Friday, June 5, 2009

Music, Music, and More Music.

I haven’t blogged much lately. I have been focused on a number of things at work and pet projects of my own to the point that even when I had a few moments to do it, I could not get the inspiration. On the work side, I have been working to be ready for the first insurance company safety audit of the year. About a third of my income is dependent on the out come of these audits—there are usually three every year—and this one did not happen until over five months into the year. The extra focus there seems to have paid off—we had our audit this week and the auditor was very impressed and will likely give us a better than average score which will equal the money needed to do several project around the home (sprinkler system, more fence and a shed—the pool will have to wait another year again).

On the music side, I am even more preoccupied. The recordings I have been doing the past few years have taken me in different directions musically. My writing, as of late, has been rather broad in style and genre and has evolved into projects beyond the typical Mundy Mundy CDs to be released every couple years or so. Usually I write a few songs representing different styles of music and decide on a dozen or so to include on a CD, package it and start trying to sell them. Now I find myself trying to do a bunch at literally the same time.

At this point, the various CD projects (6, I think) are at different levels of completion, with none complete to my satisfaction. I have been trying to get some mixes of the several recording projects I have going that I am 100% happy with, to make masters for the forthcoming CDs. I work on them when I have a few spare minutes after work or when there is a lull in my Saturday or Sunday activities. I keep thinking that I can get the mixes better, and I usually do, but at some point I will have to accept the reality that it won't be any better than I have the facilities and resources to make it.

I plan on two CDs—I’ve written a lot of material for this—of the me (A solo act with a backup band) doing Rock and Blues, which will likely be entitled "Outstanding in His Field" and "Blue Mundy"—it could also be a double CD. Along with these, I have a new Mundy Mundy CD planned to be entitled "On New Ground", with some of the usual lead vocals by my wife and singing partner, Karen, with the usual eclectic collection of Rock-Pop-Country material, and a CD compilation of songs with Karen on lead vocals, which I will probably just call The Best of Karen Mundy, or something as equally unoriginal.

I had not released anything apart from the "Mundy Mundy" recordings since the "Randy Mundy Band" days in the mid seventies—my "Celestial Skies" album. The reason being, that I had gotten married to a very talented singer and really enjoyed trying to promote us as a group. However, recently I decided to do something that I have wanted to do for a long time: make a blues album or CD. My brother, Danny Mundy, and my best friend, Danny Wood, and others as well, have begged me to do more blues songs in my act, because they thought I had the chops to do it and had been wasting them. In truth, I love the blues and love to do it. So, since I had the inclination, and since we, as Mundy Mundy, were not trying very hard in recent history to play out much, I started writing with a blues CD in mind. Once I got started, it was hard to slow down. I hadn't been so prolific as a song writer for many years. I guess my affinity for the blues just opened the floodgates of my creativity. Before I knew it, I had more than enough good material for a single CD, in fact I really had enough to do a double CD or two separate. Most of the songs were written and recorded with a lot of instrumentality in mind—I wanted some good blues guitar and keyboard solos to make the tracks cook, so they tend to be bit lengthy—blues lovers don’t mind long instrumental soloing, as a rule—something that does not really bother me much when I write other styles of songs either. As the recording progressed in Topeka, Lloyd McDonald did some very nice guitar work and Ted Landry did some great sounding drum tracks. We also got some other really good local keyboard talent to round-out the sound. Then, with that project just started and maybe half of the CD recorded, I moved to Utah for work. The blues CD had to wait until I rounded up some new players. Upon arriving in Utah, I got with my old buddy, Dave Wayt (also now living in Utah), who had been an intricate part of our act in California and Tennessee, and who was part of our "Life on the Run" CD recorded in Nashville. He introduced me to some of the Utah musicians he had been working with in several bands and we tried several different configurations of players till we felt like we had a good mix of interest and talent.

