ROBERTA: Today, we are pleased to introduce Ric Cunningham, AKA Mr. Lounge, your host for the Modern Retro Lounge. What the heck is that, you might ask. Ric is a music producer/writer/performer who believes music can help take us back to earlier, less complicated times. He has studied classical and jazz music and performed with many bands, including a two-year stint with legendary rock star Joe Cocker.
We can't help asking first: What was it like traveling around with Joe Cocker?
RIC: Touring and Performing with Joe Cocker on three World Tours was one of those Check Marks on your Life’s goals. Ever since seeing and hearing The Beatles in the 60’s, I wanted to perform and travel with a band. Being on stage with a vocal legend of Joe’s caliber was definitely a musical high in my career. Performing nightly in front of 100,000 fans who are not only critically listening but also singing along with each song was quite rewarding. Joe is an very distinct voice in pop music history and he really helped shape my understanding of music expression. It also taught me how tough it was on the road and made me realize that writing and producing music was a much better long term game plan than just being a “hired gun” sax player living tour to tour. I started acquiring studio equipment for the purpose of producing my own product instead of just being a part of the end result. (The first picture on right is Ric from his touring days, and directly right is Joe Cocker.)
ROBERTA: All of us here at JRW know how to write, but we don't have the foggiest idea about how to write music. Tell us a little about that--do you hear it in your mind first and then write the notes down, or what??
RIC: I think it’s probably much like literary writing in the fact that it depends on it’s purpose. When I was writing for TV shows and jingles, I was usually limited to the direction, style, time and/or emotion that the Creative Director or show’s producer was looking for to aide the visual. Certain guidelines or directions were given and your task was to please. So I would take the requirements and make them work around my style.
Now that I’m writing for myself there are still different scenarios for each tune and no limits. Sometimes I have a melody that I hear in my head, sometimes it’s a lyric that needs a melody and sometimes it’s a beat or bass line that needs direction. I’m just the musical conductor making sure everyone plays well together based on what I’ve learned, heard and liked musically throughout my life.
ROBERTA: Now you're working on your own, a proponent of the modern retro lifestyle, AKA Mr. Lounge. Translate all that please!
RIC: Sure. Being a sax player, my love of Jazz and Smooth Jazz have brought me to a Genre of Music called Lounge Music. Now Lounge Music can be described in many ways, but it is always background music or easy listening. Unlike Jazz or Smooth Jazz there is less emphasis on the artist and more on the melody or the mood that the song puts you in. Also the term Lounge conjures up a “kicked back”, relaxed way of life with the inclusion of alcohol and cocktails and with the Retro element you have a whole world of 60’s swinging bachelor pad sub culture. What I embrace is a Modern Retro Lifestyle where we take all those elements and add some Hip Hop feels and contemporary elements to give the musical genre a fresh approach. The lifestyle encourages a throwback to the 50’s & 60’s. The concept is to take a break from all the constant input of data(cell phones, pads, pods, laptops, internet, TV). A daily 10 to 20 minute escape to decompress with a favorite cocktail, coffee, tea or cigar just to “smell the roses”. Not unlike the martini at the end of a hard day at the office(think of the hit 60‘s style TV show, Mad Men). Oh, and by the way, I have some background music that can help you in your search for this way of life. My CD, “Adventures in the Modern Lounge”, is the Soundtrack for the Modern Retro Lifestyle.
It’s just good, clean fun!
And here's Ric with a little Christmas in July:
And Ric has offered to send a cd to two folks who comment and would like to try his Modern Lounge music--so pile on!