Independent Record Label | Est. 2009
Wilmington, North Carolina



Thursday, February 22, 2024

Two Phoenix music stars unite on stellar new album

[Repost from Phoenix New Times; by Tom Reardon, February 16, 2024]

It’s hard not to get sucked in by the poetry of Jon Rauhouse’s music.

Longtime fans of the Valley legend and sideman to the stars know what I’m talking about. Rauhouse has a way of turning a song into a spiritual experience with a single bend of a guitar string. It’s just what he does.

For the unfamiliar, please get acquainted. There's a little something for everyone in the Rauhouse repertoire, except maybe a speed metal record. The guy’s been cranking out good music since the late 1970s, but anyone and everyone is welcome to the party any time.

The last several years have been difficult, to say the least. Rauhouse has been battling the type of cancer diagnosis that would stop many people right in their tracks, but thanks to some new drug therapies, things are at least looking manageable at present. As interesting as that aspect of Rauhouse’s life is, or the years he spent touring with Neko Case, Billy Bob Thornton or as a member of Grievous Angels or Sleepwalker, there's something even more pressing to explore.

Most recently, he’s been collaborating with Blaine Long, a Valley musician with a wealth of talent and charisma. A one-time contestant on television's "The Voice," Long, like Rauhouse, has diligently been carving out a living and career making records here in Phoenix. Together, though, they have made a record. "One Day Will Never Come Back" (Fort Lowell Records) will assuredly be remembered as the finest record to come out of Arizona in 2023.

That’s no shade towards any of the other worthy candidates for this type of accolade, but it’s true. "One Day Will Never Come Back" is only seven tracks and clocks in at less than half an hour, but within these songs, is a love letter from Long and Rauhouse to life in all its glory and pain. If countrified Americana with a tremendous groove and even bigger heart is your thing, "One Day Will Never Come Back" is a perfect record for you.

In fact, on Sunday, Feb. 18, you can hear it for yourself. Long and Rauhouse, as well as some talented friends, will play the record live at The Dirty Drummer in Phoenix at 2 p.m. That’s right, a matinee show, with another of Rauhouse’s outfits, The Sunpunchers, opening up. It’s also free, so there's no excuse to miss it.

To sit and talk with these gentlemen is a distinct pleasure. What you'll find is a friendship based on respect and admiration, but also drive. The kinetic force of their will is palpable, and they often complete each other’s sentences. It’s no wonder they made such a special record.

The two met when Long reached out to Rauhouse to do a New Year’s gig at Tarbell’s in the days before COVID hit.

“I’ve been playing shows forever here and he’s been playing shows forever here. (Long) had done something huge. He had gotten on 'The Voice,' so I knew his name. There was a whole undercurrent of everyone knowing who he was because in music because he had done that. For musicians, that’s a huge grab. I don’t know if it helps that much, but it makes the world think it does,” Rauhouse says.

“I was in the scene, but I wasn’t in the scene. His name was a name, like the upper echelon. They’re the guys. I was scared of him,” Long adds.

The connection gelled, though, from playing some gigs together and talking about what else they could do. During the early days of the pandemic, Rauhouse chose to play it safe and stay close to home due to his considerable health concerns, and the two songwriters forged their friendship and collaborative partnership.

Long and Rauhouse began hosting their podcast, "The Musician’s Guide To Everything," in April 2021. You can find episodes here, if so inclined, to get an inside look at various aspects of musicians' lives and the music world. For Rauhouse, the work with Long was helpful in sustaining his health.

“It was very helpful. The last think I had done with Neko (Case, who Rauhouse has toured and recorded with for over a decade) was a tour cycle we finished in March (2020). We had several tours booked after March that got shitcanned. Because I got so sick, I couldn’t go on tour. Being able to play with Blaine … we get along really well. He’s a great songwriter with really good sensibilities. It was just easy and a no-brainer,” Rauhouse says.

For Long, it was breath of fresh air, as well. After being on "The Voice," things got a little crazy for him.

“I was getting bullshit offers, weird stuff, because of 'The Voice.' To come through the storm of that stuff and band members … everything got really ugly and wild, but everything got settled (with Rauhouse). We were friends who played music together. It was really nice,” says Long, who had one prospective bandmate ask him for $20,000 thinking being on "The Voice" had made him rich.

The perspective Rauhouse and Long bring to "One Day Will Never Come Back" is refreshing. While the subject matter is not always the happiest, the overall tone of the record is one of hope and triumph. The collaboration between Long and Rauhouse really does seem to be one of comfort and openness, which can be difficult in the music world due to egos and agendas driven by the thirst for fame. But there's none of that here.

Long and Rauhouse assembled a veritable all-star team to bring "One Day Will Never Come Back" to life at Darren Baum's Phoenix studio, Sonic Piranha. Longtime Rauhouse compatriots Lindsay Cates (bass/vocals) and Megyn Neff (violin/viola), as well as Rachel Flotard of Visqueen join in here, as well as some truly awesome contributions by drummer Frank Rowland, and Emily Hunt (cello) on multiple tracks.

“Nothing Lasts Forever” opens the record, and it’s just classic Rauhouse. The guitars carry the listener as if on a cloud. Before you know it, though, you are right into “Jerome,” which features some excellent work by Mitski’s Ty Bailie on the Hammond B3 organ and Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin on saxophone.

“I’d worked with Steve Berlin on a couple of projects he was producing, so I knew him. I had been thinking about (him), and another friend called and said, ‘Steve Berlin says hi.’ I was like, ‘Oh, this is synchronicity. Tell him I have a couple songs I want him to play on,’ and he said, ‘I’ll do it.’ So, that’s how that happened,” Rauhouse says.

“Jerome” also boasts some excellent backing vocals from Betsy Ganz, Raquel Denis and Paula Tesoriero. Local fans will recognize those names from groups like The Sunpunchers and Paula T & Company, as well as acclaimed solo work. The song is truly soulful and the vocal harmonies blend wonderfully with Long’s distinctly rich voice and Berlin’s saxophone blasts.

Bailie’s work on the Hammond B3 is also pretty darn fantastic. It’s hard to pick the best track on "One Day Will Never Come Back," but “Jerome” is one of those songs that should be on every radio, everywhere if people still listened to the radio like they did in the days “Jerome” evokes.

Jesse Valenzuela of Gin Blossoms’ fame contributes a guitar track on “Pretty Love Song.” Valenzuela’s solo fits the track perfectly, and Gin Blossoms fans will recognize his deft touch. For Long and Rauhouse, it was a treat to have him join the studio fun.

“It was two passes, see you later, and they were both perfect,” Rauhouse says with a twinkle in his eye.

“It was just cool. Good music wins. The best thing on that song is that we didn’t ask him to do the solo. In my head, I was thinking, ‘Do you want to do the solo?’ but I was just grateful to have him on it and he asked, ‘Do you want me to do the solo?’ and he went at it twice … I think that's my favorite,” Long says.

With friends like these and a strong partnership, there's no telling what Long and Rauhouse can accomplish. As the album title implies, there's really no point in looking toward the past. It is comforting to know these two men are looking steadfastly at what is coming next. And there's something truly poetic about two friends making great music for the rest of us to enjoy.