Live @ The Triple Door Seattle

Paula's Blog

Gearing Up for Bear Creek Studios Chapter II 

It's stunning to believe a year's gone by. That's right. It's been 12 months since Paula Boggs Band spent 2 weeks recording 10 tracks at the enchanting Bear Creek, a 45 minute drive Northwest of Seattle in a town called Woodinville. Back then we were trying to make a record anchored by a mournful Americana tune called "Carnival of Miracles" -- inspired by the Newtown, CT tragedy where so many children and their teachers were slain by a young madman. The song also showcases a vet's voice that reveals love for her country while urging us to do and be better as a great nation. We made good vibes and were fortunate to be guided by producer Jonathan Plum and SNL veteran engineer Josiah Gluck.

Though our upcoming record will still tap "Carnival" as a centerpiece, we decided our 2013 sound was too diverse and we've since upped our game through performing, rehearsals and being more purposeful in creating what we call "soulgrass" -- a sound that combines jazz chord progressions and soulful vocals with traditional "Americana" instruments like acoustic guitar, banjo, standup bass, washboard, melodica and a variety of acoustic percussive instruments.

This time we'll be guided by Grammy-winning producer and engineer Trina Shoemaker who comes to us from Fairhope, AL and was nominated for BEST ENGINEERED ALBUM -- NONCLASSICAL just last year. In an industry with few women producers or engineers, Trina stands out and earns respect the old-fashioned way -- talent, grit, endurance and never burning a bridge.

Sandy, Tor, Mark, Andrew, Jarrett and I could not be more thrilled to work with Trina and return to Bear Creek to record six tracks between July 9-20th. Stay tuned as we post photos and impressions over the next few weeks. And as always, THANKS for supporting us!!

Keith Jarrett and the Power of Identity 

It shouldn't matter. It really shouldn't matter and I'm a little embarrassed to admit it does. Today I learned legendary jazz pianist Keith Jarrett is white and my head feels light as I navigate disorientation and re-read the words. I hadn't planned to Google Keith Jarrett today but was inspired to learn more about the man who in a very real sense inspired me to love jazz back in the 70s as a teenager living in Germany with my mom and siblings. Prior to hearing Jarrett's music, I'd met black jazz musicians living and performing in Europe through my mom, an elementary school principal in the Department of Defense School System, and her bohemian friends -- some fellow teachers and others just passing through. I'd listen to these musicians jam and they produced sounds very different from those I'd known as a black Catholic in Richmond, VA. I can safely say, my world was devoid of jazz before moving to Europe. It wasn't in our home or other homes I knew. It wasn't in my school or church and I didn't hear it on the radio.

Ironically, given the United States gave birth to jazz, moving to Germany changed all that for me little by little. The white parents of my best friend were jazz lovers and some of the black jazz musicians I met in the early 70s hung out at their home. Folks like Charles Jefferson, a gifted trumpeter from Seattle and Ernie Butler, who played tenor sax, often dropped by and sometimes pulled out their instruments. Charles was married to my music teacher Sueellen and they were the first interracial couple I'd ever laid eyes on. Charles was a "cool cat" -- light-browned skin, slight frame, huge fro, sometimes wearing a dashiki and shades, whose voice sounded as smooth as the tones he made jump from his trumpet. As a budding songwriter, I could not help but be influenced by these new sounds and the folks who made them.

Almost 40 years later, I can't remember how I learned about or got hold of Keith Jarrett's 1975 live jazz piano masterpiece, The Koln Concert, but it was transcendent. I'd never heard anything so beautiful and yet primal, including the grunts and other noises Jarrett made as he played. I was hooked. Jarrett had made this music not far from my home and he looked like he could be Charles Jefferson's brother -- same complexion, same fro. I'm not sure how many times I listened to The Koln Concert in my last 2 years of high school but it was one of the treasures that came with me when I returned to the US for college. The Koln Concert inspired me to explore other Jarrett works and through my college years I came to associate him with other jazz greats like Herbie Hancock -- that rare breed of gifted black musician as comfortable in rock, gospel, R&B and classical. I just assumed Jarrett was black and though largely unconsciously, that fact somehow made him a role model in my efforts to defy genre in the music I write.

Of course my love for Jarrett's music is no less now that I know he's white. But this recent experience reinforces for me how important role models can be in the lives of our youth. Would I still be writing music had I known in the 70s Jarrett was white? I'd like to think so and I'd also like to think I'd be as adventurous with my music. But I don't know, I'll never know. And I guess that's the point.

