Thursday, May 21, 2015

On Tour In The UK With Pacific Soul Ltd. #6

Leaving London this afternoon following a successful fortnight of musical adventures. Pacific Soul Ltd. had a nice run of shows from North to South. I enjoyed each show. They were all gratifying and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to return to the UK to perform.
Cavern Pub made for a superb warmup/introduction for the band and for playing with Jon. We were in good hands with his steady beat. What a profoundly cool person and top musician.
The Cavern Club show was a barn burner. The energy and the audience were on point. The most fun I've had playing there yet. Thanks, IPO!
Our gig at the Jacaranda was a welcome surprise. Getting to play on a true relic of the Beatles' halcyon days was indescribable. So I won't try. Our harmonies were tight at the Jac.
Rolling out to Bradford was an Amazing Race. Driving on the right side of the car/left side of the road on a bit of a Magical Mystery Tour. Ate some good curry up there. The audio difficulties we had were countered by the good times we had with old and new friends.
While we were in Liverpool, I picked up some new vintage clothes. Always looking for cool vintage clothes to wear on stage, especially the British-type. Fab gear. I also found a couple of record shops and tea houses throughout the tour that added to the fun.
Croydon was the next stop and that show felt almost like a homecoming with Peter opening for us and a great vibe/sound in the room. Also, you have to love any venue that will do tea during a rock show.
Our gig at Medway required a little travel via train. Two big highlights of the trip occurred. I spotted and possibly scared Pulp's Jarvis Cocker in St. Pancras Station when I clearly recognized him and gawked like a superfan. Second, when the highspeed train pulls into Richmond you see a ruined Castle! Then the show was 2 hours of raucousness, soul and harmonies. PSL makes that a thing.
To wrap up my run, after more afternoon teas than an episode of Downton Abbey, we hoofed out toward Highbury for our set at 12 Bar. 12 Bar were wonderful hosts in an eclectic venue that looked like an electric church thrust into a split-level concert hall. Surreal.
My favorite moments consistently in the shows were the performances of "Your Majestic Rejection"/"Portland." Close runners up would be anytime Adam, Teresa and I sang harmonies; or watching Jon play the drumkit so tastefully.
Time to power down the phone. What a ride. Can't wait to do it again Britain. I have to do this ever time, but thank you family, friends, fans and bandmates. You have all supported me in my continuing recovery and in the pursuit of my dreams. Cool. God is great.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

On Tour In The UK With Pacific Soul Ltd. #5

Fifth day of the tour was split in thirds. The first third was spent at the Liverpool Cathedral. Always interesting to visit churches. I had been before and was looking forward to revisiting the Lady Chapel at the Cathedral, which is a divine space. Said a few prayers. Had lunch there, too.
The second 2/3rds were Beatle-heavy. We did a repeat of the National Trust's tour of the Beatles' Childhood homes. The NT takes you to 20 Forthlin Rd (the former McCartney residence) and 251 Menlove Ave. aka Mendips (where John Lennon was raised). On this tour you are allowed into the homes and are regaled with stories from two expert guides, wife and husband team Sylvia and Colin. Visiting those shrines is moving, inspiring and a marvel. The Beatles lived in Liverpool right up until they broke in the US. They were already famous in the UK, but hadn't fully abandoned there hometown.

From there we went to Strawberry Field. Caught a cab and the driver took us to Penny Lane. And then, we played a mini-set at the Jacaranda. An unexpected addition to our tour dates. The Jac is one of the few remaining small venues that the Beatles actually stood upon to play. And I was there. We were there. Pacific Soul Ltd. performed on the same underground stage as the Silver Beatles (John, Paul, George & Pete). Outstanding. First the Cavern, now the Jac. Thank you, Liverpool.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

On Tour In The UK With Pacific Soul Ltd. #4

Fourth day on the road was a day of rest in Liverpool. We went to check out the Beatles Story museum at Albert Dock. I hadn't been since 2006 and many of the displays had been updated and spruced up. Well worth the revisit. Highlights included George Harrison's first guitar, the Mellotron used by the Beatles on legendary mid-career recordings like the astounding "Strawberry Fields Forever," and George Martin's handwritten tracking notes for the HELP! LP ('me on Hammond'). I am well-versed in Beatles' lore, but seeing their story told through the lens of their hometown is fascinating. After the visit, Jon, Adam and I talked about the band and their impact. Fun conversation. We also wrote some fan mail with Teresa while we had dinner at Leaf. After that the whole party hiked uphill to the Cathedral. It was 9 o'clock and just dusk. Golden light cast over Liverpool. Perfect for pics with this fun company. All for now. Maybe some more music-making tomorrow!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

