Ahwatukee singer-songwriter Blaine Long finds it easy to write songs. He simply pens them and puts them aside, with the hopes that they will end up on a record.
It’s served him well. His music earned him a spot on NBC-TV’s The Voice in 2016. He made it past the blind auditions when three of the four judges turned their chairs, but was eliminated during the knock-out rounds. He reflects on his experiences on his new album, Scorpio, something he will celebrate at a CD release party on Saturday, October 7, at Cactus Jack’s in Ahwatukee. The collection is available on iTunes.
“I got back from The Voice and I wrote two songs in one day, and two in another,” Long says. “Boom, boom, boom. I put them away, then when it came time for the record, the producer asked what songs I had. He thought they were cool. I didn’t question and off we went.
“Records are really easy for me. I can let go. It is what it is. If it’s a bad record, that’s unfortunate. It’s supposed to capture something in time, so I believe in that. I’m really good about letting go—maybe a little too much.”
Long recorded the album at Phoenix’s 3 Leaf Recording Studio with a myriad of musicians, including Stevie Nicks’ bass player, Al Ortiz, and drummer Gigi Gonaway. Scorpio was produced by Sean Cooney, and features fellow The Voice veterans JSoul and Preston James.
“Gigi and Al really liked working together,” he says. “Gigi has played drums for Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Steve Winwood. He’s a monster player. He was a big part of the record because of his energy. His energy is huge.”
Cooney was a hands-on producer. He heard the opening track “Little Bit” and thought it needed something more. Cooney texted Long around midnight saying he hired a four-piece horn section to pump it up.
“Down” is another song that reflects on Long’s time on The Voice, especially his desire to be eliminated so he could return to his wife, Joni, and their children.
Long’s musical history stretches back to his childhood in West Virginia and Arizona. He dropped out of high school and worked odd jobs. He was surrounded by strict Christians, and separated himself by playing guitar, singing and writing songs. Inspired by Michael Jackson, Huey Lewis, The Beatles and Johnny Cash, Long’s music exudes warmth.
“I used to put those records on, with the big headphones and curly cord,” he says. “They were the records my parents owned. They placed a record on with such care. It seemed ceremonial. I felt like I was sneaking or doing this adult thing.”
When he heard Houston-born blues rocker Chris Whitley, who died in 2005 of cancer at age 45, it changed Long’s life.
“Chris wrote about what was happening to him, using blues in a very forward way,” he explains. “He wasn’t afraid to grow or work with a DJ. He did an album in a barn with one microphone. That album kicked me in the head. Who releases an album with one microphone? It was a great, honest, intimate record.”
Long has even more on his plate than Scorpio. He recently wrote a song for Earnhardt Auto Centers called “The Right Place at the Right Time,” the sales of which will benefit Phoenix Children’s Hospital. This fall, the tune will be featured in commercials for Earnhardt, which is based in Chandler. Long recently moved to a house on South Mountain in Ahwatukee after 10 years in Chandler.
Long couldn’t be happier. He’s looking forward to his CD release party.
“I really like Cactus Jack’s,” he says. “It’s a really cool dive bar, but an amazing venue. They care a lot and the sound is amazing. It’s going to be a great night to showcase my music.”
Blaine Long w/Chad Gregory, Cameron DeGurski and Gork, Cactus Jack’s, 4747 E. Elliot Road, Ahwatukee, blainelong.bpt.me, 7 p.m. Saturday, October 7, $10 in advance, $15 at the door.