New Release!!

 

It's finally here! After waiting almost 8 months for its release, my new extended play CD, "Don't Hold Back", is now available on the Red Canoe label.

We went into the studio in June to lay down the rhythm tracks and vocals. I recorded at the very modern studios of New England School of Communication where Eric Ferguson took the engineering reigns into his very capable hands. Lincoln Blake on piano, Wells Gordon bass, Bobby Duron on percussion, and Jim Winters on trombone filled the studio with fantastic sounds, playing Jim Winters' arrangements with incredible artistry. The sessions went very smoothly and in no time the raw tracks were laid down. Everybody involved was pleased with the results.

After a few weeks, we began the post production tasks of mixing, editing, and mastering at Main Street Music Studios. Every minute detail was addressed by Eric Ferguson. Believe me when I say, nothing got past him. After hundreds of hours, the CD was edited, mixed, and mastered and made ready for replication.

Next we had to design the package. It was totally conceived and photographed by my very talented wife, Jean Nowak. She has a great eye and is an incredible artist. (And may I add "patient"). final layout and design by Brian Monahan of Monahan Design.

Now it is available on this website, CD Baby, Itunes, Amazon, and most all of the international download sites. So get yours while they last!!

I need to thank all the musicians mentioned above, Eric Ferguson, Andrew Clifford of Main Street Music Studios, New England School of Communications and all the crew that helped make this project so much fun. And especially Jean Nowak, without whose help and encouragement this project would not have even gotten off the ground.

 

 

An Interesting Year

 

Well, It's been almost a year since my last post but wow, has it been an interesting year! I'll do my best to fill you in on all the details while trying not to be too wordy or boring.

Right out of the gate, things started out really well. I was booked to entertain at New Years By the Bay in Belfast, Maine, and along with Lincoln Blake, Wells Gordon, and Howard Jones, had a fabulous time ringing in the New Year. From that point the year was progressing nicely. I was doing some really nice gigs in some great venues with many of the finest jazz musicians in the area. While all that was going on, plans were being made for another trip to the recording studio. I chose the tunes, gathered together the musicians, and asked James Winters to help with the arrangements of the songs I had chosen. Jim is a wonderful trombonist, a great arranger, and an all-around fabulous musician.

At that point, things were going along swell. Life was good. I decided to do the recording at New England School of Communication at Husson University in Bangor, Maine. There they have one of the premier recording studios in the Northeast. I was able to coral Eric Ferguson, director of the program and an incredible sound engineer with years of experience in some of the major studios in the country, to engineer the project. We set a date of June 19, to record the tracks. Here's where it gets interesting.

On May 2, I had some diagnostic tests done prior to a common medical procedure. No problem, right? Then came the call nobody wants to get. I was told that the test revealed a very suspicious nodule in the upper part of my left lung. Unfortunately, it turned out to be lung cancer. Talk about a sinking feeling. Further testing would show that there was no additional cancer in my body. That's a good thing. I was scheduled for lung surgery on August 11. We hit the studio on June 19th as planned and, with the help of Eric and those fabulous musicians, Lincoln Blake, Wells Gordon, James Winters, and Bobby Duron, we got all the recording done prior to my procedure. The bad news is, the upper lobe of my lung had to be removed. The good news is, they got it all and I will not have to have further treatments. I won't go into the nitty gritty of the recovery, only to say it's been a bit of a struggle. After a week in the hospital, I was discharged and did my first shows ten days after the surgery at the Hollywood Casino and Nocturnem Draft Haus. Singing and tooting my horn, all with the help of those fabulous guys I already mentioned.

I've continued to improve and am pretty much back to full strength, With the talents of Eric, the recording project has been skillfully mixed and mastered. We are in the post-production phase and are looking forward to a November, 2014, release date for DON'T HOLD BACK. When ready, I will upload several tracks to this website for your listening pleasure.  In the meantime, I continue to book engagements so keep an eye on my calendar for upcoming dates.

I must tell you all that, without the support of my beautiful wife Jean, it would have been a very difficult year. Her love, caring, and understanding has made this so much easier. She's very special.

Life is good!!    John

 

 

Give My Regards to Broadway

 

After a 3 month hiatus, I am back with something I hope will be of interest to all of you. You may have noticed that i haven't been very active on the "gig" scene this Fall. It's not that I haven't been busy. On the contrary. I have been VERY busy. As I have mentioned in past blogs, the mid-coast area of Maine is loaded with great music of all genres, dance, and theater, giving local artists a plethora of opportunities to get out and perform their talents. 

