Taken from Sentinel-Tribune (February 21, 2017)
Local music production team strikes a chord with Little Axe
by ROGER LAPOINTE, Sentinel-Tribune Staff Writer
Skip McDonald, known as Little Axe, performs on the Main Stage Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 during the Balck Swamp Arts Festivial.
Photo by Daniel Melograna/Sentinel-Tribune
Veteran guitarist Skip âLittle Axeâ McDonald has chosen Bowling Green for the whole package of production on his live album and newest videos. The production team built around the 12:10 record label are all Bowling Green State University graduates who have stayed in the area and worked on the album, âOne Man-One Night.â
People may not realize it, but nearly everyone has heard McDonaldâs music, as his work goes back decades. McDonald also played the Black Swamp Arts Festival this past summer.
âI was at the grocery store the other day and heard Skipâs Telecaster (guitar) on âRapperâs Delightâ playing as the piped in background music,â said audio producer Walter McKeever, one of the BGSU grads on the production team.
The 67-year-old McDonald played those foundational hip-hop guitar licks, with Grand Master Flash, as the core house guitarist for Sugar Hill records with the group that was popularly referred to as The Sugar Hill Gang. He went on to play with Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band, Tack Head, Sinead OâConnor and many others.
With the live âOne Man-One Night,â McDonald wanted to showcase his blues roots infused with his personality, saying âAll music is one music. You canât separate blues from rock, jazz or funk. Itâs all in the interpretation.â
McDonald is a Dayton native who is back after living in London, England. He said he was glad to be recording in his home state with a team of Bowling Green recording industry veterans that knows his style and knows him.
Steve Szirotnyak, (from left) Joshua Lightle, Walter "Mac" McKeever and Matt Donahue worked on the album "Little Axe: One Man, One Night"
Photo by Daniel Melograna/Sentinel-Tribune
12:10 Records owner Matthew Donahue said, âIâm a fan. I found Skipâs music years ago, when I worked at Boogie Records (in Toledo). I found this 10-inch album âThe Wolf That House Builtâ and then I kept meeting him at Adrian Sherwoodâs label On-U Sound, in London. We hit it off.â
Locally, Donahue is known more for his position as a BGSU pop culture professor, but in the music world, he has done a good deal of work internationally. As Donahueâs label was put together, the appeal of working with the assembled specialists grew on McDonald, all of them experts in their respective fields: McKeever with audio engineering, Josh Lightle as videographer, Giles Cooper for photography and Steve Szirotnyak with layout and design. They all met through their common link with Donahue.
âOne Man-One Nightâ was recorded live at Grounds For Thought on March 28, 2015.
âItâs a great record, especially if youâre driving to Cleveland or Cincy. Itâs âOne Man-One Nightâ for a reason. Think about any of those African-American blues guys with a suitcase and a guitar, Robert Johnson style. Thatâs Skip,â McKeever said. âHeâs one guy coming into town with a guitar and a sequencer, playing for an hour. Itâs great.â
âGrinning In Your Faceâ is the second video released from the live album. McDonald turns the Son House a cappella blues classic into his own. While the original is accompanied only by Houseâs hand clapping, McDonald gives the song his â21st century blues treatmentâ without losing the spirit of the song. McKeever captures a âmodern one man against the worldâ feel that McDonald lives in.
âWalt McKeeverâs studio production welds Skipâs pre-recorded drums and bass that he controlled with foot pedals with the beautiful live expression of Skipâs guitar,â Donahue said. âCapturing that interplay, the dance, between the performer, Skip, and the live out-of-studio and then in-studio production work is rare.â
The video for âSeeing Redâ was the first released from this live album. With a laid-back blues feel, the producers say itâs classically fresh with multiple meanings, some of them intentionally political.
âItâs a comment versus a protest. Heâs not shaking his fist, seeing the conflict. Itâs the way heâs wired. With both the songs, theyâre not lovey-dovey songs,â Donahue said.
Lightle filmed and edited both videos.
âI knew that live visual of Skipâs playing at Grounds For Thought was outstanding. With only two cameras we could highlight the music, because of Skipâs history. I had no idea of his place in history during the recording, but I could see and hear it. I learned his history later,â Lightle said.
McKeever summed up the five BG friendsâ collective response to their production effort by saying, âMusic is made by groups of people celebrating.â
The new live versions of âSeeing Redâ and âGrinning In Your Faceâ can be found on YouTube Mad45TV. The CD âOne Man-One Nightâ can be found on Amazon.com and locally at Grounds For Thought.