jim

My Morning Jacket Hit The Road With The Preservation Hall Jazz Band

It’s been almost a full year, but the wait is finally over.  My Morning Jacket are ready to bring their electrifying live show back on the road.  The guys will make their way around the Southeastern United States this Spring, including a performance at this year’s Jazzfest in New Orleans.  MMJ are also excited to both try something new with their choice for an opening act, and bring some of the spirit of NOLA along with them.  The band is honored that the historic Preservation Hall Jazz Band will be supporting them on the run.

The connection with the PHJB originated in the Spring of 2009 when MMJ frontman Jim James was invited to sing with them at their home turf, New Orleans’ legendary Preservation HallJames recorded two songs with the band: “St. James Infirmary” and “Louisiana Fairytale.”  The tracks will appear on the bands forthcoming album,  PRESERVATION: An Album To Benefit Preservation Hall & The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program, out February 16th.

“When I got the invitation to go to the legendary Preservation Hall – where SO much of the music we now know and love on this earth found its early roots – I did not waste a minute,”  James reminisces.  “Getting to sing while the guys played with such glorious bursts of sound – all live in that holy room with the ghosts and garbage trucks crankin’ along – was an experience I’ll never forget.”

The PHJB’s leader Ben Jaffe shares his memory of playing with James: “I couldn’t have imagined Jim fitting in any better with the guys at Preservation Hall.  Creating music is not a science.  There is no tried and true formula.  There is an unspoken bond amongst musicians.  One that exists in the notes we choose.  Jim’s like our long lost cousin coming home for the first time.”

MMJ Tour Dates With The Preservation Hall Jazz Band:

04/20:  Birmingham, AL @ Alabama Theater

04/21:  Nashville, TN @ Municipal Auditorium

04/23:  Atlanta, GA @ Chastain Park

04/24:  New Orleans, LA @ Jazzfest

04/27:  St. Augustine, FL @ St. Augustine Amphitheater

04/28:  Charleston, SC @ Family Circle

04/30:  Raleigh, NC @ Koka Booth

05/01:  Columbia, MD @ Merriweather Post Pavilion

05/02:  Columbus, OH @ LC Outdoor Pavilion

Jim McPherson: A Promise Kept

The story of Jim McPherson is the story of what might have been – a legendarily gifted musician whose untimely passing robbed us of an unknowable wealth of music. He earned considerable recognition for the Jefferson Starship’s hit “Jane,” which he co-wrote with David Freiberg, but that was only a tiny bit of his creative outpouring.   Against all odds, a fine collection of his songs has been preserved and now assembled.  It’s a message in a bottle, a fragment of an artist’s life from twenty years ago, with performances by some of the Bay Area’s finest musicians - -

 

jimJim grew up on the West Side of Chicago in the 1950s, the golden era of the urban blues, and they became a part of his musical DNA, passing from the radio into his bones.  He got “the fever,” as the saying had it.  As a young boy he played violin, attending the Mozart School of Music, but soon moved on to drums, bass, keyboards and guitar: he mastered them all.  After attending college in Idaho, Jim transferred to San Jose State in California, which put him right in the Bay Area music scene of 1964.  There he met up with Dennis Carrasco, Bob Rominger, and Roger Hedge, his musical collaborators for the next several years.  Their first band was the Trolls, which morphed into the popular and respected Stained Glass, with several singles on RCA Records, including “My Buddy Sin” and “A Scene In-Between.”   The Glass recorded two albums for Capitol, Crazy Horse Roads and Aurora; Tom Bryant joined the group as Rominger and Hedge left. The band later evolved into Christian Rapid. Though he was always a team player – and one of the finest bass players around – Jim was most definitely the musical leader of all these outfits, contributing the vast majority of their material.

 

Jim left San Jose in 1971 and moved to Marin County along with many other like-minded exiles from the era of San Francisco in the ‘60s.  He’d been working with Frank Werber (who’d managed the Kingston Trio to fame and fortune), but Frank was retiring, and sent him to the manager of the Quicksilver Messenger Service, Ron PoltePolte recalled that Jim came by one day, pulled out an acoustic guitar, and “charmed me in 15 minutes…he was accomplished, like a terrific magician.  I was completely taken.”  So Ron sent him to John Cipollina.

 

Jim met up with John Cipollina and joined John’s first post-Quicksilver Messenger Service venture, a band called Copperhead.  David Weber, Gary Phillipet and Pete Sears had already been recruited. Pete later went on to join the Jefferson Starship and was replaced by Hutch Hutchinson. Gary Philippet and Kent Housman wrote the single “Roller Derby Star” for the Copperhead album, and Jim’s ‘Chameleon’ was on the flip side.   Though his visibility was not as high as in the past, Jim was actually Copperhead’s main songwriter, his talents as quirky and notable as before.

 

He recorded with various other groups in the Bay Area and began work on a solo album at The Barn, on Mickey Hart’s ranch in Novato, California, laying down a considerable amount of strong material before his rapidly failing health ultimately hindered his ability to complete it.

