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Rogers Park

Gooey (2017)

Hold on Tight

Gooey (2012)

In 2008, John moved to Philadelphia. Gooey kept playing for a while, but in reality needed to retool. Gooey took a short hiatus. I continued to write and play out solo acoustically. In 2009, Gooey had a chance to play together again, and in doing so, brought back Chris Eudy on electric guitar and recruited Tom Hickey, formerly of The Pleegs, on bass. We began playing out again and had a few other accomplished musicians, including Brian Burkhard (guitar and keyboards) of Lollygag and Jim Boyle (drums), join the band for short stints. Eventually, the current lineup was set with the inclusion of Brian Vaughan, formerly of the Baltimores, on electric guitar and the return of John Noyes on drums, in 2010.

Gooey went back into the studio at the end of 2011.  They returned to Uptown Recording to have Rob Ruccia engineer the album, and flew in John Peeler from Philadelphia to help produce the album.  They began working on the 16 song Hold on Tight.  The album includes 14 originals and 2 covers.  The 14 originals include 3 Spanish language songs, the first recorded by Gooey, and 11 new English language songs.  The band also recorded covers of a David Bowie classic and fresh take on a T.I. club hit.  We finished up the album in April 2012.
We had many guest musicians record on the album including Ben Peeler on steel guitar, Eddie Torrez on accordion, Matt Denny on keys, Gerald Bailey on trumpet, and Nelia Jay providing female vocals.  John Peeler was also all over the album adding additional keys and guitars.

