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Articles Home » 2007 Articles » Orleans - 2007 Interview with Larry Hoppen
 
Orleans - 2007 Interview with Larry Hoppen



Just recently, erstwhile GLORY-DAZE writer/reviewer Eric Abrahamsen teased us all with a shining review of a 1982 album called 'One Of A Kind' by American classic rock exponents Orleans. For many of us (myself included), I didn't even know the band ventured out into the 80's decade, so this came as somewhat of a surprise. My visions of Orleans revolved around their two big 70's hits 'Dance With Me' and 'Still The One', both staples of classic rock radio today. And here was I thinking that the band remained a victim of the decade which bought us disco, punk, funk, Jon and Ponch, Fonzie and Ralph Malph. How wrong was I. As we find out through this incredible rewind of Orleans history courtesy of their mainstay Larry Hoppen, Orleans have been, and are still - a band very much in the here and now. So much for longevity.. may it continue.

Let's do a quick refresher course, for those wanting a quick synopsis of the band:

Discography:
Orleans (1973)
Let There Be Music (1975)
Waking And Dreaming (1976)
Forever (1979)
Orleans (1980)
One Of A Kind (1982)
Grown Up Children (1986)
Orleans Live (1991, Japan)
Orleans Live: Volume 1 (1993)
Analog Men (1994 Japan)
Ride (1996)
Still The One Live (2002)
Dancin' In The Moonlight (2005)

Orleans Roll Call:
Larry Hoppen - vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards
Lance Hoppen - bass
Lane Hoppen - keyboards
John Hall - vocals, guitars, bass
Wells Kelly - drums
Dennis 'Fly' Amero - guitars
Michael Mugrage - guitars
Bob Leinbach - keyboards, trombone, vocals
Charlie Morgan - drums
Jerry Marotta - drums
Rick Marotta - drums
Charlie Shew - drums
Nick Parker - drums
Peter O'Brien -drums
R.A Martin - keyboards, vocals

So, over to Eric Abrahamsen and Larry Hoppen, for a walk down memory lane..

Larry, in the early 70's Orleans were part of an East coast scene that included several well known names. How did Orleans get its start and what were those early days like?
We based ourselves in Woodstock NY when Wells Kelly - and then I - both moved down from Ithaca to join John Hall, who had moved up from New York City. That trio played for 9 months - Wells on drums, John guitar and me mostly on fretless bass, but with all of us switching instruments A LOT. We 3 all played everything, except I didn't play drums.

From February to November 1972, it was a steady diet of local Woodstock venues - there were 3 good clubs in town then - and other places in the Northeast from New England down to Washington DC. Most were clubs, but there were also good opening slots for major concerts at colleges. The first I recall was driving to Vermont to open for Seatrain, which was a very cool band, featuring Peter Rowan among others. In November, we were ready for a fourth member to stabilize the instrumentation somewhat; I wanted to play more guitar and keys rather than bass, for one thing. So we auditioned my brother Lance, who played bass and had just graduated high school on Long Island, where my family is originally from. We continued playing and rehearsing. As we played more, it became increasingly easier to get gigs, because we were building a reputation and a fan base all around the Northeast, particularly in the upstate NY area - which we considered our 'back yard'. We spent many hours on the NY Thruway for gigs in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Ithaca, Binghamton etc. We excelled at 'driving for dollars'.


Orleans: [L-R] Wells Kelly, Lance Hoppen,
John Hall, Larry Hoppen


In those first couple of years, before we had national hits and notoriety, we still got to share a stage occasionally with 'stars'. We played at least one show opening to Jackson Browne at a college in New Hampshire. I remember a very good gig with Gary US Bonds. Also, at that time Bonnie Raitt, who was a rising star especially in the Northeast, was working on an album with John Hall producing in Woodstock, and we did a lot of shows opening to Bonnie. And here's one - in 1974, we played a high school in Lewiston, Maine - where Bruce Springsteen opened to us! So clearly, everyone was in a different place then. The club and college circuits in the early and mid-1970s made for very active and fertile ground. This was pre-video, pre-higher drinking age, pre-HIV and pre-Internet. Going out to hear live music and bands was a very mainstream thing to do, one of the central forms of entertainment for active people. There were LOTS of clubs, many of them really good to play in. If a band was popular enough, it could make a living and hone its craft at the same time. That's what we did. Man, it was fun!

