Bob Beland Makes Back Catalog Available To The Public Through Soundcloud
In a bold move by any music artist, prolific LA songwriter/musician Bob Beland, who has been active in the music industry since the early 1970's, has decided to make available free for public listening his entire back catalog on Soundcloud. This also includes his recent critically acclaimed album release 'Mar Vista'; a collection of songs written by Bob between 2010 and 2012 and it's instrumental companion EP, 'Forward & Backworks,' both recorded at his home studio in Los Angeles, Wrong Way Works. Says Bob, “'Mar Vista' for me is kind of a throwback to the old Buffalo Springfield records and their eclectic unpredictable nature. 'Forward & Backworks' is a concept for orchestra that includes two pieces also found on 'Mar Vista.'”
And why make his music available to listen to for free? Bob explains, “Soundcloud affords for the first time in my career an opportunity to give the public open access to my collected works as opposed to just a few songs or edited samples. Like most songwriters and composers I've always wanted as many people as possible to hear the music I've written over the years and hopefully enjoy the experience. Soundcloud makes that wish possible. It's a little bit like owning your own personal radio station for people to hear your music. Soundcloud also brings to the artist considerable online traffic to tap into. Since I don't perform live or tour I feel that it's more important for people to have the opportunity to hear my music for free as opposed to trying to make that happen through the traditional retail sales and touring oriented approach. I'm much more concerned about acquiring listeners and followers than consumers right now. My music will only gain value through people hearing it and eventually wanting it for their own. Once that demand develops I can consider facilitating the consumer's requests. Soundcloud also helps me in referring recording artists, producers, film and media music supervisors a reliable, accessible place to go to for consideration without all of the old mailing or physical content hassles. Soundcloud gives the world instant access to my music and that's fantastic in my book. I sincerely hope that it's an enjoyable experience for everyone who stops by.”
Bob Beland's diverse career spans over four decades. Originally hailing from Hometown, IL, a small suburb outside of Chicago, his first exposure to music came from local AM radio and his older brother Jack “John” Beland's first band The Mods. His brother John was to go on to an illustrious music career of his own highlighted by his tenure in the legendary Flying Burrito Bros. By 1964 the British invasion was in full swing and the influence was strongly felt by Bob who was an avid listener of band's like The Beatles, Dave Clark 5 and US acts like the Bobby Fuller Four. In 1965, his family migrated to Los Angeles, where Bob began taking formal drum training in high school. By graduation he took interest in guitar and began learning to play on his brother John's guitar. Bob relates, “One problem though, my brother is right handed and I am left handed. Being left handed and not being able to reverse the strings posed quite a problem that I'd have to figure out for myself. So I did. I taught myself with the help of Mel Bay's Big Book of Chords and some dyslexic reading. That's how I ended up playing guitar upside down and backwards all these years (as Elizabeth Cotton and Albert King played).” In 1967 Bob, playing a '65 powder blue Fender Jaguar with a built in fuzz switch, formed his first band Carlisle Wheeling; the band performed many of Bob's originals and covers such as Love's “7 & 7 Is”.
In 1969, the Beland family relocated to Napa, California in the San Francisco Bay area. Bob's formal music training paid off as he quickly formed a 7-piece band called Mason, named after their incredible lead singer Deki Mason. Bob fondly recalls, “It was a flat out hippie experience on the tail end of the summer of love.” He soon began writing songs with Mason and another outfit called Bootleg while doing shows with the likes of Big Brother & The Holding Co., Cold Blood, Sons of Champlin, Grootna, Little John, Country Joe & The Fish, and Tower of Power at places like The Keystone in Berkeley, Pepperland in San Rafael, The Inn of the Beginning in Cotati, the Napa Fairgrounds and The Napa State Sanitarium. At the time, Bob's musical influences grew by leaps and bounds, which included many West Coast acts like the Buffalo Springfield, Linda Ronstadt, the Beach Boys, the Byrds and the Turtles, along with many of the solo singer/songwriters popular at the time. By 1973, he moved back to Los Angeles and formed a band called Southpaw with Jules Shear and Deki Mason Farwell. The band's name was derived from the fact that Bob and Jules were both left-handed, upside down guitar players.
During this time Bob frequented famed LA nightclub the Troubadour where he met a then unknown Tom Waits. Bob recalls, “Back at the club I remember seeing Tom Waits audition for the first time at the Monday night 'Hoots' (open mic). He had just taken the bus up from San Diego. The club wasn't opened yet but a few of the employees were working inside. The waitresses and staff all stopped setting up the club while he auditioned. He really got everyone's attention. After his audition I met him in the dressing room upstairs and asked if he was looking for a guitar player (ah, poor misguided youth!), from which he said, 'Well, as you can see I already play guitar so I kind of got that covered Bob.' We shook hands, talked and ended up sharing a meatball sandwich from Dan Tanas next door to the club. It was fun knowing Tom back then.”
