Many may remember Charley Orlando as the front-man for the psychedelic /folk groove acoustic duo Dexter Grove, who courageously played more than 250+ shows a year for almost ten years straight. After a five year well deserved break from the road, Orlando is back, this time with his Charley Orlando Band.
Formed in December of 2007 this band has been locked up in a garage in North Syracuse relentlessly rehearsing to refine a sound that features Kiel Feher on drums, Max McKee on bass and Charley Orlando on electric/acoustic guitar, Harmonica and vocals. The sound is best described as Americana mixed with roots rock that doesn’t shy from improvisation. His new album Free World Citizen is now available for download and was released March 17th 2009 followed by a Midwest Rocky Mountain Spring Tour and Festival stops at Sterling Stage Folk Fest’ in Sterling,NY and Summer Camp in Chillicothe,IL .
You have been in the music business for quite some time, what are some of the most positive, significant changes you have experienced?
All of it really. Being a musician is an honor. Lately the 2 other members of Charley Orlando Band, Kiel Feher and Max McKee, have been my most positive experience in my career. We have such a great bond and deep spiritual connection with each other and it shows in the music and in our lives. Being able to connect with other musicians like that really raises the level of the experience. My whole outlook on life and music has really been over the top positive lately and it has to be when you write lyrics about changing the world for the better, you have to live it and really believe and we do!
How has living in upstate NY affected your life after being on the road for so many years?
At first it was tough. I went from going 500 miles an hour to 20 in a day it seemed like. I sorta kinda freaked out. I had to address some serious issue with my lifestyle and nasty habits that I had acquired on the road. I really needed a break. It’s not just the big stars that get sucked in … it’s all of us. Being on the road is a surreal experience. You live in your own bubble and the outside world doesn’t really exist. I had to relearn how to socialize with "normal" people. Most folks don’t get the inside jokes and thought process of being a touring musician. But my wife and kids really helped me adjust and now after 5 years I’m ready to go back out and hit it again.
You have worked with so many different musicians and have been involved with all types of bands, how do you feel your fans react to these changes?
During the Dexter Grove years it seemed like folks welcomed the changes and talents we pulled into the fold. You know when you do 250 shows a year it’s always good to mix it up. When I went from Dexter Grove to being a solo artists I don’t think they liked it that much. It was WAY different. It was me and my songs: very intimate, quiet, and personal stuff. Most came around to it but it was really a transition period for me. I was searching for something different and it took me five years but with the Charley Orlando Band I have found a sound, a home and two insanely talented musicians to help get it done. I do believe anyone who has been following my travels will just flip over this lineup. Plus my songwriting has never been better than it is now.
If you could share a stage with any other band or musician still alive who would it be?
Bob Dylan or U2! Either one would be a life changing experience.
In your travels, what has been the weirdest most random thing you have found?
Two come to mind … One is right here in Syracuse,NY where I was booking a show at a local venue and the owners name was Charley Orlando. Truly bizarre. The other was a friend of mine Charley, who I have known since 1988, was at a show in Albuquerque,NM that was on my birthday and it was his as well. Never knew that. Any other stories I am keepin’ to myself? Most people just wouldn’t believe me. Some really random stuff happens on the road.
What has been your favorite city to play in?
Tough call! There are some many for so many different reasons. But I’d have to say Bolinas,CA. For no other reason than that is the way life should be! Good luck finding it 😉
I know you don’t remember this, but I remember when we planted a tree at the studio in Rochester, what other things have you done to "be green" either in your personal life or while with a band?
You’re right … I don’t remember, but that was real nice of us to do. I always try to leave a minimal foot print in general, but being human is a contradiction. I use recycled shopping bags, buy local, ride my bike whenever possible(which is a lot … i love my bike) and my new album "Free World Citizen" is replicated on 100% recycled cardboard and soda and water bottles. I really wish the world would get on board more with and all digital format. It would waste a ton less.
Do you want to say anything to your fans?
Thanks for sticking with me for 20+ years. It’s only getting better!
Glide contributor Melissa Brodeur writes and works within her three passions: alternative health, music and bees by providing off-beat, creative healing methods to musicians and artist and creative minds alike. Check her out at beewellmessage.