Here's how it shook out, the year that was 2014…just the highlights:
January: Kenny & I headed out to Los Angeles for Winter NAMM with our buddy/engineer Joshua Ketchmark. While there, we did a quick photo shoot with our Billy Vondrasek for The Die Youngs album sleeve, that had us wandering around the grounds of an $18 million castle/mansion right next door to the Tate/LaBianca murder house. We drank too much and got to feel an earthquake. The Cali experience in full.
February: The Great Affairs headed up to Cincinnati to play The Thompson House for ClassX radio's fundraising bash. We were spared the usual nightmarish travel conditions that seem to plague us every other time we make the mistake of traveling North or East during the winter months, and got to share the stage with a bunch of great regional acts.
March: Did a little traveling with our old TGA bassist Matt Andersen in tow; subbing for Henry, who was away on other business. Did a couple of shows with Matt in the fold, gigs with Abandon Jalopy & LA Guns. He performed admirably. Shortly thereafter, I made my way back to L.A. for a few days, and got to join The Lonely Drunks Club Band for a couple of numbers at The Viper Room.
April: The Die Youngs 'Nothing's Broken' LP was released. Kenny & I had been laboring over this, off and on, for the better part of 2 years. it got some great reviews, and has actually moved quite a few copies despite the fact that we haven't ever done a show to support it.
We did a few gigs while getting the material together for what would eventually become The Great Affairs 5th proper release, including one with Mike Tramp of White Lion. Tramp was especially cool, even saving himself a few cents on laundry by wearing one of our shirts in his web update the next day.
May: The Great Affairs did a little road work, supporting ex-Motley Crue, and fellow Nashville resident John Corabi, as well as 3 of us(sans Patrick) acting as the backing band for Joshua Ketchmark at the International Pop Overthrow Festival here. We also got last-minute word that we'd be opening the show for Cinderella frontman Tom Keifer at Mercy Lounge, playing to what was probably our biggest crowd of the year.
June & July were spent getting the songs together for the new record, so that we could start actual tracking the first week of August, which was originally supposed to be a month filled with studio work. Instead we got offered some shows with Trixter & The Quireboys, among others, so we quickly turned out an updated version of our last EP '4'(which we'd sold out of) as '4.5', now with 3 bonus tracks (KISS & Fleetwood Mac covers, as well as one previously unreleased tune of mine), so we'd have some new product for sale at the shows we were playing to subsidize the making of what we now know as the 'Dream In Stereo' LP.
September: We hunkered down on the recording thing, and got an opportunity to cut a cover of Dave Mason's "We Just Disagree" for use over the closing credits of the forthcoming documentary 'Toy Masters'. The track turned out great, so we tacked it on to the end of our album…lucky number 13.
October: We wrapped up mixing on the record and started getting the artwork and cover concept together, while Patrick & I prepped for the 20-yr. reunion of our high school band FOXX at Pekin's Rock N' Skull fest the next month.
November: FOXX reunion was a far greater success than anticipated, and it was good to put that thing to bed with a victory, but it was on to getting the new TGA album released. Photos were shot, CDs were pressed, digital content was submitted and then….
December…16th, to be precise, 'Dream In Stereo' was made available worldwide by various vendors of physical and digital recorded product, right about the same time the long-delayed Bombshell Crush reissue was unleashed by FnA Records. I believe that's what you call "flooding the marketplace".
Mike J. Nichols even made us a sweet video for the first single "The Next Three Minutes" that you can find on YouTube.
Patrick & I will play one last 2014 show, at The Red Barn in Peoria, IL on Saturday, the 27th…just us with acoustic guitars, voice, and maybe a little harmonica.
So, that brings us up to speed, I think. What happens in 2015?, you ask.
Well, we're booking shows now…looking to get out and around TN, KY, OH, AL, GA, MO, IL, IN…while also possibly doing some more extensive traveling for some stripped-down shows, possibly as a trio, and getting out to some other, slightly more far-flung destinations…details on that later. The first order of business is, of course, seeing how far we can take the record we've been slaving over for the past few months. I think everyone knows by now what an uphill battle it is trying to squeeze a dime out of this business these days, but we're thick-headed and game for the challenge at the moment, so bring on the mountain, as they say.
As far as new material goes, I've been working on a little project called The Larimores with a couple of good friends, when our schedules permit. You can hear an early preview of that stuff on my site( www.dennysmithmusic.com ). It's up there in the media player, a tune called "The Way Home". It's a little different, but not that drastic a departure from the usual TGA fare. Oh yeah, and I think I'm gonna finally take the plunge and do a "solo record" this year…maybe try and see how much work I can get done with just these two hands, and zero call for compromise. It's probably time.
Merry Xmas…or whatever it is you choose to celebrate this time of year.