Guitar Singer Project Calvert / Fleming“10 Years In The Making”
I have been asked about how the Guitar Singer project that ultimately became the album “Shotgun Pixie” came to be and Have really never gone deep on the story. It’s a tale of experimentation in the true definition of the word. Close to 10 years of finding Fruition. Never giving in nor giving up.
Living in the digital age has its advantages and nightmares. People are down on Social Media currently for good reason, yet back when we started it was as a friend of mine said it was a “God Tool”. Simply put Maya and I would not know each other and the music would not have been made without it.
I had been told on occasions to write my Memoirs of over 30 years now in Music and at the time had made my notes and was considering the idea. I still am. My thought was “well I’ll write about something to see if I can even write outside of poems and songs.” You have to have a subject to write about and in the same theory that brought us to Guitardoor.com, I wanted a topic that needed more exposure. My two favorite bands from Pre teen to this very day are The Stones and Hawkwind. The Rolling Stones have been documented. Hawkwind we really haven’t touched the surface collectively. Hawkwind won out easily.
I recognized the influence Hawkwind had through the decades up to the present day. I began trying to find a few associated people who might give a few words on the subject. I had slowly built an online and later in-person friendship with Nik Turner. I had Located and briefly spoken to Miss Stacia Blake. The Person I knew about the least was The Late Robert Calvert, so this was the mission. Find out more about Bob.
I searched my brains out to locate anyone. One day I saw an Alex Calvert profile. I sent a brief explanation of my intention and moved along. A few weeks went by and I got a reply.
She rightly stated she was Robert’s Granddaughter and could not speak to the subject as much as others as she was a bit removed from the Band, but was pretty well versed in his solo efforts. There was a bit of hesitation as In England a high degree of exploitation of Robert’s music was occurring without the family consenting. The conversations continued and one day she said she did a bit of poetry and writings undefined and would I be willing to read them and give an opinion. I was more than happy to. A few pieces came to me and one of if not the first was Titled “Cells”. Introspection of her state in life at the time.
“Maximum cause and effect, the final test of no regret, I fear not the Devil, for now, we’ve met, Retraction Refraction is part of his set.” “As I go under I breathe salty tears, as I look into a new dimension the Darkness clears.”
I very quickly realized this could easily be song lyrics and asked if she was musically inclined or did any singing and I received a voice message of acapella singing. It was brief but enough for me to know in my mad scientist mind I could make this work. I asked if we could make the effort to turn all these writings into songs as I had a somewhat Lo-Fi recording studio and could do almost everything myself from Bass and drums and guitars of course. The issue was how do we get a vocal on it that would suffice as I’m in the Mountains of Southern Ohio and She is in The area of Ramsgate, England?
Often I would send a version with my own vocal simply as a guide to what I heard along with an instrumental version for her vocal to be placed in. The first two videos below have been rarely seen or heard as they are documents of the evolution of the songs. The second two are from the final version of the “Shotgun Pixie” album. I did include the “Cells” demo in my own “Crowe’s Blues” EP with her permission.
Song From The Guitar Singer Project Calvert Fleming “Cells” By Maya Calvert/Jimmy Fleming (Dedicated To Robert Calvert)
Another piece “Ode to the Others” was put together with the help of “Radio Ray Sultan” . He and Maya got together and he took the guitar only and added his excellent musicianship on Keys and an Ethereal Bass as well as a very interesting vocal of Maya. Ray Sultan was a pleasure to communicate with and cannot be faulted for any of the start and stops in the Guitar Singer project. He’s a gentleman and tops in my book. Look him up, he’s a fascinating fellow.
As these experiments were happening she was getting some stage time with The Psychedelic Warlords and Dr. Hasbeen. There was an opportunity for her to go to a higher Quality Studio in the London Area. She made that trip and we thought “well here’s our answer.”
The issue then became the owner of the said studio offered to do this record, and in exchange, I would play some guitar parts and leads on this person’s forthcoming album. This arrangement was agreed to and I went to David Thorpe who had the knowledge to place my guitars in this record and the work was completed. It would have Gained me a reasonably Large exposure in the Larger Market. However, I began to receive recordings for approval from London and I quickly realized my project was being overtaken by the individual and the following week found out the same person seriously Publicly pulled some disrespectful tricks on Maya and my Aries Nature came out.
I ordered a Cease and Desist on the project and my disgust reached the point of demanding my parts not be included in the other project either. Did I cut my own throat in doing so? Yes. Gladly. Ethics are costly. Loyalty is everything. . By this time a year or more had passed and we were back to square one.
