Tag Archives: John Ginty

Band’s Eye View 2013

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As 2013 comes to a close and year-end Best of Lists start popping up highlighting all the great music that was made this year, we at Honest Tune, wanted to find out what all those musicians who appear on all these best of lists were listening to this year.  So we asked some of our favorite bands what albums moved them this year and what were their memorable moments from a year full of great live shows.  Their answers provide a wide sampling of some of the great music that was made this year.  Some of it familiar, some of it not, but all of it well worth checking out.  Read on and hopefully discover some great, new music from 2013.

 

 

 

 

The four questions we asked each musician were:

1.) What were your 3 favorite albums of 2013?

2.) What was your favorite live moment of the year?

3.) What album or band were you most excited to discover in 2013?

4.) What are you looking forward to most in 2014?

 

 

DSCN8505editedKeller Williams

1.)  1. Bob Marley & The Wailers, Legend Remixed. Fresh spins on a universal music.

2. Pretty Lights, A Color Map of the Sun. It’s interesting how a DJ/producer will have humans play his ideas on instruments, record them on tape, press them to vinyl, then load it all in to the computer. That’s going above and beyond the call of duty.

3. White Denim’s, Corsicana Lemonade.  Super cool rock that rocks hard.

2.) Summer Camp in Chillicothe, Illinois.  Victor Wooten sat in with me the entire set.  It was tasty and the band was thrilled to be in the presence of the such musical greatness as Victor Wooten.  I  also enjoyed  the Bassnectar show at The Fillmore in Maryland.  I was dead center on the dance floor and my sternum was rattled. The energy went through the roof, it was powerful sh**t.

3.)  Breastfist, Tickly Shimmers. So funky. So complex. So funny. So weird. So good. Key track?  “Talk to the Fist”.

4.)  Looking forward to two huge bus tours with my new side project, More Than A Little.

(To hear more about Keller’s thoughts on Breastfist and his busy 2013, check out Honest Tune’s recent interview with him. Keller Williams with more than a little, its funky )

 

 

DSCN1473editedPaul Hoffman – Greensky Bluegrass

1.)  This is always tough.  I ask myself, “Did they have to be released in 2013 or did I just need to dig them in 2013?”

1.  Jason Isbell Southeastern.  Anders [Beck] said, “Listen to it and try not to love it.”  He was right.  This guy is freakin’ brilliant.

2.  Dawes Stories Don’t End.  I also think Taylor Goldsmith is a great writer.  If I dig the lyrics, I can latch on to a record in an unhealthy-listen-everyday kinda way.  I played this one a lot while we were flying this summer.

3.  Fruition Just One of Them Nights.  We just did 30+ shows with this band this fall.  I came home and listened to the album right away.  That’s got to say something.  Three amazing writers in this band.  Five incredible musicians.  Boy can they sing pretty too.

I did it.  All released in 2013.  I checked.

2.) In Chicago or Detroit I don’t know, we do so many shows in a row.” Checks calendar for a visual memory of the year, this is tough too.  I’m going with a recent memory.  It’s accessible and different.  I saw a lot of amazing music this year and (think) I played a great deal as well.  A piece that I will hold on to though is the emotion after our 9 week tour.  It’s sort of a sum-of-musical-moments. We worked so hard to keep it fresh every night and musically challenge ourselves and the listeners. The last show was hard but somehow we pulled it off.  I expected to be relieved (and certainly was) but I was struck with this nostalgia like never before.  I’ve already confronted this truth that there will never be another tour like that one.  I cried a little and it shocked me.  I was really surprised.  That’s a memory.

3.)  Jason Isbell.  The others above I was already familiar with.  Glad to be following him through future projects as well as looking back at his previous catalog. 

4.)   We’ve been working all year on a new album and it’s going to be released early in the year.  I’m anxious for people to hear it and there are some songs I’m excited to play.  Greensky is also going to play some amazing festivals in 2014.  I can’t say which but I can admit being stoked!

 

 

Mike DevolMike Devol – Greensky Bluegrass

1.)  1.  Jason Isbell, Southeastern. For someone who is generally so chipper, I’m a sucker for heartbreak. Not to say that it’s all sad- each song is just really poignant, and what Isbell says, he says really beautifully. I’m not yet incredibly familiar with his work with the Drive by Truckers, but this solo album is stripped down so charmingly, each arrangement in awesome service to its message. I listen to it almost every day.

2.  Frightened Rabbit, Pedestrian Verse. This Scottish band has released several albums, but their newest, Pedestrian Verse, is the one that has hooked me. It’s a study in texture, each band member contributing to a truly creative composite sound, that results in an album full of anthems. I find myself drumming on random objects and singing along at the top of my lungs.

3.  Lorde The Love Club EP. This is the prequel release to this fall’s super blockbuster pop sensation, Pure Heroine, which I also love. I know this is a jam publication- don’t judge me, but this 16-year old girl from New Zealand has created something pretty awesome in a world where Miley Cyrus and Toby Keith are the types to usually sell a ton of albums. She has a beautiful and unique voice, and the electronic accompaniment is just so damn sonically pleasing. Can’t stop listening.

