It's been nearly two months since I last updated this page and we're now well in to the new year. I hope everyone had good holidays. Ours were grand with good friends, food and cheer. Our long time pal Mary Martin and I made our traditional Christmas spiced beef again this year. It begins in late November with a month-long brining of 15 pounds of top round packed in various spices, placed in a crockery container, refrigerated and turned every couple of days. A few days before Christmas the beef is removed and roasted at a low temperature for 6-8 hours, cooled, wrapped and pressed overnight. The following day it is served cold, sliced thinly with a loaf of rustic bread, homemade chutney and Shropshire blue cheese. We gather round the table with Mary and savour the results with wine and conversation that goes well into the evening and have done so every holiday for years. For Christmas dinner we've abandon the usual turkey in favour of Navajo Tacos with homemade green chili. The good food continued through new year's day with grilled lamb sausage, black-eye peas and turnip greens. The latter two an old southern tradition supposedly bringing good luck and wealth in the new year. Traditions honoured and broken.
January got off to a slow start work-wise but that was just fine as it gave me a chance to finally finish my album. In fact I wrapped up the last mixes yesterday and couldn't be happier with it. My good friend George Bradfute who engineers, mixes and often lends his expert musical hand to my records, outdid himself this time. I love the way the recordings sound, thanks George. The album is called For The Newly Blue and will be available in April. Stay tuned here and I'll let you know how to get hold of one.
The new record I produced for Phil Lee has just been released. Phil's got a way with words and has used quite a lot of them in the title, The Fall And Further Decline Of The Mighty King Of Love. We had loads of fun making the record at Bradfute's studio with former Wilco drummer Ken Coomer, Dave Roe on bass, Phil and I on guitars. It was recorded live in three days and is crackling with energy, spirit and Phil's very distinctive songs. Oh yeah, check out the cover, Phil with the tattooed lady...and hear some of the songs at www.reverbnation.com/phillee I'll be playing with him for the album's release party at the famous Bluebird Cafe here in Nashville on February 15th.
You may recall I'd co-produced an album with Bo Ramsey for Iris DeMent last year. That album, Sing The Delta, was released this past September to amazing critical acclaim and is selling well. It made many year-end Top 10 lists including National Public Radio, The Independent (U.K.), No Depression, Rolling Stone and more. Here is a link to one of those lists and also a good overview of Iris' Sing The Delta record:http://www.nashvillescene.com/nashville/iris-dements-self-released-album-is-no-3-in-our-poll/Content?oid=3230400
In December I went to New York with Iris to play A Prairie Home Companion that was broadcast live from Town Hall, a beautiful old theatre just off Times Square in Manhattan. The long-running programme is a throw back to the golden age of radio and is hosted by the brilliant Garrison Keillor who in his introduction of Iris said she was his favourite songwriter. Other guests on that evening's show included legendary musicians Itzhak Perlman and Dick Hyman. I was in tall cotton as they say in the south. The broadcast, from December 15th 2012, is archived on Prairie Home Companion's website.
I'd also like to mention Brent Holmes and his series of Fun Tunes For Kids that I've had the pleasure of playing on for the last 10 years or so. The latest album called Island Tunes For Kids is out now and I'm all over it playing ukulele, Hawaiian steel guitar, electric and acoustic guitars. Brent, along with Dave Hoffner who plays on and produces the series, manage to make music for children that adults love as well. Check out the music at Amazon.com and Brent's site: www.funtunesforkids.com
Calls have begun coming in for various recording projects in February including some more sessions with the great Sheryl Crow who I did an album with last year. That record is due to be released sometime this year. I'm also looking forward to the big tour with Mark Knopfler of U.K./Europe/Scandinavia this spring and summer. We'll begin rehearsals in April in London then be on our way again. Can't wait.
Finally, a reminder about Henk Quintelier's R.B. fansite. Henk continues to unearth relics of my past from who knows where and adds to that site constantly. I really enjoy going there myself to find out all kinds of useful information. Henk's site also has a snappy new address: http://fansite.richard-bennett.com
That's enough for now... more to follow. Meantime, here's wishing you all the best for 2013.