Traffic from the Oakland airport to Berkeley was… well, Californian. Once we arrived it was The Greek as usual, friendly staff, great catering, etc. As for the show, it was as we’d always remembered as well. What a fantastic audience, full house and couldn’t be more appreciative. The thunderous ovation at the end was remarkable. MK played as well as I’d ever heard and the band as well. Thanks, Berkeley, Oakland and San Fransisco. A runner down to L.A. where we will base for the next several days. It’s great seeing palm trees again…. back to one of my hometowns and one that was very important in my younger days of doing three record dates a day back in the late ‘60s until we moved to Nashville in the mid-‘80s. Day off tomorrow.
There’s not much you can purchase for four bucks these days. Four bucks is the new two bits… that’s 25¢ for those too young for a shave and a haircut.
What about it?
On completing the Ballads In Otherness record I threw myself straight back to writing and into the studio again to begin a new album; a very different record from the others. I quickly recorded and mixed four tunes with an eye to what may follow. Then again, these may end up on the cutting room floor when it’s all said and done but the thing is, I’m really pleased with how they turned out, how they sound and how these four tunes hang together as a piece. For the sessions I gathered the usual bunch of mates and musicians as well as some new friends and a few old compadres. Altogether they make up The New Folkswingers and we’re so excited about this folk flavoured project that Moderne Shellac decided to release an E.P.
These four tunes will be available exclusively through CD Baby as a download only….no hard copies, CDs or vinyl, no streaming and not accessible through other formats or services.
Here it is, Four Freshly minted Fab Folk Faves For Four bucks….Richard Bennett and The New Folkswingers….. “Four Buck Folk.” Available now ….
While making a successful living as the first call guitarist for the likes of Mark Knopfler and Neil Diamond, Richard Bennett has also quietly amassed an impressive catalogue of his own. Classy and understated, his albums are reminiscent of the days when instrumental bands such as The Ventures, The Shadows, Santo and Johnny or Johnny and the Hurricane’s ruled the airwaves in the 50s and 60s. His latest release is a glowing gem, as he calls up his friends on his iphone for a polished and classy read of originals. Bennet plays guitar and steel, adroitly mixing and matching with a string section as well as Roger Spencer/b, Ted Tretiak/dr, Nick Bennett-Andy Reiss/g, spooner Oldham/B3, Lindsay Bennett/p-key, Charlie McCoy/vib, a handful of horns, strings and even VOX.
His guitar voice and style evokes the lyricism of Johnny Smith, as on the warm “No Matter The Odds” and relaxed “This Love Remembered” while he hiply swings on a jazzy “Intermezzo.” Hints of the Everly Brothers are strummed during “Come Summer’s Sun,” Roy Orbison’d nostalgia with horns create a gently dramatic “Dauphine Noir,” and some Duane Eddy twang rockabillies for “Eye For Hire.” Piano and ethereal voice make for a pastoral “Pretty Pillow” with Bennett taking you to the local VFW on the rural “Waltz For A Wayard.” Obviously, he knows how to boogie the blues, and gets juke jointy for “”Bo-Kay,” but for the most part, Bennet takes you to the local lounge of second sets of the night, as on the relaxed “This Side of Truth.” Charming in its gorgeous and elegant simplicity-the more you listen the more you appreciate it. Any chance for So Cal gigs with this band on a night off from Knopfler?
A studio veteran with thousands of sessions to his credit, Richard Bennett is also an ace producer and Mark Knopfler’s longtime guitar foil. But to instrumental guitar fanatics, he’s the keeper of the flame for a style of guitar instrumental music that’s been largely forgotten. It emerged in the late ’50s as electric guitar and stereo vinyl first gained popularity, and—until it was swept away by the British Invasion—permeated movie soundtracks and TV themes. For a refresher course, check out Tony Mottola’s Mr. Big (1959) and Al Caiola’s Golden Hit Instrumentals (1961). These guitarists had serious jazz chops, yet embraced twang and tremolo, and made LPs using cutting-edge studio technology of the time.
Which brings us back to Bennett’s Ballads in Otherness. Echoes of these greats, as well as Duane Eddy and the Shadows’ Hank Marvin, resound in the album’s 13 originals. The tunes evoke saguaro, chaparral, and wide-open roads—the call of the West half a century ago. But for me, the most compelling aspect of Bennett’s music is his gift for writing memorable melodies and executing them with ringing, old-school tones and impeccable technique, whether on electric 6-string or sweet steel guitar.
Ballads in Otherness is also filled with superb chord-melody playing—another skill that’s on the brink of extinction. “Al Casey was my good friend and mentor,” Bennett says of the Wrecking Crew guitarist, “my entree into the Hollywood studio world of the swinging ’60s. He opened my ears to people like Barney Kessel, Howard Roberts, and Johnny Smith. The chord-solo pieces are my nod to those guitarists.”
Bennett is a time traveler, bringing vintage instrumental guitar into the 21st century. If you lived through that earlier era, Ballads in Otherness will take you back. But if you’ve never absorbed these sounds, it makes a fabulous introduction.
Must-hear tracks: “Come Summer’s Sun,” “Eye for Hire,” “This Love Remembered”