Sunday, September 18, 2016

Mark & Mike Songwriting Patterns!

Eighties Mark is on the left with the mustache and hair; on the right, Mike in 1995 or so

Mark & Mike Songwriting Patterns!

Celebrating forty years and just putting out a new collection, it is notable that, right from the beginning, we always had a dual songwriting team, Mike McBride and myself, Mark Lajoie. (I've jokingly compared our 'L & M' team, 'Lajoie & McBride', to 'Lennon & McCartney' before!) I noticed an interesting pattern for Mike and myself throughout all the years. I can draw a line for each of us through these years, writing a particular style of song.

For myself, I've written a series of four blues-based or rock n roll type songs over the whole time. They are an early one, "Roll the Rock Over", 80's core concert song, "It's Not the Same" and the more recent "Booze Blues Cruise" and "Do What He Tells you To Do". I don't think I ever noticed this before. I've always been aware of how the Beatles affected us both in our vocals and songwriting, but there is a definite blues-y thing happening with Mark Lajoie. What do you think?

Next, I've noticed that Mike is continuing a pattern of epic, piano ROCK-type classics. His initial prototypical concert-style breakthrough was the truly epic "Searching". That thing rocks! Well, he just continued this with the masterpiece, "Lonely Dancer" and has continued the pattern lately with "Take Me" and "Save Me From Myself". That thing rocks, too doesn't it?! 

Each pattern is a definite flow, I would say. I would further say, that both catalogs in their entirety together flow just as well, as if it was meant to be. Well, it was!

I was especially gratified that, in our most recent reunion concert, we performed, as a whole band, a brand new composition from each one of us:  "Do What He Tells You to Do" AND "Save Me From Myself". That was just so awesome.

Thanks to all of you who have listened, watched and appreciated. If you are so inclined, you could do something to spread or promote this music.

Peace & Love & JOY,
Mark LaJOIE!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

“Take Me” on Video!

Take Me Video (Click this to go to LivingWatersUTube)
Take Me Video on Reverbnation


We are so happy to present a new video for Mike’s beautiful song, “Take Me”. It is the second track in our new collection, “Still Flowing”, and it is a thematic and sonic tone-setter for the whole album. When Mike ‘came back’ to us, he was finally free to let out a torrent of fantastic musical expression and this was the first big result. On the album, the song flows quite naturally into the next song, “Home is Where the Heart Is”, as it expresses that yearning to “take me home with You”.
Mike told me the trigger for the song was the awful shootings at the theater in Colorado, and then what happened at our own Boston Marathon. (I’ve included photos from those incidents.) It is about that terrible pain when you lose someone you love, and, yet, your deep knowledge of the Lord lets you know they’re all right. And you want to be with them, but, more, your heart wants to beat with that Heart Who is the Unbeatable Source of all goodness, truth and beauty, the Heart that provides this ideal solace in the first place.

I tried to express all this in the pictures I chose for the collage. Included is a famous picture of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati climbing the mountain cliff; his saying was “verso l’alto” (“to the top” or "to the highest”). He wanted the Lord to take Him home, by making every effort, by His Grace, to be holy, to love and give to the poor all the way. I also have a relevant saying of Saint Therese: “The world’s thy ship and not thy home”. Both of these are modern young people who died in an untimely manner at 24 years old. (I hadn't realized this till after the video was done!) This is perfect for this song and gives us hope in the middle of senseless tragedy. The theme is quite appropriate to this “Year of Mercy” and provides the Gospel answer to the accelerating violence and dehumanization in the world today.

So, without further ‘adieu’, I present to you the video for “Take Me”.

Peace & Love & JOY,

Monday, August 1, 2016

New Album! "Still Flowing"

New Album! "Still Flowing"

This is a collection of some of our recent work. Josh Loell has been the producer on most of these, doing a real pro job especially on Mike's songs. A few I had worked up only on Garageband, so the quality is somewhat uneven, but I think these are all worth hearing. One special treat is a full-band live version of "Home is Where the Heart Is"; that is special! 

