The Making of Nine Lives, Vol One – Disc One, Track Two

Blow My Own Horn

I sing the voice of Frank Minyard on the album and this was to be Frank’s first song on the album.  Matt Perrine had come up with a traditional jazz style arrangement and an exciting band and I couldn’t wait to go into the studio to watch them cut the track.

Two years of writing, weeks of voting for the grant, weeks more of Matt writing arrangements, rehearsals and then, a few days before we were to go into the studio, the folks from the HBO series Treme called and asked if I would be in a scene with John Boutté for season two.  I agreed without hesitation.  Treme has become a wonderful ally to New Orleans music as it provides jobs, promotes the culture and lets people know who to see and what clubs to see them in.  Matt and I both had agreed that if either one got asked, the other would cover a session so he was happy to cover this session.  He wished me luck.

I had a sweet day on the set of Treme singing with John Boutté and Lucia Micarelli, (the lovely little violinist on Treme) and playing music with Craigory Klein and Michiel Huisman, the show’s young, tortured guitar player “Sonny”.   Michiel, in real life, is the sweetest young fellow and was a pop star in Amsterdam before he became an actor.  I like Michiel.  He comes from a folk and rock background as a player and we have talked about how those grooves work and don’t always work in playing New Orleans music. As focused as he is as an actor, there is a relaxed warmth that comes over his face when he picks up a guitar to play.  I recognize that warmth and have felt it myself.  It makes me like him very much and I wound up asking both he and Lucia to play on Nine Lives which they were to do later in the session.

Sometimes the best thing you can do as a producer is to hire a brilliant arranger, a wonderful band, a great studio and get the hell out of the way so I thank Treme for getting me the hell out of the way on this one because when I came back to sing the vocal, I almost fell down in the vocal booth.  The track was so swinging and just right with Matt Perrine on tuba, Rick Trolsen on trombone and Kevin Clark on trumpet – all from The New Orleans Nightcrawlers.  Tim Laughlin was on clarinet again, giving the song the essence of Pete Fountain’s old New Orleans, and Tom McDermott was on piano.  Tom’s encyclopedic knowledge of the different styles of New Orleans piano playing made him an excellent choice for most of the record as we passed through the decades of changing musical styles during the course of Nine Lives.  Eric Bolivar was the drummer.  Eric and Matt had played together for years in Bonerama and I knew I had left the studio in good hands but, man, it was sweet to come back and hear that band bursting through the speakers.

Matt had written some comedic bits into the arrangement.  The story calls for him to be inebriated by the end of the song so he added bits where Frank was supposed to wave off the band and then make them change the key to sing lower in his “drunken” state.  It was a funny idea and even more fun when it came time to run with it.  Normally, one doesn’t want laughter at the end of a vocal take in the studio but on this one, I stepped out of the vocal booth to applause and laughter from Matt and Colman and knew we had gotten Blow My Own Horn recorded.

~ Paul Sanchez – April 7, 2011

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