THE MUSIC, LYRICS AND MUSE
Roman Rhodes and the Born Again Pagans
Singer Songwriter World-Folk: North Americana combining a unique blend of Asian, African and Western instruments and melodies with powerful 60s folk-rock, lyric based songs, best summed up as Alternative World Roots.
Rains Themes From Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall, or CCR’S Who’ll Stop the Rain?, rain has had a political connotation in western folk and rock music. But like the title of the backdrop to the cover, Zhang Yucai’s masterpiece Beneficent Rain, rains are also giving and healing. Think of the Loving Spoonful’s Rain on Roof or Prince’s Purple Rain. Rain gives life, fills our rivers and lakes, and waters our gardens. Rains are both the sweet life giving waters and the destructive flood-makers. This album pays tribute to both these roles, taking up old political themes, trying to waken the revolutionary spirit of the 60s by clearly labeling the disruptive forces in our society: the arms dealers, power brokers, and ultra rich, as the demonic dragons of destruction, while simultaneously referring to the power of our own hearts to heal and grow with The Sweet Waters of love. And of course there are the themes of rain and heartbreak: The Eurythmics’ call for love, Here Comes the Rain Again, or rainless and lack of love: The Dire Straits, Water of Love, are natural themes that cannot be ignored. All these themes emerge naturally in the songs of Rains 1.
The Born Again Pagans are a loose group of musicians from all over the world, who live, work and play weekly in bars and halls of the Kansai Area of Japan.
The musicians on the album are: Roman Rhodes: Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Banjo: is the singer songwriter for the band. From Quebec, Canada-Kyoto Japan Frank Daulton: Bass: From St.Louis -Shiga, Japan & New Zealand Tim Wiltshire: Electric Guitars, Slide Guitar Banjo. West Virginia- Yonago, Japan Larry Ransome: Jembe, Percussion. New York NY-Kyoto, Japan. Takahashi Koba: Erhu: Osaka, Japan Christopher Fryman: Trumpet: England-Canada-Borneo- Kyoto Japan John Hulaton: Trumpet: Hawaii - Nara Japan Chika Togashi: backing vocals: Akita, Japan Mark Williams : Bass on track 5 London, Osaka Japan
The Live BAND include Moray Crawford, Edinburgh, Scotland - Osaka Japan Kim Kanel: Harmonica, vocals, LA - Osaka Japan Ted Ostis: Electric Guitar: Boston- Osaka Japan Frank Daulton and Roman Rhodes
Rivers ( Vol V of The Gods The Gates and The Sweet Waters)
Roman Rhodes and the Born Again Pagans
Folk-Roots West at its World inspired best: A rich, deeply lyrical, multi-instrumented, magically unified melange of Alternative Folk, Canadian Singer-songwriter with Classic 60s Rock, Asian, Americana Country, Jazz, Pop & Blues highlights.
"Only when folk music is spiced with exotic sounds from the rest of the world does it transcend its roots and become vital again. Such is the case with Roman Rhodes and the Born Again Pagans, a band that uses folk as the first stroke of a paintbrush to realize their collage of jazz, psychedelic, and world music. There's no point in classifying them; it's best to swim in the wild waves of their [last] album The Emergent Sea and surf on the layers of visionary storytelling. " (From Jazz Corner Review of The Emergent Sea). Radio Indy said of the Pagans Music: Roman and his Pagans deliver spirited and decidedly spiritual, tunes that celebrate life and nature with a keen inventiveness, both musically and lyrically. "The Emergent Sea" offers an excellent showcase for the skills and influences of players with origins that stretch from Scotland to Japan and sundry points in between, but what ultimately makes Roman Rhodes and the Born Again Pagans' CD so effective is the cohesive, well balanced, and accessible music at its core. (Radio indy)
Jazz Times: For a band so plugged into the ‘60s, Roman Rhodes and the Born Again Pagans also feel utterly contemporary. This is mainly because Rhodes turns a blind eye to stylistic boundaries; on their latest album “The Emergent Sea,” they navigate through an assortment of varied inspirations including folk, psychedelic rock, world music, and jazz. However, the group somehow manages to stitch together their eclectic tastes in a seamless flow. It shouldn’t work but somehow the band manages to pull it off.
and All About Jazz: On the surface, Rhodes' work may recall the similarly sun-tanned acoustic pop of Jack Johnson; however, Rhodes is more adventurous and unpredictable, making listeners true believers of these Born Again Pagans. In a sense, the Pagans are the real Beach Boys because their songs truly capture the cleansing escapism provided by the surf. In a world enveloped by negativity and anger, the Pagans remind us of the beauty around us.
And of their first album RIPE: IME wrote: "A feast for the ears, mind and spirit."
