Many of you may know that I absolutely love being in a recording studio producing music.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to reconnect with my old pal, Davis Raines, and his group, The Band of Many Names, to work on a new project called “Turquoise & Silver.” We locked ourselves up for a few days at Fighting Okra Studios and had so much fun that we barely came up for air. Great songs that are well-rehearsed by musicians who are passionate about and dedicated to their craft make for a great session.
Over the years, Davis and I have worked together on several projects which are some of my favorites…search the web to see if you can find them (“Big Shiny Cars,” “Going To Montgomery,” “Parts Unknown,” “Mockingbird,” and more). The Band of Many Names includes the wonderful Pamela Jackson, who recorded a project at Fighting Okra Studios a few years ago called “Red Rock Heart” (more great songwriting), the multi-talented Mark MacKenzie (here’s a link to his bluegrass band, Fade2Blue, doing a cover of the Ace Ford song, “Orphan Train“), and bass player David Conrad of the Americana duo Conrad Y Skordalia (a fine writer and singer in his own right).
In this age where music is often streamed and consumed as ‘ audible wallpaper,’ it’s good to be reminded of the amount of work and collaborative effort that goes into creating and producing a new body of musical work. For me, it’s also important to not take for granted the small pleasure of popping an original CD, created with love, sweat and tears, in my car player (does your car still have a CD player?) and listening, uninterrupted, to some original music on the drive to Memphis and back.
What a privilege. Let me know if you’d like to work on a new record…I can be reached at…you guessed it…the Big Front Porch.
Dear friends and gentle hearts, it’s time again to sing the old familiar carols, feast with loved ones around a common table, and scratch our heads in awe and wonder at the craziness of Emmanuel, God coming to earth to be with us and to show us how to live. I love the contemporary translation of John 1:14 that reads, “And the Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood.”
Christmas Eve morning brought a sweet phone call from the brother of a dear friend and an email from one of the sisters at Sacred Heart Monastery, each sharing that they were celebrating with my Christmas CD playing in their respective homes. That gave me a nice little ‘push’ against the Christmas blues and reminded me of how sacred is the gift of music…and to that end, I’m happy to report that I will have a new recording to share with you all in the first quarter of 2019! It’s called “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Eye,” and I suppose it will fall in the singer/songwriter/storytelling category (if there is a reason to categorize it at all)..whatever it is, I look forward to getting it out there and sharing it with you. Best way to keep up with all the news that is news from the Big Front Porch is to sign up to be on the mailing list at www.bigfrontporch.com. Thank you kindly:)
In the fall of 2017, using a discipline I used when deciding whether to leave Nashville to return to Mississippi, I began a year-long period of prayer and discernment about if/when I should step away from my position as Director of the Delta Music Institute at Delta State. As the weeks and months of 2018 went by, it became clear to me that summer of 2019 would be the right time. I don’t really think of this as ‘retiring,’ but the DMI ship is in good shape and with some exciting projects on the drawing board, it’s time for someone new to take the helm. I plan to step back into the creative life I had before, but hopefully, keep a one or two toes connected to DSU in ways that will benefit the program and the university.
As word of my decision began to leak out about this upcoming change, I received some calls as to whether I planned to leave the Delta and move back to Nashville. Let me squelch that rumor and say that when I came back to Mississippi, I felt it was a ‘calling,’ and I believe that ‘call’ is still in effect until God says otherwise. This community has embraced me, encouraged me, and supported me from the day my moving truck rolled into town. I will cast my lot with this unique mystical place called the Mississippi Delta. Going forward, I will try to use my gifts and talents in the service of building community in this complicated place we love that still wrestles with the historical residue of our collective past while trying to gather creative, honest voices for the future that will work to share our authentic story with others. Because storytelling is at the heart of everything, even the Divine heart…just read again the wondrous story from Saint Luke…
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth, peace to those on whom his favor rests.”