The Roland company made a remarkable piece of equipment called the VS-880 digital recording deck with the capability of recording 64 virtual tracks per song. In August of '97, I bought one and started recording tracks in my basement. By Thanksgiving of '98, I completed all the tracks for the new Bossa Nova Beatnik album. I dubbed those tracks to A-DAT and had Katherine Miller (who has worked with James Taylor) mix them at Current Sound Studios in Manhattan. I then sent the final mixes to DISCMAKERS to be mastered, designed & pressed.
It was fun getting eclectic on this disc. There is the traditional Jamaican rock steady sound of "Papa La Ska" (that has topped a couple MP3 charts) or the Calypso sound of "Deanne" and Â³Lighten UpÂ² or the acoustic blues of "Bad Little Baby" or the R & B flavor of "On Our Moonlight Night" or the Rockabilly Slide guitar of "Zantee Misfits" or the latin flavor of "oh Angelina" or the Folk/Classical sound of "The Least Resistance" or the uniquely Beatnik style of "New York Town" and the rest.
Members of the Bossa Nova Beatnik ÅMoon UnitÂ¹, Tim, Tori, and George, were together for the first time on a Beatnik disc.
This album is the most communal of all the Beatnik albums. We are lucky to live in an area rich with talent. We called in many guests to lend their creative energy. Drummer John Soldo and Bone Daddy Buford O'Sullivan of The SCOFLAWS were kind enough to lend their talents. Sparlha Swaby who sings for the Stanford University acapela group Talisman and whose family comes from Jamaica brings worlds to the mix. Jerry Dugger, a relative of Paul Robeson and leader of the New York City blues band Black Pearl, sings and plays bass. Regina Bellantese and Mike Bifulco from the BluebeatsÂ¹ Â³Dance With MeÂ² album display world-class musicianship. Billboard's favorite cocktail drummer, Jeff Somerstein of Lil' Mo and the Monicats, adds a swinginÂ¹ track. Paul and Annie McGinnis, who were part of the stage line up at the time, lent their beautiful harmony vocals, Stevie D rounds out the sound on keys. Old friend, Roy Lechich, plays some of his best guitar on this disc. Cynthia Post stopped by to lend some vocals and is caught on tape with the pivotal phrase and focal point of the album. Â³You see thatÂ¹s why I canÂ¹t be a nine to fiver.Â²
And yes, the photo on the front is an actual photograph. I was fortunate enough to find myself in Kenya traveling down an old dirt road when I see the sign, "Danger Bongo Crossing". I knew right away that I had to have a picture of that.
I asked the driver to stop and tried to take a picture. I realized that the angle out the window of the van was bad and I really needed to be standing right in front of the sign to get a decent photo. In Africa, when you see the word "Danger" on a sign. You pretty much have to think that they know what they're talking about. So, here I am faced with a decision. My personal safety or a great promo shot? . . . . . .
As the tracks for "Danger Bongo Crossing" were nearing completion a new live band emerged featuring Tim Stapleton on percussion and vocals, Tori Mierlak on vocals, Justin Williams on Bass and Tom Gould on the Martin Shenandoah guitar and vocals. Throughout the years good friend and freethinker, Brian Starke, has filled in wonderfully when we needed a pick up bass player and all round Bon Vivant. They played their first show as a four piece at the release party for Folk Fiction's "Bare Facts" CD. George was on sabbatical from the largely acoustic Beatnik line up, to hone his kit drumming skills with the art/cabaret rockinÂ¹ sounds of the Folk Fiction band. With the dawning of 1999 the Beatniks filled out their sound with 15-year-old rookie phenom Chris "Kid" Donahue on Sax. When Chris was a young boy he was personally blessed by the Pope. You can tell he is blessed when you hear him play. Chris has jammed with Wynton Marsalis and is the leader of his own successful jazz band.
This band is unlike any other and is seen as a hybrid of the cool Latin elements of the Bossa and the bongo driven word and wit of the Beatnik swirled in amongst the style of New Yorkers longing for the crystal waters of the Caribbean. As always, the Beatniks recommend discovering the work of Jobim and the wonderful rhythms of Brazil and the real Bossa Nova. Like, yes Daddy'O..... Tom Gould