>>> A Year in Review
January 2, 2006
Happy New Year! I must admit that I'm sad to see 2005 go. It was a really exciting time with the release of "Forever Red" and the Spring and Fall incarnations of my band's live show, which has come a REALLY long way since that electrifying first run during our premiere party at Sidekicks.
The first series of live performances and weeks of rehearsals helped the core of the band - with myself on violin and vocals, Jen on cello, Jason on drums, and then-newcomers Ryan on bass, Brad on keys, and Karma on vocals - really gel as a group and as friends. Although I was disappointed to see Brad go and we wished him the best, Jesse stepped right back in and we later brought in Aaron on electric guitar and Randy on keys as well, fortifying our live sound with some very accomplished jazz solo musicians. Everything really does happen for a reason!
Only two days into existence, 2006 is already slated to bring some bigger, even more exciting possibilities. We have started the process of bringing classic Omar and Jen duo favorites such as "De la Luna and "Teatro de Suenos" back to life as full band versions for upcoming live shows. Even better, there are a few brand-new pieces including Latin-funk rocker "Full Circle" and fusion jam "Infinite Reflection" that are sure to be crowd pleasers - we hope!
I'm thrilled to announce the news that planning has begun to produce a full-length live concert experience which will be recorded and videotaped for a DVD release! The full band you've seen in action over the past year will be joined by an eight-piece string section as well as two new female vocalists as we perform material from "Forever Red"
and several new songs which will be on my next studio album. The concert will take place next summer, with the DVD being produced and released just in time for Christmas 2006 shopping!
Thanks to everyone who supported us this past year. We're looking forward to the new year with open eyes, open hearts, and open minds. See you onstage!
>>> Changes and Phases
January 31, 2006
Change is the only constant in the universe. There is a reason for everything. That's what I've had to tell myself all of this past month, ever since 2006 began and Baby New Year let out his first newborn scream. Yeah, it's been like that. 2005 was great in many, many ways, but I now feel that I have a clearer vision of what I want to accomplish this year for myself as a person and as an artist during this year and in the near future.
First, the changes. Last fall, Karma Stewart (the featured vocalist for my band) informed me that she would be moving to Los Angeles to go to music school in the spring. Yay, Karma! She is so talented and I know we'll work together again, but she needs to do this for herself. I'm sad to see her go. REALLY sad. This girl is my "soul-sista" and she makes me laugh... I know I make her laugh, too. Songs like "Love Someone" and "Reasons for Living" won't be the same without her.
One of my longtime friends and musical collaborators, cellist Jennifer Mulhern, will also be branching out to explore her own creative path with her acoustic and electric cellos. Working with her has been a joy and it's been great to see how much she has grown and improved as a performer and a musician. After Jen's departure in late March, Jeanette Cannata-Grahman, a classically-trained cellist and soprano (yes, she's a wonderful singer!), will be performing with us.
The core of the band - Jason Traweek and on drums and Ryan Redfern on bass guitar - will remain intact. Keyboardist and synthesizer-guru Jesse Jack, who helped me create the foundation of many of the songs that are on "Forever Red", is a composer/songwriter in his own right and will be pursuing some endeavors on his own, but he'll fill in when he can.
Sometimes it feels like the music is naked whenever prominent players leave the project, but it leaves it open to have new voices come in. I don't believe in "replacing" anyone because every single one of the musicians that has ever played onstage with me has always brought a new, fresh take on the songs I've created. I wouldn't want it any other way. Instead, the classic songs will gain a new lease on life and and a new cast of musicians will help me to create the new music that will be the focus of my next studio album and live project. I eagerly anticipate that this will be even better than this first incarnation, which I lovingly call the "Forever Red" era.
The next phase of this project, although maintaining some familiarity with many of the songs from my last CD, will come alive with even more beautiful orchestrations and textures, new musicians on classical and electric guitars and Latin percussion, and new female vocalists. I can't wait to share it with all of you.
>>> Be Forever Red for Valentine's Day!
