You may have seen Eric Schenkman on stages before thousands of fans worldwide with the Spin Doctors. He is one of the band’s not-so-secret weapons — a vital songwriter and a virtuoso guitarist who crafted the ‘90s band and co-wrote all five of their Top 100 hits. He also worked with Chico Hamilton, Carly Simon, Natalie Merchant, Noel Redding, Phoebe Snow, and Corky Laing, among many other notable musicians.
His self-produced third solo album, WHO SHOT JOHN? showcases the many sides of Schenkman, from raw, rockin’ blues to funk/soul/pop. With its elemental lineup of guitar, bass and drums, and songs that seldom stray beyond three chords, it’s radio-friendly and familiar enough to draw listeners in. After that, the complexities reveal themselves. The proof is in the beats, in the intimacy of those late nights on stage and through every moment of WHO SHOT JOHN? Every track digs in deep and doesn’t let go, thanks to Schenkman’s voice, commanding guitar and powerfully emotional lyrics.
WHO SHOT JOHN? is both classic and immediate. And, as Schenkman would likely admit, it’s overdue. “I’ve been playing the Ontario blues circuit for about a decade,” he explains. “I have this long history as a guitarist in relationship to the blues up here in Canada. And I’ve been writing songs in a couple of different idioms. So WHO SHOT JOHN? comes from a convergence of my three worlds — vocals, guitar and songwriting. It’s about my life. Where I’m at now.”
Already performing a residency in his current hometown of Toronto every Wednesday at Grossman’s Tavern, more solo shows are currently in the works and will be posted online in the coming weeks.
As for “Agent Orange Blues,” in the Relix Sessions Schenkman introduced it thus: “Yeah, this song’s called ‘Agent Orange Blues.’ Why? Cuz that’s why.” The video is a hectic blend of live footage overlain by 80s style animation of the band. It serves well the frenetic rockin’ message that is “Agent Orange Blues.”
Watch “Agent Orange Blues” here:
As Vintage Guitar praises: "ERIC SCHENKMAN’s third solo album blends his ‘90s hit-making artistry with visceral axemanship, volatile rumble, and the blues. He delivers A+ Chicago blues vernacular with unfettered vocals and twisted narratives yielding gritty tales of tortured relationships."
The new album kind of launched itself, beginning in December 2017, when SCHENKMAN went to visit Van Romaine in Newark. A bona fide groove master, Romaine plays drums with Enrique Iglesias and with the Steve Morse Band. Together they recorded the foundation for about half the songs on WHO SHOT JOHN?
The rest of the guitar/drum basics were nailed when SCHENKMAN asked another longtime pal, North Mississippi Allstars drummer Cody Dickinson, to play electric washboard on the title track. That session led to Dickinson playing drums on the rest of the tracks which were recorded at the Checkerboard Lounge just south of Memphis.
The next step was to invite Canadian blues veteran, Shawn Kellerman who plays with Lucky Peterson, to co-produce and play bass. As the production continued in Kitchener, New York and Los Angeles, it became clear SCHENKMAN accomplished what many have tried: each track crackles with the live energy he has cultivated for the last 30+ years on stage.
SCHENKMAN attributes this both to his choice of songs and to the calibre of his fellow musicians. “All of us are live players. These guys love to play live. You can feel that throughout the album.”
This new video “Agent Orange Blues”, from the ‘Who Shot John?" album, continues to show the raw, rock sound of this talented guitarist and the performance is giving his best in performance and vocals.
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