Live High Five 2/4/13
Syracuse, NY’s Charley Orlando is back at it again. Seemingly not content to stay in one place for too long, Charley’s vast career has taken him all over the United States several times, with hopes to perform far and beyond this well-treaded geographic area. Whether in a rowdy bar with beer drenched patrons or a quiet coffee shop with more readers than drinkers, his diverse musical skill set and easy smile garners him new friends and fans wherever he goes.
Having been on the Grammy ballad an astounding 26 times, when he is not on the road for weeks at a time, Charley can usually be found hanging with his wife and family, discussing and educating people on the intricacies of different brands of guitars and amps, or (you guessed it) producing new music and performing locally. “Never slow down” seems to be his modus operandi, and if more artists took his approach to performance, the world would be a much livelier place.
Set to release his new record his new label, Milieu Records, I sat down with Charley to discuss how touring has been treating him, what it’s like being a full-on DIY musician, his incredible ability to produce as many songs as he does, what we can expect from the new album, and his self-coined musical genre, “Organica Groove’
G- Hey Charley and thanks for speaking with Live High Five today. It’s a nice Sunday afternoon…
G- And we are in a nice little recording studio here, so let’s get to it! You have a new album coming out on a new label. Tell us about record, the company behind you right now, and what your plans are for the release?
C- Well, they record company is called AMA label group. That’s the label group, actually. The record company is called Milieu, and it’s under the AMA label group, which… I don’t know how many labels they own. It’s like 7 or 8, and they have 100’s of bands signed, and it’s all indie, digital online only.
C- So, I got signed by these guys in 2011 sometime, and recorded Organica down in Atlanta with the producer that they hooked me up with, Alex Rakoff I believe is his name.
G- I’ll look up that spelling.
C- Yea. He’s a really great guy and totally not into my kind of music but, once we got underway, he became a fan of the approach and the feel and the intimacy of it all. And he really liked used the Ableton program.
G- It probably made it nice and smooth for him in the studio, as well. How long did it take you to get from one point to the next for the album, because it’s just a one man thing at this point, right?
C- It is. It took 5 days.
G- For how many songs?
C- 9 songs.
G- In 5 days?
G- Front to back?
C- Yea all done. Like everything… All my acoustic guitar rhythm tracks, all my lead tracks, and the vocals, all the backing on on my part. Then, when I got done recording with them in Atlanta, because what we did was I treated it like a live session, so I went in and played my guitar and sang to the tracks so we had the timing of how the song was gonna go and the arrangement of it, and then I went back in and played my acoustic guitar and sang to the tracks.
G- Huh! I guess it’s more the output in the short amount of time. I can remember being in a recording studio for 3 days just working on the rhythm section. It’s not a lot of fun.
C- Well, that’s kinda the cool thing about Ableton. You tell it to stay at 110 bpm and it does, and it doesn’t falter from it. (Both laughing)
And the other thing is you don’t spend hours tuning someone’s drum set to to a microphone. The samples that they use in Ableton, to me, sound like a real drum kit, and they do. They sound like a real drum kit because they are real drum kits that got sampled and put into a wav files, and I access them through triggers.
G- Nice. That’s rad!
G- Now, this album, you have an actual coined style for this record. It’s called “Organica Groove,” and I’d like to talk about it for a few minutes if you would. Can you explain to our readers what the term means, and how you came about coining the term?
C- The term came about like everything else does in my life… All my songs and everything… It just popped right out of my mouth, popped right out of my head. It made sense and felt right.
The whole idea initially, with bringing the DJ program into everything was I had been wanting to, for some time, make an album with synthesizers backing up the acoustic guitar and the vocal. But my first idea of it was something very, very more melancholy feel, and more, you know, quiet. And then I started using the Ableton, and realized that you could make rowdy, kinda world party music with it, you know? Because you have timbales at your disposal, and you have tables and affected drum kits, they call them carbonized drum kits, where it’s just…
(Charlie makes drum sounds I won’t even attempt to transcribe here… Hey, I do this for nothing, dammit!)
And there’s woodblocks, and mallets, and all these different kind of sounds, and they’re all these real instruments that were recorded and put into my computer! So, I basically just figure out the timing of where I want everything and I just start building it. And that’s how that started. I was like ‘Wow! I can do more,’ and then I could do more, and then I could do more.
(Prior album release) Root was a complete experiment in that, and in some ways it failed for me, but it still was a great, fun process. Organica, the album Organica, is the next level of what they Ableton did for me, and the one that is coming after this one is already written, and it’s even at another level of what this is.
G- (wondering just who I’m talking to) You already have your next album written, and this one hasn’t even come out yet?!
C- Well, and I have a Bob Dylan tribute album that is done that I have to release at some point. I’m just waiting for the label to OK it, because I recorded it all myself with the help of a couple of people.
G- That’s just an incredible amount of output for under… I don’t know. How long did this all take?
C- Well, the Bob Dylan album has been going on for 2 years in between tours and life, and then I finally just finished it and got it done. It worked out great, and my record label had a great point… They want me to release it 6 months after this album comes out, and that’ll bridge the gap between this album and my second out for Milieu.
C- This year, there’ll be 2 releases, and another recorded.
G- Alright. And what are you going to be doing to support the records? Are you going to be jumping back on the road any time soon?
C- Unfortunately, probably not this year.
C- I‘ve got some family issues to deal with in my life, so I actually, towards the end of last year, cancel my southern tour and kind of take care of things here. So I’m going to be in Syracuse playing locally quite a bit.
