When exceptional talents unite and
their musical chemistry connect, great opportunities can truly arise, even on
an island as small as Grand Cayman. Singer-songwriter Michael Leclerc and local
guitarist Jonathan Ebanks are on a creative trip to California to record with a
top producer in Los Angeles.
For the musicians this comes as
significant progress since they joined their musical forces a year ago and
began performing as an acoustic duo at venues such as Mezza, Abacus and The
Ritz-Carlton’s Silver Palm Lounge.
The distinctive blend of Leclerc’s
voice and song writing twinned with Ebanks’ inventive guitar style brings a
fresh, original sound best described as acoustic rock with nuances of funk,
folk and blues.
“Jonathan lends a lot to my style
of song-writing. He is probably the best guitar player I have ever worked
with,” said Leclerc, who comes from Chatham, Ontario, Canada, and has 22 years
of musicianship under his belt, “When I first came to Cayman, five years ago, I
learned of his exceptional guitar skills. I am privileged to have such a gifted
musician work with me and travel with me on this opportunity. He deserves this
as does anyone who is willing to work hard on their passion.”
It was during a previous recording
trip to California with his former band Smooth Bill that Leclerc’s songs fell
into the hands of top producer Jim Wirt of 4th Street Recording Studios. With
11 gold and platinum records to his credit, the producer has helped in signing
record labels for up 19 acts, such as Incubus, Fiona Apple and Hoobstank, to
name a few.
“We are very excited and fortunate
to work with a producer of his calibre,” said Leclerc. “The doors of
opportunity are open. California is beautiful. I get a good vibe when I’m
there. I am very proud, it has been a long road to get to this point”.
The five-song extended-play
production will feature music and lyrics by Leclerc, with Ebanks laying down
his parts and contributing his ideas. Plans for both musicians to collaborate
on further song-writing and recording are firmly in place when they return to
Cayman. The pair expressed their gratitude to Minister of Culture Mark Scotland
“for his support and sponsorship towards this musical endeavour.”
Talking about their musical
partnership, Ebanks said, “Michael and I have found a natural chemistry.
“There is a lot of untapped music
within the both of us for many albums to come,” he added. Ebanks himself no
stranger to song-writing and studio work.
In 2008 he released an album, Tales
Of The G-String, featuring his outstanding skills on a 100-year-old Dyer model
harp guitar, which he bought from Robert Hartman, the last living descendant of
the Larson brothers, makers of this rare instrument.
“Tales Of The G-String is a
contemporary, instrumental compilation of jazz, blues and folk songs based on
my travels, personal experiences, friends and misfortunes on my musical
journey”, said Ebanks.“The songs each tell a story using different tunings on
the harp guitar.”
Having previously worked with local
bands Memory of Justice, Hi-Tide and Thanks and Praises, the guitarist
described his aspirations for the Los Angeles trip and future work with
Leclerc: “We work well with each other. It’s something you can’t explain,
travelling anywhere to play or record always excites me. It’s good for the
soul, and what I love and have much passion for. I feel deep inside that Mike
and myself are going to go far.”
Leclerc’s new extended play will be
for sale on iTunes and Amazon when released, as will Ebanks’ new extended play
upon its anticipated release at the end of this year. In the meantime tune into
106.1FM to hear his songs Gypsy Woman and Blue Mountain Morning, or seize the
opportunity to experience these exceptional musicians when they play in Cayman.