Frank Zappa

Essra Mohawk

But Enough About Me…Essra Mohawk

Essra Mohawk has had a very long and storied career. To describe her music as eclectic is a gross understatement. Her songs run the gamut from pop to avant garden, and in between she covers a lot of bases including rock, folk, folk rock, motown, jazz, tv jingles, rhythm and blues, and beautiful, heartfelt ballads about love and lust.

Born Sandra Elayne Hurvitz, her earlier influences were her parents, Anne and Henry.  Through them she grew up listening to an eclectic list of artists such as Judy Garland, Nina Simone, The Coasters, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Thelonius Monk, Erik Satie, Billy Holiday, Otis Redding, The Beatles, The Stones, Ravi Shankar among others/

In 1964 she released a single as Jamie Carter titled “The Boy With the Way” which I personally think is a really cool song. It pronbably could have been a hit hat it received proper publicity and marketing. Essra sounded a little peeved  talking about it. I don’t blame her, and it would turn  out not to be the first time here career hit a snag or detour.

Essra was also the first female member of the Mothers of Invention. In fact, she spent about a year in a relationship with Frank Zappa who thanks to band member Ray Collins suggestion  for a rock star name, dubbed her, Uncle Meat.  When I first met Uncle Meat, she was in Philly on hiatus, and I had no idea who Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were at the time. I would shortly discover them through Philadelphia DJ Michael Tearson, and eventually make the connection. But, I was happy to finally talk to her again so I could tell her the story of my first Essra Mohawk encounter. At this point, I should probably apologize for hijacking the conversation, for which I was duly busted by Essra.

As I mentioned, her career is multifaceted, so the Show Notes page at talesoftheroadwarriors-slash-Essra-Mohawk includes some Essra Mohawk Career Highlights, discography ands links to some of the songs we talked about in this conversation. In my conversation, BTW, I barely scratched the surface of her career, so this is really just a little slice of life in which I hopefully captured some of her essence and got a couple pretty good stories from her.

Due to technical  difficulties, I just couldn’t get good enough audio, so I’ll just tell you some things that were to garbled to include in the podcast.

I did manage to capture a little about her “crazy courage” as a Philly girl, and her propensity to stick up for others against bullies – and her mom.

The main story I was hoping to have her retell was how she was scheduled to be one of the performers  at Woodstock, but her manager missed the turn, causing Essra to miss her debut  on the most well known world stage of all time.


LINKS:

Essra’s Facebook Page

ESSRA MOHAWK MUSIC VIDEOS

Essra Mohawk as Jamie Carter “The Boy With The Way”

Raindance

I Am The Breeze (from Primordial Lovers album)

19th Amendment School House Rock

 


DISCOGRAPHY
Though you can stream most of Essra’s Music on Spotify, iTunes, PAndora, etc., it is important to support your favorite artists as often as you can – by purchasing their albums. Purchase Essra Mohawk albums directly from her using this PDF.

You can also order some from the Tales of the Road Warriors website by clicking on one of my affiliate links. Buying through these links will help keep the site AND Essra healthy!

•1968 Sandy’s Album is Here at Last (as Sandy Hurvitz) produced by Frank Zappa

•1970 Primordial Lovers

•1974 Essra Mohawk

•1976 Essra

•1982 Burnin’ Shinin’ (released without knowledge of the artist)

•1985 E-Turn

•1995 Raindance

•1999 Essie Mae Hawk Meets the KillerGrooveBand  (My personal favorite. Killer band and killer grooves. This album was appropriately named!)

•2003 You’re Not Alone

•2006 Love is Still The Answer

•2007 Revelations of the Secret Diva

Info below from Essra’s bio both Hemifran Website

Her 1st record release was a single “The Boy With the Way” /b-side “Memory of Your Voice” on Liberty records in 1964.

“Newcomer Pick” in Cashbox, it was produced by Hutch Davie (He produced Shirley Ellis “Name Game”).

A year later Shadow Morton who produced both the Shangri-Las and Vanilla Fudge, discovered her and her music and in1966 the Shangri-La’s recorded Essra’s song “I’ll Never Learn” .

Soon after that, her song, “The Spell That Comes After” was recorded by Vanilla Fudge on their “Renaissance” album.

