After Several Years Playing Local Musical Fundraising Events, New Orleans Bred Singer/Songwriter Debbie Dragna and German-born Rock Guitarist and Songwriter Arnold Schmidt Recently Released The Collection’s First Single “Let’s Take A Walk”
A few quick, whimsical questions for adventurous listeners craving fresh new indie music who are about to give Tales from the Porch, the debut EP by emerging L.A. duo Crave and Wonder, a spin: What do elephants, longing for the rain, dancing till exhaustion and enjoying the simple things in life have in common? And where in the eclectic hybrid universe can we embark on a journey best described as Lucinda Williams meets Deep Purple with a dash of Beatles and Sheryl Crow?
All those elements come to lighthearted, yet emotionally hard-hitting life on the compelling seven track collection, released December 3, that fuses the Americana roots rockin’ Southern hospitality of Debbie Dragna (vocals) and the harder edged blues driven German ingenuity of Arnold Schmidt (vocals, guitar).
“Let’s Take a Walk,” the optimistic, Beatlesque lead single from Tales from the Porch which dropped in mid-November, finds Crave And Wonder taking an edgy and defiant stand against these dark divisive times via a musical narrative where love works out for a lifetime. The song’s story of Johnny and Jane is the perfect metaphor for the powerful chemistry, combination of individual musical talents and overall creative vision that drives the Crave and Wonder aesthetic.
The collaboration of the New Orleans bred Debbie and the German born Arnold had its roots in the independent music scene of Los Angeles. Not long after meeting at a coffeehouse open mic attended by Arnold as a gathering of like minds and spirits, the two began to perform, both separately and together, at various fundraisers and musical charity events on the city’s live music circuit. With their contrasting musical styles and shared philanthropic interests, Debbie teamed up with Arnold to play the Pasadena Make Music Festival, the Relay for Life Cancer Awareness festival and events supporting local homeless shelters – some of which Arnold helped organize.
Tales from the Porch is chock full of potential indie hits in a multitude of genres, starting with another ultra-romantic tune, the bluesy, hard edged pop/rocker “Be With You.” The soulful, slow simmering “Louisiana Rain” finds Debbie at her most passionate vocally, reflecting on life growing up in the Crescent City. The rumbling blues rocker “Jeremiah” weaves a hilarious narrative of an ant who wishes he was an elephant, a crisp metaphor for learning to love ourselves. The soaring, organ tinged ballad “Simple Things” is a colorful reminder of how to appreciate the smaller, most important things in life, while the shuffling, marching New Orleans Shuffle” is a celebratory dance anthem (written with an actual dance in mind) that brings Debbie even closer to her heart’s home. The EP wraps with a radio edit version of “Let’s Take A Walk.”
True to its title, Tales from the Porch came to life on a colorful and cozy wooden back porch in the heart of Los Angeles but ended up being recorded on two continents. After the initial demos had been finished, the tracks were sent to drummer Carsten Enghardt, who recorded all the drum tracks at 1st Take Studios in Gachenbach, Southern Germany. Carsten, being a veteran of both the European recording and the touring music scene, came highly recommended by Arnold’s German colleague, master guitar player Andy Susemihl.
With the drum tracks finished, the songs came back Stateside, where German bass virtuoso and studio ace Martin Motnik, a Carsten recommendation, recorded his bass tracks at his home studio in Florida. With the recordings now taking on a whole new dimension, Arnold and Debbie decided to add keyboards to the songs. Carsten introduced them to Jens Skwirblies, the keyboard player in one of Germany’s longest running rock bands, Lake. The tracks returned to Germany, where Jens added his unforgettable, swampy touches on piano, Wurlitzers and Rhodes and a ripping Hammond B-3 energy. The guitar tracks were then re-recorded at Arnold’s home studio, and the vocals re-recorded at Debbie’s home studio, both in Los Angeles. With all the recordings finished in September 2018, the final touches were provided by Elliot Hunt, who mixed and mastered the album at Alcheh & Hunt Studios in Burbank, CA.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Debbie began singing at her local church at age 10 and started taking vocal and guitar lessons that same year. In high school, she was part of the Immaculata High Singing Group and performed in Mardi Gras parades and other events around the Crescent City. She relocated to Los Angeles to pursue her rock and roll dreams and has been making music ever since. She released her first solo EP Especially On Sundays in 2010.
Arnold moved from his native Germany to Los Angeles in 1990 to attend Musicians Institute, where his instructors included guitar greats Bruce Bouillet and Paul Gilbert from Racer X, jazz fusion giant Scott Henderson and country guitarist Steve Trovato. While raising his family, he has performed and recorded with various bands of the years.
“From the incredible musicianship to the fun we had writing the songs and laying down my vocals and Arnold’s guitar tracks, we loved everything about the creation and recording of Tales from the Porch,” Debbie says. “We didn’t set out with a specific theme in mind, but there is a sense throughout the songs of coming home, either to the person or place your love, or to yourself. We were both able to stretch ourselves and tap into exciting new creativity as songwriters and artists and embark upon a truly incredible journey!”