Monday, August 21, 2017

Creating a Bowie Inspired Costume 2017

It's been an honor to join so many of my local musician friends to play a tribute to David Bowie at First Avenue called Rock For Pussy every year to benefit Feline Rescue Inc. in Minneapolis. This year I worked with local designer Megan Zwack to create a Bowie inspired costume for RFPXIII!

Photo by Tony Nelson

Photo by Paul Lundgren
A person’s fashion, especially a great costume, beams out energy. To me, it’s a catalyst to playing a role and inspires a good performance. Wearing a custom design is entertaining and fun but it can be even more so for the audience. I wanted to pull in a local designer to be a part of the Bowie tribute as collaboration between local music and style scenes. Music and fashion, especially if we’re talking about David Bowie, certainly go together.  His music has such a wide range and so does his style. So many people, both performers and audience members get dressed up for this show.
Megan sewing up finishing touches

Dr. Zwack is Megan’s own clothing brand and we connected on social media first. Music has been a major part of her inspiration.

Photo by Emily Hooper
“I have never been conventional in my approach to design and have always felt like a black sheep in the design community.  As a designer I have always found it difficult to create in terms of industry standards and have been completely uncomfortable with terms like ready-to-wear or resort wear.  Each of my collections or individual pieces is a song, a story, an album, or the soul consciousness of a musician or group ranging from Bobbie Gentry to Black Oak Arkansas.  The Dr. Zwack Lake Street collection is inspirited by the Wolfmother album Victorious.  The creative process starts with a song and I use my design skills, with fabric as my medium, to bring that song into physical form as a musician would use an instrument to create the song itself.  I have known from the start of my design career that my soul purpose is to dress musicians and singers for stage performance. After cutting my teeth in the local fashion design world, garnering skills and expertise, I am fully ready to branch out.  When designing for Chris Perricelli, inspired by Ziggy Stardust, I was very careful to amalgamate and ennoble the soul of both musicians while carefully riding the line of sophisticated design and costume ensuring that the story of both talents were represented.” – Megan Zwack

I had a feeling I should just contact her about making something special for this show. I sent her a message and she was thrilled for the opportunity to create something so we made plans to get together about it.
Hopping over to Eat Street Social we sat at the bar and flipped though one of my David Bowie books for inspiration.  We discussed costume possibilities and she was eager to work on a fun glam rock project.  
This was my first time meeting her and we hit it off quite well talking about music and style. She’s got an early 70’s vibe and a great personal style herself.
Photo by John Botkin

Megan’s first design concept came from her drawing:
She bought Italian silk material. One with a kind of a snake skin pattern for the jacket and the other was silvery metallic for the pants. She also scored some red vinyl to be displayed on the inside
and along the back of the collar of the jacket. After measurements and a session of pinning with a muslin pattern she got closer to pulling it all together. The design morphed into a fantastic glam rock costume that seemed to nod to Bowie from his Ziggy era all the way up to his more modern pieces.

Megan also lent me her hand made and cut Bobbie Gentry Stage Coat fringe jacket to be worn with my star pants that she altered along with a crazy full colored vintage polyester shirt. You can find this fringe jacket and more of Dr. Zwack’s hand made clothes at Showroom and she sells also by appointment on-line.

I wore the star pants, shirt and fringe jacket for the first set and then her full custom piece for the second part of the show. The clothes felt and performed really well with me and I couldn’t have been any happier with how it all turned out. On top of that it was a great show!!
Photo by Charles Robinson

Photo By Joe Teachworth

Photo by Danny Contreras Jr.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Soulful Automatic Turns 10!

Released in 2007 Little Man's Soulful Automatic was the band's debut album on Eclectone Records. Our third full length release. It's hard to believe the time that's gone by with this precious gem of an album. It got great press reviews and earned the band alot of recognition locally and bumped us into the national scene as well that continued with with an official SXSW show and a fun tours that hit points east to New York City and back.  Minneapolis City Pages did a cover story as well and named Little Man "Best Rock Band 2007". I couldn't believe the cover story opportunity. It started as a premonition.I practically woke up in a gasp waking up my wife saying "cover of the City Pages!"  I pitched promo info to City Pages as soon as I could get it together and hoped for the best. Eclectone had also put in some good words for some sort of coverage.

City Pages sent out writer Pete Scholtes to spend a day or two following me around with band and day to day stuff. City Pages art director Nick Vlcek invited me over for a photo shoot. I had no idea this was to be a cover story up till maybe a day before it was published and I didn't know what the cover would look like either. I was thrilled!! I scooted off to City Pages the morning it came out and watched pallets and pallets of this magazine get loaded out and picked up to go all over the Twin Cities and beyond. My first look at the magazine... "Next Big Thing" it said! "Little Man Singer Chris Perricelli Takes His Shot." WHAA??!! That's quite a statement. A tall order there. My goodness this is crazy! A big flood of happiness overwhelmed me. "Go forth and do your work well!" I yelled at all my faces. Pete and Nick did an amazing job with it capturing an honest look into myself and what I do. So grateful for the opportunity to get the music I created with a cool bunch of people out to so many more people and to be supported by the label and the city as a band, songwriter and musician.

Eclectone Records was a Minneapolis based label run by Scott LeGere and Martin Devaney. It was awesome to have a team behind you helping with promotion, direction and support. The record was already recorded and I wanted to get it out as soon as possible.

