Published Apr 27, 2011The title of Romi Mayes's fifth album is an apt one. It's a dicey proposition to record an album of brand new songs in one take at a live show in front of 400 fans. But with Lucky Tonight, the Winnipeg roots musician proved herself fortunate indeed.
"I don't really believe in too many things spiritually, but people said there was this thing in the air that night, like magic dust," Mayes tells Exclaim! "There was a crazy vibe in there. It was a pretty magical night."
The concert was held at Winnipeg's West End Cultural Centre in January 2011. Mayes says the decision to record her album live stemmed in part from her own evolving sound.
"My style has gotten grittier and ballsier and sort of came into its own," she explains. "It has a lot to do with this edgier rock push that we've had in the last couple of years. A lot to do with playing with the Weber Brothers for a while when I had them behind me as a full band, and also playing with Jay Nowicki."
Nowicki, guitarist with Winnipeg blues rock band the Perpetrators, toured with Mayes after her 2009 album Achin' in Yer Bones. The two hit such a stride playing together as an "electric duo" that they went one step further and made Lucky Tonight, which they decided to record onstage in attempts to capture the raw energy of their live shows.
Mayes did have some doubts during the rehearsals that led up to the event. The arrangements all had to be worked out in advance, leaving no room for spontaneity. And she had other worries, as well.
"Jaxon Haldane from [Winnipeg bluegrass band] the D-Rangers sang harmonies and that was a really scary thing, too," she says. "I trusted him as a singer and knew he could do it, but all he had to do was sing one bad note and that whole song would be ruined."
But aside from one false start, the recording went off without a hitch. Mayes feels that the challenges of the live recording brought something unique to Lucky Tonight.
"When you're in the studio you have an opportunity to phrase better, you have an opportunity to hit your notes better, you have some vocal takes to choose from," she says. "But there's something that happens live that you can't get in a studio. The feedback from the audience was so incredible that night that really I just wanted to step up to the plate and perform the shit out of it for them."
As previously reported, Lucky Tonight dropped on Tuesday (April 26). In support of the record, Mayes has booked a North American tour. You can see all the dates here.