. I only own three of them on vinyl, but these represent my faves. Not even necessarily the most famous sleeves for each of these artists, but arguments could be made for their iconic stature. Interestingly all five feature the artist and are not abstracts. They are all photographs. Each one is super-evocative of the music inside and the stature of the musicians. The performers themselves may have had little to do with the choice or composition of the art; but each makes for great vi

Sophisticated Soloing

Good Evening, Soul Citizens. Lots of music going on in my world right now. Last night I got to sit in, or rather stand and boogie, with Adam Marsland's Chaos Band for their 2 Nights of 100 Songs at Cinema. The numbers started with Sly Stone's "Hot Fun In The Summertime." I got to sing Sly's parts, righteous. That song was particularly a propos with the heat we've had this week. We followed that with renditions of the Bee Gees' "Jive Talkin'" and "Stayin' Alive" which featured dueling falsettos between Adam and myself. Always fun (hot or otherwise) to get people dancing. Next Saturday's show will be more of the same. Only one cover though. I'm gonna use my own material to get y'all to groove. We rehearse tomorrow night, so we are going to hone the funk. The show overall was a blast. Adam and his group were in good form and I just love Rob Z, Erik Herrera, Brian Whelan, Aimee Lay, Mike Schnee and Dan Janisch whe

Ferocious Show at IPO 8/4/11

Last night's gig at Molly Malone's for IPO was a barn-burner. The band (Bryan Farrar on guitar; Matt Soule on drums) was on fiyah! The room sounded really good thanks to a super sound man, Chris. Of course, I have to thank everyone who was in attendance and the organizer of the the festival, David Bash. I have been associated with International Pop Overthrow since its inception in '98, with a few years off from '02-'04, I think. But it has been a great way to reach music fans of all stripes and last night was no different. We brought the funk, soul and disco to the party. The lineup included some fun co-headliners: Resonant Heads, Morty Shallman. Everyone there seemed to enjoy all of the acts, chalk that up to Mr. Bash's adept curating of the event. I was particularly pleased with my vocals. Being in the studio has helped me hone in on using my voice properly, rather than the usual show belting and hollerin' I've done in the past. Don't get me wr

Tales from Karma Frog: Recording Update

Another productive recording day at Karma Frog on Monday. I tracked the master vocals for four songs for the new record. I was very pleased with the performances. My producer Adam, was very supportive and gave me some good coaching along the way. One of the numbers required channeling a bit of James Brown and Barry Gibb simultaneously. That means really getting loose. Like I said, I am thrilled with the results. Preliminary mixes are the business of the next two weeks. We are well on our way with a remake of "Supermodels With Gatling Guns" and one of my collaborations with Bryan Farrar, which Adam is now thinking might make a great single. Plus, Adam threw a whole bunch of Hammond organ onto a handful of tracks. Welcome to 1975. The other vocals were for the LP's title track, and another big ballad that will take a sonic journey to my sophomore year of high school. Fortunately, the heat didn't bear down on us in the studio, until we took our breaks outside. It was a

July 25 Session Update

This was one of those days where, by God, I got to be a musician nearly every waking hour. I haven't had a day like this in years. And the stress was minimal. Normally, I can be very tough on myself when it comes to recording my voice. I am learning to accept what my voice can and can longer do. It helps to have a supportive producer, who pushes in the right direction. Today, we got master vocals done for three of the new tracks for the upcoming LP. We started with a ballad, so I eased into the process. I was quite happy after a half-dozen takes, I was getting the right feel for the song.This is the first time in years that I've put down a vocal for a song that I haven't performed live with a band. No preconception of the vocal, which was refreshing. The second song, however, was a remake of Supermodels With Gatling Guns . That presented some problems as I usually belt that one out live, but it usually includes an array of rock and roll (i.e. "bum") notes. So i

On The Rebound

In many ways. It has been nearly a month since my last blog, but the album progresses. Last night, I put down the last of the bass tracks for the new LP at Karma Frog, spending most of my time with On The Rebound. Rebound is one of a handful of collaborations with Bryan Farrar that have made it through the sessions. I was able to give it a pretty loose funky performance. My producer Adam has been busy contributing loads of synthesizer, keyboard and guitar tracks. Bryan, my longtime guitarist, will be coming in during August to supply solos. Speaking of Adam's handiwork, his piano playing on two tracks in particular, Huckleberry Finn and Y our Majestic Rejection are stunning. I took a 24 hour road trip to LV last weekend, dropped off an aunt/saw the Beatles' LOVE. But on the way, I had a demo disc to listen to and by God, I could not stop listening to those two tracks as I drove through the desert. Surprising because Finn is about life in the Mississippi, I'm no wher

