(NEW YORK, NY) – Ace Of Cups, the beloved all-female rock group from the 1960s San Francisco psychedelic scene, will release their self-titled debut studio album on November 9th via High Moon Records. Produced by Dan Shea (Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Santana), the records twenty-one tracks span fifty years of brilliant songwriting.
From 1967 to 1972, Ace Of Cups – Mary Gannon (Bass), Marla Hunt (Organ, Piano), Denise Kaufman (Guitar, Harmonica), Mary Ellen Simpson (Lead Guitar), and Diane Vitalich (Drums) – were at the epicenter of the 60s cultural and social revolution. From the Acid Tests to the protests, from the free concerts in Golden Gate Park to the ballrooms of San Francisco, they shared stages with everyone from The Band to the Grateful Dead. Michael Bloomfield, Jerry Garcia, and Buddy Miles were their fans and the Ace were chosen to open for Jimi Hendrix the week after his groundbreaking performance at The Monterey Pop Festival. When asked by Melody Maker magazine to name his favorite musical discoveries on his U.S. trip, the Ace Of Cups was the first thing he mentioned.
Listen to the first single Feel Good: https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/8469266/the-ace-of-cups
I heard some groovy sounds last time in the States, like this girl group, Ace Of Cups, who write their own songs and the lead guitarist is hell, really great. -Jimi Hendrix, 1967
Despite eliciting some music industry interest for their exceptional songs, sublime harmonies and exuberant live performances, the Ace Of Cups never got the chance to make a record of their own.
As the decades passed, the band members pursued other personal and creative endeavors, playing music both individually and collectively when opportunities arose. While performing at Wavy Gravys 75th birthday party and SEVA Foundation benefit, the Ace met with High Moon Records founder George Baer Wallace, who was there to talk to the band about releasing archival concert recordings. After hearing them play live, Wallace was so moved by their spirit and spark that he hatched a new plan on the spot, offering the Ace Of Cups the opportunity to record their first ever studio album.
With the enthusiastic support of their new record label, and the guidance of celebrated producer Dan Shea, four of the bands original members began exploring their back catalog and writing new material. Right from the start, the Ace understood the art of the song, and the band has kept that spirit true and close to everything they do. Ace Of Cups blends pure rock, folk, blues and gospel influences with a pop sensibility and a garage band rush; all tinted by an intoxicating psychedelic sheen. As the news spread that the Cups were recording, old friends began to come by the studio to offer support and musical contributions. In total 36 songs were recorded during those sessions, and what started out as a chance to set the record straight turned into a history-making second act.
Album guests include legendary players and long-time friends of the band Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, David Grisman, Pete Sears (Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Moonalice), Steve Kimock (Zero/RatDog), and Charlie Musselwhite, as well as lead vocal, turns by Bob Weir, Taj Mahal, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Peter Coyote. Even with this illustrious line-up, this record belongs wholeheartedly to the Ace Of Cups, who can convey the joy of humanitys greatest art form as simply and as eloquently as anyone ever has:
Music everything will be alright . . . – Ace of Cups
This is the first release from the Ace of Cups project. Volume Two – coming in 2019 – includes 16 more songs from the band, as well as contributions from Jackson Browne, Wavy Gravy, Sheila E and the Escovedo family, Bakithi Kumalo (Paul Simon), and more.
Visit http://www.aceofcups.com for more information about the band and to pre-order Ace of Cups on CD/LP/Digital.
Learn more about the Ace Of Cups in this award-winning KQED piece, which has garnered 5 million views on social media: http://bit.ly/TheAceOfCups
Ace Of Cups Tracklist:
- Introduction: Theres a Record Being Made
- Feel Good
- Pretty Boy
- Fantasy 1&4
- We Cant Go Back Again
- The Well (feat. Bob Weir)
- Taste of One
- Mamas Love
- Feel It in the Air
- Interlude: Transistor
- Interlude: Baby from the Forest of Knolls
- Life in Your Hands (feat. Taj Mahal)
- As the Rain (feat. Peter Coyote)
- Daydreamin (feat. Taj Mahal)
- On the Road
- Pepper in the Pot (feat. Buffy Sainte-Marie)
- Interlude: Breath
- Indian Summer
- Grandmas Hands
- Medley (The Hermit / The Flame Still Burns / Gold & Green / Living In The Country)
- Outroduction: Its Always Safe…
High Moon Records is a boutique record label with a catalog including Love, Gene Clark, Terry Dolan, Marvin Gardens, and Ryan Martin. Upcoming releases include Sopwith Camel, The Matrix and Avalon Live archival series, and Lotti Goldens cult-classic Motor-Cycle. All releases feature deluxe packaging, extensive liner notes by iconic writers, deluxe packaging and artwork, never-before-seen photos, and ultra-rare bonus tracks.
ACE OF CUPS
The song says, we cant go back again – but The Ace Of Cups has, and in the process have crafted an album not only ageless but without boundary or predictable cliché.
