January 24, 2012

After four decades in the music business, I'm finally finding my voice.

An experience on a family reunion planning committee led me to research my grandfather and grandmother's history. What I learned changed me forever - my heart was turned toward my ancestors. That experience made me feel that I needed to write my feelings in song, which I had done for other people for thirty-five years, but that this time I needed to sing the songs myself. I needed to express my feelings for them personally. So five years ago I began.

So here I am at age sixty-three releasing my first album! Crazy? Yes, but it's what I have to do.

I played some of the instruments myself-guitar, mandolin, percussion and accordion, but I also enlisted my friends--Rich Dixon on guitar and dobro, Rob Honey, Matt Larson and Nathanael Davenport on bass, Aaron Allred, Curtis Woodbury and Nancy Herrera on fiddle, Todd Sorensen on drums, Daron Bradford on penny whistle, and on handclaps (applause, please) Amy Whitcomb and Jake Justice...a gross underutilization of their prodigious talents.

Julie Rogers, who views the production of art that honors our heritage as part of her mission, graciously consented to create art to illustrate some of the stories embodied in these songs. And her pre-existing artworks inspired two of the songs on the album!

And I sang the lead vocals myself. I have such immense respect for all the vocal artists with whom I've worked over the years that I feel like a fool doing this, but I can't deny that I get great fulfillment out of singing songs about my ancestors myself.

Matt Cropper is mixing the songs at my studio, Pitchfork Studios, and mastering the album here also.

There are hundreds of great musicians, vocalists and engineers that I would love to involve in this process, but I'll just have to hope that there are other opportunities. I certainly haven't written my last heritage song. I'm just beginning. I'm hopeful that my meager offerings will find a place in someone else's heart as they've found a place in mine. And I hope I get the chance to tell you "the rest of the story" - the stories that inspired these songs.