This past summer, one of these groups, the Bangor Community Theater, sent out a casting call for the Irving Berlin musical "White Christmas", to be presented this December. Well, having done a few musical theater things in my distant past, I figured, "what the hell", and threw my hat into the ring never really thinking that I would actually get a part. Surprise! a week later I was nitified that I was chosen as a character as well as a member of the chorus! I reported to the first meeting and with one look at the intense rehearsal schedule I realized that my "gigging" for the rest of the year was going to be curtailed. Being a little intimidated at first, (the BCT has many talented, seasoned members) I soon got into the swing of things and am really enjoying working with so many special people.

The rehearsals are intense yet a lot of fun. The musical score is very demanding but the musical director, Dana Ross, is excellent and a very patient man. As is the show's director Mike Weinstein. With the demands of learning the music, choreography, and acting, as well as preparing the scenery and rehearsing the ten piece (yes I said ten) pit orchestra, there is so much to squeeze into three months of preparation. The show will be performed at the beautifully restored Grand Theater in Ellsworth, Maine to benefit the Ronald MacDonald House. Mark your calenders for December 3, 4, 5, and December 20, 21, 22, with a matinee on the 21st. All shows start at 7PM with the matinee at 2PM. I will post ticket information as soon as I have it.

After the first of the year I will be back on the scene doing my normal gigs with many of my talented musician friends here in the mid-coast area of Maine. I will post my schedule on this website as well as my Face Book page "John Nowak - Singer". See you at White Christmas.

John

 

 

Musical Opportunities

 
It's been a while since I've posted anything in this blog but I really haven't had an inspiring topic to write about. Don't want to ask you to spend valuable time reading through something of little or no interest to anyone but me. However, I have recently had an experience which has really made an impression on me that I'd like to share. Many of us musicians from the New England area are familiar with the New England School of Communications. It is a facility on the Hussen University campus in Bangor, Maine, that has for many years prepared people for a career in some sort of media/communications. Many great professionals in radio, television, photography, social media, graphic arts, and last but certainly not least, audio engineering have gotten their start with a degree from this program. It has a wonderful world-wide reputation for being one of the best in the field. I have had the privilege of touring this place and I was blown away. The entire facility is top notch. From the computer labs to the recording studios and mobile production equipment, it is the best stuff money can buy. I have recently had a personal experience that has had a lasting effect on me. I have a seventeen year old grandson who is entering his senior year in high school. He's a great kid who works hard, has great social skills, and leaves a lasting impression on those who meet him. He has some musical ability playing guitar and mandolin and has been collecting vinyl since he was about three. Loves and understands music, musicians, and just being around the profession. He could probably be successful at just about anything if he put his mind to it. However, I can't see him as a doctor, lawyer, accountant. He would quickly become board. I spoke to him about NESCOM and introduced him the Eric Ferguson, the director of the Audio Engineering Program. We both got a tour of the facility and my grandson was hooked. This summer he inrolled in the Media Camp run by the school for high schoolers interested in careers in communications. He and twenty-two other campers spent a week learning as much as they could about their chosen crafts. It's unbelievable how closely these kids can bond in such a short period of time. They are all excited about seeing each other in the future as full time students at NESCOM. I know my grandson will have great opportunities in an exciting and meaningful career. It's a great facility and, if you haven't already, make sure you take a tour someday. I think you will be as impressed as I am.
 

I Love a Good Party

 

Hi folks. Sorry I haven't kept up with my blog entries, but I've been a little busy. I'll try to do better.

My long awaited CD Release Party has come and gone and, I must say, I couldn't be more pleased. Although the CD was actually released to the market on March 20th, I wanted to hold off on the actual celebration until all the pieces were in place. Most importantly, the right venue. I chose Nocturnem Draft Haus in Bangor, Maine because that is where it all began. Proprietor Gene Beck is a lover of live music and provides a venue for all types of music. Most notably the Tuesday Jazz Jam that was started by bassist Wells Gorden. It provides an opportunity for local musicians to meet and play and and a chance for local folks to experience really good live jazz the likes of which one would have to travel to Boston or New York to hear. This is where I met the great musicians you hear on my CD. And the staff at Nocturnem is great as well. So it was really a "no brainah" to wait for the date.

