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Showing posts from May, 2011

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+ son

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 i

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 conversat

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 the

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 knew

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 my h

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 Finn

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 had t