By Michael Lello
When Philadelphia is discussed – especially Philadelphia sports – the word “passion” is often thrown around quite freely. So it is not surprising to hear the passion in David Uosikkinen’s voice when The Hooters drummer talks about his “In The Pocket” project, which spotlights essential Philly tracks, played by Philly musicians.
And it’s not too shocking to hear that sports helped inspire it.
“The Phillies, they won the World Series, and the city was just rockin’,” Uosikkinen recalls of returning to Philadelphia in 2008. “When I left Philly to live in California, it was just a big city and it had cultural things going, but it didn’t feel as alive. . . . What I was feeling from Philadelphia just got me thinking.”
After talking with Dallyn Pavey, who partnered with him on the project, it was decided that “David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket: Sessions” would be made, touting the “essential songs of Philadelphia” re-recorded by some of Philly’s finest, including members of The Hooters, Patty Smyth, Soul Survivors, Jeffrey Gaines, Jim Boggia, Tommy Conwell and Schoolly D.
In addition to the album release, the project includes a documentary film and video clips accompanying each song, which explain not only the history behind the song but also offers a behind-the-scenes look at the tune getting the “In The Pocket” treatment. (The videos can be viewed at http://songsinthepocket.org/).
A CD-release show at the Ardmore Music Hall earned rave reviews, and Uosikkinen and company will play another concert this Saturday, May 17, at Havana in New Hope, Pa.
The Ardmore show was “beyond my expectations,” Uosikkinen said, with most of the album contributors taking the stage. Saturday’s show will be a bit different, he said, with his friend and former Bob Dylan bassist Kenny Aaronson scheduled to join the band. Guitarist T.J. Tindall, whose credits include The Trammps classic “Disco Inferno” as well as work with The O’Jays and Robert Palmer, will be there, as will Eric Bazillian of The Hooters and some surprise guests.
With the documentary, videos and charity tie-in with the Settlement Music School, there is an educational component to “In The Pocket.” In some cases this means introducing listeners to songs, and in other cases, it means showing the previously unheralded Philadelphia connections to famous numbers.
A relatively unknown song on the album is “All My Mondays” by Joey Wilson, whom Uosikkinen called “an esoteric, complex guy” who grew up in the city’s Brewerytown area, “one of the first guys signed to a real record contract.” In another instance, “Songs In The Pocket” includes “Disco Inferno,” a tune everyone knows, but did they know it was recorded at Sigma Sound on 11th Street?
“I would get the history lesson from those guys, too,” Uosikkinen said of the “In The Pocket” recording sessions. Tindall, for example, told him that during the days of the original sessions for “Disco Inferno,” the musicians would rotate the bandleader role, because the bandleader would be pay three times normal scale.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s show, Uosikkinen noted that the Ardmore show lasted more than two and a half hours.
“One thing I love about ‘In The Pocket’ is it’s not a jam,” he said. “I love jams, but we have a set. Nobody is reading a chart, but these are songs that we are playing. But it’s not so buttoned-up that there’s not some things that happen that are surprises on stage. It can be excited in that way, that anything can happen.”
Adding to the excitement of the Havana show, beloved WMMR DJ Pierre Robert will serve as the host.
“He is Mr. Energy and Enthusiasm, and has shown endless support for what we’ve been doing with ‘In The Pocket,’” said Uosikkinen. “What always keeps me going is the people behind it.”