Rock historians and music enthusiasts alike are ecstatic with the debut CD release by The Gray Lions, a new band filled with as much history as talent. Produced by Mark Hudson of the legendary Hudson Brothers and written and performed by Marc Rubinstein founder of the legendary Pig Light Show, the Gray Lions 'Run Wild' CD brings a special blend of rock, blues and boogie sure to please even the most skeptical of listeners.
Mark Hudson, well-known record producer, musician and songwriter, received notoriety as a performer, songwriter and TV personality in the 1970s. Starting out as a member of the Hudson Brothers trio, Mark achieved independent success as a record producer and songwriter working with an array of artists such as Ringo Starr, Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, Harry Nilsson, Hanson and the Baha Men to name a few. Marc Rubinstein and his Pig Light Show thrilled and amazed concert goers of the Fillmore East in NY and the Capitol Theatre in NJ in the late '60s and early ‘70s. Behind legendary bands like the Grateful Dead, Jethro Tull, Santana, Yes, Black Sabbath, Fleetwood Mac, the Allman Brothers and many, many others. Pig Light Show's visuals were like nothing ever seen before and since
When history collides... The story behind the formation of the Gray Lions is a curious one: “When my mom died I started to get back into my music,” Marc Rubinstien recalls. “My wife, Liana, saw a Sunday Morning CBS piece about Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp and suggested as a birthday present I go. In Las Vegas and I played guitar with Joe Walsh, Roger Daltry and Jack Bruce, all people I'd done light shows for, but had never jammed with. I was placed in a band with Mark Hudson as counselor. I didn't know who he was, having left the music world before The Hudson Brothers hit, so was a bit nonplussed. Someone I trusted (Thank you, Rebecca), said I would really enjoy him. We didn’t hit it off immediately or well; by the third morning I reached my limit and at a morning band meeting we got into such a screaming, cursing argument the videographer was afraid it would come to blows. After each of us blew off steam, we became fast friends and Mark asked about my music. I gave him a demo CD of originals and one of covers from many years earlier.”
Over several e-mail exchanges, Mark Hudson encouraged Marc Rubinstein to call, on New Years day 2007 he did. Starting the conversation with, “You know I can be a real bastard,” Mark Hudson raved, "I LOVED them! I've been listening to your originals on my iPod, in the car, on my stereo at home for a month and love them!" He told Marc to pick a few songs and he would shop them around, suggesting Marc go into the studio and come up with a demo of around four songs and send him a master. “I asked him to go over the list and suggest songs,” says Marc. “He said he’d get back to me in a few days,” during which Marc arranged studio time and brought in longtime music collaborator John Leight as bassist, and a new friend, Jim Landry on drums.
John, a seasoned bassist, performed with numerous bands in NYC through the years with a great reputation. Hailing from Miami, drummer Jim Landry, who calls music his passion and salvation, is best known for his work with Fool Star; a band that produced two albums and three singles, one of which went to #1 on the regional Billboard charts and for logging over a quarter-million miles in touring ten years with them.
“Mark Hudson came back to me with his list,” recalled Marc. “He couldn't decide on just four so he asked us do his 'A' list as the 'real' songs and his 'B' list as his quirky favorites. One of these was a song I had just written, 'Years Of Gold', my first new song in 23 years...and the first of 147 I would complete that year.”
The night before that recording session's rehearsal was a bit rough. Jim kept time on a tambourine. But the first song in the studio...was magic! Every song was a once-through then recorded in one take. All seven songs were bagged, tagged and put to bed. A trio of loosely connected musicians walked into The Studio in Portland, ME. The Gray Lions walked out. Mark Hudson’s reaction was simply, “...this band ROCKS! BIG TIME!”
Nearly a year later Marc Rubinstein decided a complete CD was needed and Mark Hudson cleared his hectic schedule to focus on the Lions. “Mark was set to get a midnight train after attending a book signing party with friend Steven Tyler,” Marc Rubinstein related. “Steven got a call: Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford was in the emergency room in Boston with a brain aneurism. That Summer's Aerosmith tour due to start ten days after our recording, so both Mark and Steven ran up to Boston. Mark called with updates but knew he wouldn't make it till the next night…if at all. We went into the studio on that Friday morning to lay basic tracks without Mark. Mark showed up at two o'clock, Saturday morning, in Steven's black Mustang, lent him so he wouldn't have to cancel on us.”
A week later, all of the basic tracks were complete. When Mark Hudson returned home for a couple of days before accompanying Steven Tyler on the first leg of the Aerosmith tour, his blog noted, “I went to Maine in June and worked with a band, The Gray Lions, and had a blast! ...Marc Rubinstein has a guitar sound that once you hear it you’ll always know it’s him.”
Steven's August fall from stage and his request for Mark to stay with him during recovery so they could start on Steven's book delayed The Gray Lions CD completion. It wasn't till March Mark was back in Portland with the Lions. Then May saw the last sessions to finish Hudson’s backing vocals, keyboard and backing guitar tracks, as well as the rough mixes. Then Mark's involvement in the VH-1 series of Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp and other commitments kept him from returning in June to finish.”
“Mark's work to that point was very thorough, and his intent clear. We had little difficulty finishing, though I know he planned a number of tweaks and automated fades and effect transitions we couldn't do. His handiwork is firmly and indelibly imprinted on our sound, and I know he is very proud of his work with us.”
“Even though a lion can get older and gray...they still are the King of the Jungle!” exclaimed Mark Hudson.
The new CD... with influences that include The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Bob Dylan and Santana, The Gray Lions draw upon collective experience and broad influences to bring you rock 'n' roll music that is, strangely, both new and timeless. Their mission; to take rock music to a new level of “classic” - in all meanings of the word. The Gray Lions have experienced, studied and lived music, creating their own sound, offering a fresh blend of perpetuity and new unique style. Their music appeals to anyone who appreciates rock 'n' roll – period!
We had no particular concept when we first got together,” Marc explains. “Later The Gray Lions was an in-band joke: I live in the town of Gray where we first got together, we are getting gray, and at least two of us sport pretty gray manes. With this CD we sort of mark our piece of ground and roar, "We still ROCK! Watch out, we remain dangerous!”
“We are like Lions,” says Jim Landry, “in that as we've come of age (musically), we've not lost the energy of our youth.”
Individually, each member of The Gray Lions has toured extensively, playing for their living, and spent countless hours in recording sessions. Like the mightiest of lions, they continue to roar proudly despite years on the hunt, and the “pride” they've created intend to dominate the territory they now call home.
The Gray Lions 'Run Wild' CD is available as downloads from iTunes, Amazon and both downloads and CDs are available through the Nimbit store on their website.