Holy Shemp! Making Real Music for TV Bands on Castle

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Andrew Marlowe, the top dog and creator of Castle, sent me the script with a brief note: "Call me." I could see why - the (brilliant) script centered around a band and the murder of their lead guitar player. In Castle tradition, we would need to make everything as authentic as possible, that meant creating songs that ABC could own that sounded like real songs, coaching actors to mime instruments convincingly to the songs and personify musician-ness, plus it all had to be done weeks ahead of time, for the shoot day instead of just within the editing bay. In short, there's really nothing that creates more work for music supervisors than bands on-screen ... but nothing more fun either! I tapped Simon Petty, one of my favorite songwriters of all time (see: Minibar: Road Movies for just one example) who turned around the killer song that closes the episode, "Back Out On The Road Again", in an extremely short amount of time. Per the script, the song had to sound like a new direction for "Holy Shemp", the TV band, as well as feature bass prominently to go with the storyline, and additionally needed to allow for backing vocals that "Esposito" would chime in for the final scene. After delivering on all counts on the songwriting front, he teamed up with Los Angeles via New Zealand producer/songwriter Greg Johnson to record the song in Greg's Santa Monica studio and delivered it just in time to get final approvals and take to the set for the shoot! Simon accompanied me on shoot day to coach the musicians and we had fun being mini-TV moguls for the day. (Which really meant we tried to stay out of the way and do exactly what the director wanted at all times.)

The other song in the episode, "Lies", is rehearsed by the band when Castle and Beckett confront the lead singer, and it has a story all its own. This episode was written by Castle co-producer Rob Hanning. His son Noah is an extremely talented guitar player and while Rob was working on the episode he heard Noah composing a song that he quite liked ... you guessed it, Rob added some lyrics and that song ended up becoming "Lies" - a team effort!

So I think you can tell, a good time was had by all ... after 11pm west coast time, there will be links below for a (24 hour) free download of "Back Out On The Road Again" and a behind-the-scenes-interview with Jon Huertas (Esposito) in the recording studio with Simon & Greg! Meanwhile you can use the links below to follow this story to some good songs!

Free download of closing song "Back Out On The Road Again"

Simon Petty official site (for his latest project Solomon's Seal)

Greg Johnson official site

Behind The Scenes with Jon Huertas ("Esposito"), Simon, and Greg

Minibar - Road Movies (one of my top albums of all time but don't stop there get all the Minibar albums)

 

Internet Talk Radio Interview

Who knew there was an internet radio show devoted to Castle, and more specifically, the lovely Stana Katic? Well there is, and as Castle's music supervisor, the show hosts Pam and Sheryl deemed me worthy of an interview. They were totally cool and we had a fun time talking about Castle, music, music supervising, and the process of how music makes it onto a TV show. You can listen to the archive here: Stana Talk Radio / Tricia Halloran interview.

Louis Armstrong Sighted On Castle

Even though I'm die-hard indie rock girl, 40s and 50s jazz is a secret passion of mine so working on this episode was quite a thrill! It was fun (and nerve-wracking) to try to find the right Louis Armstrong recording that matched the era as well as the band members we would have on-stage. Kudos to the Castle writers, who envisioned how beautifully "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" would work throughout three scenes and ultimately bring Castle the answer to the mystery. And a big thank you to Connie Boylan at ABC who worked tirelessly to cast the Louis Armstrong look-alike as well as period-perfect band members. Louis Armstrong - I Can't Give You Anything But Love: Amazon :: iTunes :: Official Site

In order to have Tamala Jones (the actress that plays Lanie) sing "Comes Love" during the episode, we pre-recorded the track at a studio in the Valley. She was charming and funny! I think she was a little nervous but once she loosened up, man, she was channelling Billie Holiday and it was awesome! I'm not sure if ABC will make that track available to Castle fans, but meanwhile I'm recommending the Billie Holiday version if you like the song -- but Joni Mitchell does a great version too!

Billie Holiday - Comes Love: Amazon :: iTunes

Have A Pink Martini With FeFe Dobson on Castle tonight!

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Such a fun episode! No better song than the charming "Lilly" by Pink Martini to start off our dog-themed show. Pink Martini are one of the hardest working indie bands in show biz, they've released six studio albums and have performed endless charming live shows to enchanted audiences during their long tenure together. Lucky you, new fan, they just released a retrospective CD so you can get right to 'the best of' and it includes "Lilly"!

Pink Martini - "Lilly": Amazon :: iTunes :: Official Site

 

Canadian songstress FeFe Dobson knows how to mix in the dance beats, but she's a rocker at heart, I can tell. She has a still-sizzling hot album out from 2010 with "Watch Me Move" as well as many other gems, she'll get any party started!