February 14, 2006
Well, it's here... the week of the last two "official" Forever Red shows. Forever Red as in the setlist and era of my live project, not my band. The band is great. Jesse decided to return on keyboards, fleshing out the core of the band with Ryan and Jason on bass and drums (respectively) while I rehearse with new players guitars and keyboards. I'm writing so much music of all kinds - from gospel-funk to Latin-rock - that I'm probably going to end up discontinuing a couple of songs from my current setlist to add the new ones which should be premiered in March.
Now that it's almost over, I guess I can come out and be more open about what "Forever Red" really means to me. At the time of the album release, it was the culmination of 5 years of writing music based on certain experiences in my life that made me who I am today - my first heartbreak, my discovery of the world's cultures and music through my travels, a spiritual self-awakening, and the ultimate rebirth of my own soul through inner peace and happiness. The color red has been the one constant through this - it represents many real, raw, intense, and powerful human emotions - love, passion, anger, joy, pain. In writing new music, there's no point in rehashing all that old stuff, even though I think some of the best music comes from hard times.
So, my next studio album is still as yet untitled. Joe says that there is no point in rushing to name a project when I don't know what the overall mood and feeling will be. He's got a good point. I'm actually thinking of releasing a live concert CD and DVD with all of the old stuff and a couple of the new songs like "Fireflight" and "Full Circle" before I do another studio project. I want to capture the energy and essence of this music and this particular configuration of musicians before the next phase starts. I might record it sometime this spring and release it sometime later this year in time for Christmas 2006.
Here is the setlist as it stands now, complete with a few of the new pieces, in preparation for the February and March shows.
Pachelbel's Canon (full band version)
De la Luna (full band version)
Killing Me Softly
Aurora (orig. by Vanessa-Mae)
Reasons for Living
All Blues (orig. by Miles Davis)
Fallen (full band version)
I Will Survive
>>> I Love My Band!
March 2, 2006
Last Saturday night's show at Seattle's Best downtown under the Frost Bank Tower was undoubtedly the best ever with my band. That is probably the best public venue for this group, all auditorium concerts and convention ballrooms aside. It's hard to believe it's been over a year since our first show together promoting my "Forever Red" release at Sidekicks, and I thought THAT show was great... but this one surpasses anything we've done.
Even a couple of broken violin strings (they were new and they still broke, so thanks to Blackerby Violin Shop for replacing them free of charge... love you Blackerby!) didn't hold me back - when the Zeta broke a string at the end of Dawn, I switched to the acoustic for "Testimonial Ocean" and "Love Someone", and then took off from the stage and let Karma take over and lead the band on "Killing Me Softly" while I went to change the strings after the ACOUSTIC broke a string.
Then I broke a string on the Zeta AGAIN (different string this time) at the end of "Resurrection" towards the end of the show and I was like... screw it... so I gave Karma the lead again on "I Will Survive" while I ventured off into the crowd to get everyone up and dancing and it turned into a big old party. My Mom came to the show (we premiered the full band version of "De la Luna" for her in the middle of the set) and she and I were jiving to the beat.
The band was awesome. I agree with Karma, Aaron really threw it down HARDCORE during the violin/guitar duel on "Forever Red". The rhythm section - Ryan on bass and Jason on drums - was solid as always and it's so nice to have Jesse back on keys. This was also the best performance I've seen Jen do on her new electric cello and she really rocked it out - and Karma was awesome as always... she puts the "diva" in divine.
Recently, Jesse suggested that we do Fallen (which opens Resurrection)as a full band instead of just synthesizers and violin and cello like we used to, so we tried it out at a concert we put on for the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and it went over well. We've also livened up Pachelbel's Canon in D major with a very eclectic beat. Here's a full setlist so you all can see what we played!
