Jim Ohlschmidt – electric and acoustic gut-string guitars
Brian Fullen – drums & percussion
Jeff E. Cox – bass
Bob Patin – keyboards
Pete Huttlinger – acoustic and electric guitars
Jason Bailey – mandolin on “Down To The Wire”
Joe Ebel – fiddle on “Baby’s Back”
violin on “The Way She Looks Tonight”
John McKay – harmonica on “Shiney Side Up” &
“Thumbpicker’s Choice Medley”
Recorded at Brian’s House Of Drums, Nolensville, Tennessee
Additional recording at Higher Ground Studio, Birmingham, Alabama
Lost Jim’s Studio-In-A-Boxcar, Cincinnati, Ohio
Mixing engineer – David Sinko, Sound Emporium, Nashville, Tennessee
Except for “Thumbpicker’s Choice Medley,” I wrote all the tunes either by myself or with my guitar pickin’ buddy in Birmingham, Clyde Kendrick (“Old Soft Shoe,” “I Maybe Write,” and “You’re Not The Bossa Me”). The following are my notes on each composition:
“Baby’s Back” – I wrote this tune sitting on a friend’s porch on Shades Mountain in Birmingham. I had recently gotten a guitar back from Kirk Sand, the luthier in Laguna Beach, CA who made both of the gut-string models I play. It had been out of my hands for a few months, and in getting reacquainted, this melody came out. Joe Ebel, a great fiddler and violinist in Asheville, North Carolina (and an old friend and musical collaborator from back when we both lived in Wisconsin) provides a great ride on this one.
“Down To The Wire” – This was one of those necessity-being-the-mother-of-invention situations where I wanted to play this double-stop lick against the D bass and a B bass, but there was no good way to do that in regular Dropped D tuning. Out of curiosity, I tuned the A string up to B, and it worked beautifully, so the tuning ended up being (low to high) D – B – D – G – B – E. Pete Huttlinger did a fantastic job of layering multiple acoustic rhythm parts and a scorching electric track to give the arrangement sonic depth and tension. Jason Bailey, the fine mandolinist who’s recorded with me on many of my previous CDs, laid down a great solo in the middle, and helped drive the rhythm along with his great “chop” totally in the pocket.
“EZ Pickens” – I wrote this tune a while back, and a solo version of it was featured with a transcription in Craig Dobbins’ Acoustic Guitar Workshop, a subscription instructional series for fingerpicking guitarists. Craig is a fantastic thumbstyle player who has accurately transcribed many, many great tunes by Jerry Reed, Chet Atkins, Paul Yandell, and others, and he has written quite a few nice tunes himself. Check out his solo CD (right here on CD Baby), then visit his web site (https://www.tradebit.com) and check out his books and subscription series.
“Hawaiian Lullaby” – I originally recorded a version of this on my solo guitar CD “Too Poor To Paint, Too Proud To Whitewash” with a Collings OM2. Since then, Clyde Kendrick had been after me to record it on the Kirk Sand electric gut string (the guitar shown on the cover), so I revisited the tune here and came up with a little bridge that’s not in the original version. The tuning here is C – G – D – G – B – E. Chet Atkins sometimes used this tuning to great effect, particularly on his “Alone” and “Almost Alone” albums. When I wrote it I thought it sounded a kinda like a slack key piece, hence the title.
“I Maybe Write” – The cheeky title indicates just how much of this tune was borrowed or “appropriated” from other sources. It’s a composite (of sorts) of bits from two great standards, “Deed I Do” and “I May Be Wrong.” Thanks to Pete for his airy, melodic electric solo, which gives the tune a nice lift before the middle section. Pete is a master guitarist living in Nashville with many years of professional recording and performing experience, including stints with John Denver, LeAnn Rimes, and others. He has several outstanding solo CDs, and he was recently featured in Acoustic Guitar Magazine for his recording website (https://www.tradebit.com) where artists can hire him to create tracks for their projects in his own studio. For more info go to https://www.tradebit.com – you’ll be glad you did!
