Okay, so a bit more about the project and our preparations for the upcoming Nashville session this weekend. First, some detail on the “non-music” aspects of the project. The photography for the project is being done by Bob Patterson in St. Augustine. With the title “Welcome Home” Bob has selected an outdoor location with features that suggest “home” themes that also captures the interior native beauty of Florida. Bob’s photography is well known and some of the most memorable images of his good friend, Gamble Rogers, were the product of his sharp creative eye. Another great piece of the puzzle on a project like this. The graphic design will be done by Nancy Terzian of Bucking Horse Design in Nashville. I was introduced to Nancy by Kari Estrin, a career management consultant I’ve been working with, and I’m very impressed with her portfolio of prior CD projects. At this point we’ve only corresponded by email, but I plan to meet with her while I’m in Nashville on this trip. She is used to working with DiscMakers, my preferred manufacturing source, so it is an all around good fit. As I suppose is obvious, the budget for this project is larger than previous efforts. However, Kari Estrin will be handling radio promotion after it is released and even in this more frugal economy the CD should be financially viable. The trick is to keep an eye on that budget and produce a top end product within its confines. That can be a sensitive subject, but fortunately everyone involved here understands the math. There was a very interesting article in Kiplinger’s Magazine recently about independent music projects like this. It is an interview of a friend of mine from Nashville, Tom Kimmel, about the economics of releasing an independent CD. If you are interested, the link is http://www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/2009/01/my-story-tom-kimmel.html. The last little mundane detail is that I’ve formed a new record label to release this CD – Cypress Moss Records. Once I get the website up and running you may get an email from that domain – it’s not spam, just me. Jason’s wife Beth is also a graphic designer and she’s working on a logo for the new label. Back to the music. We have a couple of tracks that are largely complete. Yellow Butter Moon is ready to go to the final mix stage as is the new recording of Banks of the Old St. Johns. Both of these feature Lis and Lon Williamson, Gabe Valla and Jason Thomas backing me and are really stellar cuts. The rough mixes are up on my MySpace page so you can test drive them and let me know what you think. Also, Welcome Home is largely complete with the wonderful contributions of the Still Friends clan, though we may add some fiddle and guitar work to that one to “fatten it up” some. Withlacoochee Dreamer is an interesting and somewhat embarrassing story. I’ve had that song for a couple of years and it was a top 10 Will McLean entry (#6 I think) a couple of years ago. When Jason and I met after he had listened to rough tracks of all the material on Withlacoochee Dreamer he commented, “isn’t that the melody from Gordon Lightfoot’s Home from the Forest?” Ewww, I hate hearing something like that!!! I’m a HUGE Lightfoot fan, but haven’t heard that tune in years. I went and found the CD and . . . oh boy!! It wasn’t the whole melody, but the first three lines of the verse melody were dead on. ARRGGGG!!!! So, back to the drawing board. I reconstructed the verse melody around the same chord pattern, deleted a verse and added a bridge. The result (once my embarrassment faded) is a much better song. We’ve put Lon Williamson’s bass work on that along with some fabulous Lis Williamson harmonies and a really nice fingerstyle guitar accompaniment by Bob Rafkin. We’ll add some Rob Ickes dobro to that and we’re all set. Jason and I met last night for a couple of beers and some track planning for the Nashville sessions. The challenge in a trip like this is to plan who is going to do what on which songs so that you efficiently use your studio time and don’t have folks sitting around twiddling their thumbs in between. In addition, Jason has some definite ideas for what he wants to hear on the various songs we are working with so he’s working up track sheets for each player to give them some direction. He’s off with The Claire Lynch Band now playing dates tonight and tomorrow night in the Carolinas and will have a chance as they travel to talk with them some about the weekend’s work. The biggest problem I have at this phase is choosing between options. With players of the caliber that Jason has lined up here it’s rare that I hear anything I don’t love! I feel a little better that Jason confesses to much the same weakness. What a luxury to have absolute confidence in the musicians to take the direction given and maximize it for the benefit of the song! We’ve talked a lot about the story behind each tune and the emotion being conveyed looking for the right instrumentation and approach to compliment each one. We’ve chosen to pick up the tempo on some tunes and slow it on others for similar reasons. We’ve also added some transitional dynamics to make the melodies and instrumentals more lively and interesting. Jason’s guidance has been invaluable in really looking much more critically at the material and how it’s presented. I can’t wait to hear (and for YOU to hear) the results!! That’s enough until Nashville. We fly out Friday afternoon and I’ll let you know how we do!