I have always been drawn to the magic and energy created by two musicians playing together. It is the purest example of music as conversation. Come to think of it, most of my favorite albums are duets... real, raw recordings that put the listener in the middle of a room with two incredible musicians listening, playing off one another, & climbing out on limbs together. No effects, no meticulous overdubbing, no studio trickery. When the opportunity to make an album presented itself, I knew I wanted to attempt to create something similar to the albums I have loved for so long.
The first person I reached out to get the ball rolling was Brent Truitt. I've known him as one of the top utility musicians and mandolin players in the Bluegrass and Country scene for years. Along with playing with The Steeldrivers, he runs his own studio in East Nashville, TN. It felt like the perfect intimate setting to capture these recordings.
Next, I reached out to some of my favorite mandolin players, some I knew very well and others I had only met once or twice. I considered myself extremely lucky that my friends and heroes were interested in being a part of the project and that we were able to wrangle everyone’s schedules together to make it happen. In some cases, we showed up to the studio with a handful of tunes in mind and worked up our arrangements (a term I use very loosely) as the tape was rolling.
From the beginning of the process, I knew I wanted Scott Simontacchi to take portraits for this album. He is one of the best photographers in Nashville with a client list including Del McCoury, Tony Rice, Sarah Jarosz, Dr. Ralph Stanley, Jim Lauderdale, and on, and on, and on. In addition to his photography skills, Scott is also a great mandolin player, singer, and songwriter (check out Sheriff Scott & the Deputies). It was a no-brainer decision to include him in the project, and I couldn't be happier with the incredible photos he took of these great players and their instruments. We even set up our own little photoshoot in the middle of Brent's studio to capture each player after the sessions!
The Mandolin Duets story doesn't end with this album. Long before I made the first call for Volume One, I made a long list of mandolin players who have inspired me and thousands of other mandolin players across the globe. The long-term scope of this project is to reach out to as many of them as possible, hunt them down, and make music. More important than the music, my goal is to meet these guys and gals, learn more about their musical backgrounds, styles, and catalogs. One of the biggest takeaways from Volume One was the friendship and generosity I experienced from these wonderful guests. Everyone knows the old cliche of "Don't meet your heroes", but I say, "Meet your heroes and make a kickass mandolin album with them!"
Produced by Casey Campbell
Engineered by Brent Truitt at The Cave in Nashville, TN
Mastered by David Shipley at Foxwood Mastering
Photography by Scott Simontacchi (sksimage.com)
Design by Casey Campbell & Gina Leslie (omgina.com)
1. Wailin' On Waldron (with Ronnie McCoury)
2. Monroebillia (with Mike Compton)
3. Down Home Waltz (with Buck White)
4. Cedar Hill (with David Grisman)
5. Cherokee Lady (with Bobby Osborne)
6. The High Road (with Tim O'Brien)
7. Amanda Jewell (with Ricky Skaggs)
8. Waltz With Me (with Roland White)
9. Sweet Potato (with Andy Statman)
10. Ode To Bill Monroe (with Jesse McReynolds)
11. Sam's Bush (with Sam Bush)
12. White Horse Breakdown (with Mike Compton)
13. Saratoga Blues (with Buck White)