Loggins & Messina, Poco, Buffalo Springfield; these are just a few of the monumental musical groups that singer/songwriter/guitarist Jim Messina has been involved with. As an artist his resume speaks for itself, with a string of hits including “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” “Angry Eyes,” “Peace of Mind,” among others. As a producer and engineer he’s done sessions with some of the greatest in rock and pop, such as Kenny Loggins, the Doors, Lee Michaels, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass and the aforementioned Buffalo Springfield (where he also replaced bassist Bruce Palmer for the band’s final album).
The year 2016 finds Messina active and creative as ever, with a new live album In the Groove. “The album was made in anticipation of the fact that I changed booking agents to the Roots Agency,” says Messina. “They did a tremendous amount of research and found that there are a lot of areas I had not been to and where people would like to see me. They wanted to book me in those places.”
Messina knew that a key component to the tour would be a new album. “But an album of new material at this point in time would be difficult,” he says, “when, in fact, most people wanna see me for who I am in terms of what I’ve done over the years and all the bands I’ve been in.” So, in September of 2015 he took his band into the Clark Center for the Performing Arts in Arroyo Grande, CA and the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara, CA for two nights of the singer/songwriter’s retrospective catalog.
As a special guest for the evening, Messina invited longtime collaborator and former Poco steel guitarist Rusty Young to join in on those songs that they made musical history with together. The icing on the cake for Messina was to invite respected audio expert Paul Wolff, of Paul Wolff Designs, to record the shows.
Wolff relates, “I streamed it live with HD video, while mixing front of house, while mixing front row seats, while mixing mono mix for the monitor guy, while mixing side fills, while tracking. We took two nights and mixed for three months and released the USB and vinyl double––Chris Mara of Welcome to 1979 made the vinyl lacquers and the mother stampers––without any record companies, iTunes or CDbaby. We used Indiegogo and are about to do another with PledgeMusic, as we have a friend that runs it.”
As Wolff stated, the album is available in USB format because the inventive and far-thinking Messina wanted to take things a step further. “I believe we’re moving into times now where the CD is basically gone,” says Messina. “There will always be people with CD players, but moving forward I did some research. My wife actually told me about this. She handed me this little flash card at a convention we were at. She said it was a hard drive. So I started to play around with it, put some MP3s on it and put it on my computer. I played it in my truck. I thought this might be just the thing that we as an industry might need to focus on.”
“I thought this might be just the thing that we as an industry might need to focus on.”
“It's a card that we designed and ordered from a company in China,” says Wolff, “and we’re doing our own distribution. Jim’s card has a serial number; you register it and you get discounts on things as well as special deals if you wear it at a show.”
The USB idea isn't new, Wolff points out, “but Jimmy's thinking through the idea as a concept––allowing fan involvement and special deals––is something that he came up with and he, (the artist’s wife) Michaela and I went over and honed into something unique and new.”
“I think we’re at a point where the new generation aren’t interested in CDs,” says Messina. “They’ve got their iPhones, iPads and computers. They want immediate gratification and I think this flash card allows them to have that. So, if you wanna just hear the music, plug it into the USB located in your automobile’s audio system and it will play automatically. Or, plug it into the USB connector on your computer and download it from the folder entitled “A “_In the Groove_MP3, and play the music on your application like iTunes or Window’s media player.”
And there’s more:
- Want to burn a CD for the car or home stereo? Included is a special folder entitled “B”_In the Groove_Audiophile_WAV. This folder contains 24b/48K audio files you can use to burn your own master recording of the CD to play on your CD system.
- There’s also something you won’t usually find on a CD: a video recording of the artist. Included inside the “Access All” card is a folder entitled “C”_In the Groove_Video Encore. Here is where you will find Messina’s .mp4 movie file. Just double click the file and watch the entire encore.
- How about having immediate access to all of his song lyrics recorded on this album. Well they’re all located at your fingertips, inside the Folder D_In the Groove_Lyrics
- Wish you had a nice large print of the album artwork to view or frame? Well your wish has come true. It’s all there for you located inside the folder entitled E_In the Groove_Artwork_Photos. Just print out the front, back and/or inside album cover artwork whatever size you desire.
- Lastly, for the fan or tech-head who’s totally into how Jim Messina put the LIVE album all together, just go to the folder entitle, F_In the Groove_Set List and Tech Data. There you will find his set list, stage plot, guitar-tech tunings chart as well as the theater seating charts, where you may have been seated during the actual live performance.
- All of this content is right there stored in individual file folders on the “Access All” music, video and data card. And once you have downloaded everything you need to take off of it, just erase it. Now you’ve got an 8GB drive that you can stick in your wallet right next to your credit cards and you have immediate access to a drive to store new information on.
“So, I think,” the artist concludes, “with the release of In the Groove there is a good mix of the old—for those who want vinyl—with the new technology and the flash card.”
In addition to his roles as artist, producer and engineer, Messina is also involved as an educator, of sorts. His Songwriting Workshops began in the early ‘90s as a way to work with burgeoning songwriters from all walks of life. “The Songwriters Workshop is not about how to write hit songs. It’s learning how to communicate your feelings and emotions,” explains Messina. “And most importantly it is about how to connect core to core with another person emotionally. The idea of the workshop is to look at the songs and the lyrics of what people are writing and find what’s getting in the way of that communication. Sometimes it can be as simple as singing in the wrong key or choosing the wrong words to make a statement.
“We also help people with performance; playing in front of an audience, singing in the right key and just feeling comfortable with communicating a song to other people."
For more information, visit jasperilla.com.