The Calm….

Kicked off the week of the Alex Soria Memorial Concert with the Steve Earle show at the Club Soda and was blown away. The man has it all on stage, and the band was superb. Best show so far this year. Two and half-hours of passionate, politically charged rock/folk at it’s finest. I’m amazed they haven’t tried to lock him up under the Patriot Act. All of Alex’s friends plus Carlos were there, so it was quite a night. It was also our friend Jim’s 40th birthday, so it was going to be a great time but still pretty emotional. We couldn’t help but wish he was there, and who knows, maybe he was……

After the show, we all made our way up to Barfly and hooked up with regulars and chatted amongst ourselves. Apart from our group of friends, there were at least 20 other people who came in and had been to the show and loved it, among them xquerenciax. I was happy to introduce Alex’s best mates to the man who wrote what I think is the best thing written about a Chino show I’ve read yet.

Mike Willis and I remarkably got out before last call and made our way to my place in the usual 30 seconds and wound up sitting at my kitchen table listening to Mala Leche – twice. He at one point had 20 copies -he was co-producer – but now has zero. He gave that record everything he had, lived it for months to the point where it was taking a severe toll on his personal life. People don’t know the blood, sweat, and tears that were put into that record, the finest Alex ever did. Jack Rabid called it “extraordinary” on the CKUT tribute to Alex. It is. But a heavy price was paid by some, and it wasn’t just financial. There was so much going on during the making of that record it’s a story onto itself. Yet it’s amazing to hear what Mike had to say about what it meant to work with Alex, the way he approached each song, and the specific things Alex wanted in each song. He was such a perfectionist. It had to be perfect. He had what he wanted in his mind, but didn’t write music and didn’t know a soundboard. Mike was his engineer and translator. He was the only soundman Alex ever worked with who was also a friend, and hence one of the few who could understand what Alex wanted and what was in his head. It took a lot of work, and I’m sure the reason Mike no longer has a copy is because he couldn’t hear it like the rest of us. He’ll never hear it like the rest of us. Yet he finally understands what was great about it, and apparently so did Alex in his latter months. Over at Mark Donato’s place in Fall, Mike and Alex listened to it again and Alex told him, “You know, this is pretty good”. I’ve never heard Alex say he liked anything that came out prior to that remark made to Mike. Nearly seven years after it was recorded, and six since it was released, Alex and Mike finally make their peace with Mala Leche at Mark Donato’s in St. Henri. Perfect.

There’s an interesting side note to this….Mike was saying that it became impossible at one point, Alex wondering if the record should come out at all. They were so stuck in it, obsessed with getting everything just right, they just didn’t know any more. So Alex decides it’s time to send the songs to Jack Rabid to get an outside opinion he respects more than any other, mainly because Jack was never afraid to say what he really thought of a record. Jack loved Alex’s songs, but knew the production was always a problem with Nils records. Jack gets back to Alex, tells him he loves what he’s hearing. Mike and Alex get back to work, vindicated, and Mala Leche is with us. Thanks, Jack.

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