It’s not the destination it’s the ride and crafting my first solo EP has been a resoundingly, satisfying trip. From working out the tunes with Tricia Scotti and Brian Hurd at The Lakeside Lounge (RIP), to recording in Springfield Missouri with the incredible Skeletons, to mixing with Vance Powell (former Skeletons soundman), right up to shooting the video two weeks ago with Geoffray Barbier, Travis & Jonathan and Dave Hill it has been an absolute ball!!!
People always want to know the story behind the creation of the songs, so here goes….
In the fall of 2011 I saw my buddy Jesse Bates perform an early version of Let’s Get The Band Back Together at Tom Clark’s Treehouse. I had a good laugh but when I went home I couldn’t get the tune and concept out of my head. I asked Jesse for permission to re-work it and he enthusiastically agreed. So I sprinkled a little Shernoff ‘magic, fairy dust’ on it, added it to the set and found that people responded to it with the same enthusiasm I did.
To be honest my goal is to make “Let’s Get The Band Back Together” the new national catch phrase. Your boss calls a meeting – ‘Let’s Get The Band Back Together!!’…. you catch up with old friends – ‘Let’s Get The Band Back Together!!’ ….. C’mon people, we can make it happen. …. go Team Shernoff!!
In January of 2012 I went to Springfield, Missouri to record four songs with The Skeletons. I could have rounded up some great musicians and recorded in New York but I was looking for the feel of an actual ‘band’ as opposed to a bunch of musicians thrown together for a session. I also wanted guys who were studio savvy and had the capability of playing a variety of musical styles. The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section would be the model and The Skeletons are the living, breathing example. Very early on in the session it became obvious that The Skeletons knew my musical references and had the skills to help me navigate my musical vision. I decided to take advantage of my time in the studio and throw a few more tunes at them. One was a chord progression in open G tuning that I was fooling around with. Those chord changes quickly fell together and became Laugh and Walk Away, the only song I have ever written in a recording studio and my favorite song on the record……….I also came home with seven songs.
In 2011, from May thru December I played almost every Wednesday at Eric Ambel and James Marshall’s late and lamented Lakeside Lounge. I relished the challenge of playing a residency as I knew it would force me to be creative and come up with song ideas. I brought in new things almost every week but I also experimented by reinventing old Dictators songs. I would change a melody or reconfigure chord changes to make things interesting. Hey Boys is one result of that process. I like to think of it as The Everly Brothers recording in Bakersfield with Don Rich on guitar…. that’s the record geek in me, but I truly love the way it came out. Tricia Scotti is doing the harmonies and here’s a fun fact. Hey Boys is the first song my Dictator/Del Lord brother Scott Kempner ever wrote.
I had the melody and title for Don’t Fade Away for a few years but was always stumped on lyrics. My mother passed away in November of 2010 and after the dust settled, the lyrics came fast and furious. It chronicles our relationship as she slipped into Alzheimer’s disease. The song quickly became a staple of my acoustic show. An interesting pattern also started to emerge, after almost every performance somebody would come up to me, often with tears in their eyes, recounting similar experiences with a close relative. The purpose of songwriting is to communicate so when I see one of my songs visibly touching people, it is very gratifying. We are all in this together and music can be the glue.
So that’s the story, I know the sound of this EP doesn’t have the hard edge I built my ‘reputation’ on but I wanted to record songs in a classic, timeless style without the restrictions of genre. I feel very satisfied with the results and think the quality will overcome any unreasonable expectations. However if anybody feels this EP is not up to my past standards. I will refund your money! … Can’t beat that, a musical money back guarantee!
The EP is available for download if you click on Shop on the menu to the left on my website.
Now I start working on my next project, a very special Christmas single and another EP for March release. It has been a blessing to make music for my entire adult life and if I have learned anything over the years it is – everyday I make music is a good day!!