RIVERS is the first out of a now in production 6 volume CD set entitled THE GODS, THE GATES AND THE SWEET WATERS. First of the SWEET WATERS couplet: RIVERS and RAINS, RIVERS delivers a decidedly more jazz-blues and world feel to the Pagan's repertoire, though all the 60s and celtic influences remain strong.
The incredible line up of musicians includes: ATSUSHI AKAZAWA: the Japan born, Celtic and Asian strings specialist from Kyoto, whose violin, bazouki, guitarlele and sanshien paying add a definite Irish music flair and Asian undercurrent to the tunes.
MORAY CRAWFORD: on Drums and percussion and harmonic. From Scotland, Moray adds a mix of celtic, Jazz and punk and traditional-rock rhythms to the album. Moray leads his own punk rock band, My-T-Hi has played in dozens of bands in the UK and Japan, including jamming with the world famous Osaka Women's band Shonan Knife.
PAUL FLEISHER: on Jazz Sax, bass clarinet, flute and piccolo. Paul is a New York city born, Japan living, Jazz musician with a number of albums to his name, has played with Joan Baez, the Doobie Brothers, Elliot Randall, and was part of the original band for broadway musical Jesus Christ Superstar. He has recorded with Kenny Barron, Bob Cranshaw and Al Foster. Again Paul's inventive and inspired winds bring both a magical 60s and sultry jazz feel to the album.
JOHN HULATON: on trumpet: Hawaiian born composer, voice actor, radio announcer, came to Japan with the Hawaiian orchestra and stayed. He has professionally composed all genres of music, but specializes in classical and jazz. Jazz Pianist Dr. Phillip Strange and Drummer Larry Marshall devoted a special filmed live tribute to his music in Osaka in 2010.
TETSUO KONDO: Bass is a regular in numerous jazz bands around the Kansai area. He add a warm and creative wood bass and driving dancing electric bass to the CD.
ROMAN RHODES: From Quebec, Canada, is the founder and songwriter for the Pagans. Over 200 songs to his name, he has written for the Canadian celtic band Orealis and professionally produced plays, and had his songs sung by choirs at the World Parliament of Relgions in Spain. Rhodes provides guitars, both electric and acoustic, guitarlele, banjo, bass and keyboards on this album. Again he fuses a wealth of influences into a complete unified whole, on his mission to bring back the concept album to new heights, and reinfuse meaning into contemporary pop music. With more powerful and distinctive vocals, this album aspires to top the Emergent Sea, with songs both accessible and unique.
The Emergent Sea
Roman Rhodes and the Born Again Pagans
Rich, real vocals, instruments, and arrangements, that carry you away and bring you back energized and inspired, like body surfing your soul in cool waves on a hot day; lyrics full of intent and vision "A feast for the ears, mind and spirit," (I.M.E)
Please Feed the Pagans
Roman Rhodes is the stage name of the persistently prolific Singer Songwriter of the Born Again Pagans. With over 200 songs to his name and the ability to write in almost any style, he is a veritable goldmine for any publisher, agent, or company with the intelligence to cultivate but not strip mine… were these The Good Old Days! Humorous and intelligent, he is one of the few on the planet fully understanding and able to expound on the Pagan worldview, in other words he’s Nobody. But then so was Odysseus. Here are some excerpts from an interview with Rhodes by the B.B.C. (Please note: that is the entirely unknown Barely Broadcasting Couch BBC and not the world famous British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC.)
BBC: Why do you use the name Roman Rhodes?
RR: Well my mother was a piano teacher, and her father a pianist, so as the music seemed to come from that side of the family, I thought I’d honor it by using her maiden name.
BBC: And you were a teacher of Roman History at University in Montreal, so the Roman comes from that, I suppose?
RR: That’s right. The play on words: Roman/Roaming, seemed appropriate in theme to my troubadour, country-Celtic-folk-roots style of music, and the highly straight (read mainly acoustic in this case) high quality roads of the Romans, added to the name choice.
BBC: So you feel your music will last as long as the Roman roads?
RR: I like the way your eyebrows arch as you say that, you could work for the real BBC.
BBC: (Laughs.) RR: It was not my intention to arrogantly suggest my work will last long, hell its not even lasting short yet! But it is my aim to make well-crafted music. I didn’t say I achieved it, but I do aim for it. BBC: Well I think you have achieved it with this album. There is no song that is a let down from first to last; lyrical, rich and lovely. RR: Thanks. And that was a much nicer eyebrow arching this time. BBC: Thanks. What do you think of the couch? RR: Its inflatable isn’t it? One of our ex-Pagan bass players would love it. BBC: What band is he in now?
RR: His own: Dutch Wife.
BBC: How do you describe your music?
RR: Oh these classifications are impossible to fit into. Yes its folk, but it also has jazz, blues, classical, medieval, Celtic, Cuban, 60s rock and now even traditional Japanese influences.
