Tragic Songs of Hope

by Tin Cup Serenade

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about

Tragic Songs of Hope lives up to its name, with ten songs brimming over with exuberant melancholy, bringing to mind an eternal noir rendezvous, where the band never stops, and the crowd is too drunk on the music to care. The songs evoke a Tin Pan Alley melange of New Orleans Jazz, Calypso, Swing, Mariachi, ragtime, early Country, and traditional Cuban Music. The band will be touring widely to support the album’s release.

“Every song on the album has a bit of pathos and a bit of sunshine,” singer and bandleader Rolf Wilkinson explains. “There’s no sadness without happiness, no comedy without tragedy. I like the complexity that results from conflicting emotions, and that's often a source for my music"

Tin Cup Serenade blends Wilkinson’s subtly percussive archtop guitar style, elegant arrangements that mix voice, horn, inspired synergistic improvisation, and a rhythm section featuring Eric Garland’s minimalist drumming and the propulsive upright bass of Safa Shokrai (Rupa and the April Fishes, The Glasses, The Drift). Wilkinson's relaxed croon is equal parts maudlin and elegant, seemingly drawn from a melange of Cab Calloway, Chet Baker, and Dan Hicks. Larry Leight on Trombone, (Lavay Smith, Brass Menažeri), and Pete Cornell on Saxophones, (Mazacote) are both well known bay area horn men, and are magnificent on this recording.

Their extensive repertoire combines obscurities from the American songbook, with Wilkinson originals that are indistinguishable from the classics, which is no mean feat. On the new album, Wilkinson wrote lyrics for two Duke Ellington tunes—“Limbo Jazz” and “Lament for Javanette”—and the results settle in quite naturally.

The album also features two cover songs from the mysteriously dissappeared singer-songwriter, Connie Converse, whose early home recordings were recently brought to light after having languishing for over 5 decades.

Except for the two tunes by Converse, Wilkinson produced and wrote or co-wrote everything on Tragic Songs of Hope. His original tunes combine modernity with timelessness, moody compositions with unexpected bursts of light. “Fragments of You” is a minor key tango with a cha-cha beat, the story of a broken romance lightened by Wilkinson’s sly vocal delivery. “Sunny Oakland Day” is the album’s most optimistic song, a love letter to the East Bay City crooned by Wilkinson over a laid-back swing arrangement that brings Count Basie to mind. Live, “YaYa Blues” gives the band a chance to stretch out and get loud. On this recording, its slow, swing blues builds momentum with extended solos by Pete Cornell on sax and Larry Leight’s muted trombone. Tin Cup is a small combo, but they aim for, and achieve, the sound of an old-time big band with brilliant originals featuring inventive horn charts and the intricate rhythmic interplay of bassist Shokrai and drummer Garland.

After starting on guitar, Wilkinson shifted to drums and spent years playing jazz in Canada, then moved on to The Molestics, a band that mixed Dixieland, calypso and Hawaiian songs, as well as the touring band of the late Ray Condo, a legendary Canadian western swing and rockabilly artist. He still plays drums in a number of Bay Area Jazz and Latin groups.

In 2002, Wilkinson went back to the guitar and started teaching himself old jazz tunes. “I started singing as a kind of self-prescribed musical therapy after going through some rough times,” he says. Singing his jazz and Tin Pan Alley songs, Wilkinson got some gigs with Shokrai on bass and various horn players they knew. The band became Tin Cup Serenade as a salute to their humble beginnings in a small San Francisco club where their only compensation came from walking around the room with a tin cup asking patrons to support the music. Wilkinson produced their 2008 debut, Tin Cup Serenade, released on their self-named label, Tin Cup Serenade Productions.

While the core band is featured on the album, Tin Cup live is a community of San Francisco and Oakland musicians who rotate through the lineup depending on when and where they’re playing. The core band is Wilkinson - vocals, guitar, songwriter; Leight - trombone; Cornell - saxophones; Shokrai - bass; and Garland - drums. But on any given night, you might also find Ara Anderson or Darren Johnston on trumpet, Brandon Essex, Ari Munkres, or Sam Bevan on bass, Jan Jackson on drums, and a variety of other Bay Area singers and instrumentalists joining the band as surprise guests. Live, the band has an approach to improvising that goes back to the Basie big band of the 1930s—wherein horn players improvise behind the soloist—although with Tin Cup, it’s voice and horns creating spontaneous harmonies on the fly.

credits

released April 26, 2013

Rolf Wilkinson Vocals, Guitar, Extra Drums, Percussion, & Electric Bass.
Pete Cornell Saxophones and Clarinet
Larry Leight Trombones
Safa Shokrai Acoustic Bass
Eric Garland Drums
Carlos Caro Congas, Percussion
Patrick Morehead Piano

©2012 Tin Cup Serenade ProductionsAll Songs by Rolf Wilkinson except:Empty Pocket Waltz by Elizabeth Connie Converse
Limbo Jazz by Duke Ellington (lyrics by Rolf Wilkinson), Lament for Javanette by Barney Bigard and Billy Strayhorn (lyrics by Rolf Wilkinson). Produced by Rolf Wilkinson with help from Myles Boisen and Paul Knowles.