ABC, your original label was never very supportive of the Orleans, why do you think this was? Even turning down 'Dance With Me' which is most surprising?
Well, ABC Records went out of business a very long time ago, being absorbed into MCA/Universal when most labels were still doing fine, so that should tell you something about their fitness as a business. Our first album was released in 1973 along with debut LP's by Rufus (Chaka Khan) and Steely Dan, just to name two. I guess ABC's business plan was to throw stuff against the wall and wait to see what stuck. Our debut LP was a critical success - Rolling Stone and others gave it great reviews. Commercially, it was not a barnburner.


Orleans - Orleans
(1973, ABC/Probe)

Orleans - Let There Be Music (1975, Asylum)

But still, we got to do a second album for them in 1974, which did contain versions of 'Let There Be Music' and 'Dance With Me'. However, ABC 'didn't hear any hits' and when they dropped us, we went back to showcasing. At a stint at Max's Kansas City - I think that week we co-billed with the Dixie Hummingbirds - Chuck Plotkin, the new head of A&R at David Geffen's hip, new and prestigious Asylum label (Joni Mitchell, Eagles, Jackson Browne etc.) caught a few sets and wound up signing us. We felt we'd found a much better situation. Chuck was a real song guy (who went on to do great work including several of Springsteen's biggest albums). He heard the potential in both of those tunes and got re-recording rights for the album he would produce for Asylum. The new 'Let There Be Music' was our first charting Top 40 record, smoothing the way for the new 'Dance With Me', which followed 'Let There Be Music' and climbed to the Top 5. Clearly, ABC's loss was our collective gain. Look, the Beatles got turned down by 23 labels before Capitol signed them. There are countless stories - lack of vision, not paying attention, poor judgment, playing it too safe - whatever you want to call it - in the music biz and every other business, too. Go figure. 'Dance With Me' is definitely one of the better, most endearing releases of the 70's. It has to be said the bass line in this song stands out for many people, including myself.

What were the details on how this song came about. Did you guys believe it was going to be a hit?
Well, beyond what I explained with recording it twice, we - Orleans AND Chuck - NEEDED a hit at Asylum. I believed in the song, saying to John after the first time he unveiled that guitar riff at a Woodstock garage rehearsal: 'go home and finish that!'.... There was something magic from the first notes. I guess Chuck felt the same way, and when we went in the studio with him producing, we built that track like we were building a house. It was NOT the way we cut the other songs; it was a different kind of tune, and we went about it differently.

First, John triple-tracked the acoustic guitar, the main instrument and I remember tripling our vocals, as well. Basically, that's the core of the record, acoustic guitar and vocals. I added Fender Rhodes piano accents, John laid down some sweet 'faux pedal steel guitar' and Wells, the drummer, actually laid the drums in after the fact. The main rhythm part is him slapping change in his pocket!!! We didn't have a bass part, so we had a 'bass contest' - all 4 of us took turns with our bass ideas. I had the winning concept, and I got to do the bass part you hear on the hit. To this day, when I hear it I still can't believe how LOUD the bass was mixed!

To polish the track off and give it a fittingly different flavour, we wound up using a melodica. I don't remember exactly how we came to that, but I do remember Chuck explaining his vision that it should be like a guy first approaching a campfire surrounded by where people are sitting around on a log, and the guy playing the 'harmonica' eventually sits down with everyone else. So, the first melodica verse is a bit distant, then it becomes the focus of the mix, then it's in with everything else. It was a lot of fun for me, playing that quirky instrument - and still is. And it's nice to see how much Donald Fagen breaks it out for Steely Dan's shows. Another, truly amazing melodica player is jazz drum icon Jack DeJohnette, by the way.

