Pete's Blog

New Recordings

I've been jamming with pianist Dave Bristow lately. He's the Executive Director of the Island Music Guild and a good jazz pianist and producer. He's spent most of his career programming electronic keyboards for Yamaha, playing at trade shows and clinics with many of the best players in the world. We've started recording at the Guild on slow days and so far we have nine songs down: Charles Mingus's Goodbye Porkpie Hat (which fans of long standing will remember from many years ago) and the originals Down the River; In the Pines; Godzilla Feet; Nobody's Daddy; Never Do Right Blues; My Old Car; Mirror; and That's Alright, Baby. Dave has added MIDI percussion and other sweetening and we're going to send the tracks to Nashville so Liam Graham can add some vocal harmonies and perhaps bass-guitar. It's a little odd, considering that the "From the Island" album is mixed, mastered, and sitting on my desk waiting to be manufactured. But this new project is very rewarding and, truth be told, the most commercial (in a good way) recordings I've ever made. I like them a lot and I think others will, too. I have, in fact, never worked with a pianist, let alone recorded with one. For the past forty years I've been loyal to the one-man-band aspect of guitar fingerpicking and I'm not sure it's done me any favors in the studio. "Handsignal" was an attempt to make fuller, more arranged recordings but these arrangements tend to feature lots of other guitars, played by me, so the effect is not always what I originally had in mind. In this case the piano fills out the space behind the guitar without hiding what I'm playing behind similar-sounding textures. Dave is very good at voicing chords to stay out of the way of the intervals I'm playing, and there's a fullness there that gives my voice a nice cushion. Sometimes we sound like Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell, which anyone who knows me knows will thrill me to death. Sometimes we sound like Joni Mitchell with Herbie Hancock behind her, an unexpected but deeply flattering comparison. Quite often we sound a lot like my three favorite '70s groups: the Band, Steely Dan, and most often and most gratifyingly Little Feat, with the great pianist Bill Payne. I've made a list of another dozen tunes I'd like to try and I'm willing to bet that half of them work out well. That's an album, people. And a damned good one.

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