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                                                                              ________________________________________________________________________________ FROM METRONOME/BOSTON: "BRILLIANT SONGCRAFTER_ 10/2016 .............. Tequila Jim is a character. He's funny, often left-of-center, and a brilliant song-crafter. However life hasn't come easy for him. He's struggled with demons and hit the wall more times than he cares to admit, yet through it all, he's managed to survive and bring his stories to song. His new album, Lost Along The Way, is a glorious testament to a true musical craftsman that's lived the stories while managing to give back through his music... Singer-songwriter-guitarist-bassist/harmonica player Tequila Jim proves to be a musical talent that taps in to folk, psychedelic, country, pop and progressive rock (think Pink Floyd) on his new album, Lost Along The Way. Handling most of the instrumentation and vocals himself, T.J. does incorporate Peter Baro on lead guitar for the album's title track, "Lost Along The Way," Super Cindy on bass for "Someday," James T. Rizzo on drums for all tracks, and outstanding 15 year old female harmony singer, Abby Rego (whom Jim has never met or spoken with!) for many of the cuts. It's a fine collection of memorable ear candy for sure as Jim displays his masterful chops on the acoustic guitar. It should also be noted that Rizzo produced, mixed and engineered the project magically capturing Tequila Jim's musical essence in its truest sense. Outstanding songs include the funky folk driven album opener, "Super Cindy," the trippy, bongo driven vibe of "Sky Is Rain," the orchestral swagger of "Angel Fair" (featuring the gorgeous harmony vocals of Abby Rego), the ethereal, Pink Floyd infused, "Lost Along The Way" (featuring Rego), the beautifully bounding, "Home" (featuring Rego), and the flanger-driven instrumental "Den of The She Wolves." This is an album that needs to be experienced by purveyors of '60's and '70's psychedelic folk rock. Good stuff! [B.M.O.] ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ FULL UNCUT INTERVIEW FROM METRONOME/BOSTON: METRONOME: You're clearly a music veteran. How and when did you catch the music bug? Veteran indeed. I remember clearly when Daddy cut down the tree that grew in my bedroom and soared through the thatched roof of our home. He then proceeded to the barn, where a few hours later he had constructed a gramophone with a crank handle. It was a day I will never forget. You see, there were bugs living in it. Music bugs. I have been addicted to music ever since. But I must tell you, the only thing I do not like about music is the word used for music, which is "music." It just doesn't fit. The first syllable to me sounds like the, "moo," of a cow, while the second syllable sounds just like, "sick." So you have, "moosick." So it translates to "mad cow disease" from the Latin. We can do better than that as rock icons. As a little boy, there was this band called The Beatles and a guy named Zimmerman, who for some odd reason insisted on being referred to as Dylan. There were countless other bands during this time, of course. They were all on AM radio. Almost all of it was cool as hell. Sure, it was called pop, and a song could not last more than 2 minutes and 30 seconds, but it was creative, fun and interesting. I got my first little transistor radio when I was about 8 years old. It was magical. When it was bed time, I would hide it from Mum under my pillow and listen to rock and/or roll until I fell asleep. Man, I considered that to be high-tech and wondrous. It will never be replicated, nor is it available at Walguitar Centermart. METRONOME: Did you grow up in a musical family? My father grew up poor in Greece. In his early 20's the Nazis came to his small town. Eventually their entire home country was burned to ashes. When the smoke cleared, my Dad decided to leave Europe and settled here in America. He brought a mandolin with him. He often played it. It was beautiful. I am blessed to have ownership of this mandolin. It is perched atop a speaker in my home where I gaze at it each day. I know there are influences of his style of playing mandolin on my album. METRONOME: Who were some of your early music influences? Bands like the Beatles, The Troggs, Herman's Hermits, The Monkees, Dylan, Jefferson Airplane,Ry Cooder, Fairport Convention, The Kinks - most definitely, Moby Grape, The Youngbloods, The Association, CSN&Y, Joni Mitchell, Leon Russell, Neil Young, The Stones, Buffalo Springfield, Jesse Winchester, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Sly & the Family Stone, The Zombies, Tommy James & the Shondells, CCR, Moody Blues, Steve Miller Band (early records), Lennon, Harrison, The Dave Clark Five, The Supremes, Hendrix (1st album & The Cry of Love), Chicago, Blind Faith, Ten years After, Sh Na Na (the one song they did at Woodstock), Nick Drake, Canned Heat, The Byrds, Jethro Tull (early records), The Who, Led Zeppelin (especially III), Joni Mitchell (Songs from a Seagull is heavenly), The Mamas & the Papas, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, The Turtles, Taj Mahal, and one of my absolute favorite albums of all time, by my pal Andy Pratt: Records are Like Life. That record is timeless. Just beautiful start to finish and sadly obscure. Dear reader: Run out and get it. Now. I