The Great Affairs November 2020 Update: Electile Disfunction
Well, it’s been nearly a month since the release of our latest LP ‘Everybody Moves, Nobody Gets Hurt’, and not a single copy has been returned with hate mail attached, so we’re calling this one a “win”, based on these early, somewhat informal polling results.
Sorry, my brain has been so inundated with politics lately that I can barely speak on any other subject without utilizing campaign jargon. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to vote, if you haven’t already.
OK, that’s the last of that. Again, I apologize. Back to the business at hand…
The “Deluxe Edition” managed to sell-out in a flash, feedback has been nothing short of glowing(Thank you, and please picture us taking a group bow. We sincerely appreciate all the comments, shares, DMs, etc. Truly.), and we’ve somehow managed to land a couple of songs on a variety of both terrestrial and internet radio stations around the world, with more being added every day. A few who’ve latched onto either “I’m Alright” or “Lyvia”(in a handful of cases, the pair are spinning together) include Spider Web Radio, Ange’s Rock Show on Duggystone Radio, South Devon Sound, Outlaw Renegade Radio, The Eagles Nest Radio, Hard Rock Nights, Rock Bottom, and ROXX100. Much obliged to the programmers who’ve seen fit to include our stuff alongside some serious heavy hitters.
We did dust off Jean Claude Damme Van for a single show in Indiana last month. We were more than a bit rusty, but we were able to give a handful of the new songs their first public airing, and see a few folks we’d been missing since this global sh#tshow started. Y’all looked marvelous.
Unfortunately, we shortly thereafter made the decision to suspend any further live band activity through the end of the year, so our previously-scheduled Terre Haute, IN date in November is not happening. We just figured the smart thing to do while this thing rages on a while longer, would be to do some woodshedding, continue revamping our live show, and getting ready for what will hopefully a lot less topsy-turvy 2021, eventually at least. (Fingers crossed)
If all goes to plan, the layoff will also give us time to shoot a video or two. We’ve sketched out a treatment for “I’m Alright”, that we plan to shoot with Nate & Scott Moore, just as soon as Nate’s wrapped up work on his latest short film, for which I will be providing my first-ever attempt at a musical score. It’s a Horror flick, so I’ve been getting in touch with my inner John Carpenter, and trying to channel his iconic Escape From NY soundtrack for this project. It’s given me a chance to set aside work on our standard fare, and allowed me the unusual opportunity to learn a bunch of this new software from my recent studio upgrade by simply tinkering around with synths and ambient sounds. I’ve gotta admit, while I’m more or less flying blind, it’s a lot less stressful(and quieter) than tracking Rock tunes, and my ears are probably thankful for the respite.
Now that’s not to say no noise is being made. On the contrary, whether we’re able to resume our regular roadwork any time soon, we’ve got stuff in the pipeline for next year, shows or no shows. Kenny’s still cranking away at his solo release, and Joshua Ketchmark & I should have our The Hail Marys EP out sometime in 2021 as well, once he gets a couple of his other projects mixed and to market. I’m pretty stoked about all of these things, as I think The Hail Marys’ material is some of the best stuff Mr. Ketchmark & I have ever collaborated on, and having heard(and contributed to) much of Kenny’s record, I know folks who especially dig his tunes on the TGA records are gonna eat this stuff up.
Also, I might sneak in a solo acoustic performance or two between now and New Years, so it’s not like we’re hibernating or anything….just waiting for a little more smoke to clear, and trying to make good use of bad luck.
OK then, I think that about covers the current 411. If you still need me to steer you towards the new album, click HERE to access a one-stop HearNow link that will take you to several of the main streaming/downloading options, along with a “Buy from Artist”(That’s us!) tab redirecting you to our web store, where you can get the full 12-song CD version straight from the source.
As always, please, please be good to each other. Don’t let this crazy election be one more thing keeping us from that.
Well, we didn’t think it would happen quite this quickly, but we’ve officially SOLD OUT of the Limited Edition 1st Issue of The Great Affairs comic book. This means the Deluxe Edition is no longer available for purchase. Rest assured, the Standard Edition CD also features the 2 bonus tracks not included on the digital version, so while you won’t get the swell guitar pick or the the inaugural installment of our animated adventures, you’ll still get all 12 tracks with your purchase, as well as a sticker(while supplies last). Thanks, you guys, for making this silly idea a huge success. We salute you. Cheers!
Click on the buy link below, or head over to our STORE page to pick up a copy of the ‘Everybody Moves, Nobody Gets Hurt.’ CD.
We have arrived, ladies and gentlemen. The day is upon us. The 2nd of October, 2020.
That’s right, the new Bon Jovi album is out now!
Also, our new LP ‘Everybody Moves, Nobody Gets Hurt.’ is officially released, and available for streaming, downloading, and good old-fashioned CD spinning.
Instead of cramming this update full of a dozen or more links, I’m going to keep the redirection to a minimum, and instead suggest that if you’re receiving this information via our semi-regular email blast, you might wanna head over to TheGreatAffairs.com, and start scrolling through our home page(Those of you who are reading this on the site itself are already ahead of the game, and need to merely make your way down the page you’re on.), for a myriad of recent interviews, podcasts, new merchandise updates, CD order links(the Deluxe Edition might be sold out by the time you’re reading this, but we have plenty of the Standard, which still includes the 2 CD-only bonus tracks), and a clip that features our group acting debut.
