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Courageous Blues

Courageous Blues, to honor everyone affected by COVID-19, my newest track, is released today.

What can I say about the past 12 months that hasn’t already been said or written about living through COVID-19 and all of the subsequent restrictions and challenges?  I can definitely say things from my own personal experience.  I can say I am more blessed than I deserve.  While many people have lost their jobs, especially those in the restaurant industry, in travel and entertainment, I have been able to stay busy with work most of the year except with a few periods where work was scarce.  But on the other hand, I have shared the hardship and loneliness of isolation and separation from family, friends and colleagues.  My daughter, who has autism and developmental disabilities, lives in a long term care facility and due to the COVID restrictions she has been almost continuously quarantined in her facility, except for a few short times, since March 2020.  I know there are countless families across the country in similar situations with loved ones more or less locked up in nursing homes and long term care facilities.

Many others have family or friends who have lost their lives to the virus and have even been denied the right to have a funeral or memorial to pay their last respects.  And the deceased have had to die isolated and alone.

And into this challenge our doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers and first responders have had to rush in daily to care for the sick and dying.

It was looking back at all that we have been through as a nation that I composed this song, Courageous Blues.  I chose to make it an instrumental because words are lacking.  The melody and vibe reflect the striving, working, wondering, crying, hoping, persisting day in and day out for victory, for a better day.  It is a blues, because many of us have been blue, but as is true with the blues, we know a better day is coming and we are facing our challenges with courage.  Please download a high resolution version of Courageous Blues from my Music Store, or find it at your favorite digital distributor like Amazon, Apple Music, etc.

Courageous Blues Cover Art - Christopher J. Music

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New Music – Pop/Rock Hallelujah Chorus

Originally published 14-Apr-17

Hi Friends,

New Music – Pop/Rock Hallelujah Chorus:  I first released this recording of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus before Easter in 2017, but it has become pretty popular and I think it is also good to play during the Christmas season.  Enjoy!

I am releasing today as a single my own pop/rock instrumental arrangement of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, in the style of someone like Mannheim Steamroller. You can get your copy either directly from my music store or it is available from Apple Music, Amazon, Google Play or other on-line digital music sites.  It also streams on Spotify! A copy of the score is available for anyone who would like a copy on the Sheet Music page of my website.  I created the instrumentation, played the instruments (see list below!) and recorded this in my studio.  Engineering/mixing assistance was provided by Michael Powers, “Powerhouse Studios” in Seattle!

The link to my Hallelujah Chorus video is right here. You can also find it on Youtube…see below! 🙂

I hope you like it. Have a blessed Easter.

Background Info:

The Hallelujah Chorus is very popular at Christmas time, but I think it is just as appropriate during Easter, and maybe even more fitting from a theological point of view. The back story is that I have been working on a number of Christmas-themed songs that I plan to release as an album this fall, in time for Christmas, but the work has to be done now and I don’t want to hold onto things once I am finished, so plan on seeing a fairly steady release of new music from me this year as singles. Besides, a lot of people love celebrating Christmas any time of the year. I know my daughter does, and she probably has the largest collection of Christmas music in the world.

I began working on my arrangement of the Hallelujah Chorus in late December after we attended the Seattle Symphony’s performance of Handel’s Messiah. There are probably countless performances of the Hallelujah Chorus in the traditional genre, so I wanted to do something more pop oriented and that is what you have here.

The Hallelujah Chorus is such an awesome piece and it is addictive. I want to listen to it and sing it over and over. Old GF (George Frideric) really knew how to write a “hook”. I think the power of it lies in its rhythm, which comes naturally from the words and the melody spiraling higher and higher.

Handel composed the entire Messiah oratorio in the year 1741 and he completed the entire thing in an incredible 24 days! Maybe he was a manic-depressive and got stuck in a manic mode. Who knows. At any rate, it is a brilliant masterpiece of composition and the world owes him a debt for his art.

In my arrangement I added a drum solo and moog synthesizer motif to the introduction. Below is the orchestral instrumentation on the left mapped to what I have used in my performance on the right. I played all instruments.

  • Violin 1                   Electric Guitar 1 and 2
  • Violin 2                   Electric Piano
  • Viola                       Synthesizer
  • Cello                       Electric Bass
  • Oboe                      Classical Guitar
  • Bassoon                  Electric Bass
  • Trumpet                  Trumpet
  • Timpani                   Timpani
  • None                       Drums
  • None                       Other percussion

Image of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus score dated 1741

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Alley Cat Blues is Live

Yes, Alley Cat Blues is Live!  I finally put Alley Cat Blues into the music store and now is your chance to own your very own copy for yourself.  I think that would make you feel good all over, just like having a big furry, lovable cat curled up in your lap.

Alley Cat Blues Artwork

I meant to get this note posted a while ago, but I got distracted by a self-inflicted computer disaster that took me over a week to recover from. This is my cover of the 1961 instrumental “Alley Cat” by Bent Fabric, featuring my own arrangement and instrumentation that I have dubbed “Alley Cat Blues”.  Here’s a sample of the tune.  You can get the complete song on the Music Store page or at Amazon or other retailers.  You can also stream it on Spotify.

Music Store Screen Shot

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New Music Wednesday – Hide Away

Hi friends,

It’s New Music Wednesday and Hide Away was released today and is now streaming on Spotify and other digital platforms. As always, you can find more info on the Music Store page on my site.

Hide Away Cover Art by Christopher J.

