Mark Minassian, aka I Am Winkle

The Winklehead Report ~ May 2021

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I Am Winkle, aka Mark Minassian, www.iamwinkle.com

Just as we finished wrapping up our last musical project in early 2020, the pandemic hit. Probably like many of you, it brought interaction with most other people to a halt. In the ensuing year, many musicians and performing artists tried to find other routes to allow their creative energies to find the light of day and I was no different. Need I say it? It has been a trying time for everyone. But we still managed to make some exciting progress. For example:

You're A Long Gone Woman

So let me roll back the hands of time to late 2019: the pre-Covid era. I had wanted to write a blues song for some time, so as the year was drawing to a close, I got to work and spun out a bluesy tune with a touch of gospel influence woven throughout. Little did I know that it would attract national recognition in November of 2020 in Recording Magazine, a respected music industry publication.

Rather than using the “do it all myself” approach for this song, I decided to call upon two of my most respected musician friends to help out on the instrument tracks and we became the Last Stand Blues Band. While I provided the lead vocal, bass and rhythm guitar parts, “Pepper” John Mikowychok arranged and performed the sampled horn parts along with the fabulous sounding B3 organ parts. He also joined me and the talented Carolyn Asti on the background vocals, creating the gospel-like choir that emerged in the second half of the song.


Next I called upon the best guitarist I have the pleasure of knowing, Tony “The Chief” D'Addono, to put his blues chops to work on the tune. His distinct licks in particular drew glowing praise from Recording Magazine’s Marty Peters (himself a member of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame) as he reviewed the song:

This is a fantastic group effort that harkens back to the legendary sounds of the late 60’s group The Electric Flag. The band has achieved a roomy, open sound on the recording thanks to judicious panning and frequency control…. The star of the show is Tony’s fantastic electric lead guitar. Killer tone, and what a performance! In our decades at the helm of this column, we’ve rarely heard a better pure blues combination.”

In typical Rosemill Studio fashion, my recording engineer and mixing partner, Leo Valentino and I, shared producing credit on the song. A thanks to John Mikowychok for the suggestion to submit the song to Recording Magazine for review in their “Readers Tracks” column. Here's a link to the full review: https://recordingmag.com/readers-tracks/youre-a-long-gone-woman/ (Note that under the “Music” heading of the review, song writing credit should be for Mark Minassian, not the entire band.)

Click the album pic or song title to be able to play You’re a Long Gone Woman.

Album cover photography: Pedro Sandrini.

Sleepy Boy

As currently featured on Philadelphia’s PBS/NPR program WHYY House Concert Series.

I had an urge to expand my songwriting "wheelhouse" and write something that reflected the style of one of my favorite Tin Pan Alley composers, Hoagy Carmichael. Hoagy wrote the music for two of my favorite songs, Small Fry* and Lazy Bones, written in 1933 and 1938 respectively. Using my "man's best friend," Itsa, as the theme, I penned Sleepy Boy and began remote production earlier this year.

First, I emailed a rough demo of the song to my fellow musician and good friend, John Mikowychok (pictured at left) who I knew was well versed in the genre. He jumped into action at his home studio and recorded piano, drums and percussion, along with a bass and clarinet sample. I then edited the tracks and recorded my vocal and acoustic guitar parts before uploading the files to Leo Valentino for final mixing. After completion, a video version of the song was sent to WHYY's House Concert Series, which they happily accepted and is currently featured on their website. I hope you get a chuckle out of the song and video, and have as much fun watching it as we did making it.  A special thanks to Carolyn Asti for shooting the Sleepy Boy video. 

Visit John Mikowychok on Keys.

*Some of you might remember the wonderful Paramount "Color Classic" cartoon, Small Fry. Animated by Max Fleischer and released in 1939, it was based on, and homonymously titled, after the Carmichael/Loesser song. Click the pic to watch.

Flashback Track: 1971

Of Kings & Queens

When I graduated Upper Darby High School in 1970, I knew I would pursue a career in music. Hearing that a local recording studio had opened in a store front not far from my home, I gathered up my guitar and walked down to its location in Lansdowne, PA. It was there that I met D.W. Fearn for the first time. He listened to my songs and was interested in recording them. And so my musical journey and long friendship with Doug (which has lasted to this day) began.

One of the first songs we recorded together, and the centerpiece for an album that we envisioned releasing with the same name, was Of Kings & Queens (psychedelic folk). Doug's wife at the time, Liz Sutor, supplied the beautiful and haunting background vocals, and my old longtime friend, Jim Gaudiello played percussion and organ. Although I went on to record many more songs with Doug, the album we envisioned sadly was never realized. The artwork that was to be used for the album was done by Lynne Greene, an art teacher at my high school.

It's unfortunate that the only recording left of this song was a very old cassette. Leo Valentino and I digitally archived it the best we could, while still retaining the authenticity of the original recording. 

Click the album pic or song title to listen to Of Kings and Queens.

Left to right. It's 1970 - long hair, cowboy boots, and dungarees of course. ~ D.W. Fearn in 1971 at Veritable Recording Studio. ~  Me with my Martin D-28 recording at Veritable in the 70s.  

Visit D.W. Fearn.

Video: Tony D'Addono performs In My Life

To illustrate the versatility of Tony D’Addono’s talents, not only can he provide the bluesy electric guitar lead on “You’re a Long Gone Woman,” he can also transition to the subtle sound of classical guitar. I recorded and videotaped several of Tony's transcriptions of classic Beatles tunes by Lennon & McCartney and recently finished the remix and video of this lovely transcription of In My Life. The silhouette of the Beatles was wood burned by artist Carolyn Asti. 

Visit Tony's website for more great guitar music. Visit Carolyn Asti on Facebook for more great artwork.

I Am Winkle and Itsa discuss next years musical projects.

Till Next Time

Hopefully, the rest of 2021 will be better for everyone, as more and more people get vaccinated and we reach herd immunity. I'm looking forward to reuniting with all of my recording partners in person, to make as much music as quickly as we can (I have close to a dozen songs in various stages of completion that will be competing for studio time). In the meantime, feel free to provide feedback on what you’ve seen and heard, as Itsa really enjoys his fan mail. We both wish all of you the best of health.

Stay safe,

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