has been a very good decade for San Francisco Bay-area guitarist /
composer Carl Weingarten. Lucky for music fans that in 2018,
Carl released This Is Where I Found You, an album
that some are calling his best yet. For those music fans in the know,
Carls music output dates back to the 1980s with his guitar work
in the band Delay Tactics and mwe3.com reviewed his solo album Blue
Faith in the November 2000 instrumental section. In their archives,
mwe3.com has a number of other albums of Carls that were released
in the first decade of the 21st century. In this soon to be over decade
Carl released some excellent albums including Panomorphia (2012),
Life Under Stars (2014), and An Endless Premonition (2016).
As cool as those albums are, This Is Where I Found You is a
most worthy followup. Very easy on the ears without a hint of
avant-garde or rock energy, the all-instrumental album features a
sublime mix of heavenly instrumental music that blends New Age and
electronica held together by Carls searing electric guitar work.
A number of fine players join Carl in the studio, including Kit
Walker (piano), Pat Duffey (acoustic guitars), Ulrich
Schnauss (keys, synths), Michael Manring (bass), Celso
Alberti (drums), Jeff Oster (trumpet), Peter Calandra
(keys, synths) and other players, including wordless vocals on
the lead-off track Sing Like Water, sung by Tate Bissinger.
For his part, in addition to composing and producing This Is Where
I Found You, Carl performs a wide range of guitar sounds including
acoustic and electric guitars, e-bow, slide guitar, electric slide
guitar, dobro and traveler guitar. Recorded between 2011 and 2018
at Multiphase Studios in Alameda, California, This Is Where I Found
You is quite rightly Carl Weingartens finest moment as a
solo recording artist. www.carlweingarten.com
mwe3.com presents a new interview with
Been a while since we spoke in 2016 when you released An Endless
Premonition. How are things out in the Bay Area? You guys had
some rough old times in 2019 with all the recent fires.
Carl Weingarten: Im doing fine. The fires have been north
of us, though we got some smoke blowing through for a couple of days.
Were very lucky, thanks for asking.
mwe3: As great as An Endless Premonition is, I feel
you really topped yourself with This Is Where I Found You. My
first thoughts were, that this album is very commercial sounding,
especially for a sort of experimental guitar instrumental album.
Carl Weingarten: Im really glad you like the CD, Robert.
I think what youre hearing is the summation of all the contributors.
Most everyone who played on the CD are jazz and rock musicians. Their
performances and the song arrangements added up to a very appealing
sound. The CD is a more up-tempo direction for me, and its a
direction thats Ive rarely explored. Its less modal,
less looping, less drone, more rhythm, more syncopation and more melody.
Im not interested in being experimental just for its own sake.
I went through that phase, where I thought being unique meant sounding
weird, or dark or abstract. Theres plenty of that out music
there now, and frankly, most of the music I listen to these days,
be it classic jazz, chamber music, guitar music, modern soundtracks,
choral music, is where Im finding my inspiration. I just bought
Chrissie Hyndes new CD Valve Bone Woe, where she sings covers
with a jazz orchestra. In the liners she laments a decline in
melody in popular music and wanting to explore that area herself.
I relate to that feeling, and have admired artists like Sonny Landreth,
Terje Rypdal and Bill Frisell who focus on melody in their guitar
mwe3: You said you were concentrating on radio play over reviews
in print mags and even online web zines. Is that the way to promote
an album like This Is Where I Found You in order to reach the
most listeners? I did read a great review in Expose, the online music
review site. I think Peter Thelen, the writer, really nailed it. I
like when he said, during the time he was writing the review, that
he kept waking up with one of the melodies from the album dancing
around in his head. Is that the way you structured it, heavy on unforgettable
melodic content? Is it always a balancing act, style vs. content?
Weingarten: If Ive made any music thats memorable
to listeners then Im happy. I think Peter was referring to the
Redwood Melodies CD, which were all acoustic guitar instrumentals.
Radio has always been a good friend going back to our beginnings in
the 80s. It was indie radio that gave our albums a chance when we
were just getting started. As far as I know, the programmers who liked
our music in the past, liked this new CD. We did get "Sing Like
Water" rotated into the Sirius Spa channel, and Im certain
that Tate Bissingers vocals were the gateway.