Band Member Spotlight -- Drummer & Music Director Sandy Greenbaum 

Sandy grew up in Southern California and started drumming at age 12. After forming a band with friends at 13 he knew music was what he wanted to do in life and never looked back. At 16, he Iearned the elements of jazz and mixed with a rock background, formed a love for creating music with new horizons. In the early 90's he relocated to the Pacific Northwest and stays busy playing, recording and teaching. In addition to PAULA BOGGS BAND, of which hes been a member since 2007, Sandy works with many singer-songwriters in Seattle and is often busy working in the studio. Hes played shows all over the US and some in Canada and leads a jazz group called Urban Improv. Sandy also plays with Seattle Central Jazz Orchestra and Mach One Jazz Orchestra, one of Seattle's top big band ensembles.

Austin 

As we gear up to release a new record in 2014 of course burning questions include where to tour and how to give the best show? I thought Austin was a natural --lived there 5 years, it's a music town, etc. Our recent trip was a great learning experience about the where and how:

1. The marketing formula works but not always. We've had success in cities beyond Seattle -- Portland, Oregon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New York, New York -- through a combination of social media exposure/marketing, tapping into networks -- HS, college and law school alum, business, lawyers, associations I or other band members are connected with, etc, tying our performance to speaking engagements, at least 1 favorable blog/article and word of mouth. We weren't able to get that traction in Austin though the 50 or so folks at The Belmont dug the music and had a good time. Lesson: we need to refine our list of tour cities.
2. When you ask people to dance, they often will. Our encore was "The Way You Look Tonight" and when we urged folks to dance, they did! I could have done that earlier in the show -- lesson learned.
3. Opening bands can set a great tone. I thought The Belmont did a good job pairing us with local Austin band Rixon. Their music was different than ours but upbeat, sophisticated and well played. It was also not so different to cause something akin to sonic whiplash.
4. Stuff always happens in a show...deal with it. We couldn't play one of the band's favorite songs -- Lenny -- because of my guitar's warped neck. After a couple attempts to tune the darn thing unsuccessfully we moved on -- the right answer for our crowd and show flow.
5. There's always another show. You gotta keep getting on the horse so this Saturday I plan to do 2-3 songs solo at a local open mic.

More soon.

It's a Marathon not a Sprint. 

We've been at it awhile now. The band started recording July 22 at Bear Creek Studios in Woodinville, WA, a half hour drive on a good day and a lifetime away from bustling Seattle. Time stills at Bear Creek, a repurposed barn that evokes Americana and all that's good. For 10 days we tuned, retreated to boxes aka sound booths, played and replayed songs and their parts, nursed egos as instruments and voices were chosen...or not by intrepid producer Jonathan Plum -- going through his own "thing" as he did what he did at a rival's studio. We got through it with a little drama but lots of joy and since August 1 we've been laying down overdubs and vocals at Jonathan's palace aka legendary London Bridge Studios.

Exhausted but determined, most of what we need is done before passing the baton to veteran mixing engineer Josiah Gluck. Right now it's all about the small stuff that when added together makes big stuff. Too many strings? A flat note or mispronounced word? Too much vibrato? Not enough congas? Too flat? A hundred decisions swirling now will hopefully lead to something special. Stay tuned!

Lyric Humility 

"It's not good enough," said the producer. " I don't know what you're saying." I wasn't quite prepared for this reaction because I wrote the song 7 years ago and performed it for almost as long. Moreover, many of my band members say it's their favorite song. So, yes, I was a little taken aback. But then I remembered why I hired this guy -- he's one of the best in town and it's his job to hear things I can't or won't. After a deep breath, I was ready to listen and read the chorus. And he helped me. We started reworking the chord progression -- a little less jazz, a little more "accessible" and making it longer.

We started with me playing the chords agreed on with made up words and a melody I created on the fly. He liked it so now it's time for homework: I need to write a new chorus based on the new chord progression and melody. I've never done this before and delayed for a couple days before tackling my assignment.

I started with:

"Where's it gonna go?
Honey I don't know.
It's a strain of Coltrane
Sands in the hourglass..."

My local Starbucks served as perfect host as I settled in with a little lunch, Klipsch headphones and a MacBook Pro. I started with John Coltrane. What more could I say about him in the context of this song? After refreshing myself on Coltrane's story, and a couple false starts, I decide to work with the lines in tandem rather than separately. I then google and read about "hourglasses" before returning to the verses and story I hoped to tell when it all comes together. The story is about "dangerous attraction" so the chorus needs to put a fine enough point on it for the listener. My old chorus failed that test -- and helpfully I could see that now.