Killing Me Softly
Reasons for Living
De la Luna
I Will Survive
Those of you who've been keeping up with my blogs know that it was Karma's last show. She's moving to LA in a couple of weeks - she was accepted into the Musicians' Institute of Hollywood School of Music. Did I get that right? Go Karma. I'm going to miss you, girl! She'll be back, no worries, when I get ready to start getting things ready to do the live DVD and CD. I've put off doing another studio album to just focus on doing great shows with the band and selling CDs. Thanks to everyone who bought the "Forever Red" CD! If you don't have one already, go to www.cdbaby.com/cd/omarlopez. I think you'll love it!
Jen is also leaving the group to explore new horizons on that wicked cool electric cello of hers, but she's in the same town so I know we'll keep in touch and she, too, will be back for the live DVD and CD recording. From now on, future shows will have a smaller 5 piece group (violin, keys, guitar, bass, drums) unless it's a bigger concert style event in which case I'll have some extra surprise guest musicians up there! Whee!
Mark your calendar, the band and I are playing at RAIN on 4th nightclub for SXSW on March 16 - it's a Thursday and we start at 8 PM.
>>> Last Show for Spring and SXSW!
March 14, 2006
Lots going on right now. Where to start?
The band and I are playing two big shows this week. Both of them will be the last two performances that will feature Jen Mulhern on cello. She's moving on to her own solo project this spring and while she and vocalist Karma Stewart will be returning to record the live DVD with us later this year, it's important for her to spread her wings and fly. She is launching her own website very soon at JenMulhern.com. Check it out!
Thursday, March 16, for my own unofficial SXSW showcase, I'm playing at RAIN on 4th nightclub (217-B W. 4th St.) at 8:00 PM. It's my last show there for a while... probably until summer. You don't need a badge or wristband to get in, but tips are welcome! THE BAND: me (electric violin and vocals), Jen Mulhern (electric cello), Jesse Jack (keyboards), Ryan Redfern (electric bass), and Jason Traweek (drums).
Saturday, March 18, we are performing at a huge private banquet for the Human Rights Campaign, opening for Broadway singing ensation Jennifer Holliday! You do have to purchase tickets to this event and it will take place at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Austin, but it's sure to be an awesome show.
After that, I'm taking a vacation in April to regroup and prepare for my summer shows, while drummer Jason Traweek and his wife Kirsy prepare for the arrival for their second child, a baby girl! Anyone who's been to our outdoor shows at Seattle's Best Coffee on 4th and Congress has seen their little boy Iason (EYE-uh-sun) jamming along with his mini-violin. Well, he's going to have a beautiful little sister, I'm sure. Congratulations to them can be directed towards Jason's website at EartoAnon.com.
Other news... well, I'm getting yet ANOTHER mega-batch of CDs printed after this week. I can't believe it. I never thought that it would have done as well as it did and I have so many people, including my friends, family, fellow musicians, and of course a lot of amazing fans, to thank for its success. MUCHAS GRACIAS! ARIGATOU! EFHARISTO POLI! MERCI! GRATZIE! DANKE! THANK YOU!
The sad news about this is that it's probably the last batch of CDs that will have my version of "Neverending Story" on it. Music licensing is not a sticky process - it was actually pretty simple - but it can be costly and I'm to a point where I'd rather get more of the original music out.
The good news is that after this batch, I am planning on going back into the studio to record a few brand-new original songs (including a couple we've been playing live recently - I'll let you all guess which ones!), and adding them to the existing "Forever Red" lineup to replace "Neverending Story". Stay tuned for more news on "Forever Red: REMIXED".
I had been thinking of moving onto a new project, but really, this is a really fun set of music to play and it's great to see how much it has evolved, so if it "ain't broke, don't fix it!" Right?
I am seriously pondering going back to my roots for my next major solo project. The Latin blood flows deep in my veins (I'm forever reeeeeed!) with my Mexican and Spanish heritage and I've been wanting to sing in Spanish for a long time, even performing some classic boleros such as "Amor Eterno" (Eternal Love) and "Solamente una Vez" (You Belong to My Heart), both of which were played at my Dad and stepmom's wedding back in the day! So who knows...