Included in all that business are a cool pair of interviews Kenny & I did with the Ages Of Rock Podcast, and The Record Machine show, my chat with Pete Fry for his radio show Fryday Night With Fry, and what might be my favorite conversation ever (on record) regarding songwriting, with Dustin Wikoff for his Drunken Lullabies presents My Personal Mixtape podcast, where I was asked to choose my Top 10 favorite songs I’ve written to date, and discuss the process of birthing said creations, among a great many other things at least peripherally related to songcraft.
Now, as for the digital release of the new album, here’s a link to a (hopefully somewhat) complete one-stop HearNow page that should(or will shortly, with more being added as they “go live”) feature links to all the streaming/DL biggies like Apple Music, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, etc., where you can consume this release at your leisure henceforth.
I’d like to take a minute to say thank you, from the bottoms of our hearts, to everyone who pre-ordered the physical editions of ‘Everybody Moves…’! For the record, we far exceeded our expectations and blew past our projected sales inside of 2 weeks, giving us the best advance numbers we’ve ever seen on a release to date. In light of everything going on right now, we are truly humbled by this response, so cheers! You guys are the best!
One additional, quick tip of the hat to our collaborators on this album: Michael Saint-Leon and Joshua Ketchmark for toiling behind the curtain to make us sound like the semi-pros we aspire to someday be, Michael Webb for bringing the Michael Webb-ness, Dave Webb for inadvertently standing-in on bass for a track that needed his magic touch, and Wendy Moten for taking “Three-Leaf Clover” into the stratosphere with those crazy pipes. We love you guys!
We’ll be celebrating the album drop tomorrow(10/3) in Evansville, IN at Bokeh Lounge, doing an “Evening With”-style show, playing all night, with sets featuring stuff from every record in our catalog, along with a few covers we fancy, so wear sensible shoes if you plan on attending, because we’re going long.
Now, if you’re interested in diving a little deeper into the making of this opus, and some insight from the folks who put it all together, namely myself, my cohorts Kenny Wright, Patrick J. Miller, Matt Andersen, and our co-producers Michael Saint-Leon & Joshua Ketchmark, some “making of” musings are compiled below.
Be good to each other(and don’t forget to vote),
Kenny: Denny conjured this one up while we were in between records. While he played it off as not about anything specific, I thought the wordplay was brilliant, even if I didn’t know what it was about. When all was said and done, I thought it was the best mix we’d ever gotten from a fidelity standpoint. Michael Saint-Leon really shaped this mix; not only as an engineer, but as a sounding board for what to leave in and what to leave out.
Denny: This is me venting my frustration with some business we’d become entangled in, by our own design. When you get your hopes up, the only direction left for them to travel is down, and we were feeling a little bamboozled at the time, so I decided to document my thoughts on this particular shuck n’ jive with a few riffs, and a musical middle finger in the air. Sonically, there’s a lot of “ear candy” in this mix, courtesy of Michael Saint-Leon, but the sentiment behind the song itself certainly isn’t sweet.
Matt: You gotta have a straight ahead rocker and this is it. Our shot at a Hellacopters-esque vibe. Denny even got to tickle (or bang on) some ivories in the process. A nice solo section featuring both Patrick and Denny that really “tied the room together”.
“Believe In Ghosts”
Kenny: Denny brought this to the band probably a year before we even started 10 And 2, but I guess it didn’t really fit the narrative of that record. It was an obvious frontrunner for the next album, and we felt it really needed to start with a really tight drum track. I have a very vivid recollection of laying it down at Switchyard without having to get bogged down with a bunch of superfluous takes. I’m pretty sure that what you hear on the finished product was, essentially, a first pass. From a songwriting perspective, this is Denny doing one of the many things he does best.
Denny: I just kept holding this one back, sure it wasn’t right for the band. The thing is, I wasn’t using it for my solo records either, so it was just lost in the ether, relegated to eternal “unreleased demo” status. I thought it had too many moving parts for us to tackle, and then have to possibly recreate live…and I was right…but we nonetheless cranked out a pretty fine studio version, and Kenny’s bass part(intended as a “scratch” pass for Matt to poach ideas from), was so damn cool, we just dolled it up and left it on there.
Matt: I could never have imagined how great this turned out. While I was initially going to cut the bass, Kenny laid down a track that was too good to be recut. I went with the mantra “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. i always prefer to do what is best for the song, and in this case I think we made the right move.
Joshua Ketchmark(Engineer/Co-Producer): The Great Affairs are not only a great band, they’re family! So glad I got to be a part of this new record. Move with it if ya need to! It helps me.
Kenny: I think this is the tightest mix on any song we’ve ever released as a band. To me, if we’d have been a making records in 1982 and dropped this track, I know we’d have at least been a one-hit-wonder group. Another Street-Lion masterpiece.
Denny: Almost as soon as we’d wrapped up work on the last record, I started planning; on paper, this project called The Fieldsteen Anthems. It was going to be an outlet for all of these more Power Pop ideas I’d accumulated, that I felt weren’t exactly suited to our band configuration, or the direction the guys were wanting to go. In essence, what I really wanted to do was make my own version of a Rick Springfield record. Instead, I made the far more somber, and un-bombastic ‘From The Dark’, while those songs gathered dust in my vault. This is one of them, and I’m still going to make that record….soon.
Joshua Ketchmark(Engineer/Co-Producer): Dig the tunes, Dig the guys, Dig the band. It was great to help them pour all of their influences into this record.
Matt: Ah, Rick Springfield…you sure taught Denny how to write a pop song. I really pushed hard to cut this tune. I initially played my 12-string Waterstone bass, but to my chagrin, it just didn’t sound right. Sometimes simplicity is best. I definitely think this is the strongest mix on the record. Everything just ‘fits”.