dutifully absorbed every musical artist and song or album that I possibly could throughout most of my early life, and beyond. METRONOME: What are some of the early bands you played with? Any bands of note? I clearly remember forming my first band with my friend John. We met before we had permission to cross the street. The only people this band is of note to in the entire world is me, and perhaps John. Once we graduated to street-crossing status, we somehow managed to acquire a couple of empty cigar boxes, which we fashioned into guitars. That is, guitars with no strings and made no sound. Brilliant, yes I know. To the best of my recollection, the songs I composed were worthless. But John came up with a tune entitled, "Accident!" and it was cool man. It was about car accidents. The verse had sort of a rock/rap/spoken word vibe like, "I was driving in my car, and etc., etc., etc." When the chorus hit, John would yell out, "Accident! Accident!." John was ahead of his time, a true visionary. Then there was Ruby Topaz. I was the bass player and divine intellectual guiding influence in that group. Of great note, this was when I hooked up with Jim Rizzo (Ringo). Word was that there was a kid that played drums in the neighborhood. Far more significantly, it turned out that he actually owned a P.A. system - and it worked! So we lured him into our tangled web. He was 16 years old. I've been tight with him ever since. We played around New York City, most notably at CBGBs, as well as other venues. The late, great Randy Hein, owner of the Living Room in Providence, often welcomed us to headline as well as back-up nationally known groups. Randy was a guardian angel to so many bands like ours. We had a manager that was certifiably psychotic, cut a pretty cool 45 rpm which got traction in Europe, got an album deal, had sex with strumpets, consumed drugs, and I unintentionally germinated marijuana seeds, with lovely little plants sprouting in the carpeting of my 1963 Plymouth Valiant. I also had a good run with a mostly cover band called, "The Sliders," featuring the great Anthony Bucacci on lead guitar and maturity and my brother from another mother BongoBob (Smith) on the kit, perfect harmonies, and infinite shots of "Docta." Another wonderful acoustic 3-piece was,"Tequila Jim, BongoBob, and Mo Jo." These boys could rock out. Besides being a gifted musician and wonderful friend, Mo Joe (LeClaire), had great hair. He has left this world. He is sadly missed daily. As well as rock and blues, that trio also specialized in debauchery. I suppose that was my main contribution in this ensemble. METRONOME: What came more naturally to you, singing or playing guitar? As a kid, I kept bugging my Dad to buy me a guitar. Finally, he drove me up to Federal Hill in Providence. We went into Silvio Dipippo's Music Store. Mr. Dipippo approached and Dad told him, "Jimmy wants a guitar." I am left-handed. So I indicated to Silvio that I need a guitar that I can play in the left-handed fashion. There were guitars everywhere on the walls. Of course, Silvio responds with, "I don't have any. I will have to order one." Of course, my Dad responded to me by saying, "Just pick one that is here." I walked out owning my first guitar... a right handed Stella! I also got a chord book for $1 that I still own. The strings on my new Stella were raised about 100 yards above the neck. It was beautiful, and painful. I learned to play right-handed while soothing my fingers with ice. I was off and running. To sum up, guitar came to me - not naturally - but most unnaturally, before singing. METRONOME: Do you play other instruments? Well, first off, I am a bass player. Or I was. I am a bass player, therefore I am, I think. In early Ruby Topaz I was the rhythm guitar player. Then my girl cheated on me and started banging the bass player like a screen door in a hurricane. Then the leader of the band, the lead guitar player, tossed the bass player from the band, despite the fact that he had by far the best long hair in the band. Then the guitar player said to me, "You're the bass player now." So I learned bass. However, I've always had an acoustic guitar nearby. I do bring along some harmonicas to my shows these days, and play some on the album. For some odd reason, people think I can play it well, but really, I am woefully limited on it. At least not where I want to be. METRONOME: Did you ever take formal music lessons? As a little boy, there was a very large and decent man who would come to my home and provide guitar lessons to me. This did have it's less than pleasurable circumstances. It was during an oppressively hot summer, and air conditioning was still a fantasy, at least on my street. So as this man was an extraordinarily large man, he would sweat. And also sweat. And emit, uh, interesting odors. My mother would take out three kitchen chairs for us to sit on - one for me, and two for the instructor. Then I would learn to read notes and pick melodies to such rock classics such as, "Down in the Valley," Hava Nagila," "When the Saints Go Marching In," and the ever-popular, "Tom Dooley." These songs are a far cry from, "Stairway to Freebird," so I quit the lessons. Quit guitar for a week, and really started to learn to play guitar by hanging around at a local park where the older drugged-out hippy freaks would jam. METRONOME: What kind of guitar(s) do you play? A couple of years ago I did a solo