BBC: Who would you say are your biggest influences? RR: I was advised not to go there, but to insist on my uniqueness. BBC: Advised by who? RR: By you before the interview. BBC: Oh right. … Well ignore that. RR: Ha....briefly: I grew up with classical and 60s folk& rock. But later got into early Jazz and especially world, especially Irish, Latin American and some west Mali Bands.
Who are the Pagans? The pagans are a loose group of tight musicians (some drink a bit too) who have played in the bars, halls, hotels, and festivals around Japan for the last 10 years. They all have other bands, day-jobs, and multiple talents, as well as songs for a half a dozen albums. So support them by buying their CDs so they can bring you more! Feed the pagans!
How about some names? Of course, Long term pagans are:
Origin: West Virginia/ 12 years with Pagans / Own band: Guano Plays on album: Electric Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Fiddle, Slide etc. Style influences: 60s rock/ blues/ country/ soul / Celtic
Moray Crawford Origin: Scotland/ 10 years with Pagans / Own band: My-T-Hi Plays on album: Drums/ percussion Style influences: Punk, Rock, Celtic
Atsushi Akazawa Origin: Kyoto/ 10 years with Pagans / Various bands. Plays on album: Violin /Sanshien. Style influences: Celtic and Nordic fiddle, Okinawan traditional
On CD & for occasional lives
Masahiko: teacher Origin: Kyoto, Japan/ 4 years occasional shows w. Pagans/ Own band Instrument: Bass/ Style influences: Jazz & J-pop
Christopher Fryman-Documentary filmmaker Origin: Japan via England-Canada-Borneo/ Plays occasionally with Pagans / Own band: various/ Plays on album: trumpet. Style influences: Gypsy/ avant guard
Paul Fleisher: Jazz Musician
Origin: New York City/ This CD and Ripe/ Own band: Paul Fleischer Quartet Plays on album: Flute/ Piccolo/ Bass Clarinet Style influences: Jazz/ 60s rock(played back-up with Doobie Brothers)
John Hulaton: Composer Origin: Hawaii/ This CD/ Various bands. Plays on album: Flugel Horn/ Trumpet. Style influences: Jazz, Hawaiian, Pop & Classical
What’s a Pagan? The word Pagan comes from the Latin pagani. It simply means people of the countryside, referring to the fact that in the West, Christianity first took hold in the cities and the people of the countryside (the farmers, herders and fishers) continued to believe in the old ways and gods. Actually, however, all our civilization--our laws, politics, literature, science, math, architecture, art, history, philosophy, and even religion—has its roots in Paganism, Greek, Roman, Celtic, Germanic and well world.
Born Again Pagan?
BBC “Do most people laugh when you call yourself a Born Again Pagan?”
RR: “Yup.” BBC: “Does that bother you?”
RR: “No, that’s the idea. Laughter is a key part of Paganism. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed it chased away evil. It’s people who take their religion too seriously who do the most harm in the world. As that old Pagan, Lao Tsu said: ‘If they don’t laugh, then it isn’t the true way.’ ” (Tao Te Ching 41) BBC: “So its just a joke?” RR: “I didn’t say that, I said its funny. But then so is life…if you take the right perspective. Anyway, Nothing in life is just! See: not even the word just mean just just. There is also the point that the Renaissance (or rebirth) was the rediscovery and reawakening of Greek and Roman knowledge in Western culture. So in fact, all modern western civilization is a Born Again Pagan civilization.”…. After all, it is Pagans who believe in reincarnation, so they should have the right to use the term born again. (Barely Broadcasting Couch interview 1/4/2009) The full interview will be posted at www.romanrhodes.com under blog.
The Emergent Sea 4:540:00/4:54
The Horizon 4:180:00/4:18
E i E i Oh 4:480:00/4:48
A Man Once Called Me 2:250:00/2:25
Plastic Fire Hats 4:400:00/4:40
She Sells Seashells 4:400:00/4:40
Ocean Sunset 5:160:00/5:16
Eclipse of the Earth 6:200:00/6:20
Umi/The Sea 4:380:00/4:38
Roman Rhodes & The Born Again Pagans
Folk Roots West at its alternative World inspired best: A skillful mix of Country-Celtic-Blues-Roots with a rich blend of classical, and world instrumentation.
"I tasted this CD first with my ears and then with my mind and spirit. It was a feast. A banquet that fed me and gave me my fill….I hope that when you listen to this, you will be converted to Roman Rhodes's brand of à la carte ear-bud-tingling music!" From IME review.
Folk Roots West at its alternative World inspired best: A skillful mix of Country-Celtic-Blues-Roots with a rich blend of classical, and world instrumentation."Like a flashing, shimmering silver wall Jumping like lightening up a waterfall..."