On Tour In The UK With Pacific Soul Ltd. #3

Friends and fans, what a fantastic experience to be back in Liverpool and playing for you. I didn't know when or if the day would arrive that I would return to the Cavern (or anywhere) to play again. The two Pacific Soul Ltd. sets for IPO were a thrill. It's tremendous to be onstage with such talented people. Jon Braun, Teresa Cowles and Adam Marsland make it really easy. We are playing a potent combination of PSL songs, Adam's and my material.
Adam, Teresa and I trade the spotlight. Which means I can rev up and cool down appropriately during the show to maintain my energy. We are doing the coolest transition from my tune "Your Majestic Rejection" to the acapella intro to Adam's poignant "Portland."

Anyway, here's the link to the PSL page for the set lists. Thanks to everyone who attended yesterday's the shows. It means a lot to me to have you in attendance. I feel blessed to be alive and well enough to be on stage in Great Britain. Love you, Liverpool.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

On Tour In The UK With Pacific Soul Ltd. #2

The second day of the Pacific Soul Ltd. tour is done. First, three of us met up in Glasgow to catch the train down to Liverpool. Glasgow Central is a beautifully gilded station that reminded me I don't take trains enough. It took several hours to get here, but you glide past beautiful Scottish hills and English countryside. Typically, I have driven in the UK, so it's a relief to take it easy and just ride. Of course, we couldn't resist talking about the Beatles and repeating dialogue from "A Hard Days Night."
Once we got to Liverpool, we checked into our hotel just a few blocks from the Cavern Quarter and literally a block from the Jacaranda. The Jac was a club the Silver Beetles played before becoming the Beatles. Our whole band met up there after dinner, including our drummer Jon Braun who arrived today. The Jacaranda staff was very friendly and wanted to know all about PSLtd and of course, we wanted the history. We got a private tour of the basement stage where the Beatles actually performed. It was energizing and inspiring to be in that space. To see the minuscule dressing rooms/alcoves, to see the remaining square foot of the original wall mural and to get a sense of the space as the pre-Fabs would have experienced was special for all four of us and the entire party.
Of course, we have our shows tomorrow at the Cavern Pub (5 pm) and Cavern Club (9:15 pm); but we had a surreal moment being on the Jacaranda stage and singing a few bars of "Our Love Is Known By Name" in 3-part harmony. This journey brings a new surprise every hour... And there may be more shortly. Stay tuned. See you tomorrow, Cavern!

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

On Tour In The UK With Pacific Soul Ltd. #1

The first full day of the tour. No show for me, but plenty of high notes. And plenty of walking.
Glasgow is a very musical city. We started the day with church at the Glasgow Cathedral. The choir is blessed with some amazing voices. Their rendition of Locus Iste was moving. Following that was afternoon tea at the Willow Tea Rooms designed by art nouveau genius Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Never pass up the opportunity to take tea.
A drizzle became a steady rain through the afternoon. Thank goodness for inexpensive taxi cabs. Next stop was the Kelvington Museum. We walked in and their was a recital on their giant pipe organ. A little Bach for all. More music. Highlights here included more of Mackintosh's works and Dali's
"Christ of St. John of the Cross." So much crazy culture, so little time.

Dinner was at Mono Cafe. It's a vegan restaurant that is also home to Monorail Records. That's right, a dream come true. Healthy eats and vinyl! I had "to-fish" and chips with mushy peas for dinner AND bought two 45s; Franz Ferdinand's "Right Action" & Honeyblood's "The Black Cloud" (which came recommended by the staff). Had to support local artists and the local record shop! Thanks for an amazing day, Glasgow. Your people and places are sublime. Can't wait to return. Tomorrow we are on a train for Liverpool.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Let's Get It On - An Appreciation

This appreciation originally appeared on Facebook in the King Tut Vintage Album and Cassette Museum of Jacksonville blog, curated by David Roberts. I have known Mr. Roberts for going on 30 years and he was kind enough to tab me to pen this retrospective of Marvin Gaye's LET'S GET IT ON. The concept of his blog is that the "Museum" houses only LPs released from about 1964 to 1986 and each "delivery" to the Museum gets a reflection by the Curator, King Tut, or in my case, a guest curator.