 

Hart was so impressed with Jim’s songwriting and performance skills that he put together a band to showcase it – one of the fond memories of early-80s Bay Area music, High Noon, which featured Jim on vocals, keyboards, and rhythm guitar, Mickey Hart on drums, Bobby Vega on bass, Merl Saunders on vocals and keys, Vicki Randle on vocals, percussion, and rhythm guitar (lots of switching around in this band!), Michael Hinton on lead guitar, and Norton Buffalo on harp and vocals.  Two of he songs on this CD, “Left Out in the Cold,” which was co-written with Merl, and Jim’s “Cross the Bridge,” are performed here by High Noon and were graciously earmarked for it.  Also during this era, Jim’s friendship with bass player Bobby Vega solidified in, and they wrote several tunes together, one of which, “The Real Deal,” is included in this project.

 

Jim performed frequently with Merl Saunders, and together they also wrote the song “Play the Paris Blues,” which was heard on the television series “Simon and Simon.”  Merl recorded the tune with Dr. John and it was Dr. John’s part that found its way onto the San Francisco-based show “Nash Bridges.”

 

The years passed, but interest in these songs has remained high – mostly from musicians in the know.  Finally, the right elements fell into place.  Twenty-four years after she promised her husband Jim to complete his legacy, Executive Producer Evy McPherson explained, “This CD celebrates a completed life, and that changes its scope.  If Jim had been around, this CD might have been very different.  But in these circumstances, I felt it had to represent all of his many dimensions – so there are blues songs, country songs, love songs, even a funk song…Because he could do anything.”

 

We can speculate on what might have been – but here in A Promise Kept you have what he was able to do – and it is genuine treasure, the work of a truly superlative songwriter.  Your ears will tell you so.

Reissues from Ben Vaughn, Jim Carroll & Wednesday Week

Jim Carroll''s ''Praying Mantis''- for the Grateful Web

Noble Rot, the label subsidiary of Collectors' Choice devoted to preserving great early indie-rock albums of the '80s and '90s, will release three new reissues on January 29: Praying Mantis bv Jim Carroll, Beautiful Thing by Ben Vaughn and What We Had by Wednesday Week. Keeping in Noble Rot's tradition, the reissues will be packaged in cardboard Digi-Paks with liner notes.

Previous Noble Rot reissues have included Robyn Hitchcock, Grant Lee Buffalo, Hunters & Collectors, The Surf Punks, Martini Ranch, Rodney Crowell's side project Cicadas, and more.
 
Wednesday Week – What We Had. Wednesday Week is a long-running Los Angeles-based band anchored by sisters Kristi and Kelly Callan, with members who have included Heidi Rodewald (later in the Negro Problem), David Nolte (The Last, Wondermints, Maria McKee, Davie Allen & the Arrows and David Gray), Dave Provost (The Droogs, Dream Syndicate), and Ilene Markell (7 Deadly 5). The Noble Rot reissue contains not only the band's 1987 complete Don Dixon-produced album What We Had (originally on Enigma), but TEN bonus tracks including the complete 1983 EP Betsy's House on WarFrat Records, plus five more songs from the band's archives. These include an alternate version of "You Wanted Me to Hang Around"; the previously unreleased "All So Clear," from an obscure Midnight Records holiday compilation; the fan club single "Leopard"; and the title track of 1990's No Going Back album on the Swedish Spins label. Liner notes are by Los Angeles Times TV critic and Wednesday Week fan/friend Robert Lloyd.
 
Ben Vaughn – Beautiful Thing. Vaughn is a rock 'n 'roll renaissance man — a artist and songwriter, producer (Arthur Alexander's acclaimed Lonely Just Like Me, Charlie Feathers), and prolific TV score-smith ( Third Rock from the Sun, That '70s Show and Grounded for Life.) The Jersey/Philly boy put himself on the map with the 1986 album The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn and followed up with this 1987 album, Beautiful Thing, cut in a New Jersey garage and originally issued on Restless Records. The album contains such tracks as "She's a Real Scream" (with the infamous line "Her end justifies the means"), the Gary Usher-like surf sound of "Desert Boots," "Jerry Lewis in France, " Clothes Don't Make The Man," "Beautiful Thing, "The North Wind Blew," "Shingaling with Me" and "Gimme Gimme Gimme.". A nearly forgotten classic, reissued with liner notes by pop scholar Gene Sculatti and quotes from Vaughn himself.
 
Jim Carroll – Praying Mantis. Those familiar only with the hit "People Who Died" may not realize that Jim Carroll, like Patti Smith and Tom Verlaine, first started performing as a poet in the Lower East Side scene. This 1991 album, originally issued on Giant, takes us to the heart of that scene, St. Mark's Church on the Bowery, for a series of poems and semi-improvised comic monologues taken from Carroll's collections. Included are pieces from several collections: "Living at the Movies" (1973), "The Book of Nods" (1986) and "Forced Entries" (1987) as well as a 14-minute improvised rant titled "The Loss of American Innocence." In other words, something of a greatest hits poetry collection. Liner note writer Kim Cooper, a pop culture writer and blogger, describes his performance as "requiring intense attention that rewards with humor and flashes of subtle, elegant observation." The album, she notes, "struck a confident note of a nimble artist reinventing himself."