Radio Free Honduras is a versatile group of Chicago-area musicians inspired by the immense talent and creative spirit of our bandleader Charlie Baran. Born and raised in El Progreso, Honduras, Charlie has been writing and performing music for more than 40 years. In the '70s and '80s he made a name for himself in Honduras and beyond as a composer and performer, most notably as a founding member of the wildly popular group Banda Blanca. In 2014 Charlie went back into the recording studio for the first time in 15 years, and those magical sessions would eventually become this debut album.
The process of making this album was truly amazing, and we are so grateful for the contributions of all the talented people who helped turn a dream into reality. We managed to pull together an incredible team of dedicated artists on a shoestring budget, and we can't express how meaningful it is to have had their support in bringing this project to life. Our highest praise and profound thanks goes to the following people who took time away from their families, jobs and their own artistic pursuits in order to work on this CD:
Vijay Tellis-Nayak (assisted by Patrick McAnulty) - The entire recording was engineered by Vijay at Transient Sound, a fabulous studio that he owns and operates with drummer/producer Steve Gillis, from the band Filter. As if that weren't enough, Vijay also played all the sizzling Hammond B3 organ on the album. Vijay is also part of the fusion band Kick the Cat, among many other projects.
Thor Uremovich - All of the graphic design and artwork was done by Thor. His company nine3nine Creative does excellent work at very reasonable rates, and they offer a wide range of services including web and print design of all kinds, video, photography and more. We really can't recommend him enough.
Andrew Morris - Our official documentarian and videographer, Andrew has filmed interviews, live performances and music videos for us, including the video you just watched. We recommend checking out examples of this rising star's work, and then hiring him right away while you can still afford him!
And of course, the band:
Charlie Baran - Our leader Charlie writes the songs, sings lead vocals and plays lead/rhythm acoustic guitars. In addition to be a captivating performer and a prolific songwriter he is humble, gracious and kind. His song "Picale Picale" was an international hit for Banda Blanca as well as Grupo Explosión (from Chile), and his song "Te Esperaré" has been featured in the Showtime series Weeds. Writing an international hit song doesn't necessarily guarantee fortune or fame, but Charlie has learned that finding videos of strangers drunkenly singing your songs on the internet can be its own reward. He also plays music at his church every weekend, and he works a full-time job doing maintenance at St. Andrew's Catholic grade school.
Dan Abu-Absi - In addition to producing the album, Dan was responsible for electric guitar, mandolin, rhythm guitar and backing vocals. He handles the business affairs of the band, including everything from booking/management to pension advice/retirement planning. Dan also plays with international touring and recording sensations Birds of Chicago, who are incredibly excited to be recording an album with the incomparable Grammy-winning producer Joe Henry this winter!
Shane Jonas - Shane performed trumpet, cajita and backing vocals on the CD, but his contributions to this group and our music go way beyond that. He brings positivity and creativity to everything he does - as an artist, an educator and a family man. His musical talent is constantly in demand, since in addition to many side projects, he is currently playing with Lowdown Brass Band, Akasha and Mike Gallagher and Higher Order
Alex Austin - Alex played double bass and electric bass guitar on the album. For the last several years he has also been touring and recording with real life guitar hero Fareed Haque in both MathGames! and the Flat Earth Ensemble. He also rocks in the band Daysleeper and runs a business called Spice Heist, purveyors of flavor so good that it "should be illegal".
Greg Fundis - Greg played the drum kit on most of this recording. We absolutely love his energy and style on the drums, and most other people do too! He is also a music educator and currently plays with Fareed Haque, Old Shoe and 56 Hope Road among others.
Jason Batchko - We were lucky enough to also have Jason Batchko playing drums on some of these songs. A diverse performer, teacher and artist, Jason also plays piano and drums in Scott Lucas and the Married Men, drums in vaudevillian/cabaret group Candytown, and has a unique solo project called Integrated Cookbook.
