Lefty Hathaway
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Lefty Hathaway


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"Only Lefty Knows the Sound in His Head"

originally published October 8, 2008

This time around, Lefty Hathaway wanted complete control. After six years touring and collaborating with the Flagstaff, AZ jam-rock band Ism, Hathaway had a sound, a series of songs, buzzing in his brain that he just had to put to tape. He left Arizona for San Diego, but found little inspiration in the superficial scenes of California, and after an unpleasant year he finally sought refuge in the creative Mecca of Athens in 2006. While finding collaborators was no problem, Hathaway knew his next studio project had to be his own.

"I wanted to be able to translate the things in my head, purely, on to recording," he says. "I've worked in studio sessions and worked with other people for about 10 years. This was an opportunity to do what I thought was my own Inner Visions, Stevie Wonder, or Lenny Kravitz, Let Love Rule, type of thing where I had complete control of the direction."

The resulting project, Fleas Flies and Fodder, brings new meaning to the term solo artist. Hathaway began his project by getting certified in ProTools audio engineering so he could feel confident in the producer's chair. The masterful keyboardist didn't stop there - he went on to tackle the banjo, guitar, bass, mandolin and drums as well - playing any and every instrument necessary to complete the record.

"The title track has banjo on it," Hathaway mentions as an example. "That banjo was in my head for about year, and I had to learn the banjo solely for that part. I guess it's somewhat in the same vein as Frank Zappa, who would sit down with a marimba because he felt like a song didn't need anything but marimba, but then he'd lay that track down and wouldn't touch a marimba again for years."

It took Hathaway about 18 months to finish the project - splitting time between his home-studio here in Athens and working with engineer Ben Easley in Nashville. Easley proved to be an essential asset to the record's production, providing Hathaway with guidance and direction when tackling instruments he was less comfortable with. "It's been really hard, but I think this will be the last time I do it this way," says Hathaway, now that recording is wrapped up. "It's not as logistically productive, but I'm really excited to get it done and see the light at the end of the tunnel."

For Hathaway, this record serves as a sort of "litmus test" for finding what he hopes will be a permanent lineup. He can present this finished project as a testament to his vision to potential bandmates to see if they are passionate enough about his music to work on the next recording project.

No doubt, it won't be long until Hathaway has an eager line of candidates seeking consideration. The blues-drenched rock and roll on Fleas, Flies and Fodder has certainly found its home here in Athens. Hathaway's gruff, soulful howl wails over dazzling keyboards, classic organ and extra funky guitar. Drummer Noel Felty recently said Hathaway "writes funk songs like a bluegrass player" and that seems to be right on the money. There are elements of jumping jazz tied in with rootsy soul throughout the record. It's obvious Hathaway has a deep passion for these melodies. You'd think spending over a year painstakingly layering instrument on top of instrument would come off sounding stale or overworked, but Fleas Flies and Fodder pops with all the energy of a live band.

While Hathaway was stubborn about working alone in the studio, he eagerly seeks collaboration onstage.

"I feel like I've created enough of a backbone for anyone who I am fortunate enough to work with to express their own ideas over a live setting," he says. Hathaway emphasizes that he strives for a collaborative live experience rather than finding musicians to simply back him up. In fact, he is looking forward to seeing how his songs change and grow when performed with others.

"I grew up as a very big fan of live bands; bands that almost had a whole new sound in a live atmosphere than their albums sound," says Hathaway. He names artists like Little Feat, Allman Brothers, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Fela Kuti among others as examples. "So, I'm hoping to bring that to any fan - the opportunity to hear something different and maybe unexpected when they come to see a live show... The songs on the record are a canvas for the live show."

Hathaway has quite an ensemble prepared for his first time headlining at the Georgia Theatre. He'll be joined by veteran drummer Noel Felty (Jupiter Coyote, Allgood), Jason Corrigan on bass and Nashville native Thomas Anderson (percussionist and beat-boxer for Bela Fleck's Futureman). As an added bonus, the Half Dozen Brass Band will lending horns to a a number of songs, which is sure to take these tunes to a new level of fun and funk.

Says Hathaway, "We'll play until they turn the lights on."

