MUSIC OF OUR PEOPLE: Songs of the Sixties

Darol Anger with Emy Phelps and The New England All-Stars

MUSIC OF OUR PEOPLE Songs of the Sixties
GREETINGS, MUSIC LOVERS

Darol and Emy here. We want to wish all our dear friends and acquaintances a happy 2018.

As many of you know, we love making music together and we love getting many of the younger members of our very large music community in on that.
In the eight years we've been together, we've played close to two hundred concerts in the US, Ireland, Australia and Spain,
we've produced three full-length CDs
and five themed shows:
a winter holiday show, a Valentines' show, an Orchestra show, a tribute to Guy Clark, as well as gobs of Emy's original songs and my Republic Of Strings-type shows, and:
this next thing.

We have been working for the last 3+ years on a monumental music project which is now complete and available!

Emy & I both grew up in a time when popular music was one of the most important cultural resources that you could experience. The music coming out of New York, Detroit, Memphis and later, England and California, changed people's lives. New ideas and sounds brought people together and galvanized political movements.


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People would wait for the next release of their favorite artist, band, group.
If you lived through this time, you know what I'm talking about. The experience of laying on the floor or couch in our bedrooms, or living rooms or our parent's basement, reading or just studying the cover art, listening deeply into the music, soaking up layers of meaning that may or may not have been there; building visceral memories; even memorizing the space between the tracks and places where the pops and cracks appeared. We literally wore out albums because we loved them so much. How lucky we were to have time in our lives to experience music that way.

Everyone of any age has favorite songs that transport them into a place and a time of possibility, romance, danger, social commitment, etc.

Anyway, we have completed our first collection of Sixties and early Seventies music.
Because of the iconic nature of this stuff, and the fact that it has been 50 YEARS since much of this music got written, we now think of it as folk music
(even though we'll be paying lots of well-deserved publishing royalties!)

Much of that music has shaped most of the generations since then, and that period established a collection of styles that artists still create in.
That's why we're calling the project    
Music Of Our People.
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Out of the hundreds maybe thousands of amazing & significant songs that appeared during that time, these are the ones that have presented themselves to us. We are using our unique viewpoints and skills to re-create these songs in the New Acoustic style that has become a huge pillar of what people now call Americana music.

As many of you know, I'm not unfamiliar with projects like this. I've done panoramic sonic overviews of fiddling, and released a folk music album of highly arranged material called “Heritage” featuring Wille Nelson, Mavis Staples, Bela Fleck, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tim O’Brien, Paul McCandless, David Lindley, Edgar Meyer, Victor Wooten and on and on. And my Republic Of Strings project used a number of songs from this era.
This ongoing project is very much an in-house production, where we think and talk deeply about the essence of the song and our experiences with it. Then we evolve an acoustic arrangement with all that in mind; and perhaps most important,
we work with some of our favorite musicians in this rich and wonderful Northeast community.


Many of these folks were not alive yet when this music was created!
But they are pretty much geniuses, and contributed beautiful insight to these songs.


Some of the most important players on MUSIC OF OUR PEOPLE are good friends, and people we've worked with steadily, some for decades, some just for a few weeks or days.

For instance, the foundation players. This incredible collection of bassists:

Bridget Kearny
(Lake Street Dive),
Ethan Jodziewicz (Sierra Hull, Mr Sun)
Scottish Bassist Aidan O'Donnell,

all some of the most incredibly powerful and expressive acoustic bassists ever; you can bet we mixed them loudly!

I've always gone for unexpected and uncommon acoustic instruments, based on the genius of the individual player, and one of my great discoveries of the last decade has been the Celtic harp, played by Maeve Gilchrist. In her hands, it rivals any great jazz or rock piano playing. She plays and sings on the Laura Nyro and Grateful Dead covers.
Banjo has been part of my life forever, and I got two real innovators: my old friend Tony Trischka and the amazing Crooked Still banjoist Gregory Lizst.