When you're in your early 20s and you've worked so hard that you can taste what a hit record would do for you, let me tell you it's a wonderful thing when it happens. 'Dance With Me' was a real milestone for Orleans - and even our parents loved the song!

'Still The One' was a huge success and I remember it used as the ABC-TV theme song. Did you guys shop the song to the network, or was it just the network choosing Orleans? Do you think this helped or hurt the bands reputation? I think it was an early sign of things to come with the rock music and commercials which was almost unheard of back then. ABC- TV Network's use of 'Still the One' as their Theme Song for over 2 years was the result of that song having been so popular and the title / chorus being a great marketing slogan, which I don't think was on anyone's mind when we recorded it. Other major companies were bidding on it as well, at the time. I was personally surprised at how quickly it became such a hot item. Barely off the Billboard charts, where it had peaked at #2 in October of 1976 (while we were out on a national tour with Jackson Browne) ABC TV began airing their version in very early 1977. The song that kept 'Still The One' out of the Number 1 spot was 'Disco Duck', for all you trivia fans! It all happened extremely fast.












Orleans - Waking And
Dreaming (1976, Asylum)

There is no doubt that it helped the band both in the short term and long run. You simply cannot buy that kind of promotion or advertising. 30+ years later, everyone remembers not only the song but that it was a network theme. The song has taken on a life of its own and, to this day, continues to be used in movies, commercials on radio and TV and still gets tons of airplay, and that all happens in other countries besides the USA. We did not sing or play the version that ABC used, it was a re-record. It was an early example of rock music being used for marketing, but I have no objectivity as to whether it made any difference in 'paving the way' for other examples. It was a current song at the time, not a revered 'classic' like Revolution or Good Vibrations. Corporations using original versions of iconic songs from massively huge Artists stirs much more controversy. Orleans stirs controversy by having a shirtless album cover and a guy in Congress!

John and his wife Johanna Hall were such a big part of the Orleans sound as songwriters, how did the band react when he left, was it a surprise or was it coming for a while?
Like many bands (and even 'rockumented' in 'Spinal Tap'-) there were tensions internally in Orleans which involved publishing royalties, equitability, and the wife of a main songwriter not only writing songs but pushing to fire managers, organizing ballet classes for onstage 'choreography', demanding a vote on band issues and so forth.

One way the rest of us dealt with this was to ALL write songs with our wives. It seemed like the obvious thing to do, and sometimes it actually worked. Each band member also jockeyed for getting his own songs on the albums, as there were 3 active writers/singers among the band and only so many tracks we could release on each LP. All of those tensions escalated in direct proportion to the amount of success we were having.

By 1977, we had had two huge hits on consecutive albums and were getting ready to do a follow-up to 'Waking And Dreaming', which had spawned 'Still The One'. We rehearsed and did pre-production in Bearsville. John was feeling pressure from Wells and myself to make room for OUR songs on the next record and in the live shows. At the same time, John felt strongly that he should be and was in charge creatively, as he and his wife had penned both 'Dance With Me' and 'Still The One'.

We also had added a second drummer - Jerry Marotta - because Wells wanted to play things besides drums and get out front, and because Jerry had come into the band on the 'W&D' album just mentioned. Jerry was younger than the rest of us and quite an upstart, and he didn't pull any punches in telling John what he saw happening - in Jerry's inimitable way - which didn't help the cause for camaraderie. We went out on a few shows and pretty soon, everything erupted as we took on the stresses of being on the road on top of everything else. A lot was at stake, we were all young and John was in the best position to go off on his own, which he chose to do rather than confront what seemed like an insurmountably complex set of problems.

There was also experienced and powerful management involved by this time, which was not advising us as a team. In my view, they might have strongly suggested we stick it out as a group, because we had worked long and hard to be in the enviable - and rare - position that we were in as a recording band. We were, despite all our problems, in a place in our career path that most bands would give almost anything for, then OR now. We might have listened because we respected the Management's perspective and track record. That advice might have engendered the serious and valuable intra-personal communication we were running away from. But, that advice never came.

