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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Recording In Key West With Homemade Wine

                              Recording In Key West With Homemade Wine

A little while back I mentioned that I was soon to embark on a new album. Well, there were some delays, but on February 12, 2015 I went into the studio and we got the ball rolling! This part of the album, is a bit of an island from what will be the rest of it.

This section actually is rooted almost two years ago when my friends with Homemade Wine out of Knoxville, Tn. were in town and we had a jam up in the band room at Margaritaville where they were playing.

At my suggestion, we jammed on Marshall Tucker’s song “This Ol’Cowboy”, as we were both major Marshall Tucker fans. Of course they were familiar with the song, but up to that point, had not played it before.

We had a blast playing it and percussionist, Tod Sheley, video taped it. It’s gotten a lot of attention on their YouTube channel. It was a great evening, without a doubt.

After this, we decided we’d love to write a song together. I started it, but whenever they were in town, regretfully there wasn’t time to get together and work on a song.Consequently, I wrote the rest of the song.

It was written musically by design to have a close relation to This Ol’ Cowboy, though at the same time, it’s very different. The song is entitled “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”. Kind of semi-philosophical of how I lead my life. Learn from the past, live in the moment, set goals for the future, based on sailing on a sailboat motif/foundation.

Well, here we are and even though we never got to write the song together, we did record it right here in Key West.

The original plan was to record it with Dan Simpson, however Dan didn’t have the facility to do it live, which was the plan. A block away from me is Lance Taylor’s Key West Studio, so that was made the official destination. We could set the whole band up there and do live takes.

It’s an amazing studio, built into a small Conch House, not far from the Southernmost Point. It’s also Lance’s home, however it’s far more accurate to say that Lance lives in the studio, rather than the studio is in Lance’s home.

As you walk into the house via the front door, you are walking into the drum room, complete with sound deadening, plus,  a set of drums that the late, great Richard Crooks donated to the cause, so that they could be put to use by all who need a set of quality drums to record with. A great philanthropic gesture indeed, by the Maestro, prior to his earthly departure.

From there you enter the control room, where all of the computers are. Mission control, so to speak. The bass was set up here, which gave great proximity to both the drums on one side and the rest of us on the other. On that other side is what would be the dining room, however this is where the rest of the band sets up. For us this day it was two electric guitars, an acoustic guitar, and added percussion.

Before all of this, we met up in the band room at Margaritaville, where the band was playing,  the day before. We actually were doing two songs, the other being another song of mine “Ride to the End of the Line Anyway”. Both songs needed to be defined structurally and the guys need to be versed with what was going on and when.

The guys were superb! What more could you ask for really? They not only gave their undivided attention, but also helped immensely in the arrangements. I had done the arrangements, however they refined and defined them. Ryan Sheley has a very keen sense of what works. Often as a writer/arranger one cannot see the forest for the trees as you become so embedded in it all.  Ryan would say “lets cut that bar before the chorus and just go right into it.” He was 100% correct. Thanks Ryan!

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(Ryan Sheley going over songs in the band room)

Rick Reese was fantastic at defining what went where and what chords were used. Having a Berkley College of Music graduate on hand was the proverbial silver bullet. The rest of the band was fantastic as well, all just falling into the arrangements as we went along.

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(Rick Reese in the band room)

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(Andy Westcott and Brad Williams at rehearsal)

Additionally, after that was done and I left, they continued to work on them later that night. These guys were dedicated professionals. Their efforts are greatly appreciated!

The next day we hit the studio. As always, there were a few glitches to overcome, but that’s expected and nothing was extreme.

The two songs I chose to do with them were both Southern Rock based songs. “Ride To The End of the Line Anyway” was on the Allman Brothers side of the tracks, while “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” was from the Marshall Tucker Band side of town, influence wise. Doing two songs based on Southern Rock, who better that have Homemade Wine backing me?

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(Andy Walcott  of Homemade Wine in the studio, Key West, Fl. C.R. USA)

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(Rick Reese of Homemade Wine in the studio, Key West, Fl. C.R. USA)

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(Bradley Williams of Homemade Wine in the studio, Key West, Fl. C.R. USA)

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(Tod Sheley)

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(Ryan Sheley of Homemade Wine in the studio, Key West, Fl. C.R. USA)

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(Playing acoustic in this picture)

To show progress as it goes, here’s some snippets of the songs. A lot must be added still, but for those not in the business, it might be interesting to see how a song progresses.

Here’s a snippet of “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”

And “Ride To the End Of The Line Anyway”

Some folks only know me from my album “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)”. On that album I tried to bring in a bunch of influences I’ve had over my life in music. Consequently, every song was in a different root genre. Afro/Cuban, Jazz, Brazilian, Bahamian, Country… the list goes on.

The album got fantastic accolades from all over the radio and recording business. The late Jeff Allen said “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (Things Could Be Worse) covers so many different genres, it’s another great addition to the ever expanding sounds of Trop Rock by adding so many different new flavors to it.” Jeff Allen, Beachfront Radio

Also, I received an e-mail from none other than Shelly Liebowitz from Los Angeles, producer of Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Dr. John… saying that he loved the album! It really doesn’t come any stronger than that. That’s a seriously heavy endorsement.

Fact is however, that although so many people within the industry had such good things to say about the album and played the heck out of it (and still do! Thanks everyone!), it hasn’t sold as much as I hoped for.

It was funny because as we were in the studio last night, Dani Hoy said to me with a smirk while listening back to Ride To The End Of The Line Anyway, “That’s not Trop Rock” to which I replied “No, it isn’t”. We both laughed. I then replied “It is Conch Rock however!”

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As sales within the Trop Rock community hasn’t been supportive enough, I need other options to augment sales from other angles, in addition to Trop.

Everything is my passion that I’m doing, that’s the most important thing for me, in addition to carving new trails to go down. The one thing I insist on is not sounding like anyone else…. even myself sometimes. Not necessarily the creed of a pop artist, but I’m a songwriter and a progressive artist anyway.

What will it sound like?  Key West and the Florida Keys, naturally!

You can take that to the bank.

More to come as it proceeds!

Thank you again!
To obtain my music:

My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris

Thank you everyone!!

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