Tag Archives: Nub Music

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DownTown Blog – On E Street

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On December 1, 2017, UK Label Nub Music (via ADA/Warner Music) released the new DownTown Mystic EP, On E Street featuring Max Weinberg and Garry Tallent for the Holiday season in the UK & Europe. As you probably know, Max and Garry form the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame rhythm section for Bruce Springsteen’s legendary E Street Band. Personally, I think the rhythm guitar player should also be included as part of the rhythm section since the bass & drums won’t know what they’re playing to. 🙂

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The On E Street EP contains 4 rare recordings with Max on drums and Garry on bass. Rare, because they’re playing with someone other than Bruce. There are only a few times this has happened, despite all of the studio work both men have done separately. As far as I know, other than Bruce, the only artists that Max & Garry have played together in the studio with are Ian Hunter, Gary U.S. Bonds, Ronnie Spector and me—DownTown Mystic. I know, that can’t be right, right?

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I went to Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ, the same as Max, who’s a year older. We had mutual friends and even then he was known as “the drummer”, walking the halls with his drumsticks in his hands. He played in the HS Orchestra and also the best rock band in the school. It was not surprising to me and others that he was playing in an orchestra pit on Broadway after graduation, or when we heard that he had become Springsteen‘s new drummer after auditioning for him.

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I met Garry after giving his girlfriend a 45 my band had recorded and that I was handing out at a very “in” club in NYC that we were playing. She gave it to Garry and he dug it and came out to hear us play. He ended up playing bass with us in the studio for a production deal that we got from playing that same club and even did a live gig with us in Asbury Park, NJ. The band eventually broke up and I stayed in touch with him. I contacted Garry and asked him if he wanted to work together to record some songs of mine. He brought in Max to play drums. What are the odds, right?

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The 1st track on the EP, Way to Know, was recently released in the UK as a single for the Rage Against The Brexit Machine project by Nub Music. It’s not the version that I played for Garry. The original demo that I recorded for the song was a bit more mid-tempo and much sparser in the arrangement. It also featured a piano. Garry was the one who changed the tempo and the arrangement, so I have to blame him for this recorded version. lol As I’ve stated previously, the funniest thing I remember about cutting the track was hearing Garry tell Max to “play like Charlie Watts”. 🙂

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The 2nd track, And You Know Why, features a very economical bass line from Garry and one of the most restrained drum tracks from Max that I think he’s ever played. And You Know Why has a great deal of meaning to me personally. It’s a song that came to me at a time when I was burnt out on writing and playing music. I was seriously thinking about giving up music altogether and this little tune would not let me quit. Then to have the good fortune of getting to record it with the E Street rhythm section is really quite a blessing.

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The 3rd track, retro rocker Hard Enough, is an up-tempo number that owes a great deal to the great New Wave band Rockpile, which featured guitarist Dave Edmunds and bassist Nick Lowe. The funny thing about this song is that I was not that thrilled to record it. I had given Garry 2 songs to listen to and decide which one he wanted to record. He picked Hard Enough, which was not the song I favored. Garry said he liked the George Harrison-type riff that I played but I think he picked it for more obvious reasons. When I hear his bass line it reminds me of his bass on Springsteen’s Ramrod from The River album, which is one of my fave songs by Bruce. So what’s not to like, right? 🙂

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The last track Sometimes Wrong (Demo) was an idea that I had to rock up the song from the way I originally wrote it. Garry and Max gave it their best shot but I don’t think it really quite meshed the way I had envisioned it. I finally decided to go back to the original version when I recorded the track with Steve Holley and Paul Page (the rhythm section for Ian Hunter’s Rant Band). It leads off DownTown Nashville and I think it’s much better as I wrote it. I did keep most of the guitar parts from this demo version and the guitar solo I play on the end of the song is one of the best off the cuff solos I’ve ever put down on tape. It was a one-shot live take that I was able to pull off. I just wish I could mute the incessant vocal track singing “sometimes wrong” on the fade out! 🙂

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I’ve been asked many times what it was like to play with Max & Garry and I always say it was one of the easiest sessions I ever played on. They play so intuitively together. Just a look at each other and they instinctively know what they’re going to play or where to go next. All I had to do was play my guitar. It gave me an appreciation for what Bruce has with these two anchoring his E Street Band. The other thing I get asked is why there are no photos from the studio. There are a couple of reasons. #1, the E Street Band has very strict rules as its own entity. They don’t do endorsements as a band and photos are a bit of a gray area. So #2, I didn’t want to seem like a “fanboy” taking pics and possibly creating a bad vibe in the studio. I think it’s always better to err on the side of caution in these types of situations.

One of the coolest things for me personally from On E Street is that I realized one of my deepest musical ambitions. After my band broke up so many years ago, I made a goal for myself to play with the very best musicians possible, and with On E Street that became a reality. My sincerest gratitude to Garry and Max for truly making that dream come true. 🙂

DownTown Blog – Rage Against The Brexit Machine: Way To Know

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Way To Know was released as a single by Nub Music in the UK on October 20, 2017 as part of the Rage Against The Brexit Machine project. The project, spearheaded by business author/musician Peter Cook, had released 3 previous singles. What made Way To Know different was the fact that it was from an American Artist—DownTown Mystic. So how did this come about you might ask?

