A few weeks ago under the influence of heavy silence and late-night haze my computer called to me…Gigi, Gigi go on Facebook. In a zombie like state I staggered to my computer, went on Facebook and typed in the name of my ex-husband of many moons passed. There he was - older for sure but totally recognizable. A little more research and I learned that Don had achieved his dream of recording an original CD, Poet's Road.
A long time ago when we met, Don had already
recorded an album on the United Artist label with Mark Mangold and a group
called Valhalla. They played the Long Island club scene side-by-side with Billy
Joel, Leslie West and the Vanilla Fudge also went on tour as opening act for
John Sebastian, Buddy Miles and Jimi Hendrix. (He told me the story of
meeting Jimi backstage and shaking his fabulous long-fingered large palmed
The Valhalla CD with shades of Captain Jack Sparrow and the burning Viking boat on the cover can be found on Amazon & eBay. Don parted ways with Valhalla to pursue his own personal acoustic sound. We met after Valhalla and lived together in a one-bedroom apt with a 16 track recording studio and a dozen guitars. Meanwhile, back at my computer I sent Don an email…and he replied.
Listening Session – System 1
Listening Session – System 2
Before any of us get settled, Mr. M glides the CD
into the Sony player and takes a seat.
First I choose Julio Inglesis for a male voice
comparison. The lights are turned off: Everyone finds a seat. I climb into
the specially designed reclining contraption of a chair and the power indicators
of the electronics blink like stars in the night. The music washes over us and
we are in the eye of a musical hurricane. We are transfixed by the
multi-directional layers of sound. The sultry voice of Julio Inglesis (the
original Latin crooner) envelopes us. I catch a movement in the corner of my eye. It
is Irwin performing a Tai Chi dance.
The next CD is the sound track of Rush. Into the
Sony it goes, screw it in place, hit the play button and the cover glides closed. The
electronics blink in the distance like a city of lights.
"Do you want me to turn on the subwoofers?" queries Mr. M.
Kristine and I answer with a resounding "Yes." We
all sit back in our chairs as Mr. Clapton takes center stage and I mean that
literally. The soundstage is amazingly accurate and you can pinpoint each
instrument in time and space. The gigantic multi-drivers of the Velodyne
subwoofers give us a full range of bass in undeniable detail. Eric's guitar woos
us with sweet agony and Simona has a smile on her face as the highs gently rise
until they reach a level beyond what our human ears can perceive.
Ok, now I'm ready for Poet's Road. Dim the lights and let's get this party started. ..We skip the first track "Mornin, Noon & Night" because the sound is too "clanky" for our sensitive ears.
The second cut, "Time Had Away" starts to play
and the music sounds very distant – the listener is in the back of the concert
hall and the bass is almost missing. On the other hand Don's voice is clean
& accurate, the lyrics touch me deeply and ring true to life's experience.
Yes there is wisdom in the words. The interplay of lead guitar and acoustical
guitar is comparable to the Eagles and the style is reminiscent of the Byrds.
The next song, "Sleepless Nights" is a blues song with a great feel.
Leslie Ann has a beautiful voice but the sound is blurry & spongy and the
words difficult to decipher. The hook is catchy and we can all relate to the
sentiment behind the words. We encounter a similar situation on the cut "Cat
& Dog". It is impossible to hear the lyric on a hi-end system. This is
unfortunate because the words are poetry. The acoustic guitar blends with the
percussion and we are unable to distinguish the instruments. It is frustrating
to listen to this CD because the music is beautiful but the sound quality... oy
veh. The 5th track "Lost in a Dream" is my favorite song
on this CD. It has universal appeal. The melody is sweet & memorable and
Leslie Ann & Don's voice harmonize well together. The name doesn't
seem to fit the words…I would name it "Moment in Time". The next track (six), "Time
Traveler" may also be well served with a different name. The guitar work is
unique and the melody is flowing. Irwin thought the second stanza is out
of sync with the first (He's an alternative medicine guy-not a writer); I
understand it is contemplative in nature and would call it "Miss You".
Knock me over with a corner tune. The notes on
the CD say: Recorded & Mixed at The Kitchen. Silly me, I thought it was a
recording studio. The Grateful Dead started out as a garage band, but a kitchen
band is something new to me. Is this a reality show?
And then the wheels of what's left of my brain
start to turn, the sound of my thoughts whizzthrough my inner ear... an idea is born. The
Don Howard Band needs a real recording company (hello) that will accentuate the
subtle sounds the silences, the sweet guitar and sensitive lyric. I know just
the recording company…Chesky Records. These two entities are a perfect match.
Chesky's recording techniques and acoustic inclination is a perfect canvas for
the soulful music of the Don Howard Band. I think they can make beautiful
music together. With a little luck maybe some of these songs will be re-recorded. Stay
tuned for the next CD from the Don Howard Band a.k.a. Poet's Road.
Till then, enjoy the music...
System 1 – Entry
System 2 – High-End