Uncle Carl
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Uncle Carl

New York City, New York, United States | SELF | AFM

New York City, New York, United States | SELF | AFM
Band Blues Singer/Songwriter

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"Review of "The End of the World""

It's been six years since Uncle Carl's sophomore CD, Bring Me Your Children. We described that '02 release as "solid musicianship parlaying a smooth mixture of jazz-club R&B with a Rock tilt wrapped around semi-serious lyrics that give us tales slanted to the humorous side of life and it's up and downs." We also stated, "as you mix another cocktail remember that the 'Children' Uncle Carl wants brought to him is the Child that remains in us all."

With his 3rd release, The End of the World, "Uncle" Carl Vreeland has left both the child and his band behind. Writing, performing and recording the album himself, Uncle Carl offers up a loose, semi-autobiographical, concept, song-cycle album exploring the space between losing and gaining love, life, and personal fulfillment.

Opening with the title track, the Sylvia Dee/Arthur Kent classic "The End of the World," Uncle Carl sets a somber tone of heartache and loss with light piano and sparse accompaniment. His sadness continues with "Please Come With Me," another ballad that sets the lights low as the music highlights the solemn tale of how he tries to beg her from boarding the train that will carry her out of his life. Was his confessional enough to convince her? Can he really change? The plea from the guitar is betrayed by the piano and somehow we know she's not buying it this time. Closing the fist cycle we get I Saw Irene Today, possibly Uncle Carl's catchiest song to date: An up-tempo, sing-along, that seems to pick up three years later when our narrator happens to spot his old girlfriend and does what he can to hide from her, all the while trying to watch her and reflecting how "I use to worship her/but then she left me flat/she didn't tell me that/she was gay," and "Yeah, she busted up that heart of mine [sic]/no, I didn't see the signs/when she told me she was leaving/I nearly up and died."

The 2nd cycle picks up where we'd expect to find any heartbroken musician; "All My Friends Are Drunks" sports a bourbon-soaked, slow-tempo, haunting tale related in a beat poet style reading that explains the dead-end of drinking one's problems into submission only to find that it wasn't the answer, even if it seemed like it was at the time. Fighting through the alcohol, we get a piano ballad that comes across as a sad, tender, out-pouring of heartache. But upon closer listen, "Without You" is a joyful happy ode to finally being without that person who was holding him down, holding him back. This is a liberation song, which should be sung with an uplifting lilt and even a side of in-your-face triumph. Instead, Uncle Carl delivers it exactly as he feels it: while the words speak of elation, the music, mood, and heart are as low as they can be without her. To finish this cycle we get a bit of gospel blues that tries to tell us to leave God and religion out of your drinking and sorrow over lost love. "Don't Get Drunk On Jesus" is our protagonist's failed attempt to debunk God's role in affairs of the heart. Again, it is the music that betrays him here: while he's preaching to avoid the spiritual connection, the music conveys the truth behind the denial.

But like any good/true story, the denial must be acted out/upon. The 3rd song-cycle is where our main character dives headlong into total debauchery. "Good Time" and "Oh Well" celebrate Classic Uncle Carl with solid, jazzy, R&B bouncing out a joyful mix of slinky rhythms and tight leads accompanied by soothing hooks, serious grooves and lyrical witticisms of fantastic fun and frivolity. "The Devil Is Me" wraps up that fun and frivolity with a confessional that comes forth from all that came before. Call it a reawakening, call it a rebirth, call it baptism by fire, but with unrelenting rhythm and lead guitar forcing the ` home, we realize that change has come.

The Final cycle begins with a dedication to "Suzie"— "I'm In Love Again" is that tender piano ballad to the beautifulness that is love. Hailing its saving grace and all the joy that brings tears to the eyes in a good way. "You Bring Me Back To My Heart" and "I'm Learning To Love" close this story, much the same way it started, in plain and simple terms. This time instead of lamenting the loss of love and the heartache that ensued, our singer extols the virtues that love (both mortal and spiritual) can give, but also acknowledges that it isn't something that can be given for your satisfaction, it is something that must be worked for and accepted not as an easy solution to your problems, but as a path that must be traversed daily.

It seems as though in six years Uncle Carl has revisited a lifetime and more.

It isn't The End of the World,
It just seemed that way.

