Livin In The Promised Land is the latest record by Bill Chinnock and the first in over a decade. After the release of Out on the Borderline, Bill took a break from the music business and started producing and directing business videos and short films. He even directed a full-length film called The Forgotten Maine. Between that and a nasty bout with Lyme Disease, he's been out of the spotlight for a while. But he's ready to take another run at it.
"I just felt like it was time," said Chinnock. "We're kind of making ourselves vulnerable again."
Bill and his band spent the summer headlining several festivals up in Maine and are preparing to do shows throughout the East Coast. Shows in the Asbury Park area are being discussed, but nothing was confirmed at press time. He would love to return to the Stone Pony, a place he hasn't played in many years.
Chinnock's role in the history of Asbury Park music has largely been forgotten, but through a series of bands he played with a number of future E-Street members including Vini 'Mad Dog' Lopez, David Sancious, Garry Tallent and Danny Federici. His role was covered in the book, Beyond the Palace by Trafford Publishing.
So far the reaction to the new record has been extremely positive. From Maine to New Jersey, sales have been strong. The record, which was released in September, is available from Bill's website (www.artistgroup.com).
"I think the whole album is really a celebration of American music and all of the different influences I've had in my life from the Jersey Shore to the time I spent with blues artists and touring with Albert King or James Cotton and that whole journey to my stuff with Harold Bradley in Nashville. My music has always been like a synthesis of several American music styles. It's really been hard to pigeonhole me. And I think that with this record, all of the things have come together. This record is really a return to my roots."
The title song deals with life after 9/11 and is a call for people to come together as a nation and as a family, Bill explained. "We're all in this together. This is going to go on for a long time."
Livin In The Promised Land contains ten tracks, including eight new songs written by Chinnock. The record also contains covers of "Mystery Train" by Sam Phillips and "Motherless Child," by Harry Thacker Burleigh, which was written during the Civil War.
Although his music has often been compared to Bruce Springsteen, his style is actually quite different. A quick listen to the new record shows Bill's soul, blues and gospel influences. At times, it even sounds a bit like the Doobie Brothers, which may sound odd but is possible because he did play with some of the band members once. The soulful, gospel feel of the record is enhanced by smooth guitar work from a Rickenbacker lap steel guitar. Fans of Southside Johnny & the Jukes should give this CD a listen.
Chinnock's soulful voice evokes images of the old Upstage Club where he most likely shared a stage with Southside on more than one occasion.
And, if you're curious who the little boy on the CD cover is, it's Bill Chinnock himself. The photo was taken by Bill's mother back when they lived in North Jersey. In this photo, he's two years old and holding a guitar.
Some things never change...
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at email@example.com.