Tim Bovaconti- Right Here. Right Now. In Song
Story: Lenny Stoute – Cashbox Magazine Canada
In the background I can hear a hound baying; on the line is a genuine rock’n’roll road dawg. Meet Tim Bovaconti, 21st century musician as mercenary in the service of pop music.
What’s it take to qualify? For Bovaconti, this means 4 or 5 gigs in the average week and a minimum 200 gigs a year. He keeps busy on the road as guitarist with Classic rockers Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman (as a member of Bachman-Cummings as well as lead guitarist in Burton Cummings’ band) and recently recorded lead guitars and lap steel in Los Angeles with Burton for his album “Above the Ground”.
Then there are the frequent tours of 10 years standing with Ron Sexsmith, including a recently concluded European jaunt, and an ongoing series of shows with comic Sean Cullen.
When he’s in town, hometown fans in Toronto can catch him Tuesdays at Alex Lifeson’s College Street gin joint The Orbit Rom, playing with vintage reggae boyz The Sattalites.In his downtime, Tim turns to producing, his latest project being Jerry Leger, a purveyor of thoughtful pop in the vein of Costello, Sexsmith and um, Bovaconti.
As a sessions player Tim brings to the gig proficiency on guitar, mandolin, lap and pedal steel, vocals and bass guitar, cutting tracks for many artists in his Mountalan Sound studio.
All of which goes a long way in explaining the six-year gap between solo debut, Bover-Not Live At Buddokan and the freshly released self-titled second album. Bovaconti must record in a manner which fits his nomadic fragmented lifestyle.
“ It’s hard to establish a theme as it was all written in fits and starts, between stints on the road. It was like; I’d stick bits and pieces together and at some point I’d go. Here’s this song I have and I’d go record it. I played most of the instruments so I could work at my pace”.
Essentially, it was Bovaconti working with in-demand drummer/percussionist Blake Manning, sprinkled with a glittery assortment of T.Dot session stars.
Sattalite frontman Fergus Hambleton dropped by to blow some sax, Jason Wilson worked the upright piano on a couple. But Bovaconti’s rarest score was reggae trumpeter David Madden, an alumnus of Bob Marley’s band.
“ He came to the Orbit to see the Satalities and I got the idea it would be great to have him on the album. I asked him how long he was in town and he said a couple of days, so he came around and played on a couple of tracks. It was great.
“ It’s not a theme exactly but the album’s kind of about not giving up but letting go. I admit when I did the first album I was thinking of radio play and what would fit which format and like that. I was really trying.
“In the time between albums I’d come to the point where I said, I’ll just write and record what I have and I don’t care what comes of it. It was liberating; for instance, in a coupe of places I wanted some dub and because I wasn’t caring about how that would make the tune ‘succeed’ I just went ahead and did it. And it fits perfectly in the song”.
Without being specifically autobiographical, Bovaconti allows that the songs as a body are reflective of where he’s at in his life at this time. There’s a subtext of time passing and the changes that brings about. It informs the vocals markedly; this time around Tim wouldn’t sound out of place in a trio between Tom Waits and Lou Reed.
“As we get older I think one of the saddest things that happen is we begin to lose that sense of wonder. It was something that kind of came to my attention so in a couple of songs I looked at that, how to hang on to that sense of wonder. And can you, at the end of the day, hang onto it forever”.
It takes crafty song writing to render this approach less than doleful and to his credit there’s only one track, ‘Falling Through The Cracks’ on which Bovaconti addresses the issue directly. Elsewhere, writing from the sidelong glance works just fine for him, as on ‘Winter Son’, which also benefits hugely from its ‘I knew you back when’ stance.
And it wouldn’t be a road dwag album without road songs, these coming from a sidelong view.
“ The touring musician’s life for the most part isn’t as glamorous as it’s made out. One of those is ‘Check In, Check Out’. It was inspired by Coldplay’s bass player Guy Berrryman, who had this idea for an album of road songs. He’d assign a title and you had to come up with a song for it. Mine was ‘Check In, Check Out’. Berryman’s album never happened but I got this good song out of it’.
There’s nothing bleak or ironic to the material; it’s just one man standing up and sayin’ about his experiences and at the end, generating the vibe this is a good album to come home to.
Bovaconti laughs at the mention of the ‘single’, admitting he’d only very briefly toyed with the idea but pushed, it would likely come down to either ‘Don’t Go Crying Girl’l’, a shaker with a Rolling Stones disco period feel or power rocker “Bigger than The Both Of Us’.
For those of you considering a career in sessions work, Bovaconti lists the following as the least of what you’ll need.
“You have to be aware of the changes happening in a wide range of music. You have to be capable of playing a wide variety of music, be upbeat and always bring your best to each gig, even if that type of music is not your first love. That’s what your own music is for”.