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Joel Pelletier: Chamber Pop
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Voormann Jazz Bass (and more!) (3 November 2022)

I just can't stop making these things (basses, although I can't stop making things in general). My latest include a Jazz Bass guitar modeled after bassist/artist/Beatles buddy Klaus Voormann's exquisitely detailed Fender Precision Bass that he painted with a true 60's psychedelic sunburst design (of an actual sun face, not just blends of colors like Fender). A detailed description of the Voormann project is posted at my Bass Guitars and Chocolate BLOG.

Another bass recently completed is a beautifully sounding and playing recreation of a new 1957 Fender-style Precision, smooth and thumpy with La Bella flats.

I'm also finishing up ANOTHER vintage Fender Rhodes-style MIDI controller (containing a Casio digital piano).

2020 COVID Babies (12 January 2021)

Well, we survived (most of us, anyway) 2020, and although I don't get to play live music thanks to Mr. COVID and all of our wonderful mask deniers, I have been rather busy building basses. It has occurred to me that, besides maybe my Steinberger, I could start 2021 using only these new basses and cover everything I would ever have the opportunity to play, but that would reveal a deep understanding of human creativity, obsession and gluttony. A detailed description of each of these projects is posted at my Bass Guitars and Chocolate BLOG.

2020 Music Updates (30 July 2020)
Thanks to Mr. COVID the music business as we know it is dead (for now), and live performance opportunities, the exact thing I have come to specialize in, are not exactly in high demand (at all). While home (I do not consider myself STUCK, and my home and family are wonderful, thank you) I continue to make basses, learn new material, record demo and performance videos, and in general start prepared to start up again - whenever. After a few gigs with my Zeppelin and Journey tributes, plus a great 3-gig midwest swing with Mr. Jimmy's Led Zeppelin Revival, I found myself mid-rehearsal with another Zeppelin tribute, Seattle's NO QUARTER, when the news broke that all bars in Utah (where I was preparing for a gig the next night back in March 2020) were closed, ending the rehearsal early so I could contact Southwest Airlines to move my return flight home up a day - and that's it (so far). Gigs on the calendar are routinely postponed or cancelled two months before they hit; my next potential performances (as of 7/30) are in August and September, but we'll see about that.

I have now completed a couple more Sunburst Jazz basses (the bass of choice for John Paul Jones from 1964-1975), and lined them up in the livingroom for a photo shoot and video, plus a solo video describing my latest (and perhaps best) bass I've ever built, my Funster '62 Jazz Bass JPJ Tribute.

In January I also completed my tribute build of John Paul Jones's '51 Fender Precision Bass. I now have 2 basses of this variety, this one and 2015's Chocobass (with a solid walnut body and Moses graphite/epoxy neck). Both have radically different voices, but show off the beauty of natural wood (the JPJ tribute body is ash, which sounds brighter, but the walnut body, while much heavier, is as dark and creamy sounding as it looks).

I've been recording some bass parts on video to combine with other musicians/bands, including this MR.Jimmy version of Led Zeppelin's WANTON SONG.

Continued bass build projects include some reworking/improving Thunderbird and Fenderbird basses, a reconfigured Sunburst Jaguar Bass (still not 100%); more Deluxe Jazz neck headaches, which is being cannibalized to assemble a (perhaps) final Jazz Bass build with a corrected Chinese-made neck and metallic maroon red over sunburst body (with matching headstock); the continuation of both JPJ Alembic/Becvar neck thru bass recreations, including his Becvar 8-string and Alembic Series One 4-string.

2019 Music Updates (23 June 2019)
Getting busier with music as summer 2019 heats up, including many gigs with Journey Unauthorized and the 3 or 4 (as of now) Led Zeppelin tribute bands (as John Paul Joel) including our big annual OC Fair Hangar gig on August 3 with my main Zep band Zeppelin Live, film festival and private showcases with Mr. Jimmy, and summer shows with Stairway To Zeppelin SoCal. I've been a fairly regular presence on both bass and keys at the Whisky a GoGo's Tuesday night Ultimate Jam Night, including music director/pianist for their recent Elton John Night, which also included building the giant 4.5 fot high Elton John PINBALL WIZARD Tommy boots (which I may strap on myself for an upcoming Ultimate Jam TOMMY night). I got to relive my Elton John years pounding away at my family Wurlitzer spinet, singing (mostly to myself) all of his great early music, and it was a great joy to be able to perform this stuff with other great musicians and singers (see the entire Elton show here).

On the music equipment building front, I have built my second PELLOTRON, a mellotron shell for a keyboard and iPad App that disassembles into a case for transport and airline check-in, more basses (including a relic Daphne blue and a vintage correct 64 Sunburst Jazz), and continued tweaking of my (now over 3 year long project) walnut Rickenbacker bass copy CHOC-O-RIC, as well as more JPJ costume and wigs for Zeppelin gigs (go to johnpauljoel.com for more gear/instrument photos and info).

