Happy Curmudgeons - 10 Questions Music Interview
Dave Hamilton started the Happy Curmudgeons with the help friends who were studio musicians. He wrote or co-wrote 11 songs on Meant 2 Be, the band's debut album which was released in 2017. The band is currently working with Mark Byerly (Producer) on their second album. Hello, Happy Curmudgeons! We have Dave Hamilton and Amy Dixon-Lavery from the group answering questions for us. How are you? And what have you been doing since the Covid-19 locked down in your state in March? Amy – I have been recovering from a broken right leg I suffered in Jan. I have not done much in the way of writing, just still recovering from the injury. Physical therapy has been closed here, so I am doing everything to recuperate on my own.
Dave – I was working with other musicians on new material for our second album through the
first week of March until the stay at home took effect. Now, I have changed my writing style
and I am doing everything on my own.
Amy – Has the release of "2nd Chances" changed anything for you, and what recognition have you received for the song?
Well, I was very pleased to be included in National Indie Radio's '2020 Women to Watch / Best Independent Female Artists' radio special. The song when to No. 1 on N1M music in the US. We released a video on YouTube and I am thrilled to have over 100,000 views so far. We submitted the song to the W.A.M. Awards this year, so I am hoping for the best while being up against some amazing musicians. I am really looking forward to getting back to the studio and recording an all acoustic version of the song. Our producer, Mark Byerly, is awesome and he strives to get the best out of us and our music.
Dave – You said you were working with some musicians prior to the stay at home orders. Who were you working with and how many songs will be on the new album? I am extremely lucky to live by some very talented musicians in metro Detroit. Jeff Warner has written two songs for the 2nd album and was co-writing a couple more tunes with me. We also had Vaughn Mortimer play with us last year. He is a truly gifted musician that can bounce from guitar and bass while having an amazing range vocally. Vaughn helped arrange music for a song we plan to have on the album. The big news is that I have was working with Bobby Balderrama from ? and The Mysterians. I met Bobby through a person in the business and we hit it off right away. He is an amazing guitar player and he also plays jazz with his other band, The Robert Lee Revue. I was writing some lyrics for Bobby for a new song he is working on now. We plan to get Bobby into the studio with us to record on 2nd Chances. 2nd Chances will be the name of our next album. I plan on featuring Bobby’s soloing on a new song I wrote this April. I am truly blessed to be able to have a living musical legend as a friend that I can bring to play on a song and show the world again how gifted he is musically.
On Meant 2 Be, you used two producers – Nate Harasim & Mark Byerly. We noticed Mark
Byerly produced both of the new singles "2nd Chances" and "Jack Russell." Dave – Yes, we are working with Mark exclusively now. Nate got us into the studio and helped us release Meant 2 Be. Mark has more of an ear and soul that relates to our music. He knows and feels what we want and he has become an important part of the Happy Curmudgeons project. Nate is gifted, but he was not on the same page with us. Mark has toured with Bob Seger and we fall into that Americana/Folk/ Classic Rock sound. He gets us, because he is one of us.
You had some great musicians on "2nd Chances" and "Jack Russell." How did you get them on the tracks? Amy – Well, Mark brought in Jim Moose Brown, from the Bob Seger Band, to play Hammond B3 on "2nd Chances." He arranged the string section and had the girls (Barbara Payton, Laura Creamer and Cathleen Wiley) sing background. Takashi Lio is an award winning bass player and I was overjoyed to have him on the song. Dave – "Jack Russell" was a song I wrote last year. I dreamed some of the lyrics and soon a story developed about a fictional bounty hunter. Tumbleweed had a very catchy riff on the harmonica and Mark Byerly brought Jim Moose Brown in for the tune. Moose does a killer solo on Jack Russell" that makes the song. "Jack Russell" has a honkytonk quality to it. It is a very fun song to play live.
What should be expect on 2nd Chances? Meant 2 Be had a lot of different genres. Will 2nd
Chances be more of the same?
Amy – We want our music to mean something and be a release for people. Covid-19 has put a new importance on music for me and us. Music can be a true healer. It can take you away and put a smile on your face. It can cry with you and understand your sorrow. I want our music to reflect emotion. Dave – I try to be positive with what we deliver. My message is simple - we are all human and life is difficult. We need something or someplace to escape to for a while. We have so many talented musicians from various backgrounds that it would be a shame not to explore everyone’s favorite genre. Music is a language that can speak to anyone if their ears and heart are open to it.
Dave – So we understand you got to meet Jack White last year – tell us about that meeting.
Dave - Well, I was in Detroit at the Shinola Hotel for a fundraiser. The event raised funds to
help end Parkinson’s disease and was hosted by Kirk Gibson. Alice Cooper and Wayne Kramer
were there too. I was lucky enough to meet both of them as well. I got a chance to talk with
Jack later in the evening. I told him we had his crew at Third Man Records mix "2nd Chances" and "Jack Russell" and I was very happy with the results. He took a CD copy of "2nd Chances" from me and wished me the best on our next album. We plan to have Third Man Records mix all of the
Meant 2 Be was mainly an album of songs that Dave wrote or co-wrote. Will 2nd Chances be
more of the same, or will other members get a chance to feature their songs? Amy – Well, I was very happy everyone loved "2nd Chances." I hope to have at least one more song on the album other than the alternate acoustic version. Dave – 2nd Chances is more of a group effort. Jeff Warner will have at least two tracks on this album. "All On You" is a great song that we have played live already. "Tumbleweed" has been working on a couple instrumentals with me. I really enjoy have other people contribute their work and seeing the songs come together. Mark Byerly has done an amazing job to bring life to the material we have brought him.
"2nd Chances" has an Americana feel and "Jack Russel"l is country/honkytonk - what can we expect from the other songs? Dave – We are still exploring genres and will we have everything from folk to classic rock. This album will be heavy on the Americana sound, but we plan on having some up tempo rock songs on it as well. Tumbleweed wants to be able to get out there and get down while he is playing.
We wish you the best in 2020 and beyond. Anything you would like to tell the listeners and your
Dave – First, thank you SO much for giving us a chance and listening to our music.
Music has been my life and I love this opportunity to play with gifted musicians and create something that means so much to me. Second, thanks to everyone that has taken the time to really listen to our songs. You need to give them a fourth and fifth listen and then we got you. You have our gratitude for listening and we are striving to make a great 2nd album. Peace -N-
Love Amy – I love singing and I hope we can get back to playing live soon. Stay well & safe!
For more information about the Happy Curmudgeons, please visit their website.