2.)  Is it arrogant to choose a Greensky moment? Truth is, I play a hell of a lot more shows than I see, and I can’t think of any concert experience of this year that can hold a candle to the feeling I get when onstage with my boys. We finished a 47(?) show tour in mid-November with two sold-out nights at the Gothic Theater in Denver. That second night was some of the best fun I’ve had. We took the stage with a sense of victory that took us through that whole show, all relishing in the joy of playing, the pride of what we’d just accomplished, and the energy of perhaps our greatest fans of all.

3.)  Fruition. Didn’t discover them in 2013, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t discover just how awesome they are over the course of touring with them this year. If you haven’t heard of this 5-piece from Portland, OR, go buy all of their albums. When I first met Fruition, they had this charming string band sound, but with the addition of drums and the resulting growth in their songwriting styles, they’ve really come into an amazing, unique rock sound that is only theirs. I’m just getting started- They have three solid songwriters who can also sing stellar lead. Perhaps the most prolific of these is Jacob Anderson, who is also one of the best guitarists I know. Just plain shreds. Their three and sometimes four-part harmonies and vocal arrangements are some of the best in the business. And they’re just a bunch of solid, badass folks. Thankful that this year saw so many Greensky shows with Fruition as support. Next year, they’ll be too big to come out with us!

4.)  Sky’s the limit for 2014. First of all, I am just stoked for the release of our new album, If Sorrows Swim. We’ve been working on it all year, and I can’t wait to share it with our people, and hopefully some people who aren’t already “ours” in February or March. More great songs from Hoffman and Bruzza, self-produced and recorded with Glenn Brown in Michigan, like our last studio effort Handguns.

In true Greensky form, we’ll also be touring a lot. Festival season is already shaping up, and although I’m not allowed to talk about a lot of it yet, there is plenty to be excited about. What am I most excited about in 2014? The unknown. With all the exciting stuff that is happening for us, I’m gonna take the the optimist’s path and say that what I’m most excited about is all the cool stuff that isn’t planned yet. Who knows what the year will bring in terms of life and music-making experience, and I think that’s what keeps Greensky ticking in this often restless world of the touring musician- the people we meet, the scenes out the window of the bus, the crowds we play for, the spontaneous ontage pop-song teases. We have a lot of fun, and that’s what’s keeping us sane, and that’s what keeps us going from year to year. Come out and share in the revelry.

 

 

Patrick Rainey1Patrick Rainey – The Bridge, Freedom Enterprise

1.)  1.  Anders Osborne Peace – From the guy who brought us Three Free Amigos comes a full-length album that is brewed thick with soul and grit. Peace adds to a collection of songs that sticks with the listener like a heroin addiction. Anders’ guitar playing drips with good intention, but is over-driven to the point of dissonant overtones, yet somehow reaches the light at the end of the tunnel. This simple three piece band brings New Orleans Swamp to distortion levels, adding saxophone and the Hammond B3 along the way.

2. Lorde Pure Heroine – Intimate and fantastic, Pure Heroine is perfect for road trips and fornication. Consistent thumping bass lines and up-close vocals lend to a soothing and hypnotic experience. Nothing too complicated here, just good songs, perfectly executed with easy production. Albums like this usually make their way to my playlist because it’s clean and relaxing.

3.  Arcade Fire Reflektor – In contradiction to the previous two albums, Reflektor, has an uncanny abundance of density. The album itself has a live feel only because there is people clapping and cheering like there is a live audience, but the album ideally could not be more over-produced. This is one of the most expensive, collaborative, intense, and imaginative journeys one could expect out of listening to a bunch of invisible wave “sounds.”

2.)  David Byrne and St. Vincent (Baltimore, MD 6/13/13). – My buddy Cris Jacobs had won two tickets from WTMD the night of the show, and he asked me to go. I couldn’t be more excited because I really wanted to see David Bryne. I had never seen a show at the Myerhoff and it took my breath away from the moment I took my required seat. The band started, laying on the floor playing to the suspended honeycomb sound diffusing apparatus, that reflected the sound out to the mass of rather boisterous people. When David Byrne came out the crowd erupted, and I think I cried a little but I was soon brought back by his candor and personality. He said he had spent the day biking around Druid Hill Park, but it sounded more like “Droodle Pork” as he was demonstrating his best Bawlmer accent. He’s one of us, I thought. I soon realized that his counter part in the show, St. Vincent, was from another planet. She glided and pulsed so fluidly with the music, her presence was unmistakable, all while absolutely killing her vocal melodies and shredding a mean black shiny guitar. The accompanying marching horn section used every square foot of the stage and everyone played at least three instruments. Each song ended with a hard stop and the sound reverberated through the hall and through the bones of every person there. Acoustically perfect for that space, the band ended the show playing a few Talking Heads tunes, then laid back down on the hard symphony floor and played to that crazy ceiling.