I shopped it out to many national labels prior. There was even an interest at Atlantic Records for a short time up until my A&R contact got laid off. Eclectone was new and local run by good friends and I couldn't wait to release this record.

I worked with four different producers to fully realize songs from demos I had previously recorded. I wanted to work with producers I had admired and wanted them each to record specific songs. At this time, along with myself, Little Man included Ryan Otte on drums and Ben Foote on bass as the core band. The Soulful Automatic sessions used many more musicians to help.

Here's some thoughts on the making of the record:

Producer/Engineer: Ed Tinley
Songs: Come Undone, Prize Fighters, Tire Fire, California Baby
Ed has been recording Little Man since early on. He recorded a bunch of Ike Reilly music as well as Liz Phair who I'm also a really big fan of. He's a great friend and we've built alot of trust regarding Little Man music over the years. Recording with him is one of my favorite things. I traveled down to the Chicago area to record with Tinley over a few days at Ike's Diamond City studio, which was formally an old hunting lodge. A really cool big wood cabin of a place. Opening track Come Undone evokes a Led Zeppelin III vibe. I sing falsetto and use a twelve string guitar here and also added the air organ and xylophone.  Ed also suggested we string my guitar with all high strings (Nashville tuning) for a couple of these which created a more chime crisp tone. I loved it. We tracked from the guitars up adding layers of guitars and vocals for this session. Ed played bass and another longtime friend and former core band member Dave Cottini played drums on these tracks. Dave and I gel like musical brothers having an unmistakable, nonverbal, musical connection when we play. Very creative player. These songs have an openness, breathy, velvet character to them. Just beautiful. I get choked up hearing these back sometimes.

Producer/Engineer: Chris Dorn
Songs: Out For Miles, Soulful Automatic, Light Years
Chris Dorn plays in a band called The Beatifics. My wife introduced me to them back before I moved to the Twin Cities and I really dug the songwriting and production of their records. I wanted these songs to be slightly more modern sounding and I also needed help finalizing the songs themselves. Chris Dorn has a great sense of rock/pop songwriting sensibility. He offered great advice and additional parts to these songs. Dorn was also quite creative and meticulous when it came to mixing these. In particular the title track Soulful Automatic. After the song was just about mixed and finished he went back and tracked a compelling background vocal as well as an acoustic guitar. I heard it back and knew I didn't play or sing those parts but man I loved it! Ben Foote's melodic bass line on this song is so memorable. Ben is smart and quite accomplished in the study of bass and offered a modern touch and subtle uniqueness to these songs. In Out For Miles Ryan Otte's drum intro is perfect. Dorn made that huge. Ryan's playing is earthy, rock & roll. He has impeccable timing and feel. We also accomplished getting those Harrison-esque harmonized slide guitar hooks to sound just right. Dorn came up with the chord change modulation at the end of the song.

Listen to my home recorded demo of the title track:
Producer/Engineer: Mike Wisti
Songs: Shag If You Want To, You Love It, Shimmering Stars And The Moon Majestic
Mike Wisti recorded a great local band called Faux Jean and I was fond of the band and their recordings with him. I wanted the songs we recorded with Wisti to have more of a garage rock feel and I knew Mike could do this for us superbly. His studio is called Albatross in Minneapolis. We recorded live together to tape. Ryan Otte and Ben Foote for this session. This was my first time working with Mike. He's very much super knowledgeable about his studio room and the sound we were going for. Very interesting person and has kind of a mad scientist creative energy about him. I played Vox Continental keys on Shag which was pretty sweet. We recorded some backwards guitar for Shimmering Stars and Wisti lit up with excitement mixing this song in particular saying it was so MAJESTIC! Hence, that's where the title came from. Also I should mention that I met our current bass player Brian Herb at this session because he transferred the tracks from analog tape to digital. Good friends ever since.

Producer/Engineer: Jacques Wait
Songs: Undertow, Ride
Jacques was also in The Beatifics with Chris Dorn playing guitar and he also recorded Beatifics music, which I adored, so he was someone I was desperate to work with. Alot of people in town suggested him to produce. He could really understand the classic/modern combination I liked. We recorded at It's A Secret in Minneapolis owned by Dave Russ. Ryan Otte played drums on these and Jacques played bass. I also brought in Pete Hofmann to play electric Wurlitzer piano. Jacques is very precise and calculated in getting great tones and laying down tracks. I think we recorded the basic tracks to tape and overdubbed digital. We did harmonizing lead guitar parts in Undertow and recorded guitar through a rotating Leslie speaker cabinet in Ride. These tunes are clean, sharp rock/pop goodness. So happy to have finally worked with Jacques. Undertow became the popular radio single.

Very different sounding tracks but with the perfect track listing (which took quite a while to figure out) and expert mastering by David Gardner it combined to make a very cohesive, well balanced album as a whole. A great album to hear and experience in it's entirety. This is classic Little Man.

Little Man will be performing most of these songs March 4th 2017 at the 331 Club in Minneapolis. Come help us celebrate!

You need Soulful Automatic in your music library. Here are some options:

Get it on CD at CDbaby
Download it at iTunes
Download it at Bandcamp 

Little Man albums Of Mind And Matter, Orbital Amusement and Original Face followed Soulful Automatic. We are just about to hit record for our next one. Stay tuned!