A monthly column from US-based “A-List” session musician, songwriter, producer and one time Rolling Stone magazine writer, Jon Tiven. Lifting the lid off of the business of making music…
I don’t get out to see and hear as much music as I used to. But the stuff I do see, is usually NOT what you ordinarily will find being covered in your local rag.
For “Record Store Day”‘ here in Nashville, I went over to Grimey’s Record Store to hear JD Maness and Lloyd Green perform the songs of The Byrds’ classic “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” album – on which their pedal steel guitars were featured.
JD and Lloyd’s band included singers Bill Lloyd and Jim Lauderdale, as well as acoustic guitarist Dan Auerbach. It certainly was a one-of-a-kind performance. A sweet tribute to a moment in time in which they had participated.Their all-star version of “You Ain’t Goin Nowhere”, as evocative as could be imagined.
“Record Store Day”, for the uninitiated, is a kind-of ‘vinyl holiday’ when all Americans (we have it here in the UK too, Jon! – Editor) go to their favourite record store to lay out their hard earned cash in support of music vendors. A lot of exclusive material is released to coincide with this event, which is a well-orchestrated celebration offering live performances and appearances.
I did my share this year by producing an album by Stephen J. Kalinich, “Scrambled Eggs”, released on vinyl and digitally by Plowboy Records. Stephen has been a lyricist for all three Wilson Brothers (Brian, Carl and Dennis) since 1967.
The Beach Boys Connection…
His best known collaborations with them include “Be Still,” “Little Bird,” “California Feeling” and the Brian Wilson/Paul McCartney duet, “A Friend Like You.” The new record features duets with Black Francis, Bekka Bramlett, Dylan LeBlanc, Ellis Hooks, and Tara Holloway.
Stevie is also an accomplished painter, currently attracting positive reviews for his latest work. The latest record we made is a limited edition, with signed postcards of Stevie’s art included, and by the time this column is published, maybe Plowboy Records might have a few left. (Stephen – right – is pictured here with Black Francis of the Pixies, a close friend of mine who I produce, and who is featured on “Scrambled Eggs”).
Black Francis aka Frank Black aka Charles Thompson, sings a duet with Mr. Kalinich on the opening track, “Fifteenth Level,” which Stevie and I co-wrote. Stevie and Charles are good friends, fellow visual artists, and getting the two of them together on one track was tremendous.
I heard from Charles just a few weeks ago, and he’s coming to Nashville in July with his usual outfit. So it’ll be delightful to see him, and perhaps I can persuade him into diving into some musical hi-jinks!
Also at Grimey’s, I ran into Bebe Buell who was performing songs from her new album “Baring It All”, more than a few of which my wife and I wrote with her. Richard Lloyd was doing a guest DJ set.
Richard is an old pal of mine from the 1970s, when I worked for Ork Records and played bass on, and half-produced his first solo recording, the Jagger/Richards song “Get Off My Cloud”.
It was great seeing him in such good spirits and he gifted me with a copy of his autobiography, “Everything Is Combustible”, which has just been published. A very honest and vitriol-free look at not only his life, but the NYC Downtown Scene.
Unlike Richard Hell’s tome, (which is more of a guilty pleasure), Richard Lloyd doesn’t use his book to settle scores. He pulls no punches, especially when talking about himself, but I don’t think any of the other characters in the book would argue with his characterisations and/or recollections of events.
The acuteness of his memory is quite amazing, considering what Richard has admittedly put himself through, and his perceptions are thought-provoking. A very pleasant surprise to read, and highly recommended.
I recently got out to another show, and it was well outside of the norm’. Blues harmonica player & pianist Corky Siegel backed by a string quartet and a tabla player, with guest vocalist Tracy Nelson. Corky is quirky. He used to have a more conventional outfit, but this is anything but. All were in fine form, and the reception was warm. Go check him out, but leave your expectations at home.
Graham Parker came to town for a gig at the City Winery, and attendance beat his expectations. With a full-house packed with Parker fans, Graham ran through songs old and new, peppering them with war stories of days gone by.
Mr. Parker is an old friend who appears on several of my tribute records, and who also had me produce his “Christmas Cracker” album – photo opposite is me, GP and Tony V during those sessions – so it was a delightful reunion backstage.
It’s terrific to see him in great spirits and great voice, and although I prefer him in a band context, he brings so much of himself to the solo acoustic presentation that there’s never a dull moment.
I got to see Liz Brasher preview her new “Fat Possum” EP at the City Winery, and I think it’s safe to say she’s an artist to watch.
An expressive guitarist, captivating performer and heartfelt singer, now based in Memphis. Liz is still at the beginning of her career so catch her “Punk Soul” – I believe that’s how some are referring to it – in its early gestation.
She’s about to open for the Zombies – an interesting combination for sure – and her “Elijah” is an absolute crowd-pleaser, not to be missed…
As for my own musical projects, I’m in rehearsal/pre-production for a new record by my #1 favourite country artist, Marty Brown. Marty made three records for MCA and one for Hightone that resonated with me, and I’m not really that interested in the genre.
When I first moved to Nashville, I asked my friend Bruce Bromberg, Marty’s former producer, where he could be found. Marty and I met for dinner and we became fast friends and co-writers over some fish tacos.
We cut a record under our own steam (still unreleased), and after much shopping were this close to a record deal; when the individuals running the label got hauled off to jail before they cut the cheque!
Rejected, dejected, and having run out of options, we decided to call it a day. About a month ago, I was asked by a manager for some country songs for a project, and when I sent him a few of the things Marty and I had written, he flipped out.
So I called Marty to let him know and next thing you know, we were writing again. He asked if I’d like to put together a band to back him up on a TV appearance. I asked my wife Sally to play bass, and called my friends Shannon Pollard (drums) and Tyler Kimbro (keys), and they signed up right away. It went off pretty great. Evidence can be found here:
Pardon the sound mix, but we were in and out in a flash. The acoustic is a bit loud. The good news is: We are going into the studio next month to cut a record, and I promise dear readers, I’ll make sure we get a good mix then, for sure!
By Jon Tiven