“High On Rose”
Patrick: I came up with the all of the music for this in about 10 minutes or so, as I was getting ready to leave my house one day. Kenny gravitated towards it immediately and had the melody and lyrics rolled out in no time. Originally the feel was a more acoustic based, airy 1970s FM radio vibe. Once the band got into it, it adopted more of a straight forward rock and roll approach that works well. Everyone contributed some nice parts, nice feel, and some nice playing.
Kenny: Patrick sent me this music about 75% complete. He was hearing a Frampton’s Camel vibe, and I was hearing a Doobie Brother’s “China Grove” feel. We really didn’t get either one, as this ended up sounding more like Dressed To Kill era KISS, if you ask me. I really wanted to get a thick vocal stack on it, but I didn’t want to hear my own voice in the harmonies, so Denny went in and stacked three parts over my lead vocal. I literally jumped out of my chair when I heard them all in the mix! The tracking went through a lot of iterations before we ended up with the finished product, as the guitars ended up being deceptively complicated. Who knew that a simple love letter to my wife would end up being such a pain in the ass to finish?
Denny: A Patrick/Kenny co-write that I hear was supposed to be a little closer to The Rolling Stones than the KISS Lite rendering we delivered. I love it, regardless of any unintended detour we may have taken it on. Michael Webb really brings the goods on the old B3 too. I wish we could afford have him around full-time.
Joshua Ketchmark(Engineer/Co-Producer): Patrick never shies away from creating the perfect guitar track, never satisfied until he has it just how he wants it.
“In The Wreckage”
Kenny: This was, as I understand it, supposed to be on Denny’s first solo album. Due to some random circumstance, it didn’t make the cut. Long story short, I rode him about adding it to the digital EP we were working on, and I guess I won the argument. MSL played some beautiful slide and baritone guitar parts, which I initially thought were unnecessary, but now couldn’t imagine listening to the song without their inclusion. I sheepishly contributed percussion.
Denny: Another ‘Ten & 2’ sessions leftover. This was never intended to be a TGA tune, but Kenny claimed it before it could land on ‘From The Dark’. I was doing acoustic guitars for a couple of other tracks at The Switchyard one afternoon, and asked our engineer if he’d mind me cutting a quick pass of this new tune I’d been kicking around for a few days. The guitars in the finished track are from that pass. Over the next year or so, I got around to refining the lyric some, and cut a finished vocal to go with them, then convinced that same engineer, Micheal Saint-Leon, to do some of the tasty slide work he does in his own band Thunderbunny over it. When Kenny needed a cymbal to complete his percussion overdubs, and none had been packed for the session, we pulled a cracked Sabian, signed by my former fORMER cohort Billy Baker, down from the trophy wall, and utilized its services one more time.
“Worn Out Souls”
Kenny: I sat down with a bottle of Scotch and wrote this one in about a half hour. Gnashing my teeth at my failure as an artist from a commercial standpoint, this just bled out onto the page within a few minutes. The music immediately followed, and I used a snippet of a memo demo that Patrick had sent me, entitled “BadCo-ish”, to bridge the first chorus with the second verse. Denny and I spent all day doing a rough demo, and I thought we might really have a decent track in the making. He soon sent me a pass with a very hollow, eerie western guitar part he had crafted, and I KNEW we at least had something. Michael Webb easily heard what we were going for (as he always does) and delivered an iconic piano performance. This one is a favorite of mine.
Patrick: This was a tune Kenny and I originally had in mind for something outside of TGA. From start to finish, the song didn’t stray far from its original vision. There was a definite idea and mood intended that I believe we were successful in capturing.
Denny: Kenny really nailed the lyric on this one. When we got into cutting the finished version, I tried to recreate the guitar part I did on the original demo without really going back and listening to it closely. I figured it would be better for the tune if I laid in something sympathetic to the current, much more refined vocal, and Patrick’s recently-added parts. As it turns out, Kenny wanted me to play EXACTLY what I’d played(when I was just winging it to get something down as a placeholder, BTW) on the demo, so I went back and re-learned it note for note, before taking another swing at it. You’re welcome, Kenneth.
Kenny: This one had been knocking around for years, and never really settled into any of our releases. Denny and I had settled on using it as a double A side single for our side project, The DieYoungs. Drums and bass were tracked, but we ended up re-purposing it for TGA at the behest of Matt. A bit ironic, as we ended up using Dave Webb’s original bass track for the finished version.
Denny: I’m so relieved to finally have a version of this properly captured. Kenny & I have gone around and around about this tune for years now, after trying it with the band, and deciding it just wasn’t “happening”. Patrick does some cool counterpoint chord stuff on here, and a couple of those “snake charmer” licks he specializes in, and Dave Webb’s guest spot on bass is monstrous…plus I finally got to play Electric Sitar on a track.
Matt: This was originally cut for Denny’s second solo record with the incredible David Webb on bass. I, however, kept pushing to use it in TGA and Denny finally relented. The irony is that we ended up using David’s initial track. Remember that thing I was saying about doing what’s best for the song? Example #2
Patrick: I would have to say the most memorable thing about this song for me would be Kenny coming over to my place to finish writing it, and then, 10 minutes after he left, a tornado hit my house. I had just listened to the memo demo of it again and was turning off the lights in my music room, about to head upstairs. Then my ears popped and my house started to shake. Kenny, once again, really seemed to latch on to the music for this and went through a couple lyrical ideas in the process. We got together that night and added the finishing touches and it took shape. Once we recorded it and added the other components it really came alive. Great contributions came from all involved and the final product came out very well.
