Greetings and Happy New Year! It’s January so it’s time for my annual “beginning of the year” post, which usually ends up being only one of a couple each year, haha. There’s already quite a bit on the horizon for 2018, but to be honest, it’ll be tough to top last year. 2017 was one for the books on many levels…from a healthy dose of live shows and events (see post below) to many new releases to new business ventures, it was awesome to say the least! But don’t take my word for it, please read for yourself…
In April, GWAZI (my project with Brandon Youngs) issued Left, our 4th overall release and second politically themed EP. The individual tracks were released as digital singles with original artwork by Dennis Baker ($0R0$ by Brandon) for each. To celebrate the album, we had a listening party at the Black Market in Gordon Square and we appeared on the Radio Child show on WRUW 91.1FM.
In July, I released a 2nd solo EP, Phat Halo Blue (via Jib Machine) that I recorded in collaboration with Brandon. I chose to record a raw, acoustic album, which was the complete opposite of the full production approach I took for my 2015 J TEMP 13 EP.
The EP featured 5-tracks…a little intro called “General Store”, a re-recording of my 2008 track “Mae”, an ode to the forgotten folks of Cleveland during the recent resurgence (“Cleveland Song”), a song about relationships in modern society (“Nothing”) and a biographical track about an immigrant family called “Transylvania”.
I also made my first official video for the track “Nothing”. It was shot and edited by my good friend, James Neyman and featured four amazing actors, Meggan Conti, Pat D’Angelo, Leah Kraynak and Jason Klingensmith, who were gracious enough to lend their talents to the video. You can check out the clip above.
The next month (August), I made my first trip to Italy! There were many highlights during the 11 days I was there, but the main ones were seeing the Colosseum in Rome, experiencing the amazing beauty of Florence and meeting/getting to know my Italian cousins while spending time at our family’s villa in the city of Ascoli Piceno (it was the 100 year celebration of Villa Cicchi although the villa itself was originally build in 1685). Truly mind-blowing!
It was suggested to me by new Jib Machine artist, Mike Onesko, that while I’m in Italy, I should make an effort to travel to La Spezia to meet with Giorgio Mangora, the Record Hunter, who was an old friend of his and owner of AKARMA Records. I took Mike up on his suggestion and after a few email communications, Giorgio; his assistant, Franca and his daughter, Sarah agreed to meet with me.
From this very successful meeting, a new partnership was born where Jib Machine would release various CDs, LPs and Cassettes from the AKARMA and affiliate catalog in the U.S. and AKARMA would handle digital distribution in Europe for select future Jib releases. This fall/winter, Jib Machine distributed five AKARMA and affiliate releases…Chris Wayde – Pyramids; Mouth of Clay – Darkened Sun; Magia Nera – L’Ultima Danza Di Ophelia; Vic Vergeat Band – No Compromise!; and Free Will – Cold Cold Morning.
In November, Hot Ham & Cheese finally released our long-awaited fourth album, The Onions Have Eyes, followed by a little blitz of shows, media and an appearance on WRUW’s Live from Cleveland. The record features nine tracks (eight originals and a cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World”), and I believe it’s our best one to date as it shows major growth both musically and lyrically. We’re certainly proud of it!
My multi-talented bandmate, Louie Styx, put together the video above for the lead single, “Worth It Or Worthless”. It’s pretty cool and definitely worth checking out. The promo machine for this album is just getting started though so be on the lookout for shows, new videos and other surprises from HH&C in 2018!
Finally, speaking of 2018, after not releasing anything via 13 Recordings last year, there are plans for a few releases this year. They’ll mostly be archival and somewhat raw, but the plan is to make them available for free! More news regarding these coming very soon.
For now, I just want to again wish everyone a Happy New Year and best wishes for 2018!