I not only listened to Breezin by George Benson a ‘million times’ as a teenager I also learned all of the guitar solos and rhythm parts off by heart. His music was a bridge between the Jazz of my father and the rock-fusion music I favored at the time… like Jeff Beck and Cream. And though I developed into more of a Rhythm and Blues/Folk guitar player… sometimes the George Benson licks just pop out.
In my early twenties I played in a band covering many of these tunes and for the most part I played Rhythm guitar… which I grew to enjoy… and on moving to LA some years later… this ability and or love for playing the Rhythm parts (and to have all the sounds and set-ups) put me in good stead and subsequently I found plenty of work touring and recording as the rhythm guitarist.
Several years ago I met him at a party and I was able to tell him some of my journey and, how much of an influence he had been over my playing. He was so tickled pink, he let me sit at his table and buy him drinks (he was that kind of guy)… and for several hours we chatted about his playing days, our favorite albums and guitar players, guitars, amps and guitar stuff in general. Good times.
“Use Words if You Have To” is an Instrumental album of songs and pieces of music I like to play when creating my own ‘quiet’ space for prayer and meditation.
The title is taken from the famous line of Francis of Assisi “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”
I recorded all the parts in our living room during a week of ‘having the house to myself’… and oh what a mess I created with mics, guitars, cables and so on all over the place… a chaos quite unlike these recordings.
My intent was to ‘only’ use whatever I had in the house and as I had recently borrowed a lovely old Banjo from Hank Linderman I was able to add an Americana feel to some of the pieces. For percussion I played a small hand drum that someone had given me… more of a ‘nice thing to hang on the wall’… but it’s sound was delicate and fitted perfectly into these spacious themes. I made up a few shakers out of soda cans ‘half-filled’ with brown rice (organic of course… you can hear the difference)… and then using my voice, my assortment of acoustic guitars, an old bass, a broken tambourine and, while my desire was to ‘stay organic’, for a few brief moments I played my old analog synth to add some of the Sigur Ros air.
released 03 December 2014
All Instruments and vocals: Chris Falson
Recorded by Chris Falson @ the empty house studios
Mastered by Tony Green
Album photo by Kevin Roley
“… A wife of one of one the Church leaders accused me of carrying the spirit of Elvis”
Well Amen to that sister!
No matter how much of a ‘person of the world’ we may consider ourselves to be, we all live in some kind of bubble or shelter and thus carry our ‘self-made’ ghost fears of being corrupted by those living outside of our little havens of respectability.
On one adventure I was invited to Christchurch for a weeks training of the musicians and singers (of a local Church) who would, if all went well, accompany me in concert on the Sunday.
Sometimes these creative workshops can be most fulfilling, especially when the ‘students’ have a mind to learn something new or a willingness take a few creative risks. This was a bit like the Curate’s egg… good in parts. The established crew were a tad set in their ways and too ‘churchy’ for my rock ‘n’ roll ears…and I spent more time with the youngins, the fresh recruits, the ‘rough around the edges’ lot and by the end of the week we were ready… to Rock the joint.Read On »
Iggy Pop, AKA James Newell Osterberg Jr is an American punk rock singer and actor (I loved him in Coffee and Cigarettes). Arguably one of the most important innovators of Rock ‘n’ Roll he is sometimes referred to as “the Godfather of Punk” or “the Rock Iguana”, and… has a reputation for being one of the most dynamic stage performers ‘ever’… as Dave Raven can testify in the interview below…
“…with Iggy on stage… I thought the room was going to catch on fire”
My own progression as a creative expressionist (do you like that terminology?… I just thought of it today… I might change my calling card… Chris Falson, have creative expressions, will travel… but enough of that… back to the blog)…. I started off as a guitar player with a secret desire to be in a band playing my own songs. From 19 years of age to about the age of 30 I worked as a touring, gigging sometime studio guitarist in Australia and over the ensuing 5 years, in part through chance, then much trial, error, blood, sweat, tears and other lifetime movie channel cliches, I added songwriting and (very nervously)… singing… to my CV.Read On »
Our live performance in a prison caused such a ruckus that there were fears that we… and me in particular, would have to spend the night behind bars.
Well it happened like this: We were on tour in Europe, performing mostly in bars and Churches with an upcoming concert event in a minimum security prison in the north east of Switzerland. The tour had received several good reviews and one in particular had caught the eye of the Prison Warden. And the news that we were some kind of Gospel Blues band gave this gentleman cause for alarm.Read On »
One of the benefits of working as a songwriter in LA is being able to work with musicians, engineers and producers that are highly sort after, world class exceptional story tellers themselves. ‘The song is everything’ is oft quoted and, because the musicians and singers may have worked (the day before) with Bob Dylan, Carlene Carter, Nora Jones, Keith Richards, Elton John and their like, the songwriting bar is set extremely high for us mere mortals.
But knowing I will be working alongside these wonderfully seasoned music creators motivates me to work just that little bit harder, to take my writing gift more seriously, to sweat over each word, phrase, chord change… avoiding cliches… and trite little happy endings. I dare not show up at the studio unless I have songs that are worthy of their time and their creativity.
However, it is the ultimate ‘two thumbs up’ when the musicians hired for the session say either verbally or by their enthusiastic performances that they like the song. It brings a sigh of relief for sure… and that sweet ‘aftertaste’ of validation… that I’m not wasting my life and maybe.. I can postpone the search for that real job for a few more weeks yet.
As a studio musician myself, I know how much harder I have to work when the song is not ‘quite complete’. A good song needs no help at all… a poorly written song… well… I’ll let David Raven tell the rest of that story.
One night at the What Club? in LA, a noted post punk icon (I shall honor his desire for privacy) had made it known that he would be visiting our party that night. The gentleman from London (you will never guess who he is so stop trying) was heavily into the occult, in particular white witchcraft and, most probably totally unaware that he would be attending a little ‘Church in a bar event’ in LA that evening. Read On »
A favorite past time of all musicians is to share war stories… and boy do we like to brag about our well earned scars. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. David Raven, a most valued friend of mine, one with whom I have traveled the world playing in clubs, churches and stadiums has a good story to tell here about performing for the Hells Angels.
A few years ago a small tribe of us wanted to reach out to people who felt excluded (for one reason or another) by the Church… and so we created, what some people called a ‘Church in a Bar’.
After much experimenting… or trial and error, we came up with a model that suited our characters, personalities, skills, gifts, shared vision and the perceived need before us… which was to throw a party once a week (sometimes twice) and invite people to come share a meal, a bit of music, some poetry, story telling and good old fashion banter. We would provide all the food (3 course meal), wine, music and an incredible venue, a shared live-work space (decorated and loved by James Alexander Langteaux) in an industrial part of LA. This phenomenon became known as ‘The What Club?’Read On »