acoustic gig. I was using the one guitar I own. I have no idea what it is. I've played with it hundreds of times. I like it, it's nice. I paid around $250 for it. (I used it for all the songs on my album.) So this guy comes up to me on break and just loves my guitar. Marvels at it. Then he pulls out a little phone and starts showing me pictures of the dozen or so guitars he has in his basement. I mean, they were all pretty, and appeared to be extremely valuable. No doubt, every one of the guitars in his basement were far more expensive than mine. So as he continues to genuflect to my guitar, he pleads, "Hey man, would you mind if I jammed on your guitar?" I said, "Sure pal, but it ain't all that great. It's really just a cheap guitar." So he started to play. Two minutes later, he blurts out, "Man, this guitar sucks." I tried to tell him. I was extremely grateful for this lesson though: It isn't necessarily the quality of the guitar being played, but the skills (and spirit) of the musician playing it. I did finally buy a new guitar a month ago. I looked at hundreds of them. There was one that I knew I loved. It was a simple decision to purchase a Gibson Hummingbird electric/ acoustic. There is a beautiful Hummingbird painted and etched on the body. The guitar is shiny black in color. The neck action is near perfect. It has a sweet, warm sound. As soon as I started playing it, I realized I instantly became a better guitarist. Within minutes my Hummingbird came up with a song called, "Cherry Tea." Then, a few days later, my guitar wrote, "Come Down Jill." Most recently, it wrote an instrumental tentatively titled, "Crazy Milk." I named my Gibson Hummingbird, Consuelo. I cherish her. I also have a beautiful Washburn bass. The only reason I remember it's a Washburn is that when I drive by the Washburn Street Exit, I know I am very close to Ringo's studio. This bass was used on the album. METRONOME: How old when you wrote your first song? I was about 10 years old. It was entitled, "Let it Snow." The lyrics are: "Who cares how? Make it now / Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow / I'll have fun, and so will everyone / Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow / Just remember it starts in December / Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...." It's about wishing for huge snow storms so I could get out of school. METRONOME: How many original songs do you have in your catalog? There are a bunch leftover and incomplete from the, Lost Along the Way, sessions in Ringo's studio. Then there are the ones in my head right now, and those with all bits and pieces that are close to being songs. I put a great deal of importance in the lyrics of every song. I am blessed to be able to write lyrics almost at the drop of a hat. In one of my new songs, I came up with the basic lyrics easily, but spent quite a bit of time editing them to try to find the softest-sounding consonants possible for each and every word, in order to convey the peaceful and calm nature of the tune. Of great importance to me is that I never use modern references in my songs lyrics. If my songs could be sent back 2 or 3 or 4 thousand years into the past, and translated the meaning of the songs would be fully understood. So the universal human understanding of love, lust, pain, fear, anger, hope, sadness, joy, etc., is timeless and will never change. My song, "Home," for example, relates to something every human in history, more or less, craves and needs - and that is a place we can call home. A place where we can rest and feel safe . That theme is at the core of the song. METRONOME: How did you come up with your name, Tequila Jim? Long ago, in a land of faeries, floozies, clowns and drunks, I played at a beautiful dive bar. I often played there with Bongo Bob & Mo Jo. I suppose you could say I was the "house" guy there. My drink of choice was tequila. It didn't matter what brand, quality, type, or price. As long as the word "tequila" was printed on the bottle, I yearned and thirsted for it. The more I drank, the more debauched and stupid I would become. The stories are legendary and I suppose hilarious, to everyone except me. So in the middle of a set one night, one of the friendly floozies yelled out, "Tequila Jim." There it is. I found out some time later, that the bar had a bottle of Cuervo stashed in the closet with which they had written "Tequila Jim" using a black magic marker on the face of the bottle. It was watered down. So they cared for me. METRONOME: Are you a solo performer or do you have a band as well? I always play solo unless I am playing with other people. I've evolved to where I am blessed to have a small network of beautiful people and professional musicians. There's Super Cindy (SC), Kid Sam, Ringo, and Bongo-Bob. I can book solo, 2, 3 or a 4 piece acoustic, or full blown electric 4 piece kick-ass rock/blues band as is warranted by the room, the vibe of the room, the budget, etc. Super Cindy is another story altogether. She is a shell in the tide. If I have something in 3 weeks, and I ask SC to play it, SC will say, "Oh cool. I really am planning to be there, because I want to play, so I should be there unless I'm not. So if she shows for that gig it's an acoustic duet. If she doesn't, I play solo. All good. It's that simple. But I know, if she does show, it will be a fine gig - and she always brings her hair to gigs. It is magical