And the hidden track let's us know that for all the seriousness of the preceding tale, this musician can still live, love, and laugh just the same as always.

Check the smile and the wink as our Unc closes out his finest work to date.

—IndependDisc Music Club
http://www.independisc.com/unclecarl.htm#Issue130

- http://www.independisc.com/unclecarl.htm#Issue130


"Review of "My Little Idaho""

Uncle Carl - My Little Idaho

Forgive me for wondering if the title is tongue in cheek. I digress. Intentionally recorded in a lo-fi Bluegrass format, “My Little Idaho” features some nice guitar “pickin'” and acoustic slide. Backed by the ubiquitous Bluegrass mouth-organ (harp/harmonica), a soft “foot tapping” or knee-slapping keeps time during the song and really gives the song a down-homey feel. My Little Idaho jingles, jangles and slides right along very nicely. The hero of the song meets a farm girl named Idaho who wants his “soul like a hot potato”. The lyrics from this song are entertaining and so is the music. Pour me a tall cold glass of ice tea on a stanky hot summer day while I sit on the porch and jam with these guys. Although the song is somewhat humorous, these musicians are serious and after listening to a couple of the other tracks from their site, they know what they are doing and have the ability to switch gears at ease. RRRR

by Robert Jansen http://www.mp3artistarchive.com/011300.htm - by Robert Jansen http://www.mp3artistarchive.com/011300.htm


"Review of "Bring Me Your Children""

The last time we saw Uncle Carl, he and the band were throwing down their funky jazzed laced R&B right in our own back yard of New Haven, CT. Driving up from Brooklyn, NY to play an IndepenDisc sponsored show at Café 9, “Uncle Carl” Vreelend (guitars, vocals), Ivan Bodley (basses, backing vocals), Rich Kulsar (drums, toys), and Mark Mancini (piano, organ) tickled the crowd with their unique style of serious grooves bubbling all around the half-serious, half-mocking vocals of a Schoolyard clown who although has gotten older and wiser to the world, still hasn’t let go enough to grow up completely – and that’s what endures us to Uncle Carl.

That night Uncle Carl previewed several songs to be on the follow up CD to 1997’s self-titled debut. Of course that Friday night at Café 9 was almost 2 years ago and we wondered when (if ever) we might be privileged to hearing those songs on Disc. It’s ironic how usually just when things slip your mind they have a way of showing up at the most unexpected time. It might have been 2 years ago but when we popped “Bring Me Your Children” – the newly arrived CD by Uncle Carl - into the CD player we instantly remembered what transpired, which seemed like ages ago:

Uncle Carl took the stage that night and mixed a bit more harder Rockin’ edge songs into their repertoire of low down, cool beat, ultra hip, blues style grooves and he/they do the same here. Opening with two songs of their usual blues beat style -“My Heart Is Yours” works off a heavy down beat focusing on Uncle Carl’s bourbon soaked, cigarette singed vocals and witty lyrics. “Unless I Get What I Want,” returns us to the adolescent left in all of us as Mark Mancini’s organ punctuates the seriousness of the childishness.

With “Special,” “When I Get My Big Break,” & “Before He Sends Me To Hell,” (where our narrator cracks the big guy in the jaw) Uncle Carl changes the Rhythm of R&B to Rock, and they’re off on a blues journey that gets down to our bones and slides us across the floor.

But the stand out here is "Paris Blues". Brilliantly highlighting the seasoned chops of all the band members it starts with Ivan’s bass bouncing us around until Mark’s piano & Rich’s drums join in for the jaunt, and what a jaunt it is! Incorporating authentic Parisian style accordion playing Uncle Carl tells a tale of heartbreak and sorrow – having just been dumped by his girl for another, he retreats to Paris where broke and lonely he fills his time wandering the museums and singing for meals, even though he can not speak any French. And, through it all he encourages us to sing along with the simple, yet alluring, refrain of: “La de Da de Da, La de Da, La de Da.” And sing along we do.

Above and beyond all, that tells us all we need to know about Uncle Carl; “Bring Me Your Children” entertains us with sold musicianship parlaying a smooth mixture of jazz club R&B with a Rock tilt wrapped around semi-serious lyrics that give us tales slanted to the humorous side of life and it’s up and downs. So throw this CD on as you mix another cocktail and remember that the “Children” Uncle Carl wants brought to him is the Child that remains in us all.