FeFe Dobson - "Watch Me Move": Amazon :: iTunes :: Official Site

 

Castle is "Super Bon Bon" Tonight!

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Judging from the twitter feed, Castle fans are loving the 1996 Soul Coughing flashback! Good excuse to get out this excellent album and return it to rotation. And while you're at it, Mike Doughty has a new album out so you can get on that as well. Soul Coughing - "Super Bon Bon": Amazon :: iTunes :: Official Mike Doughty Site for new album

There were some other worthy records featured in tonight's episodes as well -- when Castle and the boys arrived in Atlantic City you heard just a little bit of Jesse Malin, an artist I've long admired. I highly recommend his album "Glitter In The Gutter" that I pulled that song off of. Especially if you like that East Coast rocker Springsteen/Jersey/Pete Yorn/Ryan Adams sound.

Jesse Malin - "In The Modern World": Amazon :: iTunes :: Official Site

Alexis' party mix featured a band from Cork, Ireland, named Fred in the first party scene. In the last party scene you heard the talented Lyrics Born featuring vocals by Sam Sparro. This remix of the song is available for free at SoundCloud, scoop it up! And don't neglect the excellent album that features the original as well.

Fred - "Trial By Fire": Amazon :: iTunes :: Official Site

Lyrics Born - "Coulda Woulda Shoulda (Party Ben Remix)": FREE DOWNLOAD :: Official Site Lyrics Born - As U Were album: Amazon :: iTunes

 

J. Mascis Rules Castle

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I'm kinda proud of this one, music fans. It's the first TV show placement for this album that came out in March of this year. J. Mascis has been an integral part of my musical life since I was enlightened to the wonderful and mysterious world of indie rock via Dinosaur Jr's seminal 1987 album "Livin All Over Me", drenched in satisfying feedback and anchored by his distinctive emotional voice. Too sum it up, the guy invented indie rock with that album, basically. But like Neil Young, J. Mascis can be louder than anyone or softer and more heartbreaking than most--this solo album "Several Shades Of Why" is quiet and intimately powerful. It features the song "Too Deep" which was perfect for portraying the bittersweet feelings of Beckett, Castle, Alexis and Martha after they endure the bank hostage ordeal. Delve in, I think you'll like it.

J. Mascis "Too Deep": Amazon :: iTunes :: Official Site

Castle Links The Chain Gang Of 1974 and Jen Hirsh

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Q: What artist named his band after Ryan Adam's birth year plus a Raveonettes song? A: The Chain Gang of 1974. If OMD is one of your guilty pleasures, like mine, you will be into this band. Despite the band name, the music is not at all 70s-influenced, and doesn't bring to mind jail or a chain gang. It's just good beat-driven fun with an 80's tip! The song "Devil Is A Lady" has a slight industrial feel to it and it was perfect for the nerdy clerks to be playing in the comic book store that Castle & Beckett visit in this episode. The Chain Gang of 1974 - Wayward Fire: Amazon :: iTunes :: Official Site

Q: What singer-songwriter appeared on American Idol in 2009 but is still thrilled to be playing the Hotel Cafe on any given night? A: Jen Hirsh. Maybe too much songwriter, not enough pop star to be an Idol? That's ok by me. Her sweet songs are perfect for the romantic in all of us, and perfect for the final Castle scene where Castle & Beckett find an unsettling similarity between two of their suspects and themselves.

Jen Hirsh - Myself In Two: Amazon :: iTunes :: Official Site

Gaga For Ladies Night on Castle

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Two awesome female singers were featured in Castle's "Pretty Dead" episode - one has millions of fans and the other you can say you were among her first. A beauty pageant dance number clearly called out for Lady Gaga "Born This Way" as the opening song right before the poor dead girl was discovered. Close to the end of the episode, a touching tribute to the victim was accompanied by Laura Browne Sorenson's "I Will Think Of You". This episode first aired on May 9, 2011.

Lady Gaga "Born This Way": Official Site :: Amazon :: iTunes

Laura Browne Sorenson "I Will Think Of You": Official Site :: Amazon :: iTunes

Beckett to Castle: "Come And Find Me"

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A little background ... it was likely the summer of 2000, 10 years ago now, that I was experiencing the perfect summer night in Los Angeles. The Frames had probably just played somewhere to about 5 people (this was pre-Swell Season) and people were gathering at someone's house in the valley. They had a hot tub, and yes, I was in the hot tub with Glen Hansard. No hanky panky though, just drinking some beer and talking about music. I did start to think I was in heaven though, when I heard someone behind me with an acoustic guitar beautifully playing an impressive song that began "If I could trace, the line that ran, between your smile and your sleight of hand, I would guess that you put, something up my sleeve. Everytime I see your face, the bells ring in a far off place, we can find each other this way I believe... Come and find me, now ..."

