piano

New Paisley Music Coming Soon

Cover art for "Oh These Urban Fences..." by Julia McGinley 

Cover art for "Oh These Urban Fences..." by Julia McGinley 

After months of recording, mixing and mastering, I’m happy to announce The Paisley Field’s first studio EP is almost complete!

Recording Oh These Urban Fences… was a rewarding experience. It took a lot of hard work from a group of talented people. The studio we recorded in was quite possibly the best studio I’ve ever worked at.

The studio, Atomic Sound in Red Hook, Brooklyn, is a musician’s play land. The amount of gear available is incredible. I recorded on a Yamaha Grand, Hammond B3 (complete with leslie speaker!) and their 88 key vintage Rhodes.

The Neve VR 60 captured our lush country arrangements with the help of our fantastic producer Jeremy Moses Curtis. Oh These Urban Fences… features a Brooklyn Country mini orchestra with players on cello, mandolin, guitars, banjo, drums, bass, slide, lap steel, organ and of course, piano.

We recorded the EP in three days and mixed it in two. The songs are being mastered this week in Nashville.  

Pre-sales for Oh These Urban Fences… will begin on October 2nd.  Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on the release and to receive exclusive offers! Our listening party will be October 1st in Brooklyn, NY at Branded Saloon.

Check out some photos from the session below:

And The Paisleys Play On…

Andrew Gialanella, lead guitarist for The Paisley Fields

Andrew Gialanella, lead guitarist for The Paisley Fields

 

It’s not uncommon for bands to lose members. Lineup changes are difficult, but that is a reality of being in a band. Some of the most successful acts in popular music have an almost revolving door of members, bands like Fleetwood Mac, Genesis, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The Paisley Fields have recently gone through some lineup changes. Rob Knopper has decided to leave the group to focus his efforts on classical music. Joe Kimple is pursuing other interests. I wish them success in their future endeavors.

But The Paisleys play on.

Fronting a six plus member band means juggling everyone’s schedules and managing commitments. It’s certainly not the sexiest part of the job. Planning our first tour, I learned how challenging it can be.

I explained to Marty Diamond, a booking agent for the Paradigm Group, that with busy schedules and a tight budget, it’s very difficult to play every show together in New York. Not to mention, it’s almost impossible to tour with the full band. I asked him about touring as a duo or trio.

His response was simple: “Portable and affordable. Do what you have to do.”

So how can a band build a fan base, stay true to their sound and still make a living? Portable and affordable.

Three of us hop in the Volvo and play stripped down sets on regional tours to smaller crowds. And we play together as a full band whenever we can.

Nobody said making it in the music business was easy. If it was everyone would be in a band. Losing two members is a difficult thing for a band.

Alex Feigin, rhythm guitarist and drummer for The Paisley Fields

Alex Feigin, rhythm guitarist and drummer for The Paisley Fields

But when one chapter ends, another begins. The Paisley Fields found some extremely talented musicians to join our gay little country band.  

I am thrilled to introduce the newest members of The Paisley Fields. Andrew Gialanella recently relocated from Nashville and joined the group as the lead guitarist. His playing rivals some of the best in the business.

Alex Feigin is alternating between rhythm guitar and drums for the band. She’s also a wicked beat boxer. Whenever we write our first country beat boxing tune, she will be our girl.

James Steiner joined The Paisley Fields on our last January tour. He plays mandolin and alternates on the drums with Alex.

We are still looking for a full time bass player, but in the meantime Jeremy Moses Curtis will provide bass parts on our EP. He is also producing the EP, due out later this summer.

Our sound is continuing to grow and evolve. Our look may change, but the music is always the most important part of being a Paisley. To play music and share it with others is the greatest gift. It’s something I will never take for granted.

On tour with James Steiner, mandolin player and drummer for The Paisley Fields. 

On tour with James Steiner, mandolin player and drummer for The Paisley Fields. 

Each day I get to bang my calloused fingers against those black and whites, sing some twang and connect with my friends on stage and in the audience makes me feel like the richest man alive.

If you haven’t noticed yet, our website is completely revamped. Big thanks to my friend/publicist/partner-in-crime Pam Dewey for all the hard work she put in getting this thing up. Have a look around. 

Make Art, Not Perfection

I can’t say I’ve ever given a perfect performance. I often walk away thinking I could have done something differently. As an artist and musician, I need to be always improving. On stage, I make choices about the way I play and how I perform.

Perfection is not playing a song or piece through without any mistakes. In this age of pitch correction, it's important to remember slight imperfections or mistakes are often what make a piece of music so beautiful. It’s the human touch that connects us to music and each other.

Live music is about spontaneity. My mentor/piano teacher once told me every performance should be different. At first I didn’t understand, but he explained it could just be a moment or a look that changes. He insisted performers, musicians or other artists must never repeat themselves. This has become my mantra. I vow to never give the same performance. I want to be always growing, always changing.

