STREET LIFE / NAVIN'S DITTY
BEHIND THE MUSIC WITH AS IS
The idea to cover Street Life began on a beach in Honolulu, HI, when we learned that we were to be included in WOA's Music Festival in Goa, India. We wanted to add some material into our set that was more contemporary and rhythmic for the Indian audience. We both loved the Crusaders' tune from the 1970's and felt we could do something special with it of our own.
We started with Stacey's idea to pick up the iconic guitar riff in the outro of the original recording and make it a central motif of the AS IS arrangement, opening the tune with a tight vocal chorus. Later, in the studio, we worked with our producer, James McKinney, to develop the vocalese treatment with him singing those great bass lines and Christie Dashiell adding her silky harmonies.
We also wanted to add a traditional Indian instrument into the arrangement and after considering several options, we settled on the tabla. When it came time to record the tabla rhythm track, we enlisted Navin Girishankar from the Washington, DC area who did an amazing job laying down a variety of rhythmic patterns for us to work with. It was so great that we decided to feature it in the album as it's own track - Navin's Ditty. The tabla beats and Navin's rythmic chanting together serve as what we affectionately termed a "palette cleanser" right in the middle of the album, resetting your ear for what years ago would have been called "the B side" of the record. Probably the most special part of working with Navin was the deep understanding about the relationship between Indian rhythm, religion and jazz that he shared with us. You can check it out in the video below!
Street Life is also one of Stacey's favorites for Alan's smoking guitar work. You can really hear how versatile Alan is during this solo and feel all those Blues influences in his playing. During the tour in India, we worked with Platinum-selling Americana artist, Oliver Sean and WOA films to shoot the official music video. There was a full scale crew, with Oliver directing and a variety of locations where we shot the footage in and around Goa in southern India. It was also 95 degrees and humid every day, so much of the video was shot in the morning and then again after 3pm. Even so, we were basically melting every 10 seconds, with helpers assigned to mop the sweat off our faces between shots. Stacey kept saying that she wouldn't want to run into anyone she knew with the way she was sweating, let alone have it captured on film!
The two cherubs in the photos here and in the video were the children of the shopkeeper in Goa who allowed us to film in his store streetside. They hid in the corner and watched wide-eyed as we filmed several camera angles. Afterward they came out and posed for photos with Stacey. Aren't they adorable?
The very last shot of the day was in the Indian tuk tuk - the little yellow three-wheeled car. It was Alan's idea to include this iconic transportation vehicle in the video. We hired the driver to drive us around a parking lot while the film crew shot video inside and out. Once inside the cab of that car it was easily 110 degrees and we moved to shoot those scenes as quickly as possible in order to protect Alan's guitar from extreme heat damage!
In the end, it was an incredible experience to play our music in India with the local musicians there and to experience the culture. We still keep in touch with our drummer, Lester Godhino, percussionist, Darryl Leonhard, and Russian bassist, Philipp Mescheryakov, who all continue to play music in the Goa region.
India is a beautiful country with gentle people who greatly appreciate the arts - you
just have to look at the beautiful design work in their history, culture, and textiles!
And once the album was released, we got great feedback from DJ's across the country, like the one below in Fort Collins, CO, who played it on his station and got several requests for more information about us!
You can watch the official music video below!
Stay tuned for Day Two tomorrow where you'll get some behind-the-scenes from our studio session for A Night in Tunisia!