Friday, October 14, 2016

Michael Blake - Red Hook Soul (2016) ROPEADOPE RECORDS

Red Hook sits on the southern end of Brooklyn. Just a short ride from Manhattan, it has a rich history and a gritty past having been a major player in the bustling days of NYC's harbor. It was the centerpiece in Eli Kazan's film On the Waterfront. There's a funky sea fare vibe there and in some areas it's still an active port. You'll find rusted out ships sitting next to the water taxi stands that shunt shoppers to and from popular consumer warehouses.

There are loads of low-rise buildings so the light spreads over the flat lands and you can see the skyline of lower Manhattan and the harbor from many vantage points. Cut off from neighbors by the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (one of the most devastating urban projects in NYC history) it is tied together by a strong community driven housing project and a random mash up of residential and industrial buildings that somehow all seem to get along. I used to jog down the long pier on Columbia Street where impounded vehicles are held and I'll always remember stopping in my tracks one day because I came upon the emergency vehicles that were towed there after 9/11. 

Most people will remember seeing residents waste deep in floodwaters after Hurricane Sandy pummeled it in 2012. But New Yorkers find a way to rise above adversity and Red Hook is no different. From gentrification the landscape has changed a lot but 'old' Red Hook is still evident - especially at places like Sunny’s - a long-standing former speakeasy where this band played its first gig. There is a lot of community spirit in this music; built on the same kind of familiarity and roughneck Brooklyn character as the neighborhood it is a tribute to.  - Michael Blake

Released October 14, 2016 

1. Red Hook Soul 05:41
2. Volunteered Slavery 07:13
3. The Nitty Gritty 05:55
4. Video Games 04:50
5. King Curtis 04:04
6. I Love You More Than Words Can Say 04:53
7. Did You Call Her Today? 07:01
8. Everybody Needs Love 04:51
9. Lucky Old Sun 06:08

Tony Scherr - lead guitar
Avi Bortnick - rhythm guitar *
Erik Deutsch - piano and Yamaha Y45D
Tim Lüntzel - electric bass
Moses Patrou - percussion
Tony Mason - drums

Soprano sax on Red Hook Soul 
Guitar solo on I Love You More Than Words Can Say 

Recorded by Andy Taub at Brooklyn Recording, October 19 & 20, 2015 
Mixed by Andy Taub
Produced by Michael Blake and Andy Taub 
Arrangements by Michael Blake 
Red Hook Soul and King Curtis composed by Michael Blake (SESAC)