The compositions, words & world view of Roman Rhodes with the vivacity, virtuosity and potency of the Pagans.... "Will clear you head like a forest fire, wake your mind with the waking dreams sparking like a real live wire..."
RIPE is a collection of some of the favorite audience songs from the Pagans 4-year stint at the famous Dubliner’s Irish Pub in Osaka’s Soemoncho district from 1999 til 2003, when it shut down. An eclectic album, which aims at show casing some of the various styles and talents of the world ranging band of ex-pats and Japanese nationals.The band comprises of many multi-talented international musicians, including:
-Paul Fleisher the incredibly inspired wind instruments player of New York City who, in his long career, has played with the
Doobie Brothers, Joan Baez, Randall Elliot and was part of the original Broadway Musical production of Jesus Christ Superstar. His soaring flutes, sultry sax and piercing picolos bring both 60s rock and jazz elements to the songs. -Atsushi Akazawa, the Celtic and Asian strings specialist whose violin, bazouki, guitarlele and sanshien paying add a definite
Irish music flair and Asian undercurrent to the tunes. -Tim Wiltshire, a West Virginian multitalented musician, who grew up playing with many funk and soul bands, whose haunting
slide guitars, driving electric guitars, harmonica and banjo playing add a strong country, 60s rock and bluegrass feel to the album. -Classical oboist Reiko Daimon -Chris Howe, American recording specialist who provides the drums and bass, along with Hawaiian composer John Hulaton. -Newfoundlander Bill Karney on jembe. And of course: -Roman Rhodes, the Pgaan's singer songwriter, who has the vocal and lyrical depth of Gordon Lightfoot with the popular power of Neil Young. Himself a Canadian, he is on a one-man mission to bring deeper meaning and breadth back into music with poetical lyrics and both political and spiritual undercurrents in music that is beautiful, moving and yet fun. As he writes in the 2nd song Snake Eyes: "Don’t blame the knowledge tree When it’s ignorance, fear and greed..." His songs will: "Will heal your mind and heal your soul, Jump in it, drink it, it will make you whole..." Rhodes brings a celtic, Canadian folk, and blends many other influences into these songs through his soul filled vocals, guitars ,banjo, bass and keyboard playing.
Reviews Tantalising the tastebuds in my ears! You go for a walk and discover something beautuful that you have never seen before and you tell yourself that you must share this place with someone who means a lot to you. Well, one day, I wandered down a musical highway and sighted a CD with a rather homemade-looking cover. I tasted this CD first with my ears and then with my mind and spirit. It was a feast. A banquet that fed me and gave me my fill.
It is rare, and indeed serendipitous to come along such a find. This is especially true in a musical world which is dominated by cheap jingles and chewing gum for the ears. I have to concede that this CD is probably not to everyone's taste, but those who have no interest in music with a folk feel, will be aware that this is top notch music.
I hope that when you listen to this, you will be converted to Roman Rhodes's brand of à la carte ear-bud-tingling music! IME review
Roman Rhodes, as his name suggests is a wanderer: restless, curiously aligned in spirit to the original Provencal troubadors, who really did travel on Roman roads and kept alive the light from Eleusis. Today to be a true “country” musician is to have no country but the world. All ways lead home. You can map it out in his songs. He has made his musical pilgrimages, literally and figuratively, to Ireland, Africa, and South America. And, yes, he is Canadian too, following down some of the same roads as his famous fellow émigrés. His way, however, led to Japan, where he has found his own alternative to an American life.
Born into a musical family'"his mother taught piano, his grandfather was a pianist'"songs are what he has made of this side of his inheritance, over two hundred to his name so far. Listen carefully'"the lyrics are as far ranging as the rhythms. He travels in time as well as space. He is highly literate and draws easily upon his intellectual interests; a master’s degree in Ancient History'"his father’s genes at work'"underpins his art and stance as a “born again pagan.”
Don’t let the irony fool you. He is deeply committed to a humanly reasonable but radical agenda. It won’t hurt to state it here: worship the oneness in all its myriad energies and forms, protect the earth, decry ignorance, develop your inner daemon of potential, and appreciate the sensual world as the spiritual. On such principles, he has laid down well-made tracks meant to last a long time and, in good faith, to carry you away.
Jonathan Brewer --Nara Poetry Author of Phantom City, Tonodan Press, Pasadena CA.
Red Snapdragons 5:110:00/5:11
Snake Eyes 4:100:00/4:10
Stolen Seasons 5:500:00/5:50
Clayoquot Sound 6:080:00/6:08
Ramblin' Girl 2:540:00/2:54
Wanderin' Air 3:580:00/3:58
Magic Moments 3:370:00/3:37
Bitter Black Coffee 4:360:00/4:36
The Lack 4:240:00/4:24