Ultimate Jams at The Whiskey A GoGo (11 October 2018)

Since late August 2018 I have been invited to help out and/or perform at The Ultimate Jams on Tuesday night's at the infamous Whisky A GoGo on Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood (just a scooter ride away from me). So far I've performed on either bass or keys on tunes by Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, The Law, The Firm and Alice Cooper, as well as providing the string section mic system for their Classical Rock night (which I unfortunately could not perform in because I was in the UAE with Journey Unauthorized). Love the challenge each week, thanks to Pauli Z. and Chuck Wright for taking a chance on me, and then continuing to call me in (photos include August Young, Matt Starr and Mitch Perry).

Mr. Jimmy, Zeppelin Live and Abu Dhabi/Jordan (September 2018)

July and August continue to be the busiest performing months of the year. In late July both Journey Unauthorized and Zeppelin Live performed sold-out shows at The Hanger at The OC Fair. For the Journey gig I got to bring out my full concert piano shell for the first time, and for the ZepLive gig I brought out the full 70's John Paul Jones keyboard rig (including the Pellotron and Faux Rhodes) along with the Hippy Christmas jacket. The next week I did my first gig as bass/keys/mando/guitar utility JPJ with the Japanese Jimmy Page expert Jimmy Sakurai (AKA Mr. Jimmy) along with Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banalli and vocalist August Young, performing an entire 4-hour live 1977 Led Zeppelin set with the same updated gear plus my MOOF Midi pedal, Gibson acoustic guitar and electric upright bass (more at JohnPaulJoel.com).

In August Journey Unauthorized played a series of interesting road gigs, including the Win River Casino in Redding, CA during the first huge wildfire up there (gig almost cancelled because the casino almost burned down), and a pair of US Military base gigs including outside of Amman, Jordan and Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Digging Deeper Into John Paul Jones (25 February 2018)

As performing Led Zeppelin music in a few Zeppelin tribute bands continues, I've been wondering if I can take this whole John Paul Joel thing even deeper. With my main Zeppelin band Zeppelin Live continuing with the obligatory 20+ gigs a year, and occasional performances with other Zep bands appear as required (recently including LA Zeppelin and Stairway to Zeppelin), it's become clear that there are probably not enough Zep gigs to make a full-time thing of it financially-speaking (as much as I would have hoped, anyway). But IF there is, I want to be THE guy to call for all things JPJ, so I'm digging even deeper into the instruments/clothing/repetoire. Most recent completed projects include the sparkly hippie jacket he wore in the Zep concert film THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME and the 1973-4 tour, as well as the building of a slightly larger-than-full-size PELLOTRON, a MIDI Mellotron shell using a Line 6 MIDI keyboard and the M3000 iPad Mellotron App. Next up: his two Alembic basses, "Rhodes" bass keyboards and "Taurus" pedals, and a "Rhodes" 88 shell. Go to JohnPaulJoel.com for more.

Zeppelin and Journey Tribute Bands (16 August 2016)

Under the guise of John Paul Joel (and sometimes even as myself) I continue my favorite musical activity, performing the music of Led Zeppelin. In July 2016 my band Zeppelin Live played our biggest yearly show at The OC Fair, with 2100 reserved concert seats and an additional estimated 6000+ fair goers watching the show from outside The Hangar. On August 13, 2016, I had a chance to play another show with L.A. Zeppelin in Lake arrowhead, the first one in two years (with hopefully less time before their next one). I also continue performing with Journey Unauthorized, including overseas US Military shows in Japan and South Korea, so I'm getting to see more of the world as well (with much eating of pastries). I live in this world, not a perfect one, so I don't get to play Zeppelin music nearly as often as I would choose, but I trying to be less regretful thanks to my Buddhist studies.

The Lush Pop Trio (18 November 2014)

Almost two years ago I put together an idea I had for a while - an acoustic piano trio (with upright bass and jazz-style drumming) performing instrumental versions of my idea of great pop and classic rock covers, including (especially) The Beatles and John Lennon, but also tunes by The Police, Led Zeppelin, 10cc, Crowded House, Elton John, etc. The set list is admittedly eclectic, but these are tunes I play by myself at home, and have performed solo at a few events over the last two or three years previous. They are ALL classics that anyone over 40 (and probably younger) would know well. I thought of dressing up as hip 1950's-style (Brubeck-era) musicians and trying to book some of the clubs, hotels and events going on all around Los Angeles - it would be a hip modern alternative to traditional jazz standards that no one has affinity for except for handfuls of jazz aficionados and DJs that blast their recordings over people really trying to have a conversation (and getting paid as much or more as actual musicians). It is taking a while to catch on, but I am starting to get some bites, and we will be gigging on Sunday 23 November 2014 at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood, which will include my singing a couple of the covers as well as some of my original songs (more at LushPopTrio.com).

