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    Sunday, July 21, 2024

    VIDEO: Song spinners - The Franklin Brothers

    The Franklin Brothers, fronted by Carl Franklin on guitar and Jay Franklin on keyboard, perform "New London Blues" during a video shoot for The Day at Pwop Studios in New London.

    This episode of our Song Spinner series, which takes you into the hearts, minds and crafty hands of local musicians and their creative process, reveals the story behind the song "New London Blues" by the Franklin Brothers.

    BIO: Multi-instrumentalists/singer/songwriters Jay and Carl Franklin grew up in Mystic and were playing cover and original tunes in bars by their mid-teens. They released their first album, "Strange Communications," in 1999. The siblings have worked diligently for years on their music, slowly sculpting the songs that make up their new "Lifeboat to Nowhere" CD - which includes "New London Blues." Other players in the "band" are a loose but affectionate amalgam of local pals and musicians, with drummer Matt Covey a reliably consistent anchor.

    SOUND: Sophisticated, polished, intelligent pop music. If you were separating the genetic twine of their music, you'd find cellular imprints of Steely Dan, Toy Matinee, Atlanta Rhythm Section and Toto - along with a sneaky, evocative dash of New Orleans seasoning.

    WHAT "NEW LONDON BLUES" IS ABOUT: It's an observation on the homeless situation in New London. Carl penned the words after reflecting on the city as a sort of ground zero for homeless folks from across the state and region. There are a variety of services available to help the homeless, which is part of the "attraction" of New London. The song is sung from the perspective of a wry, smart member of the homeless brotherhood, but it also tacitly acknowledges the frustrations and difficulties presented to the community at large.

    HOW THE SONG CAME ABOUT: As with many Franklin Brothers songs, the music came first. At the start of one of the many jam sessions the Franklins host - with a revolving cast of players - Jay started the jaunty, two-chord vamp that provides the trampoline bounce for the piece. The music was fleshed out quickly, and the idea of the joyous, exclamation-point horn charts seemed almost spontaneously necessary. The cocky but laidback groove suggested a gritty, urban mood - and Carl penned lyrics that absolutely completed the process.

    IS "NEW LONDON BLUES" TECHNICALLY BLUES? Well, if by "blues" you're referring to a Freddy King-style I-IV-V chord structure that starts off with a line such as "Well, I woke up this morning," ah, no. The "blues" are in a strictly literary sense, though the music has a decided kinship with the blues-based chemistry you find in a lot of jazz.

    STRICT BLUES OR NOT, THE SONG WON A 2011 WHALIE AWARD, RIGHT? Yep, in the Best Blues/Country Rock Performance.

    WHAT'S NEXT? The CD release party for "Lifeboat to Nowhere" takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight at the Franklins' Pwop! Studios, 300 State St., Suite 516, New London. The full band will perform the first three songs from the CD live, followed by two front-to-back playbacks through the studio's astounding sound system. It's a free, open to the public reception with wine and cheese, and, of course, copies of "Lifeboat to Nowhere" will be available for $10.

    New London Blues

    Well I ain't got a nickel to my name

    But I'll offer you a cigarette just the same

    I crawled out of the ashes just this morning at four

    I went back for my lighter but they locked the door

    We've got every kind of novelty right here on the shore

    Let me sing you the New London Blues

    Get a perfect pint of Guinness up on State Street

    In the Winter the Hygenic show is crazy

    Grab a bowl of beans and don't forget to wipe

    We've got Thai and Japanese here but there ain't no tripe

    Jimmy's down on Bank Street. He'll be wailing all night

    Just pealing the New London Blues

    Get up on an airplane

    Or maybe take a fast train

    Come and spend your whole Saturday

    Take I-95. It's just an hour away

    Well I just got off the ferry from Long Island

    Left at three this morning from the Highlands

    The doctor says I'll be okay for an hour or two

    I'd take my medication but I lost the tube

    Swear to God I never even touched that dude

    I was just digging the New London Blues

    Get up on an airplane

    Or maybe take a fast train

    Come and spend your whole Saturday

    Take I-95. It's just an hour away

    Digging the New London Blues

    By Jay and Carl Franklin, Copyright 2011 by Couch Flight Music (BMI)

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