From the Tryin' Times booklet notes written by Michael Roach (Available Now)
In 2016 , I produced a 3 track EP called‘Hooked on L ove’ for my daughter Sadie. It was Roger Inniss who helped me with the arrangements. Roger was the bass player on ‘I Betcha!’ (my band project in 2007) and it was Roger who suggested that I use Rod Youngs (a top drummer on the London jazz scene). To complete the rhythm section for Sadie’s EP, I called Tim Cansfield to play guitar on the session. Tim has recorded and played with many of the superstars of modern music from the last 50 years and he brought a lot of experience to the studio. In the end,I got a great result and for anyone who likes ‘old school’ rhythm & blues, I highly recommend ‘Hooked on Love’.
This project came about as a follow-up to Sadie’s EP .She is now in her 3rd year studying jazz piano at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Knowing that she would be graduating in 2021, I thought it was time to produce some new music for her to appeal to promoters and booking agentss o she could be working in concerts and festivals after graduation. The more I thought about Sadie’s follow-up, I realized it has been 9 years since I last recorded. It was then I decided it was time for me to produce a new album. I wanted to do something different and I wanted a sound that was fresh. I called the same musicians from the‘Hooked on Love’ session for support. Also,I wanted to feature Sadie as a vocalist in a blues context and have her play piano. To be honest, I didn’t have a clue what to expect in the studio but I knew we would come together and create an amazing sound. Also, I was confident the sound engineer (James Towler) would guide me if I got lost because he recorded ‘Hooked on Love’ and he engineered my last album ‘Innocent Child’ in 2010.
Roger and I met up before the first recording session in November 2018 and he helped me with arranging some of the songs. I called my good friend John Miller and he came up with the arrangement for ‘Hey, Mr. Basketball’ and ‘You Can’t Come Round Here’ (which was done in 1 take). The first track we recorded was ‘Tryin’ Times’ and it was everything I hoped for. I used a riff that was suggested by Abi Budgen and incorporated a Blind Boy Fuller riff into the context. The track was recorded ‘live’ and there were moments where I couldn’t play and sing at the same time. What you’ll hear is what we did on the day with no overdubbing. I later added background vocals and Danny McCormack on Hammond organ.
Leadbelly’s ‘Take This Hammer’ and Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s ‘Strange Things Happening Everyday’ are the only othe rcovers I decided to record. Sadie is singing on both and her delivery is exceptional. As you can see, there is a theme to this recording and there are no love songs. I recorded 8 originals on this album and I’m playing acoustic guitar on every track. All of the songs speak from a Black cultural perspective and are personal to me. Take ‘Hey,Mr. Basketball’ for example, I’m better known in Washington DC as a basketball player than I am as a blues musician. I wrote that song 35 years ago. Also, I wrote ‘NEGRO’in 1989. My 12 year old son Lonnie(named after the great guitarist Lonnie Johnson), is singing on ‘Taking A Knee’. Yes, this album is a family affair and feel that we must inspire the next generation to do the right thing in addressing these ‘Tryin’ Times’. Without going into more detail, I’ll let the songs speak for themselves and I hope you enjoy the music.