Seeking great bands and great singers! (19 November 2012)

I'm always available as a pro bassist for classic rock-style or groove-oriented bands (pro touring original or major tribute/cover gigs) looking for a bassist (who can double on keys and vocals if required) for tours and other gigs, including LA-based showcasing and recording sessions. I have over 30 years pro performing and touring experience, no substance issues, a valid passport, pro gear, and a VERY pro attitude. I WANT TO PLAY, WITH NO OTHER DISTRACTIONS! Here are samples of my recent live performance demos with me on bass and keys:

Lots more Zeppelin performances (as John Paul Jones) at JohnPaulJoel.com.

JohnPaulJoel Website (4 March 2011)

I've created a new website dedicated to my current gig as a live musician playing John Paul Jones in Led Zeppelin tribute bands. JohnPaulJoel.com features probably too much detail on the music, the instruments and gear I use, my costume and wig dilemmas, live performance videos of the bands, as wel as (eventually) seperate close up videos of all of the Zeppelin songs I know (featuring the bass or keyboard parts, like some of the YouTube videos that helped me while learning this material).

New Photos (13 January 2011)

New photos by my friend and photographer Heather Harris; "John Paul Joel" for the Zep tribute bands, a new "bassist" and "pianist" photos to use for the new year. Vote for your favorites (no, just kidding, you thought your vote counted for anything?). See more of Heather's rock photography at HeatherHarris.com); download different sizes of these and other photos HERE.

More Performance video as John Paul Jones (9/14/10)

Performing What is and What Should Never Be with HEARTBREAKER, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 9/10/2010

Performing Good Times Bad Times with HEARTBREAKER, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 9/10/2010

"Going over like a lead zeppelin" (or, being John Paul Jones) (9/8/10)


September 3rd marked my first gig as John Paul Jones, performing with the San Jose-baseded Led Zeppelin tribute band Heartbreaker. I had been practicing and rehearsing for the last 2 months leading up to it, including building a custom 60's style Jazz bass (with many modern improvements, including a Moses graphite neck with maple laminated headstock, Fender Deluxe active pickups and electronics, and wonderful La Bella flatwound strings).


The keyboard rig has been totally updated to include the latest Casio Privia PX-3, a Roland XV-2020 with an additional classic keys soundcard, and a little HP Mini netbook running the M-Tron Pro Mellotron software. I also pick up an electric mandolin for a couple of acoustic tunes. New wigs, costumes, etc - not nearly as involved as John Entwistle (for the most part), but a lot to put together and prepare leading into the first dates. I have not a rock keyboard gig since the 1980's, and there was a lot of gear testing/patch writing, ect involved to get this right, easily the most complicated part of the gig (that, and getting the gear down to 2 caes under 50lbs for flying). Playing this music is so rewarding, and based on the forst gig in Aberdeen, Washington, VERY appreciated by much larger audiences that encountered while I was playing The Who music (which I hope to still perform from time to time in the future). Check out Heartbreaker's website for gig and booking info.

Little known fact: The name "Led Zeppelin" (originally LEAD ZEPPELIN) was coined by Keith Moon and John Entwistle...

Onwards and Upwards! (7/12/10)

My involvement with THE WHO SHOW has ended, and I would like to thank singer Stephen Shareaux and guitarist Garrett Griffin, the best "Roger" and "Pete" I have had the privilege to perform with, for some great performances (see above).

As for me, there are a number of new possibilities, ranging from continuing to perform in another WHO tribute, to exploring my recently re-ignited passion for Led Zeppelin and possibly "Being" John Paul Jones, which will bring my keyboard skills up to equal billing with the bass (albeit with many less basses), to additional original and live cover projects in and around Los Angeles.

2009 Performances (8/23/09)

On 23 August 2009 I performed with a string quartet at CFI West, Hollywood, CA USA, sponsored by Atheists United of Los Angeles. Songs included John Lennon's IMAGINE (above) plus other Lennon tunes, as well as my own original material.

2008 Performances (6/20/08)

Summerr 2008 has been and/or promises to be exciting and busy for me musically. In late May I did my first "Chamber Pop" performance since doing some gigs in London, UK in 2003. I was asked by AU in Los Angeles to perform a set of songs that I called FREETHINKING MUSIC. I performed with some great old (and a few new) musician friends, a full band including myself on bass and vocals, Tom Coyne on drums, Dave Hill and Chuck Crowe on guitars, Dan Scoville on piano, a string quartet with Michael Harrington, Kristin Autry, Nika Stein and Jimbo Ross, and AU member Virginia Moore on euphonium and flute! Also joining the band were guests vocalists Kari Kracht and Tara Sitser. Having this size ensemble allowed me to perform some humanist music that influenced my Chamber Pop style in their original arrangements, including Bacharach's WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW, Elton John's YOUR SONG and John Lennon's IMAGINE. My attempt at recording the performance met with some tech glitches, but I did get audio off the board, and there was a video camera there to record it, so as soon as I get the DVD I will post music and video! Suffice to say, it went very well, was very well received, and I have been invited to repeat the program at the year-end AAI Conference at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA in September 2008. Download the program with credits, a song list and comments here.