Still, nobody was shocked when John left in mid-1977. He released a couple of solo LPs and in 1979, became key to organizing the 'No Nukes' project - which was quite successful and, I might add, very worthwhile. Orleans concurrently regrouped by 1978, recorded our 'Forever' album and in 1979 had our third Top Ten hit, 'Love Takes Time'.

Orleans - Forever (1979, Infinity)



Orleans signed to Ron Alexander's Infinity Records for 'Forever', and 'Love Takes Time' was a brilliant hit single, but what happened during the band's short association with the label and were you surprised when the label folded?
Infinity Records, a subsidiary of MCA/Universal, was not in business for all that long. The facts are that in 1980 the brass there made a disastrous deal, supposedly with the Vatican, to record Pope John Paul 2nd as he toured 12 American cities and sang some Polish folk songs. The fatal error to Infinity was that the middleman company they'd signed with, which had brokered the deal, had no authority whatsoever from - let alone the blessing of - the Vatican. My understanding is that 'the path of least resistance' was to simply fold Infinity, which the corporate parent did. Under the obvious and unique circumstances, we were not surprised by the way events unfolded at the corporate level.

I still have the 1980 Billboard magazine cover that stated: 'POPE LAYS EGG'. You can't make this stuff up!

This move left most Infinity artists without a recording label. A select handful got folded into the MCA roster, Orleans among them. If I remember, it was also Hot Chocolate, Spyro Gyra and one other - maybe Dobie Gray? - who went on making a next album for MCA directly.

How much support did MCA give the 1980 'Orleans' album, which in my opinion flew under most record buyer's radar?
Pretty much none. We made that album by reaching out and finding several talented (British) people who'd worked with Brand X, Ace and some other artists we admired. They came to America, we pulled a remote truck up to Wells Kelly's cabin in Woodstock and recorded during the cold winter of 1979. Although Lance, Wells and I had decided to trim 'Orleans proper' to our core trio, we invited Bob Leinbach, R.A.Martin, John Hall, Jerry Marotta - pretty much everyone who'd ever been in the band to that point - along with Jerry's brother Rick, Jay Beckenstein of Spyro Gyra and others to appear on the album, and everyone did.

We then went to England and finished the production and mixing at the legendary Trident Studio in London. Robin Lumley, the producer, got Phil Collins (his ex-roommate) to come in and sing on a cut. I remember getting Michael Palin's autograph while we were there, too (which I still have, of course). We had a great time and were pleased with the result. It took too long and cost too much, but it was really good and we were proud of it. I guess MCA didn't feel that way, or they just didn't pay any attention at all to the record.


Orleans - Orleans (1980, MCA)
Right around the completion of this album and the realization that MCA was not going to promote our career, Wells announced that he was throwing in the towel. He and his wife had one toddler and another baby on the way. It was contentious at the time, but in hindsight I certainly get it, completely. Wells was a great drummer, a marvelous multi-talented musician, a good looking guy with lots of charm and a seriously witty personality. He'd worked with the Beach Boys back in 1977-1978 (after John had left / before Orleans regrouped). He would find plenty of opportunities. He did exactly that, moving closer to NY City, doing sessions and gigs with lots of good people. Soon, he landed a Meat Loaf tour. Meanwhile, the guy who runs (and owns) our current label - www.FridayMusic.com - says that the 1980 MCA album is his very favourite Orleans album.


A new label, Radio Records and a fine album, 'One Of A Kind', but were there issues here as well; I heard from other sources that the label's success with the 'Stars On 45' hit single tapped away resources for other artists?
After being dropped from MCA (which was, of course, fine with us at that point) we once again needed to find a recording / promotion situation. However, this was the early 1980s and there was a serious economic depression going on. You might remember 17% mortgage rates combined with no jobs etc. So, it was a difficult context in which to 'get a deal'. We teamed up with a couple of good guys called the Empire Project. One fancied himself a producer, the other was more a straight-ahead businessman with some music biz experience, but not a lot. They hooked us up with a talented young Ben Wisch, who engineered as we recorded in a Fort Lauderdale studio.













