Last year Tom Russell asked me to co-produce his next album with him. I had played on his last three albums in Austin and Tucson and we developed a great working relationship over those last six years. We worked on this new one - called "Mesabi" - for almost a year, in a series of recording sessions that took place all across America. Starting in Tucson, AZ in August of 2010, we worked for a week at Wavelab Studio and got nearly half the songs down. We started work again in Nashville in October 2010, the week after my wedding to Gretchen Peters, who sang some beautiful background vocals on the album. We got most of the rest of the album done at that time. Here's Tom and me with Ann McCrary of the fabulous McCrary Sisters, (who sang background vocals on a song called "Heart Within A Heart"), Gretchen Peters, Regina McCrary, and the extraordinarily versatile Will Kimbrough: The songs on this album are some of Tom's strongest songs ever, and the group of musicians who ended up on the album is a stellar cast of some of America's finest recording musicians. Beginning last year in Tucson, we were very lucky to get the core of the band Calexico, including Joey Burns on bass and guitars, John Convertino on drums and percussion, and Jacob Valenzuela on trumpet, along with Tom on acoustic guitar and myself on keys. In Nashville the band was Viktor Krauss on bass, Will Kimbrough on electric and acoustic guitars, John Gardner on drums; and again, Tom and myself. After the October 2010 sessions, two songs were tracked in LA with Van Dyke Parks on piano and accordion, Bob Glaub on bass, Don Heffington on drums and Thad Beckman on electric and acoustic guitars. Another song was tracked in San Antonio with Augie Meyers on piano and Joel Guzman on accordion; and finally Tom went back to his home in El Paso, where he tracked one last song with a stunning Flamenco guitar performance by guitarist Jacob Mossman. To cap it all off, Lucinda Williams agreed to add a duet vocal to an epic and surprising eight minute cover of Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall", a song we had tracked in Tucson during those initial sessions back in 2010. We mixed the album in May in Nashville with the amazing David Henry at the controls. The release date is set for September 6, on Shout Factory records. I'm very excited about this album, and I'll put the reviews up on this site as they come in. The album was a joy for me to work on, and I consider myself lucky to have been a part of it. These songs are what Americana is really about. The vast underbelly of this great country. Shady characters, down and out former child movie stars, border chaos in Juarez and El Paso. This is not the Americana of shopping malls, chain restaurants and American Idol. This is the dark night of the American soul. Stay tuned...
Aug 11Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch, Pomeroy,
Aug 12Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch, Pomeroy,
Aug 13Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch, Pomeroy
Aug 14Fur Peace Ranch, Pomeroy