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The Song Writer's Gig

The stories behind the songs and the songwriter's.
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The Song Writer's Gig
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Jun 14, 2019

Find The Song Writer’s Gig on iTunes and Stitcher

 

James Lee Baker was born in Amarillo, Texas with music in his veins. His mother played guitar, his father played drums, his grandmother wrote Gospel music and his grandfather was a concert pianist.  James took the inspiration from his family and began working to play music and create his own musical identity.

                     

He began participating in open mics in his late teens and created a song catalogue that resulted in his first album being “Saturday” released when he was 18 years old.

 

His early sound was rock and pop driven but then he started hearing talents like John Gorka and became interested in the singer/songwriters genre.  The real spark came when he heard a song from the soundtrack of “Me, Myself & Irene” called “The World Ain’t Slowing Down” by Ellis Paul. 

 

James moved to Denver in 2009 and continued writing and developing his sound.  The ensuing years were filled with hard work, frequent gigging and continuing down the singer/songwriter path. 

 

Having met Ellis Paul and following his music more closely, James decided to study with him and was mentored by Ellis for roughly a year in 2017.

 

I met James in 2017 at Ellis Paul’s New England Songwriters Retreat and he immediately distinguished himself as one of the real special talents attending the event.  At last year’s retreat, James started off one of the mornings by playing an amazing song, “The Last Cowboy of Hutchinson County”.  He tells about his grandfather and father with such clear memories that you are drawn in and captivated.

 

Enjoy this episode as James closes it by playing “The Last Cowboy of Hutchinson County” and “Leave the Saving Souls for Later”.

 

Find James and his music at www.jamesleebaker.com

May 15, 2019

 

Episode #20 – Jeiris Cook

Find The Song Writer’s Gig on iTunes and Stitcher

 

When George booked Jeiris Cook to be on The Song Writer’s Gig he said “This guy is something special” and he was so right!

Jeiris spent the first 13 years of his life in Atlanta before his family moved to Maplewood, New Jersey and has been a Jersey guy ever since.  Music, especially singing, was always in his home and he traces his vocal performing back to his start around 5 years old.

He was a BIG Michael Jackson fan and his mother took him to see Michael during the “Bad” tour.  This was Jeiris’ very first concert which sets the bar just a bit high.

In the late ‘90’s and early 2000’s he was part of a vocal group called “The Kornerstone Quartet” who had the amazing experience of playing (and surviving) Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater during the Steve Harvey hosting days. 

Jeiris only began playing guitar in 2016!  When you hear his catchy, percussive style you will think it took decades to develop but just like SSG standout, Kevin DeFeo, Jeiris is proof that you can develop your skills as quickly as you want to if you are willing to work hard.

There are shout outs to MariByrd, Rick Barth and Anthony Hamilton as well as his local music experiences.  Jeiris plays three songs, “Apple Tree” (also the name of his new EP), “Show Me Your Socks” a great song about internet trolls and finally, “The Villian”

Jeiris’ upcoming shows include:

  1. The Taphouse 15 in Wharton, NJ on 5/24
  2. Sofar Sounds coming up on May 25th in Philadelphia

 

Find him at www.jeiriscook.com

May 15, 2019

Episode #20 – Jeiris Cook

Find The Song Writer’s Gig on iTunes and Stitcher

 

When George booked Jeiris Cook to be on The Song Writer’s Gig he said “This guy is something special” and he was so right!

Jeiris spent the first 13 years of his life in Atlanta before his family moved to Maplewood, New Jersey and has been a Jersey guy ever since.  Music, especially singing, was always in his home and he traces his vocal performing back to his start around 5 years old.

He was a BIG Michael Jackson fan and his mother took him to see Michael during the “Bad” tour.  This was Jeiris’ very first concert which sets the bar just a bit high.

In the late ‘90’s and early 2000’s he was part of a vocal group called “The Kornerstone Quartet” who had the amazing experience of playing (and surviving) Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater during the Steve Harvey hosting days. 

Jeiris only began playing guitar in 2016!  When you hear his catchy, percussive style you will think it took decades to develop but just like SSG standout, Kevin DeFeo, Jeiris is proof that you can develop your skills as quickly as you want to if you are willing to work hard.

