“My mom had a profound effect on me, teaching me about art, introducing me to many artists, taking me to galleries and analyzing paintings. When she developed dementia, she reached a point where we couldn’t talk anymore, so I would go and play guitar for her and kiss her forehead. She liked that—still does. She played these songs for me when I was young, and now I do it for her.”
Songs for Shifra is a world of memories.
As Shifra Goldman lies in a hospital bed in the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease, her memories and ability to communicate are almost completely gone. Her son, veteran L.A.-area musician and recording engineer Eric Garcia, visits every day with his guitar and plays the music that connects Shifra back to her life.
After many of their visits, Eric would record vignettes he had explored while telling his mother “musical stories.” The result is Songs for Shifra—a work of love. Garcia’s rich instrumental interpretations tell the story of a son’s devotion to his mother and their shared love of music.
Shifra met Eric’s father through her involvement with the early farm-workers and civil-rights movements in the ’50s. John Garcia taught her how to play guitar. He would perform traditional Mexican songs alongside her political protest anthems.
After Eric was born, his father disappeared south of the border and was never seen again. Meanwhile, Shifra went on to become a world-renowned expert in Latin American art history and a vocal supporter of the budding Latino art scene with her writings and activism.
Influenced by the songs he heard his mother play as a child, Eric grew up to become a talented guitarist. He began his training by studying classical guitar at age 16 with Luis Elloriaga in Hollywood. He continued his musical studies at University of California, Santa Cruz. In the ’80s, he was a member of the pop band the Nobodys, who were signed to Capitol Records and released their only LP, No Guarantees, in 1984.
After the Nobodys broke up, Eric played for Motown and with Bob Dylan (turning Dylan on to his first drum machine). Eric gravitated toward recording studios, working with MIDI and sampling and sharpening his engineering skills under renowned producer Dave Jerden (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, Alice in Chains). He became a master engineer and in 1999 founded one of the first all-digital recording studios, 48 Windows Music & Mix in Santa Monica, California.
Eric Garcia is known for his screaming electric-guitar solos, precise rhythms and melodic textures. For him, “unplugged” was something you did on camping trips. When Pamela Anderson asked him to record some acoustic music in 2008 for her reality TV show Girl on the Loose, Eric embarked on a quest to find the perfect acoustic-guitar sound.
He fell in love with pre-WWII Martin guitars, and soon they became Songs for Shifra’s primary language. Eric found what he was looking for with 1936 and 1938 Martins, a 1934 National, a 1969 La Michoacana classical and a custom 2010 Henderson—all gloriously captured with Neumann KM-54 tube microphones.
Uplifting, peaceful and deep—and utterly without pretense—Songs for Shifra is a confluence of incredible musicianship, recording excellence and memory landscape. Eric Garcia’s devotion to the music, guitar selection and recording process has resulted in an album that is both universally moving and uniquely inspiring—a place to rest our soul and renew our spirit.
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