Billionaire Blues, the debut CD from David James's GPS
After years of providing guitar, vocals and compositions for others, David James, with his ensemble GPS (Good People, Son), has recorded an album that highlights his own writing: Billionaire Blues.
San Francisco-born and Oakland-bred guitarist and vocalist David James has been involved in much of the spectrum of the Bay Area music scene, from sculpting guitar feedback and ambient sounds with Thessalonians (1986-1991), to touring and recording with Spearhead (1994-1997) and the Coup (1999-2004), to playing Afrobeat and with (Sila and the) Afrofunk Experience (2004-2020) to presenting funky art-song with the Beth Custer Ensemble (2001- present), all the while cultivating his own compositional voice.
GPS is a rhythm-horns-and-strings sextet which usually consists of trombonist Alan Williams, Keith Lawrence on viola, John Hanes on drums, Lisa Mezzacappa on double bass, Beth Custer on clarinet, and David James on guitar and vocals.
Billionaire Blues is the first album of music written by David James. The album was recorded over two days in September, 2015 at Beth Custer's home, with engineer Jeff Cressman bringing his mobile recording rig to the rehearsal studio/long table dining room, and with the band recording live without headphones – only hearing one another in the room. The challenges presented by recording this way (and the challenges of then mixing such a recording) were outweighed by the natural feel of the process, which made for a deep listening and a extra-attuned responsiveness between the musicians.
The mostly-instrumental album ranges in style and influences: it includes cartoon music ("Wag the Puppy"); elegiac blues ("Billionaire Blues"); reggae ("Rubber Foot"); a waltz ("Powell Doctrine"); a bopping jazzish tune ("Obama Hop"); and various combinations of Afro- and other-beats ("2 Zs, 2 Ps", "Grip", "Black Ops").
Note: entirely different recordings of both "Black Ops" and "Wag the Puppy" are featured on the recently released album by the Beth Custer Ensemble, For the Grace of Any Man.
Have a listen!
David James - guitar, voice
Beth Custer - clarinets
Alan Williams - trombone
Dina Maccabee - viola
Jan Jackson - drums
Contact: David James
Billionaire Blues was funded by the Musical Grant Program of InterMusic SF (formerly San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music)