ATHENS, GA - Flagpole Magazine


"Fleas, Flies, and Fodder" Debut LP announced for 2009 release
"Yuckmouth and Colonel ClumpyHead" EP Lefty Hathaway 2005, Fuzzyuck Records
"Medicine Head" Lefty Hathaway with Ism 2003 Fuzzyuck Records

Poor House 2004
Small Herds 2005
Charly's Rag 2005



Lefty Hathaway has performed with a numerous amount of artists in his music years and traveled over half of the country with his old rock and roll band Ism based out of the bohemian mountain town of Flagstaff, AZ. With a relocation to the southeast, he plans on popping his head up again for a run at the area that gave birth to what lefty considers "his brand of dusty bottle blues & funk".
Born in the late 70's in London, U.K. Lefty moved back and forth with his family of five between England and the states. Settling in Oklahoma at the age of 13. Oklahoma culture introduced Lefty to the roots of the delta blues and R/B soul the likes of Freddy King, Leon Russell, and J.J. Cale.
The first band experience Lefty had was in Tulsa at 18 with a local rock and roll blues outfit. Up to that point he was playing mostly drum sets at home, letting out his adolescent angst. This was his first experience on the piano, and he was lucky to have J.J. Cale's collaborator and pianist Rocky Frisco as a guiding light. "Rocky taught me the valuable lesson in music that less is more, sketch before you play, it stays on the wall better" Lefty claims.
After getting his first taste of live performance, Lefty took off to the bohemian High desert mountain town of Flagstaff, AZ where his nights consisted of getting together with players performing all styles of music. He was juggling two performance bands, one an experimental acid jazz improvisation trio by the name of Nada Bindu, the other a folk rock quintet called Mamale, featuring the beautiful vocals of artist Courtney Jaye, and crazy notational hammerings of lefty and his cohorts. " Those two projects were like night and day" he recalls, "but I really felt a strong attachments to both styles. It was like one beat on my brain and the other tweaked at my heart".
Once those projects fizzled, Lefty saw fit to try other forms of musical expression, playing in a blues band with Clay McClinton (son of legendary grammy winning artist Delbert McClinton), being a foundational part of the nine player funk band Professor Yuckmouth and the sister of intervention and jam quartet Ism.
Ism put out their one and only album "Medicine Head" in 2004, a compilation of songs the four had written over the previous three years in different projects, then disbanded in 2005 due to a desire for different directions. "Medicine Head" centered around stories of different paths people take to salvage their freedoms and how human nature pushes us to find freedoms through mind altercation. Songs like "Poor House", dealing with the easy uptake of self-loathing and solo alcohol consumption as a substitute for companionship, and "Misri Das", recalling a shaman from the past century who spent over 65 years in one spot without a word to anyone, are examples detailing the choices people make to "get their fix".
Lefty enjoyed a short stint in southern California after a year of promoting the "Medicine Head" release. This was a good spot to rest after three years of on and off touring routes that stretched as far as Seattle to Austin.
"Southern California was semi productive, juggling a couple of jobs including work at an independent record label, painting houses, and working at home and studio spaces writing, I had little time to play out live. This just gave me a chance to write and practice my instruments".
The recent relocation to the southeast looks like a promising one, and the fruitful town of Athens,GA is where him and his cohorts set up shop.

Select Festivals:
The Vibe Summerfest, Austin, TX 2004
High Sierra Music Festival, Quincy, CA 2004
Gorge Games Festival, Hood River, OR 2004
ESPN X Games, Lake Havasu, AZ 2003
Fat Tire Festival, New Mexico, 2002

Select Venues:
Roseland Theatre..........Portland, OR
Rialto Theatre................Tucson, AZ
Boom Boom Room..........San Francisco, CA
Club Dada, Deep Elem....Dallas, TX
Cain's Ballroom...............Tulsa, Oklahoma
Bottleneck's....................Lawrence, KS
The Vibe..........................Austin, TX
The Melting Point............Athens, GA
The Georgia Theater........Athens, GA
Smiths Olde Bar..............Atlanta, GA
Here are some of the artists Lefty has shared the stage with in the past:
-Leon Russell
-Karl Denson's Tiny Universe
-Bill Kreutzmann and the Trichromes
-Robert Walter's 20th Congress
-Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons
-New Monsoon
-Digital Underground
-Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
-Moonshine Still
-John Cowen
-Red Dirt Rangers

Lefty and his on stage cohorts have been know to play songs by these well know artists:
Leon Russell, Allen Toussaint, J.J. Cale, Funkadelic, Talking Heads, Little Feat, Dr. John, James Brown, Allman Brothers, Freddie King, Wayne Shorter, Jimmy Smith, and many more.........