C- The album is going to be heavily promoted online, and sold at shows and stuff like that. But if I do go on tour this year, it’s gonna be in the summertime probably.
G- Right on. Since it’s a digital only label, are you going to be submitting for Pandoora and Spotify and everything along those lines for instant access, or is it going to be drag-and-drop downloading?
C- It’s gonna be on a lot. It’ll probably be on Spotify. Pandora, you have to actually prove you’re selling an actual cd through Amazon to even get considered.
C- Yea, which I did make physical copies, a limited run of 100 physical copies of the disc, so I was thinking about just getting Amazon to sell it so I can get in on Pandora. There’s already a Charley Orlando channel on there. For some reason, they put Charley Band Orlando…
G- Good for them!
C- Yea, I was like ‘That’s great.’
G- It’s his middle name!
C- Thanks (laughing.) So, but that based off of the Free World Citizen album, The Charley Orlando band with Kiel (Feher- drums) and Max (Mckee- bass.) So, you hear all sorts of stuff like hard rock tunes, and heavier Ryan Adams stuff, and it’s just funny.
G- Now, running the gamut as you do, you have a wide pool of influence that you draw from, lots of musical diversity, very eclectic recordings throughout your career… Just for some of the readers, givee us a couple of the influences that you’ve brought to the Organica album. Were you listening to anything at the time that kind of influenced during that process, or are their any newer acts that you think we should know about?
C- You know what’s interesting? I stopped listening to music while I was doing this, because, first of all, I didn’t want to be heavily influenced. And when I saw I stopped listening to music, I stopped listening to popular music. I didn’t want to be influenced by any of it because, to be honest, now, when I hear music on Sirius XM or that my 12 year old son cranking stuff out of his room, I’ll lean my head out and say ‘You know they’re using Ableton,’ and he’s like ‘I know! I can tell!’
It’s like once you start using this program, you realize how far and wide it spans in professional recordings, because you can literally do ANYTHING you want. If I had a screen the size of the wall in here, I could have 500 tracks and just select with a mouse, and just build an orchestra.
G- And it (Charley’s entire rig) is smaller than my drum set, too.
C- My whole rig is 7’x7’, and most people look at it and go ‘Wow! That’s a lot of crap!’ And it is a lot of crap, but to be honest with you, it’s not much compare dto what a whole band hauls around! I fit it all in the back of a mini-van with a sound system! (laughing.) And a bunk!
G- (laughing) Ok let’s dive a little bit… You’re in constant creation mode, as evidenced by the fact that you have one album written and about to come out, and another album ready to be recorded and released. Give us a bit of insight as to your creative process and your approach when it comes time to write a song. Is there a lot of noodling involved, or do you go in there with something in mind?
C- I would have to say, in the beginning, I would actually sit down and say ‘I’m gonna write a song,’ or I’d get an idea and record it. I was all about documenting all of it in the very beginning when I started writing music, because I didn’t want to forget anything. I was scared to death that I was gonna miss that moment when I was gonna get the perfect line or the perfect bridge, and I didn’t play it and record it and now it’s gone. So, in the beginning, I think it was a more calculated process.
Somewhere around 2004, after I left Dexter Grove, I sobered up first of all, and wrote probably 7 songs a day for probably about a month, and they just kept flying out of me… I couldn’t stop! I wasn’t trying, I wasn’t stopping it or second guessing any of it, and I wrote… God, I wrote 40 songs that month probably. And most of them are documented and recorded, and they sound good to me and I use them all as a library at this point, and if I didn’t like it back then, it doesn’t mean that I’m not gonna like it 10 years from now. So, I keep everything logged away. I register all of them with BMI and library of congress to make sure it’s real, and then I kind of move on. The ones that stick and get through that first process of bleh, then they get worked on as live shows happen.
C- With my folk stuff, just me and my guitar, I can probably whip a song out in 5 minutes sometimes. Other times, it takes a week. Other time I’ll write a couple of lines and be ‘Yea, I don’t know what to do with it.’ Just the channel of moments stops, and I just run dry, and other times I just can’t stop! I’ll just write and write and write and play and write and write, and the songs usually come out all at once. Not like playing and writing or writing and playing, it just comes out.
G- And I’m looking at a guitar most of the time wondering ‘What can I do with this?’
C- That’s the problem… You don’t have to look at it and ask what to do. Just pick it up and start playing it.
G- Good point, sir!
C- For me, my downfall is as soon as I start thinking, any time I start actively focusing on it, it’s done for me.
G- It’s the Bruce Lee method… ‘Don’t think. FEEL!”
C- It’s actually ‘Don’t think. Just do!’ That’s my deal. If I start thinking about where I am gonna go from here, I would probably freak out. But if I don’t think about it and I just hear everything and feel everything and react, 100% reaction all the time. Sur,e you’re going to make mistakes, but whatever. The glory of the moment when you’re like ‘WHOA’ is worth every mistake!
G- Nice! Very good! So, since this year is going to be a little less active on the tour circuit…
C- Which is much needed after 17 straight years!
G- Yea you’ve been doing it for quite a while, and you’ve already shared stages and played all over the place… Just logging more miles than Fedex, so it would seem… In the event you were able to curate your own lineup, feasible lineup…
C- Of musicians?
G- Of musicians, or artists and acts to perform on stage with, if you could select 3 that you could share a stage with, who would you select and why?
