BACK IN THE USA
The Del-Lords returned to American soil last Sunday, fresh (well, maybe not exactly fresh) from an eight-cities-in-nine-days tour of Spain. We covered quite a bit of Espana, to and fro, hither and yon. The tour, in a word, was great. The band played better and better as the tour went on. The band got closer and closer as the tour went on. We had a fantastic time on-stage and off. I really felt in moments, that no time had elapsed from the days when we did this everyday of our lives. The camaraderie was high, the laughs were deep and long, and the food, ah yes the food was fuckin’ great. To all those who have been following our posts on Facebook, you have seen all the food photos that Roscoe (the Scavullo of food photography) was posting. And now we are home. Let the diets commence.
The Spanish audiences were as enthusiastic about us as they are about their food, wine and cigarettes. Maybe even more so, if that is even possible. And, Javier, our Spanish brother who has been part of our family for over a decade, was with us. It would not have been the same, or even kosher (an odd choice of words considering the amount of various types of ham yours truly, the Bronx jewboy himself, managed to eat) without Javi. He’s a brother to us, and can work miracles when necessary. And, sometimes, when amps would give up the fight in the face of our onslaught, a miracle or two was required.
If there was a single highlight, and in truth there were many, it would have to be the Madrid show at El Sol. A packed, screaming, vibrating, rockin’ crowd helped us touch Heaven, or at least helped us see over the wall, in what was maybe the best show we have ever played. After that show I posted on Facebook, the old adage that on any given night some band is the best Rock’n’Roll band on the planet. I really believe that night it was us. I am in awe of my bandmates, as they played and sang better than ever, and Roscoe, every night, was blinding, psychedelic, soulful, and in a class of his own. Frank and Manny laid down a foundation that could have supported a 200 story tower of steel. And everyone sang like angels with the devil nipping at their heels. I know I smiled so hard, so often, that it felt like my face might just break.
And, this is just the beginning, the new beginning. We are knee deep in the recording of the first Del-Lords record in 20 years, and after a spectacular lunch at Pizza Gruppo on Ave. B, on Tuesday, Roscoe and I returned to work on the new disc. We will be knocking that thing out piece by piece, brick by brick, song by song over the next few months, with Scoe behind the board, and I am completely confident that it will be our best one so far.
So, in closing out here, I wanna thank Eric, Frank and Manny for their dedication and commitment to excellence, their undying friendship, their willingness & ability to play my songs better than anyone else ever could, and better than I would have any right to expect. We are back, we are strong, we are ready, willing and able to rock’n’roll all night.
These are dark, murky times. The country is demanding health care reform, one party is struggling with itself to find enough common ground to move it forward, while the other is outside with its faces pressed against the window sticking their tongues out and name calling, in lieu of actual ideas or participation. We are picking pop stars on game shows. One musician out there has even made the “auto tune” software part of their “style”. Rock’n’Roll has once again had its fangs removed, and put into cages and relegated to the margins. The popular phrase “keep it real” has become one more saleable commodity, and something of a false prophet. As the great philosopher, Lawrence Peter Berra (ok, Yogi) once said, “It gets late early around here these days”.
As for me, I find myself back home, in the city of my birth, huddled together once more in the warm comfort zone of my band for the first time in not one, but two decades. As Yogi also said, “It’s déjà vu all over again”. This is just where we started. That fuck Reagan was in the White House, about to unleash the largest tax cut in history, for the rich of course, to be immediately followed by years of the biggest tax hikes in history, except for the rich, of course. Once again, there’s a job for us to do, and once again, we’re up for it, older, wiser, and stronger and tighter than ever.
The Del-Lords are back in the studio recording, and tonight we hit the stage as a unit, a real (there’s that word) Rock’n’Roll band, two guitars, bass and drums (the way God intended). Somehow we all saw the Bat Signal in the midnight sky from our respective homes in different parts of the country, and now, suddenly, here we are. We have been rehearsing, and experiencing the joy of hearing that sound again, the one that could only come from the four of us, the one that we couldn’t shake if we tried, the one that fills a hole that without it, would remain empty.
Among other things we are struck by the continuing relevance of many of the songs we sang back in the 80’s. I once wrote a song called I’M GONNA BE AROUND. It was a song that made a promise to our audience, our country and to ourselves, that when the darkness comes, we would be there, and if necessary, we would keep coming back, and back. We are here to renew that promise, and without a solid business plan, or any kind of self-conscious overview, we are simply doing what it is we do. Only this time, we are stronger than ever, using the music we make as a map to guide us, and help us keep putting one foot in front of the other. Personal turmoil and one of the toughest New York winters in many years notwithstanding, and nobody shoveling money into the coffers to help keep gas in the tank, we are in forward motion, into the sun, and just as in the darkest days of trickle down economics, and in stark contrast to that fuck Reagan’s cynical manipulation of facts and numbers to disguise the growing economic plight of so many of our countrymen, we do not believe any of us are expendable or merely the price of doing business in America. We stand united and we are gonna be around.