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One day in September I was on Twitter and saw a tweet from Nub Music looking for songs for a project called Rage Against The Brexit Machine. Since I had a deal with Nub I thought I’d take a closer look. I clicked on a link that was provided and read about the project and what it was trying to accomplish. Much to my surprise, it was a campaign aimed at stopping Brexit using pop music to get the message out. I was under the impression that Brexit couldn’t be stopped, so now I was curious.

I decided to contact Mark Lee, the head of Nub, and offer Way To Know to the project. Mark thought it was a great idea and got Label Manager Guy Thompson to send the song to Peter Cook. Peter gave it a listen and liked what he heard. He gave me a call to see where I was at and to tell me more about the project. When I asked if it was possible to stop Brexit, Peter paused and said that Parliament could reverse it. He said the impetus for the Rage Against The Brexit Machine project was the effect that Brexit would have on generations to come. People were not aware how it would hit their pocketbooks until it was too late.

I told Peter that the one good thing that had happened in the US with the election of Trump was the Resistance Movement against Trump that had been started. People here in the US were truly pissed that Trump was elected despite losing the popular vote. Peter felt the people in the UK needed a bit of a push in that direction if stopping Brexit was to become a reality. And the British people should be pissed because the British Supreme Court ruled that Parliament never made a decision to stay or leave!

Peter told me that one of the reasons he really liked Way To Know was that it didn’t preach and laid out the problems in a matter of fact way. This was great to hear and I told Peter as much. I also told Peter that it wouldn’t hurt PR wise that the song features RnR Hall of Famers Max Weinberg & Garry Tallent—the rhythm section from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. That info might come in handy, especially at Radio.

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So that’s how I got involved with the Rage Against The Brexit Machine project and got to know Peter Cook. He’s a very decent chap (as they say) and has really put himself out there. You can feel his passion when he speaks and he’s doing the project for all the right reasons. As a fellow artist I’m proud to stand with him and help out in any way I can. The stakes are truly high as the future of the UK hangs in the balance. Check out the Article 50 Challenge for yourself and help Stop Brexit!

DownTown Mystic: Rock 'n' Roll Romantic

DownTown Blog – Rock’n’Roll Romantic: Rock’n’Roll

DownTown Mystic: Rock 'n' Roll Romantic

To quote Pete Townsend of The Who, “Rock is dead they say”…whatever. This is a tired old chestnut that “they” bring up over and over. I’m not sure who “they” are, and I’m not sure what “they” mean by “rock”. Are we talking ROCK from the 70s, 80s or 90s onward? Or since the turn of the century? It’s a very broad term for a particular kind of music. For the sake of this blog post, I’ll be talking about the original “rock”—Rock’n’Roll.

Since I’ve already made certain statements in interviews about my intention to bring RnR into the 21st century, I’ll back it up. Rock’n’Roll is a totally other animal than “Rock”. As Tom Petty said earlier this year about his discovering RnR, “Not rock; this was Rock and Roll. The roll designates a swing — there’s a swing in the roll.” That’s what I’m talking about. There’s a difference between Rock and Rock’n’Roll, and just to be clear, it’s RnR that I’m putting out there.

All that aside, I intended the Rock’n’Roll Romantic album to be my statement about RnR in the 21st century. I took over a year to build up to the release of it and when I finally did release it on CD in October 2016, it proved to be my most successful release to date. The CD starts off with 2 of 3 songs that feature RnR Hall of Famers Max Weinberg & Garry Tallent—the rhythm section from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. In fact DownTown Mystic is the only artist in the world that can make that claim. Not even Garry Tallent and Little Steven can say that about their new solo records. Not too shabby! 🙂

A big part of the success of Rock’n’Roll Romantic was at Radio. The previous release of the DownTown Nashville EP at Americana Radio in the spring last year was easily DownTown Mystic’s biggest release at the format and helped to set the stage, so to speak, for Rock’n’Roll Romantic. But I also knew that Rock’n’Roll Romantic had a broader appeal to it than just Americana. The strategy of going to the AAA and College formats along with Americana garnered DownTown Mystic its largest radio audience, going from 16 to 36 Adds and more than 70 radio stations playing the music. For me, these results show that RnR in today’s marketplace is not dead, to say the least.

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2017 started out by continuing the success of Rock’n’Roll Romantic when DownTown Mystic signed a deal with UK indie label Nub Music to release Rock’n’Roll Romantic in Europe. How apropos for 2017 to be the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles classic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the 1st Concept Album. Besides the noise of “the death of rock” is the noise about “the death of the album” and “the death of the CD”. Besides being a true RnR album, Rock’n’Roll Romantic is also a true concept album.

The truth is Rock’n’Roll is here to stay…it will never die. Wait, that sounds like a song I once heard. Nevertheless, it’s true. There’s something undeniable about an electric guitar playing along to a groove that’s being put down by a real drummer and bass player. It’s an irresistible force. Sure, it might not be what’s popular on Top 40 Radio but who cares? There are millions of people who don’t listen to Top 40 Radio.

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Meanwhile in the UK, Nub has already released the Side 2 EP to help set up the release of the full Rock’n’Roll Romantic album later in the year. What better place to release some new RnR than in the UK? Oasis has been the biggest band there since The Beatles and they’ve been around now for 20 years. So it’s safe to say that Rock’n’Roll is still alive and well there. This next chapter with Nub Music may turn out to be even more exciting than the success at US Radio for Rock’n’Roll Romantic! 🙂