Spring.... I don’t know about you but this one’s been a long time coming, felt like it’d never get here. We’ve had a lot of false starts, days where we were convinced it had sprung only to be hauling our plants indoors again for the freeze that night. So much rain as well,the wettest February on record here in Nashville and with April nearly over we still have endless days of clouds and water. Spring’s alway wet around these parts and I’m sure there’s plenty more to come but as I peck this out it is a clear, beautiful Sunday in the 70s, the trees are nearly in full leaf and everything’s springing back to life like crazy. Including me.
I was to have been spending these last few weeks in Australia wrapping up Neil Diamond’s 50th Anniversary tour. That wasn’t meant to be, but as that tour was cancelled it has given me a chance to finish my own new record, finally. It’s mixed and mastered and we’re just waiting for the artwork and layout. It looks to be a summer release for Ballads In Otherness. Strange title? Yes. Especially as all the tunes are not slow, but I prefer an older definition of the word ballad as meaning a song or melody that tells a story regardless of tempo. As for ‘otherness’, my music certainly leans to ‘other’. Anyway, I’m very pleased with it all and can’t wait to get it out there. In the midst of completing Ballads In Otherness, I’ve also been writing some new songs in a very different direction and I plan to head straight back in the studio to begin recording the record that will follow this.
I’ve been doing some recording with my old pal Rodney Crowell. He and I go back to the 70s in LA and it’s always so enjoyable playing music with friends like him. It’s easy when you’re on the same page and the songs are good.
My friend Don Cobb recently made me aware of the duo Larkin Poe, two sisters from Georgia who can really sing and play earthy, rockin’ music. I’ll forego further description apart from that and offer up this clip as a very good starting place https://youtu.be/cEWiJR9qeoc
If you’re looking for some great instrumental music I can highly recommend “Instrumentally Yours”, a webcast from Kay Das. Kay is a great steel guitarist who hosts each 2-hour program and offers up a wide assortment of styles by artists all over the world making instrumental music and there are more than you’d think but they’re seldom heard due to the general disregard of instrumentals. To find out more and subscribe to “Instrumentally Yours”, go to Kay’s FaceBook page… www.facebook.com/kay.das.10
Another plus to being home this year is having time to practise and read. I’ve been making my way through “Johnny Smith’s Complete Approach To Guitar” a course personally written by him. Johnny Smith was a legendary guitar player and remains my favourite. I’d worked through the early part of the book years ago and took a great deal from it but probably got distracted by something shiny and never went further. A very rewarding course that takes practise and dedication. For those interested it is available through Mel Bay Publications.
“Grant” by Pulitzer Prize winning author Ron Chernow is a 1000+ page biography of Ulysses S. Grant, Union General of the Civil War, America’s 18th president and a much misunderstood man. Often remembered as a cigar chomping alcoholic, he was in fact very well read, highly intelligent,
sensitive, a devoted husband and father and a military genius. I’m learning much about the Civil War… stuff not taught in school, or maybe I wasn’t paying attention. Probably the latter. “Grant” is in my hands daily and I’m building up a few muscles simply hoisting this tome.
All right, we’re heading out to do some work in the yard on this perfect Springtime Sunday then grill up a steak on the old Weber Kettle for dinner. Here’s wishing everybody a good Spring and I’ll let you know when Ballads In Otherness is birthed.