Patrick Ames Releases Equality-Themed Anthem For All the "Essential Workers"

Trickster Singer Songwriter Patrick Ames continues to evolve his lyrically potent junkyard blues signature cocktail on hooky new single "Essential Workers", out today on all platforms


Independent Music Promotions

Trickster Singer Songwriter Patrick Ames continues to evolve his lyrically potent junkyard blues signature cocktail on hooky new single "Essential Workers," out today on all platforms.

For someone like Patrick, who very much observes and writes about the world around him, current events are inevitably going to find their way into his songs - especially when the California wildfires have been literally closing in on his Napa Valley home. Ames manages to plug into deep messages about equality and what it means to be an essential worker, while still putting the rock and roll hooks on full display with a statesman baritone overtop the soulful backing vocals of regular collaborators Chana Matthews and Mikaela Matthews. As with his prior two singles "Reawakened 2020" and "You Make Me Scream," "Essential Workers" was produced by Jon Ireson.

"Virus, protests, sheltering, heat, fire, and floods. The new normal is heard here.

In fact the whole concept of what is essential is under review here, and I wanted a song that mashed up the elements, the verses, the vocals, with lyrics like streaks of tear gas: It spurts, it starts, it mashes acoustic with rave, it's wild and filled with today's Pandemic life and scenes we immediately recognize. It's also a modern recruitment sign-up song.

"There's a narrative, a progression from Essential Workers becoming the Nightly Protesters who give rise to the Essential Angels who tell us what has just happened: We can't be the same society anymore. We may be essential but that doesn't mean our lives are free. Essential Workers, the song, says treat people as equal, not just essential in times of need.

"I gave this great big clump of stuff and emotion and smokey vocals to Producer Jon Ireson while California was literally burning in mid-August. The first drafts were shockingly rough, as I had all these bridges and choruses, twice as many as in the final cut. I gave Jon a much trimmer second draft and then went after Chana and Mikaela, my singers, and we did a Zoom recording session, as I watched them record in their home while I directed remotely. And then we sent another clump of vocals, 10-12 tracks of different stuff back to Jon, half of it out of tune because our voices and throats were so hoarse from the California fires and smoke storms taking place.

"Jon is amazing, he is the Producer, the bass player, organ player, percussion programming, and mix and master. We spoke several times about impact, beat, messaging, politics, and how it can all be expressed coherently, with that beat, with that emotional draping, yet still be a song. He did it. It's high energy and its high impact with some pretty direct lyrics. I wanted something the delivery guys could play loud in their vans with the windows down, and Jon helped me do it. Enjoy. Vote". - Patrick Ames

"Patrick approached me with the idea to honour and celebrate the heroes of this year in the form of a tribute to the essential worker. Health care and essential business workers but also protesters who have to continue to hold lawmakers accountable in these times as much as any other. My mother was a nurse and though all of us should appreciate their hard work and sacrifice, it hits home for me especially.

"He brought a demo to me with a propulsive beat and gruff chords that he framed as a sort of battle chant to those going into harms way every day for us. With the help of his singers Chana and Mikaela, we worked to make it a soulful ode to the backbone of America. I gave the drums some rumble, gave it a marching bass line, and added some organ to give it some of that gospel flare." - Jon Ireson (Producer)

So if you're an essential worker, this song is for YOU.


In the heart of wine country in California, you may encounter the proper wordsmith and storyteller, Patrick Ames. Patrick is a man who plays to his own inner muse, revealing a complex set of inspirations and incantations from the eclectic songwriter. One can expect more than a dash of the raw, dark, and mournful, along with hopeless romance, artistic conviction, and a fiercely in-the-moment, DIY approach where the recording style is both instrument and live-ness detector.

And what you soon learn is that Patrick Ames is passionate. Writing/literature is a passion. Lyrics and poetry are passions. Melody/guitar/music writing is a passion. Nature and wine country are passions. Spirituality and inner connection, passion. Psychological pursuits, passion. Anything activist or community-related are passions. Knowledge, education, are passions.Ames smiles, "Wine makes you passionate."