See you all this week, hopefully!
>>> Forever Red: Remixed
March 28, 2006
I spent the past few days after my 27th birthday in Wimberley - the heart of the Central Texas Hill Country - at my Mother's house to do some reflecting and relaxing, and I'm still planning on going down to South Padre Island after I get rid of a few of these winter pounds. *contented sigh*
So... I mentioned the possibility of a "remix" album a little under a year ago when I started writing new songs such as "Fireflight" and "Full Circle" following the February 2005 release of the "Forever Red" CD. Well, this project is about to hit the recording studio!
"Neverending Story" will only be on the next 1000 "Forever Red" (version 2005) CDs sold - we won't be printing anymore of the CDs with this fun, electronic-pop version of the 1984 movie's theme song.
Due for a release in late November 2006 is "Forever Red: Remixed" (tentative title) - with all of your favorite originals from the original album as well as four brand-new songs, a couple of singles (radio edits), and some hot dance remixes! It will also have more beautiful album artwork and photos inside.
You can still pick up a copy of the original "Forever Red" at CD Baby - but it is now considered a limited edition!
>>> Here Comes the Rain Again
May 5, 2006
Thanks to one of Mother Nature's famous Hill Country temper-tantrums... thunder, lightning, rain, and lots of hail... my power is out right now. You know what that means... no air conditioner, no fan, no computer, no charger for that annoying Blackberry, no microwave, no DVDs, no TV, no practicing on my Zeta, and no music to put me to sleep! When I got home last night, it was like walking into a pitch black cave, except I live on the second story. So it was off with the comforter and blankets, up with the windows, and under the sheets in the sweltering humidity.
I felt bad for Kooby because he likes to sleep on the bed, right next to me, and I'm sorry, but having a warm furry little dog right next to you when you're already sweating bullets in a warm apartment is not entirely pleasant, so he had to sleep on the papa-san. It cooled down after the storm was over, thank God.
Onto the music - Jason, my longtime drummer, emailed me a couple of days ago to announce the birth of his daughter, Aislyn Julia Traweek. Props to Kirsy, Jason's wife, for enduring what seemed to be a very long pregnancy and letting her husband play all those late gigs with us during that time. She is such a fighter and a wonderful mother to their little boy, Iason. I encourage all of you to send him an email via his website, EartoAnon.com, in order to congratulate them on Aislyn Julia's arrival!
While Jason spends his time with family and cultivating his new live project with his band, Ear to Anon, I'd like to welcome my new drummer, Chris Azios, into the fold. He'll be doing some shows as Jason's sub/replacement on and off during the summer, even though Jason will still be with us at some larger concert appearances in June.
During our first rehearsal with Chris, we worked out a very fast-paced, drum-and-bass flavored number that is sure to be one heck of a crowd-pleaser, especially with a featured electric bass solo courtesy of Ryan Redfern
. The song,
, will be one of the pieces on the upcoming remix album. You'll be able to hear it and some other new songs performed live at our next full band performance at the Seattle's Best Coffee under the Frost Bank Tower on May 20 at 8:00 PM.
From there on, it's a pretty much packed gig schedule, so I'm bracing myself for the coming storm after an extended sabbatical. I hope to see you all there. Be well, and be happy!
P.S. I almost forgot. ARRIBA ARRIBA, ANDALE ANDALE!!!! Happy Cinco de Mayo, everybody! Okay, that's enough of that. That's the most you're going to see of my Latino roots for a while, so be happy with it.
>>> Back into the Studio
September 1, 2006
What a summer it's been! For those of you who are on MySpace, I've been blogging there a lot, and you can view my blog by CLICKING HERE. However, I've got some great news, so you're going to see me start resuming my posts on this journal.
As some of you may (or may not) know, the band and I performed two concerts this summer - one out in the Westlake Hills out at Marc Brewster's lovely Las Casitas Estate, and one out in Temple, Texas for the Hot Summer Sounds Concert Series. Both shows were quite fun and the audiences were great. The musicians were on fire, as well. I know I've said that before, but this band has just gotten better and better, tighter and tighter, since our first show in February 2005 at the CD release show for "Forever Red".