Kenny: Patrick came to me with most of the music for this tune close to finished. I had originally written lyrics called “Spaceman”, but they really weren’t what I wanted to say. We fooled with it, and it became what it is now. We finished off the arrangement at a late-night writing session at Patrick’s house on an evening where storms ripped through the greater Nashville area. Two minutes after I left, his house was severely damaged by a tornado, and a tree was felled across the driveway where my car had been parked only moments earlier. What started out as a more up-tempo idea eventually coalesced into a sort of Black Crowes meets Staples Singers, southern gospel tinged outing. I knew it needed a soulful female voice as a counter, and Michael turned me on to Wendy Moten. After I heard her voice, I couldn’t imagine doing the song without her participation. It is what it is because of her. As somber as the lyric is, she’s a true bright spot. Denny’s arpeggiated acoustic line is the other highlight for me.
Joshua Ketchmark(Engineer/Co-Producer): Matt is always on board to lay down the groove, always a great collaborator in the studio.
Matt: This was the last addition to the album. Patrick and Kenny had been working on this one for a few and described it to me as a Black Crowes/Gov’t Mule kind of vibe. I loved the initial mix of the tune, but once I heard the addition of Michael Webb on keys and Wendy Moten on vocals, my mind was blown.
Denny: Man, what a track. Vocally, this is Kenny at his best. This song was late to the party, and I wasn’t 100% convinced the album needed another tune, but once it started coming together in the studio, I began to see the light. As soon as Ms. Moten, and her amazing vocal arrangement were added to the mix, the deal was sealed. Gorgeous.
Kenny: To me, this one takes us back to the original vision Denny and Patrick had for The Great Affairs, long before I joined the group. I came up on country, folk and Americana music, and this one has all of those elements, in my opinion. I wanted to do a real Don Henley, "Eagles first record" type drum track on it, and I think I got pretty close. Every time I hear the vocal movement on the line “None of us are born into the light”, I remember why I still play music. Words, music and melody. What else is there?
Denny: 2 Things: 1) I hate wearing a harmonica rack. 2) When we play this live, I have to wear a harmonica rack.
I think I still like the song.
Matt: Satellite was one of the first tracks we cut for the record. This one harkens back to the early days of TGA with a more Americana/roots vibe. We haven’t had many chances to play this live, but I hope that changes as I love the tune. We just need to hire someone to hold Denny’s harmonica during the solo section so he doesn’t have to wear the oh-so-uncomfortable harmonica rack.
Patrick: A tune from the first batch of songs recorded that ultimately led to this album as a whole. It was fun to build some sparse melodic slide parts around the other melodies. I think all of the bits and melodies compliment each other very well.
Kenny: About eight years ago I was doing some stuff for Denny at his house and he was working on this one in his studio. I heard it like a thousand times that day, and it really stuck with me. Flash forward to a year ago, and I inquired about it. Despite his trepidations about it not being right for TGA, I leaned on him (as I so often do), and here we are. There was much discussion about how it should be treated, and we did the drums in several parts to maintain the mechanical feel of the song, yet have everything be played organically. I used my Dragon Drums for the big “around the horns” drum fill going into the guitar solo, and we tracked Matt’s bass at Back Gold Speakeasy, splitting both a dirty and clean channel with his Dark Glass pre-amp. I don’t really know what this song is about lyrically, but it really captured my imagination all those years ago, and I’m glad we ended up tracking it. I think we did it justice.
Denny: I tried giving this to another artist several years ago, but it was one of the songs from that project that didn’t make the cut for his album, due to the drum track not being quite up to snuff. We utilized some studio trickery for our take on it that alleviated any concerns of that nature. We aimed for synthetic, but created it with real instrumentation, chopped up and manipulated to SOUND robotic. I think this is Matt’s best bass-playing on the record, and maybe tone as well. I’ve always dug weaving layers of odd sonics into a tune, and tucking them into the mix in such a way that they make you lean into the speakers to determine whether or not you’re actually hearing other stuff swirling around in there. We did that a few times with this record, most notably on this track, and “Believe In Ghosts”. Making it work without mucking up the obvious, featured instruments and voices can be a real trick. Kudos to Michael Saint-Leon for facilitating that magic act.
Matt: Denny had kept this song on the back burner for quite a few years and finally decided to cut it after a lot of prodding from Kenny. It’s definitely unlike anything we’ve done as a band. While I doubt this is one that can be pulled off as a four piece live due to the production, I absolutely believe that the ends justified the means when I finally heard the finished product. This was probably my favorite song to track on the album. It was also my first time working with our buddy Joshua Ketchmark at Black Gold Speakeasy which was a blast. I was able to use my newly acquired Darkglass Alpha/Omega amp running both a dirty and clean signal and I was blown away by the tone. (Them Finnish folks sho’ make a nice bass amp). Add in a myriad of synths, loops and other assorted bells and whistles and this is what you get. Dig it!
“Head Light Live…In One Take”
Kenny: When I was prepping for my first gig with TGA as a lowly sub, I really gravitated to “Head Light”. It was fun to listen to and to play, but it wasn’t until we did it live together for the first time that I realized how effective it could be as an opening salvo. I’ve been in a million bands, but I’ve never had an opening tune that I felt was more of a mission statement than this one. It’s our “Detroit Rock City”, in my opinion. I really wanted to capture that urgency on a recording, and I think we did. Glad the “Hello and welcome” intro tape made the cut!
Matt: A surefire winner. I also got to finally put my limited vocal abilities on a record. Yay me!!
