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A Brief History
Movies make you think civilization will end fast, like with aliens and explosions, but really it'll end slow. Ours is already ending, it's just ending too slow for people to notice. — Cloud Cuckoo Land, Anthony Doerr
So I bring you a brief period of history with my band The Carnivaleros:
From about 2004 to 2011 I was working with Marx Loeb on drums, Carla Brownlee on sax, guitarist Mitzi Cowell, and bassist Chris Giambelluca. At the end of that run Mitzi moved on to her own projects, and Chris got busy playing dates with Calexico. Below is a pic of this band with Karl substituting for Chris at one of our rare Rialto Theatre appearances, opening for an even rarer headliner LFK’s Kelley Hunt in 2010.
Despite only having a few dates in 2012 with a pick-up band I started writing songs for what would be my 4th Carnivaleros release. One of the few live performances that year was at the Tucson Folk Festival with Michael P and Karl Hoffmann, who happened to be in town (once again).
So in 2013, a decade ago, I decided to record a new batch of songs, even though the performing band was in a bit of limbo. Karl was still living in Spain so he recorded most of the bass parts remotely. But he was visiting Tucson in the winter that year when I managed to get him into my studio, along with Mitzi, to record the foundation for the title cut, Strictly Tabu.
In the studio, Mitzi and Carla were the only ones from the previous incarnation to put their stamp on the new project. I enlisted a horn section for several cuts; Dante and Marco Rosano, and Rick Peron (along with Carla). Mike Purdy also played a few cuts and vocalist Landis Kearnon lent her haunting vocals to Supper Club Magician. Brother Greg arranged many of the horn parts. And on the cut Tin Foil Hats I enlisted Catherine Zavala on vocals (she also sang Pedal Steel Neighbor) along with the Carnivaleros Youth Choir (Perla Kiely, Izzy Branson, Sophia, Olivia and Jovi Darnell) and the Tin Foil Hat Senior Choir consisting of Residents of the Copper Canyon Alzheimer’s Care Center (they all wore their homemade tin foil hats for the occasion).
This is the music, especially the cinematic instrumentals, that I had hoped would potentially get my foot in the door for film and teevee licensing. I did reach out to any and all potential connections I had plus the various music supervisor sites online. I even tried Taxi for a minute. But thousands of others were and are playing the same game. I still submit songs on a site called Songtradr but have yet to get a bite.
If you’re curious and so inclined, you can listen to all of the Strictly Tabu cuts on Bandcamp and it’s easy to purchase a cut or two of individual tracks. Or all eleven cuts for 220.127.116.11…OR, if you’d like a hard copy mailed to you just reach out to me!
Ten years later the band is no more but I left behind a catalogue of seven CDs under that name. I’m busy playing the squeezebox with a dance band called the Morpholinos that includes Karl singing some of his favorite quirky cuts, Neil McCallion performing many of his originals, and Nick Augustine on drums. We play every last Thursday at Monterey Court in Tucson (except this month when I’ll be traveling). I’m also still banging the tubs for Kevin Pakulis which includes the now infamous Sunday Sessions at Borderlands Brewing Company.
Stay tuned as I’ve been having a songwriting attack in the last few months and there’s a new project in the works, both a recording and a performance group, to pass them on to you later in the year.
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