8 years ago, Spiro Ballas asked me to write and record a new Otis Ball song for a holiday album benefiting the Saint Barnabas Hospice and Palliative Care Center. I hadn't been in a studio or created new music since the unreleased Favorite Love Songs album in '91. But I'm always a sucker for a good cause. And honored to be asked for a song 15 years after my one and only album. Luckily, I was a year into the Super Karaoke Fun Time Band project and our bass player at the time, Arthur Rodriguez, had ProTools. And so, Last Present Under The Tree was written and recorded. Arthur on bass, Sam Park on guitar, Kevin Hyland on drums and everyone on vocals. I could not have been happier with the results.
A few years later, I made a video for the song using the amazing pictures of Conni Freestone to benefit the local animal shelter. So here is that.
By the time the album was released, Arthur had left the band, replaced by Kevin's brother, Dan Hyland, on bass. And Sammy split for warmer climes. Thankfully, Keith Hartel showed up to fill the enormous hole left by Mr. Park. So for the record release party, Kevin and I were the only band members that played on the actual recording.
But SKFTB was nothing, if not versatile. We put together a one time only Christmas medley of songs from The Beatles, The Monkees and SNL, as well as a rare live Last Present. And, being that we were in Boss Country, we tossed in one of our show stoppers with Dan taking the lead. Here is the entire performance from that show.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas, if the faith allows. And a very happy new year from your pal, Otis Ball.
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Tonight I attended my third Jimmy Webb show. Let us back up. You may or may not recognize his name, but you know so many of the songs he has composed. Jimmy Webb wrote Up, Up and Away, Galveston, Wichita Lineman, By The Time I Get To Phoenix, The Worst That Could Happen, Where's The Playground Susie, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Didn't We, All I Know, The Highwayman and ,MACARTHUR'S PARK! You know even more, but I can't hum on a blog post.
Back in the day, I shoved my way to the front of the stage for some Maxwell's shows. And I have also been fortunate enough to have front row seats for a handful of amazing shows. But I have never had a better seat than I had for Jimmy Webb in Jersey City tonight. And I don't even know how that happened.
When I first heard that Jimmy Webb was playing the Brennan Court House Coffee House, I flipped my lid. The headline artists have always been local artists. I thought someone must have been screwing with me. I reserved my tickets the day it was announced. Jimmy Webb playing my hometown? Yes. I will be there.
When I showed up tonight, I was escorted to my seat. This was not a folding chairs in a gymnasium affair. Tables with four chairs around each table. Maybe an 80 person capacity. And I was taken to the table directly in front of the keyboard set up on the floor, 7 feet from my chair. I had THE BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE! The keyboard was aligned directly to my chair!
It was AWESOME! He played a number of his hits and told long stories for each and every song. I have been a Jimmy Webb longer than I even knew I was Jimmy Webb fan. Anyone reading this is a Jimmy Webb fan, whether they realize it or not. He is a legendary songwriter. Glen Campbell was the artist to his muse, but hardly his only outlet. Scroll through his Wikipedia page. You know his songs.
He played Up, Up and Away, Galveston, Wichita Lineman, All I Know, Adios, Oklahoma Nights, The Highwayman, If These Walls Could Speak, MACARTHUR PARK! I might have missed one or two, but it was a full show. His stories took more time than the songs. It was an evening I will never forget. After the show, he stuck around to sign autographs. I brought my collection of LPs and he signed all of them. When he saw my 'Jim Webb Sings Jim Webb' album, he told me that it was unauthorized and he hated it. But he happily signed it.
Side note, Laura Savini from WLIW was his handler at the signing table. She's been hosting so many of the NY public television music broadcasts I have been watching for well over two decades. An unexpected bonus!
A night I will never forget. In the presence of greatness. For any composers out there, I highly recommend his book on the art of songwriting, Tunesmith. There are none better.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Every year I make a point to do at least one live performance and/or a recording. This year I will do both. More on the recording later. (When it has been recorded.) But this is your fair warning for what will likely be my only public performance this year.
Hambone & Friends will be at Loop Lounge this Saturday, March 31st, at the Unwinnable Geek Flea post-party. Also appearing will be Six To Eight Mathematics and a Brine & Bastards reunion! A punk rock night for the ages.
And rehearsal footage.