Issue #43 Nov. '02
http://independisc.com/unclecarl.htm#Issue43

- http://independisc.com/unclecarl.htm#Issue43


"Review of "Uncle Carl""

Too tired to what?!?
Talk about the black sheep of the family, Uncle Carl is the relative you would least like to have attend your Bar Mitzvah. Brother Dan understands that he’s a bit risqué. Cousin Maryanne thinks he’s cute. Aunt Flo just thinks he’s a pervert.

Uncle Carl is actually an ethereal entity comprised of the alter ego of songwriter/guitarist/singer Carl "Smokin’ Again" Vreeland ("I’m a stylist," Vreeland maintains), and a trio of eclectic and quirky lovesick musicians. The Uncle Carl sound can be described as a smoky, swirling combination of blues, jazz, pop, romance, occasional perversion, and voyeurism, in a state of constant flux. ‘Blue-vant garde’ perhaps, someone coyly suggests.

After the start of a promising career, winning the highly coveted title of cutest two-year-old in Bayonne, New Jersey, Vreeland now leads the Uncle Carl sound experience (between janitorial gigs and experimental anti-psychotic drug treatments). Uncle Carl is capable of being at once charming and funny and yet somehow slightly appalling. You know your mother told you not to like things like this, but somehow, you can’t look away.

Mixing such disparate elements as blues, voodoo and swamp funk, no subject matter is taboo in these lyrics. Sex, religion and politics, the three classic guaranteed conversation killers, are often breached within the first three songs of any given performance. Conversation indeed stops, but attentiveness and audience participation soon takes over.

Never before has jazz heaven and heroes in hell, temper tantrums and fast cars, peeping Toms and barbershops been so seamlessly melded. Nor will they be again in such a manner, try as imitators may. The best advice is to experience Uncle Carl first-hand, in-person or via modern sound recording. And do it right now for a musical experience that is brooding and celebratory, slightly off-kilter, and certainly unlike any other. Uncle Carl’s New York City concerts have already landed critical accolades from quarters as diverse as his neighbors (who wish he would turn it down) to the clientele at prestigious and exclusive dives like CBGB’s Gallery, The Bitter End, The Fort at the Sidewalk Café, Downtime, The Living Room, The Dark Star, and Fez under the Time Café.

These musicians have bizarre professional credits ranging from The Shirelles, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Gloria Gaynor, Buster Poindexter, and the Uptown Horns Revue to Bobby Sherman and a Roy Orbison impersonator who must be seen to be fully appreciated. Their debut independent CD release on Vreeland’s own Sha-Shu label documents the initial Uncle Carl vibe. Their second CD is infiltrating the world wide web in pre-release MP3 format. Yet through it all, Uncle Carl remains aloof.

http://www.mudhut.co.uk/bands/unclecarl/carlframeset.htm - mudhut.co.uk


"Review of "Uncle Carl""

Uncle Carl's Carl Vreeland is a master of smooth guitar-based rhythm and blues. His vocals glide through melodies with strong jazz inflections anchored in the traditional feel of the genre, expertly backed by this band with an obvious love for the music and a passion for expression. This will take you back fondly to classic jazz and blues singers, and fans of the genre will simply love this one.

Reviewed by Bryan Baker.
www.gajoob.com/reviews/u/2707.html - gajoob.com


"Review of "Uncle Carl""

A few drinks, a smoky lounge, a date, and a late night in some dirty bar in Brooklyn. The band on stage is playing some steamy, jazz-blues riffs with lyrics that don't hold back any punches. The singer proclaims he's "too tired to masturbate" and later discusses peeping toms. Well, you've got the sex covered for the night (unless you get lucky because the alcohol and/or the music intoxicates your date and makes him/her horny, but that's a different story). Anyhow, the song stops and the band mentions their name before jumping into yet another steamy, seductive blues-jazz conceptual piece. "What was their name?" you ask. "Oh, Uncle Carl. They're great." A typical reaction to Uncle Carl's live show, I'm sure. And, their debut, self-titled album is a testament to that.
"I'm Smokin' Again" is the steamy lead-off track to this oh-so-hot, dirty, sleazy-yet-classy recording from this perverted, tongue-in-cheek blues ensemble who further the seduction with their jazz influences.