Denny: Cut “live”, on the quick, with minimal trickery. This one never fails us, and I never get tired of playing it either. “We can still get down tonight.” Damn skippy we can.
“Takin’ A Swing”
Kenny: Originally, we cut this for 10 And 2, but it didn’t really settle into the vibe of that record. We got a solid drum take on it during those sessions and decided to run it back up the flagpole during the EMNGH proceedings. I remember Denny sending me a demo of it just after he’d written it. I was driving south on 65 just outside Nashville, and I pulled over to give him feedback. I really like the way the story unfolds lyrically, and I really wanted to do a percussion treatment on it like Mellencamp’s “Key West Intermezzo”. I sent Joshua Ketchmark the drum loop intro from Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass”, and he put it in time with the track and dropped it in. When Patrick cut his solos, Michael and I had a Rolling Stones geek out moment when we simultaneously realized he was paying inadvertent homage to Wayne Perkins’ lead break in “Hand Of Fate”! You had to be there.
Denny: If you’ve ever had your ass kicked(and I have), you know that the come-from-behind Karate Kid moment seldom materializes, but the Balboa/Creed, post-whupping friendship commonly does. This is that kinda story. I thought it might make a cool “hidden track” on ‘Ten & 2’, since it’s more of a tongue-in-cheek sorta number, but we didn’t finish it up in time, so it just languished on a hard drive until now. I really dig Patrick’s slide bits on the back end, and the sparkly Nashville High Strung acoustic part that our buddy Joshua Ketchmark added. I’m not sure how “hidden” it is, seeing as we’re talking about it here, but this tune didn’t seem to sit right in the actual album sequencing, so we tucked it away at the end of the CD version, to surely be discovered by only the most dedicated of listeners.
Patrick: A bit of fun.
Joshua Ketchmark(Engineer/Co-Producer): Kenny always knows what he wants when he walks in, guns blazing! So many great memories being apart of the making of this record. A rock and roll throwback set to a modern soundtrack.
The man behind the board, Mr. Michael “Street-Lion” Saint-Leon, offered up some words on the subject as well, and since his submission incorporated a very gracious foreword, we figured we’d let this humble genius have his own standalone entry, regardless of the concerns he voiced about his contributions being too loquacious.
I had the good fortune to have hitched a ride on the Great Affairs train at the very beginning of their creative odyssey and to have played a small but important part in it’s direction. A new Great Affairs record is always an opportunity for toil, not too much trouble, and wanton artistic expression. This latest record is no exception. First come the songs, ever catchy, engrossing, sometimes fun, sometimes serious, always expertly written. Eventually the arrangements take shape during intensive rehearsals (or so I’ve heard) with all the guys throwing in their two cents, or five dollar’s worth. Following soon is the recording, a mutual affair, often beginning at Denny’s Pastry Park, moving on to The Switchyard, stopping off at the wonderfully talented and patient Josh Ketchmark’s place until all the parts are down. Then we mix. The guys give me more leeway than I deserve and I take full advantage of it. My goal is to deliver a mix that requires no tweaks! I’ve yet to manage that but I’ll keep going for it. A few specifics….
I’m Alright…. the detail that gets me in this one is the piano part, those low single notes that sustain past the guitar stabs. And, the particularly bad ass guitar solos
I Don’t Believe In Ghosts… right out of the box, that guitar lick Denny plays kicks the groove into a high gear. I dig when Patrick’s slide guitar bounces off of Denny’s solo.
Lyvia… undeniable pop majesty. A deceptively intricate arrangement, full of ear candy but never cluttered. The shimmering synths flowing just beneath the pre-chorus, Kenny’s woodblocks in the second verse, the glorious harmony “Lyvia” in the chorus and more pop guitar nirvana when Patrick’s ascending harmony guitars finally crown the whole thing
High On Rose… Kenny’s vocal and Patrick’s guitar ride are the key ingredients for me on this one.
In The Wreckage… the slide guitar on this one, what can I say…I mean, Whew, what about that slide guitar, jeeez! Oh, way cool song too.
Worn Out Souls…Kenny! Man! He’s dialed in that drum sound over the course of these albums. Two different kits were used during the making of this one. One of them features a freaky, bifurcated bass drum made by Staccato that gives us a killer thump with no need for mixy trickery. The other is a stunning mosaic mirror finished kit made by by Billy Baker. They both kick ass! Of course, some of that has to do with guy on the throne. I don’t remember which one was played on this tune, but I know I love it.
Light Years… I dig how this swells and crashes and takes me to arena rock world. I’m particularly happy about that “chukka chukka” guitar that sets up the last chorus. And of course…sitar!
Three Leaf Clover… Josh and Patrick got the grooviest rhythm guitar sound for this one. Then you’ve got the über cool Mike Webb, a long time secret weapon for the band, rolling in his sumptuous Hammond organ. Add awesomeness with Wendy Moten weaving into Kenny’s vocal and…you’re at a loss for words.
Satellite… this one makes me think of incipient era Great Affairs, when their music had a more folky sound. Denny’s harmonica sends me. Speaking of Denny, it’s hard to oversell his drive, his abilities, his talent. He’s a die-hard rocker, guitar-slinger, true born songwriter who never fails to deliver. He’s an excellent conversationalist too.
The Ride… We had some fun with the sounds on this, monkeying with the synths and trying to make some of the guitar parts sound freaky… I guess. I’m hazy on this one.
Headlight… as you can hear in this recording, The Great Affairs generate such a frenzied reaction in their fans that you just have to be there to believe it.
Takin’ A Swing… I like the echo on Denny’s voice during the bridge. Patrick’s guitar ride is groovy too.