July promises to be WHO month; my WHO SHOW tribute band is performing at a casino concert ampitheatre in Palm Springs on July 4th, and the next week THE WHO themselves will be performing at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion for the VH1 HONORS THE WHO concert (to be aired the week after). Although we will not be playing at that concert (as far as we know...), we WILL be playing the night before (7/11/08) in Santa Monica, and immediately after the WHO VH1 concert (7/12) blocks away in Westwood (go to thewhoshow.com for details). The summer closes with two huge outdoor festivals; repeat appearances at a tribute band extravaganza called WOODSTOCK '69 (8/16/08) in Irvine, CA, and The Fiesta Hermosa Arts & Crafts Fair at the Pacific Ocean in Hermosa Beach, CA, where The Who Show will sweat out 3 sets in front of over 10,000 sun-stroked Labor Day participants (9/1/08).

Being John Entwistle (2006-2010)

My latest music project, which has become a larger "art piece", is agreeing to perform in a Who tribute band, The Who Show. When I decided late last year to return to live rock performing, I knew it could only be if the music was something that I truly loved and admired. In the last few tears of playing my "Chamber Pop" music, I was starting to get over the whole MY MUSIC thing. Not that I don't still believe that many of my original songs, recordings and performances are still GOOD music (some even great, at least to me), but the whole self-promoting careerism required to exist in the belly of the music business beast was becoming more than I could stomach. I'm in this for the art (in this case, the music), certainly NOT the music business, and still believe that MONEY RUINS ART.

Also read my new essay, "Tribute Bands - Real Music?"

As John Entwistle in The Who Show 2007 - NOT 2015 (video directed by Jeff Stein).

So, if I'm going to play live again and drag out all the basses and gear I have collected over the years, it must be for music I love. I did one gig with a 1960's British Invasion band at the end of 2006, but the band sort of faded away. During that time I saw an ad for a WHO tribute, and knew that was the gig for me. I learn to play bass listening to and learning songs from the Who, and upon further reflection see the major influence not only of John Entwistle's playing style and sound, but of Pete Townsend's writing and guitar playing. I purchased a cheap Epiphone Thunderbird bass and went to the audition with a half dozen Who tunes under my belt, and have not looked back since.

The gig, however, is much more than playing the songs. As silly as these bands can seem to me (still, see my essay "Tribute Bands - Real Music?"), they are musically no different from any cover band (music written and made famous by others), except that it's all music from one band. For most, that's rather limiting, but The Who had DOZENS of hits spanning 20 years, and the biggest problem we have is choosing which songs NOT to play in a one or two-set evening (The Who themselves have complained of the same thing - with so many STANDARD hits they are required by the audience to perform, they only get about 20 minutes in a concert to mix in some newer of less-famous material). In fact, just about EVERY original touring band is manned by musicians who were not part of the original recordings or writing, so they, too, are simply cover musicians (though hopefully paid a bit more...).

The "tribute band" idea takes this a step further - bands that try to recreate the original band's live concert experience. Some just try to faithfully sound like the original, but others go as far as hiring musicians that look similar to the original members, and match their costume and gear (instruments, stage amps, etc). Beatlemania, a hugely successful Broadway show, has spawned a popular and VERY lucrative touring show for those still involved. All of this appeals to my approach to making any art - reproducing as much as possible the original inspiration for each work (for example, my Ensor-inspired American Fundamentalists painting, or other paintings that borrow from Magritte and others).

Becoming John Entwistle allows me to indulge in a bit of bass guitar gluttony (within reason - I don't have John's financial reserves), bone up on some great bass parts, and even delve into his somewhat "dandy" stage costume stylings on the late 60's and 70's. He was a bit of a peacock, dressing up to cover his perceived physical shortcomings (a bit overweight, weak chin, etc); I am not perfect, either, and actually have a "lack of manly chest and shoulders" problem that he did not, so I have to try to dress like John AND try not to look like gussied-up coat hanger with womanly hips. Otherwise, I have a somewhat similar body and facial structure to Mr. Entwistle, certainly closer than any Who Tribute band photo I have been able to find online (yes, there are others throughout the US and UK).

