Chrissie Hynde debuts new musical project, JP, Chrissie and the Fairground Boys, for KCRW live session
Chrissie Hynde has been sneaking around Los Angeles for the last few days, doing quiet, low-key shows for small crowds curious as to what the heck this new project of hers -- JP, Chrissie and the Fairground Boys -- is exactly.
On Monday night, they performed at Bardot in Hollywood; on Tuesday night, she and a pared-down version of the band appeared at Apogee's Berkeley Street Studio in Santa Monica to record a live session for DJ Chris Douridas' show on KCRW-FM (89.9).
Because this was a casual, intimate evening that was closed to the public -- the majority of the crowd were major KCRW donors invited as a reward for supporting the station -- it'd be bad karma to actually review the private performance.
The trio were laid back and a touch unpracticed, but the chemistry was there, which led many to wonder whether she and this JP Jones fella had something going on behind the music. Hynde and the young Welsh singer, guitarist and producer were making googly eyes at each other most of the night, and the flirty smile she flashed at Jones was an indicator that the two were, well, smitten. (Word is there had been some public displays of affection at the Bardot.)
We got our first piece of evidence when Hynde, that gorgeous lilt of a voice in perfect form, started singing "Perfect Lover," a pretty, open song with the refrain, "I've found the perfect lover/but he's half my age." Another song Hynde introduced as the story of how the two met, and near the end in a funny moment of banter, Jones mentioned something about babies before quickly retreating -- only to be met with an awkward bit of silence from Hynde and a quick start into the next song.
But it is not our place to speculate on the love life of one of rock and roll's great singers (though that's exactly what we just did). Rather, we'll celebrate the fact that Hynde and the pair closed with a cover of Bon Iver's "Skinny Love," and move on to give a shout-out to the amazing producer, engineer and mixer Bob Clearmountain, who played host for the evening at Apogee's Berkeley Street Studio.
Owned by Apogee Electronics, which makes studio hardware and software, the studio hosts many private events; Clearmountain sits on the company's board, and manned the mixing board during the evening's session.
In his illustrious career, Clearmountain has engineered music by Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, the Cure ("Just Like Heaven"), Paul McCartney and Hynde's Pretenders, among many others. Before the night's performance, he talked with Pop & Hiss about the studio, and the vintage Neve 8068 mixing board that is the centerpiece of the studio.
He had fallen in love with the board when he worked at the legendary Power Station recording studio on New York, and when he and Apogee were looking to outfit the Santa Monica studio, Clearmountain started looking for a Neve. He found one for sale, and it turned out to be the exact one that had been at the Power Station -- where it had been used to record the Pretenders' "Don't Get Me Wrong" (as well as Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" and dozens of other hits).
Clearmountain and a team of engineers installed the board and augmented it with Apogee's state-of-the-art electronics hardware. The result, when connected into the big sound stage at the studio, makes for quite the vision when encased in Berkeley Street Studio.
How does it sound, though? You can find out when the JP, Chrissie and the Fairground Boys' KCRW session is played at 1:30 p.m. Saturday during Douridas' show. (And you can let us know whether our speculation on Hynde and Jones is accurate or not.)
-- Randall Roberts
Photos: JP, Chrissie and the Fairground Boys. Credit: Randall Roberts / Los Angeles Times