The Ace may not have been the first all-female rock and roll band, but they were the one that mattered within that bizarre wrinkle in time that constituted the late 1960s, San Francisco. Janis Joplin and Grace Slick were the reigning queens, but the musicians of The Ace Of Cups were no ladies-in-waiting. Converging from a diverse set of backgrounds in the Haight-Ashbury during the Summer of Love, these young women would constitute an independently-driven, uniquely-inspired organization, equally capable of feather-light poetry, funkier soul, and further-out freakery than any of their more celebrated male compatriots within the psychedelic ballrooms.
Indeed, the Ace shared the stage with many of the heavyweights of the era, like The Band and Youngbloods, and they could they count legends like Michael Bloomfield and Buddy Miles amongst their admirers. No less a personage than Jimi Hendrix raved about them in print. Even with several personnel shuffles, the group stayed active in the Bay Area music scene for a full five years, but outside of contributions to albums by Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane and a handful of others, The Ace Of Cups never got to make a record of their own, despite the interest of several labels and an obvious hometown support.
Yet, though the music would dim, the sisterhood did not. The Ace Of Cups was too powerful a force in each members life to just disappear. Their songs lay buried in old scrapbooks, on unmarked home tape reels and in the collective memories of those involved. A 2003 archival collection, Its Bad For You But Buy It, won the Ace some long-overdue notoriety, and their decades-long friendship was renewed once more. The topic on everyones mind was some unfinished business. The Ace Of Cups needed to make the studio album that fate had previously denied, to breath life back into music that retained its validity and vitality on both an emotional and spiritual level.
There was a reunion of the original quintet for a Seva Foundation benefit in 2011. In attendance was George Wallace, president of High Moon Records, who had come west to talk to the Ace about the potential reissue of more old tapes. Instead, having witnessed the magic that sparked when the ladies sang and played together, he departed with a plan to bankroll an album project.
Within weeks, four of the original five Ace – Denise Kaufman, Mary Ellen Simpson, Diane Vitalich and Mary Gannon Alfiler had put their heads together and begun to witness years of restless creativity percolate from within. Fully putting his money where his mouth is, Wallaces magnanimity has led to a wondrous event the rebirth of a collective and prolific muse, brimful with the innocent enthusiasm that made the original Ace so compelling.
The inspired choice of biz veteran Dan Shea (Mariah Carey, Celine Dion) to handle the production laid a bold and unpredictable path for the women to follow. Shea studied the fuzzy, imprecise recordings of the vintage Ace, and chose to recast them in new but wholly appropriate light. Across three years of productive sessions at Marin Countys Laughing Tiger Studios, his skill, patience, and vision have taken the musicians in directions they may not have expected, but which have benefited their music immensely.
Shea recognized the pure folk, blues and gospel moves that are the generational roots of the Ace, but he also chose to amplify the inherent pop sensibility in their songs and encouraged both the thrilling energy of the garage band and a delightful and wholly appropriate psychedelic sheen.
Most importantly, the producer has understood that the core essence of The Ace Of Cups is, in fact, the songwriting. Styles and formats may come and go, but a song is timeless, and the Ace had – and has – quality songs in abundance. Whether they are vintage tunes reinvented and reinvigorated, or more recent work that reflects their maturity and shared experience, everything exudes with The Ace Of Cups trademark, wide-eyed wonder at the powerful possibilities of communication through music.
This new album Ace Of Cups should really be sub-titled Volume One, as the recording process brought forth a plethora of material from each of the participating quartets. Two sides of guitarist Mary Ellen Simpson – caring and protective, or unrequitedly passionate – can be heard on her songs Mamas Love and Pretty Boy. The soulful Diane Vitalich, the heartbeat of the Ace, expertly delivers the groove both instrumentally and vocally on cuts like Circles and the sassy Stones.
Bass-playing Denise Kaufman likewise retains a twinkle of her wild-child Prankster past on upbeat gems like Fantasy 1 & 4 and Feel Good, whilst sharing wistful aplomb on We Cant Go Back Again. And last but not least, Mary Gannon Alfiler is spellbinding on the haunting Macushla, while her anthemic pop-psych opus Feel It In The Air is but one of the many highlights upon Ace Of Cups.
The ladies also couldnt help but bring in some of their old friends to participate in the joyous creativity. Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, and Charlie Musselwhite are just three legends to lend an instrumental hand, while there are four veritable superstar guest vocalists Bob Weir, Taj Mahal, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Peter Coyote.
Despite this heavyweight line-up, Ace Of Cups belongs wholeheartedly to the four women who operate under that name. Its a record that in essence was a half-century in the making, yet it comes across as fresh and vibrant as if we were hearing those same musicians back in their youthful reverie. And in the end, The Ace Of Cups can convey the joy of humanitys greatest art form as simply and as eloquently as anyone ever has:
Music everything will be all right . . .
The Ace of Cups came together guided by the communal spirit that blanketed Summer of Love-era San Francisco. Up to that point, most all-female bands had worn matching outfits and played cover songs. But with original songs that reflected their circumstances, the Ace of Cups also participated in the massive counter-cultural revolution including protests against racial segregation and women’s rights marches. PBS did a profile feature on the band here as well: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/arts/meet-ace-cups-haights-almost-forgotten-girl-band