About this project
A 4-disc audio CD with a 12-page booklet comprised of highlights of more than 30 years of recording. These recordings date back to the 1970s and continue through the 90s. Forty-seven tracks in all. Forty are original compositions. I have performed and recorded with some outstanding upstate New York musicians – Little Georgie Rossi, Tom Townsley, Mark Tiffault, T.A. James, Paul “Big Daddy LaRonde, Phil and Mike Petroff, and several more (Google these guys). All of the tracks are recorded and in the process of being mastered. The cover art is being designed as we speak. I am looking for funding for the mastering expenses, package design expenses, and the pressing and packaging for 500 4-disc units plus a 12-page booklet with song information (date written, recording history, and who performed) and lyrics.
I placed this project in the jazz category because there is no blues category, which perhaps is something for the site managers to consider. Blues and jazz are closely related. Being a principle founder of the NYS Blues Festival in Syracuse, NY, (and director for 12 years), I was always impressed with the number of jazz fans who attended. There is a true connection. While jazz is a more complicated genre, blues is a very difficult genre to perform correctly. Many a musician claims to be a blues musician, but in the true sense of blues, they are few and far between. The simplicity of blues is the most difficult challenge for would-be artists.
My project, Blues in Black and White: A History of Blues, captures the essence of true blues. The musicians who I have had the honor to record with are masters of the field. After going back to the beginning of my recording history, I made many discoveries. I began playing the guitar and writing in 1971 at the age of 16. Since I am an untrained musician, it was easier for me to remember the music I wrote if I placed lyrics to the music and made little chord notations over where the changes would occur. I recorded several of these first songs on a Wollensak reel to reel. I recently transferred these to CD. None are very good, but they are each unique. None are represented in this project. After transferring many projects from cassette to CD and going through all of the old song books I realized something else; I was never able to notate my solo instrumental guitar work because I never learned to write music. I have recalled that I used unique tunings to achieve what I was searching for at that time, but these tunings were not written down either. A few of the instrumentals still have to be rediscovered. Musically, they are rather amazing….I have no idea how I played them; some are included in this package
Several of the tunes on this project were recorded to analog 8-track in a living room at 820 Avery Ave. in Syracuse, NY. There were four sessions referred to as the 820 Sessions; bass, harmonica, guitar, vocals, and a snare drum with a hi-hat and brushes. These are incredible sessions. I also recorded several sessions at Screaming Skull Studio in Syracuse…also very well done.
Much of what I do isn’t very complicated, but the musicianship that surrounds me is the means to these recordings. This is the key, and will be, in the long run, the focal point and the understood beauty of the project. A number of these tunes are very original; unique mathematical musical patterns. Again, the people who perform with me make these songs that much better. Blues in Black and White is "A" History of Blues....not "The" History of Blues.
Just a couple of more things……some recording were made with a single microphone for both the vocals and guitar; me in a bedroom of an apartment I was renting. They sound just as they should; a little distorted, a little unbalanced, a little shadowy, but perfect as they are. My voice takes on many different facets due to the fact that these sessions also record my personal development, not only as a vocalist, but as a musician and a producer. The first 3 CDs are a mix of this series of unique recording sessions. The 4th CD is more contemporary. Several songs are live from a nightclub session in 2008. I practiced with the musicians for this live performance once. Because of their professionalism, the outcome is excellent. This project, I believe, will be recognized as a true achievement by the blues community. I appreciate your interest and hope you will participate in making my project a reality.
Austin Jimmy Murphy
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