and musical hair. METRONOME: You have an outstanding new album out. What is the name of it? The album is called, Lost Along the Way. METRONOME: The album has a trippy, psychedelic feel to it, similar to something Pink Floyd would do. Is that your sound normally? I first I laid down acoustic guitar, bass, and lead vocal tracks. Then I went home. Then Jim Rizzo went to work in his studio. At that point, the entire project more or less belonged to him. From time to time, he would send me some of the magic he conjured up, and we would bounce comments back and forth. Hence, I christened him with a new moniker, "The Wizard." So, he laid down drums, keyboard, harmonies, all kinds of layers of things I don't understand, manipulated all the complex and funny-looking dials, buttons, switches, knobs and so on, and created my (our) sound by interpreting my songs as he saw fit. In doing so he created a beautiful body of work on my behalf, in my view. I don't like Pink Floyd all that much. When I was in high school, Floyd's, "Money" was played incessantly. But I do love a few of Floyd's acoustic songs a lot, so I get the association. When these songs got wrapped up, naturally I asked a bunch of people to listen to them. Each person told me the songs remind them of all kinds of different artists. I concluded they sound original. METRONOME: Where did you record the CD? I recorded it at Jim Rizzo's Lobsta Trax Studio in Mattapoisett, MA. By the way, I wanted a rain sound for the intro to "Sky is Rain." It was raining hard that day. Ringo put a mic outside, and recorded the peaceful, sweet and lovely rain that opens that tune. That's how that day's session kicked off. METRONOME: Who produced and recorded the album? It was Jim Rizzo. METRONOME: Did you have any guest musicians appear on the project? Besides Jim, Super Cindy played on "We Are Us." METRONOME: Who is Super Cindy, and how did you meet her? Super Cindy is a gifted singer-songwriter/musician in her own rite. Besides singing, she plays guitar, bass and djembe. She has recorded some of her own tracks at Ringo's studio. Her grandfather played professionally with Tito Fuentes back in the day. She can play guitar with her hair. (Something Hendrix couldn't pull off!) Just come to one of our shows. She recently said, "We don't make music. We find it." Damn, I wish I had came up with that! METRONOME: Tell me about Abby Rego, the female singer who joined you on your album. I understand you two have never met or spoken before? On the first day, The Wizard and I were laying basic tracks for these songs. During a brief respite, he mentioned that a friend of his brought his daughter to his studio just to record her singing some acapella vocals. He then clicked a mouse, and out came these soaring, lush vocals with perfect harmonies. I was stunned. Later that night when I was home in bed, I wondered if I could get her to join in on my songs. I never had any intention to have female vocals on these tunes. So, as she was 15 years old, I didn't think it would be wise to simply call her parents directly, so the next day I mentioned it to Ringo, never thinking it would pan out. He contacted her dad, and voila, she was in. Abby's singing is exquisite on the recording. I've yet to meet or speak with her though. You may be able to find her on YouTube singing with natural beauty. METRONOME: You said that making the recording is a product of a lot of pain, love and hope. Can you elaborate? For much of my life, I have tried to destroy myself, without success. For awhile I have been trying to atone for my countless transgressions. It's not all that bad hurting myself, but I have also hurt others. People that maybe loved me. And my 2 sons, who I am sure love me. So along this journey, I have behaved in ways I am not proud of today. I have also had my share of fun, adventure and risk-taking. Having lived this type of life, I have created a wealth of emotions, experiences, stories, feelings, thoughts, memories and so on. So it's simple. Like most artists, regardless of the medium, I draw from pain, love and hope to try to create some kind of truth, meaning and beauty in song. METRONOME: I loved the funky album opener "Super Cindy." Can you tell me about the making of that song and what it's about? One day at rehearsal I was goofing around, and told Super that I wrote a song for her, and I'd like to play it. Then I played "Dear Mary" by Steve Miller, from the great 1968 Sailor album. But instead of the refrain "Dear Mary" I used "Dear Cindy." It was ridiculous, but she didn't get the joke. She fell for it and loved it and was convinced that I penned it. I panicked. What do you do now Mr. Tequila? I had to own up to the fact that I didn't write any song about her. I felt awful about it. The next night, sitting in my recliner with guitar in hand, I was determined to make up for this sin. The real Super Cindy song was then born. I liked it. Super liked it. I redeemed myself. The lyrics, quite simply, describe her innocent and free spirit with music and playing guitar. She had written a wonderful song about teaching her friend, or trying to teach her friend, to play guitar. It's just a perfect child-like and universal song. METRONOME: The orchestral "Angel Fair" features Abby Rego singing a beautiful duet with you. Was that planned? Of course it and holistic gurus. Oh, and gigs too.
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