In 1967, Essra was discovered once again. This time by Frank Zappa who, after hearing her play was so blown away, he immediately invited her to join his band, The Mothers of Invention, thus making her their first female member.

Within a year he signed her and released her first solo album on Verve. While performing with the Mothers, Essra also opened for Cream (their first time in New York), Procol Harum(Keith Reid’s lyrics to “Quite Rightly So” are about Essra), Albert King, Electric Flag, Grateful Dead (their first performance in N.Y.), and Jimi Hendrix.

By 1969 Essra was recording her second album in L.A. and S.F. for Reprise after Mo Ostin (then Vice President) discovered her singing at a club in N.Y. and asked her on the spot to come to the label. The result was “Primordial Lovers”, an LP that received a 5 star review in Downbeat, raves in Mix, and was stated as being “one of the best 25 albums ever made” in Rolling Stone magazine. Unfortunately, these reviews came over a year after the release of the album and new fans found it hard to secure the LP due to poor distribution and the sale of the Reprise label following the release. Nevertheless, this critically acclaimed musical work continues to generate a cult following for Essra.

In fall of 2000 it was released on CD by Rhino Handmade. She wrote most of the songs while living in Mendocino, California. While recording the album, Essra married her producer, Frazier Mohawk, and from that time on was known as Essra Mohawk. She also sang in a background vocal trio with Carole King.

Essra’s third album, released in 1974 on Elektra/Asylum, once again without proper promotion or distribution, led England’s music magazine, Melody Maker, to declare it, “the richest and most unheralded event in American music” that year.

After moving back to Philadelphia in the 70’s, Ms. Mohawk continued to sing as a session vocalist. She is especially known for singing on Schoolhouse Rock, the popular educational and musical cartoon series that continues to air on TV.

Essra’s vocals are on “Interjections”, “Sufferin’ Till Suffrage”, and “Mother Necessity”. After ABC Video released the cartoons on video in the 90’s, they received an upsurge of popularity and the troupe, led by music director, Bob Dorough, began performing live in the mid-90’s. A new album on which Essra sang wrote and produced a track entitled “Do You Wanna Party” about political parties in the U.S. was released on Rhino in Sept. ‘98 on an album called “Schoolhouse Rocks the Vote”.

Ms. Mohawk’s fourth album was released on Private Stock records in 1976. After the same lack of support that has kept Essra’s remarkable music in the shadows, she left the label and moved back to California in 1977. Paul Kantner wanted her to be the lead singer in Jefferson Starship after Grace Slick dropped out for a while but he couldn’t convince the rest of the band to use another female vocalist so they chose a male, Micky Thomas, instead.

In 1980-82 Essra performed as a background vocalist with the Jerry Garcia Band. During the same period she co-wrote “Haze” with Bobby Weir and his band “Bobby and the Midnights” for their Atlantic release. Also, Essra has collaborated with Al Jarreau, Bonnie Bramlett, Mark McEntee of the DiVinyls, Eric Bazilian, Al Stewart and Narada Michael Walden. She sang and recorded with John Mellencamp. (He’d seek her out wherever she lived for her advice and encouragement.)

Essra’s music and ideas inspired Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” (Essra was scheduled to play at the original Woodstock, but her manager missed a turn and they arrived too late. She finally played at the 25th Anniversary at Bethel.) ***David Crosby’s “Deja Vu” was inspired by Essra’s song “I Have Been Here Before”. David would ask her to play it for him whenever he saw her and then wrote “Deja Vu” as a result.

In 1982, Essra moved back to Philadelphia from L.A. and was brought into the McFadden & Whitehead pre-production sessions. She conjured up “Not With Me” overnight for the duo and they released it on their Capitol album that year.
Essra recorded two more solo albums in the 80’s. Both were released independently and both were produced by her, then, husband Daoud Shaw (Van Morrison’s drummer for many years and original drummer for Saturday Night Live). They first met during those early days on Bleeker St. in New York’s Greenwich Village, where she jammed vocally with jazz greats: Mike Manieri, the Brecker Bros., Eddie Gomez and Jeremy Steig. As a result her vocal style developed more along the lines of a wind instrument than that of a typical pop singer. Being in the Mothers then also helped to propel the youth to such a creative and original stance as a vocalist.

