A STATE OF GRACE
1.A STATE OF GRACE
3.THE SISTERS BURNETTE
6.COUNT DRACULA'S WALTZ
8.TROUBLE ON THE MIND
Nowadays with the massive amount of music on the internet it is going to be tough to cut through chaos and let people know about my new project…but here goes;
For a time in my life as a musician I was associated with record labels that employed a publicist, essentially I relied on someone else to define my music in order to solicit the interest of retailers and radio…in retrospect nobody was doing me any favors since I have always felt like I am the most qualified person to describe what it is I do.
The publicist would write a “one sheet” which featured a brief explanation of the project.
Now I am free to elaborate and let folks know what it is I am trying to get across , so here is my "one sheet";
A State of Grace is a recording of mostly original instrumental pieces composed on and featuring mandolin ,mandola ,mandocello with violin ,viola and arco and pizzicato upright bass.
I have always dreamed of synthesizing some of my musical influences on one recording while still trying to meet the challenge of saying something unique and personal.
During my teenage years I was eager to devour any traditional American music I could get my hands on.
I obtained a live bootleg recording of Doc Watson and Bill Monroe and stumbled upon a tune that forever changed my sensibilities about the fluidity of traditional music ,the tune was The Lonesome Moonlight Waltz.
I listened to Lonesome Moonlight Waltz over and over again trying to figure out what was so alluring and mysterious about this tune.
I came to realize that this tune defied my expectations of what country or bluegrass music could sound like, it reminded me of the European roots of the mandolin
This waltz simultaneously called to mind both Italian and Eastern European music and yet it has a bluesy flavor that could not be mistaken for anything else but 100% American music.
I was blessed to be living in the SF Bay Area in the early days of The David Grisman Quintet ,my parents bought me tickets to many DGQ shows and I fell in love with Grisman’s original compositions many of which had the combination of flavors I first heard in The Lonesome Moonlight Waltz.
In 1982 I purchased an LP entitled Original Underground Music from the Mysterious South by Norman Blake and The Rising Fawn String Ensemble, my initial reason for purchasing the record was a fascination with the cover ,a photo of the musicians holding a variety of mandolin family instruments made by Gibson along with a Gibson guitar a cello and a fiddle.
Upon setting the needle down on the record I was overwhelmed , this was a collection of original melodies that had that special combination of European and American flavors ,some of the music was reminiscent of early classical music.
The next major discovery was mandolinist Andy Statman’s Flatbush Waltz released in 1980.
Andy combines bluegrass ,jazz and klezmer music and I heard echoes of The Lonesome Moonlite Waltz in several of his tunes.
As the years went by I stumbled upon mandolin tunes by Butch Baldassari,Skip Gorman, John Reichman and Peter Ostroushko that contained the same DNA as Lonesome Moonlight Waltz.
Several pieces on “A State of Grace” are my contribution to what seems like an unspoken tradition of tunes written on the mandolin that capture the spirit of The Lonesome Moonlight Waltz.
I decided to move forward with this recording after jamming with Lee Bidgood, a great musician who happens to be the care taker of the only known Gibson snakehead mandola ,an instrument that belongs to the East TN State Bluegrass,Old Time and Country Music program where he and I teach.
From the moment Lee and I started to play these tunes together I knew something special was emerging.
Over the course of two years Lee and and I got together to play and solidify parts and arrangements.
I added the bass skills of Kevin Kehrberg after the tunes were composed , his background in old time,bluegrass and classical music informed the wonderful parts he wrote.
Over the last ten years I have been doing a bit of musical soul searching.
I spent my 20’s , 30’s and some of my 40s playing in bands.I loved collaborating with other players and trying to create something with integrity as well as creativity.I love the serendipitous magic that can occur with the right combinations of musicians ,each bringing something unique to the table however it is my opinion that creativity without discipline stunts the growth of ideas and prevents good music from being fully realized.
I suppose my insistence on dicipline and integrity has left me without a band or musicians to collaborate with on a regular basis ,to be honest there have been times when the prospect of playing music alone on my couch for the rest of my days depressed me.
For a variety of reasons most of my favorite local players are simply unable to commit to anything more then an occasional jam session or a gig if the money is right.
Finally I pushed myself over the negativity hump and made a commitment to use the recording medium to try and replace the joy I had once felt rehearsing arranging and writing with a band and playing gigs.
I purchased some mics and software to build a simple home studio and over time have gotten pretty good at capturing the tones of the acoustic instruments I love.
It was my goal to make a recording of evocative mood music ,my hope is that one could leave the recording on and listen to it all the way through on a drive in the country or while staring out the window on a rainy day…maybe this is a soundtrack to an imaginary film? or one that has not been made yet?
Some of the pieces on the recording are sonic tributes to my late mother's stories about her family being forced to flee Vienna Austria in 1939 during the rise of Hitler and make the long trip to the U.S. in hopes of starting a new life.
Thanks for your time