Monday, April 04, 2011

Slowly but surely ...

Late in 2010, I made a vow to myself (see the last blog I wrote from August) that I would get back to my music and write more songs and maybe release an album. This was after more than three years of frivolity and pure joy playing the music of my heroes in separate bands devoted to Neil Young, The Kinks and Rockpile. It had been long enough and I'd had all the fun I needed. I was feeling the pull to create again. 25 years of being creative takes a lot out of a guy, so I used the time to let those wonderful songs sink in, learn how to play them and maybe learn a thing or two about songwriting from the best.

But just before I turned my attention back to The Ruins & Johnny Paul Jason, I found myself agreeing to play a tribute to my favorite album of all time, George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass". I can't begin to tell you how rewarding that was. I spent 4 months learning those songs from the original two discs inside and out. We began with a core band of me on guitar and vocals and a bassist and a drummer. By the time the rehearsals reached gig week in late February 2011, we had as many as 21 musicians on some songs (horns, choir, two keyboards, several guitars, ukuleles). We chose some of the best voices and performers in North Carolina to sing with us and had a crackerjack house band that delivered the goods all night long. We ended up selling out the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro NC and we raised over $7500 for the Caring Community Foundation. (Photo recreation of the All Things Must Pass album cover below by Bryan Regan). More on the week by week progress of the effort here, a blog by Toby Roan, my partner in putting on the show.

Perhaps the best review of the show is the following. I heard a lot of similar comments in the hours and days after the show:

“The concert was so great, I don’t have the words to describe how much I enjoyed it. And the really terrific thing is that Lisa seemed to like it as much as I did. The musicians were great, the love of George was palpable, it was a sell-out event and the place was packed. They did a wonderful job with his songs. The version of Wah Wah really was unbelievable…words fail me. And at the end all the musicians came on stage–there were at least 10 or 11 guitarists, singers, a pedal-steel guitar, horns, percussion–and did three songs not on All Things Must Pass. The last one was While My Guitar Gently Weeps and it was indescribable…they did it really as a rocker, loud and fast and powerful, really powerful, and I wished it would go on forever. The room was really transported. I want to use the word “orgasmic” when I try to describe what it was like, because the music just seemed to carry us over the top of normal perception and into a different space. At the end, after the last song, Lisa and I turned to each other and kept exclaiming “Wow! Wow!” We were so blown away we couldn’t think of anything else to say. I felt like I was vibrating the rest of the night. I drove home and went to bed and woke up hours later and my body still seemed to be vibrating with this terrific energy.”
Thanks for a great, great evening! Jessica Allen

Having something so large was running counter to what I had in mind for early 2011, as 2010 had been extremely busy gig-wise. I really needed a rest. But I put all projects on hold for four months and I don't regret a day of it. It was such a success that there's talk of making George Harrison's birthday an annual show. We may open up the show next year to his entire catalogue.

Anyway, it's been several months since I'd reported here. Just a stay in touch note. You can keep up with my gigs at my reverbnation site.