When Acoustic Showcase fixture Shiraz Alikhan was celebrating his 70th birthday last June, he paused to wonder what to do with a bundle of original songs he had written over the decades.
These deeply personal tunes had been penned at various phases of his life, including a song Alikhan crafted some 15 years ago when he and his wife Kat were newcomers to the
Producer-bassist-guitarist Bryan Clark (at left) prepares for one of Shiraz Alikhan’s recordings with a seasoned group of Nashville session musicians. Photo by Shiraz Alikhan
Blackwell Creek neighborhood. The singer-songwriter continued to break out and perform the tunes at various opportunities, whether at a Terraces concert, the Clubhouse, the Artists Club Fine Art Shows, or the Acoustic Showcase gatherings at the Beach Club held on the first Thursday of each month.
However, that birthday milestone gave Alikhan a sudden sense of urgency to do something more than perform his original material.
“I decided that I had been waiting way too long to professionally record some songs that I had been carrying for years,” Alikhan wrote in an email addressed to listeners of his Inside the Gates Radio show “San Francisco Nights,” which is on at 6:30 p.m. on Mondays.
As a result, Alikhan recorded a clutch of six tunes at Nashville’s Blackbird Studios, which was co-founded by John McBride and his wife, country singer Martina McBride. Sweetening the situation was a cadre of seasoned session players, hand-picked by musician and producer Bryan Clark. Among their ranks were keyboardist and former Poco member Michael Webb.
Alikhan was initially a bit intimidated at the prospect of recording with heavy hitters. Also not lost on him was that he was recording in a studio used by the likes of Keith Urban, Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, the White Stripes and Dolly Parton.
The session players immediately put him at ease because “they were so welcoming and so encouraging,” he said. “It was a great, great
Alikhan provides background vocals
Photo by Bryan Clark
The six tracks from the recording session are available online from Alikhan’s Jan. 9, 2023, show on ITG Radio. His songs are toward the beginning of the program accessible here.
Alikhan’s tunes range from “Blackwell Creek,” which has a shout-out to some notable Big Canoe neighbors, to a couple of songs that go back to his playing days in Northern California in the ’70s. Alikhan spent much of his early adulthood in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he was a member of the Northern California Songwriters Association.
The original music that Alikhan recorded shows the breadth of his influences. Along with tunes that veer toward Americana are country-flecked rock songs that often illustrate his love for a good pop hook.
More than that, their release is the culmination of decades of loving, performing, sharing, and, of course, writing music. Alikhan is now in the process of creating a website where he ultimately will post the recordings.
“I am just so proud of these songs,” Alikhan says. “These recordings came out so much better than I had hoped.”
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