I can't say enough about my great musician friends that made this recording so much fun to produce and perform. Wellington Gordon, Bobby Duron, Josh Small, Lincoln Blake (aka Herbie Bailes), Mark Tasker, and special guest Colin Graebert really put out a ton of music and create an incredible amount of energy everytime they pick up their instruments. I am so lucky. And I can't forget my engineer at Main Street Music Studios, Andrew Clifford for the fantastic job he did in making this all happen.

I am also grateful to you, my fans, who make this all so worthwhile. You may have heard me say that being a performing musician is empty without the audience to hear and appreciate what is is you've worked so hard to create. I thank you all for coming to listed to us live, and for purchasing my music in person or on line.

But most importantly, I must thank my wife Jean without whose love, support, ideas, great ear, and hard work in putting this whole thing together none of this would be possible. She's an incredible woman. I'm very lucky.

"Once More With Feeling" is available on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, and all the major music download sites as well as at Bull Moose Music, Rock and Art, and of course, from this website. 

Thanks again and remember to support live music in your area.

John

 

April - Live music is alive and well

 


 LIVE MUSIC IS ALIVE AND WELL          
Those of you who read last month's blog, know that I come from a long line of professional entertainers. I had grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents who made a good portion of their living in music. I can remember stories my grandfather would tell about playing every night of the week in Vaudville and also in the dining rooms of all the grand hotels during the industrial revolution in the early twentieth century. Later on, my father, a fine trumpet player is his own right, played gigs almost everynight of the week as well as teaching instrumental music in the public school system. When my older brother Ed and I broke into the business in the early 1960's, we were working three to four gigs every weekend. (Needless to say our girlfriends weren't very happy about that.) 
But over the next several years, that changed drastically. Thanks to John Travolta and Saturday Night Fever, Disco hit with a vengeance. Almost overnight, Disco clubs were opening up in the big cities as well as the smaller towns. Men were wearing polyester leisure suits and puka beads and the ladies were in mini skirts and patten leather boots with spike heals. (My only favorite part) And dancing to records of the Beegees spun by a DJ! Yes, the birth of the DJ. Live music was doomed. As time went on, disco died but the DJ corps grew. Bars and lounges would hire DJs to spin records and, in many cases, pay them more thn the going rate of a live band. I was fortunate because I played trumper in a polka band and we were the only musicians who were working on a regular basis.
Fast forward about ten years and the rebirth of live music is happening. I live in a small northeastern industrial city that has seen a lot of changes. Like most of these towns, the industry has left and the mall has stolen what business the downtown areas had left. But that seems to be changing. With the help of young, energenic, entrepeneurs, the downtown areas are coming back. New restaurants, lounges, and theaters are enjoying a resurgence. People are showing an interest in these areas and are supporting places that feature jazz, rock, folk, and accoustic music of all genres on a nightly basis. The great thing is, you can walk up and down these streets and hear the tunes eminating out of all these venues. And the music is GOOD. Finally musicians are able to perform their craft in front of a live audience on a regular basis and even get paid! This is also true concerning fine arts and live theatre.
Who says the "good ole days" are a thing of the past? it's coming back folks. And with your support, as well as the support of business owners, the rennaisanse of live entertainmwnt will continue to grow. Keep  it coming. Yes the Good Ole Days are back.
 

 LIVE MUSIC IS ALIVE AND WELL          

Those of you, who read last month's blog, know that I come from a long line of professional entertainers. I had grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents who made a good portion of their living in music. I can remember stories my grandfather would tell about playing every night of the week in Vaudeville and also in the dining rooms of all the grand hotels during the industrial revolution in the early twentieth century. Later on, my father, a fine trumpet player is his own right, played gigs almost every night of the week as well as teaching instrumental music in the public school system. When my older brother Ed and I broke into the business in the early 1960's, we were working three to four gigs every weekend. (Needless to say our girlfriends weren't very happy about that.) 

