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New music from veteran artists

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There are a few benefits that come with doing a daily morning radio show that almost make up for the lack of sleep and/or anything resembling a social life. For starters, the coffee is pretty good, your mailbox is periodically populated with free CDs and books, and your studio phone can become a conduit to speak with the folks who make the music.

I do a morning show with a classic hits format that airs on BIG 104 FM (104.3/104.7/107.7 FM), and have taken a number of calls in recent weeks from veteran musicians excited to share news of their latest projects.

Rik Emmett of Triumph

The former guitarist and songwriter for the iconic Canadian rock trio has just seen his back solo catalog reissued on Round Hill Records. It’s a wildly eclectic group of LPs originally released between 1998 – 2012, encompassing rock, jazz, blues, folk, and classical music. Rik has also just released “Folk Songs for the Farewell Bonfire,” a 4-part series of multi-genre stripped down sessions available in high resolution and mp3 at www.RikEmmett.com .

Rik Emmett: “I had retired from touring a year or so before Covid hit, but I haven’t retired from being creative. When I was 9 or 10 years old, I got the first album from Bob Dylan, with just his voice and acoustic guitar. I always wanted to do an album like that but I didn’t have the guts. I remember playing at campfires as a kid and it’s a great way to find out if your songs hold up, when they’re stripped down as naked as they can get. I couldn’t stop there so I grabbed my Fender Tele and put it through a little Lunchbox amp and did some jazz pieces too.”

Ronnie Platt of Kansas

Ronnie has been lead vocalist for the classic rock band Kansas (“Dust in the Wind,” “Carry On Wayward Son”) since 2014. The Chicago native says the band’s new album “The Absence of Prescence” was two years in the making.

Ronnie Platt: “We were so happy when the last album (2016’s “The Prelude Implicit”) went to #14 on the Billboard chart, we immediately starting thinking about this one. Isn’t it amazing that Phil Ehart (drums) and Rich Williams (guitar), who’ve been part of Kansas for nearly 50 years, still have the desire to create new music? On this album, every song is different but the classic Kansas sound is there.”

Jesse Colin Young of The Youngbloods

You know “Get Together,” the 1960s love anthem, which according to IMDB has been used for the soundtrack to 33 movies and TV shows (and that figure sounds low to me). The former Youngbloods lead singer released “Dreamers” in 2019, a new album of all original material. This updated version of Young’s biggest hit was recorded during those sessions but held back until this year. Old friend Steve Miller added his vocals to Young’s and all proceeds generated by the sale and streaming of this new version will feed hungry people through www.WhyHunger.org.

Jesse Colin Young: “I’d recorded this in 2018 with the same band of young musicians that I used on “Dreamers” but I held it back because I wanted that album to be full of original songs. The musicians in my band are so young but they love “Get Together” and they love the way people respond to it. I’ve known Steve Miller since 1967 in San Francisco, and we finished this up when Steve got off the road last fall, then Charles Yang added violin to it. Just like the 1960s, we’re at a junction where we need to come together, and it feels right to re-release “Get Together” like this, and to have it hooked up with WhyHunger. Every penny from the sale and streaming of the song will go to feed hungry people.”

Dave Jenkins of Pablo Cruise

The lead singer and guitarist for smooth rockers Pablo Cruise (“Love Will Find a Way,” “Whatcha Gonna Do?“) since that band’s formation in 1973, Jenkins says his band feels the time is right for the optimism heard in “Breathe,” the first new piece of music from Pablo Cruise since 1983. It’s an infectious little nugget of positivity that will no doubt inspire Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell’s character in “Step Brothers”) to keep wearing his Pablo Cruise baseball tee.

David Jenkins: “We’re always working on new material and when this song came along, it had all of the right elements that moved us. We put together a collective Zoom writing session on the lyric where every member weighed in. “Breathe” has that sound that Pablo Cruise is kind of known for, which is fun, up, and happy and positive. We haven’t played a show since the end of February when we did a cruise with America, Jefferson Starship, and Stephen Bishop, and we just want to play. It’s always been about just getting together and playing with this band. Sometimes we just jam, but some great songs like “Breathe” have come out of those jam sessions that are worthy of writing a song around.”

Todd Sucherman of Styx

A world class drummer, Todd has been an essential part of Styx’s rhythm section for more than 25 years, while also contributing to vocals and songwriting. “Last Flight Home,” represents Sucherman’s first solo LP but hopefully not his last. It’s a melodic delight that showcases his skills as a songwriter and vocalist and opens a window to reveal some of his musical influences. Guests include principal collaborator J.K Harrison, and Sucherman’s wife, Taylor Mills, formerly of Brian Wilson’s band.

Todd Sucherman: “This album is one of those things that materialized organically almost against my will. An old friend of mine, (songwriter and producer) J.K. Harrison has been harassing me for years to do a record with him and I’ve always blown him off. I relented and we got together for a few days in Los Angeles last July (2019) and this record came out of it. In some of the songs, you might detect a few of my influences. On “Sacred Book of Favorite Days” you’ll hear a sort of Beatles homage, also some latter day XTC, and Jellyfish, both of whom had The Beatles and Beach Boys in their DNA. I recorded this album on the down-low and kept it a secret from pretty much everyone. Even my mother didn’t know I was recording an album because I wasn’t sure that I could actually pull it off. I didn’t want to blow the trumpets and then wuss out in the 11th hour, but I’m glad that it’s here, and the response from people who’ve heard it has been incredibly gratifying.”

Last modified on Wednesday, 25 November 2020 08:04

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