Tennessee Again, plus George

Posted by Kevin Welch on March 31, 2013

The following is a part of a piece I was making notes on, from the Jason Eady sessions. This is the third project for us. I wanted to bring him to Nashville for this one, partly for his sake and partly for mine. We came for one day in January, to Tone Chaparral. I had been hearing about this place for years, mostly from Fats, but not exclusively. George Bradfute is the brains, owner, engineer, multi-instrumentalist, and so on. I called Glenn Worf, Richard Bennett, John Gardner, and Fats Kaplin for the session. I called them because they are all geniuses. And that’s more than half the battle when it comes to producing, as long as your artist is packing. And Jason is.

Sure enough, we had a beautiful day, got four things cut. Jason got it, the boys got it, and also, we all got George Bradfute, his engineering, his sound, his easy countenance. We rebooked for March, and here we came back again. Glenn had to bow out and so Steve Mackey came in, another one of my hero bass players. And importantly, Courtney Patton joined us this time. We met at noon.

The following is not a story of the record that we made, sorry. Except for the paragraph about George it’s just stuff I caught myself thinking about while I was outside smoking.

March 29, 2013, Nashville
March 29 is young yet, with only eight minutes to show for itself. I’m back in town staying at Fats and Kristi’s while they are up at the farm. They have a nice old clock in the kitchen, where I’m writing this tonight, that ticks relentlessly. I guess all clocks are pretty relentless, as long as they keep running, just like anything else. This one has a certain oomph to it though. It has a double click, a heavy downbeat with a lighter backbeat, and I can’t decide if we’re friends or enemies. Either way, I’m not going anywhere and neither is the clock, so here we are. Nashville, 2013.

I left here almost exactly five years ago and have hardly come back since. A few fast visits, with a surprising lack of nostalgia. This time I noticed something both new and old. I guess I’ve been gone long enough now that it’s almost new again. I was standing outside the studio yesterday looking at the sky and the trees and listening to the birds who live here and I realized I had the same feeling I had back when I was a young man newly arrived, the sense of someplace different, Tennessee, back when I felt Tennessee, the hickory trees on the rolls of the little hills here, the pecans, the flowering dogwoods, the cottonwood and sassafras, all new to me then, and in a way, new to me again. I got that same old feeling looking though that silvery air to the undersides of those scattered giants in George’s back yard, grey in the early spring, and just pulsing.

George: George is matter of fact, calm, kind, receptive, intuitive, engaged. We had been recording for several hours, in fact we may even have been on the second day, before I remembered who I had sitting next to me. I had been facing the band, including Jason and Courtney, discussing ideas and takes and so forth, leaving George sitting quietly in the engineers chair, forgetting that I had another pair of massive ears sitting right next to me. So, after that I called on him and I’m glad I did. He’s a groove daddy and a tone commando.

So anyway, I was standing under the sliver canopy and all that, and then it all came back to me. There is a part of me, most of me actually, that cringes when things come back, when the past presents itself for more examination, and I usually try to avoid it. I wish it weren’t so, but it is. And yet, there I stood, and it was ok. Not great or exhilarating, but at least a survivable level of misty memory. The part that interested me was this: I can recall, vividly, the sense of wonder I used to have when I was doing nothing more than crossing from a plain up into the mountains, or from one small town to another, the newness of a place, the feeling that I had just entered into another world where absolutely anything was possible, stuff I hadn’t even imagined yet. After several decades of blindly walking into all sorts of wildernesses I had that edge blunted and I didn’t get that feeling anymore, and I’ve missed it so much. I’ve looked for it. As I’ve written in older things, there have even been times when I’ve felt so happy to be showing up to a new place, only to find out that I’ve been there a couple of times already and I don’t even remember it. So, the last couple of days to even feel a whisper of that old feeling, especially here in my long lost home of thirty years, that means something, and it felt like something, and I was grateful to be able to feel old Tennessee again.

One Response to Tennessee Again, plus George

  1. Susan

    I love hearing you felt the newness of Nashville again. I cannot help, to think in a very deep place, you needed to come “home”, to feel the emptiness of the same old same old lift. I still miss Nashville. The cool green rolling hills, with the Bradford pears blossoms, white and misty in contrast against the green. The voices of middle Tennessesee, and the kindness of the people. The Bluebird, The neon district of lower Broadway. The Ryman, Gruen Guitar Shop, man you can pack a lunch and spend the day there. I miss it. So, soak up the new in the old, and kiss the ground of home for me.Be well of spirit, Thanks, Susan

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