3.)  Daft Punk – I was most excited for Random Access Memories because I remember jumping up and down on my futon listening to Discovery in my dorm room. This duo of robots produces the finest French disco in all the land. Throw a pile of synthesizers and vocoders at Pharrell and add a little Nile Rodgers and you got yourself a hit. Though after one listen, I did realize that I’m not in college anymore.

4.)  Next year I’m looking forward to playing lots of festivals with my new band Freedom Enterprise and this winter with The Bridge in Jamaica. 2013 has been a good year for music as the industry’s misfortunes have started to trimming out the grizzle. On behalf of all the musicians out there, I would like to thank the fans for their continued support. We’re the lucky ones.

 

 

Karl DensonKarl Denson – Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Greyboy All-Stars

1.)  1.  Justin Timberlake “20/20 Experience: I feel like this record kind of came out of nowhere. There is no real hip-hop being played on the radio anymore,  and the pop songs are monotone and terrible. I like the fact that a real R&B crooner record was able to make such a statement. I also like that all the songs are long.

2.  Fat Freddy’s Drop: I happened upon this record listening to public radio and I couldn’t take it off my playlist for a few months. Just a great sound, Nice mix of influences and A strangely familiar voice.

3.  Danger Mouse and Danielle Luppi “Rome”: just a beautiful album. The harmonies are way more interesting than I expected.

2.) Last Christmas I finally got to see Jack White live. ‘Nuff said.

 3.)   I can’t say a specific band. I discovered a lot of music this year. There’s a lot going on and a lot of things are changing.

4.)  This year I’m looking forward to making lots of music. The Tiny Universe has been going well and has a new album, New Ammo, dropping in February. I’m also taking my son to Costa Rica.

 

 

John Ginty 8x10John Ginty

1.)  1.  Amelita by Court Yard Hounds. Yes, I played on it, but it really is an amazing record. This is the second record from Emily and Martie of the Dixie Chicks, with Martin Strayer co-writing the songs and playing guitar. Great listen top to bottom, great traveling record.

2.  Made Up Mind by Tedeschi Trucks Band. They make GREAT records, that sound amazing thanks to Jim Scott, and have you seen them live?  Make that happen if you haven’t, one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Old school.

3.  Shout! by Govt. Mule. Always a fan of the band and their records, this was a cool idea to do the second disc with special guests on vocals. My favorite treatment is “Funny Little Tragedy” with Elvis Costello.

2.)  Playing the first notes of “Not Ready to Make Nice” with the Dixie Chicks on the “Long Time Gone Tour” in Canada. The power of song is incredible. You could light up a city with that energy.

3.)  Samantha Fish. She rocks. She released her new record Black Wind Howlin’ on the same day my new record came out, and I started seeing her name all over the place. Really dig her playing, energy, and songwriting.

4.)  I’m looking forward to summer, honestly. Touring in this crappy cold weather is for the birds.

(Check out Honest Tune’s interview with John Ginty about his new album Bad News Travels.  John Ginty: They can’t take the organ away from me)

 

 

Chris Pandolfi1Chris Pandolfi – Infamous Stringdusters

1.) 1.  The BandLive at the Academy of Music 1971.  Everybody loves the Band, myself included. I was so excited when this came out, even though I’ve heard most of this stuff a million times before. But that’s the beauty of the Band–their music is the realest real deal, and it only gets better with time. Even though they are known for their songs/recordings, the live performance is magical. The horn arrangements at this show are so regal and perfect, the Dylan stuff is amazing, and the setlist is something to behold. Imagine having that many incredible songs? Thank God for the Band.

2.  Washed Out – Paracosm.  I discovered Washed Out’s Life of Leisure EP a few years back and it had a huge impact on me right away. His sound is beautiful–dreamy and heavily textured but totally accessible. He’s got great simple songs and a truly unique sound, something I really admire as an artist. His follow up to Life of Leisure (Within and Without) was good but Paracosm is absolutely great. I feel like the sound is much more his own, versus the production on Within and Without. It’s as if he got back to his roots, and I love it. He also has a legit live band (I saw them in Boulder in September) that combines elements of electronic synth-pop with real instruments and lots of vocals. It was a big step forward from earlier iterations of the performance. I hope the Washed Out albums keep on coming.

3.  Phoenix – Bankrupt.  I’m a big Phoenix fan. I loved their last album, and in many ways this record is an extension of that sound. It’s all very consistent–pop hooks framed by really creative production. When Bankrupt dropped I couldn’t turn it off, and that’s the sign of a great album. There’s some conceptual stuff in there, and just a bunch of catchy songs. They also included a cool mashup of ‘sketches,’ entitled the Bankrupt Diaries, which looks at different early impressions of the music. You hear snippets of working versions which gives a cool glimpse into the evolution of the music for this album.