Orleans - One Of A Kind
(1982, Radio Records)


That 'label' was in existence solely because of the 'Stars on 45' singles, which were imported / licensed releases from Holland or Denmark or somewhere in Scandinavia. By the time our first single came out around September of 1982 (it was the title track, 'One of a Kind') Radio Records was out of business. I have a vivid recollection of one day calling in from my Woodstock home to routinely check progress on promotion, chart activity, etc. and getting a 'this line has been disconnected'... recording. As soon as I learned that they'd folded, we had our lawyer call Atlantic (their parent label) to get whatever LPs that had been pressed for our own promo purposes. Too late. They'd been melted down for the vinyl. Vinyl is made from oil, and a recession was on, after all. As Rodney Dangerfield use to say: 'I'll tell ya, no respect at all'!

What happened with Orleans following 'One of a Kind'? Why the split? What did you do following the break-up?
Gee, I don't remember a 'split' after 'One Of A Kind'. What I remember was that we worked a lot of gigs and were getting nowhere from 1982 well into 1984. After a tough two-week stint in Bermuda in July 1984 - where I lost my voice one day into the gig from the relentless air-conditioned / high humidity yo-yo - Lance and I simply decided we needed to rethink the rest of our lives. It was not going the way we'd planned or hoped. Thankfully, that was the first and last time I've ever lost my voice (so far, anyway).

So, Lance and I agreed it was time for a break, The rest of the guys - at this point, in the previous 3 years we'd had either Michael Mugrage or 'Fly' Amero on guitar, Charlie Shew or Nick Parker on drums and our bro Lane Hoppen on keys - all got the word that we wouldn't work for a while, indefinitely. We all went about our lives, mine at my Woodstock house where I was taking things a little easier and thinking about what to do next. As the adage goes, 'life is what happens when you're making other plans'...

Very tragically, while in England on the Meatloaf tour after a big party, Wells died from the same substance combination that had killed John Belushi just brief years earlier: cocaine, heroin and booze. I got the call from another friend the morning of October 29 that this had happened. We were all simply stunned. As the news sank in, sadness, tragedy and reality settled in along with it. We all knew - and acknowledged to each other - that it could have been any of us.

You guys started touring again in the 90's and John Hall returned to the band. Why the comeback and how did it all start?
Actually John, Lance and I were reunited after a 7 year split by that untimely death of our original drummer and dear friend Wells Kelly, who, as I explained, died in October 1984 in England. The three of us attended a Memorial gathering near Ithaca, NY with Wells' family and close friends, where we eventually got on the stage together with the band. We did a few songs; the old chemistry was undeniable, noticed by everyone in the room and definitely not lost on us. We had an offer shortly thereafter - really unexpected, but also welcome - to go to Nashville and cut an album for MCA Nashville, which we did. The LP 'Grown Up Children' featured all new songs plus appearances by Chet Atkins, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, Bela Fleck and others. However, the label did not promote it much, if at all. We'd spent nearly two years 'commuting' then pretty much living in Nashville. I even bought a house there, although I never did move in before I sold it the same year - 1986.













Orleans - Grown Up
Children (1986, MCA)

We decided to get back to Woodstock and do what we knew and liked best, which was musically less country and more rock. By this time it was 1988. After a couple of years we were approached by our good friend Robbie Dupree, who was working with 2 partners on music product for Japan. Robbie and his team made it possible for us to make our first live album in our 18-year history. Orleans LIVE was first released as a double CD in Japan February 1991 and supported by our first tour of Japan that April. We were thrilled to be visiting and playing in the Far East, especially after so many years of wanting a live release and wanting to tour internationally. We had a ball, playing Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya! And the cherry blossoms were awesome, too.

