Bunny Sigler's back ‘With Love

Bunny Sigler: "I can write and sing with any of these guys."
Bunny Sigler: "I can write and sing with any of these guys."
Posted: June 27, 2012

"WE'RE IN a war, a musical war," said Bunny Sigler. "We think we've got a hit on our hands with ‘Nobody Else For Me.' And as long as it takes, we gotta keep banging, until we break the doors down."

One of the architects of the Philadelphia International Records sound as a songwriter and singer back in the '70s, Philly-born Walter "Bunny" Sigler has seen his music embraced and sampled by everyone from Outkast, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige and The Roots to jazzman Uri Caine (who deploys Sigler on a world-touring, jazzed-up treatment of "Othello"). He also has fans at the Trinity Broadcasting Network (lovin' his gospel album "The Lord's Prayer") and the Philadelphia Phillies. The team had him wail the national anthem ("for the sixth time") at the ballpark Friday night.

But getting attention and respect from radio for the excellent new album he's just put out independently, "From Bunny With Love & a Little Soul," ain't easy, said his promotion and publicity representative, Al Edmondson, another veteran of the scene.

"The local guys who run Clear Channel and Cumulus radio stations have to answer to regional programming vice presidents and go by the numbers. If a track's not charting, they can't justify playing it, even if the artist is someone like Bunny with a long history," said Edmondson. "We've got one station in Little Rock [Ark.] that's put the track in light rotation. And Bunny's gotten some feedback from a DJ in England who's getting requests from listeners. But we've got a long way to go."

 Steeped in Philly-style strings by producer David Ivory, yet also modernized with a voice-ringing vocoder processor popular with hip-hop artists, the song "Nobody Else for Me" aptly demonstrates how, at 71, Sigler is an old guy with new attitude, "still experimenting, still having fun."

"I call my sound on that track ‘soulful yodeling.' It's almost country and western," he shared in our recent chat. And other tracks on "From Bunny" are equally eccentric and entertaining — "which I'm always going for" — from the Curtis Mayfield-evoking "Super Guy" to the James Brown-style breakdown "Too Sexy" to haunting ballads like "Sweet Lorraine" and "To Love Again," which Sigler "wrote for Michael Buble but never got to him."

Because he's the writer on most of the tracks, as well as the singer, Sigler also views his self-published (BunZ Music) new disc as a bit of a calling card to other producers. Still, he knows that's an uphill battle.

"Many singers are trying to go back to the old-school music. But the thing is, with young writers, why would you go sample something when you can get the real thing from real people? I've written 300 songs in the last eight months. So I'm saying the main thing is about money and recognition for the younger producers. They get mad at me because I tell the truth. I can write and sing with any of these guys. But young guys don't want me to come along and blow up instead of them."

— Jonathan Takiff

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