Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Michael Ubaldini bounces back with new band
Photo credit: Jesse Navarro
Note: This story was first published on The Orange County Register's Soundcheck blog on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010.
When Michael Ubaldini was rushed to the hospital last Thanksgiving, suddenly unable to stand or move his left hand or arm, little did he realize he was in for the biggest challenge of his life: a series of tests revealed that the Orange County musician was suffering from a heart-valve infection known as endocarditis.
“One doctor said, ‘There is a chance you won’t be able to play (guitar) and walk,’” Ubaldini recalled during a recent interview. “(But) on Christmas Day, my left hand opened up and I was able to play guitar. I bounced back so fast, they thought it was a miracle.” He was hospitalized for six weeks and underwent subsequent physical therapy to complete his recovery.
Less than a year after he fell to the floor while grabbing a vinyl LP to play after dinner, Ubaldini will unveil his new band, dubbed Michael and the Lonesome Playboys, this Friday (Oct. 22, 2010) at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, where the group will open for the Blasters and Wayne “The Train” Hancock. The show also marks the first chance longtime Ubaldini fans have to hear this new group’s material live or to pick up its wonderful debut, Last of the Honky Tonks.
The disc features 14 Ubaldini-penned songs that blend together the sound and spirit of Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Buck Owens and Hank Snow, with highlights including the confessional “Cross Country Ride,” the beautiful “Highway Ghost” and the rousing “Shambles.” All of it complements yet contrasts the roots-rock the Fountain Valley songwriter has become known for in the past decade, capped by his superb 2009 release Portable Record Player.
“I want to lay waste to this fake, studio-created country music,” Ubaldini says, noting that just because a recording has fiddle or pedal steel guitar doesn’t make it real country music. “It’s like someone selling you a car and then giving you a bicycle.”
Although Ubaldini’s influences can be heard in spades across Last of the Honky Tonks, the album primarily marks another dynamic showcase for his strong songcraft. “This is not a retro record,” he insists. “The songs are original. It’s just got the feel of the old-styled country.”
The Lonesome Playboys recorded most of these songs last October, returning to Adamos Recording in Westminster to complete the set in July 2010. “Everything was recorded live — no overdubs,” Ubaldini declares, noting that the technique he and the band employed evokes the in-the-raw studio sides cut at Chess and King Records in their heyday.
“The ironic part, before I started this record, (is that) I wanted to do this as a fresh start. Now, all that has happened with my recovery, it truly was a new beginning.”
Locals who want a copy of Last of the Honky Tonks before it goes on sale via iTunes and Amazon.com in mid-November — and can’t make it to Ubaldini’s gig Friday night — Pepperland Music in Orange (at 850 N. Tustin St.) is currently selling it.
Michael Ubaldini opens for the Blasters and Wayne “The Train” Hancock at 8 p.m. this Friday, Oct. 22, at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, in San Juan Capistrano. Tickets are $24.25, including service fees, via Ticketmaster, or $18 at the box office. Call 949-496-8930.