John had LOTS of basses and LOTS of clothing, as well as quite a few hairstyles over his almost 40-year playing career (he died in 2002). Since our band has a killer Keith Moon-style drummer, I knew we needed to look like the classic 1970's-era Who. I decided to match the look of the 1970-72 John (Tommy, Quadraphenia, Who's Next) with the facial hair, costumes and basses he was using at that time. The beard was just a matter of not shaving and shaping to the 70's style, with a bit of dying to match an early-1970's era John (there's a bit of gray on my chinny-chin-chin if left to it's own device). The hair was another story, after a few months of letting it grow out, I concluded that there was no way I could grow it THICK enough on top to look correct (thanks to genetics and my age - I'm trying to match someone in his 20's, not mid-40's), so off to the wig stores! I found a great one that, when properly tweaked, nails his late 60's Beatle-cut transition into his early 70's locks.

As for clothing, in this era John's ensembles consisted many jackets, usually high-waisted, with bell bottoms and loud shirts. Many of this era's promo and concert photos show him in leathers, but as a VEGAN I searched for vinyl alternatives, and have found some killer coats and boots. I decided I could not settle on ONE outfit - the other band members may have been a bit more consistent, but John seemed to enjoy the dress-up long after the others got sick of it. It was only into the 1980's before he settled into one bass (a rather ugly-looking but incredible-sounding and playing custom BUZZARD bass he designed himself), and his stock jean or leather jacket (with his combed back grey hair and beard), a look I see no need to match for this gig despite it's simpler/easier attributes.

Basses moved me in a very different direction. For almost 20 years I have been a Steinberger bass player. In the 70's early 80's I built my own basses, a few inspired by John Entwistle's Thunderbird and Chris Squire's Rickenbackers. Then in 1983 I played my first Steinberger L2 (you remember, the HEADLESS polycarbonate ones), and realized I could never build one as perfectly balanced (physically and sonically), so I sold all my "pieces of wood" and never looked back (I have a passing relationship with Ned Steinberger to this day, and own a few Steinberger basses from their pre-Gibson days, as well as one of Ned's NS Design electric uprights). John Entwistle owned ONE Steinberger, but never played them live. In fact, he owned HUNDREDS of basses, and there is an incredible book of his bass collection (or part of it, anyway) published just before his death. At the 2003 auction of his estate, many of these basses sold for HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars, and most of them sit entombed in glass casses throughout the world (including at many Hard Rock Cafes, and one wonderful 1960's Gibson Thunderbird in a plexi case at West LA music - NO, THEY WON'T LET ME PLAY IT!!!).

I decided to try to reproduce the MAIN and most famous instruments from each period until the late 70's, and have been building hybrids from basses and parts. These basses will LOOK as close to the famous axes he used to record and perform their biggest hits, including:

  • An early 1960's-era large hollow-body bass with/flatwound strings, similar in look and sound to the many he played in the mid-late 1960's (in this case I found a beautiful Epiphone Jack Casady model with a HORRIBLE pickup, but my friends at EMG are working on this for me)
  • His "Frankenbass" (a mashup of many different Fender Precision basses, but with a very heavy early 1951-style Precision body - I have it all but for the right body, which I am still trying to track down)
  • A Thunderbird bass (he bought the last 10 from Manny's Music in 1971 or so when he found out they stopped making them). Mine started as an Epiphone Thunderbird bass, but the only orignal part left is the body (which STILL needs to be refinished someday for the original brown instead of reddish color)
  • A "Fenderbird", consiting of a Thunderbird bass body (an incredible sounding non-reverse Epiphone, even if the pickups are not exactly the classic configuration) with a maple Fender bass neck (John likes Precision necks, I prefer Jazz necks - whatever)
  • An Alembic "Exploiter" (his hand-made Alembic Explorer bass with the custom inlays, intricate electronics and larger headstock). This is a work in progress, and will take some time to do right

I need these instruments to play and sound as great as possible, and although I am going for the classic look of each, I am using as much modern 21st century technology as possible, including active EMG pickups, preamps and even a custom MOSES carbon fiber neck for the Thunderbird. These instruments are turning out wonderfully, and I will post in-process photos of the assembly and completed photos as they are ready. The first 4 are almost complete, and I am totally re-building a cheap Dean Explorer bass to faithfully duplicate the look of John's Alembic Exploiter, without spending the up-to $10,000 an actual Alembic would cost (and still not look just like his bass, which was one-of-a-kind). I recently played an actual Alembic explorer (only #2600), and although it played wonderfully, it had very primitive passive electronics (very unlike most Alembics), and the finish and headstock was still totally wrong, so the temptation passed quickly.

