Down Time / Up Time

Temporary setup at Top Hat Knoxville while the studio/house is being built.

Temporary setup at Top Hat Knoxville while the studio/house is being built.

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.

After a couple years of steady gigging, it was nice to spend a little more time at home, although we were still working on new material for our next record. We hope to complete it in late spring/early summer.

But now it’s about to be April. Trees are budding, flowers are blooming, pollen is stopping up sinuses, and dates are beginning to crowd the calendar. Starting with a couple shows here in town for the Big Ears Festival this week, our schedule starts getting a bit busier. We’re backing RB Morris (yeah, we’re lucky to get to work with several of our favorite songwriters) for the BE shows, for which the rehearsals have been inspired and fun.

We’ll be doing several shows with RB, sharing bills and playing with him, around the Southeast in the coming months. The 3 has several shows of our own as well, and mine and Susan’s acoustic duo and other band Bark are getting busy too.

Lots of fun on the horizon, so check out our calendar updates (more shows to come) and come hang with us. We don’t want to have all the fun alone.

Until we meet again, keep your nose clean and your heart in the right place.