Sunday, December 21, 2014

#JoyfulJoyfulOdetoMemphis Project (The Backstory)

I've never before posted about one of my rando (and, if you happen to be keeping score at home, only inconsistently successful) projects in advance of it actually being finished, *unless* I was relatively positive that said project would see itself to some non-embarrassing completion. (See: American Values Project and/or WORKING IN MEMPHIS: The Documentary for evidence of my better work).  Today's post is an exception.

I'm currently engaged in a project that I've (executively) dubbed #JoyfulJoyfulOdetoMemphis.  We're less than 24hrs now from it coming to fruition, and I'd put the odds at about 70/30 on whether or not it will be a monumental success or a complete disaster. Fwiw, I'm dispositionally inclined to be optimistic, especially with regard to my own endeavors, so if you're betting, you should adjust the odds with those extra details in mind.  But seriously, on average, I'm a pretty solid bet.

Here's the short backstory of my #JoyfulJyfulOdetoMemphis project:
Basically, I just came up with this idea last week (on Tuesday) when I was taking a muc-needed break from grading, sitting at home, messing around on the guitar and thinking that "Ode to Joy" could be rearranged into a really cool Memphis-themed holiday song. So, on Wednesday afternoon, I put up a post on my fb page asking if anyone would be interested in working on something like that. Then, in the way that only the Fount of Memphis Talent overflows with generosity... well, it just sort of became a *real* project. The next day, I called up one of my former students, James Rigney (who is a composer) and we collaborated to put together the (AWESOME) arrangement we have now. I rewrote the lyrics, my friend Preston McEwan (drummer for Ghost Town Blues Band) got us some time at Ardent Studios to record, I started reaching out to other music people around town to fill out what we were missing, and that's about the whole backstory.


So, as of now, we're all set to meet up tomorrow afternoon at Ardent Studios and record/film our original #JoyfulJoyfulOdetoMemphis song.  We've got a sh*tload of Memphis talent signed on already, including but not limited to:
If you care for a longer backstory, here are some deets on THE SONG we're recording:
One of my former students and I collaborated on an arrangement that is basically a bluesy/gospel-y/Memphis-y version of "Ode to Joy" (or "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" for you churchfolk). It may or may not work out this way, but here's how we drew it up in the locker room: Our arrangement will have a guitar intro on the main theme, super bluesy but improvised mainly with a few lines written out just to give it that Memphis feel. Then, the guitarist will set up a riff that we've combined with the intro to "Love and Happiness" to give it that Al Green vibe. Then a beatbox comes in with solo vocals alternating lines. and all of the voices come together on "opening to the sun above."  Drums and horns enter right after  that. Then we'll either start a new verse (or just a repetition of the previous on) but continue to the "melt the clouds" part. We'll bring it back down for "melt the clouds" etc. and bring it back up to a horns and guitar feature section before bringing it back down and having a sort of layered gospel ostinato section out.

For whatever it's worth, and I think this is WORTH A LOT, nobody involved is spending or making any $$ on this project. Everyone is donating his or her talent for the love of the 901 alone.  No better reason to #BelieveMemphis, I say.

Last thing: if you're a Memphian and (1) you can sing, (2) you have a camera and/or film-skills, or (3) you can edit film well and (very, very, like RIDICULOUSLY) quickly, then pleasepleasePLEASE contact me by email, via Twitter @DrLeighMJohnson  or through my Facebook page ASAP! We're all set to record at 1pm at Ardent Studios TOMORROW (Monday,12/22) so be advised that this train is leaving he station!

1 comment:

Anne-Marie Schultz said...

Can't wait to hear/see it.