Last year I made friends with KG Miles (via social media), who is the co- author of the bestselling book 'Bob Dylan in London, Troubadour Tales', talking about his very early years there. As the book is doing so well, his publishers asked him to do a New York version about Dylan's early days here. Miles reached out to me to write a chapter in the book, and at first I was hesitant as it was about a period of time before me, and I didn't feel qualified. I thought someone who was around the scene at that time would do better. Also, even tho I've been published many times as a photographer, this would be my first time being published as an author, and I gotta say... I got a little nervous. But with every life challenge comes a life lesson. Miles had a feeling I would be great for this chapter and didn't let up till I said yes. Bless him for his confidence in me, especially since we hadn't even met in person yet! He had a gut feeling, and so I went with his gut, did my research, and wrote my piece. Cherry Popping Time I guess! I also found out (after the fact) that my pal Maureen Van Zandt wrote a chapter about the West Village, and her husband Stevie Van Zandt has written a forward as well. It's a pretty small world sometimes.
Shortly after I submitted the chapter (which I'm happy to say, the author and publishers loved), Miles suggested I might consider recording one (or more) of the Dylan songs that I had been covering during my lockdown livestreams, to release around the same time as the book. I thought that to be a brilliant idea, and also a fun creative venture. Most all my livestreams (broadcasted from my tiny Hobbit sized music room) were performed with my buddy Mark Plati , who at the moment is all over the news with the new David Bowie box set that will be out soon. He was not only in Bowie's band back in the day, but he also co-wrote, co-produced, and mixed several of Bowie's albums. There was one project left unfinished, and during lockdown, Mark mixed and produced this project, that will be fully released by David's birthday in January as a celebration. Mark did a beautiful job with the Bowie project, and of course... I had him record and mix us as well! What was to be one song turned into 3, two Dylan, and one Lead Belly track, and the EP is called The Sunflower Sessions (title inspired by Van Gogh). I also called in Charlie Giordano to play accordion on the two Dylan songs and he did a gorgeous job. It was also a blast to finally record a project with Charlie as we've been friends forever. Some of you may know Giordano from playing Hammond B3 with Bruce Springsteen for the last 10 or so years, he's pretty amazing and his magic was just right for this project. Singer/songwriter, multi instrumentalist Noah Hoffeld played cello on 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night' and the whole haunting vibe of the tune inspired me to create a very film noir spooky video for this murder mystery song ( video release TBD as of now)
The EP will be released on December 1st and will be available on all streaming and downloadable platforms. Stop by my Bandcamp page and buy a copy for yourself or to gift for the holidays (all my albums are up on the page btw)
The video for 'Blowin' In The Wind' will have its premiere on Americana Highways magazine on 12/1. I'm pretty proud of the video as I shot all the footage, photographed, and edited it all myself, adding in work I had been shooting over the past few years at various marches and gatherings. I wanted to embrace the timeless words of Bob Dylan with my images, and portray a hint of hope for the future. It was a lot of work, but, also very rewarding to do.
It's all pretty exciting how one text message from Miles turned into all this! The book will be released in the UK on December 9th, and in the USA after the new year. I will also be doing my first live performance with Charlie and Mark at the 11th Street Bar on the 9th as well. If you're in NYC, please stop by and say hello! Perhaps this December, it's going to feel a lot like Christmas! Stay tuned, I will be posting updates here. Cheers!
ps: I happened to catch Bob Dylan at the Beacon Theater last week and the band sounded gorgeous, and Bob was powerful and passionate. The band, well, they are just top shelf, I can't say enough about the guys. Special props to my friends Charley Drayton and Tony Garnier who are one hell of a kick ass rhythm section. I mean, woah! If you get a chance, do catch Bob live, it's always a treat
ALSO, if you get a chance, and the Van Gogh immersive exhibition is in your town, treat yourself and go see it (and do the experience with the glasses.. it's off the hook cool). The show was beyond incredible. I've developed a passion for sunflowers, and a need to go back and dive into those paintings again. The whole immersive experience can be pretty addicting! But, then again, being addicted to Van Gogh... not so bad...