There are shout outs to MariByrd, Rick Barth and Anthony Hamilton as well as his local music experiences.  Jeiris plays three songs, “Apple Tree” (also the name of his new EP), “Show Me Your Socks” a great song about internet trolls and finally, “The Villian”

Jeiris’ upcoming shows include:

  1. The Taphouse 15 in Wharton, NJ on 5/24
  2. Sofar Sounds coming up on May 25th in Philadelphia

 

Find him at www.jeiriscook.com

Apr 16, 2019

Episode #19 - WinterLong

Dave and Gift Venezio perform as WinterLong and have a well-earned reputation for appealing melodies accompanied by wonderful harmonies. 

Music has played a part in their lives from a young age.  Gift remembers her childhood in the Philippines as having music “everywhere”.  In the 1970’s Dave was introduced to a wide range of artists by his older brother (KISS & Queen) and sister (Joni Mitchell and Led Zeppelin). 

Dave’s first band experience was playing guitar in an all original band (1992).  He remembers their first gig (a big success) being followed by a Battle of the Bands in a big theater where anything that could have gone wrong did (Bass drum had to be held in place by a friend so it wouldn’t tip and one of the guitar amps fell over).

Dave shared that playing in a theater made it difficult, if not impossible, to hear the other band members (there were no monitor amps).  His advice is to make do with what you have – if you have rehearsed then just go for it and trust that you will pull it off.

Last year, during one of Rick Barth’s Songwriter Series events, Gift and Dave had the good fortune to meet Arnold Connelly and his lovely wife, Sonya.  This resulted in a trip to Nashville and Arnold’s studio where they recorded a 2 song, EP titled “WinterLong Nashville”.  This is an awesome collaboration where two of WinterLong’s beautiful songs “Free” and “Let Me Out” receive the full Nashville treatment.  The final product is special indeed.

For The Song Writer’s Gig episode, Gift and Dave perform two songs:  The first is “Spaces” which has such a catchy melody line through the verses and wonderful harmonies throughout.  The second song is “Babies & Bears” which is a personal favorite for two reasons: 1) The music really draws your ear and the imagery in the lyrics is exceptional, and 2) It shows the power of music to help us cope with difficult times in life.  The story is about a scary time for Dave’s mother (she is fine now) but the song tells the story in a very hopeful way.

So join George and me as we share time and music with WinterLong!

Mar 1, 2019

Episode #18 – Jo Jo Russell

On this episode, George and I sit down with a songwriter who has an energy and spirit that is both unique and infectious – Jo Jo Russell!  It is rare to meet a musician who has supported themselves for their entire life by playing music but that is exactly what Jo Jo has and is still doing.

I think it is safe to say that when Jo Jo takes the stage, people really listen – no one leaves the room or checks out their phone!  For someone who seems so perfectly suited to be on stage you will probably be surprised to hear him say that he was terrified to play his songs in his early SSG days!

Starting in the Bronx, Jo Jo’s family soon went on summer vacation to a country cabin in the Greenwood Lake area and at the end of the season his mother announced that they were not going back to the city but would settle right where they were even though it meant his family were the only winter residents of the community.  This was an early indicator that when Mom wanted to do something, nothing would stand in her way!  She helped his older brother learn standards on guitar and then placed an ad for musicians, auditioned a number of potential players and chose the bandmates that would play with her son – Jo Jo, as the younger brother, assisted the band’s drummer.  Soon thereafter Jo Jo took over the drum kit and the family had a band.  They began as an instrumental, standards group but everything changed when the Beatle’s arrived.  The greatest fun he remembers was when they were called “The Laughing Stock” where anything went and the audience was invited to join in.  Jo Jo said they would do things like have laundry draped around the stage!!  Boy I wish I had seen one of those shows!

Before ending this summary I need to mention that in 1980, WNEW FM had a contest where bands would send in a tape of one of their songs and Scott Muni fell in love with one of Jo Jo’s “Prisoner of Rock & Roll”.  It received quite a bit of airplay for a solid month and while friends raved about it Jo Jo never did hear it on the radio.

One final tidbit:  While Jo Jo was a constant songwriter, he would write the song, record it in his own home studio and that would be the end of things.  When he found SSG he had to pull out these songs and learn them all over again.  As you might imagine there was more than a little stress in taking the stage to play his songs in public for the very first time!  We are all very happy that Jo Jo pushed through to share his songs because few performers are more entertaining!

There is so much more but I will leave those stories for the podcast.

Hope you enjoy this episode.