If I had any control as to what music will be reviewed or played on
radio, Id be there. But how much exposure a recording gets depends
on connections and how familiar the writers and DJ producers are with
your music, and if they choose you over the other half dozen CDs that
just arrived in their mail or in-box. Every play is a blessing.
mwe3: You worked with Higher Level Marketing on gaining airplay
for This Is Where I Found You. Any reflections on how that
Carl Weingarten: Sherry Finzer, who runs HLM did a great job.
She keeps up with whos who in radio and made sure our music
got heard by the right programmers.
mwe3: You mentioned airplay was the main idea, possibly as
opposed to reviews and written reviews. Did HLM help you achieve your
goals in getting the airplay the album deserves?
Carl Weingarten: She helped a lot with radio, some reviews
and also with several streaming networks. It all made a difference,
but airplay is something you can at least measure.
mwe3: How would you compare This Is Where I Found You with
your 2016 album An Endless Premonition in terms of how you
approached each album?
Carl Weingarten: Endless Premonition based on a looping
style I came up where Im playing loops forward and backward
simultaneously. The effect generates these huge orchestral swells
rather than layering loops. I performed a few shows with the setup,
and after that I recorded the CD. I have a second CD worth of material,
but that got sidelined when I started working with Ulrich Schnauss,
who wanted some of those tracks for our new project.
mwe3: Would you consider making another album in the manner
of This Is Where I Found You or are you going to back to a
more experimental kind of sound?
Weingarten: Theres always going to be an experimental flavor
in my music. Right now Im doing more arranging than I have in
the past, where improvisation and the structural elements blend together
rather than say, heres the part of the song written out and
heres the parts improvised.
Im working on a new project that Im really enjoying, and
nearly all of the recording in being done in my own studio. My long
time co-producer Noah Perry, is phasing out the engineering part of
his career and is moving on. His studio was the laboratory where I
was able to host and record most of the great musicians who played
on the albums. I have always relied on the strength of collaboration,
and its been something of a loss not having that partnership.
Much the same as when I moved from St. Louis to the bay area after
working closely with Walter Whitney for so many years.
After the CD was released last year I took time to step back and get
some perspective. Im glad I did that instead of rushing into
another big project. I focused on photography for a while. Its
good to mix up and change creative gears. One art refreshes the other.
This last spring, I did an in-store performance at Vinyl Dreams in
San Francisco and that got me inspired to put down some new tracks.
At first, I thought Id keep it a small acoustic project. Perhaps
a group of signature guitar works that I could produce in my own studio.
But that quickly went out the window as the project evolved into something
a lot more interesting. Im recording songs with up to 30 tracks
of guitar parts, orchestrated with keyboard and sequencing, not counting
the tracks I had recorded and then tossed aside. The music has an
orchestral sound, but composed with just a handful of instruments.
Id compare the process to painting. Not simply adding one layer
over the other, but constantly mixing those layers to create new colors
and shapes, to the point where the finished painting has several complete
paintings hidden under the surface.
I notice in the New Age music world of 2020, that Zone
Music Reporter is very highly regarded. What do you think of ZMR and
I also noticed that Sirius XM played This Is Where I Found You
on their Spa Channel. That is interesting. Do you find that satellite
radio stations like Sirius is a good way to spread the work about
music? Are there actual people there who you can talk with?
Carl Weingarten: ZMR is a great organization that specializes
in the New Age market and helps artists connect with New Age radio
programmers. Ive gone to several of their annual concert and
awards events in New Orleans. Panomorphia won Best Groove/Chill
CD in 2012, and Life Under Stars was nominated in 2018 for
Best Instrumental CD. Sirius and other syndicated networks, like Echoes,
reach millions of listeners internationally. And we see some royalties
The relationships between DJs and musicians used to be stronger, but
once you get to the corporate or streaming media level, it becomes
impersonal. So as for Sirius, I have no direct connection. In fact
the Pandora offices are down the street from where I work in Oakland,
but they wont even allow musicians to visit their office to
deliver music. Which is why I value the direct connections I do have
with a number of independent stations and programmers I can write
or call directly, friends like John Diliberto and others, who have
featured our music since the beginning.
