How Elvis Presley led to a “Chapter of Night” for Lonnie Glass

Lonnie Glass has travelled across North America collecting a wealth of musical and life adventures, while also being inspired by the history of the places he’s travelled.  His latest release, “Chapter of Night,” paints the dramatic landscape of the American Civil War without judging its’ participants.

Reading over Lonnie’s bio, one is struck by the diversity and risk-taking that must have been necessary to have such an eclectic collection of experiences.  Lonnie took some time before the release of his CD to share his wealth of experiences on co-writing, and taking the road less travelled.  It’s incredible to read how a life changing moment with Elvis Presley has lead to such an incredible adventure.

1.  “Chapter of Night” is about the American Civil War.  Why has this piece of history inspired you so much and what do you hope listeners get out of this album? I do not know why this period inspires me to the extent that it does. Perhaps it is because THIS STORY  as metaphor defines ALL suffering, oppression, valour, glory, hope, hopelessness, reclamation and tragedy.

I would wish for them to weep when I have wept. To wonder when I have pondered. To feel what I have felt. Is that not songwriting’s purpose?

2.  Internet co-writing was a pivotal turning point for you.  Can you describe how it happened and what type of virtual co-writes you have participated in since then?  Any tips for songwriters who may be apprehensive or nervous about trying it out? I had placed some of my music on “Broadjam”, an internet music service where everyone can listen and critique one’s tunes.

A fellow from Leesburg, Virginia, who happened to be a poet,  responded to my tunes and asked if I would put music & melody to his poetry. We experimented with 1 tune..I rearranged some words(that the general public would not understand), created a chorus and bang zoom…we had co-written our 1st tune. We have done 47 since then.  It was years of work before I even met my colleague.

I have done 2 others with a fellow from England.

One difficulty, which i especially had with the English bloke where the final composition was so unlike the original, was that the co-writer simply didn’t recognize it and therefore felt bereft or even usurped of his original idea!….With my friend in Virginia, it was clear…he wrote lyrics, I made melody & music…the lyrical alterations were incosequential…..It was years of work before I even met my colleague.

I would highly reccommend co-writing. If you can learn to relinquish the “I”, “Me”, “Mine” of one’s OWN. Rid yourself of the need to create “Hits” and merely create. To not try it is to believe one has nothing to learn from someone elses experiences.

3.  You’ve had quite an eclectic life path from being born in Montreal, being influenced by the Toronto folk music scene, picking the moss off orange trees in Florida,  to playing Vietnam protest songs at Michigan university, and more recently you have been gigging with a ZZ-Top tribute band.  How has such dynamic past influenced your songwriting? The songs i’ve written HAVE actually been a reflection of my past. I have written R&B tunes, Protest Songs, Blues Songs,Folk Songs, Rock Songs.

I have yet to write a French song, c’est la vie!

4.  It sounds like your life journey has been defined and charted by your music.  What have you had to sacrifice to keep following your muse?  What has been the sweetest victory thus far? If  a “normal life” is the paradigm, then I have sacrificed it!  I would have to say that being 60 years old(November 2nd) and still playing, travelling, writing, reading and being inspired and inspiring others is the sweetest victory, thus far!!  So many of my friends who were in music have vanished from that stage.

5. How was the production of this album different from your past projects? My 1st CD in 1990 was FULL production. I had a producer, hired guns, horns, BG singers, recorded in the USA…the whole ball of wax.

I then did 1 CD at a Pro-Tools Studio over 9 months..

Then 2 “Kitchen-sink” type CD’s recorded at home.

This CD was a bit of each….recorded at home(digital 8-track), mixed using pro-tools and Mastered at a “Real” Studio.

6.  Your life changed the moment you saw Elvis Presley at Maple Leaf Gardens.  You knew you were meant for the stage.  What piece of advice would you give to someone who just had the same epiphany? JUST DO IT!……………………….whether professionally or amateur………….always keep music in your life!  Above all, do not let ANYONE deflect you from your course…life and circumstance will show whether it is a reasonable possibility for you.

Album Cover

7.  What is the best thing that could happen for you and this album? That I sell 1 copy to every American!!!  320,000,000 sales ……..[wouldn’t be] too shabby!!!