Both of these concerts were recorded in multitrack digital audio by AMFM Productions, and I'm excited to share with you that these concerts were so awesome and full of energy, I am going to be releasing the best performances of the music from these shows as my new live album - "FOREVER RED: Live in Concert"!
Trust me when I say that even though the title is similar to that of my debut album, the record itself will be VERY different and VERY live. For all of those who have supported me and my music, and for the fans who have had their worlds rocked by the energy and groove of Jason Traweek on drums and Ryan Redfern on electric bass, or been awestruck by the versatility and virtuosity of cellist Jennifer Mulhern and guitarist Adam Sultan, and have wanted to pop in a CD and relive that experience... well, this is for all of you!
I won't share the tracklisting with you just yet, as this project has just started, but I will say that although several songs from "Forever Red" will be included, four never-before-recorded original compositions will also be there! If you've done your homework lately, I'll bet you can guess which ones... but I'll leave that up to you.
Even though the performances have been recorded, track for track, process to mix, edit, and master this project will still take a while. Luckily, I am rejoining Adam Whaley, who co-produced my first album with me at his studio, The Means of Production. The most grueling phase of this process will be accomplished there, and we hope to release "FOREVER RED: Live in Concert" by the end of November 2006. The album's release will be followed by an all-new Fall Concert Series.
Looking forward... -O
>>> It's Coming!
October 27, 2006
I didn't realize how much work putting out a live album takes. I've been to many concerts where I knew the artist was going to put out an album of the live show, and then I sit waiting for months and sometimes even years until it finally comes out. A couple of examples are "Jean-Luc Ponty in Concert" (recorded during the famed electric violinist's tour in 2000 and released in 2004) and the most recent release from Yanni - "LIVE: The Concert Event", which was recorded during his Fall 2004 tour and just a couple of months ago. Trust me, even though the wait was long for these great albums, it was worth it!
One thing I've learned in this process is that being on the stage during the performance is quite a different experience from actually listening to what was recorded after you've had a couple of months away. I went on a summer vacation to visit my mother in New Mexico at the beginning of July after my Summer 2006 concert series wrapped up with our shows in Westlake and in Temple, and then finally sat down with my co-producer, Adam Whaley, in the middle of September to get working on mixing and editing the live recordings.
My initial reaction was "WOW, this sounds great!" but after a while, we knew that a lot of work was going to have to be done to get it sounding as crystal clear as my original studio album, "FOREVER RED", which came out well over a year and a half ago. There are things like intonation (why do we have to play in tune!?), wind noise (the recordings were from outdoor concerts), and even situations where a couple of us (including myself!) forgot our parts. Yeah, I STILL get stage jitters during concerts, even after all this time!
However, I still believe that without pain there is no gain, and this has been an awesome learning experience for me and the band. We've even taken the steps to record a couple of shows from our recent Fall 2006 concert series to capture some of the new additions to the songlist! The new album, now titled "OMAR LOPEZ: LIVE IN CONCERT", will be available in early December 2006. Songs from the "FOREVER RED" album, such as "Dawn" and "Exodus", as well as seven never-before-recorded pieces, will be there for your listening pleasure, and feature longtime band members Jen Mulhern (cello), Ryan Redfern (electric bass), and Jason Traweek (drums), as well as newcomers Jayme Munoz (flamenco guitar), Adam Sultan (electric guitar) and Billy Wolfe (keyboards), as well as three wonderful surprises - the lovely voices of Kelley Phillips-Glover, Georgia Napolitano, and Crystal Starr.
We'll take a short break in November 2006 for the Thanksgiving holiday while we also rehearse our new show, and we'll be back onstage on December 8, 2006, at Unity Church of the Hills in North Austin to share the exciting new concert with all of you! Until then, be well, be happy, and thanks for all of your support!