Some of the most interesting guests are unique artists like dancer Nic Gareiss, who contributes the boot sounds on €œThese Boots are Made For Walking.
Singer-songwriter-producer Kai Welch plays glorious muted trumpet on Carole King'€™s urban classic Up On The Roof.
Multi-instrumentalist and all-around MVP Charlie Rose plays Pedal Steel on Laura Nyro's Stone Soul Picnic, which is given the full-Disney with harp and a badass string section. Tablas and bells appear courtesy of noted percussionist Terry Longshore on a Zen-garden approach to the Hunter-Garcia classic, €œRipple€. Guitar genius Grant Gordy appears on the Motown classic You Keep Me Hangin' On and Ripple.


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Pedal Steel dude Charlie Rose reappears on what some say is the greatest pop song ever written, Wichita Lineman.
We've created a Phantasmagorical Blur-grass/Oregon Country Fair Ives Parade-type experience with our other Grateful Dead cover, Uncle John'€™s Band.
We've got some drumming where needed, courtesy of Emy’s talented son, Jacob Ransom. He's getting his doctorate in Percussion, so if you have a sick pair of bongos, he can help...
and other people that folks may not know yet but who will soon become household names.

The core of our sound is Emy'€™s incredible voice, Darol'€™s familiar violin sound,
and our patented guitar & octave mandolin weave that sets the core for everything else.



As with any art, the concept grows and changes in the process of the making.
I can't think of any song that we didn'€™t explore or add ideas that expanded the song's meaning, or any one song that we didn’t learn more about … these songs are great art, which continually reveal and open up new facets.
Emy and I both suspect that this project is actually the beginning of something that will go on for the rest of our lives, or at least for the length of our ability to make music.

This entire project was recorded piece by piece in our attic, sometimes with up to three people at once, sometimes with live vocals, but mostly painstakingly assembled after much thought, built up from a rocking basic track of guitar and octave mandolin with bass. My home recording studio combines legacy gear from 40 years ago with the most recent digital technology, and is quirky; but the best tool is a tool you know how to use, and I have made a dozen albums on this system, gradually upgrading and changing out gear. I know exactly how I want it to sound, and I can make it happen… for not a lot of expense, generally. We did pay the other musicians about twice the going recording rate, which is still kind of a pittance.

As music moves farther and farther away from being a physical medium, sort of like back to the REALLY old days of ALL live music,
we now can release individual songs on the web- or smaller sets of music, with very little financial investment; but many of us still miss the physicality of holding an object in our hands, of reading the lyrics on paper, of studying the art that may illuminate the music and vice versa. So here we are:



Emy is an extremely talented graphic artist, with brilliant ideas, and I have been doing graphics semi-professionally since 1972.



So we are doing our own art, and crafting a beautiful package that encloses and informs the music.



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Last year, we attended an art show at the Harvard Art Museum in Cambridge, where we saw some work by the well-known artist Sister Corita Kent. She was a Catholic nun who did wonderful prints with written spiritual meditations inserted into images of commercial products. She was sort of like the Ecumenical Andy Warhol, with more content.



This idea became the basic design template for our cover, to attempt to capture the essence of that time. We’ll feature 60s-newspaper collage-style photos of the two of us on the back, and feature a timeline on the inside with the other information, giving dates of birth for both the songs and all the players. Our friend Tony Trischka has the honor of being the oldest participant, and Emy's daughter Mila probably the youngest.

we are all giving to various tax-deductible and other Non-Governmental Organizations like crazy now, in these outrageous, incredible, and dangerous times. We're distracted, we're running around like maniacs.

But... this music has already seen us through a time of great discord and upheaval and maintains its integrity and relevance right now.

So. We a€™re asking you to make an additional investment in yourself:
In your daily happiness and the relief that great music can bring.

A gift that keeps on giving.


Buy this CD, or download it here.


updated: 2 weeks ago