So, there I was, last July, minding my own business, when I got an email from a long lost friend from my days in Moline, IL, a guitarist named Bret Hartley.
Many of you have been through this. An old friend finds you on the Internet. You exchange emails, crack jokes, remember the good old days, talk about how you’d like to catch up sometime, but it never happens.
That’s usually how it goes. That’s not how it went with Bret and me.
It turns out Bret’s had a great deal of success since we played together in our band (the Varietles, Moline, IL’s only Replacements wannabe band circa 1989).
Bret had become a respected Atlanta session player, writing, playing, and recording with the likes of Sugarland, Clay Cook, John Austin, and Billy Pilgrim.
It was good to hear from Bret. We’d always gotten along, and we’d always spoken the same language when it came to music. I suggested, off-handedly, we should play together again, and asked if he’d like to add some guitar to a song I’d been recording at home, a song called “Riverboat Captain.”
“Are you serious?” he said.
“Yeah, why not?” I said.
The next thing I knew, Bret was setting up recording time at an Atlanta studio, booking a drummer and an engineer. He took care of everything, and I gave him “Riverboat Captain” to do with what he would. “Pretend it’s like that interior design TV show,” I said. “Here’s my bedroom. Have at it.”
In a week, I had an mp3 of “Riverboat Captain” sitting in my inbox: full band, pro guitar and drums, a clever breakdown in verse 3, and a bridge guitar lick bigger than god.
You have to understand what I gave him to work with. He got nothing from me but a snapshot of the song--creaky acoustic guitar, bass, scratch vocals, and a bad-sounding drum machine--and Bret delivered back to me and IMAX movie.
I called Bret as soon as I'd heard it.
“You like?” he asked.
”Let’s do it nine more times,” I said.
So, we are. Nine (or ten) more times.
It’ll be my solo record, and it’ll be out early next year. Bret will be playing all of the guitars, producing, and mixing. I’ve written all of the songs, and I’ll be singing, playing bass, and generally throwing my weight around. Drummer Kevin Leahy, who’s toured with the likes of Shawn Mullins and the BoDeans, among others, and who played on “Riverboat Captain,” will continue his stellar work on the rest of the songs, and it will all go down at the Ben Price owned and operated Studilaroche and Bret’s home studio this year. Drums start May 21st.
I’m not kidding. This is happening. Part of me has been waiting a decade for it, and it’s all possible because an old friend looked me up. Gotta love the Internet.
So, how does this relate to the The Chicago Martyrs' Show on Saturday, June 9th? I’ll be playing many of the songs that will be on the forthcoming CD at this show. If you attend, you’ll be one of the first to hear them. So come for the millions of great reasons already stated, but also get a sneak peak--perhaps the only sneak peak--of the material for my first solo effort. I hope you like it.