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The Bitter Suite is a 5 song rock medley to be released as a limited edition 180 gram vinyl record with custom etching on the B side.
The Bitter Suite is a 5 song rock medley to be released as a limited edition 180 gram vinyl record with custom etching on the B side.
190 backers pledged $10,071 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Full disclosure: I possess the attention span of a goldfish. I’m a sucker for short pop songs filled with hooks and devoid of filler. Equally satisfying is a succinctly composed overture, that opening section of musicals and albums that quotes and connects the best parts of the big songs in interesting ways. There are great overtures at the beginning of West Side Story and the Who album Tommy. Sometimes I don't even make it past the overture; why bother if the best bits are already there at the top?

But I'm also a fan of longer medleys (or suites, if we're using the fancy term.) Think of the Who’s mini-opera “A Quick One While He’s Away” or side two of Abbey Road. Despite their current reputation for being archaic or hokey  -- or maybe because of it -- I love hearing similarly themed, but musically varied, songs interwoven into a longer piece.

With all that in mind, it was no surprise when I found I’d written a series of short pop songs which, upon closer inspection, shared a common thread. Each one touched upon a series of recent upheavals in my life - I had lost a beloved relative, had a permanent falling out with a friend and musical partner, and touring was keeping me thousands of miles from my family. But I was on the road with talented musicians whom I enjoyed performing alongside, and despite my absence, my rock n’ roll lifestyle had the support of my amazing, loving wife, so it wasn't all doom and gloom. In a word: bittersweet. It didn’t take much to realize these brief songs could be connected by more than just thematic similarities. So I went about sewing the song bits together at the piano and recorded a home demo.

Enter Chris Grehan: Longtime best buddy, musical collaborator, recordist, co-producer and all around musical enabler. Chris suggested we take the suite demo into a bonafide studio and add some bonafide drums. The studio was 1093 Boulevard, owned by the talented and gracious Jim Hawkins. It's got an amazing sounding room and lots of great gear. For the drums we brought in our friend Joe Rowe (The Glands, The Goons) who's a great musician and has played with us over the years. Our friend Tom Lewis then helped Chris transfer the tracks to 16 track tape and then mastered the suite when Chris finished mixing it.

The result was an epic, 13-minute track that sounded better than I had even imagined, upon which I conferred the title, “The Bitter Suite.” (Remember when I mentioned my love of hokey things?)

Since Chris, Joe and Tom put so much of their time and effort helping me make this sound as great as possible, I really wanted to release this on vinyl. Probably 90% of my favorite records were originally released on vinyl and I've always wanted to release something in that format.

Hence this project. Reaching the $6500 goal will enable me to press 500 copies of The Bitter Suite on 180 gram vinyl. The money will pay for:

*Studio costs

*Mastering by Tom Lewis

*Artwork by Jeff T. Owens (including an impressive etching on the B side of the record)

*Pressing 500 copies on 180 gram vinyl

*Shipping costs

The A side will be the 5 song suite and the B side will have a custom etching by artist Jeff T. Owens mentioned above. His work alone is worth the price. How many records do you own that have custom artwork across the entire B side?

I've admired Jeff's artwork for years and he was kind enough to do the artwork and layout for my previous record, Mess of Happiness. You also may have seen Jeff’s work on the cover of Tom Scharpling’s one-off Best Show magazine, or on any number of t-shirts worn by only the coolest folks around. Despite the demand for his talents, he agreed to design both the sleeve artwork and the vinyl etching for The Bitter Suite. That's his fine work at the top of the page. To me, his designs for my stuff look exactly like the music sounds.

When I decided to take the plunge and do the Kickstarter project, I asked my friend and videographer John Britt to make the video you've probably already watched. I love it as much as I love the videos he's done for my songs in my past. I can't wait to start on the epic video he’s planning for the suite.

Premiums are listed on the right. For as little as $20, you can get a copy of the 180 gram vinyl release, along with a digital download code and a nifty sticker. Not a fan of vinyl, but love pop medleys composed by Italian-Hispanic songwriters? For just $10, you can get a high quality digital download of the album. I’ll even throw in a sticker as well. Check out the other cool offerings as well, including a personal song written just for you, or even a performance in your own home.

Thanks for your help. Feel free to contact me with questions, and I’ll post updates here as needed.

