Waldo Bliss plays music that evokes the California Singer-Songwriter of the Third Millenium.
This LA-based band features acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, drums, and shimmering vocal harmonies. It’s like Jackson Browne music with more involved singing.
Think Beach Boys, XTC, or Crosby, Stills, and Nash for the exquisite three-part harmonies. That’s Waldo Bliss.
The band is led by Dan Carlson, a California native, who writes most of the music, plays acoustic guitar, and sings lead vocals. Veteran guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Randy Ray Mitchell plays a very tasty lead guitar, with inspired melodies and flashes of fire behind Carlson’s catchy songs. The two of them form the core of Waldo Bliss.
However, Mindy Jones has been with the band singing harmony so long and so well that Dan just about considers her a core member too. In addition, Daniel Ahearn is a welcome recent addition as he seems to be filling out the vocal harmonies quite well.
Dan’s been writing songs for many years now, and his music reflects early influences such as Neil Young, Cat Stevens, and Joni Mitchell, as well as Brian Wilson and the Beatles.
Waldo Bliss draws on a myriad of amazing players to play live gigs and make recordings. Singers are needed to deliver multi-part vocal harmonies as well as groovers to move the rhythm, either delicate or driving, as required.
It works out extremely well that Waldo Bliss operates with a Current Lineup, those now playing the live gigs, plus Additional Players, which are all the other musicians who have gigged or recorded with the band, and still sit in, from time to time.
Waldo Bliss music combines structured harmonies with the freedom of improvisation in the unfolding of the song. “It’s a floating musical ride”, according to Dan.
Dan’s and Randy’s guitars are balanced primarily by bass and percussion, as well as clever and beautiful vocal harmonies that are critical to the band’s signature sound. Waldo Bliss songs generally reflect Carlson’s positive, upbeat personality (“We Gotta Make Up”). But, according to Dan, “there’s enough distress (‘Mr. Blue’) and longing (‘Good Girl’) in the songs to go around as well”. If you cry in your beer too long, however, Dan will try to mock you out of it with one of his favorite tunes, “Interrupting Your Blues”.
Randy Ray Mitchell loves playing with this band. “These guys love to play off each other”, he says.
“There’s a great synergy. It’s very gluey. Some nights it’s just spiritual.”
“He doesn’t care who’s the boss, musically”, says drummer Erik Eldenius. “The best idea wins. Dan has surrounded himself with musicians who trust and respect the songs. It’s a rare freedom these days”.
Dan says that as wonderful as music can be as a listening experience, the joy of being part of the source is another thing. “I wish everybody could experience it and I’m grateful to be in the middle, playing with these great players that I am lucky enough to hang with.”
Waldo Bliss has been making its way out of the harbor for the last several years, with a variety of live gigs, studio recordings, and enough personnel changes to make the evolution interesting. Waldo Bliss makes music first for the joy of playing. “I’d much rather be in a great band than just about anything else” says Dan. And he is.