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Interview:
Ann Arbor's Laith Al-Saadi gets "real" on new album
 

by GARY GRAFF
@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

» See more SOUND CHECK

Laith Al-Saadi went for broke on his new CD, "Real."

The Ann Arbor singer, songwriter and guitarist hooked up with a new producer, Jeffrey Weber, who brought Al-Saadi out to Los Angeles and helped assemble a "wish list" band that included all-star session veterans such as drummer Jim Keltner, bassist Lee Sklar, guitarist Jimmy Vivino and others. Al-Saadi acknowledges it was a little intimidating, but with just nine hours to record the set's six songs -- live to two-track tape, in fact -- he didn't have much time to waste gaping.

"I honestly tried not to let it get into my head as much as possible," says Al-Saadi, 36. "When I got into the studio I made sure I took a few deep breaths and soaked it in. But once we got going it was all business. We worked really hard at just recording, so there wasn't much time for anything else.

"That was probably a good thing; it would've gotten to me a little bit if I did think about who I was in the room with. But they were the nicest guys, and everybody was incredibly professional. We just worked to get the thing to sound as good as we could."

For as many good memories as the session created, Al-Saadi was particularly stoked to be working with Vivino, who is the musical director for Conan O'Brien.

"At first he wasn't able to make the session; he had to be in New York and sent a really nice message," Al-Saadi remembers. "Then he called the next morning and said, 'If you haven't got anybody for the session, I'll come back early. WE were going to have him play on one song, and he said, 'If Laith wants me to play on others, I'll do it for free.'

"That was really, really nice. And then after the session he came out and played the whole night with me at the Sugar Mill (a Los Angeles club). I think there's definitely a great relationship there where we I hope we play a lot together in the future."

Laith Al-Saadi celebrates the release of "Real" on Friday, Oct. 11, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. The Ben Daniels Band also plays. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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