While the world attempts to get back on its feet, in a series of awkward fits & starts, intermittent presses of the “Pause” button, and a whole mess of dung-slingin’ over certain precautionary measures, we’ve simply been doing our best to stay productive, so that when this storm finally passes we won’t be an atrophied lump with 8 arms, 8 legs, and a bunch of gear we’ve forgotten what to do with.
Hell, I even went out and did a solo gig in support of ‘From The Dark’ finally, some 6 months after its release. I trekked down to Tupelo, MS, and knocked through a 90-minute set at The Blue Canoe, with a hearty bunch on hand, clearly just happy to be out and about, in an environment that felt a little less like we were living in the prologue to Mad Max.
While I’ve at long last gotten around to doing a show on my own, we’ve been collectively grinding away on the new album. Kenny was just in The Switchyard on Monday, singing his final lead, and as of this writing, we are but one guest vocal away from completion, meaning our tentatively projected release date of 10/02/20 is in fact on track.
So, in case you missed it, we’ve re-posted this teaser track of a tune called “Lyvia”, and I suppose you might see more tunes popping up as we close in on October. For now, if you want some idea of where we might be taking the USS TGA on this voyage, you can check out ‘The 2019 Sessions, Vol. 1’(those 3 will be included on the LP) on your streaming platform of choice, and then fire this one up to hear what we’ve been cooking in the meantime.
or click HERE to stream "Lyvia".
To help us fund these sessions, with most of our previously scheduled roadwork up in smoke, and revenue virtually nil, we’ve added couple more new items to our StoreFrontier page, including a double-sided Tee & Hoodie that feature live shot on the front, and our new logo on the back, along with a second version of the face covering/mask design we sold so many of over the past couple of months (Thank you, BTW.). You can find these, and a bunch more exclusive designs HERE.
In other news, a couple of our crew have made recent appearances on the A-Sides Podcast. You can hear Kenny’s interview HERE, and our engineer/co-producer Michael Saint-Leon’s HERE. These are Spotify links, but A-Sides is also available via the Apple Podcast App., and Podbean, if you prefer to avoid lining those pockets.
In addition to TGA and solo stuff, I finally made it over to Black Gold Speakeasy to finish up tracking on a 4-song EP with my brother Joshua Ketchmark, for our Hail Marys project. He’s doing his thing with the stuff now, so hopefully we’ll have news on a release down the line just a bit. It’s the goods..covers a lot of bases in 15 minutes or so. Some of you may have caught me doing “Over The Moon” at an acoustic show. If that hit your sweet spot, I suspect you’ll dig the rest.
OK then, I need to sign off and attend to other matters, so here’s what the calendar looks like at the moment. With all that’s going on in the headlines, this could likely change, so please stay tuned.
Friday, July 31st "An Evening with The Great Affairs" in Tupelo, MS at Blue Canoe 9PM
Give the new song a listen, and we hope to see you all soon.
Be good to each other,
The Great Affairs
Thursday, May 21st, 2020
On the surface, I suppose April was pretty uneventful on the live music front, save for transmissions via the interweb of occasionally suspect audio and video fidelity. I myself managed to contribute some 50 tunes; just me and an acoustic guitar, many of which I hadn’t even thought of, much less played in a decade or more. Let me tell ya, it can be a weird feeling to revisit your own compositions when that much time has elapsed. It’s almost like learning a cover tune, except they tend to come to you a little easier once your brain starts connecting a few of the dots it initially seamed together when you were writing it, and your natural creative instincts lead you back down once-familiar paths. It’s a trip how quickly these things can coalesce, from somebody mentioning a title you can barely recall, to playing & singing through a song; top to bottom, like it was yesterday you performed it last, when in fact it was 12 years ago. The human mind is truly something else. I can never remember my siblings’ birthdays, but if it rhymes and is set to a melody, it’s locked away for eternity, ready to go whenever I need it. Sorry, fam.
If you wanna see/hear any of these, they’re scattered all over my Facebook Music page HERE.
Speaking of birthdays, I celebrated one yesterday by spending an afternoon in the studio with my TGA bandmate Kenny Wright, and our Producer/Engineer/Mixer/Occasional Slide Guitarist/Voice Of Reason Michael Saint-Leon, putting what would’ve been deemed the “finishing touches” on our latest LP, had we not also been cutting acoustic tracks for a last-minute edition to the record that we hope to finish tracking over the next few weeks. If not for this straggler, we’d probably be listening to a final master shortly, but this tune was too cool to leave behind, and let’s face it, we have time. With the world essentially stuck in park, we might as well get an oil change and check the tire pressure while we wait.
Besides, we’re ahead of the curve on everything else. Artwork is more or less ready, with every song getting it’s own “sleeve”, new merchandise on deck, and shows….well, we have some stuff on the books for July through November, but it’s still too soon to say how much; if any, action old Jean-Claude Damme Van is actually gonna get in 2020. We’re optimistic, but wish in one hand and…..yeah, you know the rest. However things shake out regarding live dates, I think we’re going to shoot for an early October(10/02/20 perhaps?) album release, giving us time to properly line up the proverbial ducks, and deliver this thing in the spectacular fashion we believe it deserves, but I suspect some “singles” might be appearing well ahead of that projected street-date.
Between now and then, here are some links to recent interviews I did for a couple of cool Podcasts:
THE RECORD MACHINE SHOW : I talk about my solo record, where I came from and how I got here musically, and what might be on the horizon for The Great Affairs
Speaking of the shop, we’re scheduled to re-open next week, so I’m gonna have to sign off here, and get to work on facilitating that from 475 miles away, so please be good to each other, and I’ll check in with another update as soon as we have some worthy scuttlebutt….like maybe a new song to share. Keep your eyes peeled, and stay safe.