For those of you unfamiliar with my music, you can stream my previous album, Mess of Happiness, for free on my site: http://jaygonzalez.com/music/

Here's a video of me playing my finely hand-crafted acoustic keytar:


Here's the music video for my song, "Turning Me On," from Mess of Happiness (heard briefly in the Kickstarter video above):


And here's the music video for "Punch of Love," also from Mess of Happiness:

Risks and challenges

Since this is project is about getting the Bitter Suite onto vinyl, I could see where this might be a concern to backers. Fortunately, I'm using a record pressing company that has been doing quality work for artists since 1996. Furnace MFG ( http://www.furnacemfg.com) has done work for labels releasing albums by Neil Young, R.E.M., John Coltrane and Wilco. They specialize in specialty items such as picture discs, colored vinyl and etchings, which is one reason why I chose them. They were highly recommended to me by a friend who was very happy with the work they did on an album he was working on. He assured me that they were courteous and delivered the product on time.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    My sincere gratitude...Thanks!

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    You'll get a high quality digital download of The Bitter Suite with a jpg of the custom designed Jeff T. Owens album cover.
    ~PLUS~ a Jay Gonzalez Bitter Suite sticker.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    You'll get a copy of The Bitter Suite on 12" 180 gram vinyl containing the complete suite on side A and a custom laser etching on Side B designed by Jeff T. Owens. The album includes a digital download card of the suite. ~PLUS~ a Bitter Suite sticker.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Everything listed above
    ~PLUS~
    an exclusive 3 song digital download of unreleased home recordings.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    Everything listed above
    ~PLUS~
    a signed CD copy of Jay Gonzalez's Mess of Happiness album.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Everything listed above ~PLUS~ the Sheet music folio for The Bitter Suite. Pretend it's 1905 and the only way you'll hear the suite is by playing and singing it at the piano.
    ~ AND~
    "The Bitter Suite" T-shirt, featuring Jeff T. Owens' awesome album cover design. (Please designate size.)

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    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    Everything listed above
    ~PLUS~
    A custom frameable print of the design etched into the Bitter Suite album signed by the artist, Jeff T. Owens! (Print exclusive to the $80 tier.)

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A cameo in the Bitter Suite music video! If you can get to the Athens, Georgia area sometime during the summer/fall of 2014, we'd love to have you in the video, directed by Full of Britt mastermind John Britt (who also directed the nifty video at the top of this page).
    ~PLUS~ The Bitter Suite on 12" vinyl with custom laser etching, a Bitter Suite sticker, the 3 song demo digital download, and a signed CD copy of Jay Gonzalez's Mess of Happiness album.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    An hour long guitar or keyboard lesson with Jay via Skype or Facetime. Jay has spent many years paying many bills by teaching many folks how to play everything from Cumbaya to Layla to Stranglehold to Pink Moon. Specializes in rock, pop, folk and classical guitar and rock piano and organ, but has picked up a little bit of everything over 25 (geez!) years of playing guitar and keys.
    ~PLUS~ The Bitter Suite on 12" vinyl with custom laser etching, a Bitter Suite sticker, the 3 song demo digital download, and a signed CD copy of Jay Gonzalez's Mess of Happiness album.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    A custom song written and recorded for you by Jay. Frustrated lyricist? Send your lyric sheet and Jay will be Bacharach to your David, George to your Ira, Bernie to your Elton. ~Or~ send a topic you'd like the tune to be written about and Jay will take care of music and lyrics. ~Or~ Would you prefer your own theme song? Jay will write and record an instrumental for you. He'll record it and send you a hi-res digital file no later than December of this year.
    ~PLUS~

    The Bitter Suite on 12" vinyl with custom laser etching, a Bitter Suite sticker, the 3 song demo digital download, and a signed CD copy of Jay Gonzalez's Mess of Happiness album.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Jay will come play a solo show at your house. Wanna hear some cover songs as well as originals? Jay played in the Kingpins bowling alley piano bar every Wednesday for a year- he can learn a cover. Must be in the Athens/Atlanta Georgia area, unless you wanna pony up for travel expenses, in which case Jay will play pretty much anywhere!
    ~PLUS~
    The Bitter Suite on 12" vinyl with custom laser etching, a Bitter Suite sticker, the 3 song demo digital download, and a signed CD copy of Jay Gonzalez's Mess of Happiness album.

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Funding period

- (28 days)