C- Bands? Like other artists?
G- Yea, but feasible. Everybody wants to tour with The Beatles.
C- Well you know what’s interesting, there’s 2 bands right now and I know there music decently and I listen to them and I really, honestly respect the hell out of them for the originality that they bring to it, and they’re both from Syracuse, believe it or not.
C- Yea. I always thought it would be cool, now that I’m doing the Ableton thing, to do a tour with Joe Driscoll and Sophistafunk. And the reason I say that is because all 3 of us have at least one thing in common, and that’s the positivity of the music and the words, and speaking to a higher level of thinking, and not just speaking to a bar level of thinking.
And I don’t mean any disrespect to anybody, I just mean that it seems, sometimes, when you speak positively and sing positively to people who don’t really want to think positively, it almost comes across to them as preachy. But when you can connect with people on a higher level, then the words make sense and the music just sings, and that’s what I think both of those artists are capable of and doing currently right now.
G- It’s weird, because that (the tour) hasn’t happened yet, either. I know Joe is based out of the UK…
C- He’s doing great over there! He’s killing it!
G- Joe is always gonna do his thing, and it looks like Sophistafunk is always gonna do their thing, too.
G- And you’re always gonna do your thing, so it would make sense… That would be a very good representation of what Syracuse has offered in the last decade, regarding different genres and approaches to music. Honestly, all you’d need is some Dinosaur BBQ for dinner and you’d have a very good taste of Syracuse musical and artist culture.
Now, be it local or otherwise, you’ve played a TON of shows, and there must be favorites. There must be ones that you want to forget, but their must be favorites as well. If you were to pick one of the craziest or most memorable shows that you’ve played in the past as just your one man act, where would you say it was and what was it like?
C- Craziest? I don’t know. Probably… I remember a really rowdy show out in MaCall, Idaho. Also, Payett, Id. was a lot of fun. Small little town, not much there, but everybody is just so grateful for the music.
C- You know, probably out in the Rockies just pretty much everywhere. People took to this and took enough interest in it to come talk to me and see where it was at and talk to me about what it was. A lot of other places, people just look at me as some dude with backing tracks, you know, which it can be looked at that way. But I think I’m still in the process with this of it looking freaky to people, and sounding freaky to people, so I think, in my mind, no matter how rowdy it did or could get, it just hasn’t hit yet for it, you know? But I’ve classically been ahead of the curve.
Like back when I was in Dexter Grove, no one had ever heard of a 2-piece band. We used to get that all the time… ‘There’s no such thing as a 2-piece band.’ But there’s this woman out there on the road named Ani DiFranco who plays in a 2-piece band, and they’re like ‘We’ve never heard of that,’ and then Ani becomes huge and you get The Black Keys, The White Stripes, all these 2-piece bands!
G- Yes indeed.
C- So, I’m kinda looking at it that way. Dexter Grove was around 10 years before we got any respect, and that’s when we broke up. So, I kind of look at this in the same way in that it’s so different for some people that it’s the best thing they’ve ever seen, and it’s so different for some people that they just can’t wrap their head around it and it looks goofy.
G- I gotta say it looks a lot more fun watching the performances of 1 man with a guitar using loop pedals and singing into a microphone than it does at most of the electronic music shows I got to with just one guy pressing play on a keyboard. I’d say that you’re definitely moving the art form in a different direction, and there’s so much technology available now and so much access to music and music dispersion that the solo acoustic singer/songwriter, which can now be blown all the way open into orchestral ranges with what’s available to you, that there will be an upswing in this. There will be more people that are going to have the desire to do things on their own.
C- It’s either lazy, or not lazy. This took me 4 months locked in a room to even sort of feel comfortable with, and a whole year of touring to get comfortable. Now, I can go anywhere with this stuff and kill it. It’s totally different than going to see a band. You’re going to see a show, artistry, creativity, and you’re going to hear positive words.
The place for this music is at a festival on a sunny afternoon! That’s where this music fits best. Now, I’m waiting for everyone to catch on to it. Guaranteed, 5 years from now, there’s going to be a host of dudes who got off their ass and figured it out, you know?
G- So, for as long as you’ve been doing this, you’ve seen a lot of the ups and downs. Given your tenured career, I could probably talk to you for a decade about some of the things you can, and some of the things you shouldn’t do.
For all the kids out there who are just trying to save their money to get that first guitar so they can start tinkering away, what advice can you give to them to help them do what you’ve done and create music?
C- Well, that’s tough. I don’t love it any more or any less than when I started. Music is something I was born with. When I picked up a guitar, I started playing it. I worked really hard at it, and when I say that I practiced for hours a day in the beginning, I’m not kidding… I used to get yelled at to get on my homework and I’d say ‘Yea I’m doing it.’ I didn’t want to do anything else except play baseball and play guitar, the 2 things I love the most. And I still love baseball as much as I love playing guitar.
G- He’s wearing a Yankees sweatshirt, folks.
C- Damn right I’m wearing a Yankees sweatshirt! (laughs) But I think my main advice would be, if you want to be in music and you want to try to making a living out of being a musician, you’re gonna have to love it more than you love living, because it is one of the most frustrating, thankless, ruthless, emotionally charged jobs to be in. And you have to be very thick skinned.
You have to know when to make the right decisions regarding music and regarding persons. I don’t think the music industry is anything to be taken lightly, like ‘Yea I’m gonna make it, man!’ No, you’re not. The one-in-a-million it was when I was growing up is now one-in-twenty-million. But the good things is the stuff that’s available to kids now.
