Digging in to the past to fund the future
For years, local singer-songwriters Sean Carscadden and Marty O’Reilly were attempting to make solo records, both of them performing their love for traditional blues music and blues playing. About three years ago, the two joined forces both for recording and for their live shows as well, and they have finally completed a CD. Titled “Broke The Moon,” the disc features four outside songs, one by Woody Guthrie (“Hard Travelin’”), one by Joe Primrose (the infamous “St. James Infirmary”) plus two with unknown authors, “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” and “If I Had My Way” with additional lyrics penned by O’Reilly.
Both Sean and Marty are students of traditional American music that dates back some 80 to 90 years. Their original songs, most of which were penned by Marty, are seamless when shuffled within the four traditional “oldies” that they chose for the record. Marty and Sean co-wrote “Feels Like Home,” and while they both contribute vocals, it’s Marty who takes the lion’s share of the lead vocals.
The musicianship is stellar, with both Marty and Sean contributing guitars, banjo and vocals plus a little harmonica by Marty on the album’s closing song, the New Orleans funky “Maybe that’s Alright.”
Marty and Sean were assisted in the studio by Cliff Hugo on double bass, Mikey Cannon on drums, Michael Fecskes on cello, Chris Lynch on fiddle, Bill Keck on piano and Sarah Summers on vocals. Produced by Sean, the album was recorded at Ex’Pressions School for the Digital Arts in Emeryville.
“Marty and I are extremely happy with the result,” says Sean Carscadden. “It was definitely worth the wait, and we need to give a special thanks to Andy Saks who engineered the album and donated so much time to get it done. The recording aspect was a learning process for all of us. We were learning how to record our sound and Andy was learning how to get it down. We all think it worked!”
To celebrate the release of the CD, Marty and Sean are performing at the Sebastiani Theatre on Monday, November 26 and will be featuring almost all of the musicians that appear on the recording. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. with an admission price of $10 per person. For that night only, the new CD will be available to all attending the show for just $5. After the special kick-off performance, the disc will be available on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and most of the usual music outlets. You can hear a preview of the CD by going to Thebrokemoon.bandcamp.com. About a minute each of three songs are available for listening.
Influenced by music from the early 20th century, it was guitarist John Fahey who turned Marty’s world around, and guitarist Leo Kottke who played a big role in Sean’s development. Both Fahey and Kottke were recording and performing back in the 50s, 60s and 70s, playing basically what Marty and Sean are now – resurrecting a music style that has gone out of favor with many listeners, and like Fahey and Kottke, they stay so close to the original style of singing and playing. These two young men, in their twenties, are like a couple of old souls on a mission to keep the traditional roots music alive, and they are doing a fine job of it.
The CD opens with “If I Had My Way,” one of the songs that appear without writing credit, and the one that Marty adds some additional lyrics. It’s a great story song that sounds like a spiritual from the 1930’s. “American Rye” is a drinking song. A sample lyric: “I feel good, I feel bad. Baby, that’s what it’s all about. You can help me, bartender, you can certainly try. Fix me up with a double of American Rye.”
The title track, “Broke The Moon,” starts out in a spiritual vein but ends up sounding like a bit of 1950s doo-wop. The song contains very clever lyrics as well as an excellent vocal by Marty. There is great picking on the intro of “Goin’ for Broke,” but then again, there is great picking throughout the entire album.
“Maybe that’s Alright,” the closing track, kicks off with a very cool New Orleans groove that builds first with drums, then bass, guitar and then comes the banjo. And typical of a song out of New Orleans, a sample of the lyric says, “If you don’t know what you need, and if you don’t know what’s right, baby, that’s all right.”
I’ve only had about 24 hours to listen to the music and write this piece, but I can tell you that however long it took Marty and Sean to record this thing, it was time well spent. I hear something new each time I listen through. I am a fan of the way these two guys play and I am also amazed at the way Marty O’Reilly sings. His phrasing and his lyrics make him sound so much older than he actually is. He and Sean are students of recorded music and it shows on this disc.
Often times you need to dig in the past to come up with the future, and I believe Marty and Sean have accomplished just that. It has that old-time feel to the recording without all the scratches and skips that a record like this should have (which actually would be very cool). Marty and Sean should be incredibly proud of what they created. In my humble opinion, this record is a home run.