released 2018 Fiddlistics Music
I have now completed a monumental music project !
Emy Phelps & I both grew up in a time when popular music was one of the most important cultural resources that you could experience. In the 60s, the music coming out of New York, Detroit, Memphis, England and California, changed people's lives. New ideas and sounds brought people together and galvanized political movements.
Everyone our age has favorite songs that transport them into a place and a time of possibility, romance, danger, social commitment, and altitude. How lucky we were to have time in our lives to experience music that way.
Anyway, we have completed our first collection of Sixties 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 our generations since then, and that period established a collection of music styles that artists still create in.
That’s why we’re calling the project
We used 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
As many of you know, I’m not unfamiliar with projects like this. I’ve done panoramic sonic overviews of fiddling (DIary Of A Fiddler
), 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, etc. And my Republic Of Strings
project recorded a number of songs from this era.
This project was a process, where we cogitated musically about the essence of the song and our experiences with it. Then we evolved an acoustic arrangement with all that in mind— and we got to work with some of our favorite musicians in this rich wonderful Northeast community. Many of these folks were not alive yet when this music was created! —but they are so brilliant, and contributed so much to these songs.
On every song, we explored & added ideas that expanded the song’s meaning, and we learned more about them… these songs are great art, which continually reveals and opens up new facets.
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 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 not that much.
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.
For the cover, we were inspired by the work of 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. Her ideas inspired our cover, We feature a timeline on the inside with the other information, giving dates of birth for both the songs and all the players.