WCA #133 with Alan Evans

Working Class Audio Session #133 with Alan Evans!!!

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Alan Evans is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, studio engineer, record producer, whose “retro” style incorporates elements of rock, blues, soul, R&B, funk,jazz,reggae and the psychedelic. In addition to singing lead and backing vocals, Evans often plays all the guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, and percussion himself on his solo recordings. Alan Joins Matt for a discussion about his musical side, family, living in a small town and keeping things relaxed and musically focused in the studio.

Alan’s full bio follows as well as the show notes. 

Early life
Alan Evans was born on March 23rd 1974 in Buffalo, NY.  By the time he was 9 months old, Alan was banging on drums in the Evans home.  There were strong musical influences in Alan’s life from the very beginning. To say that the Evans family is musical is to say that the Kennedy family has a proclivity for politics. The record player spun in the Evans household the way the TV blared in many other homes. Alan’s father, Willie, and his older brother, Rod, played DJ and the assembly of vinyl they accrued was broad and vast. Miles Davis, Jimmy Smith, Ray Charles, Beethoven, Richard Wagner, Joe Cocker, Kool & the Gang, Jimmy Hendrix, the Headhunters – these were just some of the sounds emanating out of the Evans living room.

Alan’s musical journey is inextricably intertwined with his brother, Neal. A few years younger, Neal became a prodigious pianist, vibes player, and eventually gravitated towards the Hammond B-3 organ. At the age of 12, Alan started gigging out around Buffalo.

Career
1990 – 1996: Moon Boot Lover (The Groove)

During his sophomore year of high school, Alan formed The Groove with longtime friend Joshua Levitt and Peter Prince.  Neal Evans would join a year later on keyboards.  Levitt left the band after high school graduation but the Evans brothers and Prince continued gigging around Western New York.  In 1992, Alan Evans graduated from City Honors School and Prince from Buffalo State College.  The two decided to move to New York City looking for bigger and better opportunities.  Soon after arriving in New York City, Evans and Prince renamed the band Moon Boot Lover.  With their loud, funky and charismatic sound It didn’t take Moon Boot Lover long to become a household name in the early 90’s New York City music scene.  In 1993, the band moved north to Woodstock, NY and began touring the country non stop gaining fans along the way.  Neal Evans rejoined the band in 1994 and became a psychedelic organ trio in 1995 with the departure of bassist Jon Hawes.  Alan Evans recorded four albums with Moon Boot Lover before he and his brother left the band in 1996.

1994 – 1998: The Elements
While on touring breaks from Moon Boot Lover, Alan Evans along with his brother Neal and lifelong friend Edreys Wajed recorded and performed as the Elements.  A live soul, hip hop group.  The Elements recorded 4 albums, the last of which featured Moon Boot Lover alumni Joshua Levitt as well as Screaming Headless Torsos members David “Fuze” Fiuczynski and Dean Bowman.

1998: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe (Greyboy Allstars)
After taking a year and half break from touring, Evans was contacted by a friend about an opportunity to audition for Lenny Kravitz saxophonist Karl Denson’s band the Greyboy Allstars.  After a brief meeting at New York City’s Wetlands Preserve, Alan found himself on a flight to Austin, TX for a weekend of shows/auditions with Denson.  For the next several months, Evans toured the US with the Allstars as well as, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.  He recorded an EP with the band before leaving at the end of 1998, to reunite with his brother Neal, and ultimately form what is now known as, Soulive.

1999 – Present: Soulive
On March 2, 1999, Alan and Neal invited guitarist Eric Krasno to record some tracks with them in their home studio. That jam session became their first EP, Get Down! and the band shortly thereafter hit the road to begin touring. During their first Summer together they recorded their first LP, Turn It Out. The album featured various guest musicians, including John Scofield, Oteil Burbridge, and Sam Kininger. The independently produced album went on to sell 65,000 copies, enabling Soulive to gain recognition in the jazz/funk scene. This recognition resulted in a record deal with Blue Note Records, in 2002. Soulive’s first Blue Note album, Doin’ Something,  featured horn arrangements by Fred Wesley, the trombonist from James Brown’s band. Their second Blue Note record, Next, featured guest vocalists Dave Matthews and Amel Larrieux, and rappers Talib Kweli and Black Thought..

In 2003, Soulive released a self-titled live album, Soulive (Live), and a collection of remixes, Turn It Out Remixed, which featured guests Jurassic 5, DJ Spinna, DJ Krush, J-Live,Wordsworth, and the Beatnuts.

After two years with Blue Note, Soulive changed gears and decided to enter into a new contract with the jazz label Concord Records.

On September 13, 2005, Soulive released its first album with Concord Records, Break Out. On this release the band eschewed extended jams for beat-driven instrumentals and collaborations with Chaka Khan (featured on “Back Again”), Ivan Neville (featured on “Got Soul” and “Take It Easy”), Corey Glover (featured on “Freedom”), Robert Randolph(featured on the Jimi Hendrix cover “Crosstown Traffic” and also on “Interlude II”), and Reggie Watts (featured on “She’s Hooked” and “What Can You Do?”). Late in 2006 the group recorded No Place Like Soul with producer Stewart Lerman at his studio inGreenwich Village, The Shinebox.

As the record industry began to once again change, with it changed the band’s approach, and on April 4th, 2009 Soulive released Up Here, their first album on their own record label, Royal Family Records.   The album marked somewhat of a return to form for the group, as many of the songs are solely instrumentals. For this album, they were joined once again by Ryan Zoidis on Tenor Sax, Sam Kininger on Alto Sax – known also as “The Shady Horns”.

Since the forming of Royal Family Records, Soulive has continued to tour and release albums.  Their newest album produced by Pretty Lights will be released in 2018.

2012 – 2014: Alan Evans Trio

Alan Evans recorded three albums with the Alan Evans Trio (AE3) with Danny Mayer (guitar), Beau Sasser (keyboards).  They extensively toured the United States and made one trip to the UK.

2015 – Present: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe

After becoming the newest member of legendary rock band The Rolling Stones, Karl Denson contacted Alan about rejoining his Tiny Universe.  Alan began playing with Denson at the end of March 2015 and started recording a new album in May of 2015.

1990 – Present: Iron Wax Studio

Alan is also a highly sought after (recording/mixing) engineer and record producer mostly working out of Iron Wax, an analog / digital hybrid studio in Millers Falls, MA. In addition to his own recording and touring, he has had the opportunity to travel and collaborate with bands and artists worldwide.  His laid back style and vintage approach, makes it easy for him to bring his production aesthetic to a project while maintaining the artist’s character and vision.

Workshops

2017 The Art Of Drum Recording – Evergroove Studio, Evergreen, CO
2015 The Art Of Recording Live In The Studio – Evergroove Studio, Evergreen, CO
2012 The Art Of Creative Recording sponsored by Berklee College Of Music at The Royal Family Affair – Stratton, Vermont
2012 The Art Of Creative Recording – Snowlive – Boulder, CO
2010 Hilly Chase series guest speaker at the Eaglebrook School

Show Notes:

Here’s a link to Evernote I mentioned in the monologue. https://evernote.com/

Here’s a link to Alan’s studio: http://www.ironwax.com/

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