2.)  I went out of my way to see some great bands that I follow this past year, which always reminds me of how great true fandom feels. We lose touch with that feeling as professional musicians, but it’s so important and I’m more into it than ever. But far and away my most memorable musical moment this year was playing with John Scofield at The Festy Experience (our annual festival in central VA). Sco is my absolute improvising hero. His playing is just pure feeling, something I aspire to every time I get on stage–it’s the only thing the untrained ear really relates to and thus your greatest responsibility as a performer. It helps to be good, but it’s essential to be real, and Scofield is the best at both. He sat in with the Stringdusters for two songs, one of his, “Kelpers,” and one of ours, “Fire.”  We took a solo together, trading ideas and flowing with the music. Though the fan side of me was just freaking out, he was so cool through the whole experience that the music really came to life. I can never remember being more inspired on stage. Thank you John Scofield, you are a musical God.

3.)  I recently got into a great new album called Kittyhawk by Ki:Theory (aka Joel Burleson). He’s managed by a friend, and I’ve been aware of him for a while, but this album is just sick, a huge step forward in both writing and production. Ki:Theory doesn’t tour much, so the recording is kind of the thing. His early stuff was more vibey songwriter stuff, but the album is so thick with creative production, but not just for production’s sake. The sounds bring the music to life in just the right way, and they range all over the sonic map. It’s really impressive and great sounding–a big inspiration for me in my solo endeavors. I could see his music being much much more popular.

4.)  I’m looking forward to working on my solo stuff this coming year (TradPlus). The Stringdusters is such a dream come true musical outlet, but it’s also all about the art of compromise. I’ve been into lots of different sounds/styles for a long time and I’m finally gearing up to release some music and perform solo. The concept has evolved a lot over the past few years as I have learned the world of programming, worked on playing new instruments and discovered new influences. This is my vision, and I don’t have to compromise anything–it’s daunting but also totally liberating. I work a lot in my home studio, which is tailored pretty specifically for producing my own stuff–lots of software, VSTs, but also lots of instruments. It’s about new and different sonic textures, but it’s mostly about songs.

 

 

robert-walterRobert Walter – Robert Walter’s 20th Congress,  The Greyboy Allstars

1.)  It’s a little embarrassing, but I don’t really know very much about albums from 2013.  Mostly I’ve been listening to old records.  Lots of Prince and The Time lately, also Cymande and Black Sabbath.  I got a cassette player and have been enjoying shopping at the thrift store for tapes.

2.)  Greyboy Allstars late night at High Sierra Music Festival was one of my favorite gigs this year.  We also did three nights this summer in NYC with Houston Person, James Carter and Gary Bartz, one each night.  It was fun to play with those guys and hear them up close. Very inspiring.

3.)  I love The Mike Dillon Band.

4.)  More touring, writing and recording.  I enjoy making music.

 

 

Tom-Hamilton-3Tom Hamilton – American Babies

1.) 1.  Arcade Fire – Reflektor.  These guys are batting 1000 when it comes to making records. With a sound that is unique and always evolving. I look forward to their releases with the same excitement that I have for Radiohead albums.

2.  Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle.  Don’t sleep on this. She is part Nick Drake, part Leonard Cohen, and all woman. Her songs are devastating, her voice like a ghost in a dream.

3.  Atoms For Peace – Amok.  Four words: Thom Yorke and Flea.

2.)  I did a show in January with a bunch of my friends called “Joe Russo’s Almost Dead.” It was one of those nights that you never forget. We all clicked right from the first note.

3.)  Laura Marling. She’s is an absolute delight.

4.)  Touring the country a couple times over with American Babies. We’re coming for ya…

(Read our recent interview with Tom Hamilton on the making of his latest album, Knives & Teeth. Tom Hamilton & American Babies get their Knives and Teeth out)

 

 

JenningsJennings Carney – Pontiak

1.)  1.  Portal Vexovoid because it is super interesting and textured.

2. Cass McCombs Big Wheel and Others because it just is.
3. Rediscovered “Dreaming My Dreams”, by Waylon Jennings.

2.)  We played Hopscotch festival in Raleigh and participated in Seth Olinsky’s Band Dialogue. It was awesome. A bunch of bands set up in a closed off street and played one long big droning piece of music.

3.)  I don’t know.

4.)  Going on tour in the US and Europe in support of our new album.  Making more music videos with remote controlled apparatus.

 

 

GC-PR JPEG color _1Carol Young – The Greencards

1.)  1.  Paul Kelly – Spring and Fall.  Honest songwriting. Paul is in a class of his own.

2. Sarah Jarosz – Build Me Up From Bones.  Sarah’s an outstanding musician and songwriter. Sonically this album is on a whole other level.

3. Mark Knopfler – Privateering. Has two of the best songs I’ve heard all year, “Seattle” and “Redbud Tree”.

2.)  Paul Kelly at The Mercy Lounge during the Americana Conference, Nashville TN, Sept 2013.

3.)  Austin band, Sons of Fathers.

4.)  Heading back to Australia to play CMC Rocks The Hunter Festival in March 2014.  It’s going to be great to take our new album home.

 

 

Brian HaasBrian Haas – Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

1.) 1. Samuel Jackson Five – Samuel Jackson Five

2. Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus

3. All Hail Bright Futures – And So I Watch You From Afar

Because I love new, unique, good, mostly instrumental rock and roll.

