You don’t need us to tell you who in the world Paul Cebar is. But we are here to let you know that the bard of the Milwaukee backbeat returns with a new CD with his crack band The Milwaukeeans.
“Tommorow Sound Now For Yes Music People,” released on Cebar’s own Groovesburg Joys label is top-loaded with dance music informed by one of the most curious and open musical minds around. There’s Cuban percussion, down home Southern soul, African guitar runs and Cebar’s own bluesy voice.
From the gritty musical gumbo of “The Gimp Sparrow” to the powerful a cappella closer, “Hey Hey Honey,” “Tommorow Sound Now For Yes Music People” is Cebar and company’s best record to date and a thrilled romp through the world’s best music filtered through one of the best musicians Milwaukee has ever produced.
On the eve of the record release party for the new record, we asked Cebar a bit about “Tommorow Sound” and it’s stunning, colorful and playful front cover.
OMC: First of all, tell us about how this amazing cover came about.
PC: Last year on the night before he flew to India -- to assist Chris Smith on his soon to be released film among other projects) -- Paul Finger (you may remember him from Wild Kingdom, -ed.) brought his little digital camera over to the apartment and asked if I'd pose for a few photos. Details beyond that were sketchy.
Upon his return a month and a half or so later, he arrived with a 4-foot by 4-foot canvas. He had been on a quest for the painters of a certain vintage type of Indian fireworks poster that had taken him to a number of smaller provincial towns. In one of these towns he was directed to a fellow by the name of Salim Khan who was reputed to be a fine painter of canvas circus banners.
He approached Salim with a couple of the photographs he'd taken in my living room and jotted down one of the ridiculous cracked slogans we'd laughed about during one of his magnificent spiels a few months prior and left it to Salim and his improvisational method of spelling to execute the banner that has ended up on the cover.
OMC: As always the record is a good musical stew. Are you conscious about being inclusive or is there just so much different music swimming in your head that it manifests itself in your music automatically?
PC: I like to think that through my listening and years of playing live that my disparate interests begin to speak to one another as a matter of course. Also, the talents and interests of the band color and temper whatever my inclinations may be on a given tune. I've been traveling quite a bit during the years in which this record was made and I hope that the moods and feelings peculiar to my far-flung destinations -- Trinidad, Mexico, Cuba, Brazil -- seep into the palette in some form.
OMC: I love the tribute to Marv Tarplin, "Marv's Fluttering Guitar." What sparked the paean to Smokey's guitarist?
PC: I guess I'd have to say that years of appreciation of and mystification at the subtlety and specifics of his style and that of Curtis Mayfield, Cliff White, Steve Cropper, Jimmy Johnson, the fellow on Garnet Mimms records and probably a couple hundred other soul guitarists led me to try and address my debt to them.
Initially, a gal who I briefly dated made a remark to me about Smokey Robinson not really being able to sing! So, I started to write "She up and said he couldn't sing, I up and couldn't talk ... and where's it written that i'm s’posed to care about that guitar feel. If you must and it so moves you, take it to your automobile. I'm the guy out crying in his car, to Marv's fluttering guitar."
As for the fluttering, I guess I'm referring to the fills in "Cruisin'" '"Point It Out" -- my fave -- "Baby Baby Don't Cry," among others. Marv is an excessively modest, linger in the shadows type fellow who almost offhandedly gave the world a singularly tingling kind of delight.
OMC: Nick Lowe makes an appearance and did a mix for the record. Of course devoted Cebar fans will know that he worked with the Cadets, but how did you reconnect with him?
PC: I've never really been out of touch with him. Back in '95, I had the pleasure to open a couple of shows for him in London and, on his last trip to the States, I was the opening act in Minneapolis and Chicago. Incidentally, Jim Herrington, who took the photographs of the band on the package is also a longtime friend of Nick's dating back to his years in Nashville prior to his move to Milwaukee about five years ago, His Web site jimherrington.com is quite a lively eyeful.
OMC: It's been a long time since the last studio record, was there a lot of material vying for space on the record? Are you a prolific writer?
PC: There's something of a backlog in the pipeline but I've been recording a variety of music during these past few years. Ultimately, I bumped a couple of tracks in the interest of flow and coherence. We've been performing a number of newer tunes over the past year or so that will likely find their way to the next band album.
OMC: So, when's the next one coming?
PC: As for when that might see the light of day, be here now ,Bobby. Because we as consumers are used to a steady flow of entertainment items -- content bundles, product, what have you -- from the major and slightly less than major labels , it's easy to discount the elaborate effort and expense put forth to independently place one's own home-cobbled raft into the mighty stream. We need to ride this one downriver awhile before we can start gathering flotsam for the next.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.