That is the BEST!…but I could settle for less….the opportunity to travel and present this Story (and others that are in the works) to people in concert.

Read his bio and hear some of his songs.  Click Here.

Alex Hickey prevails, even “The Day the Money Run Out”

Alex Hickey

Alex Hickey brings us a musical commentary on something most artists are familiar with, the struggle to survive. She promises that her newest CD, “The Day the Money Run Out” won’t “get you bogged down in seriousness“, rather it approaches the subject through a lens of humour. She’s even included a couple of lullabies to remind listeners to relax. We asked her a few questions about this important topic.

1. How do you personally balance your art and your work? What have you learned along the way? I find the balance between making art and making a living can be a difficult one. I’m very fortunate to have a great team at my dayjob who give me a lot of flexibility, but I’m almost always tired and performing at night doesn’t mix very well with a 9 to 5 schedule. What I’ve learned along the way, though, is that I can approach the need to make a living as an opportunity to fuel my creativity and to write about things that I hope will resonate with lots of people, people like me who are dealing with the necessity of making a living and how they feel about that. I couldn’t have written The Day the Money Run Out without the experiences I’ve had and the things I’ve witnessed at my various dayjobs.

2. Have you ever encountered a situation where “the Money Run Out”? If so, how did you overcome these circumstances? Oh, the “Money Run Out” for me quite some time ago! The line in that song about “paying off our debts” comes straight from my heart! However, I feel a powerful call to write, record and perform my songs, and I believe that it’s worth investing in my art. It’s worth a little debt to create work that I feel so passionate about. When I get worried about money, I try to work a little harder and live a little more simply and hope that if I do my best, it will all work out over the long haul.

3. Any words of encouragement for “starving artists” out there? The “starving artist” idea is such a powerful myth in our culture. I hate that it scares a lot of people away from pursuing their vocations. In our consumerist culture, I think “starving artist” has been redefined to mean someone who has to do without luxuries that have been redefined as necessities. Taken in that context, I’d rather be a starving artist than starve my art. In my experience, money and “stuff” don’t feed art. Art is nourished by time and passion, honesty and collaboration. I’m willing to sacrifice a few creature comforts in the interest of answering the call to create music.

Find out more about Alex Hickey and hear some of her tunes:  Click Here.

Alex Hickey publishes a blog of her own (Alexsings.blogspot.com)  Here are her musings on her upcoming release:

Album Notes – The Day the Money Run Out (first published on August 16, 2010)

Now that the artwork and the master for The Day The Money Run Outhave been handed over to the manufacturers, I am taking a few moments to reflect on the genesis of the project before plunging into the nitty-gritty of putting together the launch: the party, the media push and all that jazz. Basically, I’m procrastinating, because none of that organizing work is going to be anywhere near as much fun for me as the process of creating the cd. At least not until we get to the launch party – that’ll be a hoot, but with a date sometime in late October, there’s still a ways to go before we get there.

In the meantime, I’m thinking about how this cd came into being. Because I’ve been writing for many years but only recording for the past couple, I have almost 4 albums of songs (with more added every month) waiting their turn to be recorded and released. So, the question is: what made me choose to record and release these songs at this time?

The Day the Money Run Out is basically an album about work: the good and bad sides of working – and not working. There are songs about corporate zombies and homelessness, success and getting stepped on. I wrote some of these songs years ago, and others (including the title track), since the current economic downturn began in 2008.

I think the bolt of lightening hit me in March 2009, when I saw Jon Stewart interview Bruce Springsteen on The Daily Show and The Boss said, “We’ve had an enormous moral, spiritual, economic collapse, and people go to storytellers when times are like that.” That statement hit me hard and pointed me in the direction of creating “The Day The Money Run Out.”

Sometimes, there’s an invisibility to hard times. A few months after his interview with Springsteen, I heard Jon Stewart question why people don’t write songs about things like the economic collapse (I’m paraphrasing here because I can’t find the exact episode – but can you tell that I watch The Daily Show compulsively?) I remember thinking, “Well, actually, lots of people write those songs, but they just tend not to be folks with major label deals who get played a lot on the radio. For songs about hard times, you have to look to independent musicians, people who are experiencing hard times, or who have experienced them recently enough to remember what they feel like. (One song that immediately leaps to my mind is “Woebetide the Doer of the Deed” by Old Man Luedecke, a no-holds-barred response to the actions that led to the current economic situation, released on his amazing album, My Hands are on Fire and Other Love Songs in the spring of 2010.)