With work and a little serendipity, here's where I ended up:

'Where's it gonna go?
Honey I don't know.
It's a strain of Coltrane -- raw emotion -- free fall jazz.
Every moment with you leans forward then snaps back.
A bolero of human circumstance, doing a dance that has no chance,
You and me are just sand in an hourglass.'

Though I'm not sure that's the "last word" on "Traces of You's" chorus, I do know I've grown as a songwriter by having someone challenge me to leave my comfort zone and "do better."

Lyric Humility 

"It's not good enough," said the producer. " I don't know what you're saying." I wasn't quite prepared for this reaction because I wrote the song 7 years ago and performed it for almost as long. Moreover, many of my band members say it's their favorite song. So, yes, I was a little taken aback. But then I remembered why I hired this guy -- he's one of the best in town and it's his job to hear things I can't or won't. After a deep breath, I was ready to listen and read the chorus. And he helped me. We started reworking the chord progression -- a little less jazz, a little more "accessible" and making it longer.

We started with me playing the chords agreed on with made up words and a melody I created on the fly. He liked it so now it's time for homework: I need to write a new chorus based on the new chord progression and melody. I've never done this before and delayed for a couple days before tackling my assignment.

I started with:

"Where's it gonna go?
Honey I don't know.
It's a strain of Coltrane
Sands in the hourglass..."

My local Starbucks served as perfect host as I settled in with a little lunch, Klipsch headphones and a MacBook Pro. I started with John Coltrane. What more could I say about him in the context of this song? After refreshing myself on Coltrane's story, and a couple false starts, I decide to work with the lines in tandem rather than separately. I then google and read about "hourglasses" before returning to the verses and story I hoped to tell when it all comes together. The story is about "dangerous attraction" so the chorus needs to put a fine enough point on it for the listener. My old chorus failed that test -- and helpfully I could see that now.

With work and a little serendipity, here's where I ended up:

'Where's it gonna go?
Honey I don't know.
It's a strain of Coltrane -- raw emotion -- free fall jazz.
Every moment with you leans forward then snaps back.
A bolero of human circumstance, doing a dance that has no chance,
You and me are just sand in an hourglass.'

Though I'm not sure that's the "last word" on "Traces of You's" chorus, I do know I've grown as a songwriter by having someone challenge me to leave my comfort zone and "do better."

Big Island Adventure, Take 1 

As a birthday present to "me" I decided to spend a week on Big Island, Hawaii focused on yoga, reading, learning more about the ukelele and just being good to myself. It's a little after 7am and I've just woken...my first morning at Kalani Retreat near Pahoa on the East Coast. It's the first 8 hour sleep I've had in awhile and besides my little too loud ringtone alarm there's a cacaphony of nature singing outside my door -- whistles, caw-caws and an ocean's rumble just steps away.

It took almost 3 hours to get here from Kona -- along mostly winding and rural roads -- driving almost 2 hours before seeing my first McDonald's -- one road deadends and then you take a left and at the T you take another left before reaching Kalani -- between mileposts 18 and 17 on the left. It's sorta metaphoric how many lefts one has to take to get here.

My cabin is charming and off the cell phone grid though I do get spotty "OVI" -- ocean view -- wireless on my MacBook Pro. Guess I'll need to read a book!

Gotta go -- breakfast is from 7:30-8:30 and I'm hoping for great coffee, KONA of course.

The Paula Boggs Band – A Unique Sound Hits Seattle 

http://www.postergiant.net/articles/introducing-the-paula-boggs-band/

Every now and then a special campaign hits us here at posterGIANT, like working with Paula Boggs to announce her bands upcoming gig at the Nectar Lounge in Seattle. There are a lot of great bands in the Seattle music scene, so what makes the Paula Boggs Band special? Let us count the ways. To start with, everything their front woman touches turns to gold. Paula has worked at the Pentagon and The White House, was the Executive Vice President at Starbucks Coffee and worked on President Obama’s second presidential campaign. She sits on the board for the American Red Cross, the School of Rock and KEXP. It’s pretty safe to say she’s had the career success that every college student dreams of, and most recently she has devoted her time to writing her memoir, and working with her band to release their second CD and gear up for their upcoming national tour.



Listening to Paula talk about her band mates and their music is inspiring. There’s so much respect and consideration for each person and their talent, it’s hard to not get excited about getting to know the band better and seeing their styles blend LIVE at the Nectar Lounge on Wednesday May 8th!

Tickets for this great show can be purchased here: http://tktwb.tw/12jkMez See you there!
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