With Dave on Bass and backing vocals, Bob Bonham on lead guitar, and Glenn Meigs on drums, I was off and going again, and writing some more blues tunes. Along the way, I discovered that my new family doctor, David Poor, was a great sax man and I got him to play on some tracks. The result was so cool that I decided we needed to try a bigger band sound. The good doctor played on several more cuts and even arranged some sax sections for some of the tunes. Then it turned out that there was a guy in our church ward, Scott Devey, who played trumpet in a big local R&B group. He graciously added his trumpet to some horn section. I wanted a good keyboard player all along, but the new bigger sound made it imperative. We needed a keyboard player, but it was hard to find a good player that fit. Eventually, Dave suggested that his old friend, Bob Bailey, a jazz pianist and arranger who used to play with the likes of Dean Martin, might be interested in helping on the recording. So, Dave and I paid Bob a visit and played him some of the stuff that we had recorded thus far. Bob was impressed enough to take part with both keyboard and string and horn arrangements to embellish what I had already done. The ultimate product has turned into a bit of a jazzy big blues band-type sound. Bob even spiffed up some of the earlier tracks I did with the guys in Kansas.

The "Outstanding In His Field" title is one I have had in mind since about 1976, with a picture of me standing in a wheat field—I know, a bit silly, but it sort of fit with my Kansas heritage. This CD will include roughly a half dozen of some new and old songs, recorded for the most part over the last two or three years with the guys in Kansas, with some additional instrumental parts added by Bob Bonham, David Poor, Scott Devey and Bob Bailey and some backing vocals by Dave Wayt, Glenn Meigs and my two new talented backup singers, Lacey Jackson and Cassie Wayt (Dave’s daughter). The remainder will be some tracks from previously released Mundy Mundy CDs that I have re-mastered with some extra musicianship by Bob Bailey and vocals by the girls added to the mix. The overall sound from one song to the next seems cohesive in style and feel, perhaps, more Rock-laced than "Blue Mundy", the proposed follow-up blues CD.

The "Blue Mundy" CD will be almost exclusively songs written since arriving in Utah and so, almost all recorded with the Utah players. The sound, again, is big, Bluesy and Jazzy, so I was thinking of calling the act "Randy Mundy & the Little Big Blues Band"—since then, we have decided on a different name for the group, but more on that later. Between the two Blues CDs you will have around 25 songs of about 100 minutes of some pretty tasty and listenable music.

The Mundy Mundy CD, "On New Ground", consists of several songs that we started recording in Kansas and finished with differing degrees of Utah additions as well—Bob Bailey features in a majority of those cuts where keyboards and string/horn work were deemed appropriate. The collections of songs on this CD, as is generally the case with Mundy Mundy CDs, range in eclectic fashion through Country, Folk, Pop Ballads and Rock. Again, there is a strong influence of a big band in some of the arrangements, thanks to Mr. Bailey.

The Karen compilation is what it is: all of the songs that I have written over the years to feature Karen to feature as the lead vocal. She is such a great vocal talent that she deserved to be spotlighted on at least one CD for her fans who don't want to sort through all of the Randy songs to hear their girl excel.

Even with these projects and so much material, we still ended up with songs recorded that are not making it to a CD this time around. Some are pretty folksy and spiritual in nature and just didn't seem to fit on the other projects, but would be great on a CD with some other songs in the same general style and message. Our attempt at a Gospel CD, "On Solid Ground", from about ten years ago, has some good moments, but it did not carry the same production quality throughout and was actually a shorter CD than most of ours. We only had 9 originals written for the project and I was in too big of a hurry to get it done, so we added a couple of LDS hymns in a semi-pop-country-vain treatment to bring the song count to at least 11. I have been thinking about revisiting that project, recording some of the songs and adding some of these spiritually-driven songs to the remake. Other recent songs are just really different. In the process of working together, Bob Bailey and I have formed a mutual admiration society. Bob played several of his instrumental compositions he has written, but thought that they might be good candidates for lyrics. Having developed a respect for me as a lyricist, he asked me if I would try my hand with his pieces. I think we were both really pleased with the outcome--4 totally different types of songs, but individually, very cool. I also recently added lyrics and melodies to a couple of Lloyd McDonald instrumentals that I really like and think would be good candidates for such a CD.

But, first things first: these 4 CDs have to be finish and offered for popular consumption. Our website will hopefully be up and running soon, where a person may go and sample the songs to see if they want to download them for a fee. I will try to get a link on the blog site or maybe figure out a way of letting you hear them here without downloading them. I'm not a web master genius, but I am a thinker.

Note: More later on my new blues band and the shows we are planning