As for AMPS and bass gear, John went through many, using mostly SUNN gear in the 1970's, and finally settling on Ashdowns in the 1980's. I have been a Hartke amp user for more than 15 years, and Larry Hartke has promised to help upgrade the rig to keep up with the MUCH higher volume levels required (The Who was famous for their volume levels). My little 12" Hartke combo stays home, and I now have two 4x10 cabinets for high end, matched with two single 18" EAW PA cabinets (incredible low end) and my trusty Hartke 500-watt bi-amp head (to possibly be upgraded soon to 1000 watts). To keep the classic SUNN look, I have made some silver speaker grill covers with SUNN-style HARTKE logo plates, two dummy SUNN heads, and a false SUNN-inspired front for the Hartke bass amp in order to maintain the look, but there is no compromise in the sound quality. John always complained about bad amps, speakers, strings and basses in the 1960's and early 1970's, and that's part of the gig I do not wish to duplicate. For strings - Rotosounds (of course - John developed his strings with them), but LaBella does make THE KILLER flatwounds.

Like all such projects, it's the research that represents the bulk of the work, and potentially surrenders the most gratifying of rewards. It's made me somewhat of an expert on John Entwistle, a job that is far from complete, and the deeper I get, the more complex bits of playing and personality are revealed. As of 5/07 I have 3 gigs under my belt with the band (they have existed in one form or another for almost 8 years), and keep tweaking the gear, costume and performance. There is a big video shoot coming up (more about that later), and this band actually has the potential to be gigging and touring all over the US and beyond, with some gigs already booked through 2008. For a decade of so I stopped playing with electric guitarists entirely (fed up with the volume problems primarily), but it's a pleasure to be playing loud rock again, this time all music I love. Let's hope the hearing holds out long enough to enjoy it.

Yes? Perhaps... (12 August 2006)
I have been getting back some of my classical repetoire (and learning more) on a wonderful 1950's Baldwin concert grand piano I aquired in January 2006 (although I'm STILL getting the voicing right, and the whole temperature/humidity control issue is driving me a bit crazy). Plans to play some of this stuff live... does not exist (yet).

What IS in motion is a potential new Los Angeles-based band performing ONLY early Yes (from "The Yes Album" to "Close to the Edge"). My bass style has always been a mix of Chris Squire, Geddy Lee and John Entwistle, so it's no strecth to sound like Chris (and it has provided a wonderful excuse to finally own a Rickenbacker bass, which influenced my instruments, playing and sound for almost 30 years). I suppose, if I am to get back into clubs performing rock music, that I should play what I LOVE, and what got me into this music to begin with. Learning this music has been a great pleasure (and will continue for some time), and I am in the process of finding that Bill Bruford-style drummer to form the core of the band.

Once a musician, always..? (10 January 2005)
2004 was my year for painting, politics and personal life stuff. My only 2004 performances were at 2004's NAMM Convention in Anaheim, CA (see below), and a set at the Egyptian Theatre for the ARTifest Festival (plus a quickie set at the House of Blues with my 60's trio The Modern Flashbacks). At this year's NAMM I will attend as a spectator only (eyeing the latest 24/192 recording gear). Even my piano has been in storage for the last 5 months, something I hope to get back by March. With "pop" music seeming less and less relevant to me, it should be interesting where the music muse leads these days.

NAMM 2004 Performances (15-18 January 2004)
Proving once again that there is still some "music" left in the "music business," I played a few times at the 2004 Winter NAMM Convention in Anaheim, CA. My main performance at the Starbucks in the Anaheim Marriot on 15 January, sponsored by Yamaha, Thomastik-Infeld and Intellitouch, was with a string quartet (Marci Vaj & Kristen Autry, violins; Daryl Silberman, viola; Vahe Hayrikyan, cello) performing on Yamaha "Silent String" instruments (potentially a great way to tour with a string section and a full band). Larry from ADK Microphones provided one of his great Area 51 tube mics, the same vocal mic I own and record with.

I met with my friends (anyone who helps me to make music is a friend) at all of these companies, and even got a chance to try out a wonderful carbon-fiber acoustic guitar made by a Louisianna company called CA (Composite Acoustics) at a songwriters showcase I performed at the next evening at the Marriot.

There are potentially many wonderful things I could be doing with Yamaha's help in the future, on top of the Silent String section I'll be testing out more this year. Helmut Frank from Thomastik-Infeld was very positive to the idea of helping fly me back out to London (and this time Vienna) to perform again in Europe in the spring or summer 2004.

(left) Joel with Michael Schaner, Yamaha; (right) Chris Rohrecker & Jake Connally from Connally and Company (distributor), Joel and Helmut Frank, Thomastik-Infeld

(left) Mark & Rusty (Intellitouch) with Joel (two of my biggest fans!); (right) Larry & Joel (ADK Microphones)

Chamber Pop: (Real) Time 5.1 Demo Recordings & Video (19 September 2002)

A demo recording session for my next pop album/project/CD/DVD/whatever, tentatively entitled "Chamber Pop: (Real) Time," was done in 2002. My band (Brian Patridge and Kate Lewis), engineer Brian Soucy, and 11 local pro string players donated an afternoon to help test the 5.1 recording gear I have been accumulating over the last two years. Above are stereo MP3 versions of the 4 songs - below is a video of the shortest of the 4, Minute Song, from footage shot by Jeff Daly (thanks VERY much, Jeff). I am working on DVD authoring to produce a DVD demo with all 4 live takes, including 5.1 AND stereo 24/48 audio tracks (switchable with the DVD remote).