  1. Watch OutAvila (Hold on Tight) 2012  First track on the album.  Great power pop song.  Out with your friends and on the hunt!  Be careful!  Watch Out
  2. Take You OutAvila (Hold on Tight) 2012  There are two songs on this album that came to me in a dream.  I was lucky enough to wake up and record them both.  There is something Spandau Ballet-ish about this song.  Some times you both know its over but for some reason you just can’t end it.  Just end it already.  Take You Out
  3. Hold on TightAvila (Hold on Tight) 2012  So I couldn’t figure out the name for the album, but this song fit the album cover the best.  The song really rocks.  I was somewhat inspired by a great local band, the Record Low, on this song.  Driving guitars, screaming vocals, and garage rock!  Hold on Tight
  4. That I WereAvila (Hold on Tight) 2012  Probably the most improved player in the studio!  Great acoustic song and lyrics that felt almost Thomspon Twins, If You Were Here.  But we could never make it work in rehearsal or live, and truly thought it would end up on the cutting room floor.  We were able to make the guitars work in the studio and the song really came alive!  Ben Peeler on pedal steel.  Really happy with the way it turned out.  That I Were
  5. MujerAvila (Hold on Tight) 2012  So I might be proudest of this song.  This is the first of the three Spanish language songs on the album.  I had written the other two Spanish songs first and we were performing Jamas already live.  I made a bet with my friend, Elsa Camargo, that I could take one of her Spanish language poems and turn it into a song.  Sounds like a challenge!  She gave me a poem she had written, No Dejas de Ser Mujer (You Don’t Stop Being a Woman) that she wrote about her mother.  Beautiful, beautiful lyrics.  I took it and started writing.  This is what we came up with.  We brought in Eddie Torrez on accordion.  Strong enough to be the 5 track!  Mujer
  6. Whatever You LikeDavid Siegel, James Scheffer & Clifford Harris (Hold on Tight) 2012 Yes the song by T.I..  I was out in Vegas with my friend Ahleah a couple of years back and this song came on.  She was like, “you guys should do this”.  So we did it, our way!  The kids love it!  Whatever You Like
  7. Long Time AgoAvila (Hold on Tight) 2012  This is my own Bowie/Brian Eno creation.  The song came out of  the loss of a friend and mentor.  Some how the production morphed into Manhunter soundtrack song!  Long Time Ago
  8. Mile From TuesdayAvila (Hold on Tight) 2012  So this is our country song on this album.  It’s actually my September 11 song.  Some great production by Peeler, with his brother Ben Peeler on pedal steel.  Mile From Tuesday
  9. Thank YouAvila (Hold on Tight) 2012  This is the second song that came to me in a dream.  In both cases we were performing the song on stage.  Again, wake up and record!  Clever power pop song.  Nothing like sarcasm in music.  This is our live show closer.  Thank You
  10. Picture in My MindAvila (Hold on Tight) 2012  I wrote this song at my friend Sean’s wedding a lifetime ago.  Put it away and then let Peeler produce it.  Pretty.  Picture in My Mind
  11. Moonage DaydreamDavid Bowie (Hold on Tight) 2012  David Bowie is probably my biggest musical influence.  This song rocks and we just tried to do it justice.  I remember bringing it to the band and Chris not wanting to play it.  Then when he heard the guitar lines he would get to play, he was all over it.  Great live song as well!   I’m an alligator!  Moonage Daydream
  12. Ya No SientoAvila (Hold on Tight) 2012  So this is the second Spanish language song on the album.  Pretty simple but with some beautiful lyrics.  We got Eddie Torrez to lay down the accordion again.  I always heard this as a duet.  We were fortunate to get the beautiful and talented Nelia Jay to add her talents to the track.  I can’t wait to do the video with her!  Ya No Siento
  13. Talking to MyselfAvila (Hold on Tight) 2012  Again great production from Peeler.  He took a great concept and melody and helped turn it into something special.  If there is some creepiness there, it’s supposed to be there.  Mental illness is really special, isn’t it?  Talking to Myself
  14. It’s TrueAvila/Peeler (Hold on Tight) 2012  Peeler and I wrote this and originally was recorded by Peeler’s power pop band Toe.  I changed some of the lyrics and we worked it out.  I couldn’t hit the same high notes as Peeler, so we made it our own.  It’s True
  15. JamasAvila (Hold on Tight) 2012  The third Spanish language song on the album.  I took a Matt Denny rip off of a Dayroom song that we were working on with the WrightWalleys way back when and I wrote Jamas.  I always heard the Spanish language version of this in my head.  We have been performing it live for a while and the peeps love it.  Jamas
  16. Will You Still Love MeAvila (Hold on Tight) 2012  So back on the WrightWalleys Lost Album, I wrote a song that Tori performed.  He performed it as Believe, with a different melody, but lyrics that I wrote.  I took the song and restored the original melody and lyrics.  Will You Still Love Me

The Best Tree in the Whole Play

Gooey (2006)

Best Tree in the Whole Play | Gooey | Chicago | Music

Best Tree in the Whole Play 2006

Once we formed the band, Gooey, and began playing out, and our sound and my songwriting evolved. This really is the first “band” album. John and I worked really well together, with me writing and him producing. John still had a big part in writing out the parts for the rest of the band members, but they began to add their personal styles to the sound. Still heavily produced by John, but less studio production than the first Gooey album.

  1. I Know Avila (The Best Tree in the Whole Play) 2006 First track on the album. Sometimes ignorance is bliss; but knowledge is power.   I Know
  2. Hope You UnderstandAvila (The Best Tree in the Whole Play) 2006 Desperation and loneliness…   Hope You Understand
  3. SignAvila (The Best Tree in the Whole Play) 2006 The signs are all there. You just need to open your eyes and look.  Sign
  4. Hey Little GirlAvila (The Best Tree in the Whole Play) 2006 Power pop that is so sweet, it’ll gives you cavities! Making the move…  Hey Little Girl
  5. Take it SlowAvila (The Best Tree in the Whole Play) 2006 Take it slow. Running a million miles an hour, sometimes you just need to slow things down a bit. Hard to do.  Take It Slow
  6. TrampolineAvila (The Best Tree in the Whole Play) 2006 I started writing this while watching the Man Show and then it wrote itself. Metaphor for life or relationships and their ups and downs…   Trampoline
  7. Spark Peeler (The Best Tree in the Whole Play) 2006 Peeler wrote this song for Gooey. To me it’s about the anticipation, potential and energy of a night out in the city.  Spark


