The CD Woodbury Band: The Monday Night Interview
Five veteran Northwest musicians united in 2009 to form the CD Woodbury Band. They won the WBS BB award for “Best New Band in 2010 and released a live album later that year. CD won his second BB award for “Best Electric guitarist” in 2011 and the band just released their first studio album titled Monday Night, which made its way to the #1 spot on the Roots Radio Chart for WA. State and is charting nationally. I met with three of the guys: CD Woodbury, Mike Marinig and Mike Fish to get the lowdown on the band first hand.
Rick J Bowen: So here we are at your rehearsal space. At Don’s place, was the album title tune” Monday Night,” written about this place.
Mike Marnig: It’s the band room, that’s what we call it. It was a pottery room and a barn.
Mike Fish: Actually had no walls at one time.
CD: The thing is every band I worked in before these guys the rehearsals were kind of spare. In the first month with this band I did more rehearsals than my entire three year stint with Mark DeFrense. The band rehearsal is our poker night; we get together and do our thing every Monday. It s what makes this a band not just five guys who get together to play music and happen to know the same songs.
MF: Chris and I had been doing this since way before Tim Casey and the Blues Cats. Monday night is the night we get together and play. Our Families grew up around Monday night being band night; everything we do revolves around Monday night. We just kept the tradition going.
CD: They get generally annoyed if someone can’t make Monday night unless it is for a very good reason. It’s set in stone. Now I did not write the song, the band wrote the song, they put my name because I put some tinkles on there. One of the things that motivates what I do is poverty. I had an opportunity to take a job in Portland and moved down there but we kept the band together, and we rehearsed and did shows on weekends. I was gone six months but they kept meeting on Monday nights, recording ideas and writing songs. So “Monday Night” was the first song they wrote while I was gone.
MM: Really it was Montana, he had that drum beat, and Fish had a bass line that he worked up to go with it.
MF: That second line groove, so I jumped in.
CD: We had all just seen Maceo Parker at Jazz Alley and that inspired the funk.
MM: Chris walked in to rehearsal threw in his keyboard lines, he is influential on all our songwriting he’ll say this is what I hear here, so do this, and then do this right here. We are all open to any ideas someone will bring in, so we end up with a cumulative result. CD did write the harmony lines to my sax line.
CD: That’s why we had to name the album Monday Night, although it did cause some confusion for people when we announced we are releasing our album “Monday Night,” people would ask “So ok then the show is Monday night?” no the show is Saturday night and the album will be out Tuesday. What? I thought you said Monday night? Yes that is the album, it will be out Tuesday.
RB: Sort of like who’s on First?
RB: So the core of this band came from the Tim Casey Band.
CD: Yeah we should get to the formation of the band. Those guys (Chris Kliemann, Don Montana, and Mike Fish) played with Tim Casey for thirteen years, and then he retired. I had played for Mark Dufresne and with Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method.
MF: When Tim retired I didn’t want to lose the core of the band. We stayed together and tried a few other people up front. Chris and I have been playing together since 1975, we met Don in 1997, it’s approaching forty years we’ve been playing together. We get along so well we did not want to go separate ways.
CD: We played together the first time at a garage jam party, had a good time.
MF: I’d had just enough beers to be bold so I walked up to CD after, and said “man you need your own band!” he just looked at me and said “oh god, well I am staring something but can’t talk about it yet.’ So we invited him over for a Monday night.
CD: It was synchronicity. You know I dearly loved the time I spent working with the Mark Dufresne band, but I always felt something wasn’t working, and I came to realize it was me. I wasn’t the right guy for that gig. Especially after seeing Tim Lerch with that band now. Wow. Anyway So I was looking for something else and I did a night subbing with Polly O’Keary and she had laryngitis so I had to sing lead all night long, and it felt really good and pushed me to lead again. I wanted her and Tommy Cook to back me but they went on to join Too Slim. And so forces conspired to push me to this band.
MF: He came over that first Monday night and we started playing at seven o’clock and the next thing we knew it was ten, whoa! What we have to go home now? We had so much fun he came back the next week, and is was great but we thought oh no this has got to be a fluke. So he came back the next week, it was still great, and so we started getting songs down.
CD: I’m known for being hard on rhythm sections. I throw some hard stuff at these guys. I can’t play all the songs that every other working band does. I’ve heard the same songs hundreds of times and it’s never as good as or better than the original version. So if I can’t do it my way I won’t do it.
That’s why it makes it hard to get gigs some times because people say ”well so and so did Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn last week why don’t you?” I just say well we don’t do that and that’s why we’re not them. I don’t mean to be derogatory; I want to do this style of music, but my way.
RB: Kudos to you guys for putting out a new studio album with all original material, that isn’t done in the blues world; usually people add cover songs.
