Two days of amazing performances occurred over the last week. First Jeff Gray and Joe Jackson put down the horn parts on ALL the songs in one mammoth session. Next Marilyn came in and magically, effortlessly and beautifully laid down the lead vocal tracks for all the songs in one four hour session. It sounds impossible. Ken Schubert, our engineer, was in near-disbelief.
We were leaving our (sold out!) gig in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a couple of days ago and had not eaten for hours. Marilyn floated the notion of stopping for food. It was voted on, ratified, and before we went another three traffic lights, Pete spotted a White Castle. He is from Detroit. Apparently White Castle is a Midwest thing. No one else had ever had a White Castle “slider.” It is worth noting that in 2014 Time magazine voted the White Castle slider the “most influential burger of all time.”
A lot of advice has been written for touring musicians. All the advisors mention eating healthily while on the road. Great idea! We will admit that keeping your energy up is important. Spritzers instead of milkshakes. Carrots instead of french fries. But none of these articles ever seem to mention the joys of geographically specific fast food. When we’re touring, Tommy buys any locally produced spicy beef jerky product. We have all sampled the purple pickled eggs they sell in New Jersey. And we wanted to try the Midwestern meal that had Pete in a nostalgic reverie.
We bought a huge bag of sliders and another equally huge bag of French fries. (In our defense, they did not offer carrots.) We must say, they were delicious—and they gave us the strength to power on.
Playing DC’s Kennedy Center is such a thrill—as is playing with a full orchestra. This weekend, we got to do both, in the newly renovated Terrace Theater—a spectacular space with incredible sound quality. Our teammates for the sold-out show were the Pan American Symphony Orchestra, led by maestro Sergio Busjle. A little tango, a little jazz, and a whole lot of musicians’ heaven.
Christmas is always a bittersweet time of year for us—we get to play the songs off our Christmas album, but usually only once or twice! This year we managed to squeeze in four Christmas shows, including two in new venues: the Little Washington Theatre, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (aka the Rocky museum). Our Philly show had a theme: it was an ugly Christmas sweater party! We did have to do a little shopping for the event, but we are proud to say that our sweaters were among the ugliest on site.
We are delighted to announce the release of our eighth album: The Lock & the Key. There are eleven cuts on it: nine originals and two covers. It took just about a year to make, and we are quite proud of it. One of Charlie’s favorite tracks is “The Sweet Ride Home,” for which singer Marilyn Older wrote a lyric about the moments just after a wonderful date. It’s driven by a groove from drummer Tommy Barrick, and the melody is ghosted a fourth down by Joe Jackson’s trombone. Tutti ensemble section in the middle is the full-on Chaise Lounge statement. Another fave: “The Earl.” Sax player Gary Gregg routinely stuns our live audiences with his ultra-melodic solos, and we captured a hot one on this track, named for one of Gary’s saxophone heroes, Earl Bostic. Bass (and tambourine) player Pete Ostle shines on “Mozambique.” We may be especially proud of the last song on the record, “I Grew a Rose,” because we tried to get a very retro Harry Belafonte sound, and we think we hit the nail on the head. In concert, we sometimes use male backing vocals as comic relief, but on this cut we are nothing but sincere. The artwork for the album is by Adriana Cordero.