MARVIN GAYE - LET’S GET IT ON. Released on Tamla Records, August 28 1973. Produced by Marvin Gaye & Ed Townsend. Imagine Berry Gordy is in his Motown office 1971 and he receives a telephone call from his biggest male vocal star, Marvin Gaye calling to pitch an idea for his next album. I think the conversation might have gone something like this. “Hello...? Yes... this, this is Berry... Hi, Marvin! You’re in the studio... Sure... And you’ve got, you’ve got your idea for your next album. Yep, you’re our star...Our biggest star... You want, you want to sing about what... The economy? Whew. I though you said ‘the ecology.’ Oh, you did... And the economy... Well... Mar, Marvin... Well, I don’t know if your fans want to hear you sing about---... Yes, you can do what you want... Yes, yep, ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ was Number One... for 7 weeks... And you want to sing about the war? The war!? That war?... Marvin, just tell me there are going to be love songs on this LP... Lo-lo-love songs... You know like... ‘Too Busy Thinkin’ Bout My Baby’ or, or, or ‘How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You?’... ‘God Is Love.’ ... That’s a single?... What’s going on, Marvin?... No, no, no, no, no, that’s not a good title... Marvin? Marvin!” Forward to Berry Gordy in his Motown office, 1973 and he receives a telephone call from his biggest male vocal star, Marvin Gaye calling to pitch an idea for his next album. The conversation might have gone something like this. “Hello...? Yes... this, this is Berry... Marvin! You’re back in the studio... Oh, okay, you have a new idea for your next concept album... Uh, huh? Uh, huh?... Sex? H*** yes!” 

Every good museum worth its weight has that wing of exhibits that make grown men sigh, ladies blush, teenagers giggle and young ones say, “Mommy, why can I see their privates?” Guaranteed to titillate, offend and sell millions of copies. Today’s Delivery belongs in that part of the Pantheon. LET’S GET IT ON is a monumental achievement as a tone poem to passion, intimacy and flat out sex. It was the Billboard Chart’s first nude. No pop star had gone down this path prior to Marvin Gaye, and no one expected him to after the thrilling sociological sonic journey that was WHAT’S GOING ON. Motown was in need of hits for adults who had grown up with the label. The Jackson 5 were big but bubblegum, Stevie Wonder hadn’t yet hit his stride, so it fell to Marvin to craft something spectacular again. The production actually bookended WHAT’S GOING ON, songs starting and stopping along the way and if you listen to them back to back they are of a piece. Instrumentally, LET’S GET IT ON is a stylistic triumph with Marvin on piano and the elastic backing performed by the Funk Brothers augmented by guitarist Don Peake of the famed Wrecking Crew. That indelible three-note phrase at the top of the title track, that’s Peake. Yeah, it’s playing in your head as you read this. “Let’s Get It On” became Motown’s biggest selling single to date. As the last note from Peake’s guitar rings, cymbals splash and there’s Marvin with one of the great first person album openers “I-I-I-I been really tryin’ baby...” Dig the bari sax feeling that bottom. Drum fills so ecstatic. Single entendres. Please, get it on. The mix puts us right in the studio amidst the flutes, saxes and strings flying in to paint a portrait of Eros and company. 

The album is relentless with Marvin’s multi-tracked doo-wop vocals, molasses-like grooves and suggestive lover man lyrics never before put on a chart-topping platter. “Distant Lover” was another track that became a live hit. It had to become a live hit because it resided on the album’s side two. My guess is, in 1973, few dude’s played the flip, because that meant you had to get off the couch to turn the record over. “Distant Lover” shimmers with sugar and drips with honey and longing. Lawd, have mercy and not on the ecology, but on the biology. This one of Marvin’s jazziest performances and is probably the aural masterwork on the LP. The titles of the other songs reveal a singular passionate narrative. “Keep Gettin’ It On” is basically the extended outro of the title track. “Come Get To This” is brilliant as a freaky 70‘s update of one of Marvin’s 60’s R&B shuffles. How one of the most insular and insecure artists in the pop idiom unleashed this work of naked bravado is one for the ages. Thank God, we had the gifts that Marvin Gaye left us as an artist. This was a singer who was fearless in the studio. LET’S GET IT ON belongs in the Museum and in the boudoir, on the radio and at the roller rink... couples’ skate. Dim the lights and come get to this.

#MarvinGaye #LetsGetItOn #Motown #Tamla

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