I believe there is an “it” factor when it comes to music. Something intangible that can’t be articulated. Something otherworldly happens when we play/write/record music. Not everyone can do it, and we must not take this gift lightly. We must respect this power and honor the talent bestowed upon us.

As a piano student, I immersed myself in the study of classical music. More than any other genre, perfection is revered when performing classical music. Listening to an opera or a solo piano recital, mistakes are glaring and viewed as unforgivable. Critics gloat and tomatoes fly. In college, I would spend between two and eight hours in a practice room every day, desperate to perfect those impossible measures in a Beethoven concerto.

As musicians, we place unreasonable standards on ourselves that can be counterproductive. These standards cause insecurity, and we start to doubt ourselves and the choices we make on stage.

Letting go of the idea we need to be perfect is hard. Our culture loves to build people up, just to tear them down. Imagine 1,000 pairs of eyes following your every move. As you fall, 1,000 cell phones document the misstep, immortalizing your failure on YouTube for the entire world to see. The greater your popularity, the bigger the numbers and the farther the fall. It’s no wonder some performers have a debilitating case of stage fright.

Performing is scary, but also exhilarating and rewarding. That’s why musicians do it. We aren’t total masochists.

Musicians take what they do seriously, sometimes too seriously. Perfection doesn’t come from only sitting in a practice room and endlessly going over your part. I’ve grown the most as a performer when I let go and trust myself. Doing that is more difficult than learning the parts I need to play or sing. Practice lays the foundation. The walls, furniture and paint come from actually performing.

Whether I’m performing for five people or five thousand, I intend to give the best of myself for every performance. It may not be perfect, but perfection is so… well boring, right? I’d rather be honest and real.

So go practice your ass off, but don’t do it to be perfect. Do it to be the best you.

I’ll be performing at NYC Pride this year with my band, The Paisley Fields. If you’re in the NYC area, come to the Queer Music Festival at Rockbar on Thursday, June 25th.

http://www.rockbarnyc.com

 

The Top 4 Piano Players in Rock, in My Humble O

 

Elton John performing on New Year's Eve at The Barclay's Center in Brooklyn 

Elton John performing on New Year's Eve at The Barclay's Center in Brooklyn 

This week I am sharing some musicians that inspire me and have a profound impact on the way I create music. Some people may take issue with my use of the word best. Music is very subjective, but in my humble O, these are the best piano players rock music has to offer. I aspire to be in the company of these greats one day.

Elton John

Elton John is probably the most internationally well-known person on this list. He’s a prolific writer and knows how to shred on the piano. I saw him perform live at the Barclay’s Center on New Year’s Eve this year. I started to cry almost hysterically, when he opened the show with “Funeral for a Friend.” It was embarrassing, but his performance was extremely moving. The melodies he writes are unforgettable, and entirely his own. At my wedding, my friends and I performed one of his songs for my husband. His music is truly timeless. It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite song, but below are some of my faves of the moment. 

Listen to: Funeral for a friend, Daniel, Candle In The Wind, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, and Your Song.

Nina Simone

Considered more of a jazz player than a rock player, she is a musician and artist who defies genres. Her voice is one of a kind, and her playing is beyond impressive. She manages to be an effortless virtuoso. Her influence is far-reaching. There were a few good years where I listened almost exclusively to her music. It speaks to my soul.

Listen to: I Wish I knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, Sinnerman, The Other Woman, Pirate Jenny, and Don’t Let me be Misunderstood.

Tori Amos

When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to watch MTV. I didn’t let that stop me. I devised a way to wire the TV in the basement to sneak some MTV. As I watched the contraband station, I caught a live performance of Tori Amos on MTV Unplugged. I was blown away. A couple years before, I had started piano lessons and played pretty well. I dreamt of being a rockstar, but everyone on TV played guitars. When I saw Tori killing it on the piano, I was inspired. I hadn’t seen or heard anything like her before. The song that blew me away was “Blood Roses,” a haunting number she played on the harpsichord. The performance gave me courage to follow my dream.

Listen to: Blood Roses, Cornflake Girl, Professional Widow, A Sorta Fairy Tale, and Jackie’s Strength.

Jerry Lee Lewis

There’s no denying Jerry Lee Lewis knows his way around a set of ivories. He is, without a doubt, one of the founding musicians of rock and roll. As a country musician, his later music really resonates with me. His version of Kris Kristofferson’s “Me & Bobby McGee” might not be as well-known as Janis Joplin’s, but it’s no less incredible. Nobody plays like Jerry Lee. When you hear him playing you immediately know who is behind the keys.

Listen to: Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On, Great Balls of Fire, and Me & Bobby McGee.

Honorable Mentions: Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor, and Ben Folds.

I’ll be trying to channel some of these legendary artists next month, when I step into the studio with my band. We are recording four new songs to be released on our first studio EP, along with “Not Gonna Be Friends” later this summer. Download “Not Gonna Be Friends” now, ahead of the full release. 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/not-gonna-be-friends-single/id813667793