Three of her early LPs were reissued on CDs in Japan in spring 2003, followed by her recent tours to California, the East Coast and Japan. Essra’s first album on CD

“Raindance” which was released on Schoolkids Records in ‘95 was reissued on Evidence Feb., 2005.

Her 1999 CD, “Essie Mae Hawk Meets the Killer Groove Band”, was remastered and reissued on Essra’s own label, MummyPump, in 2003. Essra’s been living in Nashville, TN since 1993 where she continues to write and record, playing her music on piano, mandolin and guitar.

Keb’ Mo’, Steve Cropper and Bonnie Bramlett are among the stellar performers who joined Essra on her 2003 Evidence CD “You’re Not Alone”. Her songs were used on the CBS series Joan of Arcadia in 2004 and 2005. The book, “Hotel California” is one of many books about music that mentions Essra.

Posted by Hal in acoustic, diva, keyboard player, Peter Tork, pianist, piano player, rock, rock and roll, singer, singer songwriter, voiceovers, 0 comments

Andy Cahan

The Most Famous Musician You Never Heard Of

Andy CahanToday I’m talking to Andy Cahan, who refers to himself as The Most Famous Musician You Never Heard OfWhich also happens to be the name of his soon-to-be-released autobiography.

Most of us that DO know him think of him as the keyboard player for The Turtles (aka Flo & Eddie).

I first became aware of Andy while he was doing a side gig as The Demo Doctor, producing demos for songwriters in his home studio. He ran an ad in the back of Music Connection Magazine for years and I never missed an issue; so eventually, I ended up recording some of my songs with him. then later he played piano on some cover tunes with me during my Acoustic Sundae nights at the Chimneysweep Lounge in Sherman Oaks, CA

When Andy learned about my fascination with the internet, he had me build his first website, eventually becoming a bit of a website builder himself. As it turns out Andy and I both use Weebly to build our sites, and if you’re interested in building your own site, I highly recommend Weebly. I’m also a Weebly affiliate… If you follow this link, you can easily set up your own free website. BTW, who you sign up for a paid plan, it helps support my podcast and website.

After a brief chat about online booking agencies, we talked at length about his upcoming autobiography. In it, Andy writes bout all of his exploits on the road with famous rockstars and he drops a LOT of names. No spoilers here, but if you’re really curious, I’ll sit some in a smaller, lighter font at the bottom of the page.

Andy also recounts some titilating stories, typical of rock and roll musicians in the 60’s. I was told by more than a few roadies that the road is like  Las Vegas (what happens on the road, stays on the road). I don’t think Andy got that memo.

He clearly revels in retelling the more salacious tales, and I was enjoying every second. FYI – this episode contains explicit language and some content not recommended for priests, rabbis or imams. Just sayin’.

If you enjoy Tales of the Road Warriors, please subscribe or join the email list. I promise I won’t spam you  or inundate you with lots of newsletters. I’m too lazy too put one out every week.

Note to Essra Mohawk: Essra, if you’re reading this or listening to this episode, you are cordially invited to be a guest on Tales of the Road Warriors if you’d like to respond to anything Andy Cahan may have said to piss you off. I’d love to hear some tales of your own.



LINKS TO ANDY CAHAN WEBSITE & MUSIC VIDEOS

ANDY’S WEBSITE

ANDY’S PERFORMING I’M A BELIEVER LIVE WITH MICKEY DOLENZ, FLO & EDDIE (OVERDUBBED ONTO A MONKEES VIDEO)


Here’s are some of the names Andy drops in his book and in this episode:
Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, The Turtles, Harry Nilsson, Jimmy Webb, Eric Carmen, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Seals and Croft, Dr. John The Night Tripper, John Bonham, Booker T, Steve Perry, Richie Hayword, Lowell George, Ed Cassidy, Frank Zappa, Martin Mull, Ray Bolger, Joe La La, Tim Bogert, Jimmy Carl Black, Buddy Miles, Steve Cropper, Gary Mallaber, Kinky Friedman, Walter Mathau, Jack Lemmon, Bumps Blackwell, Skunk Baxter, Lou Reed and Chubby Checker just to name a few


Andy Cahan Audiogram Preview

Posted by Hal in entertainers, keyboard player, Monkees, pianist, piano player, rock and roll, singer songwriter, the turtles, 1 comment