“Old Soft Shoe” – Clyde Kendrick came up with the opening section of this tune years ago, but we could never figure out where to go with it until one night we were sitting around at his house picking when quite by accident we started picking the lick that begins the tempo section. I came up with the rest of the tune from there. Much of this was inspired by the wonderful playing and writing of John Knowles, another expert picker in Nashville who worked closely with Chet Atkins for many years. John also offers an excellent instructional series by subscription called FingerStyle Quarterly. Check out his superb work at https://www.tradebit.com PS – I love Bob Patin’s keyboard solo on this track!
“Shiney Side Up” – I was thinking of John Knowles and Jerry Reed when I came up with this ditty. John McKay’s harmonica adds some sweet country flavor here. Those who may still be familiar with old-fashioned trucker CB lingo will recognize the title, as in “keep your shiney side up, and your greasy side down.” That’s a big ten-four.
“The Way She Looks Tonight” – Not to be confused with “The Way You Look Tonight,” this one tips the hat to Earl Klugh, one of my favorite gut-string players. Joe Ebel’s elegant violin work floats on air, and in my mind I’m on a white sand beach somewhere on the Gulf shore. The original idea for this tune came to me on an extraordinary day a few years ago when I was in New York City doing some shows accompanying singer/songwriter Mae Robertson. The shows were finished, and I flew home to Birmingham early enough in the morning that I saw the sun come up on the cab ride to the airport. It happened that Clyde Kendrick and I were playing a private gig in Destin, Florida that night, so after landing, Robbi (my wife) and I drove to Destin (about 4 hours) to meet up with Clyde. We arrived late that afternoon, and when we had dinner that evening before the gig, we watched the sun go down over the Gulf. Sometimes life just hands you a melody . . .
“Thumbpicker’s Choice Medley: Spanish Fandango / Sweet Alla Lee” – Clyde Kendrick had a whole lot to do with this one. He and I have played together as a duo for about eight years, and I’ve learned so much about writing and arranging from him. He started picking this version of “Spanish Fandango” based on an early recording by Chet Atkins. This history of this tune isn’t entirely clear to me, but it goes back well into the 19th Century. It’s usually played as a waltz (Chet recorded it that way, too), but one day when Clyde was picking the 4/4 thumbstyle version in C, I slapped a capo on the fifth fret and started playing along in G position. This is a great “trick” because it creates a kind of “instant harmony” with the un-capoed guitar (the original recording of Clyde and I playing this was featured in John Knowles FingerStyle Quarterly). Then Clyde started throwing in a few choruses of “Sweet Alla Lee” a tune that Chet wrote and recorded on his “Almost Alone” album. The two tunes just fit together so well that they became a medley. I play both parts here (Clyde hates to record!) on a Blueridge flatop, interspersed with two fine harmonica solos by John McKay, and little brush work on my leg for percussion.
“You’re Not The Bossa Me” – Clyde Kendrick came up with the first theme in this composition, and like all single themes, the questions always is, where we do go from here? After fooling with it for some time, I wrote the second section, then came up with third part, which is essentially just a major key rendering of the original minor key melody. Bob Patin turned out a fantastic piano solo, and as we joked around in the studio, he came up with the title, which I guess is a play on the title of the theme song for the TV sitcom “Malcolm In The Middle.” If you like the bossa nova styling of this tune, you should check out my instrumental CD “Sand & Water” (here on CD Baby), which features more original compositions in this style with a great band of Birmingham musicians.
SPECIAL THANKS TO
Clyde Kendrick, Rick Gustafson, Craig Dobbins, John Knowles, Pete Huttlinger, Larry Kilgore, Paul Yandell, Pat Kirtley, and to Mark and Carol Pritcher and the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society. Thanks also to Scott Fuller for his great graphic designs, and to Nancy King (https://www.tradebit.com) for her beautiful photos.
– Jim Ohlschmidt
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