But over the next several years, that changed drastically. Thanks to John Travolta and Saturday Night Fever, Disco hit with a vengeance. Almost overnight disco clubs were opening up in the big cities as well as the smaller towns. Men were wearing polyester leisure suits and puka beads and the ladies were in miniskirts and patent leather boots with spike heels. (My only favorite part) And dancing to records of the Bee Gees spun by a DJ! Yes, the birth of the DJ. Live music was doomed. As time went on, disco died but the DJ corps grew. Bars and lounges would hire DJs to spin records and, in many cases, pay them more than the going rate of a live band. I was fortunate because I played trumpet in a polka band and we were the only musicians who were working on a regular basis.

Fast forward about ten years and the rebirth of live music is happening. I live in a small northeastern industrial city that has seen a lot of changes. Like most of these towns, the industry has left and the mall has stolen what business the downtown areas had left. But that seems to be changing. With the help of young, energetic entrepreneurs, the downtown areas are coming back. New restaurants, lounges, and theaters are enjoying a resurgence. People are showing an interest in these areas and are supporting places that feature the jazz, rock, folk, and acoustic music genres on a nightly basis. The great thing is, you can walk up and down these streets and hear the tunes emanating out of all these venues. And the music is GOOD. Finally musicians are able to perform their craft in front of a live audience on a regular basis and even get paid! This is also true concerning fine arts and live theatre.

Who says the "good ole days" are a thing of the past? It’s coming back folks. And with your support, as well as the support of business owners, the renaissance of live entertainment will continue to grow. Keep it coming. Yes the Good Ole Days are back. 

 

FAST CHANGING WORLD

 

For those of you who don't know me, I was raised in a musical family. Grandparents and aunts and uncles on both sides of the family were professional musicians. My mother was a professional singer and a talented dancer and my father was a terrific trumpet player who traveled with the big bands right out of high school. He soon thought better of that lifestyle and went to college and became a music educator He was a great teacher and taught thousands of kids brass instruments right up to the age of eighty-eight. Needless to say, I was playing trumpet at the age of seven and my mother had me singing and tap dancing. All I wanted to do was play football and fly kites.

So, as I grew up, I was exposed to a very wide variety of musical styles and genres, most of which I and my older brother Edward and baby sister Elaine enjoyed. Every Sunday afternoon we would pile fourteen LP's (at least) on the old HI-FI and let 'er rip. The first could be some Dixieland stuff by Bobby Hacket and Jack Teagarden. Next could be a Broadway musical (my sister's favorite) or something classical like the Nutcracker Suite then to Maynard Ferguson or even Rafael Mendez, hours and hours of great stuff. Oh, and we could always listen to some great 50's and 60's rock & roll on the local AM station on our transistor radios. My favorite, however, much to my parents' pleasure, was my love of the songs written in the 30's and 40's. Stuff performed by Billie Holiday, Mel Torme, Frank, the Duke, Tony.......well, you see where I'm going. I continued to play and sing professionally until 1990 when I decided I needed to settle down and get a real job. Well, the "settle down" part was a complete failure but I did try several career paths. I eventually went to medical school, became a physician assistant, and worked in the field of cardiothoracic surgery.

Now, after twenty-two years with my horn in its case and only having sung here and there when the opportunity came along, I am re-entering the music scene. I have been fortunate to become acquainted with a very talented group of musicians in the Bangor, Maine area and here's where the "fun" begins.

So, I said to my wife, Jean, "I've met some great musicians, there's a really good recording studio right here in town, what da ya say I do a little recording project? Ya know, something you, the kids, and Grand-kids can remember me by?" She foolishly agreed and off we go. Well, the session started to sound pretty good to everybody and the deeper we got in, the better it sounded. So a little project became a big project.

Now I'm starting to hear words like tracking, (wait, where's the magnetic tape?), gigabytes, midi, pro-tools, dither. And that's just the first ten minutes of the session! Next you have to consider mechanical versus digital licenses for all the copyrights. Now you're talking iTunes, iTabs, iThis and iThat, websites, distribution. Who knew? Apparently not Me! Used to be that you went into the studio to do a vinyl project, they let you know when it was ready, send it out to a few DJs and hope you got a little work out of it.

Today's technology really is amazing. And it changes so quickly. My old brain has trouble keeping up. I do know that it's been a real education. I'm having a ball and I'm so excited to have you all hear my new album. I look forward to hearing feedback from each and every one of you. You can do that at john@johnnowak.net. The CD Release Celebration will be June 7th at Nocturnem Draft Haus in Bangor. So mark your calendar. More to come about that.

Until next month, keep supporting live music in your area.

John