My last shot to take advantage of the bad weather and hole up with guitars working on parts, parts, parts for up to six album projects at a time; what am i, crazy? Just love to play and produce.
This winter has not been a winter as far as Vermont goes, and so the Tweed Winter Carnival at Pico ski area was a huge relief, to perk up our spirits as we gazed out at the nearly snow-free slopes. The Holy Plow played a lively set Saturday, in our five piece configuration including Jeff Berlin on drums, and Scott Paulson on bass. The weekend event was organized by the folks who do the summer Tweed River Festival, in Stockbridge VT, a great bunch of energetic, musical fun-makers who know how to put on a show and support the artistry of regional players.
Started off this month with a whirlwind weekend with collaborator Steve Mayone: one day of overdubs and one day with drummer Jeff Berlin, really just an elaborate excuse for a 2 day wine-and-cheese party, with occasional Chinese. We tracked foundation parts for a couple of my songs, which is pretty sweet, since I wasn’t sure whether these particular tunes were ever going to see the light of day. Now I know they are more than viable, thanks to Steve and Jeff. Another thing I appreciate about this ongoing session, is that we are coming up with great sounds using a minimum of microphones, and everyone is happy about that and appreciates the stripped down, simplicity of the approach.
I’ve always maintained that siblings and/or relatives often have a musical “lock” with each other that is unique and powerful … part of the reason my production collaboration with Steve Mayone is so special to me (2nd cousin on my father’s/the Italian side). A similar opportunity came up recently for singer-songwriter Julie James, and sister Joellyn, who dropped by unexpectedly from California. Joellyn brought with her the fabulous family vocal talent, and despite having no real experience recording, delivered harmonies to Julie’s tracks that feel and sound exquisite.
I love experiments, and when I first heard Dylan Waller’s homemade music videos a couple years ago on Youtube, I knew I wanted to get to know him and try something musical with him – didn’t really know what, just that I had to. His breath of fresh and pungent emotional air, his lack of affect and equally refreshing lack of attachment to current styles ... well it all blew my mind. And so finally life conspired to allow us 2 days in the studio this month, the results of which are now clear to become a full-length album of Dylan’s original music (with a little light production by me) released on my Thunder Ridge Records label by the end of the year. I’m truly excited to see his music get to another level of nuance and dynamic presentation. Dylan’s work touches places most popular music can’t get too.
Our band The Holy Plow, featuring the songs of acoustic rocker Bow Thayer, had a major St. Patty’s Day this year, following fiddler Patrick Ross back over to his neck of the woods to JL Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Lancaster, NH, for a timeless night (is that what you call it when it turns into daylight again?) of rollicking good music and socializing, thanks in large part to owners Dermott and Anne Stapleton, who both sat in playing bodhran and singing songs with us, a sincere delight. We did what we do sometimes and jumped off the stage for the second half of the evening (joined by a few other patrons), circled our chairs, and revved up the tune machine. I love the feeling of not having to leave to go anywhere after a gig, and settling into music that encompasses all that is right about the world: friendship, harmony and laughter.
(Photo by Cindy Ross)