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Making of Greetings from Bridgetown

There are so many great stories to tell about the making of the newest record, Greetings from Bridgetown. What began as The Jupiter Project, resulting in the single release of Jupiter in September, is now a six-song EP available from CD Baby.

Margie Boule of The Oregonian wrote this article about the project in December 2009.

The title pays homage to the cover of Bruce Springsteen's first record, Greetings from Asbury Park, where he took a tourist postcard and simply put his name at the bottom. I wanted to do something similar to showcase Portland and went off in search of the perfect image. Quite suddenly, bang! Hanging in DragonFire, a Cannon Beach, Oregon art gallery, there was the painting by Christopher Bibby. I contacted the artist and we developed a friendship and a partnership (his art, my music). Four of Christopher's original pieces are featured on the CD package. He's extraordinarily talented and I urge you to visit his online gallery.

We began recording Greetings from Bridgetown in August 2009, starting with the moving middle section of Jupiter from Gustav Holst's orchestral suite, The Planets. I arranged it for solo guitar and Robert McBride, the afternoon host at Portland's All Classical FM and a composer in his own right, wrote the arrangement for guitar and string quartet. We invited talented members of the Oregon Symphony and friends to record Jupiter with us, including Nancy Ives, principal cello, Joël Belgique, principal viola, with Inés Voglar from the Symphony and Paloma Griffin on violins. Inés is from Venezuela and you can hear the passion in her playing. Paloma has performed with the Oregon Symphony and Pink Martini among others. All four players form the core of an intrepid Portland ensemble called Fear No Music. Jupiter is now getting airplay on classical radio stations all over the country. You can listen to Jupiter here if you like.

If you work for a non-profit and you would like a free high quality digital download of this recording of Jupiter to use as a Donor Giving Incentive, as several public radio stations are currently doing, please email me and I will send you the link. Click to see how the Oregon Symphony is doing this.

In the same session with Jupiter, we also recorded the Largo movement from Dvorak's Symphony from the New World for guitar and string quartet. When the full CD debuts, you can expect that work to be on it.

We recorded with engineer Jeremy Sherrer primarily at Klickitat Band Camp, a studio in northeast Portland. I wanted someone with exacting ears and great musical judgment, someone whose experience was up to the eclectic nature of the material, and Jeremy fit the bill. You might know his work with the Dandy Warhols.

Next came the piece called Toro Toro, inspired by visits to Barcelona, Madrid and Sevilla. It runs the gamut of colors from Led Zep acoustic swagger to Metheny-style jazz to Flamenco Nuevo to swirling Moroccan hyperdrive. There's even a Japanese Taiko drum (courtesy of Portland Taiko) providing the bomb sound effects in the final section. Dennis Caiazza plays a Martin acoustic bass guitar on this track. He's joined by Gary Hobbs on cajon. Spanish for box, the cajon is the primary percussion instrument of the flamenco genre. Gary also drums, Peter Zisa plays classical guitar, and Eddie Martinez plays electric guitar. Eddie has played with everyone. Probably his best known work is playing lead on Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love.". This colorful cover concept for the single was created by the Danish graphic artist Asbjorn Lonvig, whose work you can view online.

Obsession was recorded with the same core rhythm section as Toro Toro while Apple Tree Wedding Day features guest artists from 3 Leg Torso, Courtney von Drehle (accordion), Bela Balogh (violin), and Gary Irvine (drums and percussion).

Charlottesville is a sepia-toned solo guitar piece that sounds like it comes from another era. And the record opens with My Job Lost Me, a working class anthem featuring Matt Brown on bass, Scott McPherson on drums, me and Scott Hampton playing electric guitars, and Holly Nelson providing harmonies.

In the old days (the 20th century), this kind of record would have driven the suits crazy. Too much variety, too hard to categorize, too hard to sell. Today, thankfully, it's acceptable to mix rock, folk, classical, jazz, pop and world sounds all together on one disc, occasionally even on the same song. Eclecticity isn't a word, but perhaps it should be.

Finally, why only six tunes? Because we just couldn't wait any longer, that's why. There's more music on the way so please listen at CD Baby and let me know what you think.


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