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Our New Christmas Album is Out! 

Each year, we pledge to begin work on our Christmas songs early. Each year, we fall short of our goal and find ourselves in an all-too-familiar predicament, working through the Thanksgiving weekend to put the finishing touches on our latest musical creations. (This year had a bit of twist in the culinary department: Chinese takeout on Turkey Day.) 

The challenge, of course, is finding inspiration to write about snow and eggnog and presents under Der Tannebaum when it’s a balmy 90 degrees Fahrenheit in downtown Los Angeles. 

Nonetheless, we did it! And our latest album “Home for the Holidays” is available for downloading at 23rdhr.com (streaming will be available Dec. 10 or thereabouts). 

As always, we have included some classics and are introducing some new original tunes. 

“Get Me Home for the Holidays” was co-written with Caley Rose, another resident of the greater L.A. basin.

Songwriting is a craft, like any other. It requires practice, diligence, the ability to review and edit your work objectively. And sometimes, a song just seems to fall from the sky. I believe the entire co-writing process on this number was about 2 hours.  It began with a guitar riff from George (our usual starting point), and the lyrics and melody just seemed to fall in place. 

For recording, Caley also takes the lead on the vocals, with Sherry adding harmonies. Sherry and George performed and arranged all the instrumentation (both real and virtual instruments). And Sherry produced this masterpiece, which includes 85 separate tracks. We figure she spent 100 hours in the process. Much of this was a learning curve for her, with many lessons learned. But she is now a bonafide L.A. record producer.

Sometime during the summer, Sherry and George were kicking around some ideas for another original song. We love the slow, melancholic ballads and decided to try our hand at crafting one of these. 

The end result is “Christmas Feels Lost Without You.” 

Once again, the arrangement was by George, based on a guitar riff he had kicking around, and Sherry handled all the production. She put all her learnings from the work on “Get Me Home for the Holidays” to practice, and, thankfully, she was able to polish this one off in far less time. 

“O Holy Night” is a classic hymn performed in a late-night jazz cabaret style, with just George on piano and Sherry on vocals. 

For “Ave Maria,” we stuck to the traditional Schubert melody and style. This number also includes just George on classical guitar and Sherry’s mellifluous voice. 

If you’ve been following our music for the past two years, you’ll recognize “Let A Day Together Be Christmas” and “Have You Noticed the Season?” These tracks are remastered as part of this package. 

We would like to thank Caley Rose for her contributions to our new offering. 

And, as always, a shout out to our friends at StudioPros for mastering our tracks. We’ve been working with Kati O”Toole and the gang at StudioPros for many years now. Kati handles our frantic last-minute requests with aplomb and she and the team always come through for us.

The birth of Deadweight 


It was a cold but clear Sunday 45 years ago when five teenage boys descended the back stairs into the basement of the Methodist Church in Madison, Maine. They lugged various pieces of musical equipment: amplifiers, guitars, microphones, stands, cables, drums.

Three of the boys were from Madison High School and had played together in the past. They were:

Rick Demchak, lead vocals and rhythm guitar

Larry Vigneault: Lead guitar and background vocals

Arthur LeBlanc: Bass and background vocals

The other two were from a different school in another town
and this was an implicit audition for them.

Mark Myers, the drummer, was essentially a shoe-in. He had his own gear and had been playing semi-professionally for a few years already.

George Paolini, keyboards, guitar, harmonica and vocals, was a different matter. He had no equipment (other than a harmonica) and was an unknown quantity, having recently moved to the area.

(The five lads had been brought together by impresario Mike Poland, the only witness to the day's event.)

Arthur was kind enough to lend George some gear for the occasion. So they set up and began to go through the paces, including: Johnny B. Goode, Blue Suede Shoes, First I Look at the Purse (J. Geils version), Country Roads, Sounds of Silence.

During a break, Rick and Arthur gave George a few tips on how to play rock progressions on the guitar. It appeared the jury was still out as to whether George was up to the task of playing in the band.

And then Larry, the coolest member, who looked a lot like John Lennon and played his Fender Jazzmaster like Jimi Hendrix, had a few questions of his own for George. Did he know any Tull? (As in Jethro.) Any Cooper? (As in Alice.)

George faked his way through the interview. But there was an old upright piano nearby, and George walked over and pounded out a few riffs from Grand Funk Railroad’s Mean Mistreater.

And George was in.

Rick then suggested it was time to decide on a band name, because there was a sock hop at the junior high school in two weeks and the gig was for the taking.

Arthur had a couple ideas. The first one was voted down because it sounded too much like The Kinks and the second one was something akin to "Purple Curtain" which everyone said was nowhere near as cool as Velvet Underground, which, of course, was already taken.

They kicked around a few other ideas and began to riff on the word “Dead,” which was unmistakably cool. If any of them thought this term might  invoke copyright infringement from The Dead (as in Grateful), nothing was verbalized.

And so they settled on Deadweight. Not The Deadweight and certainly not The Deadweights. Just Deadweight. One word.

They played the gig at the sock hop, netting $9 apiece. In the newspaper, the band was billed as The Rick Demchak Trio, which was a running joke for sometime thereafter.

They did many other gigs for the next couple years and became, unequivocally, the second best rock band in the Madison-Skowhegan area.

The No. 1 group was the Craig Barnaby Blues Band. For the record, there were no other bands in the area.

-- George