We released a single CD version of that live album in the USA in 1993, and made another studio album - 'Analog Men' - for Japanese release only, in 1994. Again, we toured Japan to support the release and again, we found a wonderfully receptive and enthusiastic audience, playing more places than the first time around. When we got back, Woodstock '94 was on our agenda - and in our very back yard! We played on the Friday, when the weather was still dry. We were the band that made the transition from showcasing local bands to national bands, as we were both. Playing to 350,000 people is not something you do everyday - or every year, even - and the experience is indelible in our memories. How could we ever forget throngs of people moshing in the pit to 'Dance With Me' ??? I think it was Blues Traveler who followed our set. It was a beautiful night.

1995 saw the first 'Can't Stop Rockin' Tour - which industry people were predicting would be a bust. Wrong! Putting REO Speedwagon, Fleetwood Mac, Pat Benetar together and having Orleans (John, Lance and me) open with a 20-minute acoustic set turned out to be a huge success and a model for many tours afterward. LOTS of fun (and work) for everyone! That version of Fleetwood had Billy Burnette, Becca Bramlett and Dave Mason along with John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. Also, it was at the Phoenix gig on that run that I called my wife and learned that she was pregnant - with twins! The show was great; the Mac and REO would alternate closing the show each night. Pat was at her powerful, beguiling best and we got to sing backup and play tambourines on 'We Belong Together' and some other really cool PB songs on a daily basis.

We hooked up with Dinosaur/BMG in 1996 and released a new studio CD called Ride. The album was really good but, unfortunately, the label folded very shortly after the release. Wait! I think I see a pattern developing here... That really took the wind out of my sails and I threw in the towel in November 1997 after an unexciting gig at the Bottom Line in New York City. I had twin baby girls now and, although I've never been a quitter, I wanted and needed to get serious about the future. The time was right for another breather from Orleans. The band was inactive until September 2001. My family moved from Saugerties NY to Central Florida in late 2000.

Orleans had an old favourite annual concert at a place called Opus 40 in Saugerties. It's a gorgeous and unique piece of land with a 6-acre sculpture by Harvey Fite, who died in the 38th year of building it. The rock sculpture is surrounded by a moat and a natural amphitheatre. We had played there most years since about 1980. In summer 2001, John Hall called me and asked if I was up for another Orleans show there. Why not? It turned out to be one of our best ever on every level - attendance, musically, etc. We made an on-the-spot decision to get back in the saddle right there.

For 2002, we thought it would be fun to release a 30th Anniversary collection of mostly live stuff from our personal archives, so we began compiling our favourites. Going through old reel tapes, cassettes, CDs, DATs and even a laserdisc, we assembled a Retrospective called 'Still The One LIVE' and packaged it with notes on the source of each performance and photos from the 3-decade history of the group.

While Lance and myself had always been there (and John, more or less), we had quite a few people come and go over 30 years to fill out the band. By 2002, I'd been in Florida for over a year and had met quite a few exceptional musicians there. I was working again with my youngest brother Lane on keyboards and Elton John's ex-drummer Charlie Morgan. Lane and Charlie both live in Central Florida, too. It was a natural progression to bring them both into Orleans. Included in the 'Still The One Live' release are two tracks we recorded in 2002 with this personnel in Kenner, Louisiana with Charlie's portable laptop recording system. It all worked out really well. Orleans has included Lane and Charlie since then as part of the 'official' group.

We kept playing out - casinos, Disneyworld, Universal, Opus 40 and various others, adding new material as we could. Lance was singing and writing more now, the band was solid and we were ready to do a studio CD. Charlie's home studio was perfect and he's a great engineer on Digital Performer with Mac computers etc. We cut a bunch of tracks in 2004, including the title track Dancing' in the Moonlight. We got the CD out on our own steam in 2005 then hooked up with Friday Music (www.FridayMusic.com) in 2006, which is a very cool label run by an old friend who has artists like Procol Harum, Manfred Mann, Europe and others. He's a music guy, old school, and it works.