The amount of just shear free promotion that’s out there now, and the ability to just sit in your bedroom and record a song with a little flip camera or your iphone and put it on Youtube and become a sensation overnight is there. Does that sensation make you a lot of money? Probably not… If you’re gonna do this, make sure you absolutely love it and you’re going to play for the love of the music, and not to get paid every night, because you don’t always get paid, and you don’t always get paid what you’re worth.
I could never think of myself not doing music. Even if the worst case scenario happens and I couldn’t make a living doing it and I had to go out and get a job again. I’d do it, and I’d still be out playing music every night! It’s something that carries life for me.
G- Right on! Organica will be coming out on Milieu Records on February 5th, and we’ll have link to it when it’s up. Charley, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us, and we will see you around town!
C- Yes you will!
The Sounds of Syracuse Table Hopping 2/1/13
Table Hopping: February 2013
Written by Jack O Bocchino
TITLE: Charley Orlando
When asked if he got to this point is his musical career because of goals or by taking things as they unfolded, Charley Orlando replied, “Music is an adventure to me. I look at it as a life long journey rather than a goal-setting career. I always go with the way the music presents itself to me. That determines what I do more than a business plan I guess.”
Charley started playing guitar when he was eight and really started playing music when he was eleven. He progressed from being in a Grateful Dead cover band in high school to playing solo and also playing in a couple bands (Stone Soup and Doc Apple) that featured all original music in college. It was around this time that Charley feels was a major turning point in his music. He suffered a ruptured spleen and underwent surgery for its removal. By accounts, he almost died and he feels that in some subconscious way, he came out of it wanting to see and know more than he did before. After this, all he wanted to do was travel and play music. Having done some limited touring with Stone Soup and Doc Apple in college, Charley spent 10 years touring North America with a band called Dexter Grove. After leaving Dexter Grove, Charley moved to Syracuse and began his solo career once again. As Charley put it, “This led to a magical band, RUHA! Lots of fun, but far too much work. RUHA intermingled with the Charley Orlando Band in time and members and was a blast as well and both line ups toured the US and released great albums.” Charley then stumbled on a DJ program called Ableton. This allowed him to advance the adventure of his solo shows and caused him to hit the road once again. Charley went on to say that this style of music is endless and that he can take it anywhere and do anything he wants with it and he credits this sound with getting signed to AMA Label Groups Milieu Records. Currently, Charley is out having fun with his most recent band, Medicine Wheel, a project made up of talented local musicians.
Charley is very proud of a new album that he is poised to release soon. He describes it as unique and different from anything he has ever done and that at its base, it is still simple, thoughtful songs. He goes on to say that by using Ableton live, he can expand on the landscape of the music to support the impact of the lyrics.
When asked what some of the highlights of his musical journey have been, Charley answered that it is the people. “All the people I have met through playing music and touring. It is a tremendous wealth of friendship and support that I have built all over North America”, he explained. Another highlight is the music itself. Charley feels it is an honor to watch his songs grow up and live a life of their own. To see and hear the development of a song on day one and then 20 years later and see how it has changed and grown with him. When it came time for Charley to discuss his musical influences and heroes, Charley explained that all music influences him and his heroes include anyone who gets up and performs, exposing him or herself to their audience.
Charley shared his thoughts on the local music scene by first saying that every scene is changing, as is the industry that rules it. He feels that some of the most talented musicians that he has ever seen or had the pleasure of performing with live in Central New York. He also feels that the audience members are top notch and perhaps beginning to crave something a little different. Charley feels there are a handful of great local venues that support all kinds of music and treat the musicians with respect. He also said that he would like all the local musicians with original music to be able to get some of the spotlight they deserve and perhaps a better balance between original and cover bands.
Charley shared with me that he does not feel his music fits into any particular genre or is geared for any one audience. He feels his music crosses so many genres that he has grown tired of trying to make it fit just one. “Seems like all ages and walks of life like what I do. It's really for everyone to decide where it fits for them. I just supply it!” he added. Along the same topic, when asked if he has any goals or direction he would like to take, Charley explained that it would be to continue to reinvent himself and he will know that direction when it presents itself. He added that one thing that does remain constant is the music’s ability to heal himself everyday and he hopes that maybe it can do the same for others.
I recommend to all that you check HYPERLINK "http://www.charleyorlando.com/" \t "_blank" www.charleyorlando.com and HYPERLINK "http://www.facebook.com/charleyorlandomusic" \t "_blank" www.facebook.com/charleyorlandomusic to find out more information about Charley Orlando, his new album and his tour schedule.
While Jack O Bocchino has become established as a strong supporter of live and local music scene, he prefers to consider it partial payment to the local music community for the support and entertainment they have given him over many years. He dabbles in amateur photography and posts many photos of local musicians on his Facebook page, which can be found by searching on his name. He can be reached at HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" email@example.com
CD Review of "RooT" Syracuse New Times 6/11
On RooT, the 13th album in his prolific career of nearly 20 years with various groups including Dexter Grove and Ruha, Orlando sings about freedom and karma with philosophical statements and rhetorical questions. In the mellow country-folk “Windsong,” Orlando asks, “I’m wondering where my days have gone/ I’ve been squandering time like it means something to me/Am I free to be?” Using computer program Ableton Live, Orlando added drums, bass, strings, synths and percussion instruments to his acoustic guitar and harmonica, his little helpers in the creative process. The outcome is a medley of sounds with optimistic vibes in Orlando’s “organica groove” style – a fitting name for his “very relaxing and trancelike” music.
