Chicago Soul/Blues Belter Derrick Procell Dials Up His 'Hello Mojo!' On Debut New Album

New album produced by BMA Winner Zac Harmon.

By: Jun. 20, 2022
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Chicago Soul/Blues Belter Derrick Procell Dials Up His 'Hello Mojo!' On Debut New Album

Catfood Records announces an August 1 release date for Hello Mojo!, the label debut from Chicago-based soul/blues belter Derrick Procell.

Hello Mojo! was produced by award-winning blues singer/guitarist and fellow Catfood labelmate Zac Harmon, recorded at Sonic Ranch, Tornillo, Texas, with The Rays as the backing band: Johnny McGhee - guitar; Dan Ferguson - keys; Bob Trenchard - bass; Richy Puga - drums; Frank Otero - trombone; Andy Roman - tenor and alto sax; Nick Flood - baritone and tenor sax; Mike Middleton - trumpet; plus SueAnn Carwell, Meredith Colby and Jessica Ivey - background vocals. Zac Harmon is also featured as special guest for three tracks on guitar.

Derrick will celebrate the release of Hello Mojo! with a special Chicago-area outdoor appearance August 6 at the Arts on the Green:

"I wrote or co-wrote all of the original material on the record," Derrick Procell says about the new disc. "Four of the songs were co-written with Grammy winner Terry Abrahamson, who's known for his work with Muddy Waters, and has been my writing partner for the last 10 years.

"Three of the tracks were co-written with Catfood Records owner and bassist Bob Trenchard, including 'Broken Promise,' which features me on harp and a sweet Motown-style chorus. Another Procell/Trenchard original is a ready-made blues/rocker track for the next great boxing themed movie, 'The Contender!'"

Procell explained how the recording sessions came about. "The whole process got underway when Bob flew up from El Paso to Chicago and we spent a very busy weekend previewing songs of mine and writing several new songs together. After demoing a number of them at my home studio we had more than enough solid material for the record.

"The original plan had been to tap Jim Gaines as producer for my record. Jim has worked with Catfood on a number of projects in the past including their last release, Zac Harmon's BMA-winning Long As I Got My Guitar. But circumstances made it so that Jim passed the production torch on to Zac.

"Zac and I had not met but we spent a couple of months of preproduction by phone tossing around song suggestions, arrangement ideas, etc. By the time we finally met up in El Paso at the end of February we had a pretty good idea of the direction of Hello Mojo!

"I arrived in El Paso and finally met the Rays... colorful Johnny McGhee, intense and dynamic Richy Puga and uber-talented keyboardist Dan Ferguson. That's when I met Zac for the first time and knew I had made a friend for life and a great choice as my producer.

"As we worked through the week at Sonic Ranch, several songs began to take shape as potential hits... at least according to the reactions of the players, singers and engineers.

"The title track, 'Hello Mojo!', was an immediate fave. It's the only song on the record that I played piano on. I handed the rest of the keyboard duties over to the more than capable Mr. Ferguson. However, after a couple of trips out into the studio to show him kind of what I was looking for on that track, he turned to me and said, 'well then why don't you just play it!' Zac seconded that and off we went. I was happy to turn over the rest of the keyboard duties to Dan, who played masterfully on everything from piano to Hammond organ to Hohner Clavinet.

"His Billy Preston - like Clavinet chops on 'A Tall Glass of You' puts that one over the top, as well as some mighty background vocals by the legendary SueAnn Carwell.

"The track that may surprise a lot of folks is my reworking of an old Kinks rocker, 'Who'll Be the Next In Line.' Killer horn section work and tasty guitar from Johnny make this one truly special.

"When the week was over we had 10 great rhythm tracks recorded, along with most of the overdubs, background vocals and lead vocals.

"Meanwhile, Zac's friend Munyungo Jackson laid down some incredible percussion in Los Angeles. I was able to complete some of my lead vocal work here at home as well as adding my wife, Meredith Colby, on some background vocals.

"I flew back to Texas a month later to work with Bob recording the horns, which figure prominently on half the songs."

Derrick Procell and Catfood Records founder Bob Trenchard first connected during the early days of the pandemic in 2020. It started with Procell getting a call from another Catfood artist, James Armstrong, who had gotten Derrick's name from Chicago harmonica legend Billy Branch. James was producing a couple of songs for Catfood that were eventually released as digital singles. Both songs were social/political commentaries: "Rise Up Resist" and "Black Man's Justice," and eventually turned into duets with Soul/Blues powerhouse Annika Chambers.

Procell summarizes: "I guess Bob did some more research on me because a year or so later he reached out with the offer to record an entire album on his label, and here we are!"


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