Here we are with roughly 7 songs and not sure what to do. Then Life Happened. Maya and I never threw in the towel, we both were faced with substantial life situations that required us to focus on those first and foremost. I was increasingly becoming a caregiver for my dad, she had her world to tend to. We stayed in touch and periodically talked about the “someday”.
In 2017 after my Father’s battles were over and he left this world and I had a couple of failed Marriages as well as having sold my house I was making decisions fast and furious. I had to find a place to live and ended up in a house that was owned by a friend and musician. It had been a recording studio dubbed “The Battle Ship” and I took possession that fall.
In Hindsight I was managing grief through music so the first part of 2018 I realized I have a bunch of money and I have a lot of time and complete freedom. I spoke to Maya and it just so happened she was about to be in between Jobs. My Logic was “well if you are in between work then you have time before you hunt the replacement job.” I offered to fly her in for a month so we could be in the same room and finally bring this project to life. She Arrived in late March and we set to work the day after her arrival.
We could have gone to a professional studio but the allure of an “Exile on Main St.” do what you want when you want was the direction we took. Oddly we had an album in mind all this time, yet instantly for reasons we don’t understand nor question new songs were being written from day one. “Running” and “Remembered” didn’t exist and in less than 48 hours they did. “Lucifer My Brother “ Followed the same week. The only two songs we kept from the original plan were “Cells” and “Ode to the others”.
The Calvert/Fleming Guitar Singer Project “Remembered”
We would work as we wanted for a few days when making this Guitar Singer Project and then we would go off on adventures and concerts to let off steam and give Maya a sense of America, be it Columbus and Marietta, Ohio with Cynthia Davis or Cleveland and Columbus again taking in 2 nights in a row of the bands “Subrosa” and “Sleep” and visiting The Rock N Roll Hall of fame with Matt Moon.
Then it was back to work, and off again to Louisville, Kentucky to see and meet Alice Cooper. Alice was of Particular interest as the talk he and I had wasn’t “Man I saw you in 1978 at the…” It was About Hawkwind and his Love of the band and Lemmy, when I dropped the Bomb on him as to who the young Lady was with me he was Genuinely happy. He had the Flu that night but the performance didn’t reflect it, and at some point in Maya and Alice talking she made him laugh when he was obviously not feeling his best. Only they know what was said, But it was great to witness.
The Guitar Singer Project That Became An Album 10 Years Later
Song Lucifer My Brother “Shotgun Pixie” album Calvert Fleming Project
We decided after our run with Matt Moon to go out and hit his recording set up, nestled out in the woods to not only get a change of scene but to employ his knowledge of music and production and The Title track “Shotgun Pixie” was written on a Martin Acoustic and Mandolin only within the first 2 hours. The following night and the next day we had finished all but one track.
Now was the time to go test these songs in front of an audience. This wasn’t your local pub our Guitar Singer Project was now an Album. I purposely arranged the 420 Fest being Held in North Carolina to be the testing ground. 500 people in a beautiful setting. Being that instrumentally the recording contained instruments played by myself or Matt we didn’t have a proper band for the gig. I do this sort of thing, I will book something and then call on the locals I’ve known forever. Why? Because they Have Ninja skills when it comes to music. Chad Stout is a Brilliant guitarist yet agreed to play bass, Drew Ortman my partner for “Black Cat Mass” was the second guitar and Josh Feldman who already was in NC I knew didn’t need to even hear it to instinctively know what to play. Josh is the drummer’s drummer. He’s actually Telepathic in his instinct and always a joy.
We took the stage at Dark after a quick run-through of the songs on-site and they Killed it! The only person to make a mistake was ME. Maya held the audience’s attention and proved she belonged in that setting.
I am glad we did all we did as we seized the moments not terribly long before Covid reared its ugly head. We are extremely proud of the record and it’s been a bit of a “Sleeper” as it is now being paid attention to 3 years later. It’s been in rotation in the U.K and written about by no less than Pete Feenstra.
After the Battles with the distribution for Regalia Records and Having to start from the ground up, you can find the project for sale with many other of my projects on my Amazing Radio page. https://amazingradio.us/profile/jimmyfleming
I must Credit Cynthia Davis for the many images found in the videos and most importantly the Album cover for the project. She has the eye and the timing. Oddly enough that image was taken in German Village, where I was born and lived the first couple of years of my life. Full Circle came calling. I also must thank Linda Hazeldine for the images in the demo videos included of Maya’s public performances in England. We greatly appreciate you both.