New Video for an Old Song: (Who Will Give Them) Sanctuary

There's a link a little further down this page to something new that I've just completed and released this morning on my YouTube channel. It's a new video that comes out of what has been one of my personal coping strategies throughout my life - creative work that reflects upon and expresses my sentiments about events and circumstances affecting me personally and the world around me. Nearly four months into the Trump presidency, I doubt that I, or at least my sanity, could have made it through without finding at least a song or two inside me to sing my way through it. 

As my performance schedule slowed down along with the seasonal tourism here a few weeks ago, I finally found time to start recording one of them. It's almost ready to share with you, but I still have a bit of work to do on the final touches of the recording. Since I'm doing it all myself, the production work can become a bit tedious at times, so I took a short break and sacrificed a bit of sleep this week to pull off another, closely related little side project that's been awaiting my attention since November.

So here is the result - a new music video of my much older, but sadly once again relevant song, (Who Will Give Them) Sanctuary:

The story behind this song goes back many years; I actually wrote it back in 1982 or '83. Yep, things were getting pretty bad for immigrants back then, too - particularly those who'd come to the USA escaping certain death in then war torn Central America. (This explains, by the way, my reference to concerns about the possibility of "some shade of red" in their political alliances then raised by the political right wing that was influencing immigration policies at that time.)  I was living in Madison, WI at the time - a great little town that already had a thriving music scene when I arrived there in the early 80's.  I'd been performing the song for a couple years before recording the version you'll hear in the video with Love, Mom, the band I put together with the great jazz and R&B vocalist Lynette Margulies, who sings the lead vocal on this version. The track itself was actually part of a studio demo we recorded for that project. 

But - cutting to the chase - the long story's most recent chapter began just a few months ago when I received an email from my old friend Lynette. Her idea inspired me. Why not release a video of that song that seemed to move so many people when we were performing together back then, since, as things have turned out, it's message has become even more relevant in the past few months?

I knew that she was right, but I struggled with how I could, with the limited financial resources available to me (i.e. none), come up with a way to visually represent the content of the song. The answer suddenly came to me all at once just a few weeks ago, and I finally shot the screen video and assembled and edited the found footage that provides most of the visuals for it last week. I must apologize that the audio is admittedly not particularly high fidelity. I remastered it myself as best I could it from the only remaining version of the track I have, a cassette dub of the long ago lost original studio tape reel. (More on that in a moment.)

But first, a few words about Love, Mom, the band that recorded this track:

Lynette - as you will no doubt notice - is a phenomenal singer and one of the best I've worked with. Before our time making music together she had fronted the legendary Mad City band Four Chairs No Waiting and already collaborated with jazz and R&B luminaries like pianist/vocalist and songwriter Ben Sidran (who had played with Boz Scaggs and the original Steve Miller Band back in the day, even writing the lyrics to "Space Cowboy,") the master acoustic bassist Richard Davis, and James Brown's master of funk drummer Clyde Stubblefield, who actually played on one of our first gigs together. Lynette and I met through our mutual friend, Bill Danos, who was playing drums in both of our bands at the time. For years Bill had talked about wanting to get the two of us to work together, but it never happened until just before he moved off to Hawaii. So, left temporarily drummer-less, Lynette and I begin working together as a duo to see how things gelled between us before beginning our search for the right musicians to fill out our sound. 

Drummer extraordinaire Michael Weiss, who actually came back from Barcelona for awhile to play with us, had worked with Lynette in the past (as well as Stanley Jordan, Richard Davis, Ben Sidran, pre-Timbuk 3 Pat MacDonald and Barbara K, and countless other then Midwest-based greats) and signed up, I think, on sheer blind faith in his old friend and longtime bandmate, perhaps persuaded by her open enthusiasm for my songwriting.

After a difficult search for the right bass player, we found the talented Jim Bowman to hold down the bottom, and I think we all had a blast playing together. I was able to fund the project and actually pay those great musicians by happily managing to score another performance grant from the Madison Arts Council to produce a series of outdoor summer concerts that we performed in the city's parks that year. Then a day or two after we'd finished mixing the studio demo of all the tunes we'd planned to send off to the record labels, the recording engineer split town with the master tapes!  

Essentially - end of story. I don't know what became of Jim B, but Michael moved back to Spain, where he's still playing today. Lynette has carried on, thrilling jazz audiences in Mad City and elsewhere over the years and is still recording awesome work, like her featured appearances on Ben Sidran's album, "Life is a Lesson", where she and Ben are backed by Randy Brecker, Gil Goldstein, Dave Liebman, Steve Khan, Howard Levy, David Rivkin, and Eddie Daniels, among other jazz legends. It's a beautiful piece of work!  If you're ever in Madison you should catch her live. 


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