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Greetings, fellow earthlings and members of the Folk/Americana clan...
I've been on a hot streak in sub-zero weather and .... hey, wait a minute... enough about me, YOU"RE the fans, how are you holding up this polar vortex-ish winter? Finally buy a snow blower? Not surprised. Well, eventually we'll all get through it with hot chocolates or hot toddies (my preference) and Spring will spring and we'll all be getting out of the house and living again!
Back to me, though.. let's see... the Songwriters Association of Washington awarded an Honorable Mention to my song 'A Townes Van Zandt Song', the new CD went to radio and was immediately named CD of The Week by Rich Warren of WFMT Chicago's 'The Midnight Special' and garnered other airplay, I opened a show for Dan Navarro and got to play and sing Beatles songs with him for an encore, and it looks like I have a new band coming - James Curley & The Next Little Thing. Keep yer ears peeled for that..
Thanks much for being fans and friends, and see y'all in the cheap seats!
Let me acknowledge upfront that it's been months since I last sent you all an update regarding the CD. I'd love to blame the weather, or circumstance, or the Fates for the slow progress on the CD, but the truth is simply this: I'm taking longer than expected because I'm discovering artistic directions for the CD that I had not anticpated and that are all very good and should produce a really good recording.
Without going into a boring level of detail, suffice to say that the song mix has changed a bit, the arrangements have changed a lot, the theme of the record is emerging as something different than I had planned, and I'm even covering a song by Warren Zevon on the record...my first cover of a major artist's song ever on CD.
Working with John Abbey at Kingsize Recording in Chicago and my band mates has been slow, due mostly to my own erratic personal and professional life and subsequent travel, but it's all been for the best.
So, where are we now? The nine tracks for the CD have been chosen, and the basic guitar, vocal and rhythm section tracks have been laid down. Now we move to the addtional instrumentation phase, as well as layering some harmony vocals, and then on to mixing and mastering.
Last month was a treat...my brother Michael flew into Chicago and recorded harmonica and vocal parts for three of the nine songs, and they sounded great. I also got to turn him on to my favorite pizza - Coal Fire Pizza on Grand Avenue near Racine - and just generally enjoyed hanging out with him. We've been playing music together since we were kids
Thanks so much for all your support...
Greetings, fans, friends, family and fellow homo sapiens.... With the Holidays behind me, and another natal anniversary as well, I settle back into something more akin to a routine. And in January, the bulk of the new CD should come together in rough form. Last month, I completed the 'sketches' of the songs in studio with John Abbey, who's producing/engineering the record, with help from George Callobre. We successfully found the right tempo for each song's recorded version. I know it sounds simple, but tempo is such a fluid and elusive thing....what feels right at a live performance is sometimes right only for that performance. And what feels right in studio can be hard to find for someone who's primarily a live performer (like me) who spends very little time recording. So with some trial and error, a little bit of luck, and John and George's better-tuned ears, we have the tracks 'mapped out' so we can begin to do the main recording. Up next - George will bring his bass and Dave Heim will bring a carload of percussion instruments into the studio for a marathon day of recording what will be the final rhythm section tracks for each song. I love this part of the recording process. I get to sit back in the booth and listen as George and Dave simultaneously create and sync their parts up with each other and the sketch tracks to create the foundation for the finished tracks. Once these are completed and a rough mix delivered back to me, John and I can go about the business of final arranging - deciding which other instruments will be used on each track, where to suggest vocal harmonies for sonic color, and lots of other 'jewelry and makeup' to tart up the freshly dressed songs! I'm hoping to knock out all nine tracks's worth of rhythm section in a single Saturday this month, and if that happens, a late February release will be likely. Thanks again for your support and encouragement. I'm very grateful y'all are out there. Best, James
When last we corresponded, dear readers.... I mentioned that the early song sketches in the studio led me in the direction of reworking the selected songs for the CD, nixing 2 of them and basically feeling the artistic vision for it begin to take shape. I'm happy to report that this week John, George and I (hey, where's Ringo?) were in the studio and spent time 'discovering' the right tempos for the remaining 9 songs on the record, and got three new 'sketches' completed that we can begin to hang arrangements on in the coming weeks. For those of you who've been coming out to the band's shows for a few years, the songs from our sets that made the CD are: There Used To Be A Train The Blue Austin Waltz, Hallelujah, Ya Never Know Cowboy On The Subway Rest Your Weary Bones Songs that have not been part of our sets but will be on the record include: A Townes Van Zandt Song In Goodman's Shoes Grace Under Pressure Love Is Gender Blind The vision for this record is shaping up to be a real 'front porch' kinda sounding thing, Acoustic, intimate, and sonically pure, No rock n roll this time around....but very much the James Curley I'm most famliar with - playing and singing 'au natural' (not...not sans apparel). On tap for next week: record the remaining six song sketches and get them off to the band members and other musicians. Then the arranging and final tracking will start, hopefully around the holidays. Thanks again for all your support. I really couldn't be doing this without all of you, Peace on Earth James
The first 'charcoal sketch' of the CD, so to speak, was recorded about 2 weeks ago. I went into the studio with John Abbey, sat in front of a single microphone and played the songs I'm thinking of recording in no particular order. John burned me a CD of the session and I left with it. And I let it sit. And sit. And sit. Until yesterday when I listened to it with 'fresh ears'. Pretty interesting experience, the result of which is that two songs are already 'nixed' from the record, all songs will have a change in tempo (mostly slower), and I may shift the keys of a few songs and sing them differently, lower in fact. I may add a song or two I didn't record that night So it looks like 'low and slow' is the emerging theme for the record. So now, I'm heading back into the studio the week after Thanksgiving to find the tempo and key for each song that will best shape it as a three-dimensional replica of the internal heart-mind space of the song as I sense it, and see how that works out. Clearly this will be a different kind of record for me, and one I'm really excited about. More acoustic, more intimate, and hopefully, my best recorded effort to date. Thanks again so much for your support. I'm looking forward to the day when I can mail you the CDs. Peace, James
Soon after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the song Lay Down Big Easy came to me, and I recorded it soon after. It's available here on Reverb Nation, and from Aug 28th to August 31 2010 - the 5th Anniversary of Katrina - every free download earns 10 cents for makeitrightnola.org to help restore the lower 9th ward. Download! Tell your friends about it! Visit New Orleans! Thanks for your support. - James