“I feel like with the album RooT I have reinvented my music all over again,” Orlando says. “It’s a perfect combination of everything I have released over the years, and more importantly, it’s from the heart. This music covers all the chakras.”
He’s right. The 11-track album takes the audience on an eclectic mystery tour of psy chedelic rock and folk music. With the solo confidence of Bob Dylan, Orlando interprets country music riffs on a harmonica and adds techy synth beats and passionate acoustic guitar chords to “I Am Here.”
Perhaps he might have toned down some of the tribal rhythm synth percussion intros on “New World” and “Pulse,” which make these consecutive tracks too similar. But they take different melodic paths: “Pulse” has more of a Latin influence, while “New World” features melodious acoustic guitar riffs and slow, lyrical interpretations reminiscent of The Beatles’ Indian music-inspired tracks, such as “Norwegian Wood” on Rubber Soul. Meanwhile, “Temporary” boasts bold lyrics similar to the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil”: “I have these bones, a bag of bones that’s me/ And I have this skin, a sack of skin of shedding time.”
All in all, Orlando’s RooT is an evocative sample of his work. “If it is just me and my guitar then so be it,” Orlando says. “If it’s me and an eight-piece band then so be it. If it’s me and a computer program that will for the first time allow me to truly get the music I hear in my head out into the air, then so be it. Music and touring is the ultimate adventure to me. The journey is the magic and everything else falls into place.”
Orlando will be celebrating his release of RooT at Kellish Hill Farm, 3192 Pompey Center Road, Manlius, on Saturday, June 25. Doors open at 7 p.m., with the show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and include a copy of the new album. To document the affair, a film and light crew will be coming to catch it all on tape. For more information, call 682-1578 or visit www.charleyorlando.com.
Glide Magazine Interview 4/12/11
By Melissa Brodeur
April 11, 2011 Bookmark and Share
Charley Orlando is no stranger to the road – in fact he makes any other so-called troubadour seem a homebody. He performed for ten years with his former musical partner Steve Drizos as Dexter Grove on an enduring ten year musical journey that began in 1994 and saw them play 1,700 shows in 45 states including Canada and Mexico. Now that Drizos is married to a Decemberist (Jenny Conlee), Orlando is back on the road in support of his new style of Acid Folk Music called "Organica Groove" to music rooms across the country. Orlando will be doing a bunch of Northeast and Southeast dates in April, May and June before hitting the road for all of July and part of August.
Orlando is working on a new CD and is in the process of deciding whether to release it as double CD or two seperate ones. If that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, Orlando also has a Dylan tribute album in the works. Before hitting the road and in anticipation of a gig at Burlington, VT’s Parima, Orlando talked with Melissa Brodeur.
You are coming to Vermont in April. What is one of the best memories you have from Burlington VT?
Playing Club Metronome and Toast with the original Strangefolk before there was a Jamband scene. I really love those guys! Always had a great time with them!
How would you describe Burlington VT to someone who has never been here or heard of it?
Pretty much like Boulder,CO, Athens,GA and Charlottesville,VA but wicked cold in the winter!!! Always thought the music scene was great. Very supportive!
You have three albums coming out. Tell us about these albums.
Well the first two may be one. I haven't decided whether I would like to do a double album or two different albums. The songs are so different from each other that I see them as twodifferent Albums but it would be cool to release one Double with 2 totally different sounds. One side would be very folkie and the other would be an Organic Electronic album. The next one is a Tribute to Bob Dylan. I have been covering his songs for years and just love them all. So I figured it was time to pay homage to the genius that he is! The Dylan album will only be available through my website for free download.
What is an interesting story about how one of your songs came about?
One of my favorite new songs I wrote the words to a while ago. What I do is channel my music. I don't plan it out or write it out. When the moment hits I just surrender to it and let it fly. So that is what I did and later on I was drinking a beer from Ommegang Brewery and there was a quote from Marcel Proust on the bottle. The quote is a line in my song "New World". It made me laugh cause I have written songs with Marcel's help before but didn't recognize it was him that time. He's been dead for a very long time so it's nice that he can still write through other people. He is very cosmic in nature!
You are calling the sound of your music Organica Groove, what does this mean to you?
What it is is my voice, an acoustic guitar, and harmonica backed up by a program called Ableton Live! So it sort of reminds me of electronica music but it really is so organic and intuitive that it's hard to say that it is electronica, so I call it Organica Groove cause it's very trans like but with melody and lyrics. It's far to acoustic to be electronica. It's better to just experience it and come to your own conclusions.
If you could put together your own "dream band" with any musicians(EVER) who would be in this dream band and what would your name be?
That's easy ... Lewi Longmire on guitar and pedal steel, James Whiton on double bass, Steve Drizos on percussion, Crissy Noel on Vocals, Brian Lauri on Keys, and Greg Evans on drums. This band would be out of control wonderful! Yeah so the name would have to be "Out of Control Wonderful" :)
It’s a beautiful summer day, you are on a relaxing drive, what album are you listening to?
That depends on what part of the country I'm in. But in a general sense ... Grateful Dead American Beauty!
What is your favorite childhood memory?
Getting my first guitar and amplifier! I think I slept with my guitar that night! It changed my life!
