Sunday, March 16, 2014

Return of the Album II

I have begun to work on our new album. It is to be entitled Mumbo Jumbo. Last Thursday Kosi was having a rehearsal down in the Salon for her new album Pictures Of Us. To accommodate her I moved my gear up to an empty room on the top floor in the back. I really like working up here. It's very sunny and it still is kind of cold out. So I stayed.

This time we are working backwards. I am putting down all of the rhythm guitar tracks first so I can work with the metronome. That was one thing I thought was lacking in the first album. It breathed a little too much. This way I can rehearse over and over with the pulse until it feels natural. The first tune is The Beggars Song.

When I felt comfortable with the takes I brought Jeff in to add the base line. He also had a click. Then with the rhythm guitar and bass near flawlessly on beat, Kosi sang. The result was gorgeous. 

Now Amos will show up and add the drum tracks. I have an idea to record him with a Binaural mic. If you have ever heard one of those recordings you know how they put you in a room. First. I will consult with Felix. Let's see how it goes.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Quiet please.

Last night we played on the L.E.S at Left Field. Towards the end of the set a group of young women came down the stairs. They began shrieking when they saw their friend who, from the sound of it, I gathered had been last seen on the observation deck of Tower 1 at 8a.m. on 09/11/01. They were so shrill that it threw me off. I know that's on me. The band on the Titanic played unflinchingly until the cold Atlantic claimed them. But there it is, they threw me. So at the end of the number I mildly berated them and got a few laughs for it. Finally they shut up.

After the gig one of them pigeon holed me. A nice young lady.

"Why did you do that?" She demanded.
"Hey, no worries it's all good." I said trying to brush her off. 
"No. Really. I want to know why. We're paying customers you should be happy we're here."
So I explained it to her. 
"Look. We are live performers. We are not radios. We are actually humans. We want you to have a good time. It's OK that you talk. This isn't a church. But you can't scream louder than the band. It makes our job nearly impossible. We are trying to work. We are performing not just for you but for everybody here."
"Ok." She said. "But you hurt my friends feelings and I was feeling like you know, Mafia. But now I get it."
"It's OK. It's typical for Americans. When I play overseas, even when I play on the street people are respectful. They appreciate that I am a live performer. If they don't like what I am doing, they listen quietly before moving on. But here forget it. People don't give a shit. My own friends don't give a shit. It's a cultural difference."
She smiled at me. "Well we thought you guys were really great. Let me buy you a drink. What are you having?"
"I have a drink ticket."
"Keep your ticket I'm buying you a drink."
"OK. Rum and coke."
"What kind of rum?"
"Doesn't matter."
"Ok. But Bacardi at least."

After the show I took Kosi to Katz Deli. We wandered around the miracle that is New York City. Everywhere, beautiful, clean people on dirty, ugly streets. Winter was fading and maybe a hint of spring worked it's magic on filthy, mounds of icy, grey snow. We sat not far from "where harry met sally". Kosi beamed. She had never had a sandwich like that. 
"This is a very special place." I told her. "I've traveled all over the world and I never had a pastrami like this anywhere. Not even close."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Babes in Clubland

I sent out Cds to 30 different college radio stations. Felix thought that would be a good idea. "You gotta get that college radio airplay." A month or two later he asked me about it. "Yeah. " I said." I only got 3 responses, No, Maybe and We'll see."

But along the way I found out about EPKs. An EPK is an Electronic Press Kit. It is a page with hyperlinks to your music and your press. We have that great review from JOONBUG and Kosi had set up a Bandcamp page. Oh yeah. That was interesting.

I went to Bandcamp to set up a page for The Goddess Lakshmi. I found out that the name had already been taken. "That's odd." I thought. Who else has a band named The Goddess Lakshmi? Well. There is that marching band in India. I went to the page and there were my recordings and a crappy grabbed from the internet photo of the album cover. Lyrics were included with minor mistakes here and there. Who did this? Some crazy fan? I hit the contact button and wrote: "Who are you?" It was Kosi. And I thought I was going mad.

With our blog, Bandcamp page and review in place on an EPK I suddenly began to book gigs. We now have a list of NYC venues on our resume; Fat Baby, Leftfield, Parkside Lounge, Goodbye Blue Mondays, The Way Station, Silvana and Shrine. None of these gigs pay anything.

I had been against playing at these predatory bars but then a fellow musician told me. "They are all like that, even Mercury Lounge, Arlene's Grocery and Rockwood. They don't pay a dime. But if you book them you can use it to book tours. You make your money out of town."

And then there is this. Recently I was in Puerto Rico staying near Rincon, a very posh dot on the map. There was a flashy magazine for the area called Coqui. I called every bar, club, restaurant in that mag and only found a tiny handful of clubs that had Musica en Vivo, Live music. It made me realize what a treasure we have here in Manhattan. There must be 50 or more clubs with live music on the L.E.S. an area perhaps one tenth the size of Rincon. It is a Mecca for music in a staggering multiplicity of genres. So. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Quit while you are ahead.

Kosi, our lead singer has an album of her own which is quite excellent. She had been posting reviews for it on Facebook. I asked her how she got people to review her. She told me she just searched on the internet for bloggers that reviewed Jazz albums and asked if they would be interested. "Ok." I thought. "Sounds like a plan." 

I had no idea of where to start. I never read reviews. Mostly, I think they are a bunch of idiotic, narcissists. I did a search and came across a beautiful piece about Lou Reed written a day or two after his demise. "That's the kind of person I'd like to write about us." I thought. It was on a site called JOONBUG. I googled the author and found her own site NOOdle along with her contact info. I wrote to her and she replied within 5 minutes. "Sure thing." She says. Sight unseen. I sent her mp3s of the album, photos and biographical information. A week later we did a phone interview and shortly after that she printed this:

"The Goddess Lakshmi is a prime example of the thriving jazz and folk sounds that came together during the Harlem Renaissance with nods to the beatnik cool of the early '60s. Harlem is the birthplace of the band and its honed musical style, most evident in the swinging notes carrying the band’s front-woman Kosi through tracks like, “I Want You For My Man”. The Goddess Lakshmi has harnessed a sound that is all their own and with a wealth of experience upon which to attribute it to...

...The new album, LOVE, is the product of one exhausting, yet rewarding journey complete with ‘cuts, scratches, and cigarette burns’. The recording and mixing process ended with a flow of sound amplified by more textural qualities: close-knit rhythm sections, soul-drenched vocals, and story-lines about love: both wanting and losing it."

— Adrienne Bess, FULL REVIEW

"What luck." I told Lia.
"I figure you have to write to 30 of these people to get even one reply. The first one I wrote to replied. Maybe I should quit while I am ahead?"
She scrunched up her face. "How long did it take you to write to one?" She says.
"About 15 minutes, you know, finding them and then their contact info and writing something customized." 

"You should do more."
So I did. I wrote to thirty more bloggers. I found loads of them. Pitchfork, My Old Kentucky Blog, Cruel Rhythm, Brooklyn Vegan. Along the way I set up a Bandcamp page so that reviewers would have instant access to our material. Nothing. Not a blip. I mean... "My Old Kentucky Blog?" What the fuck does that even mean? That loser couldn't be bothered?
Anyways. Take a deep breath. One great review. One really thoughtful and intelligent and flattering review from a decent high profile site. I will take it.