Updated: Apr 26, 2020
Well, in comparison to Covid-19, my " Dilemma" is miniscule, but it does keep me up at night. I really threw my newest CD together very quickly. I had urgency, and as it turned out, that "urgency" was well founded. I barely finished the project, running out of runway, just under the wire with, "Shelter In Place" orders in SF and CA shutting us down. "Social Distancing" guidelines hastened us through the final guitar tracking, but, we got 'er done just in the nic of time. Still, part of me would like to redo some vocals, trick out some arrangements, add percussion, hand claps and tambourine, etc., but, ces't la vi. I had big plans for BG's with Terrie Odabi and the Sons of the Soul Revivers, but, that got nixed. Damn you Covid-19!! Finishing touches, ya know what I mean? As my friend Daniel Castro reminded me, "We never finish a recording project, we just abandon 'em".
Part of my dilemma stemmed from the fact that I had to close down my studio, http://thecaverecordingstudio.us as the building was sold to some Silicon Valley mover and shaker who kicked all of us tenants out, then, sold it again and, now it sits, empty. Too many folks suffer from "Affluenza" around these parts. I digress...
I was fortunate to have the luxury of having Chris "Kid" Andersen at the helm, Producing and Engineering. So, what I lost in the luxury of having my own room, familiar surroundings and unlimited access to the studio, I gained by having Kid, the welcoming confines of Greaseland and access to some of the finest local players in our community who contributed mightily to this effort. We all know that Kid is a very busy artist with the Nightcats and a very highly sought after producer/engineer, right? He was busy finalizing mixes for Chris Cain's new CD (Alligator) and Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhites new duo CD just to name a few while working with me. He had scheduled to produce the next, "Latimore" (Let's Straighten It Out) project at Greaseland but, the pandemic nixed that project and that allowed me to grab two days, back to back, prior to the end of the world as we once knew it. Looking back now, we had no idea what was about to unfold.
I have always enjoyed working with Kid. He's so focused, encouraging, supportive. He's an engineering wiz, ridiculous multi-instrumenalist and a tireless worker which is how we were able to put together a damn fine collection of AJ Crawdaddy tracks and have a lot of fun, laughs and Italian Beef sandwiches together in the process! In the months prior, and as we embarked on this project, we had no idea that the end of the world was coming. Personally, I did have a sense of urgency, and the timing turned out to be critical. This CD was inspired by the muse, the many gigs, events, fund raisers, jams I participated in over the last 3 years since we released, "Slow Cookin'". I feel so very, very fortunate to be able to make recordings! So many of my friends and fellow musical travelers have moved on, crossed over. This record is dedicated to them, and for all of those who have gone before me carrying on the rich tradition of this art form we know and love, the blues.
The opportunity to work with Kid Andersen was such a good fit, I had to go for it. With Kid producing, I had a lot of confidence that we could accomplish something special, and I am 98.5% certain that we did just that. Having the luxury of Kid Andersen at the helm, making decisions made my life a hell of a lot easier. I was able to include the entire band and many fabulous special guest artists, many of whom I have worked with on other projects. All of the basics were nailed in three days of tracking spread out over two months. As it worked out, we were able to overdub horns and vocals prior to the virus taking out our ability to gather in groups in the weeks prior to Shelter In Place (SIP) orders with our very last session taking place on the same day that Governor Newsom issued SIP orders for all of California. Mayor Breed of SF had ordered SIP for SF and San Mateo counties the week prior, so I was able to get in the last two sessions in Santa Clara County, just under the wire before the governor slammed the hammer down on the entire state. Traveling to the studio that final day was eerie on the roads. It was a Friday and an ominous feeling of the "unknown" struck me as I was driving that morning. I was excited and yet, adjusting to this alien new reality, adjusting to the invasion of Covid-19 the deadly unknown "thing" which was somehow taking over my life. Suddenly experiencing this new reality, a complete upheaval of our freedom of movement, freedom of gathering to play music, do gigs, simply move about, socialize, work and enjoy the company of loved ones, friends and family felt pretty foreign. It was weird! It still is "Weird" as hell!!
What a "Weird" dilemma, eh? Don't get me wrong. I'm just gathering my wits about me, formulating a dialogue on how to proceed, shaping my thought process for how to explain this CD going forward. I appreciate you sticking with me through this cathartic BLOG post. It's been therapeutic for me. I turn 70 in a couple months and I'm dealing with weird emotions and anxieties, and I'm not gonna lie, mortality is lending a hand in my neurosis. Not to be morbid, but, I'm surely on the back nine and this music thing is a young man's game. I think that since "urgency" has been a key element of this project being undertaken, something is telling me to try and finish up the mixes, master the tracks and put together all of the other elements of the CD, like, cover art, album pics, credits, etc., and just keep moving, that tomorrow is not guaranteed, Just keep moving with urgency and that will be the theme and mission statement going forward. I might even come up with a new song about urgency, or Just Keep Moving given what is unfolding. In all likelihood, all of our lives are forever going to be altered by this virus. It's going to be a while before we will be able to gather to celebrate, dance, hang out, have a CD release party, so yeah, I'll be looking forward to that time and be thankful and remain vigilant, productive and happy to be around to enjoy the moment. And proceed with urgency in spirit of contributing to the speeding up process of returning to normal, whatever "normal" is.