The Great Affairs
p.s. If you have a shot of yourself wearing one of our masks from STORE FRONTIER, or any merch really, please send ‘em our way. We love seeing that stuff out in the wild.
Thursday, April 23rd, 2020.
WTF kinda SyFy Network, starring Debbie Gibson and Lorenzo Lamas, crazier than Soylent Green’s ending, batsh#t flick did I wake up in this morning?!?!?
Since I last popped in with an update, our guitarist’s house was hit by a tornado, and a plague has enveloped the planet, just as we were about to take it over, hot on the heels of a pair of successful, post-surgery comeback shows.
While the world watches and waits, hanging on every almost-sure-to-be-later-retracted word from the higher-ups, we’ve been toiling away(as much as these “social distancing” guidelines will allow at least) on the last few tracks we’ll need to sew up the new TGA LP. In fact, of the 11 songs slated to appear, 8 of them are mixed and making the inter-band rounds, so we can all haggle over whether or not they’re actually the “finals”. Once we’re allowed to reconvene, and Mr. Miller is done managing various contractors at his weather-ravaged estate, we’ll get the last of his guitar contributions on the remaining tunes, and be off to the races.
Now, when exactly is this thing gonna come out? That’s a good question. I’m guessing it might be prudent to wait out the ‘Rona.
Still, we’ve already got new merch on hand..stickers, guitar picks, a new double-sided T-shirt design ready to roll…Hell, we even went ahead and commissioned Store Frontier to make some print-to-order face masks, since the new logo seemed so perfect for that particular application, and the good ones are in such short supply everywhere.
Of course, we do have some slightly more upbeat apparel options, like my “From The Dark 2020” solo design, which may end up being something of a collector’s item, seeing as I may not get to actually support that record with a proper show in this calendar year. Still, if you wanna help a brother out, you can get that design in a T-Shirt, Hoodie(these are really cool), or various other styles, like Girls Tees and Kids sizes.
Those are available HERE
And finally, the sunniest bit of fresh swag we have on offer…our fabulous “Blue Duster” design is now available HERE in 3 different colors of Tie-Dye.
But enough about our exquisite apparel options….
With regard to shows, John Brown’s was a blast. I’m both proud and quite happy to report that my pipes were able to endure a long night of loud Rock N’ Roll, and that blasting through 20+ songs without flagging appears to once again be a possibility for me. I am taking a few extra precautions to protect my instrument, so if you don’t see me around much before showtime, I’m probably holed-up somewhere, in an attempt to preserve both my singing voice, and what’s left of my hearing. I’m not being antisocial, just trying to make sure I can give the job everything I have when it’s time.
Unfortunately we had to either cancel or postpone a handful of dates, just as I was cleared for full-time action, and our Summer calendar was starting to come together. With any luck, once this COVID-19 business is sorted out(fingers crossed), we’ll be able to get some of these back on the books. For now, we have a few things we’ve yet to announce for June, July, August, and beyond, but the crystal ball is currently a bit hazy to forecast the true likelihood of these engagements actually happening, so please check our site and socials periodically, and I’ll try my best to keep the calendars updated.
In the meantime, since so many of us are stuck at home, I’ve started doing one-a-day acoustic performances…nothing fancy, just an iPhone capturing me somewhere with my guitar…usually my kitchen, living room, or studio space…and doing my damnedest to get through some requests, several of which have required a deep dive into my personal archives, because they were either songs I’d tracked and forgotten, or stuff we’d simply never played live.
There have been some pretty cool surprises, digging these things out. I might actually keep a few of them around for future shows…you know, in the “new normal”? For now though, you can find these on my Facebook artist page HERE
So far(as of April 23rd), here’s what I’ve gotten to:
TGA: In The Wreckage, The Next Three Minutes, Dance Alone, I Can’t Sleep Alone, Gone, Eyes In Every Room, She Likes, Dodge
fORMER: Damned, In The Gray, Please, Needles & Pins, Make It Out…(Be sure to track down my buddy Henry Go’s “bass/vocal response" to a few of these…fantastic!)
Solo: I Will, She’s Got Your Eyes(unreleased), Hold On To Me(from the Thomas ‘Absolution’ record), Trying To Break Your Heart, Glass Slipper, One Mississippi
The Die Youngs: Let Me Go
Best Of Seven: Underwhelmed, Anything, Sleepin’ With The Radio On
FOXX: King Of Fools
Covers: September Gurls(Big Star), (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, & Understanding(Elvis Costello & The Attractions), (I Just) Died In Your Arms (Cutting Crew), Raspberry Beret (Prince & The Revolution)
Amy Moby, who works for a great No-Kill animal shelter in Pekin, IL called TAPS, caught one of these and asked me if I’d do a FaceBook Live fundraiser for their organization, so I’ll be dipping my toe in the FaceBook Live waters for the first time ever on Tuesday, April 28th, from 6-7:00PM CST, and again, I’ll be streaming from my FaceBook Artist page.
The event page, with all the info, is right HERE.
I think that just about gets us up to speed, so I’ll leave you with that, AND point you in the direction of this podcast that I taped an interview with recently. It should air next week at some point, and as soon as I have the link, I’ll post it in all the appropriate places. The host, James Michael Hollenstein and I talked all kinds of nonsense. I was 4 cups of coffee into my day at the time, so I hope you’ll excuse whatever rambling they’re unable to edit out.
Alrighty then, you know the drill...
