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Posts Tagged ‘Al Kooper’

Every year, I like to take a look back on the amazing things that happened and learn from the events that could be improved on. Without a doubt, 2010 brought plenty from both columns. Overall, RPandTA saw some major changes at the start of the year and rolled with them like champs.

Fun facts about 2010:

  1. In 2010, Ryan Paul & The Ardent rehearsed for a total of 45 minutes…
  2. Having rehearsed 45 minutes, we introduced a handful of new tunes
  3. None of those tunes were gone through at that rehearsal

There’s a new boss in town…
At the end of 2009, I was in meetings with Invisible Button Entertainment and turned control over to Lily Troia on January 1st of 2010. With Lily taking a great deal of responsibility from my shoulders, I was able to discern where I wanted the band’s sound to go. After conferring with mentors and band members, prayer and reflection on the previous year, I decided to ask my friend Cory Eischen to play keyboards and to help me define some of the noise that was going on in the back of my head.

It’s like a piano, but goes weeeoooo…
Cory Eischen took the call, took the job, and was thrown into his first show without a rehearsal. He was then thrown into six months of shows without practice. Cory will tell you that this is not how he would’ve planned it. It wasn’t ideal for the band either, but it was how the calendar worked for us. On top of the heavy gigging schedule, we pulled Cory into the studio in February with 10 hours to perfect an EP.

10 hours…
After discussion with Invisible Button, we decided it was important to document the changes in the band with a studio project. We went on to track Cute Souvenirs EP, which was tracked and mixed in 10 hours. Believe me, I would have liked more time, but we had very little cash to make this thing happen.

In the humblest of places…
It’s funny how you meet heroes in the strangest places. Almost none of my favorite stories start out with a band playing their dream show and were suddenly met by an industry professional or legend. No, in fact they all seem to happen under the worst circumstances. Such is the case with my meeting Al Kooper.
We were playing at Palmer’s in the West Bank, on the floor, with no drummer (and a drum machine to fill in) and hardly playing our best. Of course, Mr. Al Kooper walked in with Lily and Adam Levy. After our set, Al asked to speak to me. The first words out of my mouth were “We didn’t have a drummer.” I am guessing you can imagine Al’s response.
My relationship with Al continues to this day and he has been a valuable source of insight (being that he is usually the first to hear my songs when I record them in my living room in the middle of the night).

I love lists. I’d like to give you two:

Top 5 Shows of 2010:

  1. EP Release concert at Bryant Lake Bowl Theatre (July 1, 2010)
    – Amazing performance by Zoo Animal. We were joined by Janey Winterbauer, Alexander Young, and Mark Shwandt on stage. Sold out performance.
  2. Salvation Army Benefit at Aster Cafe (November 11, 2010)
    Alpha Consumer + Dosh and Minor Kingdom played killer sets. We raised hundreds of dollars for Salvation Army. Sold out performance.
  3. Jennefit, a benefit for Jenn Barnett at the Turf Club (March 26, 2010)
    – Too many amazing artists to list participated in this show. Lots of money was raised for a great artist. Jeremy Ylvisaker helped us kill our set.
  4. Palmers with Patches & Gretchen (April 29, 2010)
    – Not many people at this show. Steve Goold couldn’t make it. We set up on the modest floor of Palmers. But then Al Kooper walked in…
  5. ARTCRANK 2010 at Shelter Studios (April 10, 2010)
    – I don’t think we’ve ever played for as many people. The mood was right. The art was great.  It was too much fun!

Top 5 covers of 2010:

  1. “You Never Give Me Your Money” – The Beatles (video)
    -Sung with Janey Winterbauer. We love her so.
  2. “Death of a Disco Dancer” – The Smiths (video)
    -At the Jennefit, Jeremy Ylvisaker and Steve made this song cruise!
  3. “Pictures of You” – The Cure (audio)
    -I am unblushingly affectionate about The Cure and this song has been a pleasure to play.
  4. “What Goes On” – The Velvet Underground (video)
    -While it is impossible to do Lou justice, it is a blast to try.
  5. “Untitled 101” – Peter Wolf Crier (audio)
    -Is it lame to cover your friends? Possibly, but I couldn’t resist.

My favorite moment of 2010: Here you go.

2011…
I believe in setting goals. I know that no goal can be met without a solid plan. In the last three months, I have been developing methods to achieve the (possibly lofty) marks I have set for this band for the upcoming year. I realize that I am just one person and that it will take a community to make all of these aspirations a reality.
I am humbled by the talent that I have in place in THE ARDENT. I am grateful for the skills and talents of Lily Troia. I am fortunate to have friends in this city who are talented enough and embody the know-how to get things done.
Charles Youel from ARTCRANK said, “I can’t help it. I know cool people.” in one of our recent discussions. Charles does know cool people. And I know cool people too (Charles is one of them) and I think it is time to start asking for input from that solid group. Our 2011 release is planned to be done at several different studios around Minneapolis. Because of a tight budget, we will be producing the record ourselves, but Adam Levy has graciously offered to swing by and give us tips and pointers as we go along. One of the studios we had planned on working with was Instrument Control studios in St. Paul. That studio was raided and robbed on Christmas day. Please help in the search for that equipment.
rp

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Quickly: I was a last minute side-note to a very cool event that happened last weekend at The Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis. Local music legend, Adam Levy, and Lily Troia of Invisible Button Entertainment put together a sold out show called “A Tribute to Al Kooper: Featuring Al Kooper“.

If you are unaware of the name Al Kooper, you wouldn’t be the first. However, I promise you that you have heard Al and you didn’t know it. Have you ever heard “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by The Rolling Stones? He produced that. Have you ever had a voyage into Southern Rock by listening to Lynyrd Synyrd? He discovered and produced them. You know that amazing organ part on “Like A Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan? You guessed it, Al Kooper.

The first half of the evening was thick with talent and anticipation as local musicians Adam Levy, Alicia Wiley, Alison Scott, Kevin Bowe, Erik Koskinen, Brian Just, David Campbell, Martin Devaney, Kate Murray, Joe Savage, Ashleigh Still, John Eller [there are more… my hands are tired] performed Kooper’s songs with Al giving a pre recorded intro and story to each. After a short intermission, Kooper himself took the stage.

The encore was especially cool to me as I was able to take the stage with all of these fine folks to sing half a verse of “Like A Rolling Stone”, sandwiched between Erik Koskinen and Martin Devaney and Mr Al Kooper to my right grinding away at the Hammond organ. What a thrill!

I sat back and recalled the short period of time that made that experience possible. You see, we played Palmer’s on Thursday with Patches & Gretchen. It was hot and sticky and sweaty and awesome. With the absence of Steve Goold, we had our friend Jeffrey Dunitz beating on some noise makers and Cory Eischen provided us with a robotic drummer to fill in the rest. It was so weird!

Halfway through that set, the door flung open and there was Lily, Adam, and Al. My first internal reaction was You brought him to this gig!?!? I tried to forget that there was a musical legend in the room and the five of us rocked the end of that set as hard as we could with what we had (Levy hopped on some percussion for our closer, making it extra cool and unique).

To make a long story short, I was able to have a really nice conversation with someone I never thought I’d meet (much less at Palmer’s) and I got an invite to sing on stage with them all on Sunday.

Al Kooper Tribute by Stephen Cohen
Photo by Stephen Cohen

My lesson: You never know who you’ll run into at Palmer’s.

Thanks Lily, Adam, and Al.
.rp

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