By DJ Dave Hoffenberg
I, like most people, miss live music. There are many places that have music but most of it is solo/duo stuff. That’s good and all, but I want to go see a band, live in concert or go to a festival. I’m wishing that happens this summer. In the meantime, if you want to get your band fix, check out Bow Thayer’s new album, “The Zen of Snug.” I love the entire album, everyone on it is solid, the vocals are on point and each tune tells a story. I am grateful for getting to listen to it and to have spoke with Bow about it.
Bow has been busy this pandemic, having put out seven singles and six improvised “Soundpaintings” from his Choirs of Aether project, released a double album with his old timey, non-traditional string band The Benders, and co-written an album under the name Beau Bow de Lune, out March 5, 2021. All that and this new album which you can listen to on his website (bowthayer.com) and pre-order for its release April 2.
“I realize I’ve been like a hermit. I haven’t really left my property. I’m here all day, writing and recording. I can’t believe how much stuff I’ve put out,” Bow said.
He also has music for another album after this one. He said he needs to decide how to stagger the releases so people don’t get sick of him. “I’m sick of me,” he said laughing, then added, “It’s been a really creative time for me and a lot of fun.”
Bow is constantly writing music. He was writing a song when I called. “If I don’t do it, I go bananas,” he said.
Beau Bow de Lune is the creative love child of in-demand guitarist Val McCallum (Jackson Browne, Lucinda Williams, Gregg Allman), Bow Thayer and Greg Wells (Grammy award winning mixer/producer and drummer/keyboard/guitar). Bow said, “We’re a trio and it’s a remote band. Those guys live in California and me here. I didn’t really play on the record, I sang a little. But when you have Val and Greg, they’re some of the best players in the world. It sounds so amazing.” Bow said Greg is behind so many hit songs and movie soundtracks.
All songs on “The Zen of Snug” were written by Bow. Besides vocals, he plays banjo, guitar, mandolin, bojo, bass, synth, organ, Fender Rhodes and percussion He also produced and arranged the songs with Justin Guip who mixed it at Milan Hill Studio in New York. He met Justin through Levon Helm and they’ve been friends ever since. They’ve worked on five albums together. It was mastered by Alex McCollough at True East Mastering in Nashville.
Making a band album in a pandemic is tricky. There are six musicians on the album and each one recorded their part someplace other than Stockbridge where Bow resides. Joining Bow are Jeff Berlin – drums, percussion (recorded at Chateau Berlin, Barnard), Jeremy Dryden – electric and acoustic bass (recorded at Peddles Productions, Somerville, Massachusetts), Val McCallum – electric guitars, vocals (recorded at Vamps Laboratories, Los Angeles, California), Chris McGandy – pedal steel guitar (recorded at Spirit Goat West, Petaluma, California) and Dana Colley – saxophones and penny whistle (recorded at Third Floor Music, East Somerville, Massachusetts).
Bow said recording remotely has its merits too. “You can do it on your own time at your own pace. If you’re the type of musician that likes to figure stuff out on their own, without being guided by a producer, it’s great. You can do it any time of day or night and as often as you like. If you have studio time booked with a band, you really don’t get that option. One of the bad parts is you don’t have someone in your ear telling you that was a bad take.” Usually it takes Bow a couple years for an album, but he decided to make this one in August.
Bow is looking forward to the post pandemic party and all the shows he can play again but for now he’s digging recording. He said, “It’s knowing you have a good take and it’s on tape. Knowing that you nailed something and it’s not going away. That’s the best thing.”
Bow said there’s a message to the album which you can read about on his website. The album starts out seemingly mellow with “Earthling” but then Bow starts singing and the tune starts jammin’. I dig the next track, “A Balm in Las Vegas.” It’s a little rockin’, bluesy tune with solid vocals from Bow. Another favorite of mine is “This Thing Called God” which has good harmonies. It’s a feel good song that you can move along to. “Elinoire” is a cool sing-a-long song with a bluegrass feel to me. It starts with Bow plucking away on banjo, then you hear the electric guitar and great harmonies with the chorus. All the instruments really shine on “Welcome to the Panic Room.” It’s a rockin’ song that’s put together well. The album ends with “Back to the Source,” which has some sweet melodies. It’s a foot tapper for sure but I can see this as a festival song with everyone up and moving. The instruments really shine in this song. It wraps up the album nicely and leaves you wanting more. The good thing is Bow has plenty more music coming.