With a little help from my friends…
Hello, Threadheads! The Board hopes that this newsletter finds you all well during what has been a challenging year on many fronts.
In keeping with our mission to support Louisiana culture bearers, the Foundation partnered with The Ella Project, which provides pro bono legal assistance, arts business services, and advocacy to our cultural community. THCF donated $15,000 worth of Rouse’s gift cards, through the Ella Project, to offer some immediate assistance during the early months of the pandemic.
The Board received a number of emails from recipients of the Rouse’s gift cards, including this one from Mitchell Player, who has allowed us to share it with our members:
“My name is Mitchell Player and I’m a New Orleans Jazz Musician. As you know these have been unprecedented times for us all during Covid 19.
I want to take a moment to say a personal thank you as well as thanks for the music community in New Orleans that your organization supports. Gene at the Ella Project passed on a Rouse’s gift card to me that I’ve recently used to purchase groceries.
I sincerely appreciate your generous gift and wish you and the team at the Threadhead Cultural Foundation health and good fortune.”
Despite having only one day in the studio, Spencer’s work is very much part of the album.
“Of course they all wrote the songs together so he’s represented in that way,” says Andre. “And we took a couple of the kitchen table demos which they did at my folks’ house, took the vocals and dropped them into the recording. That way we got two more appearances from my dad that weren’t recorded in the studio, and so that’s really cool.”
The Write Brothers pen their songs together, and then they each sing one of the others’ tunes. But with Spencer’s passing, there’s one song that won’t be on the record – like an empty chair at the table.
“My dad was going to sing one of Jim’s songs,” Andre says. “He had picked it out and I had heard him mess with it a little bit, but it was in between hospital stays so he wasn’t full strength. You could kinda hear what he was going to do with it, it was gonna be beautiful, and it just didn’t happen.”
Jim McCormick sings one of Alex McMurray’s songs, and Alex sings one of Paul Sanchez’ songs. Paul sings one of Spencer’s songs.
“Paul just crushes it,” said Andre. “It’s just me and Paul, I’m playing piano and Paul’s singing, and it’s – it’s powerful. My dad got to hear that in the studio, and it was powerful.”
To help fill in the harmonies that Spencer would have provided, The Write Brothers brought in “Write Sister,” Susan Cowsill. Also appearing on the album are bassist Dave Pomerleau, and a horn section made up of Scott Frock on trumpet, Craig Klein on trombone, and Joe Cabral on saxes.
The studio work is done – which Andre says is a big milestone for any recording project, but comes with a false sense of completion. “Tracking you always feel like, ‘DONE!’ – but you’re only about halfway there,” he says.
The next step is finding someone to mix the album – the RIGHT someone.
“One of the things I really want to do is finish this right. I don’t want to rush it to get it out, because it’s the last thing my dad recorded and he was always very careful about the things he recorded,” says Andre. “I don’t want to tinker with it till it’s tinkered to death, but I do think it’s worth taking the time to tweak it and make sure that it’s all right there, and I think we’ve done that to this point.”
The album doesn’t have an official title yet, but Andre says a song written by Threadhead Chris Joseph, “Time Flies,” encompasses the overarching theme on the record.
“There’s a song Alex sings called, ‘It Gets Late So Early’ – I used to party all night long and now it’s like ‘oh, it gets late so early,’” Andre says. “And the one that Paul did of my dad’s is ‘There Goes Another Day’ – a song he wrote in the 90s about time. You wake up one day and you’re 40.”
The last song that Spencer Bohren recorded – with Alex McMurray – is called ‘Every Highway,’ a life retrospective, Andre says.
“My dad was worried about the strength of his voice, ‘cause his facilities were failing him. And he sounds like an old man on the song a little bit and – but the way the lyrics of the song and the story of the song, it’s the kind of thing where, if he sounded like 35 year old Spencer, I wouldn’t believe him,” Andre said. “This sounds like an old man telling people what’s up, and it’s powerful.”
Veteran recording engineer Mike Mayeux was brought on to mix the album, but there are other big decisions still to be made, like the artwork, and determining how to release the material; Andre anticipates the album will be completed by the end of the year.