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Making of the CD, “The Ballad of Calamity” Part 1

Completely influenced by Calamity… Talk about living out loud! Nothing was holding us back!

I once was compared to Doris Day’s Calamity Jane from the movie, “Calamity Jane” circa 1954. I am glad to be compared to one who is, independent, tough and yet sweet, doesn’t care what other people feel about them and can rope and ride like a man… Well, I pretty much feel a kin to almost everything except for that last bit about roping and riding (although I can ride a horse, nobody will say I’m an expert). Thinking about Doris Day, she also had a great voice! So, thank you for making that comparison because it was brought up while recording my CD, but it wasn’t the old Doris Day’s “Calamity Jane” that came through while recording. It was the Calamity Jane from the HBO special; “Deadwood.” Their version of Calamity Jane wasn’t any Disney-like character but a hollerin’, swearin’, spittin’ and drunken one…. still Calamity was a topic of conversation in the mist of our recording session. In fact, “Deadwood” greatly influenced the level of foul language and drinking, but we sure did have fun!!!! I mean just look at the picture!

It was Robinson Eikenberry’s idea to call the album, The Ballad of Calamity because the CD is a story in ballads and with my kinship to Calamity Jane the name just stuck. The genre of the CD favors an Alternative Pop Country but there really is a lot of different genres going on. I liked to say it has roots that vary from psychedelic rock to a folky rustic nature. The album predominately has its folk roots except for a few songs that convey a Midnight Cowgirl meets Rhinestone Cowgirl feel with songs like; Walk on By (Bacharach/David), Do You Dream, Hello, Hello and You Don’t Wanna Know. The last two songs include a city sound scape!

Working in the studio with Robinson is spontaneously entertaining. We’d begin each day with a serious task at hand but by the time it came to recording my vocals the merrymaking had begun and Calamity took over. My vocals on the CD are greatly influenced by shots of Tequila, salt and lemon! I became Calamity Jane for real! ….

Hello, Hello was recorded on a bright spring day. Robinson’s studio is on the top floor of a two-story home in Santa Barbara. The studio’s sweet sound comes from a high ceiling and its balcony overlooks a large decorative back garden with water features and gravel pathways. This bonny Eden that is the backyard was also a festive vocation for all kinds of critters. When I was recording my vocals, every time I started to sing the birds outside began chirping and singing gloriously. They were so loud they were bleeding into my vocal recording… When I stopped singing they would stop. Finally Robinson said, “Jena, life just wants to be on your album!” And he took one of the microphones and set it outside on the balcony and recorded the birds singing… and that is what you hear on the song! When George Pendergast came to record his drum part (a la Ringo Starr) we did not include the birdie scape and George asked, “Where are the birdies?” because he was practicing the song with the birdie scape! The whole song was written in my best imitation of The Beatles around 1970. Kenny Edwards played bass (a la Paul McCartney) and lead guitar (a la George Harrison). I remember the care and time it took for him to double his guitar lead like George used to do. I was so blessed to have had Kenny on my CD! He is now only here in spirit but I feel his presence when every I am doing music! I was also blessed to have had George Pendergast who is drummer for Dishwalla and of course Robinson….

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