Ames discusses growing up in a household full of music and how that became a part of his musical consciousness:

"My mother sang opera and also in the church choir (I'm a choir brat). My very older brothers listened to 1960s hits and bands, and my father to Pop radio. We were close to Detroit, so it was Motown, Motown, Motown, or Puccini. And for some reason I knew who the songwriters were, like Holland, Dozer, Holland. Then Glen Campbell broke through and I remember adoring him. He had a TV show. He had a guitar and he wrote songs! I still think his Wichita Lineman is extraordinary."

Ames started writing songs in 1968 when he was 14 years old. He inherited a guitar and dozens of classic albums from his older brothers who went off to college. An avid songwriter and performer during his own college tenure, he went into book publishing after attempting the music circuit in 1976. It would be 25 years before he would play seriously again. "I bought my son a cheap Fender and amp. He didn't like it. I loved it. I cranked it up and played with abandon. And then it all came back, in spades."

Much of Ames's professional life has been in technical book publishing, which for him carries several parallels to what he's doing now.

"Book publishing is exactly like being a music producer. The end product is a finished work of communication, and the path from early inspiration to finish is a drug. And you keep doing it to get the drug. Writing songs is like writing poems, only with more tools at your disposal: you have melody, rhythm, human voices, syncopation, and on and on. Songs can become these extraordinary 3D poems. And I think a good LP/EP is just like a book, with songs like chapters, and all these themes criss-crossing."

Now, in his early 60's, Ames has returned to songwriting armed with decades of word-smithing, book publishing, and decades of practice. Through a series of experimental EP and LP releases, including "Four Faces," "Like Family," "Affettuosos," "Standard Candles," and "All I Do Is Bleed," he has established his personal signature with a gravelly, heart-on-the-sleeve voice box and carefully considered lyrics. Critics are sitting up.

"I tell stories, so lyrics and music come hand in hand. It usually starts with a musical riff and then I match that riff with some kind of striking lyric. So I have a musical riff and a lyrical riff. Then, as a story, I let those two fly together and piece the story together." For example, his last EP release came with a doozie of a title - "All I Do Is Bleed". When asked about the meaning, Ames smiles, "Passions can overwhelm you."

All I Do Is Bleed crossed an artistic boundary for Ames. During the EP project, Ames visited Buenos Aires and brought back mucho Latin inspiration. You can hear it in the tracks, acoustic guitar work and percussion, just like the streets of San Telmo in Buenos Aires. From R&B Downtempo, to American Top 40, to Classical Crossover, to Latin Folk/Pop, the EP confirmed his propensity to travel through music with his stories and emotions. And he shares the stage with his two vocalists, mother and daughter, Chana and Mikaela Matthews, and add an Argentinian guitarist, Paulo Augustin Rzeszut.

Much like in Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen's writing, Patrick's lyrics reveal at times a wry black humor and matter-of-fact delivery. Lines like "While you were making babies I sat on the sofa all by myself. While you were making babies I decided to go down and visit Hell." illustrate this knack perfectly.

Remember wine country? Ames lives in a Napa vineyard where he writes, records, and plays for the grapes at practice time.

"Lots of people love wine and the world of wine (tasting, collecting, etc) but few people get to live in the vineyard. I live in one, and it is hauntingly beautiful. It's not like a cornfield...the vineyards are pampered and coaxed to produce, and the way they are watered, pruned, and picked is special. The land can be remotely wild, filled with animals and critters, and it can be very rural living there. The music that I write, and play, is not so much Americana as it is what I call Wine Country music: it's a mix of heady folk, basic rock, classic Motown, and choral music with an artistic and intellectual bent. Best heard with a glass of wine."

So far, Ames has stuck to DIY production approaches, experimenting with studio live-ness and recording. It's unusual in folk/acoustic music for such experimentation but his latest 6-track release, Liveness (April, 2020), showcases his banshee wail and devoted disposition.

Ames is married to Elizabeth Ames, a woman's rights advocate, with one son. He performs at small venues around the SF Bay Area and Napa preferring intimate settings with the audience.

October 6, 2020 1:01pm ET by Independent Music Promotions  

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