Loudon Wainwright III has unveiled his new album, I’d Rather Lead A Band (released on October 9 via Thirty Tigers). A collaboration with Vince Giordano and his band The Nighthawks, and producer and music supervisor Randall Poster, the 14-song collection is a loose, fresh, and “anti-nostalgic” take on classic songs from the 1920s and ‘30s featuring Wainwright as singer and band leader.
Loudon will debut two songs from I’d Rather Lead A Band acoustically on the BBC Radio 2 Virtual Folk Festival on Sat Aug 1 between 8 and 10pm.
As interpreters of the Great American Songbook, Wainwright and Giordano’s big band present a perfectly paced supper club set of songs by Irving Berlin (“I’d Rather Lead a Band” and “The Little Things In Life”), Fats Waller (“Ain’t Misbehavin’”), Frank Loesser (“More I Cannot Wish You”), and others with nimble phrasing and an approach that lets the songs lead the way, like a dance partner.
Wainwright feels right at home singing these songs, which he says “reflect on my whole life, really.” To choose the songs, Wainwright, Poster and producer Stewart Lerman volleyed dozens of mp3s and YouTube videos back and forth, ultimately whittling them down to 14 picks. The expansive record collection of Loudon’s father – the LIFE Magazine columnist Loudon Wainwright– helped to inform some selections, as did Loudon’s own musical beginnings as a jug-band singer. Wainwright, Giordano and The Nighthawks then recorded the album in just 3 days at Electric Lady Studios.
For Wainwright, I’d Rather Lead A Band was also a welcome chance to take a break from playing his guitar and singing in what he calls his “somewhat misanthropic, occasionally goofy persona.” “I loved the idea of just being a vocalist,” he says. “It was freeing, because I could shed my Loudon Wainwright III-ness. I will no doubt return to my foremost incarnation, but what a pleasure it was to settle back with this marvellous band and sing these songs.”
A common thread of this project is the participants’ involvement with the 2012 Boardwalk Empire soundtrack, which Poster and Lerman both won a GRAMMY for (Best Compilation Soundtrack). Poster – widely celebrated for his work with Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese, and all-star albums made in homage to the likes of Buddy Holly and Fleetwood Mac – oversaw the music for the HBO series set in Atlantic City in the 1920s. Giordano, who is widely regarded as an expert on the music of the era, and his band were featured throughout the series; And Wainwright, who first met Poster while appearing in Scorsese’s The Aviator, recorded three songs for Boardwalk Empire as well.
For the past fifty years, Wainwright has carved out a distinguished career as one America’s most original singer-songwriters, a six-string diarist with material that is by turns, tongue-in-cheek, tender, satiric, heart-wrenching, and always deeply personal. Along the way he has released more than twenty albums, won a GRAMMY, acted in film and TV, and has had his songs recorded by artists including Johnny Cash, Mose Allison, Bonnie Raitt, and his own son, Rufus Wainwright. His one man show – Surviving Twin, based on his father’s Life Magazine column in the 1960s – toured internationally and became a Netflix special directed by Christopher Guest and produced by Judd Apatow. He also published a memoir, Liner Notes: On Parents & Children, Exes & Excess, Death & Decay, & a Few of My Other Favorite Things” and in 2018 issued “Years in the Making,” a 42-track “audio-biography” of rare, offbeat recordings from his remarkable career.
Vince Giordano is a GRAMMY-winning bandleader and multi-instrumentalist, whose recent film and TV credits include The Irishman and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. His 11-piece band The Nighthawks have been a much-loved part of the New York City nightclub scene for 30 years.
Randall Poster is a music supervisor and producer who has worked on all of Wes Anderson’s films, with directors Todd Phillips, Sam Mendes, Martin Scorsese, on HBO’s Vinyl and much more.
Artist’s website: https://www.lw3.com/