Eric has posted a rough mix of one of our new songs on the site here, and some samples of a few others that are also Under Construction (shameless plug, I admit) for our friends and fans to check out. We are starting pre-sales of an EP of rough mixes of songs from the forthcoming new record; sort of an update of the mom and pop business we always were at heart, except that our dad can kick your dad’s ass. And, I would submit that our mom could kick a little ass herself.
Check it out, let us know what you think. Come see us and say hi when we come to your town, as we will most definitely be coming to your town in the near future. Stay strong, stay hungry, keep fighting the good fight. Our promise is to ALWAYS keep it real. There’s that word again.
STILL SONGS THAT NEED TO BE SUNG
When we started our band back in 1982, there was trouble blowin’ in the wind. The political climate had become harsh, unwelcoming, cynical, and more than a little dangerous. It was a tough time to be poor, which we were. Hell, it was a tough time to be middle class. And, that ain’t all. The musical climate was, if anything, harsher, more unwelcoming, and if not as flat-out dangerous, it was even more cynical. With two guitars, bass and drums, we set out into this hostile terrain on a mission, with a song in our hearts, some four-on-the-four in our step, and, a job to do.
We always believed we stood for something, even if basically it was just am-honest-dollar-for-an-honest-day’s-work that we stood for. Our political stance: strictly Populist. Personally, I’ve always been a (Big Surprise!) Progressive Liberal Democrat. Dick Manitoba refers to me as a “We-The-People Guy”. That’s about right. And musically, of course, we were a Rock’n’Roll Band. Mostly, we were a Rock’n’Roll Band. And, oh yes, we could throw down, brothers and sisters! I’ll tell you what! And, on a good night, we could be just about as good as it got. No brag, just fact. Just like that.
Right now, I’m watching the telethon for Haiti, and Bruce has just finished a version of WE SHALL OVERCOME that was somber but clarion, resolute but compassionate, gospel and the blues. I felt my soul stir as the song ebbed and flowed, and at the way Bruce and the band rode the moment with all this compressed emotional energy, in a way that is everything you can ask of a singer, a musician, an artist, or a song. I am immediately in touch with why I do what I do, and why The Del-Lords are making new music, sharing a stage, hell, sharing a room, for the first time in 20 years.
To actually do what I just watched Springsteen and the band do is HARD, way fuckin’ hard, damn near impossible, in fact, and, to be fair, it requires more than a fair share of magic. But, it also requires some other things. Like band chemistry, the kind born of respect, a strong work ethic, and some familial love; born of common purpose, mutual belief and shared experience. AND, we love playing Rock’n’Roll. And so we do. Again.
A perilous political landscape awaits us, a desperate economy, probably a turning point in the country’s history. And again, a generally lousy music scene. Some small patches of green (Yay! Little Steven!) but generally, lousy. Familiar methinks. Like, haven’t I seen this fuckin’ movie before? But, there’s still work to be done. There are still souls to stir and asses to kick. There are still songs that need to be sung. I still believe in our band, and what it is we do, and that we’re STILL the best ones for the job.
So, a new record is in the works. Some getting-our-toes-wet with some roadwork: imminent. And then? Well, we’ll see ya soon. Maybe sooner than you think.
For me, 2009 was quite a roller coaster of a year. It started great, with the inauguration of Barack Obama, waned in the middle somewhat, picked up again with the reissue of the Del-Lords catalog, went nuclear with the Yankees 27th World Championship, and spiked with the beginnings of a new Del-Lords album, produced by Eric, and then, as seems to be the way of things, for me there was personal turmoil, heartbreak, sorrow, regret, etc. The Blues, we call it. And now, REBIRTH. 2010, a new year, and a full agenda including lots of Del-Lords doings. Time to take a deep breath, strap on the Strat, and get back to doing that thing I do. Man, am I fucking ready!
In a few weeks, I leave my California digs by the sea to return to the city of my birth, my beloved NYC, to start rehearsals for our little jaunt to Europe, as well as some more recording for the new record. In my head I’m already there. We’ve already gotten a half-dozen basic tracks done, and they sound GREAT. As always, whatever ideas I have upfrontfor specific arrangements & specific parts in my head, the band exceeds those expectations exponentially. Frank sounds greater than ever. The guitar parts Eric has come up with are fantastic, and unmistakably the Sound Of Roscoe. I’m so excited I can barely stand myself
We leave for Spain on the 23rd of February for two weeks of shows, and the dates will be posted here on the site as they become finalized.