Minute Song (demo video - 62 seconds)

Complete "real (Time)" demo songs (live MP3's): Minute Song | Time | Belgrade | Delusion

Chamber Pop CD

(2/25/2018) On a plane back from a gig in Sacramento, I was thinking of one of these tunes, now recorded and completed almost 20 years ago (Always, which still holds up IMHO), so I listed to them off my phone for the first time in quite a few years. Some of the lyric references made me laugh/cringe (esp. references to Edgar Cayce and the existence of this thing called a "soul"), but I still enjoyed most of it. I have cleaned up the links below, now just MP3 files. And yes, perhaps it's time to record some new stuff...

Chamber Pop Enhanced CD Chamber Pop (1999) is my 12-song audio CD and ten-language CD-ROM, known as an Enhanced CD. The term "chamber pop" is a desciption of my musical style, a hybrid of pop songs and modern classical-style chamber music (think of George Martin's classical collaborations with the Beatles). Drawing on my classical training and my years as a pro rock/pop musician, it combines to create a unique but natural acoustic sound and style for the end of the 20th century.

The 12 songs range from the personal to political and philosophical (see lyrics), and wide variety of arrangement styles and techniques were employed, drawing from pop, rock, folk, jazz and classical chamber music styles. Except for electric bass (on tracks 1, 8 and 11) and electric guitar (on tracks 6 and 11) the album was recorded entirely with acoustic instruments (including drums), with no sequencers, synthesizers or samplers.

All tracks are yours for FREE (if you choose to download them). If you are interested in helping to support the artist directly, go to support for the details... and your comments are very important to me!

1) What Are You Now? (3:09) band and string quartet

2) Lie To Me (3:48) acoustic band (bass/guitar/drums) and string section

3) Rather Have You (4:01) solo voice and string quartet

4) Wall Inside (4:26) solo voice w/acoustic guitar and string quartet

5) Same To You (3:33) acoustic band (bass/piano/drums) and string quartet

6) Birthday Song (4:16) band and string section

7) 20th Century (4:47) acoustic trio (guitar/bass/percussion)

8) Always (2:38) band and string section

9) Touch (4:38) acoustic band and string quartet

10) Sword (3:27) voice, acoustic guitar and string orchestra

11) Not Afraid Of The End (4:53) band (including electric guitar) and string section

12) Never Be the Same (3:49) solo voice and string quartet

Credits and information
Artist: Joel Pelletier
Title: Chamber Pop (Enhanced CD)
Producer: Joel Pelletier
Engineer & Vocals Co-Producer: Brian Soucy Label: The Way Home Media CD9801
Distributor: Valley Media (retail label - Orchard)
Publisher: The Way Home Music (BMI)
Credits: Vocals, acoustic & electriuc basses, acoustic guitar, piano, violin, Joel Pelletier; acoustic guitar, Chuck Crowe; drums & percussion, Joe Lizama; drums, Lenny Roberto; electric guitar, David Hill; violins, Marci Dictreow & Eric Gorfain; viola, Jimbo Ross; cello, Nikka Stein-Ross
1998, 1999 Joel Pelletier

Older Pop/Rock Tracks (pre-Chamber Pop)

I always expected to release these as a compilation of tracks recorded over a 10-year period (searching for a style that eventually became CHAMBER POP), but with the concept of CDs becoming rather redundant, why not start posting them here?

Human (1989)
Recorded live in a studio in 1989, featuring an 8-piece band (with myself on vocals and Chapman Stick). A "gender-neutral" love song (based on my then-interest in reincarnation and soul-mates... whatever).

Shades of Grey (1992)
Recorded live in a studio in 1992, featuring a 4-piece band. I tend to think of Bill Clinton (pre-Monica) while performing this one, and this was a GREAT band (especially drummer Gordy Townsend).

Belgrade (1992)
The original 1992 version, also recorded and mixed live to stereo with that great band.

If I was embarrassed by them, I wouldn't post them, so check these out. They're COOL, and were recorded entirely live, mixed live to 2-track DAT (no post-mixing!!!). This is how I prefer to record - it's not as slick and perfect as overdubs, etc, but there's always a unique character and feel to each session, which is just as important to me as the song, arrangement and performance.

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complete english lyrics as an html text file are viewable here. If you wish you can print them or save as a text file.