Just sitting around at a house party, Josh Ritter wasn't even playing it to anyone in particular, just playing it. I thought "Am I a little too drunk or is that just about the best song ever?" Subsequently we were introduced, (he said he was from Idaho, I said "the band?"), addresses were exchanged, an EP came my way shortly and in the sober light of day I listened to "Come And Find Me" again and decided it pretty much was the best song ever. Fast forward through 11 years, five stellar albums, at least 8 or 9 incredible live shows, a lovely friendship and many more 'best songs ever', I have the great pleasure of placing the first song I ever heard Josh Ritter play into a TV show called Castle.

You can hear it the almost-romantic scene between Castle & Beckett in the episode titled "To Live And Die In L.A.", that first aired on May 2, 2011. Find the archive on ABC's Castle site.

Josh Ritter "Come And Find Me" (Don't stop with this song ... it only gets better): Official Site :: Amazon :: iTunes

Other awesome (if I do say so myself) music in this episode:

Ferrari scene: The Californias "La La La" Official Site

Pool scene: Sloan "The Other Side" (This band is great! I recommend all their CDs!) Official Site :: Amazon :: iTunes

Closing: Pearl Jam "Breathe" Official Site :: Amazon :: iTunes

Until next week!

Jon Spencer Burns It Up on Castle

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Sometimes you just need a little gritty blues rock to kick off a noir-influenced detective series. Blues Explosion fits the bill this week with "Burn It Off" as Castle and Beckett delve into a mystery involving competing pizza franchises in NYC. Closing out the episode, the lovely Lindsey Ray and the talented A.M. team up on a song called "Anchor Of Love".

This episode first aired on April 4, 2011 and is titled "Slice Of Death".

Blues Explosion (now known as The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and do check out their incredible catalog): Official Site :: Amazon :: iTunes

Lindsey Ray: Official Site :: Amazon :: iTunes

Castle Hopes This Gets To Her

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It's a very sweet moment as Castle wraps up tonight - Castle is getting strategic as he woos Beckett, letting her think she is informing him about a cool film screening at The Angelika, when he's been wanting to go all along. Clever man! We sent them off into the elevator to the sounds of The Daylights "I Hope This Gets To You". This episode is titled "Love And Murder" and it first aired March 28, 2011.

The Daylights: Amazon :: iTunes :: official site

Castle Goes Euro With Pink Martini

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This episode got a little worldly when Castle met up with a Syrian diplomat in a Euro-style coffee bar. (Of course he saved the day.) To bring in a little of that 'Casablanca' feeling, we used Pink Martini's song "Sympathique" from their album Hang On Little Tomato. This episode was titled "Setup" and first aired Feburary 21, 2011. Pink Martini: Official Site :: Amazon :: iTunes

Bangers & Cash for Beckett & Castle

In the episode titled "Lucky Stiff" that first aired February 7, 2011, Castle and Beckett went late-night undercover and things got a little steamy on the dance floor to "Loose" by Benny Blanco & Spank Rock from their EP Bangers & Cash. Earlier in the episode, Castle & Beckett tracked some suspects to a recording studio, where they were found rapping the soon-to-be-huge rhymes of "Get On The Floor"-- lyrics by Castle writer Alexi Hawley, and music by composer Jeff Russo (remember the band Tonic?). The opening song was "Money ($$$)" by Tim Myers (currently unreleased). I also like to call this episode "The One In Which Beckett Drove A Ferrari". "Loose" by Benny Blanco & Spank Rock: iTunes :: Amazon

The Frames "Rise" on Castle

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It's a great pleasure of mine to place one of my favorite bands of all time in the episode of Castle titled "Knockdown". The Frames song "Rise", from their 2007 album "The Cost", is heard at the end of the episode as Beckett vows to make weekly visits to the sniper she put in prison until he reveals her mother's killer. The angelic voice of Glen Hansard leads The Frames, and he is also one half of the duo know as The Swell Season, who won an Academy Award for their song "Falling Slowly" from the film Once. This episode first aired on Jan 24, 2011

The Frames: official site :: Amazon :: iTunes

A Castle Proposal To Amos Lee "Flower"

Amos Lee - Mission BellAlthough most Castle fans would love to see Beckett and Castle get engaged, they settled for a sweet proposal scene between Detective Ryan and his girlfriend Jenny to close the episode titled "Nikki Heat". She happily accepted to the romantic song "Flower" by Amos Lee, from his new album Mission Bell. This episode originally aired Jan 3, 2011.

Amos Lee: official site :: Amazon :: iTunes