What are a few things you are really looking forward to on this spring/summer solo tour?
Just playing music and seeing old friends and making new ones! That is my favorite part of touring. Re-connecting with the people you only get to see when you travel. Plus touring and playing live is very healing for my being! In the moment the whole time!!!
If I never have to ???? again I will be the happiest man alive!
See, hear or feel people suffer in anyway!
On The Regular 12/10
“Ruha” means “air, breath and atmosphere” in the ancient language of Aramaic. To Charley Orlando, this definition perfectly matches his understanding of music. “I look at music as something that is just like air to people,” he says. “I can’t live without it and I assume most people can’t either.”
Although Orlando has brought his music to audiences through his solo projects and various bands including Dexter Grove and The Charley Orlando Band, it is Ruha, his current group, that is striving to create something people can’t live without. Ruha will perform at the Westcott Theater, 524 Westcott St., on Sunday, Dec. 26, 8 p.m., opening for Joe Driscoll. Ruha will also perform at the Westcott in a residency of sorts, on Sundays, Jan. 2, 16 and 23, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Orlando anticipates the band’s sound will really come together during these shows. “With the Westcott residency, we want to form our sound in a live atmosphere. We’re basically going to get the knowledge of how the songs are and pretty much build our sound in front of everybody,” he says. “We want to make it a very communal experience.”
The band has been recording songs for their latest and currently unnamed album, due in 2011. However, these songs have all been built in various studios, rather than through live group performances. These gigs mark Ruha’s first time playing together for an audience.
Ruha is a super-group of sorts, uniting some of the most capable musicians in the area. The current roster features Max McKee (vocals, percussion, guitar), Greg Evans (drums, percussion), Greg LaPoint (percussion), Orlando (guitar, vocals), Crissy Noel (vocals, percussion), Brian Lauri (vocals, piano, organ) and Adam Fisher (vocals, bass). Orlando describes this assembled multitude as “unbelievable.”
“Ruha is a very high-level situation for everyone in the band,” he adds. “Everybody is extremely talented, so we hold it to that extremely high level on a constant basis. We’re always pushing each other to raise the bar. Not in an egotistical way, but how can we make this something we would come see?” For Orlando, this is a new experience.
Although he has played with an incredible number of musicians throughout his 25-plusyear career, he calls this lineup the best he’s ever been a part of and one guided by similar beliefs as well as ability.
Orlando firmly believes in the power of channeling and meditation, especially with regard to how he composes music. Often, his songs come to him through a channeling, where certain spirits guide him toward a lyric or musical line.
“I wrote a song that hasn’t been played yet by anybody, but as I was having a beer one day, I noticed that on the label of the beer was the line from my song,” he notes. “Marcel Proust had written it. He’s someone who has come through several times to me and I’ve probably written three songs with his guidance, but I never realized that song was him.” Orlando calls Proust “France’s Herman Melville.”
Orlando believes this channeling represents the universe working through him to deliver a bigger message with a higher purpose. Everyone in the band shares this same thought process, which helps them see beyond the present and focus on the bigger picture.
“Our ultimate message is unity,” says Orlando. “Not to sound hokey, but peace, love and harmony. It’s something everybody talks about, but not everybody practices.”
Ruha exudes that peaceful, harmonious vibe and demonstrates it through their writing process. Although Orlando was often in charge of writing music for his previous projects, Ruha brings the best of everyone’s work together.
“There really wasn’t too much of a method to most of this. We built the songs in a very organic style,” says Orlando. “Ruha is a group of musicians working together to show the unity process. It’s not as easy as you think to find people who will drop an ego and just lay with each other. It’s big.”
Collectively, the members of Ruha have about 50 years of touring experience. They all write music, have been a part of other projects and contribute significantly to the band. Their sound is raw, rootsy and reminiscent of jam bands like Reid Genaur and The Assembly of Dust. But what is most astonishing about Ruha, is how naturally it all comes together.
“We very much go on vibe,” says Orlando.
“We very much go on what is presented to us. We don’t try to force anything that’s not going to happen. So, the easier, the better, would be a motto for us. If it’s easy, then it’s right.”
As they flow between sounds and discover themselves, Orlando predicts the first to the last show of the Westcott stay will be completely different experiences for both the band and the audience. He invites you to come along for the ride.
Tickets to the all-ages Ruha-Joe Driscoll show on Sunday, Dec. 26, are $12. January’s solo Ruha shows, also all-ages events, will be $10. For information, visit www. thewestcotttheater.com.
Roving Festival Writer 3/10
Contributing Writer : Garret K. Woodward
What does chicken soup and RUHA have in common?
Soothing wintry souls one offering at a time.
“We have some flavors of old school rock’n’roll, funky grooves, and an earthy singer-songwriter vein,” bassist Max McKee said of the Syracuse, N.Y. quartet. “Tossed into a pot, [you] make RUHA soup.”
Combining over 20 years of touring experience, the jam-rock troubadours are currently embarking on cross-country tour, wandering through Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, Maine, and New York.
“The music maintains the elements,” McKee said. “With the solid foundation and support of the earth, the flow and wandering of the waters, the intensity and heat of the fires, and the floating and flying of the wind.”
Influenced by the Grateful Dead, Parliament Funkadelic, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, “the drive to the gig, our momma’s home cookin’, and the energy of the crowd”, a vital aptitude for improvisation remains at the heart of the band.
