Sunday, October 11, 2009

Imminent Release of The Deep End

Many of you have asked when The Deep End will be available, so I'm happy to tell you that digital release on iTunes is set for November 1, with availability for downloads on Amazon and other sites on or about November 8; full street-date release on January 19, 2010, with pre-order on Amazon in mid-December. You'll be able to order it at on October 20. We will celebrate at Cafe Nine in New Haven, Connecticut, the favorite original-music hangout of Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez, on November 14.

What a journey of the heart this record has been. I’ve experienced, since the release of my last studio album Strip, the loss of both a mate—Doc Cavalier, who’d been our producer—and a long-time guitarist and collaborator, Eric Fletcher. It’s been tough, and sitting down at the writing table wasn’t always easy. Rosanne Cash and I were talking, and she asked me if I’d written sad songs. It wasn’t until I considered her question that I realized I hadn’t. Ultimately, this is an album about love and the courage to fall into it. The fact is, the loss just informs you; it opens emotional doors that couldn’t possibly have opened before, no matter how much you thought you knew about it. I wrote about love—the newness of it, the glory of it, the loss of it, the constancy of it, the sadness that can come from it, the wonder of it…the sweet bitterness of it, sometimes. It’s my favorite topic, and never have I felt it so deeply and been so deeply affected by it.

The songs came over a period of about 10 months, the last being “The Gone Of You,” co-written with Cliff Goodwin. It turned out to be, along with the title track (with wonderful guitar work by Big Al Anderson), the album’s signature. We’ve included it twice, in a full studio version and then in a genius demo track that Andy York, who produced the record and was its most stalwart contributor, fashioned from voodoo loops and dark guitar. I sang it one late-night-into-early morning, so we dubbed it “The Gone Of You (After Hours).” Yet it’s “The Deep End,” with its theme of jumping off a cliff, that owns my heart.

If the writing of the songs had been a joy, the recording process proved to be a total kick, spearheaded by sessions with the core band: Cliff Goodwin, Larry Donahue and Michael Colbath of Rebel Montez, joined by Andy York. Then from Andy’s home studio to Vic Steffens’ cool Connecticut-based Horizon Music Group to Levon Helm’s place in Woodstock to Station West in Nashville, Lily’s Terrace and New Calcutta in NYC, and Sounds Great in Boca Raton, the guest artists had tracks flying, on fire together.

Ian Hunter whipped off his sunglasses in the June heat at Andy’s and dug into “There Ain’t No Cure.” To my delight, he’d also written the lyrics to “The Deep End” on a yellow legal pad and offered to add his voice there, too. Marshall Crenshaw and I romped on one of my all-time favorite “lost” Motown classics, Marvin Gaye & Mary Wells’ “What’s The Matter With You Baby,” over at Levon’s studio, the great man himself on drums, his shoulders famously hunched in that beautiful way of his. Dion and I conferred by phone and, with Cat Russell’s help, crafted our vocal tracks—he in Florida and I in Connecticut— for “Cry Baby Cry,” a treasured southern soul gem out of my vinyl collection originally done by the unsung duo Van & Titus. Dion had loved the track as much as I did when I’d first sent it to him. The guitarists on this record are, truly, an “A Team”—from Rebel Montez’s current (Cliff) and once (Eric, to whose memory the CD is dedicated, appearing with me in a pristine radio air shot of Link Wray’s “Walkin’ Down The Street Called Love”—if ever a title fit the theme, this is it) —to G.E. Smith, Big Al Anderson, Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, and Andy York. I am so deeply grateful to all the musicians whose hearts and souls are stamped on these tracks. They honor me with their presence.

It’s been a long and winding road, and in many respects I felt this was a journey I truly had to make by myself. That I’ve had great artists support me along the way has been a dream, and a gift. As I say in the liner notes, “There are so many who have stepped up with grace and love to help me get through these past years, to rejoice with me, to hold me while I cried, and to lift me up.” I have, indeed, been lifted, and now I look forward to sharing these songs with everyone. Let’s jump into the deep end.

