Home Boston Music Scene Johnette Napolitano Talks About New EP

Johnette Napolitano Talks About New EP

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NAKED – the three-song EP, precursor to her full album, to be available only on tour stops and through CD Baby and iTunes.

Johnette Napolitano would like to tell you about her new recording titled Naked:

Take it away, Johnette:

Naked is a CD — or what they used to call an EP back in the day— three songs, just guitar and voice.

It sounds like there’s a lot more going on but there isn’t. I’ve been spending more time on the road in the last year working out a solid solo show which I’m planning to shoot for DVD at some point but I still haven’t decided on a location, also live vs. soundstage setting. I’ve been selling my book (Rough Mix) on the road for awhile now and people have been asking for music, and I’ve been playing some new songs live so I thought I’d knock it out for the fans before dates this Spring. “Memory Go” “Jazz on Vinyl” and “Here” are the three tracks

“Jazz on Vinyl” started out as a short poem in the book, “Here” is the oldest “new” one and people seem to already know that live, I’ve noticed. “Memory Go” I wrote when I was sick in bed for a week and unfortunately I really couldn’t do anything much more than sit up in bed and play guitar.

I’ve been busy for awhile and my home studio is woefully out of date. I’d been recording a bit in Garageband — had recorded a track for the “Shoulder to Shoulder” benefit compilation for the Pete Quaife Foundation last year on my iPhone. As a matter of fact what got me excited about doing this was when I was sick, I recorded “Memory Go” into my voice memos and it sounded amazing.

I sent it to my friend and most esteemed colleague Brian Mansell, who mastered and put together the graphics on all my indie “Sketchbook” limited releases (1, 2 & 3) for his opinion. Brian, like me, is a veteran of the Leon Russell tribe, and played guitar for Leon for a long time as well as handling engineering and all things tech and works out of his mobile studio (MobileMediaLab) and we talked about it and stars aligned and Brian brought the ’Lab out here to my little Ranchette Johnette and we mic’d up the cabin and got to it.

I’d recorded quite a lot here, the place has nice brick floors and wood shutters and it’s a great sounding room. I really love the guitar sound: distorted acoustic. Way into that. We jammed it out pretty quick and now I’m hearing a tuning thing that bugs me a bit on one song but all in all I love it so much, we’re going to expand it into a full album to include a couple of piano tracks as well, but it’s scary and liberating to play solo. Very freeing. I started out that way and would not mind winding up that way. Worked on piano last night (my first instrument, far from my best) a piece I’ve had for years narrated by Constanze Mozart, wife of Wolfgang. Actually, have worked on it the last three nights. There’s a lot of arrangement with Nakedtracks: you can’t rely on the dynamics of a band: guitar comes in here, drums get louder here, etc. It has to be the arrangement, the challenge I enjoyed writing for Concrete Blonde, a three-piece. This burns it all the way down to pure minimalism.

At the same time, my iPad was full of music I’ve been working on for a screenplay I’ve been writing, working title Witch. This is a true story about the 1962 trial of my recently departed dear friend who was my mentor and a New Orleans medium for 40 years. They took her to court in Arkansas — basically a witch trial — and she won, but told me to not tell the story until after she was gone. This music is very thick, dense, and written to reflect the thoughts of the characters involved. It’s an intense story. I’ve managed to export, one track at a time, everything out of my iPad out to the MobileLab. Several Witch scenes are written and storyboarded; I’ve already done costumes, researched 1962, sets, but until I can figure out exactly how to make it happen (my last day job was for a movie producer, so I know what I DON’T want: endless rewrites, meetings, etc.) it will probably be more doable as a web series or something.

It’s really been a whole different experience working on the music. I started very early in theater and drama. As a matter of fact, now that I recall I was onstage for the first time way back in elementary school in a Halloween play in the park . . . as a little witch. But for the costume contest I was a perfect little Flying Nun. That is a metaphor for my life if there ever was one. I did win fourth place in a Shakespeare festival in high school. Only because the safety pins holding the 100-pound velvet costume came apart one by one along my spine, stabbing me bloody and I had to play the whole scene (Henry IV) with my back awkwardly turned to the rear curtain.

I get offered a lot of stuff, but I’m working with a Canadian indie writer/director about appearing in his film, which I like very much. Originally started talking about just the music, but after reading the script for the trailer, the female characters were so quirky and interesting I got really into it and worked on re-writing some things and he liked it so much we agreed to co-write, and I would like to be in it.

Have started “Rough Mix #2,” which will have a lot of the “Witch” scenes in it, more stories about lyrics, ramblings.

Back to the Naked EP: “Here” is probably the best love song — definitely the most mature — I’ve ever written. We project so much on to others in relationships, the only possible outcome is disappointment. Other people have their own hang-ups and problems having nothing to do with us. In the end, the only real, honest thing you can say if you truly love someone is: I’ll always be here. Whatever you go through, I’ll be here

(Unless you murder someone . . . in that case you never f—ng met me, you understand?)

So. It has been a rough couple of years and I dare say my most talented touring companion, Laurie Sargent, is a bit of a legend herself and a most learned horsewoman. We have a damn good time on the road. The Twinemen opened for Concrete Blonde many times and are good friends; I was happy to have a chance to have Laurie out with me.”

Naked will be made available only on the upcoming April tour dates:

Thurs., April 16  SOMERVILLE, MA  Johnny D’s  w/Laurie Sargent
Fri., April 17  WILMINGTON, DE  The Grand  w/Laurie Sargent
Sat., April 18   NEW YORK, NY  City Winery   w/Laurie Sargent
Sun., April 19  WASHINGTON DC  Gypsy Sally’s  w/Laurie Sargent
Wed., July 8  CLEVELAND, OH  Music Box Supper Club  w/Laurie Sargent
Thurs., July 9   CHICAGO, IL  City Winery  w/Laurie Sargent
Fri., July 10   MILWAUKEE, WI  Shank Hall  w/Laurie Sargent
Sat., July 11  MINNEAPOLIS, MN  Dakota Jazz Club   w/Laurie Sargent

Naked will be a full album by September 22, 2015

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