Low End Theory

Hey Soul Mates, spent the last two days at Karma Frog Studios with my producer Adam. I put down bass tracks on five of the new songs. We decided that the first takes on two songs that were pre-tracked were solid enough for release. So that brings us to seven done as far as the low end goes. It was exciting putting down the bass riff for "So Sophisticated." Adam gave me time to be creative in the studio, while keeping focused on the grooves. The second song we worked on today was a bit more challenging. The song has been so dramatically rearranged, and put into a different key, that I was exhausted by the time we wrapped. I may want to revisit that track, but we'll see how it sounds to my ears in a week. That leaves three songs for bass. In the meantime, Adam has been tracking piano parts. Some of them are incredibly evocative. You are going to be amazed by his handiwork. One song is going "sans drums" for the time being, so I'm looking forward to what Adam

The First Twenty Years

This week, June 1 precisely, marked the 20th anniversary of my arrival in Los Angeles. Hard to fathom, so much time has passed. There were plenty of times I felt like packing up and returning East, but I never did and I am thankful I made a go of it. I have had a fulfilling musical career thus far, and I haven't even peaked! June 1 turned out to be a big day in music history as the legendary David Ruffin passed from an overdose. I didn't hear about it for a few days after the fact. I arrived from Florida via Orlando and Memphis. The drive from LAX to Pasadena was sensory overload. A special thanks to my friend Cara and her family for giving me an opportunity/start in Tinsel Town. The first 10 years were full of fits and starts. It truly took 15 years to figure out what I was doing and how to write a decent song. I have played with several amazing bands and iterations thereof. I've collaborated with some very creative people. Been able to play all of the famous clubs in

Fourteen Is The Magic Number

Yesterday, I read an op-ed in the NY Times that mentioned Bob Dylan's 70th birthday was Tuesday. The author felt there was a musical and cultural significance to his age. He mentioned other musicians hitting that mark this year including John Lennon. The gist of his article was that these cats all turned 14 when Elvis was at his zenith. He also mentioned that Sinatra and Billie Holiday were 14 when Rudy Vallee became the first true recording star; and that Vallee hit that age as Scott Joplin's rags were the hottest contemporary songs. When we turn 14 we are at the beginning of adulthood and developing our own tastes. Or at least acknowledging popular trends. So, I thought about my own 14th birthday in relation to the Hit Parade. In no time flat I rattled off 10 songs that are a permanent part of my cerebral fabric. Of songs released in my lifetime, 5 of these songs from 1983 rank among the most exciting pieces of music in my mind. I quickly created an iTunes playlist of 60+ so

5 Years

Good morning, Soul Mates. Today is the five year anniversary of Rush Hour Soul's tour of the UK. We took off from LAX on the 24 th , spent an entire day air-traveling. When we landed in London on May 25, we hopped right into our magic Peugeot and drove several hours to Sheffield. There, the home of ABC, we made our European debut at the D'n'R Live, thanks to Hayley Nelson and the Seaweed Biscuit fans. We shared the bill with fellow Americans, Locksley , a power pop combo who have gained a decent level of notoriety in Asia. That opening night show was the beginning of a golden fortnight in the UK. Our travels took us further " oop north" with a clutch of shows in Liverpool, York, Huddersfield and Barnsley . The audiences really took to us and welcomed us. Of course, the band had fun recording in Wales at Monnow Valley Studio, visiting Stonehenge, touring the Abbey Road Studios and filming the video for "A Talent For Loving" with director Will Archer

Norman Kelsey's Second Album Journal Vol. 4

Well, here we go, Soul Mates. This new album has a bedrock. Today, we completed the drum tracking with Kevin Jarvis at Karma Frog. In about 4 hours we polished off 4 tracks, including a remake of "Our Love Is Known By Name." I'm truly excited, so much that I hardly know where to start. OK, we began the day with "Rebound." This is one of my collaborations with Bryan Farrar. In fact, all three of the new cuts we tracked were co-written with Bryan. He handles the chords, I supply the melody and lyrics. Kevin did not require many takes to get a master take down. My producer, Adam Marsland, has really directed some fine performances on this record. I think the first takes on all of the sides were solid. "Rebound" is cut from that 70's pop-funk cloth and even though the arrangement is not particularly conventional, it should be a fun one for shouting and singing along. "A Miracle Is On The Way" came next and it is disco-ness lead to a conver