Gooey (2004)

Gooey Album

Gooey Album

Mr. Juani’s Dojo never played out live. I continued to write and meet up with the Matt and John at Uptown. The songwriting continued to evolve and improve. John decided we should go into the studio again and he would produce a pop album. Being a pop album and being that I wanted a simple, easy name for the project, I came up with the name Gooey. I thought Gooey was perfect; as we worked on the album the power pop production highlighted the sticky melodies and sweet hooks. This is a studio album with great musicians from the Uptown Recording family. We sent the album out to music critics and received great reviews so we put a band together and began playing out live. The band consisted of John Peeler on electric guitar and me on acoustic guitar. Then we recruited Chris Eudy and John Noyes, formerly of the Nubile Thangs, who we knew from playing together from the WrightWalley days, on lead guitar and drums, respectively. We rounded out the lineup with Sue Zindle on bass, who we knew from playing at the studio.

  1. Brand New Tune – Avila (Gooey) 2004  First track of the album.  Great studio production on a feel good pop song.  Great trumpet in the solo.  I had some family members going through some really tough times, and wrote it as a source of inspiration and hope.   Brand New Tune
  2. Weatherman – Avila (Gooey) 2004  Love can be stormy sometimes!   Weatherman
  3. For You – Avila (Gooey) 2004  Killer love song with killer drum track.  I wrote this song at Matt’s wedding.   For You
  4. Don’t You Tell Me – Avila (Gooey) 2004  Morrissey infused love song.  Don’t try to cheer me up.  Just let me be.  Don’t You Tell Me
  5. Little Boy Blues – Avila (Gooey) 2004  Miss you mom…  That’s all I have to say about that.  Little Boy Blues
  6. Busy Day – Avila (Gooey) 2004  I wrote this a the kitchen table for Ileana.  She was running around with a million things to do.  If Pink Floyd wrote a childrens song it might sound something like this.   Busy Day
  7. Lonely Girl – Avila (Gooey) 2004  Sorta the follow up to Love is Blind.  It takes two people to be used.  Great George Harrison guitar line in the break.   Lonely Girl
  8. Birdie – Avila (Gooey) 2004  Childrens song.  We had just moved into our house and we would see the neighbor girl, who was two years old at the time, with her dad in the backyard.  Her daddy would push her on the swing and she would point at the birdies.    Birdie
  9. Lost – Avila/Denny (Gooey) 2004  I didn’t know that I was lost.   Lost
  10. So – Avila (Gooey) 2004  Peeler going mad in the studio.  To me it has a 70’s Phil Spector pop production feel.  So

Welcome to my Dojo

By Mr Juani’s Dojo (2001)

Mr. Juani's Dojo 2001

Mr. Juani’s Dojo 2001

The WrightWalleys broke up in 1999. The band members who remained in Chicago continued to hang out and collaborate musically. Matt Denny opened Uptown Recording. I was still learning how to play guitar and began writing and recording on a cassette player. As I would hang out with Matt and John at Uptown, I would pick up my guitar and start playing my songs. The songs were simple but they had a good melodies and hooks. Eventually, John thought there was enough potential in the songs to put together an experimental album at Uptown. I was just happy that we were recording my songs, and I was pretty open about the direction of the production. John was like the mad scientist in the studio. The result was Welcome to my Dojo.

