Submitted by Sandy Graham
What happens when you combine legendary songs with a legendary era all presented by a legendary artist? You get Micah Barnes with his offering of Vegas Breeze.
For an album that was released in 2020, the tracks still have legs, and the new release of the medley/video continues to develop a new musical offering with the release of “Welcome to the Club”.
“We released ‘Vegas Breeze’ right when the pandemic hit and all the scheduled gigs were gone. I spoke with my publicity and PR expert, Eric Alper, who recommended we do a series of virtual concerts. It was a brilliant idea and we immediately kicked into action to make it happen. My fans, friends and family were delighted and it was a great success,” says Micah Barnes.
For the “Welcome to the Club” video, Barnes wanted to recreate the 1960s TV variety show experience but, how to pull that off? After Barnes was forced to shelve that national tour in 2020 and he and his band pivoted to perform a 14-date virtual tour “from the living room”, it was a way of reaching his loyal fans. One of the virtual venues, London Ontario’s historic Aeolian Hall, became a favourite and Barnes and his band were invited back to play a livestream there in the summer of 2021.
“Thanks to the excellent team at The Aeolian, we felt the footage was strong enough to offer to the public as a video,” says Barnes. “Working with my director Carlos Coronado we went about recreating an old fashioned 60’s TV look for the final product!”
“So now two years in, and we are still not able to work or bring our music out there live, we decided if we can’t get people to ‘the club’ then we will bring ‘the club’ to them! And so I decided to bring the experience of Vegas to them with this new video release, “Welcome to the Club”.
“Welcome to the Club” – Live is a 4:11 experience where the viewer gets taken away with the music, memories and magic of days gone by when artists were more than just entertainers; they were crooners, song and dance people, and knew how to captivate an audience. Micah Barnes and his stellar band does exactly that. Even if you are not a jazz fan this is one video and musical presentation you don’t want to miss. Check it out here: https://youtu.be/tF1Rov9ZB7s
“I know people need each other right now, and they need love and music more than ever. Some of the best musical hits were released when the world was in turmoil. I hope I have captured that feeling here so if people can’t go out – I can bring that feeling to them and we can experience it together.”
The intriguingly shape shifting lead track on Vegas Breeze, “Welcome to the Club” is more than an enticing invitation, it’s an inspired mash-up of two different, little-known songs with the same title. Nat King Cole recorded and released his “Welcome to the Club” in 1959 and Mel Tormé wrote, recorded, and released his in 1961. Discovering and combining the two songs exemplifies the approach Barnes took to create his latest and third full length solo project.
“You know when you were kids, and you spent time together in each other’s houses a whole bunch? In fact, it was while playing records in the basement of a friend’s house I came across a Nat King Cole song that seared itself into my memory,” recalls Barns. “The melody was bluesy and swaggering. The lyrics are smart and sexy. The arrangement played by Count Basie’s band – so fun and swinging!”
Through more searching, the Tormé song of the same name also revealed itself and Barnes and his band – pianist and arranger Michael Shand, bassist Russ Boswell and drummer Al Cross, experimented with arranging the two tunes together.
“It felt like the most natural thing in the world,” notes Barnes. “The joining of a traditional barstool ballad with a swinging Vegas showstopper seemed to cover all the Vegas traditions all at once. But what was incredible is that both lyrics give advice to a fellow “swinger” after being screwed over by a cheating lover. Perfect for our Vegas Breeze album.”
“Since its release, the Vegas Breeze album has become a listener favourite on Jazz stations around the world,” says the Canadian vocal jazz virtuoso. “We thought we would be touring Europe with this album at this time. Since the whole world is grounded (again) for the moment, I felt releasing a new track and video would be the best way to bring more music to our fans around the world!
“Our focus on Vegas Breeze was to find unusual songs from the showroom era and choose material from beyond the regular Rat Pack repertoire,” he explains. “That led to a really fun period of research, discovery and exploration for me and the band.”
“When I was a kid, the legendary Vegas performers such as Louis Armstrong, Pearl Bailey, Dean Martin, Peggy Lee and Steve & Eddie were still performing on the TV variety shows,” says Barnes. “Although I was actually never in the audience during the 50’s/60’s heyday of the showrooms I certainly fell in love with the style and the power of those musical personalities.”
“I have been blessed in my life with a career that has spanned over many genres and many years and I have finally landed in a place where I feel good about everything I am doing musically and professionally. When things take a turn you have to learn to re-invent yourself, believe in yourself, be tenacious, stand up and take a stand – ‘do the do’!
“Don’t expect things to always turn out the way you think they would – this business is full of ups and downs, hills and valleys, but I wouldn’t trade one minute of it for anything else in the world – and the best is yet to come!”
As a journalist and editor there are very few people I have actually loved talking to in this business – Micah Barnes is one them. Years ago when I played his music for the late, great Bobby Curtola, he said he has ‘it’ – that ‘it’ factor is what gets thru to your heart and soul. Now I am going to pour a glass of wine and watch “Welcome to the Club” – on repeat.
For more on this truly talented artist check out:
Editor’s Note: JUNO nominated jazz vocalist Micah Barnes was born in Vienna and raised in Canada, Micah Barnes cut his teeth in the cabarets and jazz clubs of the city while still a teenager, before touring the world as a member of the A Cappella vocal group The Nylons. A JUNO Award-nominee, the years since have seen Barnes developing as an International SOLO artist with top-charting hits including the Billboard #1 “Welcome To My Head,” & #1 Jazz Albums New York Stories & Vegas Breeze. Micah is also an internationally respected Vocal, Performance & Career Strategy Coach.