Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Piano cover tunes

Burning it up on the piano

While it's great to write original songs over the years with input from friends and fellow musicians, playing "Blueberry Hill" and "Walk on By" on the piano can't be beat either. Unlike my tunes, these songs have been recorded by real record labels and picked up by dozens if not hundreds of musicians, musicals and movies. Some of Java's sentimental favorites include "Be my Baby" by Ronnie Spector, "Pleasant Valley Sunday" by Carol King, "Umbrella" by Rihanna, " and "Lovin Cup", a more obscure song by the Rolling Stones off of their "Exile on Main Street" album. Hmmm, if I keep working on these, maybe I should record them if they get good enough. It was fun to play these and others at Temple Beth-El in Jersey City back in January, when I opened up for "The Lonesome Prairie Dogs" featuring Lenny Kaye on pedal steel. All good times!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Java Jel in Nashville

Jen and I made a special birthday trip this past spring to Nashville, where we sampled the local BBQ, checked out the amazing Honky Tonk bar bands and toured the storied Ryman Audiorium, original home of the Grand 'Ole Opry as well as Johnny Cash's TV show in the 1960s and early 70s.

                                        (Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash at the Ryman Auditorium)

Well, as part of the tour of the Ryman, you can get your picture taken on stage for $10 and you can record a song for $15.  Well, I had written two songs so we splurged and spent $30 for two. They had a little broadcast booth in the auditorium, where most people did karaoke versions of "I Shall Survive" or "America the Beautiful."

First the picture.. They had a nice guitar on stage, so I warmed up my song, FIRE WATER, while they snapped my picture. I only did one verse and one chorus, but it felt right. I could hear my voice bouncing back to me from the back of the room -- with no microphone -- and I felt a hint of the great vibes in that famous space.

So into the recording booth we went, and 15 minutes later I recorded two songs, FIRE WATER and BACK TO NY on a Martin guitar and nothing else. They're featured on JAVAJEL.com along with a tune I recorded with Joe Kelly and Tom Hannon way back in the 1990s. It's a version of Bo Diddley's CAN'T JUDGE A BOOK and TIGER MAN, which Elvis Presley made famous. Time for some countryfied JEL.

I'd definitely recommend a trip to Nashville, especially the Country Music Hall of Fame. We really enjoyed seeing Elvis Presley's car as well as the famous flashy outfit worn by Graham Parsons of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers.

Thanks again Jen!

And thanks again to BOB for updating the Web site.

Rock on!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Altercation wrapup, projects brewing

Well, the success of the Altercation reunion has made the rounds on Facebook and I'll try to link to it here. The bottom line is, we all had fun. Not much blah blah on what we've been doing for the past 30 years since we played at Dobbs Ferry High School in an impromptu session outside the school cafeteria in a move inspired by the Beatles rooftop jam featured in the movie Let it Be.

We scheduled our reunion rehearsal at the same movie theater where we saw Let it Be. It's now a recording studio and rehearsal space called Stolen Moments.

And believe it or not, I LOVED played the cover songs, especially Joe Rooney doing Takin Care of Business. I mean that guy has chops like you wouldn't believe.  I've written plenty of songs over the years, but although Java has gotten a bit of radio play here and there, none of my recordings has ever been released by a record label. Heck my biggest hit was probably a 500-copy run of the Marilyn Monroe cassette tape back in 1990 that we sold at gigs. I mean, Jumpin Jack Flash has sold millions and millions. It's GOLD wrapped in PLATINUM.

Anyway, I loved playing bass and doing funky lines in Rebel Rebel and London Calling. We sounded pretty good and we had fun and we didn't embarass oursevles too much. Everyone had so much fun and there's talk of another gig maybe for my birthday on Jan. 20??

Anyway, I've been surfing around and reconnecting with some of my other old band mates and who knows what'll happen next. It's also important to collaborate with one's spouse so I'm working on a possible musical with good Jen.



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My first band: Altercation

Hey there's actually talk out there that my very first band I played in, in high school, may be getting back together for a reunion show. We're all still alive and kicking, thank goodness.

The band Altercation delivered my first glimpse into the anything-can-happen world of gigging. Playing that middle school dance, driving the teenagers wild and rocking out to Takin Care of Business by BTO electrified my small-town world as I whomped away with sweaty hands on my bass. I really hope we can pull it off between our hectic schedules and geographic distances. Nothing would make me happier than to once again butcher 25 or 6 to 4 by Chicago or flawlessy execute incredibly easy songs like Best Friends Girl by the Cars. During our brief reign in high school, we played one dance and then blew out the fuse box at my friend Mark's house at a party. He later told me they lost several hundred dollars worth of meat after we caused their freezer to die. Another band favorite is the time my old EARTH guitar amplifier caught fire during a rehearsal as we were playing EVIL WAYs by Santana. RIP Earth AMP.

Anyway, I'll keep you all updated.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Burt Bachrach, Angie Dickinson

Burt Bacharach and Angie Dickinson did a really cool Martini & Rossi commercial back in the 1970s. I've never fogotten it. I love Burt Bachrach! I've been playing a song on the piano, WALK ON BY, which is one of his big hits. I also got a Burt Bachrach vinyl record from the 70s with that song, which was made famous by Dionne Warwick. Anyway, I'm remembering all this because of Angie Dickinson's 80th birthday today. Rock on Angie, and Rock on Burt!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hello again 2011

It's been really a while since my last post, so I figured it was time for an update. Musical projects in the past year included playing as a side man in the Ed Buller Mountain Ramblers as well as contributing to a UMOUR.org musical project called SUPERSPIES. It'll be out soon. Overall, as I age I still love the old Java stuff, but the force of gravity seems to be pulling me toward country and old folk. I know it's trendy to do roots music, but it's also a good bastion for grayer musicians to avoid looking ridiculous.

Also on the radar, I'd recomment reading Keith Richards' book LIFE to anyone who's into the Rolling Stones.

I'm also rediscovering the trendy "OH BROTHER WHERE ART THOU" soundtrack and am currently infatuated with Emmy Lou Harris, the Carter Family, and singin old songs. Part of JAVA is also really into solo jazz piano standards too so I'm all over the place.

Musically, look for more MP3 Versions of JAVA tunes to be posted soon, including a great side project from the 1990s called the RIPE. Rock on.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Fresh Java CD Javalicious launched digitally

Hello Fan! Well here's Javalicious finally!
Yeah, I had one more in me. I decided to do a 20th anniversary session -- 20 years since Java's Jesus Jam -- with Kol Marshall. He lined up some local session guys who were really good. It came out better than I thought because I was going to play bass on it, but then Kol got a real bass player. I got to scratch a few musical itches I had -- lots of harmonies, and songs that I had never recorded but wrote in the late 80s, plus some fresher stuff. Enjoy! It's all posted on http://www.javajel.com