After the demise of Southpaw, Bob did session work for various west coast artists including Peter Allen, Fantasy Records recording artist Byron Keith Daugherty, songwriter Steve Gillette and renowned Hall Of Fame musician Graham Nash of the Hollies/CSN&Y fame. He also formed the band Bates Motel with Southpaw bassist Les Bohem and the band played many of the clubs on the LA strip including the Whiskey Au Go-Go, The Starwood, The Club Lingerie, The Central and Madame Wong's, working with groups like The Motels, The Runaways, The Plimsouls, The Pop, The Zippers and The Knack. In 1980, after passing on becoming lead guitarist for the legendary Rick Nelson, Bob signed an exclusive songwriters deal with the help of Randy Pitch from MCA Publishing and released an EP on Chris Ashford's What Records produced by Stephen Hague (Pet Shop Boys, Blur, Robbie Robertson, the Pretenders, Jules & The Polar Bears). The EP included the song and title track “Stealing Cars”, which was released earlier as a single on Mike Lembo's Deli Platter records. The EP featured Jules Shear, Stephen Hague, Ian Hoffman (the drummer with Southpaw), Gary Richwine and David Beebe (both from Jules & the Polar Bears) and guitarist Kevin Dwyer. A review of the EP in New York's Slash magazine called Beland “the worst influence on western civilization” - quite a compliment coming from such a dignified music rag such as them! Bob recalls, “I remember hearing 'Stealing Cars' for the first time on Jed the Fish's show at KROQ-FM, the big station in LA at that time. It was the first time I had ever heard one of my recordings on the air and there I was hearing it on the crappy car stereo – I loved it! I almost crashed the car!”
After Bob's deal with MCA expired he joined The Furys, one of LA's original punk bands led by Jeff Wolfe and Greg Embrey. Along with playing clubs throughout Los Angeles, the group recorded an EP, 'Indoor/Outdoor' on their own King Coitus Records label. The record was pressed at EMI's manufacturing facility in Christchurch, New Zealand and the album artwork was designed by Bob and his future wife Mary Roth. After The Furys, Bob went on to play with Skin Trade, an eclectic, somewhat progressive unit fronted by Dickies guitarist Glen Laughlin. In 1993, Bob returned to his solo career and recorded the critically acclaimed CD 'Amnesia Lane,' released independently on his own label Seeing i Records. In 2008 Bob released two albums on his newly enacted Wrong Way Works label: 'The Evening Shade' featuring mostly original instrumental pieces, and 'Life Begins...', a new collection of songs. Says Bob, “I had Jules, Deki, Severin Browne, Stew & Heidi from the LA band The Negro Problem and Broadway hit 'Passing Strange,' John Beland, Mark Lennon (from the LA band Venice) and Doug Powell sing on the album 'Life Begins...', along with Ian Hoffman on percussion, chromatic harmonica legend Tommy Morgan (“Good Vibrations”, “Pet Sounds”, “Rainy Days & Mondays”, “Theme From Green Acres”), classical violinist Paula Kuhr from The MESTO Orchestra and Furys/Motels/Gary Valentine & the Know bassist Richard d'Andrea.” Once again, the CD showcased Bob's unique songwriting, arranging and musical prowess.
Which brings us to the year 2013 and the latest CD release by Bob Beland the wonderful 'Mar Vista'. Bob expounds, “This time around I wrote, produced, recorded and sang all the songs along with playing all of the instruments on all the tracks except one song, 'Speed Of Life', that features world percussionist T.J. Troy, from the multi-ethnic classical orchestra MESTO. There's both songs and instrumental work on 'Mar Vista.' Two of the instrumental tracks, 'Overnight (in retrograde)' and 'Beautiful Embrace no.2 pastoral (in retrograde)', are part of another concept I have for the orchestra called 'Forward & Backworks' that I am releasing to coincide with 'Mar Vista.' The concept behind 'Forward & Backworks' is the discovery of what happens when an entire piece of music is performed both forward and backwards. It can be both breathtaking and astounding. I sometimes think of music in retrograde as 'music from the 4th dimension.'"
Now, much to the excitement of music fans and listeners across the globe, Bob Beland's 'Mar Vista' and 'Forward & Backworks' are both available to listen to for free on Soundcloud at: https://soundcloud.com/bobbela