For the past two years, a large scale musical collaboration has been taking place in Baltimore. Led by the respected writer and musician Sandy Asirvatham in collaboration with award-winning singer/songwriter ellen cherry, with contributions by over 15 additional musical artists, MOBTOWN MOON will be a dramatic, singer-focused reinterpretation of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, aimed to highlight the album’s profound messages and hard-won wisdom.
MOBTOWN MOON has brought together many of Baltimore’s most creative musicians, from across many styles and genres of music, to record and perform a unique, compelling, and unapologetically beautiful interpretation of this classic work.
The musicians of MOBTOWN MOON will release a full-length CD in March 2013, exactly 40 years after the original album. The CD will be widely promoted via local, national, and some international print press (U.K. and Canada, to start). The best singles will be played on public and college radio everywhere.
Originally the product of the relatively young men who wrote the music and lyrics, the songs from Dark Side take up some profoundly adult themes of mortality, scarcity, conflict, and madness. MOBTOWN MOON’s version of these songs will highlight these ideas while never losing sight of the sheer cathartic beauty of the music.
A recently completed, successful Kickstarter Campaign, helped MOBTOWN MOON raise close to $6,000 to help fund the project. On Saturday Night, the Creative Alliance will play host to a preview show of the upcoming album.
Along with ellen and Sandy, the other artists involved in MOBTOWN MOON include, but are not limited to:
Cris Jacobs, guitarist & vocalist formerly of jam-band superstars The Bridge, along with drummer Mike Gambone (The Bridge) and bassist Jake Leckie (too many credits to list here!), all currently members of The Cris Jacobs Band,
Baltimore Choral Arts Society, a major local choir, under the direction of conductor and local arts emissary Tom Hall,
Lea Gilmore powerhouse gospel/blues vocalist, world-traveling activist, and radio personality.
Jeff Reed, bassist, a heavyweight of the regional jazz scene and professor of jazz studies at Towson University,
Scott Smith, head engineer at The Wood and Stone Room studios and vocalist/guitarist for pop duo Naked Blue, which he leads with his wife Jennifer Ferguson Smith, who’ll appear on cello for Mobtown Moon,
Bryan Young, bassoonist and member of world-class chamber group The Poulenc Trio,
Prolific composer and trumpeter Ben Frock,
David Ross, akaNative Son, and Femi the driFish, spoken-word artists who together form The 5th L,
Brian Simms, multi-instrumentalist and leader of the Junkyard Saints and member of Grammy-nominated kid’s band Milkshake,
Todd Marcus, renowned jazz bass clarinetist and composer,
Vincent Stringer, bass-baritone vocalist and opera professor at Morgan State University,
Frank Russo, drummer, heavyweight of the regional jazz scene and professor of jazz studies at Towson University, and many others to be named.
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I caught up with ellen cherry to get the inside scoop on the project.
David London: Where did the vision for Mobtown Moon emerge from?
ellen cherry: Our vision for this project really arose from two unique places: Sandy felt very emotionally attached to this music and really wanted to do new interpretations of it as an exercise in her creativity and I saw a chance to participate and contribute to a project of a larger scale than anything I had attempted before. Lucky for us, Pink Floyd has already created an amazing and incredible and moving modern classic–so we have great material to work from. Over the past two years of work, what began as a simple recording project blossomed into this cross-genre, collaborative venture that we hope will highlight some of the amazing artistic performers and creators in our beloved city.
David: Can you speak to the power of collaboration?
ellen: Collaboration is one of the easiest ways that I have found to motivate myself to create when I am feeling uninspired, tired, or even just lazy about things that, deep down, I really want to attempt. Having a partner or partners to create with and then observe what’s been created and critique it, is incredibly valuable to me as a working artist and has really been an important part of my experience in the last few years. I’m sure that’s stating the obvious, but as a songwriter, and like plenty of artists, I spend a lot of time working solo and it’s been challenging sometimes to reach out in this way–it can feel very vulnerable, but it’s also a great exercise in taming the ego! Successful collaboration has taught me how important it is to listen, and also to be heard. In this project specifically, Sandy and I are able to rely on each other to take care of the many administrative tasks involved in building a project like this, and then also be able to help each other realize and enjoy the creative moments.
David: What are you most excited about with this project?
ellen: I have really come to have a deep affection for “Dark Side of the Moon” and I’m excited to see how long-time fans are going to react to our new interpretations of it. I’s been really satisfying to watch as our cast of musicians learns the arrangements and then takes the music a step further, by adding their unique sound and talents to it. Baltimore has a great wealth in our creative economy and arts community, and anytime I get a chance to participate in highlighting that fact to the listening public, I’m happy.
You can catch the first preview performance of MOBTOWN MOON this Saturday at the Creative Alliance. Click here to purchase tickets!