Roxy Music, Tom Waits and Rodgers & Hammerstein Go Camping in France with Bill Magill

Concepts centred around jovial get-together in bars easily conjure certain images of bawdy behaviour, highly-charged raucousness, but most of all, togetherness. Last Night at the Ha-Ra is a ‘rock-drama’ concept from American songwriter Bill Magill that is centred around the tales and revelations of a group of regulars of the Ha-Ra bar in sunny San Francisco.

Similar to the kind of characters you might discover on classic Tom Waits albums from the early 70s, this record carries with it an honest feeling of camaraderie – people banding together and sharing their innermost while exploring deep emotional themes such as how far one is willing to go for the woman they love, and even a heartfelt exploration of assisted suicide.

Firstly having recorded the demos for each track in his home studio, Magill then shares the tracks with Vivid Stage Productions – whom he is the creative force behind alongside keyboardist David Dower and also Russell Cottier the North West UK based production specialist who also worked on this record.

Firstly having recorded the demos for each track in his home studio, Magill then shares the tracks with Vivid Stage Productions – whom he is the creative force behind alongside keyboardist David Dower and also Russell Cottier the North West UK based production specialist who also worked on this record.

Now hailing in Aix-en-Provence, in the south of France, the American born Magill, has assembled musicians from Britain, France, America and Australia to flesh out the reality of the narrative – each of them bringing something of their native influence to enhance the record. As well as Magill’s core band at Vivid Stage, a host of invited guests such as Pete Thomas – drummer for Elvis Costello and the Attractions and Daniel Mille – the award-winning French accordionist, have contributed.

Vivid Stage

Having now lived in France for over 8 years, the record has a distinctively French flair to it and also features vocals in the language from his significant other. Nuance and diversity are real strengths of the recording, and little details such as authentic sounds of glasses being ‘cheers’d’, which were recorded at the actual venue, lie at the heart of its essence.

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