PDF Translation files
All of the lyrics from "Chamber Pop" are viewable and printable as Adobe PDF files or text files in all 10 languages (as included on the CD). You can download them by clicking on the proper language (below). Version 3.0 or later of the Adobe Acrobat Reader must be used to read the files (free from www.adobe.com). The Japanese and Chinese lyrics are text files, and Japanese/Kanji or Traditional Chinese fonts/operating systems are required.

  • Chinese (mandarin) (text file)
  • Deutsch (german) (Adobe PDF)
  • English (Adobe PDF)
  • Espanol (spanish) (Adobe PDF)
  • Francais (french) (Adobe PDF)
  • Italiano (italian) (Adobe PDF)
  • Japanese (text file)
  • Portugues (brazialian portuguese) (Adobe PDF)
  • PYCCKOM (russian) (Adobe PDF)
  • Svenska (swedish) (Adobe PDF)

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    CHAMBER POP Scoress
    I wrote the scores for the string sections on Chamber Pop over the course of 8 years. The first scores (including Rather Have You) were written in the same way I originally learned to compose and orchestrate, at the piano with a score pad and a pencil (as depicted on the album cover's self-portrait). By the time the string parts were being recorded, I had moved to writing scores using my MAC, a program called Cubase, string and piano modules and a keyboard controller. Moving from the piano to a computer only changed one thing - now I didn't have to "image" how the parts would sound, as I can now hear the parts (playing along with the actual backing tracks), bar by bar, measure by measure, as soon as I imagined them.

    PDF Chamber Pop Scores

  • Rather Have You (string quartet)
  • Sword (string orchestra)
  • Never Be the Same (string quartet)

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    The Enhanced CD features 12 songs in arrangements ranging from voice and string quartet to a full band and orchestra. The interactive CD-ROM section, playable on any MAC or Windows PC, features all the lyrics and credits in 10 languages:
    1. Chinese (Mandarin)
    2. English
    3. French
    4. German
    5. Italian
    6. Japanese
    7. Portuguese (Brazilian)
    8. Russian
    9. Spanish
    10. Swedish
    Click on the images to view a full-size screen shot or click on a link below:
  • Pick a Language
  • English Index page
  • Japanese Index page
  • Japanese Lyrics page
  • Russian Lyrics page
  • French Video page
  • Geman Credits page
  • Multi-language CD-ROM Screen Shots
    Pick a Language screenshot English Index page screenshot Japanese Index page screenshot Russian Lyrics page screenshot French Video page screenshot Geman Credits page screenshot
    ...as well as original animations, videos, illustrations, scores and links to this website. I conceived, designed, produced, wrote, arranged and programmed the entire project, combining all of the skills I have aquired as a professional artist, web designer, composer and musician over the last 20 years.

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    making CHAMBER POP
    On October 13th I inflicted 10 hours of concentrated reading and recording on 4 great string players - Marci Dicterow & Eric Gorfain (violins), Jimbo Ross (viola) and Nika Stein-Ross (cello), henceforth to be known as the "Chamber Pop Orchestra" (along with me sawing away on double-bass) - tracking all the string parts for 12 of 14 songs for the "Chamber Pop" album. With everything from solo string quartet stuff to full orchestra (3 overdubs) they did a great job, only begged to leave once, and I will be forever greatful! The vocals were completed in early December, and all the tracking was completed on December 16th; the mixing was completed on December 31st (VERY special thanks to Brian Soucy, who engineered the entire project, and to Craig at Sunset Sound!).

    playback The band - Joe Lizama and Lenny Roberto on drums, Chuck Crowe and Dave Hill on guitars - filled out my vocal and multi-instrumental ramblings, helping to realize the arrangements, from intimate to bombastic, with more than a few "Beatle quotes" sprinkled in. This was admittedly an ambitious project, but perhaps there is hope that I may become a slightly nicer guy once this particular goal has been realized (then again...). The original CD released party and performance in conjunction with the winter NAMM convention was held at Hollywood Moguls on Friday, 30 January 1998, with the band, a string section, big screen videos (including the premier of the first video from the CD, "Touch"), and computer CD-ROM demos. The folks that showed up, including most of the CD-ROM translations, were treated to a varied, and judging from the response, enjoyable evening.

    The entire album, including one track not originally included on the CD, was remastered by Stephen Marsh at Sony Music Studios in Santa Monica from September through November 1998, greatly improving the sound quality of the album. It also enabled me to redo a few of edits and the song order, based on comments from many fans and music industry folks. The official re-release took place at a performance on 31 January 1999, with the band and a 10-piece string section performing for a good-sized crowd at Petterson's in Culver City. The CD, for sale at this site, is also available at all major music websites (including Amazon.com, CDNow.com, CDWorld.com, Buy.com... but if you buy it here, you pay the artist much more for the same price), and am available through Valley/DNA Distibution to all music retailers (ask them to order it)!

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  • © 2022 Joel Pelletier, The Way Home Media/Music, Hollywood, CA
    email: joelp@joelp.com

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