CD: Right, it isn’t done in the blues world but it is everywhere else. Hadn’t the material been that strong the album would be different. A lot of people wanted us to record our version of “Hey Joe,” so we recorded it. Then when we listened to all the songs the weakest one were the covers, so we said well it’s gonna be all our stuff. 48 minutes is not a long record but its ten original song and we are really proud of what we’ve done. You are expected in the blues world to be a stylist and a performer more than a song writer, and that’s ok, some people have made big careers out of that. I think we are great combination of good instrumentalists and good songwriters so I hope people will respond to that. I think it’s the only way we as a band can make it, is by doing something different.
RB: Let talk more about the songs. “Blues Keeps Me right Here,” is a classic Chicago shuffle.
CD: I wanted a stock shuffle on that one. People would tell me “you do shuffles in F better than anyone else,’ so I wrote a shuffle in F. I took some of the tricks from other songs I do like ‘Further on up the road, “and put them together. Lyrically I heard this Maria Muldaur song”The Blues Go Walking,” she was talking about getting up and waking with the blues, I was like no man if you the real blues you’re not getting up, you’re gonna sit right here.
RB: Tell us the story behind “Mean Jenny.”
CD: That is a very RL Burnside, deep blues swampy thing, and Mike had a story to go with it.
MM: To qualify, it is a true story, but not in a bad way. Jenny is the mother of my children. Who is a good women or I wouldn’t have married her. She is from Louisiana and had a very rough upbringing. Jenny when she was young as a defense mechanism would use mean words, she and her cousin as little kids would play mean mommy, imitating their own mothers, she was dubbed the meanest girl at Vidalia High School. Some of it was abusive and some is fun to make fun of. To clarify: She never did make an alligator cry, she hasn’t skinned anybody alive and made a boat out of their hide, yet, but the rest of it is al based on true stories.
RB: Has she heard the song?
MM: Yes she’s ok with it. She received an autographed copy of the album, and its getting airplay and getting popular. It is the most downloaded song on Amazon so they have it as a ring tone as well. You can have “Mean Jenny,” as a ringtone on your phone.
RB: Speaking of true stories, what about “Pawn Shop?”
CD: Oh yeah that a true story and it has repeated itself a few times. Poverty is a great motivator. I wanted to get myself a 335 as a get serious blues machine. I had a credit card and so I got one. But I noticed all the great blues players had Telecasters, which is crazy because it is the most primitive instrument out there, just short of hammering a wire on a stick of wood. But I found one for $600 and got that too. So after a while I had this expensive guitar that I never touched and this cheap one I kept playing and playing. It got to the point where I got in trouble was out of work and had to sell off stuff. You get rid of stuff when you need to eat. I didn’t want to sell the 335, but I took $1000 for a loan.
RB: Real stories make for great songwriting, especially in the blues.
CD: Definitely; and pawn shops are a blues thing. The world is moving on from a lot of old time things but the pawn shops are still there. If you aint got no credit you can still go to the pawn shop. And definitely a true story I had to get rid of that guitar.
RB: The tune “Ring A Ding Ding,” must have been inspired by all the years the guys spent with Tim Casey.
CD: That and I’ve done a lot of jump blues too and I needed a stock jive to show off what these guys strengths are. That was probably written in a day, it took longer to rehearse than record.
MM: We kept writing and re-writing the intro line. What he came up with is so great, a line that recognizes all the chords and sound so cool at the same time and we do it with the three of us at the same time like a horn section.
CD: I love writing horn section stuff.
MM: We do a horn section with guitar, sax and keyboard. It works really well and is one of the defining sounds of the band.
RB: I was gonna say that and you beat me to it.
RB what is the SauBall Blues about?
CD: That about a sandwich. Have you ever been to Grinders? You know we did “built For Comfort on the last album so you couldn’t have a CD Woodbury band album without one song about food. Yes Mitch that was plug we want another gig at Grinders, Shoreline.
RB: How was your experience with Kickstarter?
CD: I am delighted to be in world that has Kickstarter and Indie Go Go. It was interesting for us because blues fans are not typically cutting edge following the internet types of folks. We were out there in a bit of a frontier and introduced people to what Kickstarter is, and it took a while for them to get it. It’s not a straight charity drive or going to a money man. Because Kickstarter exists anyone with a creative idea can get help. We are very fortunate to have all these people believe in us. It was a small group only 70 backers but the average was $100 typically it’s only $10 to $35. People really put in a lot to help us reach our goal. And several people outside the band helped promote our campaign.
RB: What is next for the CD Woodbury Band?
CD: We have overwhelmed by the amount of airplay we’ve been getting off the record, which is really cool. Its awesome having a really good publicist and what we need to do now is find management. We have a world class band and we have me as a kindergarten level booking agent. We have made ourselves a business and got ourselves in order to be a national act. We have been working material for another album. It took a year to finish this one, so we are working on the next one already so it can be out in another year. We will for sure head back into the rec room studios with Chip Butters. Some real magic happened there.
Rick J Bowen