There is a theme: this is not shying away from 'negative' feelings and situations, but discovering that that is precisely where Our Merciful Lord is found. There is the struggle with alcoholism in "Booze Blues Cruise", the desperation and loss of "Take Me", dealing with death & loneliness, the need to be saved from oneself, the realization we are all sinners, the realization I need to be a Good Samaritan, and so on. Bono had recently said he wished Christian rock bands today could 'get real'. I really think this does that.

The picture was taken at the Falls of Song in New Hampshire and is oh so appropriate, n'est-ce pas?

The title is not only a reference to the fact that we've been continuing to make & play music. It is a deep realization that the grace flowing from his pierced Heart is continuing to flow uniting our faith family in the midst of all our troubles, & that nothing can ever stop it. It is Living Waters, man!

Please, listen, come to this is still flowing for you....

Peace & Love & JOY,
Mark LaJOIE!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Pictures R U, LW! Late 80's+

Last time, we published an entry featuring pictures of us from the early 80's. In this episode, we will look, in particular, at the late 80's & early 90's. As I noted before, this task of showing group pictures had already been done in a sense in the video for "Love's in a Name". That video is here:

As the 80's progressed, we continued to be very active, going out in our bus just about every weekend, but, after 1986 or so, without Mike. Another factor was that we were all getting married and starting families at this time. That means many Living Waters children, whom I dubbed, "puddles"! Chuck & Joyce and Tony & Denise were already married. (Mike & Sharon, our first real married couple had left the active group and were having children.) All the other LW families formed then. Dave & Kathy, Mark & Julia, John & Joyce (not in the pic below) and Anne & Greg, all got married in quick succession, and Jim married our dance foundress, Ann-Marie. Jackie, Chris R. and little Mark were the first in a growing list of "puddles".

Some others had left the active group like the Foucres or the Gagnons, but once you had been in Living Waters, you were always part of it, somehow. In this picture below, we also see several co-workers of happy memory who were new to the group at this time, like Miles, Cindy, Kevin, Joe and Don; their families & friends became part of us. Living Waters wouldn't have been what it was without their unique and unforgettable presence. In view of all this, the picture below is a treasured slice of this wonderful time.

Here we are outside the 505 Pleasant House circa 1988, near Betsy the Bus. Front row: Miles, Cindy, Carole, Anne & Greg, Don Morrier, Denise; middle: Joyce with Chris, Joline, Jeff, Kevin, Mark with little Mark & Julia, Tony, Kathy & Dave with little Jackie, Pepi; back left: Ann-Marie & Dave & Jim Babish, Chuck (behind his Joyce) and Joe D.
One thing about our weddings of this time is that they were Living Waters weddings, featuring our own tunes and style. We began to do many weddings for Bourque relatives and many others as well. This remains a key part of who we are to this day. It reminds me of something like the Von Trapps, a musical family, bound by sacred oaths to God. (Several of our past members had also given their lives by becoming presbyters, like Bob, Danny & Mike Higgins; they remain part of this faith family.) This very weekend, we are set to do the wedding for Dave & Kathy's son, Matthew, featuring John & Joyce's daughter Caroline singing. The beat goes on!

Mark sings "Perfect Gift Song" at his marriage to Julia 1986
Left: Mike Higgins, in charge of TOR Franciscans in Rome at one point; right: Danny, missionary in Mexico

We should throw in a classic picture from right before this other one, when we sort of went to a formal look with fancy shirts and colored dresses. This picture allows us to mention a few other members we had in the 80's. In the front left we see Joan, whom we haven't mentioned, and peeking in the back is Chrissy, the star of the "Prodigal Daughter". Front & right is our beloved Mary Gillis; we played music for her funeral, and recently, also, for Cheryl.

As the 80's turned into the 90's, we moved our large equipment from Holliston to the nearby Sons of Mary, across Route 9 in Framingham. It was there that we had one of the best Christmas concerts we ever did captured by Jim on tape. This was the source of a couple of the live tracks we put on our recent Christmas album, "The Joy". (There is a link to those songs below, the "Christmas Live" playlist.) We were also spending time in the hall recording some of our concert standards of this time. The gem of that session is undeniably, "Love's in a Name". "Let's Stay" was always the next to last song leading to "Nobody Else" as the closer, in those days. (There is also a playlist with these songs below.)

