The Revolution Will Not Be Streamed.
Patrick Ames Pays Tribute To Gil Scott-Heron With New “BANG BANG BANG” Single, “Liveness” EP
Californian Singer Songwriter Patrick Ames leans into his eccentric style, troubador wisdom and black humor on his best release to date, new 6-track EP Liveness. If you’re a fan of artists like Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen or Gil Scott-Heron, you should hear Patrick Ames.
On Liveness, Ames accents his DIY recording techniques with lots of live mics, whether it be vocals or his accompanied guitar. It’s as live as you can be. “It’s was like recording the process of songwriting,” and to be sure the songs are lovely, emotional, and melodic. Welcome to the musical space Ames has built using live sounds and compound lyrics. He inhabits the spaces with stories and rifs of life, and it’s all fresh, alive, and vibrant, with enough soul to want to listen to again.
“Patrick’s ethos for the Liveness album was to convey the energy of live performance so, from a mixing standpoint, we sought to leave in all the quirks and personality, particularly of the acoustic guitar. Strings twang and squeak, voices strain and break but it all works together to make for a more soulful record. Patrick is weaving together several different styles on this album, from bossa nova to slow jam to Gil Scott-Heron-inspired funk. The trick was to find that through-line to tie it all together and in the end, it was that “liveness”, that raw authenticity, that makes it feel like a cohesive record.” – Jon Ireson, Sound Engineer for Liveness
Watch two lyric videos Patrick put together for the EP. Both videos are public and ready to share.
Watch “BANG BANG BANG”.
Read Patrick’s notes below about the track:
Talky blues social commentary. The lyrics are political, rebellious, and tired of the shooters and gun proponents. “Bang Bang Bang” is the gun going off. The track bends to gospel as we it preaches for peace and an end to this violence. Homage is paid to Gil Scot-Heron. Only a revolution of voting and protest will work, you can’t just tweet from your living room, you have to get out into the streets. We all do.
Watch “Want to Believe”
A remix of his own song, from the album Standard Candles. It’s dope. It’s rock/blues/soul rolled into one biting song of social commentary, the soullessness of technology, and the number of people who devote their lives to the constant Silicon Valley toys and gadgets. Lyrics add contrast with the soul-infused melody and backup lyrics.
Watch Patrick Ame’s brand new “Liveness from Quarantine” performance series, where listeners can tune into Patrick’s brainwaves, heart and surroundings while visiting his vineyard in beautiful Napa Valley, California.
More about Patrick Ames
In the heart of wine country in California, you may encounter the proper wordsmith and storyteller, Patrick Ames. Patrick is a man who plays to his own inner muse, revealing a complex set of inspirations and incantations from the eclectic songwriter. One can expect more than a dash of the raw, dark, and mournful, along with hopeless romance, artistic conviction, and a fiercely in-the-moment, DIY approach where the recording style is both instrument and live-ness detector.
And what you soon learn is that Patrick Ames is passionate. Writing/literature is a passion. Lyrics and poetry are passions. Melody/guitar/music writing is a passion. Nature and wine country are passions. Spirituality and inner connection, passion. Psychological pursuits, passion. Anything activist or community-related are passions. Knowledge, education, are passions.Ames smiles, “Wine makes you passionate.”
Ames discusses growing up in a household full of music and how that became a part of his musical consciousness:
“My mother sang opera and also in the church choir (I’m a choir brat). My very older brothers listened to 1960s hits and bands, and my father to Pop radio. We were close to Detroit, so it was Motown, Motown, Motown, or Puccini. And for some reason I knew who the songwriters were, like Holland, Dozer, Holland. Then Glen Campbell broke through and I remember adoring him. He had a TV show. He had a guitar and he wrote songs! I still think his Wichita Lineman is extraordinary.”
Ames started writing songs in 1968 when he was 14 years old. He inherited a guitar and dozens of classic albums from his older brothers who went off to college. An avid songwriter and performer during his own college tenure, he went into book publishing after attempting the music circuit in 1976. It would be 25 years before he would play seriously again. “I bought my son a cheap Fender and amp. He didn’t like it. I loved it. I cranked it up and played with abandon. And then it all came back, in spades.”
Much of Ames’s professional life has been in technical book publishing, which for him carries several parallels to what he’s doing now.
“Book publishing is exactly like being a music producer. The end product is a finished work of communication, and the path from early inspiration to finish is a drug. And you keep doing it to get the drug. Writing songs is like writing poems, only with more tools at your disposal: you have melody, rhythm, human voices, syncopation, and on and on. Songs can become these extraordinary 3D poems. And I think a good LP/EP is just like a book, with songs like chapters, and all these themes criss-crossing.”
Now, in his early 60’s, Ames has returned to songwriting armed with decades of word-smithing, book publishing, and decades of practice. Through a series of experimental EP and LP releases, including “Four Faces,” “Like Family,” “Affettuosos,” “Standard Candles,” and “All I Do Is Bleed,” he has established his personal signature with a gravelly, heart-on-the-sleeve voice box and carefully considered lyrics. Critics are sitting up.
“I tell stories, so lyrics and music come hand in hand. It usually starts with a musical riff and then I match that riff with some kind of striking lyric. So I have a musical riff and a lyrical riff. Then, as a story, I let those two fly together and piece the story together.” For example, his last EP release came with a doozie of a title – “All I Do Is Bleed”. When asked about the meaning, Ames smiles, “Passions can overwhelm you.”
All I Do Is Bleed crossed an artistic boundary for Ames. During the EP project, Ames visited Buenos Aires and brought back mucho Latin inspiration. You can hear it in the tracks, acoustic guitar work and percussion, just like the streets of San Telmo in Buenos Aires. From R&B Downtempo, to American Top 40, to Classical Crossover, to Latin Folk/Pop, the EP confirmed his propensity to travel through music with his stories and emotions. And he shares the stage with his two vocalists, mother and daughter, Chana and Mikaela Matthews, and add an Argentinian guitarist, Paulo Augustin Rzeszut.
Much like in Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen’s writing, Patrick’s lyrics reveal at times a wry black humor and matter-of-fact delivery. Lines like “While you were making babies I sat on the sofa all by myself. While you were making babies I decided to go down and visit Hell.” illustrate this knack perfectly.
Remember wine country? Ames lives in a Napa vineyard where he writes, records, and plays for the grapes at practice time.
“Lots of people love wine and the world of wine (tasting, collecting, etc) but few people get to live in the vineyard. I live in one, and it is hauntingly beautiful. It’s not like a cornfield…the vineyards are pampered and coaxed to produce, and the way they are watered, pruned, and picked is special. The land can be remotely wild, filled with animals and critters, and it can be very rural living there. The music that I write, and play, is not so much Americana as it is what I call Wine Country music: it’s a mix of heady folk, basic rock, classic Motown, and choral music with an artistic and intellectual bent. Best heard with a glass of wine.”
So far, Ames has stuck to DIY production approaches, experimenting with studio live-ness and recording. It’s unusual in folk/acoustic music for such experimentation but his latest 6-track release, Liveness (April, 2020), showcases his banshee wail and devoted disposition.
Ames is married to Elizabeth Ames, a woman’s rights advocate, with one son. He performs at small venues around the SF Bay Area and Napa preferring intimate settings with the audience.