Since I feel deeply connected with my own struggles around work, financial survival and urban living, when The Boss’s lightening bolt hit me, I leapt at the opportunity to create an album that focuses on these topics. I hope The Day the Money Run Out will provoke new insights into the economic and cultural situation we find ourselves in. And I figure a little toe-tapping, a few laughs and couple of lullabies can’t hurt matters, either. Maybe Human Resources Blues will help take the sting out of being downsized for you or someone you love. Maybe John Doe will inspire you to lend a hand to a fellow-traveler along the way. Maybe Rest With Me Tonight will lull you to sleep after a difficult and anxious day. I certainly hope so.

There’s a Kitchen Party happening behind the “Red Door, Second Floor”

Something sizzling is about to be released in Toronto.  The band, “The Kitchen Party” is releasing their debut album, “Red Door, Second Floor” and they’ve been cooking up a storm in venues in Toronto, Montreal and New York over the last few months.  Freeman Dre, lead singer/songwriter and owner of said kitchen has a deep husky voice that brings an interesting colour to his up-beat story-telling songs.  It’s been said that Freeman Dre and his Kitchen party “are a cult following waiting to happen.”  See for yourself – Click Here to hear some tunes and read his bio.

1.  Your band is called “The Kitchen Party.”  How often do you have music parties in your kitchen? All the time!! My Kitchen has been home to great jams. The party always ends up in kitchen even when we go out. My neighbours aren’t fans.

2.  Do you ever cook while your making music?  If so, what foods have inspired your music? Well, I do cook a mean perogi – Polska style, but there tends to be more drinking when the boys come over. To be honest, I’d say the vodka has a bigger effect on the mood.

3.  You’ve had a busy season, gigging almost every week.  Have you been booking these yourself? The line-up has changed a lot, and we only started playing together over the last little while, so we play a good number of shows, mainly because we really enjoy it, but just getting practice can be reason enough, and people keep coming so we keep doing it.  My tip for fellow songwriters (or anyone really) is to work hard.

4.  How did you find the right musicians to form this group? It started with just Lonny and me playing on my back deck when he was learning the mandolin, noodling around, and it grew from there.  One of the things that’s fundamental in Kitchen Party is the vibe. Musicians stick around based as much on their personality as their music skills. We figured if we’re going to spend a lot of time together we better like each other, and we do very much.

5.  Your bio quotes Anjanji Thomas (Leonard Cohen’s back-up vocalist) as saying, “I love Freeman Dre’s music.”  How did she come to hear your music? Anjanji  heard it through a mutual friend. I’m a big fan of hers too so it was really cool.

6.  You’ve made quite a few videos posted on your Youtube channel.  In particular, the video for “Lets Take the Show on the Road,” is professional shot and edited.  How did you create the concept(s) for your video(s) and how have these been financed? The video for “Let’s Take the Show on the Road” was done by a very talented friend of ours J.Molloy, who was kind enough to donate his time, gear, and expertize to the project. The concept was very simple. We just wanted to capture the kitchen party. Basically the video is about who we are and what we do. I love videos. Not Much Music videos, but YouTube is great! And I plan on being involved with many, many more! They don’t have to be big budget videos either, some of the best ones aren’t.

7.  What is the significance about “Red Door, Second Floor”? It is a tribute to my apartment (and the kitchen). It’s on the second floor and my front door is red. Stop by anytime!

8.  Any words of wisdom you would like to share with fellow songwriters about what you’ve learned to date? The only thing I would mention is being involved with other songwriters and bands has been great. Marlon, who is in Kitchen Party, is also in a killer band called Broken Bricks, Tangi is in Worldly Savages, and just being around one another makes us all that much better, and it is a good way to stay inspired and build resources. I’m open to people, and as a result I have a bunch of awesome musicians on the album.

9.  Where do you hope “The Kitchen Party” will have travelled to by this time next year? Other than our regular Toronto-Montreal-NY triangle we hope to go to UK, Iceland, Germany, and Poland this year.

Here’s their video for “Let’s Take the Show on the Road”