The New Year
I hope everyone had good holidays and a happy new year. It's been an unseasonably mild winter here in Nashville, topping the high 60's last week and the mid-50's this week. That's all good news for our Weber b.b.q. kettle and my thin blood, but something's not right. There are strange things afoot the last few years with the weather patterns everywhere. I'm just sayin'.......
My friend Bo Ramsey and I co-produced a wonderful album for singer and songwriter Iris DeMent just prior to Christmas. A collection of songs that is everything Southern from the heavy vines and death of a child, to dark gothic tales disguised in Sunday school piano saturated with Old Man River. We broke for the holidays then came back in January for a few days to finish up. I'm not sure when it will be released but I'll keep you posted.
I've also been doing some recording with Vince Gill again, this time he's producing Ashley Monroe. Ashley is one third of The Pistol Annies along with Miranda Lambert and Angelina Presley. All three are immensely talented songwriters, singers and artists individually as well as their combined success as the Annies. Due to that success, a major record label is in the process of signing Ashley and the recordings we did that Vince supervised are the beginnings of her album. As always it's nothing but a joy to work with Vince at his studio where we all set up in the same room facing each other and play live music together.
We got a call from Emmylou a couple of weeks back asking us to join her at The Ryman Auditorium for a special performance of The Grand Ole Opry. It was a combined celebration of her 20th anniversary as an Opry artist as well as the 20th anniversary of her live album At The Ryman. I was fortunate to have produced that record there with my pal Allen Reynolds back in 1991. At that time the Ryman was no longer a working venue for shows, the Opry having left for a modern theatre in 1974. The wonderful auditorium had fallen on very hard times, disrepair and was being used only as a destination for tourists to walk through and have a picture taken on the famous stage. It was in these squalid and somewhat unsafe conditions Emmy's album was recorded. When it was released 20 years ago it refocused the general public as well as the owner's of the Ryman to what a valuable venue it was, not only for it's past but also it's future potential. Shortly after, the Ryman Auditorium's structural problems were addressed and was completely restored making it a modern facility while keeping it historically sound. The Ryman is now packed every night with audiences enjoying all types of music and shows and The Grand Ole Opry returns each year in the winter to it's most famous home. Emmy's show the other night was fantastic with guests, Rodney Crowell, Vince, Shawn Colvin, Buddy Miller, Kimmie Rhodes and more. It was great sitting on those hundred year old oak pews, seeing and hearing all that music.
After a 6 month hiatus from my own record, I wandered back to my pal George Bradfute's studio and recorded a tune that I wrote last autumn while on tour with Mark and Dylan, a song that came to me on the Penarth Pier in Wales on a bleak and blustery afternoon. I actually called it Penarth while I worked on the tune, but have now changed the title. So, another one to throw on the pile that will eventually become the new album sometime this autumn.
I'll be heading into the studio to produce a new record for Phil Lee in March. I've done three records with him already and they're always great fun. Phil is a guy who writes songs with a wonderfully twisted angle and I'm a big fan of his.
My friend Dave Peterson and I have been talking about gathering some songs, players and studio time to make a record that I'll produce. Dave's one of the finest country/bluegrass singers going and couldn't be a nicer guy. Not sure if or when that will take place, but I sure hope it does.
That's about it for the time being. Here's wishing everyone a belated happy and healthy 2012. It's a mad old world but we're lucky stiffs to still be spinning round on it. Here's to another good turn.