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James Dalton
Chorus and Verse Blog
Posted: December 2, 2009 05:04 pm (-06:00)
James Dalton
Singer/Songwriter/Performer
A Quick Conversation with John Pfeiffer

I'm lucky. I know a lot of people in NJ and it seems that lots of them, especially the ones I know down at the beach, are of the crazy lot. I mean, it's endearing and it always makes me miss home, that special eccentricity that is either attracted to the Jersey Shore, or bred there.

One of my good friends, John Pfeiffer, fits that mold, and along with being a real character, he is quite a busy man in this business of music, being the songwriter and guitarist for In Between Dreams and Well of Souls, a promoter, an Asbury Music Award-winning journalist and cynic.

For this installment of my regular little blog, or column, or whatever it is, I decided to have a quick conversation with John about a few things. I decided to start out with a true Jersey Shore legend, a man that everyone who's played music in the area knew and loved (even if they hated him).

Chris Barry. Do you find he's influenced you as a journalist?

[John Pfeiffer] Chris Barry influenced me more as an overall music industry guy. First, as a player on the scene getting my shit together band wise and actually making a name on the scene, then later as a promoter in clubs like The Stone Pony, Jimi's and The Broadway Central Cafe in South Amboy. However, when I first met Chris back in 1980 or so, he was a big deal and the area's most popular journalist. He worked for a magazine called the Pipeline, which we were all desperate to get into. He even had a black silk "Pipeline" jacket. He was the king. He was loved and hated all his professional life. If anything, his style as a journalist taught me that sooner or later you have to cut your ties and become the unpopular guy. That particular situation is starting to unveil for me as well. Not everyone will like what I have to say and I really don't have a problem with that.

The unpopular guy, I've been this character before. I kinda like it, John, that strange empowered feeling you get from being the person whose back people are talking behind. It's at least amusing. Chris gave me some of my first ink. I used to play with this group called Secret Sound that used to tread the line between blues, roots, jazz and jam band, with a little noise thrown in, and continued with my solo stuff and some of the other projects I'd involve myself with. Funny thing, though, it was so exciting to get written up in say, the Aquarian, that when you read this review of your album or a performance from him, there was no way of knowing what the heck he meant with all his crazed poetic Bukowski wording. You'd be like "is this good or bad?" and your band mates would be like "who cares, it sounds cool! post it on the web!"

So you're playing some music still?

Well, first let me say I get no empowerment from anything that's being done behind my back (laughs) but, yeah, if it has to be that way I say good for them. If I'm worth gossiping about I guess that means I'm relevant. But I know what you mean when you talk about the excitement of getting that first Chris Barry article. I remember my first, I still have it somewhere, and you're right, I didn't understand a word of it! Classic stuff from the psychedelic word man! (Laughs.) I also remember the first AQ write ups and they were amazing to us! I try to keep that in mind when taking on any project. It's a combination of understanding feeling and subject matter from a different angle than a musician. I always use the analogy that I used to play right field and now I'm a coach. That seems to work well for my writing style.

As far as playing, yeah, I play more now than ever. Mainly in the studio, but that's good for me. I love recording. Right now, I'm involved with at least four projects that will be released on labels within the next year. So, yep, I loves ta play. And I love to collect guitars!

Speaking of studios, you and I have both done lots of recording, and out of all my Jersey friends, only a few of them have gone to visit Nashville, let alone lay any tracks down. Outside of all the great jazz records that came out of Englewood Cliffs, do you think Jersey could ever match up to what Tennessee has as far as studios go, or is there even a comparison?

I think the East has its own merit. There are many great rooms in the state and some outstanding engineers and producers as well. It's just tough to get to them. Most of them are overworked as it is but, if you're looking, you'll find them. Guys like Joe Demaio, Jon Leidersdorf, John Noll, Sean Glonek, Gordon Brown, Ron Haney, Christian Beach and Jon Hoenge are a few that come to mind.

It's funny, because I'm now a partner in an actual commercial studio (www.riverwoodstudios.net) so I tend to look at things a bit differently than I did when I was just an artist looking at the hourly rate value. I've done studio tracks in Nashville as well as New Jersey and New York, but due to the fact that technology is the great equalizer, we now have a northern-based and charted country artist throwing overdub work our way instead of getting on a plane to Tennessee. So, yeah, we got game here.

Yes, we do. So, thanks for this quick little chat, John. Anything coming up in December you'd like to let people know about?

Well, hell JD, thanks for having me here, and that's a loaded question! (Laughs.) Seriously, there's always so much going on and that's really what makes my job interesting. The Stone Pony has Parlor Mob on the 23rd and The Bouncing Souls are coming in for four dates this month from 26-29. Convention Hall has Phil Lesh and Bob Weir on the 13th and I know I'll be seeing you and Chris Rockwell over at the Showroom on Cookman on December 11th for the "OFFSEASON-Winter Words From the Jersey Shore". That's a great place to see a show as we used it last summer for The Wave Gathering. It's actually a movie house which has some great acoustics. I hear you're gonna give us a bit of poetry and storytelling with a little music thrown in as well, which is what I like to see you do. Between that and the popcorn you can count me in, man.

So there you have him.

Please feel free to send any questions and comments my way at
james_dalton@hotmail.com.

Cheers!

James Dalton
James Dalton is a New Jersey-based singer/songwriter/performer that has had his ups and downs but still pushes forward and stuff.
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