What’s goin’ on...
April 9, 2016
“Guetts wants to know if they can borrow our bass amp.”
Susan posed that question in the middle of a crowded Pilot Light in Knoxville’s Old City. It was barely five in the afternoon, and a lot of folks were already filling the joint, nodding their heads up and down in front of the stage, standing in the back to get a more full view, leaning on the bar, or coming and going through the front door to smoke.
“Sure, of course,” I replied.
It was the third annual Big Asses Fest, and by that time several acts had already played. Bark was still three bands away, but things were on schedule, everybody was having a good time, and the vibe was great. Last-minute negotiations ensued between bands to share gear and make the changeovers simpler. Zach from the Sweet Years was letting Susan use his drum kit, and Niles from the Crumbsnatchers was going to use one of our amps, thanks to Guettts’ request.
As Mare Vita was doing their thing, i took it all in. This was my world. A bunch of cool bands working together to make it all happen. No goals other than to get on the stage and do it up.
As the last note of the song trailed off, Jon Dee slipped the headphones off his head and looked around at the players on his right and the recording engineers on his left.
“That was pretty magical,” he said with a grin.
All of us gathered at Top Hat Studio for the occasion nodded our heads in agreement. We’d just nailed Jon Dee’s song, “The Ballad of Dan Stuart,” in a single take, not bad considering we’d never played together before that week.
It was early February, but strangely warm outside, when Susan, Chris, and I set up for the inaugural session at the new Top Hat Studios, which had relocated from Austin, Texas, to Knoxville.
Singer/songwriter/guitarist Jon Dee Graham had come from Texas to lay down tracks with his friends and longtime collaborators, Top Hat proprietors John Harvey and Mary Podio. The TL3 was fortunate enough to be invited to be the backing band for the sessions, which yielded five songs.
As a fan of Jon Dee’s, it was especially gratifying to be involved in the project, which took place during what had been a particularly slow winter for our band.
Editor’s note: Tim wrote this “Diary of a Never Was” installment back in November, but it fell between the cracks during winter hibernation. Now maybe that lazy bastard will get back in the groove sometime and start writing these blog entries on a regular basis. Who knows?
November 14, 2015
I figure since it’s been about exactly three months since I scribbled for you, that maybe it’s time to do it again. To be honest, my brain has been a bit scrambled here lately dealing with the new world order at Casa del Lee. We’ve been plenty busy (and then some), doing the things that pay the bills as well as those that feed the soul. All that added up leaves little time for pecking on the keyboard.
Last night, I was at an art fair at Ironwood Studios, a cool local metal and woodworking shop. Lots of local artisans were on hand, displaying their wares. Susan shared a table with our friend Billie Sue Owens. Susan had her Wrist Rock-Its out for perusal alongside Billie Sue’s handmade jewelry. The whole deal was a good time with several good friends, barbecue courtesy of Sweet P’s, and cool art.
I was talking to one of the artists, a guy I’d met at Music Room Guitars, the shop owned by our guitar pusher Brad Gibson. He mentioned that he’d enjoyed my blogs on here, which reminded me how long it’s been since I’ve done one.
So, here I am again. I’ll try to play some catch-up and not get too bogged down in the details. I wouldn’t want to be boring or anything.
We recorded this track for a film project that was put on the back burner for the time being. We dig it so much that we thought we’d just throw it out there for y’all.
Recorded at John Baker’s studio, The Arbor, with John Baker and Gray Comer at the board, “Take Me Back to Happy Valley” is a traditional bluegrass tune, and original recordings of the song fall squarely within that genre with banjo, mandolin, and quick tempo. For comparison, The Bailey Brothers/Happy Valley Boys recorded a version (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kdvp_CqMV8k).
We decided to turn the song on it’s head a bit. We slowed it down significantly, put it in a minor key, and used mostly low-end instrumentation. Susan played Bass (and sang), Tim played Bass VI, Chris played percussion, and we brought in guests: Daniel Kimbro played bowed upright Bass, and Greg Horne played a long-scale Banjo borrowed from John Harvey and Mary Podio at Top Hat Studio.
What we came up with sounds more like a murder ballad.
So, listen, download, and enjoy our year’s end gift for you.
Here’s to a rockin’ 2016 for us all!
~ Tim, Susan & Chris