Blind Spot - Available Now
Produced by Michael Ward
Words and Music c Michael Ward 2020 except Donkey Island – c Words by Michael Ward- Music by Ed Mann, Chris Solberg, Michael Ward
Recorded at Hyde Street Studios, Rancho Rivera, San Francisco Thunderground Studio, Laramie, Wyoming
Mastered by Steve Marcussen
"As for prescient songwriting, few have been more successful than Dylan at marking a historic trend in one era that plays accurately in another. The sinister, surreal cavalcade thrown up in Highway 61 many decades ago on his transgressive first rock album is a prime example of this talent. Somehow it captures our nation’s clown show dilemma in disturbing detail without resorting to newsy rhetoric which allows us the luxury of an unabashed rave up. This tune has been a staple of our live shows for quite a while for just this reason. I couldn’t resist adding a verse of my own to make a current point, but this too is something of a long standing tradition with the disparate many who have also covered it through the years. It was recorded almost as a goof at the end of sessions for our last full album, and in the depths of lock down isolation, I dug it out and began the long distance production, me in Wyoming and Will in San Francisco. A thoroughly modern endeavor.
~ Michael Ward
Michael Ward -Vocals, Guitar
Michael Ward is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and owner of renowned Hyde Street Studios, living and working in the San Francisco Bay area since 1967. He has fronted many bands in that time which have been built around his unique singing, composition, and lyrical approach. The music blends elements of R&B, Country, Folk and World Beat, emphasizing the distinctive narrative voice of the lyrics and supported by the rich instrumental interplay among the stellar line up of musicians , some of whom have been with the band for close to twenty years. A deep familiarity with the material, and a fluid approach to the arrangements offer rich opportunities for improvisation and interplay while faithfully presenting the songs.
Michael’s production credits include projects with the BaAka tribe of the Ituri Forest on their first trip to America, recording performances in the studio to be synchronized with live performances of Lines Ballet, as were performances by Pharaoh Sanders, Zakir Hussein and The Sacred Text Ensemble ; a collection of operettas by the Overtone Theater; rock bands the Potato Eaters and the Earthlings; composers Beth Custer, Joshua Brody and Olan Jones as well as producing and arranging all his own tracks.
The band’s last album, "Blind Spot", and it’s latest singles, "Mendacity" and "Spit Begets the Pearl", have gotten substantial airplay in Europe. Videos of Mendacity and My Neighborhood and a variety of live performances can be accessed on YouTube and Vimeo as well as michaelwardmusic.com
Over the last year, the band has made two exciting additions that have dramatically supercharged the live ensemble experience. Brilliant saxophonist Richard Howell, who played on every record the band has made, has joined the live show , broadening the sonic possibilities and improvisational palate . Guitarist Drew Zingg, who amazed many as the guy who played live all the groundbreaking guitar parts when Steely Dan made their reunion tour, is also on board. The resulting chemical interaction with the existing group has made recent shows memorable events.
20 out of 20
"The American Michael Ward was already quite active in California in the seventies, in connection with bands and artists such as Frank Zappa, Bruce Hornsby, Ambrosia and Rickie Lee Jones. He has had his own studio since 1980 and has been releasing records since 1984, not necessarily in large numbers, but quality comes first. And that applies in full to the new album Blind Spot, which he recorded With Dogs And Fishes. Just like the opening song "Mendacity" (mendacity) I just can't get it out of my head. Rarely have I heard a song right from the start that has so attached itself to me that it grabbed me from the start and brings about a unity with my soul. But why is that so? In any case, there are elements that arouse associations with music from the past and especially with the West Coast of the USA. Relaxed, light, a little infected by the jam character of bands like the Grateful Dead, a lot of emotion, a lot of warmth in the absolutely dense sound network, casual singing, all in all an extremely smooth atmosphere that bores resiliently into the solar plexus. The cool rhythm, the subtly funky playing guitars, this constant movement in the music with a subtle approach to polyrhythm, approaches to the modern age with short and rather intertwined speaking passages, jagged, but not hard, and yet precise brass sections, guitar solos that emerge from the Snake the background forward. This high quality is guaranteed by savvy and respected studio musicians who are at home in jazz, blues, rhythm & blues, rock and country, and who have already refined some productions by well-known bands such as Steely Dan, Boz Skaggs, Michael McDonald, Chuck Prophet, Earth Wind & Fire, The Tubes, Journey and many others. And two particularly well-known guests came together for "Donkey Island", guitarist Joe Satriani and percussionist Chepito Areas. But this would not have been necessary, because the baseband alone plays all songs on a high level. And so I think it's a shame to have to say goodbye with "Making The Monkey Stew". This song, which is rhythmically constantly in motion, can once again emphasize how versatile the record is, and yet offers music from a single source. It is also very commendable that all texts are printed in the booklet. Conclusion: A current pearl from San Francisco that presents a West Coast sound that sounds contemporary and at the same time a little nostalgic. So - and straight back to "Mendacity", incidentally also released as a single."
8.4 out of 10
"When I saw the name PRAIRIE PRINCE, I was immediately interested in listening to this album, because he is the legendary drummer of THE TUBES. Here he appears on the new album of MICHAEL WARD, as part of his band DOGS AND FISHES. The album Blind spot is filled with high class melodic American rootsy blues rock with influences from other music genres as well. Michael is a great singer and in general this album feels really good and reminds me slightly of classic ROBERT PALMER meets STEVE WINWOOD. Highlights are Mendacity, Donkey island (fantastic midtempo soulful funky rocker with a 70s/80s kinda vibe), World on a plate and the fantastic closing midtempo groovy bluesy rocker Making the monkey stew. It's a pity that we can only find 8 songs on this album, because it sounds pretty good and you want to hear much more material of this bunch of excellent musicians."
"J.J. Cale once said that he truly got into songwriting the moment he figured out that he wasn’t going to be able to pay the bills on his guitar playing alone. I’m not certain that Michael Ward has similar mercantile desires. His compositions are studied, complex, and feature a fair deal of musical sophistication. But, his work does remind me of Cale’s, a man whose music, even when dealing with debauched subject matter, seemed to come from a place of wisdom.
Similarly, Mr Ward and his all-star band approach Monkey Stew as enlightened men who’ve had to travel a long way to obtain their knowledge. They are preoccupied with the state of the world and with what their children are bound to inherit. They are also preoccupied with cramming as much musical finesse into this short composition as it will stand.
The worldly blues-jazz of the group is accompanied by Babatunde Lea of the Bayaka forest tribe of the Republic of Congo. The result is world-music with a solid groove and an environmental message."