Saturday, February 28, 2015

SNL 40: 23 Years of Beehive Gratitude

Written on the very early morning after SNL40…. I am so very overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude for the 23 years I've spent in Studio 8H....SNL is 40 Years young tonight, and so, so many friends were there. An amazing show held together by our amazing crew, as always, and by the brilliant editors who combed through 40 years of tape to build fast-moving montages. The band shots this evening went (rightly so) to past Musical Directors Cheryl Hardwick, Paul Shaffer, and my dear friend GE Smith.... but fear not! The after-party at the Plaza featured a jam orchestrated by Jimmy Fallon, who pulled me up on stage only to have the B52s sing backup for me on "Respect" (somehow, Ariana Grande had gotten up to sing it, but Fallon handed it to me mid-tune. My apologies, Ariana!), Fallon and Kate Pierson acted as my Ronettes on "Be My Baby", a fast-paced "Pump It Up" and "Twist and Shout" with Elvis Costello, and Joe Piscopo burning it up on "Pink Cadillac" (he's a good guitar picker!) while Marty Short and Mya Rudolph danced around the stage and BIll Murray shook a tambourine.... The broadcast itself was fabulous and poignant, and SO, so funny...and.... Paul Simon shouted out to my bandmates at the end of the show, and my heart just sang right out, too, as Lenny Pickett was given the spotlight he so richly deserves! Cherished the shout-out to the late, great T-Bone Wolk, our departed bandmate. Great to see photographic shout-outs to friends Tracy Morgan, visual designer Edie Baskin (who took the cover and back photos for "The Hard Way" and "Wicked Time" CDs) and the great filmographer Jimmy Signorelli. So cool to get hugs from former head writers Andrew Steele and Tina Fey, and too many former cast members to mention. Loved every minute!!! My great thanks to all of you who sent me good wishes. I cherish the day that GE Smith called me to sing at an "event" which turned out to be Lorne Michaels' wedding reception outdoors in the Hamptons, and all of the great work and marvelous friendships that have resulted. I am humbled and oh, so grateful for everything.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

2015: A New Year Dawns in The Beehive

So much has happened since my last post.... fabulous sold-out festival shows including the Rochester International Jazz Festival, The WC Handy Festival in Muscle Shoals (I will be the Grand Marshall of this year's upcoming opening parade....) and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. My work with The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame house band, the NYC Hit Squad, The Clean-Getaway All-Stars (an offshoot of the Rockers in Recovery Band) and the wonderful groups of musicians in both the Shoals (Kelvin Holly, David Hood, NC Thurman, Scott Boyer and Mike Dillon of The Decoys, as well as Will MacFarlane, Jimmy Johnson and SO many others) and New Orleans (JoJo Hermann of Widespread Panic, Alfred "Uganda" Roberts, John Gros, Bonerama, The New Orleans Suspects led by Reggie Scanlon, Mean Willie Green and CR Gruver; Dave Malone of the Radiators; The Subdudes)...have enriched my life. I am deeply grateful to these cats for their boundless talent. In 2013, I produced a tribute to legendary Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler with my sidekicks and special guests Bonnie Bramlett (an amazing friend and inspiration) and Ed King of Lynnryd Skynryd. The cream of Muscle Shoals was there with me, celebrating, and Dick Cooper's iconic photos of Jerry were displayed. Earlier, we had all gathered for the premier of the wonderful documentary film "Muscle Shoals" and celebrated with a concert following the premier in which John Paul White of the Civil Wars and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes joined me as special guests. The summer of 2014 found me onstage with the undisputed queen of Muscle Shoals music, the great Candi Staton. Muscle Shoals continues to own my heart. New you know what it means to miss it? I come back as often as I can, but always, during JazzFest, for "Down On The Bayou," which I co-host with JoJo Hermann...this years edition of DOB VI will again benefit our pet cause, the absolutely essential New Orleans Musicians Clinic. My dedication to this cause knows no bounds, and with the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaching, we hope to see a re-release of the compilation CD "Get You A Healin"" which will benefit the Clinic... The Saturday Night Live Band... my 23rd year, and this blog is written just one week before the 40th Anniversary broadcast. Lenny Pickett, Leon Pendarvis, Shawn Pelton and the entire band are truly brothers and sisters of mine. But I save the bulk of my musical heart, as always, for the flash cats of Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez. As we prepare for our seventh CD, "The Grown-Up Thing" later this year, I look forward to continuing to write, record, and perform with this band whose bond to our audience has only deepened with time. It is an honor and special privilege to be able to present my songs with Cliff Goodwin, Michael Colbath, Larry Donahue, Chris Bickley and our often-colaborators, Mitch Chakour and The Sin Sisters (Janice Ingarra, Patti Rahl and Kathy Kessler). Andy York of John Mellencamp's band will again join us to co-produce the new record. Watch for more and more news! I have recently become a full-fledged member of Jules Follet's engaging and essential project "The Sessions", which brings interactive music panels to universities around the world. Recent trips to St. Paul, Los Angeles, Fort Collins, CT and Italy have been just a few of the locals in which we've found ourselves in the last year... Upcoming projects include Malachy McCourt's first-ever spoken work/sung CD (proud to be supporting this wonderful artist and author whose work has touched so many). I look forward to continuing to connect with everyone here.......all my best wishes for 2015, and my fondest hope to see you all onstage or on the radio very soon!