 2.)  My favorite live music moment was playing my new album Frames with Johnny Vidacovich at Snug Harbor in NOLA.

3.)  I was most excited to rediscover the Fuck Buttons, awesome album.

4.)  I am looking forward to Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey’s 20th Anniversary Tour !

 

 

Garrett7Garrett Anderson

1.) 1. Ben Folds Five – Live.  So glad those three got back together for “The Sound of the Life of the Mind” in 2012.  This live release was icing on the cake, especially since I didn’t make it out to see them on tour.

2.  Jack Johnson – From Here to Now to You.  Music video footage made me a little jealous I wasn’t in Hawaii making albums.  I’m a huge Zach Gill (ALO) fan and am glad those two teamed up.  Jack’s music is simple, but when I let it, it amplifies how much I love my life and the wonderful people in it.

3.  Anders Osborne – Peace.  I’ve only recently been turned onto Anders and I’m so glad I did.  His music resonates with me in a deep dark beautiful place.  He’s became a huge musical inspiration for me bridging the singer-songwriter and jamband worlds.  I’m still getting into the nitty-gritty of Peace, but a few casual listens and it sounds to me like he’s on top of his game.

2.)  Can I pick one of each? Being 2nd row Paige-side for Phish in Reading, PA for a great 2nd set (thanks Marc).  We were so close that the camera guy would intermittently block our view of Trey to get footage of guitar solos.  For me, I finally got to visit my wife’s family in Texas this year.  At my next gig back home, I sang a lyric of mine “we’ve yet to cross off visiting Texas” and got a huge smile on my face because we finally did cross it off the list.  What used to be a bittersweet lyric evolved into a reminder of a great family trip.

3.)  Snarky Puppy – I noticed some social-media buzz for their show in Baltimore so I checked them out online and was hooked.  They nurture music to get the maximum smoothness and groove out of each tune.  I wish I had the focus and chops to compose like them.  Just cool, quality, wonderfully executed stuff.

4.)  Seeing Umphreys McGee in town for my 30th birthday – you gotta get old but you don’t haveta grow up.  Also, my bassist buddy Paul has a nice home-studio and I’m excited to hunker down and work on new recordings with him.

 

 

seth walkerSeth Walker

1.)  1.  Wood Brothers – The Muse.  Creative, soulful, uncluttered music. it takes me back to the old Band recordings with a brand new/old thang slung from their hip.

2.  Tedeschi/Trucks Band – Made Up Mind.  Good songs and great tones performed by actual musicians.

3.  Justin Timberlake – 20/20.  “Pusher Love Girl” is a bad ass soul pop production.

2.)  Performing with Allen Toussaint in NYC and playing at Magnolia Festival Ampitheater to an amazing listening/dancing music loving crowd.

3.)  I discovered Rodriguez. The Sugar Man soundtrack. So damn hip and a great story!

4.)  Releasing my new album produced by Oliver Wood.

 

 

HowlingBros-ParkingLot-ByJoshuaBlackWilkinsIan Craft – Howlin’ Brothers

1.)  1.  Doc & Merle Watson – Down South

2.  John Hartford, Tony Rice and Vassar Clements – Hartford Rice & Clements

3.  Sanctified Grumblers – No Lie

2.)  Playing the banjo concert on The Shady Grove Stage at The Winnipeg Folk Festival in July.
Brother Jared Green joined me for some shuffle drum set adventures.  It was very silly and
fun.  Can’t beat that!

3.)  outta Chicago.  They feel good to my soul.

4.)  Being a troubadour.

 

 

KennyRobyKenny Roby

1.)  1.  The National – Trouble Will Find Me.  I really like the National. They strike that dark nerve in me. They let me know everything might not be alright. Like a good Cormac McCarthy novel.

2.  Charles Bradley – Victim of Love.  Like with Ted Hawkins, its hard to separate the story from the songs. But both of them are the real deal. Putting their stories out there blood, piss and all.

3.  Chance The Rapper.  I guess he really hasn’t made an official record this year? Just mix tapes. But my son turned me onto him and he is one of the better MCs out their in my opinion. Really dig his style.

Honorable Mentions: Nick Cave, Ron Sexsmith, Paul McCartney (these are all good records but I haven’t truly sunk my teeth into them yet). These guys are so good though that it is like saying “which teams will do well this year…. besides the Yankees and Red Sox. ‘

And last I have to mention Snoop Lion. That movie and record are the most strange and in some ways “Rock ‘n’ Roll” releases in 2013. You almost can’t describe how weird the whole thing is. I love it.

2.)  Someone yelling “Seth Rogan” at me in front of a 1500 people opening for Citizen Cope. Us overweight curly haired guys gotta stick together.