"Peek-A-Boo" takes the silky grooves of jazz and mixes it with some dirty, Lower East Side blues and some lyrics about a peeping tom. "I'm Too Tired" is the number that finds frontman Carl Vreeland proclaiming he's "too tired to masturbate," and "Daffodil" is all about finding the girl you want at the bar and going for it.

Blues, dirty, seductive, jazzy, and a whole bunch of other things, Uncle Carl is a pack of musicians who you've been warned about. But, somehow, you fall prey to their charm and get taken in.

By: Alex Steininger - www.inmusicwetrust.com/articles/29r34.html
Issue Forty-Nine // June 2002

- inmusicwetrust.com


Discography

1997 - "Uncle Carl" (LP - Sha-Shu Records)
2002 - "Bring Me Your Children" (LP - Sha-Shu Records)
2006 - “Trust the Man” Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Various Artists (LP - Wrong Records)
2007 – “American Heroes: Songs for the Soldiers”
Compilation: Various Artists (LP – 3 Point Records)
2008 - "The End of the World" (LP - Sha-Shu Records)
2010 - "Red Peters Presents The Summer Song Sizzler" Compilation: Various Artists (LP - Oglio Records)

Photos

Bio

Uncle Carl predicts the end of the world!

Well, not exactly. Uncle Carl has completed his third CD The End of the World which features the Skeeter Davis song as the title track. This time left to his own devices, Uncle Carl created an album in his home studio. He not only wrote and produced it, but he played all the instruments (much to the chagrin and concern of his band). The Unc is very excited about the release, although he claims he's a bit uncomfortable with some of the songs— "There are a couple of songs that are, I guess you can say somewhat sincere." Hmmm… Still, fans shouldn't be concerned— the new album has what any Uncle Carl lover would hope for: blues tunes, drinking songs, Jesus jingles, and even a ditty that borders on pornographic.

A songwriter/troubadour and master in lyrical character study and storytelling, Uncle Carl is actually an ethereal entity comprised of the alter ego of Carl T. Vreeland ("I'm a stylist," Vreeland maintains), and a group of eclectic musicians who tolerate his self-deprecating persona.

In reviewing Uncle Carl's eponymous first CD (Sha-Shu Records 1001-2), Musician's Exchange called it "A perfect combination of style and substance." The Night Guide proclaimed, "Uncle Carl is Brooklyn's answer to Dr. John." His devoted and enthusiastic fans concur and note that the live concert experience only adds to the recorded mystique.

Uncle Carl's CD Bring Me Your Children was the long-anticipated sophomore effort. After a five year waiting period, Uncle Carl's fans all over the world were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief as the latest ruminations from his own fascinating psyche finally emerged into public view. Produced by Daniel Wise (Maceo Parker, Dog Eat Dog, and Uncle Carl's first CD), Bring Me Your Children is a near perfect musical realization of what it means to be Uncle Carl.

And let's not forget to mention Uncle Carl's stab at a holiday tune "Have a Hap, Hap, Happy Christmas" which was featured in the film Trust The Man (Fox Searchlight Pictures) starring Julianne Moore and David Duchovny. The song is reminiscent of Christmas classics while maintaining a swingin' groove of its own. Uncle Carl also cowrote the song "Closer" performed by Ann Colville, which is also featured in the film, and both songs are on the soundtrack album (Wrong Records). The soundtrack album also contains such artists as Ben Harper, Libby Johnson, Rachael Yamagata, Dave's True Story, Chocolate Genius, and Preacher Man.

Sure there are other stories to be told: Uncle Carl songs have been placed in other films and TV shows such as MTV's Room Raiders, Diary of Ryan Reynolds, Diary of Johnny Knoxville, Date My Mom, E! Network's Gastineau Girls, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and the Samuel L. Jackson Biography on The Biography Channel, among other shows. Uncle Carl was even interviewed over the air on the Howard Stern Channel. Uncle Carl tours with and/or is the musical director for acts like The Tokens, The Crystals, The Shirelles, Little Anthony and the Imperials, and Dion to name a few. Uncle Carl has toured the world and played on network TV talk shows such as Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Regis and Kelly. But no matter what the trappings of fame and international success, it all comes down to the music with Uncle Carl.