Monday, September 14, 2009

September, 2009/"The Deep End" On The Horizon

Summer in the Beehive was whirlwind....I traveled the country, from Detroit and Chicago to Atlanta, Charlotte and Nashville, performing and conducting master classes for young musicians. Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez kept up a schedule of festival dates that helped us connect with fans far and wide in support of 2008's career retrospective disc Re-Hive, and in advance of the release of our latest work, The Deep End. Mixing and mastering completed, we are awaiting its arrival, with digital availability expected on iTunes and all outlets by November 1. The record will be available at live performances after October 1 and released widely on or about January 1.

What a journey of the heart this record has been. Support and artistry was contributed by so many great friends, from the duet partners (Ian Hunter, Dion, and Marshall Crenshaw), to the musicians (Levon Helm, Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, Big Al Anderson, G.E.Smith, Shawn Pelton, Catherine Russell, The Asbury Juke Horns--Chris Anderson and Neal Pawley--with Mark Rivera, Paul Ossola, Jeff Kazee, Mitch Chakour, Vic Steffens), the production team (my co-producer Andy York, whose musicianship shines on every track, along with Vic Steffens' overseeing and mixing and Jimmy Chapdelaine's mastering), a true photography ace (my dear friend Ric Kallaher) and, of course, the flash cats of Rebel Montez--Cliff Goodwin, Michael Colbath, and Larry Donahue, with a special guest appearance by our late guitarist, Eric Fletcher.

I wrote about love--the falling into it, the newness of it, the loss of it, the sadness that can come from it, the glory of it, the wonder and kick of it. It's my favorite topic, and never have I felt so deeply and been so deeply affected by it. Many of you know that I've suffered loss in these past years, both of a long-time mate and of a close musical collaborator. It's been a long and winding road, and in many respects I felt this was a journey I truly had to make by myself. That I've had so many great artists with me along the way has been a dream, and a gift.

I look forward to the release of these songs and to hearing from listeners what they think of them. That communication feeds all of our souls, and is the lifeblood that makes musical expression precious, always.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

"The Deep End" / March, 2009

As fall moved into winter, sessions for The Deep End, my first CD of new material since 2003 (and the first since the passing of my mate and producer Doc Cavalier) were completed in New York City with the Asbury Juke Horns and Mark Rivera joining the other friends--Ian Hunter, Dion DiMucci, Levon Helm, Marshall Crenshaw, GE Smith, Big Al Anderson, Catherine Russell, Paul Ossola, Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, Vic Steffens, Mitch Chakour, and Jeff Kazee--who were already on board with producer and chief contributor Andy York and the members of Rebel Montez: Cliff Goodwin, Michael Colbath, and Larry Donahue.  If the writing of the songs had been a joy, the recording process proved to be a thrill.  From AY's home studio to Vic Steffens' cool Horizon Music to Levon Helm's place in Woodstock to Sounds Great in Boca Raton to Station West in Nashville to Lily's Terrace and New Calcutta in NYC, we had tracks flying all over the place, the groove strong, hearts on fire together. I am deeply grateful, as we complete mixing, for the intensely soulful performances turned in by each and every one.  Watch for The Deep End's release in early summer.
On another note, I just returned from New Orleans for 2009 Mardi Gras with the Bywater Bone Boys Krew led by my friend Skip Henderson (founder of the Mount Zion Memorial Fund) and our pre-dawn ritual of racing through the Marigny, masked in black, banging on drums and cans, "waking the pre-dead." It's a rite that dates from the City's founding, and it was a deep and moving experience. I continue to urge everyone to think of  the good people of New Orleans and the help they still need, and to check out the websites for the New Orleans Musicians' Assistance Foundation/Musicians' Clinic at and Sweet Home New Orleans, the housing relocation organization that works in concert with the Clinic, at . Laissez les bon temps roulez.....