Be good to each other, but not so good that you have to come within the recommended six foot radius.
The Great Affairs
We did it. We plugged this stuff back in, stepped onto a stage, and lived to tell. My voice is in fact operational, and we shall now commence a gradual return to active duty, beginning this Friday in Marion, IL, at the world famous John Brown’s On The Square, with a few of our closest friends. We’ll follow that up with a St. Patrick’s Day set at The Cobra in East Nashville, with the road dogs of Stone Senate, Cody Parks & The Dirty South, and Atomic Love from Chicago. From there, we’ll make a quick run down to Birmingham, Alabama on the 21st, for a long-overdue visit to the CBGB’s of the Southeast, The Nick. We’ll be supporting BeItTheMeans, and Pearl Bottom Radio from Atlanta will be on hand as well.
As for our big comeback show, it was a sold out night for the Framing Hanley gents at Exit/In, and we were happy to have an opportunity to test the waters with a quick 25-minutes set in front of an already mostly-full house of folks there to celebrate the release of their new album. It was exactly what we needed, and now we know we’ve at least got approximately a half hour’s-worth of available gas in the tank….so hell, lets go play for 2.5 hours this weekend.What could go wrong?
On the solo tip, I’ve got a couple of acoustic shows on the calendar, with more in the works. I’ve got new shirts that’ll be traveling with me, and yeah, we’ll have them at band shows too. The record has been getting a little attention overseas, with airplay in Switzerland, and some good press in the UK, along with a song or two making Spotify playlists here & there. I appreciate folks sharing it, and showing it love. Thank you. I wish I had more time to get behind it, but I’ve been tied up with rehabbing my voice, along with trying to complete a new record with The Great Affairs. In fact, I spent a good portion of this afternoon re-cutting some guitars for a track that’s already been mixed, but just wasn’t doing the trick for me. We’re at that point in the process on a lot of this material, putting the finishing touches on some tunes, starting on lead vocals for the last few, and perpetually tweaking things we might’ve thought at one point we’d already put behind us.
The reason for all these fits & starts? It’s pretty simple actually. It’s a fairly eclectic batch this time around. Where ‘Ten & 2’ was more or less a straight Rock record, aside from a lone ballad that Kenny brought to the table, this one is all over the damn place. Some of these songs pre-date my first solo record from 2016, and were even contenders for that LP, but got the bump in favor of the more Singer/Songwriter-type numbers. A handful of them are a little heavier on the production side of things than we’d normally tackle, and will be all but impossible to play live, which is another reason they’ve languished on the bench for a few years. Now that we’ve taken the plunge on them however, I wish we’d given them a shot sooner, because they’re shaping up to be fantastic additions to the canon.
I suspect you’ll be able to judge for yourself in a few short months. For now, you can hear “I’m Alright”, “Satellite” and “In The Wreckage” as part of ‘The 2019 Sessions’ EP that we released last year digitally. Those three will be included with the new full-length, but don’t even begin to illustrate the scope of the whole collection, believe me. It’s the goods.
OK then, I’m gonna sign off now, and watch the new David Crosby documentary, because I find the fact that he’s still alive to be downright amazing. I need to know his secret.
Be good to each other,
The Great Affairs
It’s been 5 weeks and some change since I went under the knife to correct the bit of damage I’d done to my vocal cords, and this morning I headed in for what would hopefully be one last followup scope at Vanderbilt, fingers crossed I might get the go-ahead to start performing live again.
My luck held, and everything seems to be in working order thus far, meaning I’m good to resume crooning in public. In the interest of not subjecting myself to this rigamarole ever again, we’ll be easing back into action with a few shows over the next month or two, and putting the freshly repaired apparatus, and our slightly atrophied chops through the paces gradually, so we can get back up to speed gradually and maybe stay there a while.
Our first order of business will be a quick support slot at Framing Hanley’s album release show on Saturday, February 22nd. That goes down at Exit/In, starting at 7:30 with Sons Of Our Fathers, followed by us, Lonelyouth, and the headliners. I’m pretty sure some tickets are still available at the moment, but I’d imagine this will sell-out, so if you’re looking to attend, it might be best to ante up pronto.
Once we get the “comeback” under our belts, we go straight into studio mode from the 23rd-30th, at various locations, doing guitars, the last needed bass parts, and probably some vocals, as we head into the home stretch of tracking.
As soon as we get that behind the scenes business out of the way, it’s time to stretch our legs a bit, and hit up our favorite haunt John Brown’s On The Square in Marion, IL, on Friday, March 6th for an evening of anything goes, where we’ll find out whether or not we can still play all these songs we’ve written over the last decade or so. I’m confident our little hiatus will prove beneficial, and I can think of no better place to test my theory.
I’ll have new solo merch on hand, with these ‘From The Dark 2020’ tees. You can get them now via our StoreFrontier (CLICK HERE) page(in hoodies and guys’ & girls’ styles), but I’ll have a limited number of them with me at upcoming TGA & solo dates as well.
As for those solo engagements, I’m still ironing out a few details, but they’re in the works. It’ll be just me & an acoustic guitar…maybe a harmonica or two…doing the songs, as they were originally written, from my records, TGA stuff, some fORMER, and whatever covers I might feel like taking a crack at.
Finally, I’ll leave you with these shots from a recent video shoot, where we basically played slightly more belligerent versions of ourselves, as a rock band hired to realize the vision of the another songwriter. Keep an eye out for Thunderbunny’s “The Ballad Of Wonder Hussy”, and catch an Oscar-worthy performance from our very own Patrick J. Miller.
Be good to each other,