3.)  Charles Bradley

4.)  Recording new songs with my old pals from Six String Drag in January. I have no idea what we will call it. It doesn’t matter. For now I am just going to bring in some songs and we’ll bang them out and see what happens on the tape machine. Also I plan on playing more shows in 2014 than I did in 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Ginty: They can’t take the organ away from me

John Ginty 8x10 Longtime sideman and session player John Ginty has long been known for his tasteful, adventurous work on the Hammond B3 organ.  Over the past fifteen years his soulful touch has graced over sixty albums, including albums by Bad Religion, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Santana, Matthew Sweet, Neal Casal, The Bridge, and Citizen Cope.  His keyboard skills are also in high demand for the inspired sound he can bring to any live setting.  He was an original member of Robert Randolph and the Family Band and has toured regularly with The Dixie Chicks, Santana, Jewel, Citizen Cope, and his own John Ginty Band.  Recently he has begun to play with the based Baltimore Band of Johns which is led by former Bridge guitarist/ singer Cris Jacobs and features Jake Leckie on upright bass, and John Thomakos on drums.  In addition to his work with the Band of Johns, Ginty has also maintained his usual busy session schedule as well as finding time to get out on the road with a number of bands.  In the midst of that typically full schedule Ginty found time to release his first solo album, Bad News Travels.

 

Born from an album he played on for blues-guitarist Albert Castigilia, Bad News Travels is a blast of gospel-tinged New Orleans flavored funk that can just as easily settle into a deep, bluesy groove as it can dive into a psychedelic-swirl of a Hammond B3 organ trip that can spin the off at any moment down some never before traveled musical path.  Ginty called on some of his musical friends, including Warren Haynes, Neal Casal, Martie Maguire, and Cris Jacobs among many others, to help out with the album. The addition of these guests helps each song develop a wholly unique personality that is all held together by the glue that is Ginty’s powerhouse playing.

 

While preparing to head out on a brief Canadian tour with the Dixie Chicks, Ginty checked in with Honest Tune to discuss the making of Bad News Travels.

 

Honest Tune: So how did the idea for Bad News Travels come about?

John Ginty:  It was kind of an accident really.  I have been a session guy my whole life.  I am on sixty or seventy records.  I spent a lot of time with Jewel, Robert Randolph and the Family band, and Citizen Cope.  I have always toyed around the idea of doing my own record, but it has just never been the right time, or it wasn’t the right material, and it was never the right situation.

Recently I did a record with a blues guy from Florida, Albert Castiglia at a recording studio in NJ (Showplace Recording Studios).  Ben Elliott the owner of the studio was like, “Man we got to do your record.  The timing is right now. We could get Albert to play on it.  You could use your session guy access to get some other players on it.”  And I thought the idea was really cool.  I had some Bad News Travelssongs I had written that really didn’t have a home and it all just came together.  We put together a list of demos and a list of special guests and I tried really hard to pair the piece with the right player.  It wasn’t necessarily about getting famous people, it wasn’t about any of that.  It was just a musical thing of like who would fit great on this and who would be great on that.

So I got Albert and he played on a bunch of songs and does a bunch of lead vocals.  I used Neal Casal from the Chris Robinson Brotherhood.  He is a great player.  I have played on all his records.  Cris Jacobs from Baltimore is on it.  Timing is everything.  He and I had just started doing the Band of Johns and it just seemed right to have him up.  I had a track that I thought would be perfect for him.  Warren Haynes has been a friend of mine for twenty-years and it was an honor to get him on the record.  And slightly difficult as he only had about 48 hours off of his schedule to come to the studio.  But we managed to jump through the hoops of fire we needed to get him on there.  It was just awesome.  Once again it was just a perfect track for him.  It took him out of his normal element a bit and I loved how he played on it.  Todd Wolfe is a label mate of mine, and a great blues guitar player.  I got Alecia Chakour a blues singer from Brooklyn.  I couldn’t be happier with all the guests on it.  Martie Maguire from the Dixie Chicks plays fiddle on one song.  I am actually playing keyboards with the Dixie Chicks right now.  We are leaving to go on tour next week, a tour of Canada.  I have been friends with Martie for a while now and I had a song that I thought fiddle would be great on.  So that is how all the guests showed up.

 

HT: How was it to go from being a sideman or session player to all of sudden being in charge?

JG:  It’s crazy man.  It’s so insane.   It’s an education that I wasn’t looking for and I didn’t necessarily want [laughs].  From the musical end it was a joy and I had a great producer leading the way.  Ben Elliot really led me through it.  I just gave up the control and worry to him.  Musically it was not a problem.  I would love to do it again.  But all the other end stuff, trying to get on the radio, and the press and selling it, all that stuff was never something I had to worry about.  But now it’s on my lap to get all that stuff done, so it has been a crazy education for me, especially with the music business on its ear right now.

 

HT:  It has to be a different feeling to go from being the guy on the side who just gets to play to the guy who has to be in charge and go do all the “other work” now.

JG:  It gave me a huge appreciation for what all these cats go through.  I also appreciate their help and advice.  You know Cris Jacobs has been up and back with this, first with The Bridge and now with his solo projects.  I have gotten a lot of great advice from these cats as well as their musical contributions.  I will say it is a lot of hard work, and it is kind of scary, and I don’t know all about this end of the music business, but it is also fun.  The record has been doing well.  It has been added to a lot of radio stations.  They play it on my local New Jersey big rock station.  I heard it the other day when I was I the truck.  To hear it on the radio is mind-blowing.  I have heard myself on the radio before, but it had always been someone else’s songs.