“It’s raw creation on the spot,” said McKee. “[We enjoy] venturing into new territories or expanding the world that you’re in at the time. We seek a balance of form and formlessness. The basic approach is to have no approach. That sometimes creates a new direction each night for the same song. [It’s] pretty much different each time we step onstage.”
Formed in 2005, as a side project by the lively Charley Orlando (lead vocals/guitar), RUHA (an Aramaic word meaning “air, breath and atmosphere”) released their first album, “The Dust That Lands”, in 2007.
But, the initial lineup seemed to go nowhere according to McKee.
“Members of the band at the time didn’t have the vibe,” he said. “The vibe of RUHA is that of one sound, one being, one heart. In a meditation it came to Charley that this [current] lineup of musicians was indeed “ruha”. So, six months ago, Greg [LaPoint drums)], Brian [Lauri (keyboards)], Charley, and myself emerged as RUHA. [We want] to spread the sound like peanut butter across the world, promoting unity and love.”
And with an industry quickly losing steam in the mainstream, the group embraces the personal challenge at hand, which is one of relentless self-promotion amid a sometimes-unforgiving musical landscape.
“It seems like it’s becoming more of a grass roots operation,” said McKee. “Of course a record label can help, but they wont step in until they see success. [We are] a grassroots band, that when signed to a major label, will remain connected to its roots. The need to connect with your audience is the most important aspect of any band. Continued success on all levels is the ability to never lose contact with your crowd.”
Looking towards the future one show at a time, McKee is eager to reach new audiences and cross paths with those unknown yesterday, yet friends today.
“The road is a blast for the most part,” he said. “To hang with everybody, making new friends, crashing on couches, and the everyday insanity is our favorite part, besides the music obviously.
“[We want people] to feel a sense of aliveness and inspiration, to share what we’re all feeling together, and to realize there is so much more to life than what streams through your head on any given day.”
Glide Magazine Interview 4/09
Charley Orlando Band
By Melissa Brodeur
April 08, 2009
Many may remember Charley Orlando as the front-man for the psychedelic /folk groove acoustic duo Dexter Grove, who courageously played more than 250+ shows a year for almost ten years straight. After a five year well deserved break from the road, Orlando is back, this time with his Charley Orlando Band.
Formed in December of 2007 this band has been locked up in a garage in North Syracuse relentlessly rehearsing to refine a sound that features Kiel Feher on drums, Max McKee on bass and Charley Orlando on electric/acoustic guitar, Harmonica and vocals. The sound is best described as Americana mixed with roots rock that doesn’t shy from improvisation. His new album Free World Citizen is now available for download and was released March 17th 2009 followed by a Midwest Rocky Mountain Spring Tour and Festival stops at Sterling Stage Folk Fest' in Sterling,NY and Summer Camp in Chillicothe,IL .
You have been in the music business for quite some time, what are some of the most positive, significant changes you have experienced?
All of it really. Being a musician is an honor. Lately the 2 other members of Charley Orlando Band, Kiel Feher and Max McKee, have been my most positive experience in my career. We have such a great bond and deep spiritual connection with each other and it shows in the music and in our lives. Being able to connect with other musicians like that really raises the level of the experience. My whole outlook on life and music has really been over the top positive lately and it has to be when you write lyrics about changing the world for the better, you have to live it and really believe and we do!
How has living in upstate NY affected your life after being on the road for so many years?
At first it was tough. I went from going 500 miles an hour to 20 in a day it seemed like. I sorta kinda freaked out. I had to address some serious issue with my lifestyle and nasty habits that I had acquired on the road. I really needed a break. It's not just the big stars that get sucked in ... it's all of us. Being on the road is a surreal experience. You live in your own bubble and the outside world doesn't really exist. I had to relearn how to socialize with "normal" people. Most folks don't get the inside jokes and thought process of being a touring musician. But my wife and kids really helped me adjust and now after 5 years I'm ready to go back out and hit it again.
You have worked with so many different musicians and have been involved with all types of bands, how do you feel your fans react to these changes?
During the Dexter Grove years it seemed like folks welcomed the changes and talents we pulled into the fold. You know when you do 250 shows a year it's always good to mix it up. When I went from Dexter Grove to being a solo artists I don't think they liked it that much. It was WAY different. It was me and my songs: very intimate, quiet, and personal stuff. Most came around to it but it was really a transition period for me. I was searching for something different and it took me five years but with the Charley Orlando Band I have found a sound, a home and two insanely talented musicians to help get it done. I do believe anyone who has been following my travels will just flip over this lineup. Plus my songwriting has never been better than it is now.
If you could share a stage with any other band or musician still alive who would it be?
Bob Dylan or U2! Either one would be a life changing experience.
In your travels, what has been the weirdest most random thing you have found?
Two come to mind ... One is right here in Syracuse,NY where I was booking a show at a local venue and the owners name was Charley Orlando. Truly bizarre. The other was a friend of mine Charley, who I have known since 1988, was at a show in Albuquerque,NM that was on my birthday and it was his as well. Never knew that. Any other stories I am keepin' to myself? Most people just wouldn't believe me. Some really random stuff happens on the road.
What has been your favorite city to play in?
Tough call! There are some many for so many different reasons. But I'd have to say Bolinas,CA. For no other reason than that is the way life should be! Good luck finding it ;)
I know you don't remember this, but I remember when we planted a tree at the studio in Rochester, what other things have you done to "be green" either in your personal life or while with a band?
