California Dream was inspired by the LA stories I heard, mostly from other singer-songwriters, while I lived out there. I was fairly well established by the time I moved to LA, but most of the songwriters I met on the Hollywood music circuit were much younger, with nothing but a guitar, backpack and a few dollars.
The original music circuit in LA didn't really pay anything, so we had to make money some other way. Playing out was more about the potential for networking and exposure to TV and record labels and such. In some cases, clubs would make you buy tickets from them, for your own show, and then it was up to you and/or your band to sell the tickets to generate your own crowd. It wasn't easy to sell all the tickets at full price, which was anywhere from $5 to $15 each, since there were so many hundreds of other artists trying to do the same thing.
Often you'd end up losing money just to have a show, which was called "pay to play." The same was true when looking for paying work, you would often have to pay the employer something to consider your application. This was known as "pay to work." One particularly colorful character was an artist named Nathan Payne. We worked together briefly at a rather ghetto telemarketing sweatshop in lower Hollywood. I was there part time for as long as I could stand it, which was a few months. It wasn't too far from where I was living at the time, so it helped me make ends meet, between decent jobs, without having to get out on the freeways and commute.
Nathan told stories about his recent journey to LA, via Greyhound bus, from somewhere in the midwest. He referred to his first place of residence as "the crack hotel," where people constantly tried to break into his room and steal from him, sometimes while he was sleeping. I'm not sure how long he lasted there, but he is still perfomring and touring,
I went out to support him a few times at open mics and found him very entertaining. We laughed about how difficult it was to find a parking meter outside the clubs, and that if you were one second past the expiration, you'd have a $45 ticket on your windshield from the meter-maid. Many young artists I knew racked up hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of tickets they couldn't possibly pay.
We also watched out for each other when it came to the "agents" who would approach us, make promises of what they could do for us, but then came the big price tag for the "portfolio," "headshots," etc....
Eva James was born to a family of singers and was a professional vocalist for many years before she began writing songs. As a result, her "Love & War" CD combines many styles and eras of popular music including Pop, Rock, Country, Folk, Latin, and Swing.
With a backdrop of rising, random gun violence in her home city of Atlanta and elsewhere during the 1990's, the CD's title and title song reflect the challenges and volatility of finding love, friendship and safety in an environment of fear, competition, racial tension, divorce and shootings. Gangsta rap had taken over the music industry across the U.S., and with the shooting deaths of Tupak Shakur, Biggie Smalls and other rappers, it was often hard to tell when art was imitating life, or vice-versa. Rappers shouted racial and sexual slurs against everyone in sight, including the women in their lives. "Bitches," "ho's, and "niggas" became part of everyday vocabulary. At the same time, "conscious" rap and R&B music, from bands like Arrested Development, who were cheered as celebrities at Nelson Mandela's freedom celebration in South Africa, were suddenly being dropped by their record labels in favor of gangsta rap.
Relationships, especially among artists and musicians, were tenuous and difficult to maintain. Couples everywhere were juggling dual careers with family obligations. Traditional roles were reversing and individuality often got in the way of lasting love. Losing friends and family members to random acts of gun violence were touching more and more lives, including her own, as reflected in "The Balcony," about the shooting death of a friend in Charlotte, NC. Eva was asked to sing at his funeral, which was a sad and difficult task.
While some of her songs reflect the anger, shock and sadness of these events, others provide more upbeat and quirky accounts of her own world.
"Intimacy" relates the struggle of finding emotional connection in a world of men who seem determined to avoid it, while "Shallow" pokes fun at how opposites attract, yet repel, at the same time.
Please check out the entire Love & War CD at www.cdbaby.com/evajames, where you can sample, stream or download the songs.
Thanks for listening, reading and hope you enjoy!
Eva : )
Eva looks forward to bringing her special brand of Music to festivals, stadiums & theaters everywhere!!!