Where is the band from?
Cargo and the Heavy Lifters are from Northern Virginia, a few miles South of Washington D.C.
Who is all in the band?
Cargo and the Heavy Lifters formed to support the exceptional voice of Randy McCargo. He is the "Cargo" in CHL. The Heavy Lifters are all former members of the Deacons. The Deacons were well-respected and established in the DC Metro area, having played over 500 engagements in 19 years. The Deacons also released 4 CDs between 1996 and 2010. Shawn Paxton is the anchor of CHL, playing drums and singing harmonies. He is the group's musical director. John Sterling plays guitar and sings harmonies. He is also an accomplished sound engineer and mixes down CHL's CDs, singles, and video soundtracks at Silver Lining Studios, which he founded. Jim "Georgia Slim" Wilson plays keyboards, piano, guitar, slide guitar, and sings harmonies. He is a graphic design expert and creates CHL's graphics, posters, CD covers, logos and other promotional material. John "Reverend Jake" O'Connor plays bass, and manages the group. Each member of CHL is a veteran performer with between 25 and 40 years of professional experience, but the members also have an excellent mix of other talents that significantly contribute to the group's success.
Since the group started in 2015, has there ever been any drama between you all?
CHL is like a well-oiled machine and there has never been any drama. All the members have performed together for decades. They all like each other. All are dedicated and diligent. CHL's shared work ethic engenders mutual respect. Each member is professional, respectful, accomplished, experienced, and open-minded. Drama is for teenagers. And this isn't our first rodeo.
Where do you all record generally?
Cargo and the Heavy Lifters always record live to showcase their exceptional ability as live performers. CHL is so well rehearsed that the group does not need to overdub or multi-track ever. And what you hear on CHL recordings is what you get live. The group's on-stage energy is complimented by slick, super-tight arrangements and virtuosity. The best recordings come from Jammin' Java. CHL's first CD, most singles, and both production video soundtracks were recorded there. Jammin' Java is a mid-sized venue with a state-of-the-art 64 channel live recording capability and some of the best engineers in DC. The quality of the recording is equal to that of any studio.
How does the songwriting process work with 5 members?
Any group member can bring lyrics or music to rehearsal. Once an idea is presented, all members provide input and help craft the arrangement. Most ideas are rejected and everyone is OK with that. There are no egos, and no bad suggestions. Songs are patiently crafted and rehearsed before being presented to an audience. Songs will be recorded lived, reviewed, and arrangements will be tweaked or overhauled. A song is never considered "done". Each song, whether an original or cover, is considered to be a living piece of music and may evolve and grow over time. CHL believes that no matter how good a piece of music is, it can always be better.
How often does the group perform live?
CHL performs about two dozen times per year. Part of the group's success has come from avoiding oversaturation. Performances are more exclusive, venues are larger, ticket prices are higher, and the shows are more lucrative. The group earns more by playing less dates because the individual engagements are larger and more profitable. Playing lots of small venues waters down a groups draw and marks the group as just another local band that can be seen free or cheap. Exclusive, rarer performances in larger, upscale venues validate the quality of the product and the brand. Don't ever play for less than you think your worth.
Have you shot any music videos?
CHL has 2 videos currently in production with 4-time Emmy winning producer Mike Audick. We've been shooting for about 3 months and will finish up in January. Full production should be completed in the early Spring. Several internationally renowned DJs have been given advance soundtrack copies and will play these songs the day of the video release. On the release date these songs will be heard on nearly 200 broadcast stations, plus a dozen syndicated internet programs, in over 70 countries around the globe.
Is there any talk of bringing back The Deacons as a side project?
The Deacons was founded by John O'Connor and Blues guitarist and singer Chris Polk. Polk's cousin was Randy McCargo. O'Connor and Polk had wanted to build a group around McCargo's voice, but McCargo was supporting touring Grammy winners and was too busy. When Chris Polk died suddenly from appendicitis, O'Connor drew McCargo into a new project to honor his cousin and fulfill his cousin's dream. The Deacons morphed into Cargo and the Heavy Lifters with the addition of Randy McCargo. While Reverend Jake is a very good singer, Cargo is a great one, and that personnel change elevated the group to much greater heights very quickly. After Reverend Jake fired and replaced himself as the singer, he internalized a new mantra: "It's about the singer stupid!". But a piece of the Deacons and Chris Polk will always live on in CHL and inspire the group to work diligently towards greatness.
Tell us about your latest project.
Cargo and the Heavy Lifters' latest project is the production of 2 high-budget, broadcast-quality music videos. Both videos feature music and lyrics written by the Heavy Lifters and performed live without the benefit if overdubs or studio beautification. Produced by 4-time Emmy winner Mike Audick, these videos are the most ambitious and high-profile CHL undertakings to date.
What can we expect from you this new year?
Cargo and the Heavy Lifters will continue to deliver unsurpassed live performances and recordings. The group will continue to write and arrange new music without any genre restriction. CHL can not be pigeon-holed into a genre because the group performs so many different styles of music, and performs them all masterfully. CHL's first order of business, is to complete two music videos and let our audience around the world judge the fruits of our labors. Once the videos are released CHL will begin mixing down its second live CD, to be released in Early 2019.
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