  1. Welcome to my Dojo – Avila (Welcome to my Dojo) 2001  First track of the album. The “Dojo” reference is from Dirk Digler (Boogie Nights) refering to his bedroom. The background dialogue is young woman speaking Russian; still have no idea what she is saying.  Maybe its better that way.  Welcome To My Dojo
  2. Love is Blind – Avila (Welcome to my Dojo) 2001  Love song whose name is taken from television program playing in the background on first take.  When you love someone enough to know that you are hurting them.  She’s all by myself.  Perfect!  Love is Blind
  3. She’s Bringining me Down – Avila (Welcome to my Dojo) 2001  Alt-country love song.  If they are making you miserable, it’s time to go.  She’s Bringing Me Down
  4. Good Boy – Avila (Welcome to my Dojo) 2001  Ode to Jack, my buddy Ian’s Chesapeake Bay Retriever, who was our loyal friend and companion.  The idea took off from Ian’s love song to Jack “He Good Boy”.  Jack was a very good boy.   Good Boy
  5. Who Let the Dogs Out – Avila (Welcome to my Dojo) 2001  I remember sitting at Sidelines in Chicago watching the baseball playoffs.  The original “Who Let the Dogs Out” was all over the place.  It became a sports anthem.  I decided to write my own version of a sports anthem.   Who Let The Dogs Out
  6. Come Home – Avila (Welcome to my Dojo) 2001  Longing, isolation and regret.   Come Home
  7. I Love Everybody – Avila (Welcome to my Dojo) 2001  Started out as a lullaby/childrens song but by the time Peeler was done with it in the studio, it turned into a Volkswagen commercial!  Love it!  Catchy and infectious.   I Love Everybody
  8. Don’t Forget About Tomorrow – Avila (Welcome to my Dojo) 2001  Final track of the album.  Fades into a flat line…   Don’t Forget About Tomorrow

Lost Album

By The WrightWalleys (1999)

I was the percussionist for the southern roots rock band the WrightWalleys (chicken fried rock in a jalapeno funk sauce), from 1996 – 1999. Great band. Great guys. We were all good friends and had a lot of fun. We played from St. Cloud, MN down to Altanta, GA, and all points in between. We recorded three great albums. We were swimming against the tide though; we were a roots rock band in the alternative/grunge capital of the Midwest. We also had too many chefs in the kitchen; by the time 1999 rolled around, I began learning how to play guitar, and so 5 of the 6 band members were writing and singing on stage, including myself. The last album, which was our best work, included two songs I wrote. We never released the album as the strains of being pulled in different directions by multiple songwriters with different musical styles took their toll, and eventually the band broke up. Here are my contributions to the “Lost Album” and my first foray into songwriting and singing.

  1. MTV – Avila (The WrightWalleys) 1999  Country song about MTV losing its way…   MTV
  2. Right On – Avila (The WrightWalleys) 1999  One of the first songs I wrote became a feel good crowd pleaser.  Hippie rock anthem.   Right On

The Accidental Rock Star

In 1994, I was at Otis’, a music club in Lincoln Park that has long since closed its doors. I was was out with a work group and there was a three piece acoustic cover band playing called Barton Biggs. They consisted of a lead singer, Ray Loureiro, and two acoustic guitarist, Matt Denny and Geoff Koss. The Chicago rock scene was on fire as everyone in Chicago was picking up an electric guitar to become the next Smashing Pumpkins. My roommate and some friends formed a band. They would get together and play at our apartment, without a drummer, so I would pick up some bongos and jam with them. I even played out with them a couple of times. But eventually they would move on to a real drummer. So back to Otis’. I signed up on the Barton Biggs mailing list and apparently wrote next to my name and phone number, “I play bongos”. Two weeks later I get a phone call from Matt of Barton Biggs. He says, “I hear you play bongos.”, to which I replied, “Yeah”. The next thing you know I am playing bongos with Barton Biggs. I played with Barton Biggs for three years until, Matt Denny (lead electric guitar), John Peeler (bass), and I left to form the WrightWalleys, with Tori Pater (acoustic guitar) of Deep Six, and Jim Sawyer (drums). We were later joined by Ben Ruth (harmonica). We were going to conquer the world!