 

 

John GintyHT: You said lots of people gave you advice, was there one thing that really stuck out?

JG:  The one word that kept popping up was publicist.  I get that now.  It used to be we would be humping around for a record deal and things of that nature.  That’s not the case anymore.  The publicist can get you out there, and out there is the only place that happens because the record stores have closed.  You have to get out there and take it to the people, play the shows, go to the merch booth and sign your stuff and sell your records.  It’s kind of all on the artist right now.  The publicist was one thing everyone mentioned that would help.

 

HT:  Things have really changed with how you have to sell a record now.

JG:  We are kind of reinventing this thing as we are going along.  What every artist has to realize is that no matter how crazy the business side may get, you can always go to the town and play a show and sell your CD there.  You will always have that.  People kind of complain about ticket prices being high, but there is no place for a musician to go make money anymore.  I spend my days hunting down illegal downloads of my records, of which there are still many.  It has become a full-time job getting these things taken down from the internet.  It is stacked against the artist in this day and age.  So we just have to adapt and try and keep our chins up.  I can’t really complain though, this is what I picked to do.  They can’t take the organ away from me.  So as long as I have that I will get it done somehow.

 

HT:  Let’s talk about something fun then. You talked about taking it to the people. Do you have any plans to take these songs on the road?

JG:  Absolutely.  I got some commitments with the girls, the Dixie Chicks, so I got a hold up until the end of the year, but then we are talking about some different ideas and plans.  I have also been talking with all the cats on the record because I feel like there is safety in numbers and I feel it is really good idea for all of us to get together and do a multiple artist thing.  There are all types of idea.  The record has done so well it would just be crazy of me to not take it out to the people.  It’s on the radio in Hawaii!  Who am I to turn down Hawaii?

 

HT:  As the weather starts to get cold in the Northeast it only makes sense to go where it’s warm.

JG:  Exactly.  It would be irresponsible of me to not go to Hawaii [laughs].  Seriously though, next year I hope to have a tour together.

 

John Ginty & Cris JacobsHT:  Is there a track or song off the album that really stands out for you?

JG:  They all have their thing to it.  My personal favorite is one that is getting the least amount of attention, “Trinity.”  It’s the gospel song, the last one on the album, the one with Cris [Jacobs] on it.  I said to the band there is no way we can make Hammond B-3 record without putting a gospel song on it, it has to be there.  I had written this little thing and it was three different pieces and I couldn’t decide which one would be the song, so I glued all three together and it turned out to be this really cool thing and I love the way everybody played on it.  There is like a thousand tambourines going.  All the musicians picked up tambourines and we had a little church service in the studio.  It was the last track we cut.  It was the finish line.  That’s my personal favorite.  There is stuff about each song that is special and cool to me as well.  The sessions with Albert were totally live.  The way you hear it, it was just four guys looking at each other playing music.  I really love the way that came out.  Martie’s violin part is amazing.  Warren’s part is amazing.

 

HT: How long did the whole process to record the album take?

JG:  It took a couple of months to get it down.  We were recording it very quickly.  We would go in for two or three days and get four or five songs.  We were moving at a good pace in the studio, but it was really just a matter of scheduling.  I had to go to Austin to record Martie’s part.  I had to go to Connecticut to get Warren’s part.  We had to book a couple different studios.  There was some running around.  That took the longest.  That was longer than recording it.  You know we probably could have got the whole thing done in about ten days if we had been able to line up all the stars.  But it was definitely worth waiting for Martie and worth waiting for Warren, and worth waiting for Cris.  Once we had the idea for who would play on what track, it was just a matter of it will take as long as it takes.

 

Band of Johns

 

 

HT:  Did the process scare you away from wanting to do this again or did it entice you to want to jump right in and start working on another album?

JG:  I am into it man.  I think as long as people want to hear records like this then I would love to keep making them.  I don’t think I will ever be able to stop being a session guy, playing organ for other people because that is what I do and what I love to do.  I love playing with the Dixie Chicks. I love playing on Charlie Mars’ records.  It keeps it interesting and fun.  But this was an incredible, unique experience that is worth a follow up.  I can at least guarantee there will be one more.  Also my list of guests was longer than my list of songs, so I got some people up my sleeve for the next one as well.  I think it will be really fun.

 

 

HT: Finally, looking back was there one moment that was the ultimate highlight of the whole process that will always stay with you?

JG:  I will never forget the first ten notes that Warren Haynes played [on “Mirrors”].  When we got our sound together and he had listened to the track and he made a couple of notes.  We turned the lights down and we went in and it was the first time we were going to play the song and I said, “Ok, you ready?” And he said, “Yeah, I’m ready.”   I said, “Can you just play something with the piano, can you just dance around the intro?”  The first ten notes he played are the first ten notes you hear him play on the record.  They went right on the record from that very first take.  Those are ten notes I will never ever forget.  I am still a music fan at heart. I have loved the Allman Brothers for twenty-five, thirty years and I always go see them at The Beacon Theatre and to see Warren standing in front of me playing those notes, to my song, that is as good as it gets.  There is nothing that can top that.  That is as good as gets for me.