Cover by Nate Williams www.n8w.com

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Tin Cup Serenade Oakland, California

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, it's a new evening, and Oakland's own Tin Cup Serenade will be your musical concierge as you travel into and beyond the reaches of their timelessly original jazz compositions. Swing with a healthy dose of the blues, HonkyTonk with a sparkle of Romantica, it's Chet Baker slumming with Bob Wills, it's Billy Holiday chumming with Hank Williams... ... more

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Track Name: Limbo Jazz
What’s past is past
and will pass no more
there’s isn’t much time
and yet there’s so much more
and so we dance
You and I upon the floor
we do the Limbo Jazz
then do it a little more.

I know I was wrong
and I paid the cost
I flipped your heart
and it was you who lost
but into this world we’re thrown
into this world we’re tossed
from our skin into our bones
we will do the limbo jazz

Oh come on and sway
that way with me
just sway that way
just like the birds and the bees
there’s peace and love
in limbo harmony
and so we do the Limbo Jazz
I hope you do it with me
Track Name: Sunny Oakland Day
hey there how are you, I haven't seen you in some time
boy you're looking good, and girl you're looking fine
around here that's what all the folks will say
for Oakland this is just another sunny day
You don't have the fare, you can just gimme what you got
sir do you need a jump, cuz my car's just down the block
around the parts people love to live the simple way
for Oakland thisis just another sunny day

You just take your time, you’re on the East side of the Bay
we slow things down, we like to keep things that way
just sit right down, you may just find you'll want to stay
you'll find we’re never spiteful, we’re rightfully delightful.

Don’t get me wrong I love that San Francisco Mist
but from over here (you must admit) the view’s simply the best
but from the churches to the bars, you can hear them say
that for over in Oakland it is just another sunny day
Track Name: Fragments of You
your name spelled out the cracks upon the pavement
rings I hear are you on the phone
maybe it's all just a sign of my enslavement
those who are lonely are never alone

clouds paint pictures of when we were together
I'm seeing faces I swear that must be you
My memories are always altered by the weather
I collect the pieces they all fall into

I'm hearing voices from a time of gladness
Don't think it's madness that I'm going through
But I don't mind this thing that I am losing
I'll keep collecting these these fragments of you
Track Name: Money is King
Just pop him in your pocket, like puppet on a string
We spin him right around, and he'll do most anythingthey vote for Oba ma but his way of giving thanks
is taking all their money just to give it to our banks
but if they need a loan they will quickly come to see
the value of the property just ain’t what it should be.
Not a soul will ask a thing
Just pop him in your pocket
cuz you know that money is king

Time for your bonus, here's a pile it's just for you
because you helped us infect us with this economic flue
but we need more flesh, because we're too big to fail
Whatever we do they can’t ut us all in jail
But from this upper floor you can see people down below
It must be sad to find that suddenly you're poor
It’s such a beautiful thing
Just pop him in your pocket
cuz you know that money is king



Romney’s his name, we think he’ll do just fine
We’ll puff him full of air and well float him on a line
So we got a blue a red one too
We know that he will lose though he looks so fresh and new
you pull a chord to make his teeth move up and down
he’ll give a smile as we spin him round and round
turn a screw he’ll even sing
why bother with the polls because you know that money is king

Just pop them in your pocket like two puppets on a string
we’ll write all the songs and we’ll tell them what to sing
we’ll sell more guns so they’ll be scared to step out side
our superpacs will choke their little chains until they’re wise
and if the Congressmen won’t play with our card decks
we’ll sick the NRA right down upon their necks
simply nothing they can do
In this stinking evil world we love
they know that money is king

And now they’re crying at the Chevron Plant
It’s just a little fire it’s like a nest of ants
They’re whining that it happened only 7 years ago
And now they do not like it when the wind begins to blow
we’ll say we’re working hard to find a simple cure
they know they caaan’t do anything because they’re poor
it’s got a musical ring
just pop them in your pocket cuz you know that money is king

Even a dog can run around and pick up bones,
Salt fish, codfish, meat ond pone;
If it´s a good breed and not too wild,
People will take it and mind like a child.
But a hungry man goes out to beg,
They will set the bulldog behind his leg.
Sad to tell you but it’s true
This country is sewn up because
you know that Money is king
Track Name: Empty Pocket Waltz
Shall we dine out my dear and dance the night away?
Don’t say you're tired you know we haven't worked all day
we've payed the rent finally and we're free to be free
come now and waltz the empty pocket waltz with me

let's close our door and make believe we're all alone
Grandma can't hear and baby's sleeping like a stone
we've payed the doctor his fee and we're free to be free
come now and waltz the empty pocket waltz with me

Why so unhappy don't be that way
maybe they'll make you queen for a day
We’ll find some jobs probably or be free or be free
to waltz again this empty pocket waltz with me
Track Name: There is a Vine
There is a vine growing on my garden wall
and it is brown and withered in the fall
and in the spring it's leaves are green and blossoms all aflame
but spring or fall still I love you just the same

there is a gate halfway down my garden wall
And in the night I lock it bolts and all
and in the day it's open wide to all who would come through
but day or night it is never locked for you

There is a tree growing by my garden gate
and year by year it seems to stand and wait
and here am I beneath the tree for I am waiting too
and oh my love I will always wait for you