Anyway, I just wanted to drop by to say hi, thank you to everyone for the comments and the encouragement. I will be back with updates shortly. Right now, I gotta get my ass in gear, as I’m on my way to reconnect with some old friends, AND to see, hear, AND maybe even meet the great Merle Haggard, who is playing in the area tonight. I’ll tell Hag you said hi.
DIRECTLY FROM MY HEART TO YOU–
SEASON’S GREETINGS To One And All, Friend Or Foe, Rich Or Poor, Fan Or Soon-To-Be-One:
You already know the big news on this end: The Del-Lords, all four (count ‘em, four) original members: Eric, Frank, Manny and myself, have decided to rev this muscle car up & see what’s left in the tank. We’ve decided that there’s still miles to cover & roads to cross. And, I am pleased to report: so far so good. The tank appears to be full, and the engine is running clean and mean.
There is already a new record in the works. We’ve mapped out about a dozen songs & I’ve got a bunch more right here in my pocket. We’ll be knocking it out over the next few months and, in the interim, will be posting a few songs at a time.
It’s like the age of the .45 all over again, only digitally. We really look forward to being able to get to our people so instantly and directly. In the meantime, MERRY XMAS, BABY, which we recorded back in 1982 (I think), is up on the site. Won’t cost but a dime, just a nickel a shoe, AND, do a million dollars worth of good for you. Actually, it’s free.
It’ll be great to establish a real ongoing dialog with you guys. I will check this space as often as I can, and will surely be weighing in on whatever’s on your mind, and (you can be sure, count on it) giving you a piece of mine.
But first, the holidays. I hope you are all with family and loved ones, and not for a minute longer than is actually comfortable. But, not a second less either. Hug ‘em tight.
And remember we are all our brothers’ & sisters’ keepers. Take care of each other. And, look out for each other, too.
And, for all the lonely hearts out there, I haven’t forgotten about you.I’m thinkin’ ‘bout ya. I’m here for ya. And, I got a special song for ya, too. I’m gonna sing it just for you, but to myself, at 12midight EST on Christmas Eve. So stick your head out the window, be still and listen real hard because I’m gonna sing it real quietly, so as not to disturb even for a minute the silent night and prayers for Peace On Earth.
Peace & Love to one and all,
I’m gonna come right out and say it: There is action in the collective heart, mind, soul and music muscle of the Rock’n’Roll beast once and forever known as The Del-Lords. Not a cheap cash-in reunion featuring one or two original members and a couple of ringer hacks. Not a simple take-the-money-and-run, one-off, hour-long run through of past glories and quarter century old songs. Not something that will tarnish the work we’ve done, or cheapen the legacy we began decades ago, or re-configure the music we’ve already made, or lower the gold standard the four of us hold as a sacred oath, not just the bond and trust between us and our fans, but most importantly, between ourselves. Eric Ambel, Frank Funaro, Manny Caiati and myself are the four Del-Lords, the only Del-Lords. Accept no substitute.
A new Del-Lords record. These are all new songs, featuring, you guessed it, two guitars, bass and drums, and a whole lot of vocalizing from one and all. We are not reinventing the Rock’n’Roll wheel, for it is round enough. Just some good solid pitching, alert defense, timely hitting and smart base running, as always. A combination that has worked since the damn thing was invented, and shows no sign of breaking down yet.
Eric is producing it, bringing with him, besides his lethal guitar & insider knowledge of the Devil’s rhythms, years of producing expertise, dark voodoo & Rock instincts, and a cracking whip to tame the new technology confronting our band for the first time.
Frank is manning the skins, of course. Who else? The answer: nobody. There has only ever been one drummer IN the Del-Lords, and there will only ever be one drummer FOR the Del-Lords. He may play for others & with others, but this is HIS band. We know how lucky we are. Believe me.
And yes, Manny, too. The first person to ever dig my songs enough to throw his lot in with me, inspire and support me, and to change the status of my musical life from me to we. And, with “we”, you have a band. Manny has a style, both on bass, as well as vocally – born of a Rock’n’Roll heart, and years of assimilating the history of the art form, graduating with a B Major. That is, he majors in the B’s: Beatles, Bruce, Bob, Byrds, Beach Boys ,the Band, etc.
These are my brothers. Bound by shared experience that nothing can tear asunder. They have played and sung the hell out of my songs before and are about to do so again. Why am I so lucky, so blessed? I couldn’t even begin to guess. I stand before you, flawed, somewhat banged-up, but still standing, en point, & at the ready; willing and able to Rock’n’Roll all night. One more time.