"Old Shoes” is a collection of seven new songs by The Cucumbers. Deena Shoshkes (guitar, vocals) and Jon Fried (banjo and vocals) are joined by their son, drummer Jamie Fried (re/Ly, Cait and the Marrow, The Jamie Fried Sextet) and bassist Rick Wagner (Luther Black and the Cold Hard Facts, The Poor Man’s Opera, the dBs)
The acoustic "mini" album is a departure from the band’s trademark indie pop rock sound. Throughout the pandemic Jon and Deena performed these songs as an acoustic duo live-streaming on the internet and in person in outdoor settings.
“I knew I wanted to make a recording to document the sound and arrangements Jon and I had developed over this unusual time,” says Deena. “I also wanted to make sure these songs, some of my favorites, were produced and released into the world, but how?”
At one point, Jamie came home for several days to get some concentrated studying in for medical school exams. “He heard us practicing for a performance and sat in with us as we rehearsed, as a study break,” explains Deena. “It was magic. Jamie grew up playing music with us and he knew exactly what to play. “
The solution to how to record was obvious - have Jamie play drums! "We asked our friend Rick Wagner to join on bass," says Deena. Rick had played on some of Deena’s solo recordings (Deena and The Poor Man’s Opera).
The songs were recorded when Jamie had a brief break between graduation and starting his internship. He had three free days - two for rehearsal and one for tracking. The album has seven songs on it because that’s as many as the band could grab this time around given the limitations.
The quirky guitar-banjo-bass-drums combo rocks in it’s own unadorned, live way.
The title song “Old Shoes” is a bookend to The Cucumbers first song “My Boyfriend,” about a young couple starting to live together. From the opening track “You’ve Got to Start Somewhere” to the closer “I’m Over That” the songs reflect on love, longing, creativity, mysticism and time.
Produced by Deena, the album was recorded at Magic Door Studios (Montclair, NJ) by Ray Ketchum, additional recording at The J Club (Millburn, NJ) by Deena, mixed at Little Life (NYC) by Rob Friedman and mastered at Storybook Sound (Maplewood, NJ) by Scott Anthony. All songs were written by Deena, and arranged by Jon and Deena.
A quick catch up on recent band history:
Pre-pandemic, in 2019 Jon and Deena were members of The Campfire Flies and released "Sparks Like Little Stars." The holiday single “Love and Joy,” with the Hoboken All-Stars, featuring Julio
Fernandez of Spyro Gyra on lead guitar was released in 2019 as well.
In 2021 "The Desk Drawer Tapes” a collection of previously unreleased songs, recorded from 1988-2005 was released on Life Force Records. Cucumbers’ song, “Don’t Watch TV,” was featured in the 2021 crime noir crime film "The Little Things," starring Denzel Washington and Rami Malek. Deena's song
"Best Kind of Something,” (from her solo album "Somewhere in Blue")was included in the Netflix series "Virgin River."