 

Cris Jacobs & the Band of Johns fires up the hometown

Cris Jacobs & the Band of Johns

8×10

Baltimore, MD

February 2, 2013

 

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Since The Bridge called it quits just over a year ago, singer-guitarist Cris Jacobs has shown no signs of slowing down as he is a man constantly on the move exploring as much musical ground as he can cover, whether with his new project The Cris Jacobs Band (who released their debut album last year), as part of his long-time bluegrass band Smooth Kentucky, in the various guest spots and sit-ins he appears in with everyone from Anders Osborne to Los Lobos, or in his recent recording session with New Orleans legend Ivan Neville. On a night when his hometown of Baltimore was teeming with excitement in anticipation of the Ravens appearance in the Super Bowl the following day, Jacobs debuted his latest endeavor, The Band of Johns, at his home away from home, The 8×10.

 
Comprised of keyboardist John Ginty (John Ginty Band, Santana, Robert Randolph & the Family Band),drummer John Thomakos (John Mooney, Vanessa Carlton), and bassist Jake Leckie (Cris Jacobs Band) the quartet played together for the first time ever on this evening. With the city already _MG_5284brimming with energy and enthusiasm for the Ravens upcoming Super Bowl appearance, Jacobs show at the 8×10 took on the air of an almost surreal pep-rally at times, with many in the crowd decked out in purple or Ravens jerseys, including both Jacobs in a Ray Lewis jersey and Thomakos in an Ed Reed jersey. Jacobs made numerous references throughout the night to the game, and the inclusion of a couple ofr New Orleans themed covers in “Down South of New Orleans” and “Going Down to New Orleans” only served as another sly reference to the next day’s big game down in the Big Easy. But the most obvious Super Bowl reference came as the band was deep in the midst of a particularly adventurous journey through Jacobs’ old band The Bridge’s long-time live staple “Bad Locomotive.” As the song evolved into a dark swirling jam, the unmistakable driving bass and drum rhythm of the White Stripes “Seven Nation Army” began to show, slowly poking its face out from underneath the familiar chords of “Bad Locomotive.” The song has become the unofficial song/ chant of the Baltimore Ravens and their faithful during this past season, with the acapella chanting of its relentlessly, driving melody _MG_5312becoming omnipresent at Ravens games and seemingly every Super Bowl broadcast from New Orleans. This simple jam evoked the same response from the fans packed into the 8×10 who responded with a stadium worthy rendition of the chant, before the band broke it off and led back into “Bad Locomotive.”

 

But this night was not all about the Ravens and the upcoming Super Bowl, though that was definitely a big part of it. The evenings setlist drew heavily from Jacobs large repertoire of material, using the new material that Jacobs has written recently for The Cris Jacobs Band (including “Dragonfly,” “Devil or Jesse James,” and “Stoned on you”), a smattering of old Bridge songs (“Heavy Water,”, “Honeybee,” and “Devil on Me” among others), and a few tasty covers (the aforementioned New Orleans tunes and “You Can Stay but the Noise Must Go”) _MG_5313thrown in for good measure. This highly experienced band made this wide range music all their own. Jacobs’ soulful wail echoes the southern-fried, gravely, timbre of Lowell George, and the addition of the masterful touch of Ginty and the hard-driving, precise drumming of Thomakos seemed to give his voice that much more power on the evening (or maybe it was just the excitement for the Ravens). For many in the crowd in the crowd there was an extreme familiarity with many of Jacobs’ songs, but with addition of such seasoned skillful players as Ginty and Thomakos the music found new and interesting musical paths down which to wind.

 

Still the overriding theme for the show on this chilly night in Baltimore was the energy that came with the anticipation of The Ravens appearance in the Super Bowl the next day, and the night would appropriately end on that note. After wrapping up their set with a spirited take on The Bridge’s “Colorado Motel,” the crowd began shouting their approval and even more boisterous version of the “Seven Nation Army” chant erupted from the crowd as they waited for the band to retake the stage. The band quickly retook the stage. Leckie and Thomakos began to play along with the crowd, churning out the hard-hitting, pulsating rhythm of “Seven Nation Army,” only this time instead a brief tease, Jacobs and Ginty picked up the rhythm and launched into a full-on version of the song that burned with a ferocity that would make the hometown team’s long revered defense proud, and as everyone in the crowd gave their full-throated best to make their chant heard, all eyes turned towards New Orleans and next day’s Super Bowl._MG_5356

 

 

 

Author’s note – The Ravens would go on to win the Super Bowl the next day, the “Seven Nation Army” chant could be heard constantly throughout the game, Baltimore rejoiced, and for just one small moment there was peace in the world.

 

To see all of Jordan August ‘s photos from Jacobs’ surreal pep-rally please visit here.