The new studio album 'Dancin' In the Moonlight' - you have a connection to that song, recording a version in your first band..
I am the guitar player on the original recording from 1969 by my band Boffalongo, which was on United Artists. Boffalongo made two LPs for that label. The personnel was completely different from one album to the next. The second, called 'Beyond Your Head', contains 'Dancin' in the Moonlight' on SOME copies, or a song I wrote called 'Make Your Own World' - which featured jazz flutist Jeremy Steig - on others. Boffalongo at different times included Bob Leinbach, Wells Kelly and other people who were later part of Orleans. Are you still with me?

The version of 'the Boff' that recorded 'Dancin' in the Moonlight' included Sherman Kelly (Wells' older brother) on keys and lead vocal - and, he also wrote the song. The bass player was Dave ''Doc'' Robinson, who in 1973 sang the lead vocal on King Harvest's hit version! I was on guitar, and Peter Giansante, a college buddy of mine, played drums.


We recorded 'Dancin'..' in a lower East Side NY City studio owned by our friend Jim Tunick. 36 years later in 2005, we recorded the whole CD entitled 'Dancin' in the Moonlight' at our drummer Charlie Morgan's studio in Florida. And on February 17 2007, Orleans has a show in St Thomas, US VI called 'Dancin' in the Moonlight' which is promoted by the same Jim Tunick, who now lives on St Thomas. That is only part of the very convoluted, multi-faceted story that connects Orleans to the song, to the Virgin Islands, to King Harvest and many people from Ithaca, NY in the 1960s and '70s.

What's the reaction to the album been so far and your personal thoughts on Orleans recording again?
The album was released independently first under our own steam (website and gigs) and then with the help of Friday Music in 2006. It is being received very well and has a long 'shelf 'life'. It's solid, original Orleans songs (except for 'Dancin'..', of course). Even after 35 years, there are several firsts on this album:

It's our first studio album in 10 years, and the very first one we've done with no outside help for funding. We funded it from gigs and record royalties. We recorded it solely in Charlie's garage, mixed it with our friend John Marsden of Little Big Sound in Orlando and had it mastered by Motown veteran Bob Olhsson, whose mastering lab is in Nashville.

The opening track - which is perhaps my favourite - is the first song ever co-written by John and Lance ('Mission of Mercy'). I love it and find it mesmerizing.

Lance has become a very good songwriter and has other tunes on the album. He also sings lead on several cuts, another first. The result is a new, more balanced set of songs and vocals between John, myself and Lance. Add Charlie Morgan's excellent rhythms and the third Hoppen (Lane) for that genetic harmony blend, and you've got a fresh approach. That said, I also say that if you like what we've done in the past, you'll love this stuff.


In 2007 Orleans will be featured on PBS' 'My Music' concerts series, we have a brand new SONY/BMG live CD coming out shortly and are just about to launch our debut DVD which was filmed at a concert last August. We expect all of this visibility (which has also not been hurt by John's campaign and election to Congress ;-) to make a wider audience aware of the album and we believe that to hear it is to like it. We are very proud of this work

Dancin' in the Moonlight is likely the final Orleans album to feature John, who is now Rep. John Hall (D, NY-19). The PBS appearance was taped just before John got too busy with his Congressional campaign, so he's on that with us. Our debut DVD features BOTH John and Fly Amero, and we added Charlie Dechant on sax (30+ yrs w/ Hall & Oates) and percussionist Manuel Quintana for our DVD sets, which happened to be in a beautiful old church in Pittsfield, Mass.

We had invited Dennis 'Fly' Amero - who, as you'll recall, was in the band in the early 1980s - to work with us in 2006 as we anticipated John's electoral victory. Now that all that is done, Orleans has made a smooth transition and is doing shows with Fly permanently in John's former position. Fly is a consummate guitarist and singer, but more importantly he is great with people and an audience. Our shows are more energetic and fun with him present; his new energy is contagious, and the chemistry that was there with him in the 80s is still there, maybe stronger than ever. We' still havin' fun, for sure. We just played our first TRIO Orleans show with Fly, Lance and I. We love that format, too.

