The Fullerton artist gets Fab on latest release
Millions tuned into "American Idol" over the past two weeks to see contestants on the popular TV show sing Beatles classics.
Fullerton-based singer-songwriter Timothy John Ramirez (better known by his performance moniker TJR) has just released a decidedly daring counterpart to that show's proponents, releasing "In My Life: A Piano Tribute to the Beatles."
The 7-track release marks TJR's first digital-only album and features instrumental versions of Lennon & McCartney classics such as "The Long and Winding Road," "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "She's Leaving Home," as well as a ragtime-tinged "Got to Get You Into My Life."
"Between writing and recording, it took three years to record my last album," TJR said of his 2007 disc "Another Roll of the Dice." That CD features original songs such as the bluesy folk rocker "Peace Love and Don't Trust MTV" and affecting acoustic ballad "Home to Me."
"Then I started to learn to record at home with my Apple (computer). I was tinkering with Beatles songs and thought, 'Why not record an album of this?' I became a better pianist as a result."
Although fans of TJR are well aware of his fiery and virtuoso skills playing guitar, they might be surprised to learn that his first instrument was the piano. Indeed, he was recently recruited to play keyboards in singer-songwriter Michael Ubaldini's band.
"Working on these arrangements, I wanted to make them interesting and good. I looked at this as a way to get my (piano) chops back up. It also allowed me to play with Michael (Ubaldini) too," said TJR, noting his most recent show with the acclaimed Fountain Valley artist was a St. Patrick's Day show at Fitzgerald's in Huntington Beach on March 17.
"Another Roll of the Dice" was released in September 2007 and TJR went on a tour of England, Ireland and France in October.
"In November, I started arranging the (tracks for) the Beatles CD," TJR recalled.
"I didn't want to just (mirror the original arrangement of) each song. I think most have a light classical feel."
It took five months to arrange, record and master the tracks for "In My Life: A Piano Tribute to the Beatles." Because of the high cost to issue the collection of copyrighted songs on a physical CD, TJR is offering the set as a digital album via his Web site and CDbaby.com.
And while his tribute to the Beatles will be sure to please fans of the Fab Four and piano music, his original rock songs are also worth getting a hold of courtesy of "Another Roll of the Dice" and 2003's "Mixed Emotions."
And TJR couldn't make it easier for discerning listeners to connect with his song craft.
"I want people to join my e-mail list. I give them eight free songs," he said.
TJR performs a free solo acoustic show at Fitness Grill, 103 W. Imperial Highway, Brea, from 6-9 p.m. every Thursday.
He will also perform at Lighthouse Café, 30 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach, at 11 a.m. on April 19. Admission to that is also free.