Lately, pianist Jim Hudak has been pondering new record release material. It's been over three years since his last CD release, "Bridging Textures," which was co-produced by Will Ackerman, and Jim is anxious to get some new material out there for public consumption. He explains further: "For all that my focus these days is on my original compositions, I've got this yearning to release a second CD of piano based instrumentals of Grateful Dead songs." Interesting. Early this year, Hudak attended a symphonic presentation of Grateful Dead music at the Lesher Center For The Arts in Walnut Creek, CA. While there, he had a chance encounter with Dennis McNally, longtime publicist of the Grateful Dead. (McNally is also the author of two books, one about the Dead and the other about "King of the Beats" Jack Kerouac). "I've read both of Dennis' books and felt an instant kinship with him even before meeting him, but especially after we did meet," said Hudak recently. "He offered to help publicize either a re-release of my 'Gratefully Yours' CD or a new release of mostly Grateful Dead songs. If I go ahead with this, I'd prefer the latter approach. I certainly know enough material for a second full album. Dennis has so much experience and so many wonderful friends and contacts within the greater Dead family. I have to take his willingness to work for me very seriously." Some of the songs under consideration for "GY Two" include "Wharf Rat," "Cumberland Blues,' "Black Peter," and "Weather Report Suite," among others. Hudak elaborates, "The Grateful Dead has so much wonderful music to draw from. It's really quite amazing when you fully explore the breadth and scope of their material. And I'm always looking for songs that you don't necessarily expect to hear on the piano." When performing his more than 200 dates a year, Hudak plays his piano versions of songs by the Grateful Dead "fairly often. I try to read the crowd," he says. "There's something about people who know and appreciate Grateful Dead music that sort of stands out. They kind of go nuts when you break into a couple Garcia or Weir songs at any given moment and it's fun for me and for them. But it wouldn't be appropriate to play Dead songs at just any occasion." Between a possible "Gratefully Yours Two," in addition to a release of his Christmas song ("Let's Trim The Christmas Tree,") which he's in the process of recording with an anticipated "Holiday Music" CD to follow, and a long awaited "all original Americana/New Edge Music" album, 2010 is shaping up to be a busy year for Jim Hudak. "There's a lot on my plate. Now I just have to do the work," he says. "Fortunately, I'm assembling a good team of talent to help me. This isn't something I'd prefer to take on alone." Check back soon for more details. And to one and all, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Jim Hudak

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