mwe3: You worked with some brilliant musicians on This Is
Where I Found You and theres also a great female vocalist,
Tate Bissinger singing wordless vocals on the first track, Sing
Weingarten: Tate is a professional bay area choir singer, who
has toured and performed internationally. Shes a recent graduate
of the Mills College music program. Ive always liked choral
music, but mostly through baroque and byzantine. Id seen Tate
and her sister Reece perform with the Piedmont Choir, and the music
grew on me, but it never occurred to me that I could explore that
music myself. That started to change a couple of years ago when a
visiting choir from Estonia came and Tate brought in two of the singers
to record in my studio. They were absolutely captivating. We recorded
several songs, including a traditional piece where I had Michael Manring
mwe3: You always have great album titles for your albums and
This Is Where I Found You is a quite interesting name for an
album. Is there a story behind the album name and the intriguing album
Carl Weingarten: Its an expression of discovery, of finding
something new. The photo is by German photographer Anja Bührer.
I loved her photos of children at play, and for kids everything is
new and exciting, and her images capture that.
mwe3: How did you work with Pat Duffey's acoustic guitars on
the new album? Is that the first time you worked with Pat and how
did his guitar sound pair with yours. Hes on quite a few of
the nine tracks on This Is Where I Found You.
Carl Weingarten: Ive known Pat and his wife Billie
for about 10 years. Pat is a veteran bay area jazz, blues and rock
guitarist. He and Billie, who plays bass have several bands they tour
with. Pat is a talented and versatile guitarist and is super easy
to work with. Pat and I both have roots in the blues, but my playing
has an atonal edge, while Pat tends to cut straight ahead in his tone
and phrasing. I like his playing and he added a lot to the music.
Kit Walker played quite a bit on This Is Where I Found You. What
did Kit bring to the album?
Carl Weingarten: Kit is a great player and arranger and his
synth parts complimented not only the melodies, but brightened the
tone of the music.
mwe3: Synths and acoustic guitars seem an ideal and sonorous
way to enhance your e-bow and slide work.
Carl Weingarten: The e-bow is a brilliant instrument, but its
an unmistakable, if obvious sound no matter who uses it. So I use
it sparingly these days, mostly to add color or create harmonics.
I prefer to push the amp or use compression pedals for my lead guitar
mwe3: Peter Calandra also adds synths on a track and a co-writing
credit too. How long have you known Pete and how did he enhance the
sound of This Is Where I Found You and did you record him and
the other players live in the studio or was tracking done remotely?
Carl Weingarten: Peter wrote me when he and his wife were considering
a move to the West Coast. He came over to my place and we had a great
visit, mostly about music we both liked, and his work as a composer
and soundtrack producer. I later sent him the tracks for a song we
discussed, and he finished his parts in New York, not only playing
keyboards but arranging too.
mwe3: You also have the trusted Bay Area superstars, Celso
Alberti, Jeff Oster, Michael Manring too. Are those guys still your
go-to session players? How are they doing these days? I think they
must be getting more popular by now!
Carl Weingarten: The guys are great. Celso is a renaissance
man. He plays drums for several groups and has been the sound engineer
for Dave Weckls tours. Theyre all extremely busy, but
Manring, Oster and I also have a space-jazz trio called Blue Eternity.
We play a few times a year, usually at planetarium events, where we
play in the dark under a star show.
mwe3: Ulrich Schnauss also adds synths to a track. How did
you meet Ulrich and what did he bring to the album sound?
Weingarten: We met totally by chance. Ulrich had found an old
order form online for some of my early albums. The link still worked
so his order popped up in my Paypal. I didnt recognize his name
at first, but it sounded familiar, so I did a search, found him and
remembered that I actually had of one his CDs, which I really liked.
I emailed him and he told me that he had been listening to my early
Multiphase vinyl and cassettes as he was growing up.
Ulrich is a master electronic musician. His work speaks for itself.
Hes got a full working life of commercial production work and
as a member of Tangerine Dream. He generously played on one track
for This Is Where I Found You, and we are now several tracks
in to producing a collaborative CD.
mwe3: Tell us what guitars you played on the new album as theres
both electric, acoustic and tell us about your Traveler guitar and
how does it compare with your other guitars.
Carl Weingarten: I have a custom made electric Sweetwood guitar.