Diego Luis Mosquera - Diego played maracas, congas, bongos, guacharaca and a bunch of other cool stuff on this album. Born and raised in Columbia, Diego is a master percussionist with a specialty in maracas, having won many awards and competitions in Columbia and Venezuala. Maracas competitions?? That's right, long before the first rap battle on the east coast, there were much more polite on-stage battles happening far to the south. Here is a great example of Diego winning a battle. In addition to his career at The Colombian Consulate, he plays in several other projects including Arpa y Bandolas, Mambo Fino, Cuarteto Fantastico and with his lovely and talented daughter in the Diana Mosquera Band.
Danny Howard - Danny has lived in Chicago since 2008 when he popped over from bonny old England. He heads up an awesome 10 piece Latin ensemble called Contrabanda, teaches at Merit School of Music and is also currently an artist in residence at The University of Chicago with The New Budapest Orpheum Society.
Richard Scafano - Richard played the beautiful sounding bandoneon on the cd. Born in Argentina, Richard is a third generation bandoneon player specializing in tango and chamamé music. He now lives in Chicago and works as a composer, musician and band leader. Here is an excellent sample of his art.
And we had some other very special guests who appeared including:
Howard Levy - It was a true honor to have Howard Levy in the studio playing our music. In addition to being a very nice guy, he's a multiple Grammy Award winner, and he is known throughout the world as a ground breaking composer, teacher, recording artist, producer and performer. He has recorded with the likes of Dolly Parton, Styx, Paquito D'Rivera, Donald Fagen and Paul Simon to name just a few. It is hard to prove a statement like "he is the single greatest diatonic harmonica player to ever walk the face of the earth", but if you happen to have a chance to see Howard play he can prove it to you. It's true.
Birds of Chicago - It was a joy to have JT Nero and Allison Russell from Birds of Chicago join us as guest vocalists, and we were honored that they carved the time out of their absurdly busy schedule to make it happen. Since they started the band in 2012 they have been touring the world, playing around 250 shows per year, and for the last year they have done it with their amazing daughter Ida Maeve in tow. Check out this live performance of their song "All the City Girls".
Steve Eisen - Flautist/saxophonist Steve Eisen is a veteran of the Chicago music scene whose performance credits are too many to list here, but he currently plays with The Ides of March, The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra, The Chuck Webb Band, Chévere de Chicago and The Chicago Catz. He is also a sought after studio musician with an impressive list of recording credits to his name, including having played the sax solo on "The Super Bowl Shuffle" - and to think, all these years we were under the impression that Cornerback Calvin Thomas just happened to also be a really gifted soloist.
Paulinho Garcia - Paulinho was kind enough to appear as a guest vocalist on our album, singing one of Charlie's original songs. Born in Belo Horizante, Brazil, Paulinho was nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2003. He was also voted Best Brazilian International Vocalist (2013 Brazilian Press Award), Chicagoan of the Year in Jazz (2010 Chicago Tribune), Brazilian Person of the Year (2010 The Brazil Club), and Chicago's Best Jazz Entertainer (2001 Chicago Music Awards). Here is a great video of Paulinho and Toots Thielemans playing Wave
Darren Spitzer - When we needed help with backing vocals, Darren got the first call. When we realized that he speaks Spanish with a slight Honduran accent we also hired him to translate all of our jokes. Thanks to Darren, most of Charlie's misunderstood idioms have become hilarious. He also has an awesome band called the Changes, whose new latest album can be heard here.
We are finally ready to share this project with the world, and we are asking for your support to help make that happen. Thanks to the current state of the music industry and the miracles of modern technology, it is possible for independent bands like ours to produce professional quality recordings for a fraction of the cost of what major record labels have traditionally spent on albums. Having said that, it has taken a considerable amount of time, energy and yes - money to get this music recorded, and some of the most difficult challenges are still ahead of us in trying to give the album a chance to be heard. For this we need YOUR help. We have set a goal of raising $4,000 here, but that will only cover the costs of a very basic promotional campaign. It is our hope to exceed that goal, and use all the money raised to create awareness about the band through promotion of the CD and our live performances. Contributions have the most direct impact, but you can also help by telling people about us and sharing this by email and on Facebook.
Thank you, thank you, in advance, we thank you.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge we face is creating awareness about the band and our music. We hope that we can reach a larger audience with continued support from our friends, families and fans.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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