Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Review(s) 10/6/07 from NWI.com

Popular ’70s singer comes full circle - from NWI Times

Popular '70s singer comes full circle

Saturday, October 6, 2007 12:05 AM CDT
Times Correspondent

Like so many of those singing/songwriting troubadours of the 1970s that flooded the pop music scene, John Batdorf, was heavily influenced and inspired by those hippie-spirited, rebel souls who had come a decade earlier.

One in particular, Stephen Stills, had a deep influence on Batdorf, which can be heard in his guitar playing, if not his vocalizing. When he opens his mouth to sing, Batdorf's high range recalls a slightly less soaring Jon Anderson (YES) with a touch of a less-shrill Geddy Lee (Rush).

Perhaps his unique vocal style is what has made Batdorf such a popular session singer on countless radio and television commercial jingles and a guest vocalist on recording projects for other artists

Batdorf's voice has been tapped over the years by a wide range of artists -- from pop act Jefferson Starship, to hard rockers Motley Crue, to Americana favorite James Lee Stanley -- the latter with whom Batdorf released a tasty 2005 acoustic album of Rolling Stones covers titled, "All Wood And Stones."

His story began in 1971. That is when he partnered with Mark Rodney, signed to Atlantic Records and released their first album, "Off The Shelf."

The two quickly became part of the enormous acoustic duo genre of the early-'70s that included acts like Seals & Crofts, Brewer & Shipley, Loggins & Messina, England Dan & John Ford Coley, and Hall & Oates.

Batdorf & Rodney were wooed away by a young David Geffen to the fledgling Asylum Records for their self-titled second album, and later by Clive Davis, who released their third album on his Arista label.

Batdorf & Rodney have been described by critics as the quintessential California acoustic folk-rock duo of the '70s. They released three albums and landed two singles on the charts -- "You Are A Song" and "Somewhere In The Night" -- before splitting up in 1975.

Batdorf joined the group Silver in 1976, recorded one album, and toured with the Doobie Brothers, Poco, Hall & Oates and America.

Extensive session work kept him busy during the 1980s, and in the mid-1990s, Batdorf expanded his musical resume by becoming resident composer for such hit television programs as "Promised Land" and "Touched By An Angel."

After recording a pair of albums in the 1990s with fellow singer/songwriter Michael McLean, Batdorf spent most of this decade as an indie rocker and again has hit the concert trail.

Earlier this year, he released his newest collection of original music, the aptly titled, "Home Again."

Now performing again with Rodney, the duo will recreate the music and magic of a generation ago on stage tonight at Front Porch Music.

John Batdorf with Mark Rodney
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Front Porch Music, 505 Lincolnway, Valparaiso
Cost: $12, all ages
FYI: (219) 464-4700 or www.frontporchmusic.com

© Copyright 2007, The Times, Munster, IN
direct article link

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What’s old is new again for Batdorf & Rodney - NWI Interview
Category: Music

What's old is new again for Batdorf & Rodney

Friday, October 5, 2007 12:07 AM CDT

Times Correspondent

John Batdorf, one half of the '70s singer-songwriter duo Batdorf & Rodney, was surprised to discover his audiences remembered his '70s songs after dusting the cobwebs off of them recently.

"I played them not thinking at first that anyone would know them," he recalled.

"And it was unbelievable to me how many people were Batdorf & Rodney fans. It was very humbling. It's really nice to know that people remember you from that time because it really was a long time ago."

Scheduled to perform their first Chicagoland show together in more than three decades Saturday at Valparaiso's Front Porch Music, the duo, best known collectively as Batdorf & Rodney, released a trio of albums that found favor with fans of the Cali rock sound of the early and mid-'70s.

They landed on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart in 1975 with the single "You are a Song" from their third album, "Life is You."

But that album would prove to be their recorded swan song, and from there, Batdorf joined forces with pre-Grateful Dead Brent Mydland in the band Silver, which recorded a sole eponymous set in 1976.

By 1980, Batdorf's musical concentrations were behind the scenes; he composed songs and lent his vocal and instrumental talents to acts varying from David Lee Roth to Rod Stewart to Berlin.

In the late '90s and early '00s, he was best heard on the small screen, composing the scores for the CBS dramas "Promised Land" and "Touched by an Angel."

After "Angel" ran its course in 2004, Batdorf was asked by fellow acoustic favorite James Lee Stanley to collaborate on "All Wood and Stones," a 2005 unplugged take on Rolling Stones '60s gems.

While touring in support of "Stones," Batdorf reconnected with an audience who hadn't forgotten his songs from his '70s heyday when the duo included selections from Batdorf & Rodney's catalog.

It may have helped that in 2004, the duo's albums were finally made available on CD.

"I really thought that there was a 'been there, done that' kind of thing (with the Batdorf & Rodney songs)," he said.

"But people just kept requesting the old songs."

Earlier this year, Batdorf released "Home Again," which features a hearty helping of '70s selections alongside new songs. A stripped-down affair in the vein of "Stones," Batdorf called on his past partner Rodney, who appears on three songs on "Home."

Almost every song on "Home," Batdorf said, has found a home on satellite radio. A small handful of acoustic and album cut-friendly stations on satellite provider XM, including "The Loft," "Deep Tracks" and "Fine Tuning," have played selections from "Home" since the album was released this spring.

"I think there's more than 9 million people who are paying for radio when they can get it for free," Batdorf said.

"It's great to know that there are people who still want to hear what's out there and what's not being played anymore on AM or FM radio."

In November, Batdorf and Rodney will make their way to XM to record a live performance. The duo hope to release the show, augmented by a pair of new songs, for what will be their first album together in more than three decades.

John Batdorf with Mark Rodney
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Front Porch Music, 505 E. Lincolnway, Valparaiso
Cost: $12
FYI: (219) 464-4600 or www.frontporchmusic.com

© Copyright 2007, The Times, Munster, IN
direct article link

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