Officially the original Hide Away was written by Freddie King and Sonny Thompson, but like a lot of blues songs, it’s actual pedigree is a bit cloudier. Freddie apparently mentioned that he incorporated parts from several other songs into Hide Away such as The Walk, Guitar Boogie Shuffle and Peter Gunn, but arranged in his own way. Also, Hide Away got its title from a blues club in Chicago called “Mel’s Hide Away Lounge”, which I have been told was located on Roosevelt Road (12th Street) near Halsted. My version includes a new solo part way through the tune. See if you can spot it.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame listed Hide Away as one of the “500 songs that shaped rock and roll”.  The song also crossed over out of the blues market and charted on the Billboard Hot 100 list, making it one of the best performing songs by a blues artist in the pop genre.

Enjoy!

LeslieSpeaker650.gif

PS: During my searching to see if Mel’s Hide Away Lounge is still there in Chicago (it’s not…) I discovered there are a lot of places around the USA (and world) named “Hide Away” or “Hideaway”. See below!

Hide Away locations

Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar
1560 E Buena Vista Dr, Disney Springs, Orlando, US 32830-8431
Enzo's Hideaway Tunnel Bar
The Hideaway Bar
516 Virginia Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
The Hideaway Bar 516 Virginia Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
The Hideaway Bar & Grill
At: Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
6550 Adventure Way, Orlando, FL 32819
The Hideaway Bar & Grill At Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
The Hideaway Lounge
2627 S Parker Rd, Aurora, CO 80014
The Hideaway Lounge 2627 S Parker Rd, Aurora, CO 80014
and this one too…
Also The Hideaway Lounge 2627 S Parker Rd, Aurora, CO 80014
Hideaway Lounge
7466 Blackmon Rd Ste C, Columbus, GA 31909
Hideaway Lounge 7466 Blackmon Rd Ste C, Columbus, GA 31909
Hideaway Lounge
505 Ramsey Road, Jacksonville, NC  28546
Hideaway Lounge 505 Ramsey Road, Jacksonville, NC 28546
Hideaway Jazz Club
1 Empire Mews, London SW16 2BF UK
Hideaway Jazz Club 1 Empire Mews, London SW16 2BF UK
Hemingway’s Bar & Hideaway
438 Houston St, Nashville, TN 37203
Hemingway's Bar & Hideaway 438 Houston St, Nashville, TN 37203
AJ’s Hideaway Bar & Grill
5048 River Rd N, Keizer, OR 97303
AJ's Hideaway Bar & Grill 5048 River Rd N, Keizer, OR 97303
Hideaway Guest House And Bar
420-183 i Buakhow 15, Moo 9, Nongprue, Banglamung, Chonburi, 20150 Pattaya, Thailand
Hideaway Guest House And Bar Thailand
Hideaway Tavern
939 SE 2nd St, Bend, OR 97702
Hideaway Tavern 939 SE 2nd St, Bend, OR 97702
Hull’s Hideaway Restaurant & Tavern
37 Potomac River Rd Monterey, Virginia 24465
Hull's Hideaway Restaurant & Tavern 37 Potomac River Rd Monterey, Virginia 24465
Sam’s Hideaway Tavern
750 S Krome Ave, Homestead, FL 33030
Sam's Hideaway Tavern 750 S Krome Ave, Homestead, FL 33030
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Spooky Halloween

In October 2015 I released my cover of “Spooky”…….Just in time for Halloween….you can play my version of some Spooky music at your party or as background music as you open the door for Trick or Treaters.

Spooky by Christopher J

You can download your copy of Spooky music at CD Baby by clicking this link or at my Music Store page.   Also here is the video of Spooky music. Or you can watch it on YouTube.

This is my instrumental version of Spooky…..arranged, performed (Yes, that’s me playing electric guitar, string bass, keyboard and synthesizer.) and recorded by me. Spooky was a billboard hit for the group Classics IV in 1968 and then again in the late 1970s for the Atlanta Rhythm Section (ARS). Spooky however, was originally composed by Mike Sharpe (Shapiro) and recorded as a saxophone jazz instrumental.

Per Wikipedia, “Mike composed the tune along with help from Harry Middlebrooks and recorded the song at Liberty Records. The Mike Sharpe version of Spooky peaked at #57 on the Billboard Pop Hot 100, which was pretty good for a Jazz group. The Classics IV version of the song added lyrics which we all associate with the song and as a single it peaked at # 3 in the US as a pop single.

In 1979 ARS covered the song and released it on “Underdog”, and according to the album’s entry on Wikipedia, “The album contained two songs which reached the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

LYRICS

In the cool of the evening when ev’rything is gettin’ kind of groovy,
I call you up and ask you if you want to go and meet and see a movie,
First you say no, you’ve got some plans for the night,
And then you stop, and say, “All right.”
Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little girl like you.
You always keep me guessin’, I never seem to know what you are thinkin’.
And if a fella looks at you, it’s for sure your little eye will be a-winkin’.
I get confused, ’cause I don’t know where I stand,
And then you smile, and hold my hand.
Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little girl like you.
Spooky!
If you decide someday to stop this little game that you are playin’,
I’m gonna tell you all what my heart’s been a-dyin’ to be sayin’.
Just like a ghost, you’ve been a-hauntin’ my dreams,
So I’ll propose… on Halloween.
Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little girl like you.
Spooky,
Spooky,
Spooky,
Oh-whoa, all right,
I said Spooky!

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