The Sons of Mary in Framingham, where we were based in the early 90's
Here are the links to the recordings of those days:
The Sons Sessions
Christmas Live

It around the mid-90's that the group 'ended' as a regular touring band, due to the pressures of families, jobs and other issues. However, the group never really totally 'ended'. In the early 90's, we also recorded "Peter the Rock", did a concert with Mike in 1995 at Sheepgate Coffeehouse, reviving many old songs, and continued to do sporadic concerts, weddings and such until the present time. Further, each of us bloomed where we were planted providing our music talents to our own churches. Around 2011, a whole new era would dawn with the entrance of the band to the internet, and brand new songs and recording. Stay tuned for the next episode!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Pictures R U, LW! Early 80's

Pictures R U, LW! Early 80's

Last time, we published an entry featuring pictures of us from the 70's. As promised, here are pictures from what was our most active touring decade, the 80's. In this episode, we will look, in particular, at the early 80's. As I noted before, this task of showing group pictures had already been done in a sense in the video for "Love's in a Name". That video is here:

As the 80's dawned, it seemed like the group was done for a short time, because we had left the retreat center where we were based. But, we discovered that Living Waters had its own wonderful, family identity quite separate from where we had been. We moved our equipment to St. Linus parish in Natick for a short time...and we came up with tshirts! At first we had a light blue version with a circular logo, I think, but soon settled for a dark blue with white letters. You can see the shirts here in a picture from a Christmas show in Woburn from 1980.

Top to bottom: Chuck R., Tom, Joyce, Suzanne, Jim G., Mike, Beth, Mike, Michelle, Dave, Kathy, Chuck T., Sharon, Omer, Tony, Denise, Greg, Mark

These pics show us practicing & posing in the basement at St. Linus:

We started touring SO much, mostly in Massachusetts, but also in the rest of New England and New York. We made trips to conferences across the Northeast in places like Hartford or Providence Civic Center. (We had previously done a couple of Steubenville Youth Conferences.) We were using the second version of our converted school bus, Betsy; we took out the back seats in order to carry tons of lighting and sound equipment. Here we are, performing right in front of the bus, at a common destination in Rhode Island:

Back: Mike, Dave, Denise, Tony, Mark, Greg; Front: Kathy, Joyce, Chuck, Mike, Sharon

At this point, I decided that we needed to find our own 'home base'. I noticed the Marists in Framingham had an abandoned house on 505 Pleasant Street, across from their place. I negotiated to get it and we got to work, renovating and making a home. Tony & Denise moved upstairs to the third floor and served as house parents. Pepi, Greg, John and I moved to the second floor, joined by various others as time went on. We parked Betsy, the bus, in the large area outside and put all our sound, lighting and recording equipment in the basement.

Top: Mike, Greg, Dave Mark; Hood: Kathy, Sharon, Chuck; Front: Mike, Denise, Jim, Joyce, Tony

It was in this cellar that we recorded the Christmas album for which we took the following picture as a cover. (We were in front of Jim's house down the street, and it was actually warm!)

On rock: Mary Gillis, Mike & Carole; Back: Tony, Denise, Jim, Greg, Dave, Kathy, Mark, Joyce, Chuck

We were also doing a Themed Concert entitled, "The Prodigal Daughter". This was done in support of Covenant House in New York, the place for young victims of human trafficking. We made a couple trips and played there in the very early 80's, and continued to support them through PR and contributions.

Left: the Marist House, the view across from our house; Right: CH logo in the 80's

In the mid 80's, we faced a major crisis when Mike decided to go off to college and leave the group. At first, it really affected the way we sounded, but eventually, through constant touring, we came up with a new sound without him, even while doing some of his songs. It was at this time that we recorded the "Basement Tape" of three songs that we were doing so much in concert: Nobody Else, It's Not the Same & There's a Woman. Here they are:

At some point in the late 80's, we moved most of our stuff to Fatima Shrine in Holliston in order to get a good practice space. In the late 80's and early 90's, there were even more changes coming. Stay tuned for the next installment!

Fatima Shrine in Holliston which became our practice space in the 80's!

