Sometimes I feel the time is moving incredibly fast, and the only thing I can do is hold on. A few months have gone by since I have posted, because I began a metamorphising journey, unfortunately, without superpower manifestation, but rather, starting my own business. The service industry and music are my yin and yang. Working in the service industry as a bartender provides me with the flexibility and creativity to indulge in musical tangents as I see fit (every Monday, 11a-2p on WWOZ). In addition, my move to New Orleans in 2001 brought the service and music even closer as the foundation of much of today’s city runnings funnels through tourism, because the culture is so vibrant and alive. After years of navigating the industry waters on my musical life raft, I have begun a music curation business.
Finding the right soundtrack for the right occasion is something that requires a lot of thought and research time, but the rewards are so worth it. Because I am just beginning, any opportunity is a good one, and recently a cool unique opportunity fell into my lap. There is a distillery in North Carolina, Southern Grace Distillery owned by Leanne Powell. We have known each other for many years through the bars and songs of New Orleans. Leanne approached me with the idea of using music to age spirits. Leanne also sent me a link to Hudson Distillery in New York and their idea of, using sound waves to age spirits or as Joe Heron from Cooper & Kings calls it, “sonic aging.” The idea of sonic aging can be twofold. Primarily using the sound waves to “rock” and “roll” the juice in the barrels, increasing contact between liquid and barrel. The end game is to speed up the aging process: deeper and better flavor in a shorter amount of time. The second idea is imparting, I guess, “personality” into the alcohol. Cooper & Kings may play Stevie Ray Vaughn to age a spirit from Texas.
Personality and Rock n Roll were my two ideas to start with developing a playlist for Southern Grace Distillery’s whiskey. Hudson Distillery’s idea was many beats per minute using electronic dance music(EDM.) I took that idea and thought about it in terms of bass players. Thinking a heavy, throbbing bass line might be a nice constant to get the juice into a consistent motion. I started with Jaco Pastorius and compiled a list of 20 bassists. I know the list is exclusionary, but I’m just getting started. Next, I began listening to back catalogs of the artists, listening for the right sound to move some whiskey. The first player to resonate with my idea of the bass attack was Les Claypool of Primus. Claypool pulls inspiration from a myriad of sources creating countless unique bass tones. Primus is also a bass-forward band, because of a trio line-up, so, many of the songs have the bass in the front of the tune. I explored deeper, listening to some of Claypool’s other project, most notably The Holy Mackerel (both groups have songs on the playlist). The second player to stand out was Robert Trujillo. Currently, the bass player for Metallica, Trujillo got his start with pioneering west coast hardcore outfit, Suicidal Tendencies and their funky offshoot, Infectious Grooves. Trujillo brings funk and power in his playing and watching him perform, the bass guitar seems to be an extension of his body, and Trujillo is in a primordial bass dance. Trujillo’s playing creates intense motion whether funk or metal power, seems a natural to influence the juice in the barrel.
Listening to the songs also gave me a second idea: What about the bass drum as well as the bass guitar? Strong bass drum attacks combined with throbbing high energy, motion-filled bass lines. I began leaning towards heavier rock, progressive rock, hardcore as well as funk and all the tributaries. I also wanted to take into consideration the folks in the distillery, staff and touring guests. There is an entertainment component (as I write this blog) and I am hoping to influence the juice, educate, and entertain the folks visiting Southern Grace Distillery. Check out the playlist if you have a Spotify account, take a listen and send me your thoughts. I’m looking to keep on going with this idea. I am going to explore the placement of speakers next. I'm also going to be listening, to find the sounds to move the juice . . . and you.