By FERN BRODKIN
For 21st Century Media
Philly’s all-star musical collective David Uosikkinen’s In the Pocket (ITP) has just released its debut studio CD, “Sessions.” ITP will celebrate the CD’s release with a concert at Ardmore Music Hall on April 18.
The CD is comprised of 10 songs. All the songs were selected by Uosikkinen, long-time drummer of Philly’s famed band The Hooters. They’re songs that he considers to be essential and all were either originally recorded in Philadelphia or were written and performed by artists from Philadelphia.
“We started (the project) in 2010,” said Uosikkinen in a phone interview from his home. “I had just moved back from California. I was blown away by the change in Philadelphia. It was always great but there was this vibrant, incredible spirit. I wanted to do something musically.
“I had this thing (when I worked for) mp3.com – In the Pocket Essential Songs of Rock and In the Pocket – Essential Songs of Pop,” said Uosikkinen. “I would pick songs that would fit that mode. I thought it would be cool to do a project like that and Dallyn (Pavey, In the Pocket’s manager and publicist) thought it would be cool to do it with a Philly theme. I started talking about the music that inspired me — the American Dream, Todd Rundgren, Philly International — all those things. It’s the essential songs of Philadelphia picked by me. I thought I might get (comments) like ‘who died and made you the czar?,’” he said.
It seems like nobody has questioned Uosikkinen’s motive for creating ITP or his song choices, which genre-hops with cuts including “A Woman’s Got the Power,” originally recorded by The A’s, “Change Reaction,” originally recorded by Robert Hazard, “Open My Eyes,” originally recorded by Nazz and even “Disco Inferno,” originally recorded by The Trammps.
Uosikkinen has invited the cream of the crop of Philly musicians to join him. The all-star cast includes all four of his Hooters bandmates — Eric Bazilian, Rob Hyman, John Lilley and Fran Smith, Jr. — as well as Ben Arnold, Richard Bush (The A’s, The Peace Creeps), Steve Butler (Smash Palace), Tommy Conwell, Greg Davis (Beru Revue), Jeffrey Gaines, Cliff Hillis, Charlie and Richie Ingui (Soul Survivors), Jay Davidson (Steve Winwood, Funk Brothers) and Wally Smith (Smash Palace), among others.
The most recent song recorded by ITP is The Hooters’ hit “Beat Up Guitar.” The lead vocal for this version of the song was performed by Jim Boggia. As one could imagine, singing a song with the songwriter and original vocalist in the room could be awkward. In a phone interview, Boggia described it as “daunting.”
Bazilian, who wrote and sung the original version of “Beat Up Guitar,” said in an e-mail: “When David (Uosikkinen) told me that he was having Jim sing ‘Beat Up Guitar’ I was thrilled. I’ve always admired and envied Jim’s exquisite vocal instrument and knew he was the man for the job. Hearing him sing it during the session made me wish we could go back and re-record every Hooters track with his voice. That’s how good it was.”
In addition, Bazilian says he’s “very happy with the guitar go-round at the end. That was Rob (Hyman’s) idea, something he’s wanted to do for a long, long time. I think it came out great.”
Boggia said that despite initially being nervous “…they all could not have been nicer and more supportive of me. It’s a hard thing for someone to sing a song that you’ve written in front of you but they were all very, very nice about it.”
Uosikkinen said “Although, it’s not the end of the project, it’s the end of this series of songs. I wanted to create a CD of all of the sessions and end with ‘Beat Up Guitar’ because it’s about a musician, his instrument and the city. And for me, that’s what it’s all about. Jim Boggia’s voice on the last track brings this Philadelphia anthem to another level. I have always wanted to play with Jim, and having him as part of this project has been a real gift.”
The In the Pocket concept was initially “all about recording — video, audio and photography — and also doing it all in one day, and doing it together, not piecemeal like the way people record records these days,” adds Uosikkinen.
The idea for performing live concerts came later. And ITP has headlined one night of the Philadelphia Folk Festival last year as well as headlining shows at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville. This will be their first concert at Ardmore Music Hall.
“It’s amazing that I can pull all those guys together for one show,” said Uosikkinen. “I think April 18th is going to be really cool because everyone but Ben (Arnold) is gonna be there. It’s a special night for us because we’ll have the CD.”
As for the future of In the Pocket, the band is taking a hiatus for a few months while the members work on other projects but they will be back in the fall.
“Somehow I need to get (other musicians that I’ve met) involved and maybe even come up with some other ways to do things,” Uosikkinen said. “So far so good but it’s always good to shake it up a little bit.”
You can watch the video of the “Beat Up Guitar” recording session, as well as videos of the other recording sessions and order the new CD at www.songsinthepocket.org.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: David Uosikkinen’s In the Pocket
WHERE: 9 p.m. Friday, April 18 at Ardmore Music Hall, 23 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore.
TICKETS: $25 in advance; $30 day of show. 21+ only.
INFO.: Call (610) 649-8389 or check www.ardmoremusichall.com.
CONNECT: On Twitter @SongInThePocket