Last year I spent a lot of time in and around Sunshine Again, a wonderful children's show on DVD created by Heather Ferreira (formerly Karen McCoy). It had a ferociously turbulent gestation period filled with drama and intrigue, but in the end we did get the premiere episode filmed and produced. Sadly it is no longer available, but I hope that it will one day become the great show it deserves to be.
The greatest part of my involvement in the show came in March of 2009 when we were preparing for the three live shows in Brooklyn. Several vocal tracks needed to be recorded, so we went to Jimmy Madison's studio in Manhattan to lay them down. In the midst of us recording, our music director Bob Cranshaw arrived. For those of you who may not know, Bob is a legend. Apart from his decades of work with jazz great Sonny Rollins, Bob was also Joe Raposo's bassist in the original Sesame Street band and remained so for twenty years. And if you remember the first two years of Saturday Night Live, then you saw and heard him there as the bassist for the house band. This man was our music director, so I listened to every word he said.
Unbeknownst to me, he had already heard some of my work. A few days earlier, Heather asked me to sing vocal tracks in my studio for a film she was going to use for the show. She wanted two separate vocal tracks, each slightly different from the other to mimic the old Sesame Street style, so that's what I did. She played it for him and he loved it–something I didn't know at the time.
We went about our recording with Bob giving us small but important direction. His main point was that it was the imperfections in those classic songs that made them accessible and thus memorable. That gave us the freedom to be as over the top as we needed to be–which came in handy on one song in particular where I delivered a bass line in cartoony style. It was a blast.
After we finished, we gathered in Jimmy's control booth and talked. As Bob began his exit, he shook my hand, pulled me in for a hug and in mid-embrace told me "you are the spirit of Joey". Friends, it took me days to come to grips with that. This musical giant compared me favorably to another musical giant who was one of his closest friends for two decades. I was flabbergasted.
It was an unforgettable day. The project was fraught with problems and didn't end well for many of us, but as strange as it may seem I still sincerely hope that it will find its day in the sun, with or without me. Keep an eye out for Sunshine Again. Some year it will be great.