Jason Dennie – acoustic guitar
Sam Bush – mandolin
Dave Pomeroy – fretless bass
Tom Roady – percussio

1. Living On Melody Lane
2. Runaway Horse
3. Crooked Stream
4. Highland Dreams
5. 5 Points
6. Irish Wake (part 1)
7. Celebration (part 2)
8. A Night So Bright
9. When A Tree Falls
10. Picture Wall Picture
11. Interplay

Thoughts on recording "just enough"

It was almost 4 years after I released Living on Melody Lane. There were a few tunes that didn’t make it to that album that kept lingering in my head; taking a while to “finish” themselves and a few having alternate endings, as usual. Sometimes songs write themselves it seems, like highland dreams and night so bright for example, I just did my best to get out of the way and let them do their own thing. I have to admit, after teaching for a few years and having worked with so many other musicians, my views on music had changed, or grown I guess. But writing, at this time, wasn’t as intuitive as it used to be. When I was working on the songs that became Collection Of Sounds, I really had no idea what was ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ with music, what was hard or easy to play, what ‘looked’ or sounded cool, or what others thought of guitar music. I just knew what I liked and it was a very personal thing that I shared with only a handful of people. Expectations and labels were never apart of the music making process for me, then.

I’ve always been attracted to and driven emotionally by very sparse arrangements. Very simple and straightforward melody, uncluttered – having “just enough” there to draw you in and let you journey to wherever it is we go when we let music take us away. Not amazing technique or skillfull ‘mastery’ or incredible precision – and the long list of things reviewers seem to point out so often in music. I just wanted to have a new album of songs that people liked to listen to…guitar fans or not.

Pete Huttlinger and I did a radio show in Cleveland(WKSU). Pete and I sat and played thru a couple of fiddle tunes together (we realized we were a couple of fingerstyle guys who also flatpicked quite a bit) and I found myself thinking he was such a great player. We became friends after that and he was my only choice for a producer. It took a while before I actually asked if he would be interested in producing a few songs and he agreed to do the whole album after hearing the rough ideas on tape.

He invited me to Nashville to work in a studio that he spent a lot of time in. Most of what is on “just enough” was recorded in 2 days. It was an interesting experience trying to get comfortable. Pete made me feel fairly relaxed. Each day we recorded, we went over that batch of tunes and talked about any changes he thought were necessary in arrangement and any other ideas he thought to mention. I went straight in and played trying to remember the changes we discussed? I think the end result was worth it.

It was great to have Bluegrass/NewGrass legend Sam Bush on 2 tunes with his ‘powerhouse’ chop on mandolin. I was lucky to get him in between projects and that he agreed to do something so unlike the typical situations he plays/records in. And the fretless bass & percussion really did a lot to round out other songs on the record, bringing me into a very different place than my usual solo guitar world.

I should also say Pete Huttlinger was the 2001 National Fingerstyle Champion and has really been a presence in the guitar world these past 2 years. Pete was asked to do a couple of DVD?s for Homespun Tapes (breaking down the songs of John Denver, whom Pete played with for 3-4 years before John?s untimely death). These DVD?s have gone on to be some of their biggest sellers and Pete is simply a monster player and one hell of a great guy.

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1. Twin Creeks
2. Lillian’s Walk
3. Mother’s Day Song
4. Stanley’s Rag
5. Father’s Opinion
6. Jack’s Blues
7. Little Big Man
8. Sisu
9. As The Leaves Change
10. Soup-N-Biscuits
11. Rainy in D.C.
12. Hands of Jamon

Thoughts on "living on melody lane" (and long black train)

A little over year had passed since the release of Collection of Sounds, lots of shows, meeting lots of other musicians and bands. I had started playing with a local vocalist, Noah Hunt. Noah fronted a rock band blurring the lines between country rock and very hard edged-rock and blues, at times with traces of Lynard Skynard or the Allman Brothers. Noah’s voice was pure power defined.

Noah had a passion for acoustic music, and singer/songwriters like Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Keb’ Mo’ & John Gorka, etc. and playing lead guitar, for me, was still something kind of new. I had spent a little bit of time playing lead guitar in a kind of ‘bluegrass’ jam-jug band, kind of thing. But playing with Noah gave me a lot of room to roam and space to fill things out. It was great–and it turned into something pretty significant in just a short time. Noah and I came from completely different places and ideas on music?and shared what we could on an album, Long Black Train, released in 1995. It was just us–raw. Catching most of the energy that was always between us.

I had started recorded more of my material again, with an engineer, Mike Luley. We started recording in a church in downtown Cincinnati. I managed 3-4 tunes, went to a country club out in the suburbs late one night, another 3-4 tunes, just seeing what sounds we could get really. We continued thru this process before ending up at BackStage Studios in Covington, KY. Over the course of 8 months, I listened to those tapes from the first few sessions (Father’s Opinion was kept, recorded at the country club), and recorded almost 2 and 3 ‘versions’ of each song–lots of improvisation took place with every take and I kept what I felt were the most emotionally charged performances. It was recorded better than the first album–some really good microphones but it’s an album that sounds best really loud–you can hear me breathe often and some hand-noise, which I think is a big part of its’ character.

A lot of life changes were happening–very personal feelings inspired every bit of music on this record, some very hardcore emotions that were dealt with once I was able to get away from it all and simply sit in front of some microphones and play guitar.