Peace & Love & JOY,
Mark LaJOIE!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Pictures R U, LW! 70's

Pictures R U, LW! 70's

We just published a series of our profile pictures, at which time, I promised to present a similar serial display of our group pictures. I will show here not just 'official' group pictures, but some other classic snaps, as well. In a way, this has already been done with the video we did for our award-winning song, "Love's in a Name", where I was 'telling the story' of Living Waters leading up to the time I made it. That video is here:

We first started after some of us had moved from Maine to the retreat center in Massachusetts. We provided music for retreats and such at first. Here is a very early pic, circa 1975; Jim Gagnon, second from the left, in the rear, was our first drummer. Kathy & Joline were our female singers. Notice me, Mark Lajoie in the back right rear. I was really wounded and inward still. Being in this loving group and using my talents helped me come out as time went on. Our first 'uniform' idea? Simply white shirts!

back: Eddie, Jim, Mike, Mark; middle, Danny, Chuck, Dave; front: Joline, Kathy

This is one of our very first concerts as "Living Waters" in the "Charismatic Hall" stage area under the Chapel. We look very stiff, and we were still using music stands.We probably were not travelling yet!

Here we had graduated to our first real 'uniform':  blue water-colored ruffled shirts and whatever you would call those dresses. Look at that hair! We had gone to see Lighthouse perform at the charismatic community in Ann Arbor, and over time started adding lights, drama and a thematic show program in imitation of them.

Circa 1978, we began to play at the other end of the hall and Jim Babish and others helped us with a sound system and such. Omer began to 'book' us in various places. Here is a picture from that time; L to R are Mark, Danny, Chuck on horn, Jimmy on drums, Joline; unseen Dave on bass, Mike on piano. Because it's capo 2, it looks like we are playing the Lighthouse song, "God So Loved the World". We started turning up the volume and playing our own songs, too:

The dance troupe, "Rejoice", joined us around this time and several drama people. We had a dashiki period in the late 70's for quite a while. We converted a school bus and began to do hundreds of concerts over the next few years. We posed for a full group picture with the colorful dashikis here. Below that, pictures of our concert on Concord, MA green for World Peace Day during this time. Mark, Greg & Dave in our classic "Guitar Brothers" picture; Tony, our new drummer, began to call us that and many other classic names at this time. Tony joining us? well, that's a whole other story, isn't it!:

In the 80's, we began to really hit our stride with our Covenant House connection and the "Prodigal Daughter" show, the dark blue tshirts, the Christmas show, and some real multitrack recording. Stay tuned for the next installment!

Peace & Love & JOY,
Mark LaJOIE!

Monday, May 30, 2016

For Memorial day: "Fight For me"

putting our flags up, back in the day....

Fight For Me!
Click this link to listen!

Living Waters really digs Memorial Day. Most of us either come from military families, or have important people from our families who served. "Fight For Me", which you can hear on our "Refresh" album certainly comes to mind! This song, with its military feel, expresses the desire to give your life for and in service to others, and also speaks of that supreme confidence in the good which exemplifies our holiday. The best military people hate war in itself as a terrible thing, but embrace the opportunity to face such evil in order to preserve freedom for others. "Fight For Me" says that the ultimate battle is the fight with vice & sin in ourselves. The Good News there is that, not only are we not alone, but victory is guaranteed for those who trust in the One who is eminently trustworthy! Good people who quietly do this are the backbone of the families, military and servants who make our human family go. I think it is a rousing and inspiring anthem.

This track was recorded back in the early 90's, with the whole band (except for Mike, who was away from this music until around 2011). The mixing for the vocals, unfortunately, never really got finished on this track; you can hear that on the chorus mixes. But, beyond that, this recording, with its energy and drive, really demonstrates what is was like to go to our shows back then. Tony, soloing on drums, takes us in and leads us out and drives the whole thing throughout. I'm so glad everybody gets a chance to hear how good he really is, and how he has really made this band flow over the years. Greg, of course, does his typical magic with the electric guitar, and Dave has one of his best bass lines ever. Denise is so strong on her vocal with Dave and I. Greg threw in that extra 12-string during the bridge in one take while standing on a table, as I recall.

And, so, in memory of those who serve, we give you..."Fight For Me"!

Peace & Love & JOY,
Mark LaJOIE!
Fight For Me!
My father, who fought at Guadalcanal & the islands during WWII