George & Bernie

Dec 8, 2018

This episode has Kevin Kinsella joining us as we sit down and talk finding open mics on vacation, songwriting inspirations and very memorable directions to a gig.

Jul 3, 2018

Our guest today, AJ Croix, has traveled the Country Rock path across the country and beyond including celebrating his 21st birthday in Puerto Rico while on tour there.

An early band, Babies in Black, opened for the likes of Blue Oyster Cult and Cheap Trick.  AJ later met John Berenzy whom he credits as being a mentor and sparking a love of reading which is an essential part of songwriting.

More recently AJ collaborated with renowned producer Malcolm Burn which resulted in a fantastic CD, "American Idols"

There is so much more that you have to listen.  George and I hope you enjoy our chat with AJ Croix

Jun 4, 2018

Folks,

We had a technological gremlin insert itself (echo) into the episode that we posted last night, featuring Don Kincaid.  

We wish that these darn computers would get their act together and respond perfectly to their tasks much like we humans however such is life.

So here is Don Kincaid 2.0 minus any distractions. 

Thank you,

Bernie

Jun 4, 2018

Don Kincaid has led an fascinating life!  Alberta, Texas, New Jersey and other places he has hung his hat provide the rich texture for his songs.

In 1989 - 90 he replied to an ad in Aquarian Age that led to being a VJ.

He tells of participating in the famed Song Circle in Lukenbach, TX.  Wayon wrote about it and Willie played at it and this little piece of real estate has brought so much music to the world, including, it's said, the theme from "Crazy Hearts" .

Check out Don's latest CD, "Whiskey and Women" by Don Kincaid and The Wait.

May 14, 2018

 

Mike Herz joins us for the baker’s dozen episode of The Songwriter’s Gig.  Mike is a fixture in the songwriting community both locally in NJ and throughout the festival circuit having received the following recognition:

2016 – Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Emerging Artist

2017 – Rocky Mountain Folk Festival, Showcase Finalist

Mike’s unique lyrical passages have often left me thinking, “Gee I wish I had written that!”

Mike just released his latest album “Live in NYC”.  When you add it to your playlist you will find yourself listening over and over again.

Enjoy our visit with Mike.

 

Apr 3, 2018

Gordon Thomas Ward is truly a multi-faceted spirit who shows up in the artistic world as a singer songwriter, musician (with the coolest dulcimer ever!), the author of several books, a lecturer and more.

Today Gordon shares some old favorites as well as some songs that will be included on his upcoming CD.

Enjoy our visit with Gordon Ward!

Feb 24, 2018

The Song Writer's Gig - Episode #11 Features Rich Andruska.  Rich is a long time songwriter who has experienced a number of musical incarnations thru his life.  Check out Rich's website:

www.richandruska.com and Clouds & Thorns for his musical creations.

Dec 29, 2017

 Jack Tannehill has been performing for decades yet each time you see him his stage manner has all of the enthusiasm of someone just discovering the joy of the stage!  Jack's songs are stories that any listener can relate to as he covers familiar slices of life in his own unique and very creative way.

Jack was sidelined for most of 2017 with arm issues but he is looking forward to a big return to performing in 2018.

Join us as we hear from a master storyteller how his life finds its way into music.

Aug 9, 2017

Don Elliker joins George and Bernie on Episode #8.  

Don's musical journey began playing drums as a wee lad in a Scottish Pipe Band, continued to the MTV years where his band won a big contest and finally brought him to western NJ where you can find him playing as a solo, as part of the trio "Hair of the Dog" or playing behind just about everyone on guitar or pedal steel.

Don is one of our favorites and after listening he will likely be one of yours too.

Aug 9, 2017

Don Elliker joins George and Bernie on Episode #8.  

Don's musical journey began playing drums as a wee lad in a Scottish Pipe Band, continued to the MTV years where his band won a big contest and finally brought him to western NJ where you can find him playing as a solo, as part of the trio "Hair of the Dog" or playing behind just about everyone on guitar or pedal steel.

Don is one of our favorites and after listening he will likely be one of yours too.

May 24, 2017

George and I spend a fantastic hour talking with the amazing Beth Sherby!  Beth shares her story, a couple of songs and a look into her songwriting process.  

Apr 3, 2017

PD Brody has a story that everyone should hear and music that I believe everyone will soon be hearing!  

Feb 5, 2017

George & I sit down with MariByrd and get to hear her story and a couple songs.  She talks about her summer tour and why she has never had a "worst gig".

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