For years, Michael Patrick has been proving that Jersey artists can have twang too. He's logged over 1500 shows with performances by the Michael Patrick Band, The Suburban Hillbillies, and his Johnny Cash tribute band - Ring of Fire. Inspired by the more traditional folk, country, rockabilly, roots and rock sounds & writing of such artists as Lyle Lovett, Hank Williams, John Prine, and the Man in Black himself, Michael Patrick has developed an appreciation of simplistic story-telling lyrics, catchy hooks and memorable melodies.
In a year without live concerts, Michael Patrick has released a show performed at the tail end of 2018 - long before we knew the world would come to a halt. The album is available for free as a digital down at his website. New Jersey Stage caught up with Michael via email to learn more about the release.
Did you intend to record the album when you performed that night? Have you recorded many of your shows?
There was no initial intention of making a recording for an album on this evening. I would rarely record shows in the past but I had the opportunity and took advantage of it. Since it was a special occasion tying into the release of my last CD (John Wayne Movies) and a great night at the Pony with John Eddie, it seemed to make sense at the time.
In addition, it was a seperate band I had put together for releasing that project live which included some Jersey Greats like: Mike Noordzy on Bass, Bobby Donofrio on Guitar, Mike Heady on Drums and Elaine Orzichowski on Keys. So it was nice to capture that magic! To Be Honest, the Tunes sat in my computer for a year-and-a-half before I decided to revisit it. I felt it really captured the energy of a live performance, despite some flubs here and there to be expected. So I took it into the studio and eq'd it a little bit here and there to put something cohesive together.
How ironic is it to release a live album during the age of COVID-19 and few to no live shows?
As I finish up the last two tunes on my fifth recording (which will be titled "HOME"), it's hard to see an appropriate release date in the forseeable future that would include live release parties at venues Etc due to the current atmosphere of covid. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to give something back and let people know I'm still out here and also a chance for folks to experience the energy of a live "Club performance" that they might have never got to witness in person. I have to keep moving and cant stay stagnent too long, so this is perhaps the outcome of that pent up energy as well!
In regards to "live shows"... though there havent been many full-band-shows last year, I have been able to continue to perform solo events on pretty much a weekly basis. I am very grateful for those opportunities as they helped me maintain some sort of sanity.
As someone who was busy performing with multiple bands, how difficult has it been to be on the sidelines? Have you done many virtual concerts?
It indeed has been rough. Performing is in my blood and for a busy schedule to instantly come to a halt it has been disheartening to say the least. I really miss meeting up with friends, celebrating events and sharing that joy that only comes with a beer a handshake and a hug! It's the "Human connection" that i miss most!
It didnt take me long to get on the "Facebook Live" Bandwagon. I probably averaged 1 live virtual event a week over this time frame. A quick look in my facebook video library will reveal many of these that have been archived. However, some new tunes have come out of the experience which I expect to be on the next release. These include: "Glass of Whiskey & My Guitar", and "Last day of the year."
Recently I wondered why Jersey artists rarely release best of collections or live recordings that serve that purpose. Do you think this recording does a good job of showcasing your career?
Career? lol.. I'm not sure I would call it that. I'm just doing what I love and doing my best to keep doing that. I often joke that my next CD will be called "Greatest Hits." With all the work that goes into writing, recording, releasing and promoting for each project, it could at times feel like it might be time to hang it up.
You are making this recording available for free. Why did you decide to do that?
It felt like a good time to let people see the other side of things.. to remember the good times of going out to live shows and a reminder that we will all eventually be back out there. This recording reveals some edge that a person that only comes to coffeehouse performances doesnt get to see from me. I personally feel this is where I thrive best! In regards to it being a free download, lets face it people don't want to buy cd's anymore in this new "spotify world" we're living in :) I'm happy to spread the love in any way I can!
CD Baby closed their online store in 2020, which was a big blow to indie artists. Have you looked for a replacement store site?
It really hasnt affected me as pretty much most sales I see are digital (Itunes, Amazon, spotify etc). Most physical product sales have come from live performances. I do however offer independent sales through my own website (this is the most direct). I also continue to use services like Reverbnation, Band Camp, and Sound Cloud... I have never relied on online sales and dont see that changing in the future.
Has the pandemic led you to make new decisions regarding your career?
For the interim, it has forced me to perform more solo shows which I enjoy and really puts you in a place of having to deliver every time. (I like a challenge!) As a result, I have become a better performer and gotten a lot more comfortable in my own skin! It's hard to predict what the future holds, but I do look forward to getting back out there with the band!
The live recording has several songs of yours we've played on ThePenguinRocks.com for years and some of my favorites. If you had to choose, what is your favorite song of yours? And what would you say has always received the best response from fans?
I always enjoy the more high energy tunes especially songs which lend themselves to audience participation and sing a longs. In that respect, I would have to say "Callin' in well", "Don't take your love from me", and "Incomplete"... However, based on the venue and audience I may have a different answer.. For ex. A coffeehouse or listening room will more likely appreciate the mellower "story songs" like Cash in the Attic. Often times I will perform an alternate outake on songs in this environment.
As far as the "best response from Fans... Thats a no brainer ha ha That would be Folsom Prison by Johnny Cash!
Finally, this concert was from the end of 2018, have you been working on more songs since then? Any plans for a new release sometime in 2021?
I have been working on a new studio CD since June, 2020 at Holland Studios in Milford NJ. It's just about done (if I stop adding songs to it lol) Im currently between 13 to 15 tunes. I'm very happy with the direction it is taking. Still carrying over some of my Country rock roots with quite a few having much more commercial appeal. I also recorded my versions of 2 classic covers that might come as a surprise to some (Hard Luck Woman by Kiss & Nice to be with you by Gallery). I'm a sucker for the 70's!
I have dribbled many of these tunes out on the intertubes already with great responses. I would love to have live release parties in the summer and/or early fall if logistics will allow me based on the pandemic.
PHOTOS BY BOB YELLEN