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MP3 Nick McAlley - Sunny Side Up

Happy music from Holland in Americana-Europeana style. A marriage between country, bluegrass and pop.

15 MP3 Songs in this album (55:36) !
Related styles: COUNTRY: Americana, FOLK: Appalachian Folk

People who are interested in Willie Nelson Jim Croce The Carter Family should consider this download.

Dear listener and/or reader,
These are the songs that I like, songs that inspired me, made me feel good, songs that express hope faith and love, songs that keep my sunny side up….
I’d like to tell you some stories about the history of the songs. Some of them came a long long way and as you listen to them, they start to live again. Yes in your mind and isn’t that amazing? Who made these songs up in their minds, who played them, what stories do they tell, what is their gift to you. Yes I’m a philosopher at times… But as you find out more about them you’ll begin to listen to them in a different way, more conscious I hope.
Ready for some history?
The opening tune is “Keep on the sunny side” , first recorded by the legendary Carter Family in 1928. It was their signature song. Along with Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family were one of the first country music stars. The Carter Family sang a pure, simple harmony that influenced not only the numerous other family groups of the ''30s and the ''40s, but folk, bluegrass and rock musicians like Woody Guthrie, Bill Monroe, the Kingston Trio, Doc Watson, Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris, to mention just a few. It''s unlikely that bluegrass music would have existed without the Carter Family. A. P., the family patriarch, collected hundreds of British/Appalachian folk songs and, in arranging these for recording, both enhanced the pure beauty of these "facts-of-life tunes" and at the same time saved them for future generations. Among the more than 300 sides they recorded are "Worried Man Blues," "Wabash Cannonball," "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," "Wildwood Flower," and "Keep on the Sunny Side." This song is so simple but it makes me happy every time I sing it. Makes me wanna get up and dance….

“500 Miles” is a traditional as well. It’s about a man who is painfully far away from home. It became well-known through Peter, Paul and Mary''s version on their debut album from 1962, and country-singer Bobby Bare''s crossover hit from 1963. But it was folksinger Hedy West who recorded it first. She learned this song from her grandmother, who learned it from her parents. I played this song when I was 13 years old on my first guitar. I had a music book with American traditionals and 500 Miles was one of my favourites. This song really travelled more than 100 years and 500 miles. And it’s still alive. Ever been homesick? This song knows all about it.

“Join” is my personal attempt to write a song in American folk-style. It’s about a preacher who is eager to convert you after he had a religious dream. I was inspired to write it halfway along the Afsluitdijk, the longest Dutch “dijk”, exactly at the place where they closed the “dijk” in1932. It is a place that gives me a deep feeling about myself and who I am. I don’t know why really. It just happens every time I cross it. You can hear native Canadian Mike Shannon as the “voice” of God in Johnny Cash-style. Michiel reaches the point of ecstasy with his solo guitar at the end of the song.

In the autumn of 1979 Willie Nelson recorded one of the most beautiful songs he ever wrote, “Angel flying too close to the ground”. On the 11th of December 2003 I sent him this e-mail: “Hi Willie,I''m a singer/songwriter and I recorded "Angel flying too close to the ground” for my new album "Sunny Side Up". I made a rumba-like version of this little shiny jewel of a song. The lyrics are so simple and so deep at the same time. I do a lot of gigs for linedancers here in Belgium and Holland and they love it to pieces as well as I do. If you''re interested in hearing my version I''d be happy to sent it to you. I wish you good luck and all the best for 2004”. Sincerely yours: Nick McAlley from Holland. I hope all is going well with him, cause he didn’t answer up ‘till now.

I have a new musical love in my life: the mandolin. You can hear me play it on almost each and every tune on this album. “Mandolin picker” was the first thing I learned to play on it. I grabbed the song from the internet, practiced it for a week and recorded it immediately. Dennis Hunt, one of the members of the Montana Mandolin Society wrote it. The Montana Mandolin Society was organized in 1999 as the resurrected orchestra from 1902s Bozeman Mandolin Club. With their mandolin picking they try to bridge the gap between the high-tech world of the 21st century and an era when people really took the time to appreciate musical beauty. These ‘bridgers’ are helping to revitalize one of America’s most charming musical traditions, the mandolin orchestra. This is my humble contribution to the “bridging”…

Do you know what a nickelodeon is? The introduction of film in the late 1890s first sparked the creation of "Nickelodeons" - flat floored structures with little ornamentation that projected early short silent films quite cheaply. Nickelodeons often mixed films with other forms of entertainment, and used bed sheets as projection screens with a loud piano accompaniment to drown out the noise of the projector. “The old nickelodeon sound” reflects my own sense of not belonging in our modern, relatively unromantic world. "I guess I’m an old-fashioned dreamer, Walking the streets on my own. Out of date like an old-fashioned steamer, No longer feeling at home..." It’s a song from the band Sailor from their first album in the mid 1970’s. I was a huge fan of their music then. Last year I saw the band perform in Belgium. They bring their version of a nickelodeon on stage and 2 of the members play on it from each side. Their act is still as good as in the 70’s.

