The second half of 2012 was very busy and productive, working on exciting projects and traveling, playing everywhere from Edinbourgh to Maine to Florida to Seattle. I was in the studio a lot too, working on my own music as well as other peoples' music. I was fortunate enough to help produce and play on two albums which have just been completed.
The first is the self-titled full length debut from a group called The Danberrys, released on March 5, 2013. Married couple Ben Deberry and Dorothy Daniel are the primary singers and songwriters (Ben is also the main guitarist) in the band, and they have been close friends and bandmates of mine for years (they also play and sing in a band of mine called The Blow Jays). The rest of the band consists of Christian Sedelmyer on fiddle, Jon Cavendish on bass, and myself on mandolin and guitars. Last year Ben and Dorothy put out an ep of songs they wrote and had different people play on it, and after generating some buzz from that and putting on high energy and captivating live shows it was time to work on a full length record. We were able to use a state of the art studio space at the Renaissance Center in Dickson, TN that hadn’t really been used in years. Talented friends and engineers Mikie Martel and Wilton Wall brought in some gear and dusted off the place to get it in working condition, and we camped out there for 4 days knocking out the bulk of the album. We tracked all the songs live except for vocals, keeping all the solos and live interplay intact. There was something special happening and the sessions really solidified the 5 piece band, capturing the chemistry and interaction and dynamics but most importantly focusing on bringing some beautiful songs to life. It was surreal to be isolated in Dickson, away from any distractions in Nashville, in a sound proof studio space inside the Renaissance Center which is a huge futuristic building where there are kids running everywhere and choirs practicing and art projects happening and lots of different things going on with tons of energy. It was a great experience, and we were lucky to have Brandon Bell mix it. The final product is something that looks ahead and backwards, honoring old traditions and creating new ones, and striking a balance between good pickin’ and really great songwriting, with elements of blues, folk, soul, gospel, and bluegrass. I’m proud of how the record turned out, you can listen to it and buy it here.
Another album that I'm excited to have had a hand in making is the second Missy Raines and the New Hip album, New Frontier, out on August 27th, 2013 on Compass Records. I’ve been playing with Missy for several years now, I started out playing mandolin in the band and now I play guitar. The group started out doing mostly instrumental music, merging jazz and rock with bluegrass instruments and styles (Missy is the most award-winning bluegrass bass player in the history of IBMA). Over the last couple years Missy really had a lot on her mind and had something to say creatively, and it became apparent that with this record the focus needed to be on songs and emotions and singing them rather than just playing them. Once the right group of songs came together, we started tracking at Missy’s husband’s (Ben Surratt, who engineered, mixed, and co-produced the record) studio with the 4 piece band, primarily consisting of upright bass (Missy), drums (Josh Fox), mandolin (Jarrod Walker), and electric guitar (myself). I layered some other acoustic and electric guitar work along with some keyboards and things on a few songs, and Jarrod played acoustic guitar on some songs. Zach Bevill, who wrote/co-wrote 3 of the tunes, sang on a couple and we had Sam Bush play and sing on a song as well. The resulting sound is a lush, atmospheric Americana, with songs that are emotionally heavy but hopeful as well. Focusing on Missy’s vocals with delicate mandolins, spacious guitars, and a solid rhythm section underneath, it’s definitely a new and exciting direction for Missy and the band, and I'm happy to have been a part of it. You can hear the title track here and order the album here.
Photos from the Danberrys Sessions
Photos from the Missy Raines sessions