From the inside, out

We left school in March, on Friday the 13th, telling each other, “well, see you in a month or so!”. We knew that we probably weren’t going back, but no one was ready to process what that actually meant. In the two months following, everything on the school calendar was canceled: concerts, the spring musical (Legally Blonde!), proms, class awards, graduation. The country has endured a terrible year, with tragic losses. However, our high school seniors have endured a different kind of terrible year. While their families have lost income, and possibly loved ones, they have also lost all of the milestone events to which young people look forward for most of their school careers. 
Each year at Mt. Hope, we do a recording project with Vocal Ensemble, our audition choir. The first couple were graduation songs (see “To Belong” and “Timeless”), which we were honored to present at the graduation ceremonies their respective years. For 2020, we had a new choral piece, entitled “You Love”, which we had planned to debut at the RIMEA state choral festival. This festival was, of course, canceled, so we were at a loss as to what to do with it. Out of sheer desperation, and a desire for a project around which we could rally, we decided to record it remotely. Twenty students, all singing into their respective iPhones, on a choral song that relies on precise timing and shared dynamics. WHAT COULD GO WRONG? Also, since the difficulty level evidently wasn’t already high enough, we figured we could record all of our seniors’ solos, and make an entire album out of the resulting material. 

WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

Well, so, a lot. However, we stumbled into a fantastic project, which brought us together in a myriad of ways, and which gave our last quarter of the school year real purpose. Over the next few posts, I’ll document what we did to make “From The Inside, Out”, as well as the accompanying videos and fundraising project. If you would like to cheat a little and find out ahead of time how to contribute, click here.

New cover of an OLD song

I wrote the song “Rejoice Tonight” in 2006, for the first cd we released as St. Luke’s Church Contemporary Choir. Honestly, it was so thrown together that I didn’t have all of the sections, and had to have Ryan (was it Ryan? I think it was Ryan) play drums while I pantomimed where I guessed we would put the stops. Then I brought the tracks home and completely rewrote it anyway. Having said that, it’s been pretty popular over the years, and is still an absolute must-play on Christmas Eve. So I was psyched, and honored, to have it covered by the OLG Young Adult Choir from Hoboken, NJ. Led by Bill Turtle, this group released their first album, “Love’s Pure Light“, in November of 2019. It’s a wonderful mix of standards and contemporary music, and you should listen to it all year round. Why is Christmas music only for Christmas, anyway?

Buy/listen online:
iTunes Amazon Spotify YouTube

If you love something, set it free. Or, y’know, don’t.

Some of my favorite bands/songwriters/composers:
Elvis Costello, Black Sabbath, Freddie King, Mozart, Thelonious Monk, The Monkees, The Go-Gos, Iron Maiden, Bill Lloyd, David Conte, Kenny Burrell, Telemann, Dave Brubeck, and about a million others. I was so incredibly fortunate that I was able to major in songwriting in college. It still feels like I won the lottery, just with tuition.
Since it’s my thing, I’ve written a bunch of songs for friends in the business, over the years. “Town Librarian” was meant for the great Professor Harp, “As The Sun Fell” and “That Look” for James Montgomery, the instrumental “Play This, Pete” for Neal Vitullo, as well as songs for Black and White, Ted Stevens, and Erik Narwhal. We did demos of most of them, some pretty elaborate. Imagine how gratifying it was to hear these amazing musicians play my songs! Seriously, you’ll have to imagine it, since I never actually gave them away when we were done. I have a problem letting go, it seems.
The good news is that most of these will be on the upcoming D.J. Lauria Band anthology, due out in November. Most of the artists named above are still performing (with the heartbreaking exception of Erik), so I’ll probably contact them all to say, “Hey, I wrote you a song twenty years ago. Wanna hear it?” At this rate, I might get one of them recorded before I pay off my student loans. 

Didn’t I used to have a band?!

As I’ve assembled my discography for this new web site, I’ve been ignoring an obvious problem: none of the music recorded by D.J. Lauria Band is currently available for sale or streaming, anywhere. That’s a whole decade of my life, missing like the conscience of an investment banker. I’ve been putting off dealing with it for ages, but how hard would it be to fix, really? Thanks for asking! Here’s a Q and A:

  1. Were those songs released digitally?
    No.
  2. But the were mastered digitally, I’ll bet!
    Actually, yes they were. To DAT, or digital tape. Of course DAT is a format supported by literally no one, not even Sony, WHO INVENTED IT, since 2005.
  3. Didn’t you back it all up?
    Sure, but… CD-ROMs from twenty years ago are often full of errors, or don’t load at all, or were written in a proprietary format that hasn’t been compatible with a functioning computer since Windows XP was a tiny, crying, cyber-baby.
  4. You knew that someday Sonic RecordNow would ruin your life, didn’t you?
    Yes. And so did you, if you ever used it, even once.
  5. With all of the cassettes, CDs, DATs, and even Zip disks (!) in your basement studio, did you at least have all of the material?
    Stuff was just plain missing. It took ages to track down our 1994 demos from Lakewest, so I was thrilled when I discovered that the case was empty. There was a cute drawing on the cover, though, so there’s that.

I’m committed to making these songs available, for the five or six people who would still care to hear them (Hi Mom!). Follow this blog for details on the restoration and detective work, and maybe even some giveaways!

I can see for miles, if I wear bifocals

Was it Halloween on Sunday? I could swear I saw the reanimated corpse of Pete Townsend at the Super Bowl.

Was it Halloween on Sunday?  I could swear I saw the reanimated corpse of Pete Townsend at the Super Bowl.

I was once a fan of The Who for many reasons:  “The Who Sell Out” was an ahead-of-its-time look at the confluence of art and marketing; “Who’s Next” was a collection of songs so breathtaking that I grew up thinking it was a greatest hits collection; Rock opera is an absurd concept on its face, but they went for it anyway; and, not least, they had an attitude so aggressive that they were the only classic rock band the punk movement embraced.  But unlike the Stones, who at least make an attempt at relevance by putting out a new cd each time they tour (a terrible cd, to be sure, but new) the Who haven’t been a functioning band since 1982, at best.  Trotting out the oldies as a ‘safe’ choice for the entertainment at the halftime show would likely have made young Townsend want to smash something, a guitar probably.

Of course, we’re the morons for even allowing them to call this “The Who”.  Why are people so desperate in their nostalgia that they will pay obscene ticket prices to see a few (or a couple) of the musicians from a band they loved when they were kids pretend to play the same old songs, while the musicians in the back carry them?  (See Eagles, CSN, Billy Joel, et al.)  It would have been GREAT if they had played “My Generation”.  By embracing the irony they could have flipped us off, hilariously, something that band was the best at once upon a time.  “I hope I die before I get old,” Daltry would have sung, thinking, “Moon and Entwistle DID die, and none of you idiots even noticed.  Here we are shoving crap in your ears, letting our kids do the actual playing, and you all cheer because you remember how ‘Teenage Wasteland’ made you feel thirty-five years ago.  And that’s NOT EVEN THE NAME OF THE SONG.” Instead, the crowd just sang along to the other hits, unthinkingly, and Pete sold a ton of “Pinball Wizard” downloads on iTunes today.  Would “The Who Sell Out” refer to artistic integrity today, or just to the fact that there’s never an empty seat?