Dropping Science at Karma Frog

Hey Soul Mates, we had a productive pretracking session last night that crossed over into today. No rapture, so Adam and I kept going. Three tracks were tackled for Monday's recording date with Kevin Jarvis on drums. All of them are collaborative works with my songwriting partner Bryan Farrar (formerly of Rush Hour Soul, currently of Hypnogaja ). The first, entitled "Rebound," I consider the musical sequel to " Down By Love ." It's got Bryan's trademarks; fun chord changes, a well-placed bridge and soulful melodic solo. As a collaborator, he gives me a good palette to work with and lots of freedom to build my own melody and lyrical theme. Then we worked on "A Miracle Is On The Way." "Miracle" received the workout the other night, when I rearranged it and hit a good formula to present one of my strongest hooks. Finally, Adam and I fleshed out "So Sophisticated." This was the track I originally heard in my head as being t

Life Along The Mississippi

Hey Soul Mates, this has been a nice musical week. Started with Monday and a live performance for the Wesley School kids. My new song "Huckleberry Finn" got its world premiere at my church where I volunteer for the school chapel there. The audience (K-8) can be demanding, but their applause was loud after I sang. Pastor Joey dovetailed the song's topic and setting into the Monday morning prayer in nicely; reminding the kids to pray for the unfortunate souls who live in the towns threatened by the Mississippi River. Then, last night, I had a major breakthrough on the tenth and final composition for my new album. It's a dance piece called "A Miracle Is On The Way." In preparation for tomorrow night's pre-tracking session, it occurred to me that the arrangement wasn't quite right and the 7th/minor chords in the verses weren't working. So I dusted off the old drum machine to get a beat and I completely rearranged the song. When I was finished, I kn

IPO LA Booked for Aug. 4

Just announced, IPO Festival Los Angeles 2011. The line-up for this year's event is really cool. This will be my only solo appearance before my LP is completed. However, I will be playing material from the new album. Don't miss it. Thursday, August 4 @ Molly Malone's 575 S. Fairfax Ave. L.A. 323-935-1577 $10 7:30 Aaron Durr 8:15 Brandon Schott 9:00 Morty Shallman 9:45 Norman Kelsey 10:30 The Resonant Heads 11:15 Math & Science Pretend Band

The Rockwell Is Back

Hey Soul Mates, It has been nearly a year since I gave up on Blogger. But I am back. I was in Bangkok 12 months ago when things went haywire with my blogs and posting. Hard to believe. And it has been 3 years since the release of A Talent For Loving . More nostalgically, this month marks the fifth anniversary of my first tour of the UK with Rush Hour Soul. Gadzooks, where does the time go? I reread the postings specifically from the first half of 2006. All of that optimism and open road. That was a grand time, but the dream was deferred. Now with a new LP on the horizon and a return to England in 2012 in the works, I felt it was time to put energy back into the blog, my website and my career in general. The new LP will be exciting. Half of it is material that began life as Rush Hour Soul faded, the rest is all new compositions. The older songs never got their due. Some were live favorites that went unrecorded or were recorded with meager budgets/means. The new tunes speak to where m

Norman Kelsey's Second Album Journal Vol. 3

Hey Soul Mates, remember that salutation? Well, the soul was in full effect at Karma Frog yesterday. So was the Spirit. We had Kevin Jarvis (Lucinda Williams, John Wesley Harding, Grant Lee Phillips) on the drums for the session. There were three songs on the agenda and I arrived as the first take was rolling. The first tune, called "She's My Go To" is a strong candidate for lead single. The groove was impeccable and Kevin gave it a Kid Creole flavor with the tome to go along with the dance beat it already possessed. I wouldn't have thought of that choice, but that's why I'm the singer. It was exciting to hear the rhythm come to life. Adam supplied the bass, the first time I have relinquished my Fender Jazz to another's magic fingers. Sometimes, I think Adam is just the palest black dude I know. He is fonky. Next, we worked on my tribute to Sam Clemens and the Staple Singers. And you thought the Twain would never meet, Yount! Anyway, "Huckleberry Fin

Norman Kelsey's Second Album Journal Vol. 2

Hey Soul Mates, back to the lab at Karma Frog tonight. We pre-tracked a few new songs. The first two got knocked out pretty quickly. It helps when I have a clear vision of what I want a song to say or do. And these are brand new tunes. Never heard before by anyone other than the few people involved in the project and Mom and the Missus. I think they are going to translate well, under Adam's direction. Thank goodness, Adam is patient with me. By the end of the session, the third song, I was running on fumes. I rearranged the song a few days ago and as a result threw out half of the lyrics and rewrote the hook. After Adam figured out what the heck kind of beat I was looking for and I put down the scratch vocal, we were in the clear. These tracks are being prepped for our next drum session on Monday with Kevin Jarvis. The songs are quite varied: a jaunty Southern Soul song; a big old ballad; and the third, which will be Disco-riffic for your dancing pleasure. On Tuesday night, I h