I sang the Bellamy Bros song “Native American” on every performance from 1996 until now. Playing on my flute and singing about all the native American tribes, gives me the native American feeling. I wanna fly where the eagle has been, I wanna dance with the wolf my friend….. I joined a few sweat lodge ceremonies, smoked the pipe and prayed and sang in the Lakota language in Holland. I really feel a connection with the native people of America, just like you probably…

“New moon” is a song of hope, with a shamanistic feel to it. It’s one of the 4Bow & McCale songs that never reached the stage. Too beautiful to remain on a shelf forever. “There are times when we all need love and care even when we’re not sure if tomorrow it’s still there, look at the new moon, even though you cannot see her she is waiting just to show her face once more…” And many thanks to Rob Van Duuren, who plays the pedal steel as good as ever.

“Never giving up on love” is a song I’d love to do for a linedancing audience. Specially for all those fanatic linedancers, this one is for you all. It’s written by Michael Smotherman, who wrote hits for Ray Charles, Glen Campbell, Brooks & Dunn, Bonnie Raitt and this song for Michael Martin Murphey. He also played in the Roger Miller Band for years.

“Hope, faith and love” is a song written by Steve Forbert, born and raised in Meridian, Mississippi, the hometown of the father of country music Jimmie Rodgers. Like a lot of other talented singer/songwriters who happened to play acoustic guitar and a harp-on-a-rack, Forbert was hailed by critics and promoters alike as yet another “next Dylan”. Nowadays he brings the Jimmie Rodgers songs back to life. And I try to bring this song back to life. I love the lyrics a lot. I can feel them from the bottom of my heart.

Mike Shannon wrote his first song “Peaches on a cherry tree” when he was 14 years old back in Canada. I played it with a special C tuning on the guitar, some bass and of course some mandolin. I closed harmony with myself and it became my first acoustic song. Close your eyes and enjoy this little stillpoint.

I love country music, but I like folk, bluegrass and pop music as well. All those influences can be heard on this album. On the happy folksong “Shangrila” you hear me play the accordion, the day after I bought this heavy machine. Reminds me of my dad playing it when I was a kid. I love the sound. I wrote this song for the love of my life Lieve, it’s about us honey, ‘cause here we are - you and I together in our Shangri La. But what is a Shangrila? In his famous book " Lost Horizon", James Hilton narrated a fictitious tale in which an airplane crash landed near a river bed, in the early 1920s. The surviving passengers came across some Buddhist monks from a nearby temple and sought their help. They took them to a monastery which was very beautiful and filled with all sorts of fruits. The monks looked quite young although they claimed to be hundreds of years old. The idyllic place was called Shangrila, a Chinese word meaning "Heaven on Earth". On the recording you can hear the Tibetan bells and singing bowl.

“I got a name” is my all-time favourite Jim Croce’s song. Jim, the tough-tender storyteller and philosophic realist - though he didn''t write "I Got a Name" - sang it as though he had. In the song are two of the most fantastic sentences I ever heard in a song. The first one: “I got a name- and I carry it with me like my daddy did – but I’m living the dream that he kept hid” That’s so true in my case and maybe in yours too. And the other one:”I’ve got a song – and I carry it with me and I sing it loud – if it gets me nowhere I’ll go there proud” . That sums up my feelings about this album. I recorded it with a passionate drive, I sing it out loud at every concert, but if it gets me nowhere I’ll go there proud. And happy and grateful that I got my music in me.

I closed my first album “Wanna stay connected” with an instrumental. This time I’d like to close with a mandolin and banjo duel. I call it “Mandolomania”. There are three themes. There’s a funny story about the first one, the “Duelling Banjos”. In 1973, Arthur Smith and banjoist Don Reno instigated legal action against Warner Brothers Records over the use of "Duelin'' Banjos" as the theme music for the movie Deliverance. They claimed that the music was based on a tune called "Feudin'' Banjos", written by Smith and recorded by them in 1955. After approximately two years of legal wrangling they won the case, received damages and legal rulings about future royalties. "Duelin'' Banjos" was named Best Country Music Song Of The Year in 1973. The next theme is Egyptian Reggae, a banjo hit for Jonathan Richman in 1977. The third theme I made up myself to do some fun stuff on the mandolin. For the linedancers: you can dance “Porushka Poranya” to it, starting when the bassdrum comes in.

Okay, one “encore” for you all. I started in a sunny mood and I’d love to end in a sunny mood as well with “I can see clearly now”. Yes, it’s gonna be a bright , bright Sun-Shiny day. Whenever I feel down, this song brings me up. Enjoy the music and keep your sunny side up!

As a last bonus I added a little videoclip in which you see me live in the “Pony Express Station” in Grote Brogel –Belgium, in Dansschool DD in Assendelft – Holland, and on the island Texel in De Koog. Maybe you see yourself dancing out there too. It’ll give you an impression of the songs on this album live on stage. It’s in wma format for use on the computer with Windows Media Player.

I’d like to thank you for listening. Hope you enjoyed it. All the lyrics and photos are on my website https://www.tradebit.com. See you around…

Nick McAlley

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