Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The summer ones were deep ones as I once again hit the Southern Music trail, flying into New Orleans on July 14 (right after the super-swingin' Los Lobos/Rebel Montez double bill that kicked off the Hamden Arts Council 2008 Concert Series--thanks to all who showed up and made a perfect night even more perfect) for an 8-day round of visiting friends. Lunch with legendary producer/arranger Wardell Quezerque ("Mr. Big Stuff", "Groove Me," and so many others); a tour of the New Orleans Musicians Clinic with its co-founder, my dear friend Bethany Bultman; a couple of nights with my great amigo Skip Henderson, founder of the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund and placer of headstones on the graves of Robert Johnson, Skip James, Tommy Johnson, and more; and a hang with Deb Travis, a dedicated nurse whose safe haven program for abused women at Charity Hospital had just opened when Katrina hit (Charity has yet to reopen its doors, like so many other New Orleans institutions). The program lost everything, but Deb persevered and now, at University Hospital, a similar program has blossomed under her leadership. There is heroism everywhere in the Crescent City these days--tested again in the wake of the late-August storm called Hurrican Gustav--and I honor it.
From New Orleans it was a short hop to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, one of the towns that can truly lay claim to being "Soul Music USA," for a sit-in with Tupelo, Mississippi's native son Paul Thorn and his kickin' band as part of the WC Handy Festival. Many of the great session cats form the Shoals were there (Spooner Oldham, David Hood, NC Thurman, Kelvin Holly to name a few) and soulful Americana was the order of the night. As you know, that's right up the Beehive Queen's alley. Photos can be seen at: http:..www.christineohlman.net as well as on the MySpace page at www.myspace.com/christineohlmanmusic .
Early August found me on stage at the "Celebrate Brooklyn!" tribute to Bill Withers. Hall Willner and Janine Nichols assembled a truly wonderful and unique cast of singers; I was proud to join Nona Hendryx, The Persuasions, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, The Swell Season, Corey Glover, Howard Tate, James Blood Ulmer, Eric Mingus, and many more. The legendary guitarist Cornell Dupree backed me as part of a stellar band led by Steve Bernstein and including my SNL cohort Lenny Pickett.
I have been deep at work on "The Deep End," my upcoming CD slated for release in early 2009. Early September found me in Woodstock, New York tracking with the great, great Levon Helm at his beautiful studio in the woods. Marshall Crenshaw joined me in a duet version of the old Marvin Gaye/Mary Wells duet "What's The Matter With You Baby" as Levon formed a rhythm section with Paul Ossola (bass); Andy York (guitars) and Jeff Kazee (keyboards). Tracking has been going on since June at Horizon Music in West Haven, Connecticut and Andy's home studio in western Connecticut. The members of Rebel Montez (Cliff Goodwin-guitars, Larry Donahue-drums, and Michael Colbath-bass, with special guest Andy York (guitar) and Mitch Chakour on keys) have tracked the majority of songs with me, and so many friends have graciously signed on for guest appearances. I duet with both Dion DiMucci and Ian Hunter (as well as Mr. Crenshaw), with other guests including guitarists G.E. Smith, Big Al Anderson, and Eric "Roscoe" Ambel.
In other news, we await the imminent release of "Re-Hive," a CD retrospective of my four CDs with Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez that includes unissued & alternate takes as well as 2 new recordings of Chicago blues classics that feature Cliff Goodwin on guitar. We felt it was time to look back, a little, as we look forward to the release of "The Deep End."
Rock on, everyone....we'll see you on the dance floor!! --Christine