Will we make a new CD? Well. We certainly have plenty of new material from Fly, Lance and I. We want to fully develop the current show based on this Dancin in the Moonlight work for 2007 and allow time for our DVD and the SONY/BMG live album to have their shots.

We certainly have no good reason to stop performing, and I'd say that in a few years, perhaps a new studio album will make sense to us all as well. I could also see getting involved either right before or after the next President is in office, for example. You just never know.

What are thoughts on John Hall recently elected to Congress?
Well, if a guy you'd worked with and known well for 35 years got elected to Congress, wouldn't you be proud? We're proud of John, and we're proud of what we've all done over the decades politically. John is wired to be in politics and we wish him Godspeed and safe travels. These are extremely challenging times. John is passionate, very bright, articulate and driven. He will do a great job and this country could use a lot more like him in office. He's not a career Politician; he's walked his own walk and succeeded on his own terms all his adult life. He is a progressive liberal, and we in Orleans are all proud of being progressive liberals. That's as American as it gets as far as we're concerned. John has always said that he thinks it would be good if every American served at least a year in some kind of political office so that the public can better understand the process, the pitfalls, and realities. Instead of just complaining, he's doing something about it. You gotta respect that!

What are the future plans for Orleans and yourself?
We're gonna keep playing until we die. Seriously, music is in all of our blood. It's what we do. We'd do it for free, but we have the privilege of making a living at it, which is truly a gift. It is also how my parents met - in a band in the 1940s. They were active in performing and teaching until shortly before they each passed on. Lance, Lane and I grew up seeing a musical lifestyle as totally normal. We had no idea when we started the band that there would still be on Orleans 35 years on. It's not possible to say how long there will be an Orleans from here, but we have no plans to stop as long as we have an audience interested in hearing what we have to say musically.


For myself, I play often with other artists and occasionally I'll do a solo. I do fundraisers for my kids' school and and other worthy groups, usually having something to do with kids. I play with the Mohegan Sun AllStars whenever I can. ln 2006 I went to Japan and Paris with the Robbie Dupree Band, and we're recording an album in March near Woodstock. I am Music Director for Rock & Pop Masters (RPM), which is a very cool show that features many original lead singers of huge hits, such as Jimi Jamison from Survivor, Joe Lynn Turner from Deep Purple/Rainbow, David Jenkins (Pablo Cruise), Edgar Winter, John Cafferty and many others, depending on the show. I love to play with all kinds of musicians. I'll never give it up. As for writing and recording, we'll see what time brings. I'm still in the game but I also have twin 11-yr old daughters and lots of other interests. Time is precious, for all these projects..

Any final thoughts Larry?
I'm glad I was born when I was; it's been an incredibly interesting and (mostly) good life so far. When I was a teenager trying to break into pro music, it was a different world. I thin it's a shame that now, to get noticed in a big way, an artists has to either be connected to a powerful multimedia machine, get on American Idol or some such path. I believe the Web and Internet have leveled the playing field to a degree, but it's certainly a whole different world. Of course, it's always good when the control swings in favor of the artists instead of the establishment - so in that sense, the 'Net is a Godsend.

A lot of my thoughts about having success - whatever that means to YOU - in the music biz, in any field, and in life - are in my recent self-published 'A Career in Music: How to Stand a Chance'. It's my take on saying 'yes', building relationships that last and positive behavior, which is helpful not only in a career but in any life. It's been great talking to you and your readers. Hope to see you out there at a show sometime soon!

A lot of my thoughts about having success - whatever that means to YOU - in the music biz, in any field, and in life - are in my recent self-published 'A Career in Music: How to Stand a Chance'. It's my take on saying 'yes', building relationships that last and positive behavior, which is helpful not only in any career but in any life. That's at: www.familyvaluecreations.com/careerinmusic.htm.

I do want to mention a few websites for those who want more info on various things:

www.LarryHoppen.com
www.RPMconcerts.com
www.OrleansOnline.com
www.FridayMusic.com


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