- Working from Life
- Free and Clear
- Going Nowhere
- Holler, Moan, and Shout
- Running Back
- Quicksilver Tequila
- My Babe
- You Made it So
You can hear the second song from Quicksilver Tequila here.
I first heard Brian Lee playing with his band, the Orbiters, at Highway 99, the venerable Seattle blues club hidden beneath our city’s famously troubled viaduct. I immediately loved his sound: no frills, no fuss, and none of the ubiquitous classic rock influences diluting the timeless blues he was playing. As John Lee Hooker was fond of reassuring his audiences–nothing but the best, and later for the garbage.
I’ve had “Burnside” in my repertoire for a few years now, and while it’s meant to be lean and to-the-point, it’s always felt a little incomplete when I’ve played it solo. With Brian’s help, we were able to give it the extra punch it needed to feel right on record.
We cut the song at the end of a long day in the studio spent working on two other songs where the playing was subtle and the mood a bit melancholy. It felt great to turn up and let it rip once the sun went down. We were facing each other, just a few feet apart, with the blast of our amps spilling out of Crackle and Pop’s second room. I played, stomped, and sang, and Brian tore it up with a big glass slide on a Telecaster, if memory serves.
It was raw, loud, and a hell of a lot of fun. Johnny later added an appropriately noisy maraca part, and “Burnside” finally felt to me like it had lived up to its potential.
I encourage you to check out Brian’s work, particularly if you’re a fan of any stripe of traditional blues. He’s got it all down, pat. Around the Seattle area, the Orbiters are known for keeping the dance floor full and satisfied, so be sure to catch them live if you have the chance. Brian’s a gifted songwriter, singer, guitarist, harp player, and bandleader. And on top of all that, he’s an incredibly nice guy. Getting to work with him in the studio was a real treat, and I hope it won’t be the last time.
Hello, friends—it’s been a spell.
I finished making a new record last year. It’s called Quicksilver Tequila, and I’m excited to finally share it. I was actually excited to share it earlier this year, on vinyl. That’s still going to happen, but it’s taking longer than I had hoped and I’m feeling antsy. Rather than keep the music under wraps any longer, it’s going to be released digitally this month, with the vinyl to follow.
The recording and production duties were handled by Johnny Sangster at his Seattle studio, Crackle and Pop. Johnny and I somehow managed not to meet for many years, despite running in similar circles, and it was a great pleasure to connect and collaborate with him on this project. I got both a new album and friend out of the deal. When I described the kind of record I was hoping to make, colleague and mutual friend Lincoln Barr told me that Johnny was the guy I was looking for. As is usually the case, Lincoln was right. We got together for a few nights in late 2015, then again a year later, and recorded a gang of tunes. Per our original mission statement, we let the performances we got determine what made the final cut. What you’ll hear are the ones we liked the best.
Along the way, we decided that I sounded a bit lonesome all on my own, so we recruited backup. Patrick Porter played some characteristically exquisite pedal steel, adding that mysterious color right where it was missing. Daniel Walker executed a Hammond organ part with the fearsome precision and deadly efficiency of a hired assassin on the job, right before our amazed eyes. Blues master Brian Lee delivered his trademark slide guitar magic—stinging on one track, crooning on another—as well as some terrific harmonica playing. And finally, Johnny’s no slouch with musical instruments himself—his essential contributions are all over the place.
No one phoned it in. To all of the players—I can’t thank you enough.
In keeping with a fine and longstanding Seattle tradition, Quicksilver Tequila was mastered by the incomparable Ed Brooks at Resonant Mastering. The album’s artwork, photography, and all graphics you’ll see associated with the music come courtesy of my talented wife and visual artist extraordinaire, Amanda C. Sweet. During both the writing and recording of this music, Amanda was also an invaluable sounding board and a reliable source of insight and advice. A few of these songs would have fallen right through the proverbial cracks were it not for her ears.
I hope you enjoy “Working from Life” as a first sample—an appetizer, if you will. The main course should be everywhere you’d expect to find non-physical records these days by the end of July or early August. I’ll keep you posted.
Thanks, as always, for listening.