You're right ... I don't remember, but that was real nice of us to do. I always try to leave a minimal foot print in general, but being human is a contradiction. I use recycled shopping bags, buy local, ride my bike whenever possible(which is a lot ... i love my bike) and my new album "Free World Citizen" is replicated on 100% recycled cardboard and soda and water bottles. I really wish the world would get on board more with and all digital format. It would waste a ton less.
Do you want to say anything to your fans?
Thanks for sticking with me for 20+ years. It's only getting better!
Bryan Farrish Radio Promotion Review 4/09
Charley Orlando Band
Free World Citizen
In this album Orlando used his music to speak his mind on the issues that are prevalent in today's world, be it the personal relationships of individuals or the status of the world as a whole. All the while, Orlando's solid vocals allowed him to present his beliefs with passion and conviction. Further, each song involved strong character and intricate beats emphasized by excellent instrumental performances. Those who connect with Bob Dylan and Neil Young will be impacted by the Charley Orlando Band.
Track 1 Out to Sea- A great track to start the album. The instrumental section at the end of the song shows impressive musicianship and really gets the listener feeling the music along with the musicians.
Track 5 No More Cruelty- A powerful track with meaningful lyrics. The strength and intensity of the instrumentation and vocals perfectly stress the importance of the message.
Track 11 World Citizen- An upbeat tempo with awesome guitar riffs and drum beats. Like the previously mentioned song, this track has a sincere lyrical message that speaks of the troubles that today's and tomorrow's world citizens face.
Post Standard Review "Free World Citizen"3/09
Or in this case, an album by its title.
Singer-songwriter Charley Orlando named the new CD by he and his band "Free World Citizen."
That says so much.
Orlando handles all vocals -- with his distinctive tenor, -- and all the guitar work. He wrote all 11 songs, too. And he's smart enough to let drummer Kiel Feher and bassist Max McKee add to the tasty texture.
Together they build a big and mostly happy sound. The lyrics run deep. In its finest moments, the Charley Orlando Band brings to mind the richness, soul and intelligence of the folk- rock movement at its best.
The finest crescendo comes in "Radiate," with Tim Herron's whirling organ work added as a special ingredient. "We live in a day and age where everything's not so simple," Orlando sings. "Political monkeying, lies, deception and treason. A fever-pitch of insolence. Not one person believing that he or she or them or it can do a thing about it."
Recorded and mixed by David Peters at Belfry Studios in LaFayette and mastered by Jocko at More Sound in Syracuse, the music and lyrics entwine themselves clearly, and from the heart.
Orlando closes the package with blistering guitar and lyrics in "World Citizen," in which he declares, "I've been a citizen of this world, sometimes lost, sometimes found. I've been a citizen of this world, and it's time I left town."
Catch a show: The Charley Orlando Band plays at 10 p.m. March 16 at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 246 W. Willow St., Syracuse. The CD release party will include two shows, at 6 and 8 p.m., April 11 at the Belfry Studio in LaFayette. Only 50 people will get tickets for each seating. The admission fee of $12 also includes a copy of the CD. Requests must be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Table Hopping CNY Article 2/09
by Tiffany Bentley
A Grammy-nominated musician lives in our own backyard. Charley Orlando was added to the 48th Grammy awards ballot in 2005, and the 50th in 2007. And he lives and works in Syracuse, New York.
Charley’s sound is folk on the fun side. At times fiddles and a back-up band accompany him, others it’s just him and his guitar, his voice, his words and his energy. The songs are very melodic and truthful and leave a smile on the listener’s face. Whether he breaks out the harmonica or just wails on the guitar, each jam leaves the audience focusing on his next move and tapping their feet or swaying to the beat at the same time.
The effects of his music on the audience contribute to his mission in performing – to join people and peace through tolerance and common ground. Charley’s purpose is to diminish the fear and worry that leads to hatred with his music – through positive thoughts and awakening. His top two friends on MySpace are his wife and Barack Obama.
In his career, Charley Orlando has put out 11 albums and continues to tour, playing shows all over New York State and festivals such as the High Sierra in California, and the 10,000 Lakes in Minnesota. He has toured in three countries and 45 states, totaling almost three thousand shows so far in his career. The albums “Charley Orlando” and “The Dust That Lands” were added to the Grammy Ballot in 2005 in six categories, while “Beauty and Pain” was added to the 48th in four.
Sharing the stage with the likes of musicians from Jackson Browne, Rusted Root, Jefferson Airplane, and the Spin Doctor, his show is his own, but shares common threads with all of these artists. Fans of Phish, The Tragically Hip, Dave Matthews, or Bob Dylan would likely enjoy Charley’s flair. Songs like “My Angel” invite a sing- along and bring a tear in the eye as the love song emphasizes the better side of love, contrary to many ballads today. Jams like “Out to Sea” bring out the jam side of his tunes with lyrics like “So I ask you does it ever become any brighter than this?” and “Sail my ship out to sea so I can be free.”
Charley tours solo, and also with his newly formed project, The Charley Orlando band. His other side projects include the band Ruha and The Assassins of Hip. His current dates include stops in Albany, Rochester, Utica, and New York City, and of course many home appearances. Regardless of whom he plays with Charley is a very talented guitar player and performer. His stage presence is focused yet lasting – you remember his face and motions long after the last song is played.
Check Charley out on this webpage www.charleyorlando.com. See him live locally at The Limp Lizard on February 5th or the Dewitt Shire on February 27th.