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'A Song For You'
Patreon Video #3 is a song for you called 'A Song For You' by Leon Russell. I play in a band up in NYC called Mad Dogs and Dominos, that was started by Rich Pagano, the drummer with the Fab Faux, and Zev Katz, who plays bass with Hall & Oates. We play, as you might expect, music by Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen band and Derek and the Dominos, but we also use the members of those bands as connection points to other musical groups and artists ( a sort of musical '6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon') and play material from those acts, too. It's a great, huge band - 18 pieces - with lots of uber-pedigreed players like Blue Lou Marini from the Blues Brothers, Shawn Pelton from the Saturday Night Live Band and, somehow, me. As we were putting the first show together and going through the process of selecting tunes, Rich suggested I check out 'A Song For You' and see if it would work on the ukulele. He had seen me do my version of 'Thunder Road' on uke a few times and thought ASFY might work well. Man, was he right! It's become one of the highlights of our shows and I'm always grateful to Rich for suggesting it. A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE ARRANGEMENT The were a few challenges with this one, Leon's piano part on the original is so beautiful and fluid, but he covers a broad note range and it's incredibly idiomatic to piano. It took a bit of work to figure out how to make certain parts flow on the uke. That opening run was the first bit of work. Not really to figure out the notes, that was pretty straightforward, but figuring out the best way to play it. I tried different right hand fingerings and also had to figure out how to move my left hand down the neck gracefully to different neck positions in order to play the line smoothly. I'm going to go on a brief aside here and say that attempting to play this song standing up with no strap makes it a lot more difficult. I was given a uke strap at a uke festival I went to a couple months ago and then LOST IT between soundcheck and the show the first time I used it. ARGH!!! The other instrumental sections involved switching octaves (playing down the neck to the bottom, then jumping back up and continuing the line) in ways that the original recording doesn't. The uke may have the same 12 notes per octave as any other instrument, but the piano has a lot more octaves to work with and there was no way around it. I think it sounds pretty natural, but I now always have a brief moment of surprise when I hear the original and it DOESN'T do it. The last thing I worked on was trying to find different picking patterns to use in the verses so they each had their own character. The staggered arpeggio in the verse after the first instrumental break is pretty straightforward, though I think it has a really nice effect. The last verse, using my three fingers to create a tremolo on the high string while alternating my thumb between the G and E strings, is something I took directly from my short time studying classical guitar when I was 6 or 7. It's a fairly standard thing to do in classical, but you don't see it much outside of that realm. It's a difficult technique to get together when you first learn it. That's all the stuff that went into it, but I hope when you listen you just hear something that makes you feel good, because all that thought and technique is useless if it doesn't. Thanks to John Anthony for filming and editing. I'll have the shareable link for you all tomorrow. I always love reading your comments. I may be a bit slow in responding today as I've got to go to NYC for a rehearsal and, on top of that, I still feel like crud :-( but I WILL get back to you!
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