Friday, December 21, and Saturday, December 22, 8 p.m., Presented at The Performing Arts Center, Purchase College 735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, NY 10577
Go to http://www.artscenter.org
Or call 914-251-6200
It’s officially the holidays when its time for the annual ROB MATHES CHRISTMAS CONCERT! Two concerts only, Friday, December 21, and Saturday, December 22, 8pm, at the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College. Joining Rob Mathes on stage will be his amazing all-star band including favorites Shawn Pelton (Saturday Night Live) on drums, Joe Bonadio on percussion, Will Lee (David Letterman Show) on bass, Bill Masters on guitar, Rick Knutsen on keyboards, and fabulous vocalists Vaneese Thomas, James “D-Train” Williams, and Ian Cron, plus an additional 30+ member full choir of “Saints and Friends.” This is a not-to-be-missed holiday tradition. This year’s concert will feature some new music, holiday originals and remarkably reworked classics from this magical season.
Tickets for the Rob Mathes Christmas Concert are $35, $45, $60 & $75 and are available at the Performing Arts Center Box Office. This concert is a benefit concert for the non-profits International Education Exchange (IEE) and the Cross Cultural Thresholds (CCT).
ROB’S NEW ALBUM - FLESH AND SPIRIT
In talks with Joe Bonadio over the past 3 or 4 years (a musician I didn’t play with for years and who I share an extraordinary bond with—one of our great drummers) I have constantly returned to a dream I have of recording a set of songs live in the studio. I told Joe I wanted to make a record with the same sonic quality of Evening Train and other things I’ve done that are documented in an audiophile manner, yet a record recorded with all the musicians playing together at the same time and where I am singing the final vocal while we do it. My goal was to never overdub even a single vocal line later with the exception of some background vocals. The reason many of the great old records, from Sinatra to the early Beatles stuff and ALL the truly iconic Blues Recordings, sound so immediate is because the musicians respond to each other and play off each other, each one inspiring and cajoling the other onto something better than the sum of their parts.
98% of the records you hear these days are tweaked and picked apart in pursuit of absolute perfection. This leads to some truly great records of course. I can think of hundreds of amazing records edited to within an inch of their lives. Even Sgt. Pepper’s, for its day, was manicured beautifully. In some ways everything recorded today is a descendent of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon (a famously fretted over piece of audio exactitude) but now there’s technology to pursue perfection of an almost frightening kind. By tuning every vocal note and moving snare drum and bass drum hits so that they are exactly on the beat, you get music made on a grid. After a while some of this music dates badly because it is easy to make something perfect nowadays, yet not so easy to make it real and unique.
I finally made good on that discussion with Joe in January and recorded four songs live at Avatar Studios in Manhattan (including “Shoes”). The process was so thrilling that the writing on my part, for this kind of driven live music making, became more visceral and on edge, more intense. I felt these four songs were the most immediate and Rock oriented recordings I had ever done. I had to act on this. I wrote another 8 songs and went in July to The Carriage House in Stamford and finished it up. They are being mixed now and “Flesh And Spirit” will be out on December 21st. There will be a link to listen to some of the songs here and a way to pay for, and download, high res files. For now I am making a free mp3 available here of the first song on the record which is called “Shoes.” It features Oz Noy on Guitar, Zev Katz on Bass, myself on Acoustic Guitar and vocals and Joe Bonadio on Drums. I call those guys “The Ditch” because their groove is so deep.
A few words about “Shoes”: While shopping at Bridge Street Books in Georgetown, DC (incredible book store) I came across a book of writings by Nobel Laureate and Chinese Human Rights Activist Liu Xiaobo. A man put in prison for simply stating that the government of China should allow its citizens freedom of speech, Liu’s life is characterized by humility and grace. One of his doctrines was of “no hatred.” He is famous for stating that he has “no enemies” because those who seek to silence him are, in their own minds, doing what they think is right. After reading this book I realized this man’s life crystalized St. Paul’s writing in Corinthians about “love.” I always wanted to write a non-religious piece that still referred back to that famous definition of love being “patient and kind,” bearing all ills and wrongs etc, a song about the sheer impossibility of living that way. The book on Liu gave me a way in and “Shoes” came out. —Rob (November, 2012)
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