My trusty Alpha electric (Gibson Studio replica) finally became untrusty
after 30 years of music making and is now proudly retired. I also
an electric Eastwood guitar that Henry Kaiser gave me, a Regal dobro,
steel resonator guitar and a Recording King parlor acoustic. I used
the traveler guitar for some of the early material on This Is Where
I Found You. It has a punchy midrange tone thats like a
mwe3: Were the guitars amped or did you record DI?
Carl Weingarten: Ill go DI if Im using an effect
or delay that I want in stereo. Or just a clean tone. Sometimes Ill
run two channels out of my rig, sending one to the DI and the other
to the amp. My main amp is an enhanced Fender Blues Junior. We built
a layer of isolation into my studio walls, so I can really turn up
in there to record. After several decades of pedal produced guitar
tones, Ive come to discover the sacred art of mastering amp
volume and tone. Its hard to beat good tube amplification.
mwe3: You also recently reissued a double CD set pairing your
2002 and 2005 albums Escapesilence and Local Journeys. Seems
like a long time ago, yet the albums still sound great. Why reissue
them now and how do you reflect back on those albums from back in
Weingarten: Looking back, there were several CDs I did over the
years where one followed another as a progression. Escapesilence
and Local Journeys were two of them. Both small group recordings
featuring the dobro. Ill be reissuing more CDs as two-for-one
packages, including The Acoustic Shadow with Blue Faith,
Slide of Hand with Redwood Melodies.
mwe3: I read my 2004 review of Hand In The Sand, which
was a 16-track collection that featured a couple tracks from the then
upcoming Local Journeys where I called you a cross between
Leo Kottke, Ry Cooder and Robert Fripp! Was there any remastering
or remixing on the double CD reissue?
Carl Weingarten: No remixing on this reissue, but others will
have some remastering and include previously unreleased material.
mwe3: Have you figured out how many solo albums you have released
so far? Amazing that it all goes back to the early 1980s when you
consider the Delay Tactics releases. Of course this predates the internet
and all the bells and whistles that came along with it!
Carl Weingarten: As far as official releases, I count about
30 titles where I was the artist, producer or a collaborator.
mwe3: Is there going to be a box set at some point and are
all your album still-in-print if that term is even valid anymore?
I mean on CD of course.
Carl Weingarten: At some point Id like to release a box
set that has all the 1980s Multiphase albums and cassettes, along
with the very best of the music we never got to release, plus artwork
and a thorough history of the label, the whole nine yards. In the
mean time several of the early titles are being reissued on vinyl
by two U.K. labels, Emotional Rescue and Azure Vista Records. Emotional
Rescue reissued Dreaming In Colors last year and were
waiting for them to release a compilation of the Delay Tactics on
vinyl, and then follow with a reissue of Windfalls sometime
next year. Azure Vista reissued Living In The Distant Present last
year as well.
mwe3: We were talking in 2016 about the pitfalls of the music
business model as we move into the roarings '20s, starting in the
third decade of the 21st century. Is there too much emphasis on style
over content these days? I grew up in the 1960s when all we had was
the weekly edition of Billboard magazine, which basically was the
only way to even know what was going on outside of Top 40 AM radio.
I don't even know if there were jazz radio stations in NYC during
the 1960s. lol
Weingarten: I went through a box of old independent music magazines
and indie journals from the pre internet days. Magazines like OP,
Option, New York Rocker and others. Aside from the articles, even
the ads show what a vibrant scene it was.
I think its safe to say the internet has not turned out as the
utopia that was originally predicted. Where the music business is
concerned, it rapidly accelerated the speed of marketing, being able
to reach more people in a very short period, as compared to traditional
press and radio. Up to that point, it used to take a lot of work to
promote a new recording, which was all done through the post office,
telephone calls, live shows and word of mouth. The internet made all
of the above too easy, and now the market is over saturated.
It also goes to why the record store concept is still thriving. Its
one of the few places where music lovers can go where much of the
music universe is laid out right in front of them in rows of bins.
mwe3: So now with your finest album out, what is the plan to
follow This Is Where I Found You? I hope you can follow this
one as its going to be a hard act to follow...
Carl Weingarten: Im very excited about the project Im
recording now, the one I mentioned before where Im playing most
everything myself. This one picks up where This Is Where I found
You left off. I hope to release it this coming spring.