Home By Morning
This is one of the finest celebrations of American roots music in recent memory....The 46-minute ride has a feel of well-seasoned musicians sitting around a campfire, extracting pleasure from a classic repertoire of songs honed through generations of crafting....The work rivals only Bob Dylan's 'Time Out of Mind' as 1997's finest aural observance of the American spirit.' - Ray Hogan, The Advocate & Greenwich Time, (Stamford CT), 11/14/97 * Produced by John Lumsdaine Contributing musicians: David Grisman, mandolin Darol Anger, fiddle Sally Van Meter, dobro Bobby Black, pedal steel Jennifer Jolly, keyboards Mary Schmary, backup vocals David Gans and Eric Rawlins A musical gathering of Bay Area computer network habitués six years ago brought David Gans and Eric Rawlins together. Friends from the WELL met at a home in Berkeley for some casual playing and singing, and it went so well that it became a regular event and was dubbed the Singthing. Amid the friendly chaos of disparate players from various backgrounds, David and Eric, both guitarists who had played professionally, noticed immediately that they were on the same wavelength as they searched for common material to perform, and found themselves slipping seamlessly into the right parts on each other's songs. Eric remembers thinking, 'Hmm, there's communication going on here!' The Singthings provided a regular opportunity to play together, and eventually, when David would do the occasional solo acoustic gig at the Sweetwater in Mill Valley, he would invite Eric to come up and do a song or two. As time went on, the song or two grew into a set. 'At one of those gigs a friend said, 'You guys ought to make a record,'' Eric recalls. 'David emailed me the next day and asked, 'You want to do that?'' A short time later they linked up with producer John Lumsdaine and began picking tunes to record. Home by Morning features seven original songs by David and three by Eric, plus two covers: Kate Wolf's 'Green Eyes' and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter's 'Yellow Moon.' David has played guitar, written songs and performed solo and in rock bands since he was a teenager in San Jose. Since the '80s his eclectic, improvisatory bands, The Reptiles and Crazy Fingers, have been his primary musical outlets as he pursued a career on the other side of the music business as a rock journalist, author, radio producer and host of a free-form show on KPFA and the nationally syndicated program The Grateful Dead Hour. Eric grew up in Chico, California and took up the guitar in high school. He played bluegrass mandolin, then bass in a rock band in the '60s but eventually switched back to acoustic guitar. By day he is a database designer. John Lumsdaine is the leader of the Oakland-based New Orleans rhythm and blues band Hot Links and has produced such artists as Katie Webster and Eric & Suzy Thompson. Like David, he is a KPFA veteran. His connections in the Bay Area music scene came in handy when it came time to record Home by Morning. 'This project was unusual in that David and Eric had only played together as an acoustic duo,' Lumsdaine says, 'but they didn't want to do the album that way. Each song implied a different style that required different instrumentation. So instead of having to worry about getting the same band sound on every song, my job here was to orchestrate each song to be what that song was.' He imagined pedal steel when he heard David and Eric perform 'Listen' - which he immediately tagged as the opening cut - so he called in Bobby Black, who was pedal steel player for Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen. ''Crazy Crazy Crazy' was obviously Western swing, so we had Bobby Black play on that, too, and we also got Cody's old drummer, Lance Dickerson, for some extra Airmen energy. 'Jacqueline' has an Irish feel, so I brought in Jack Gilder to play concertina. 'I had worked with David Grisman on Eric & Suzy Thompson's record, plus he and David are friends, so it was great having him play mandolin on three songs: David's 'Caroline,' Eric's 'Cherokee Rider' and Hunter's 'Yellow Moon.'' Grisman alumnus Darol Anger added fiddle to 'Crazy Crazy Crazy,' and Lumsdaine himself contributed electric lead guitar on several cuts. John also enlisted his wife, Hot Links star Jennifer Jolly, to play piano and organ on numerous tracks. 'The most interesting thing for me,' says Lumsdaine, 'was sculpting the arrangements around the songs and getting these nice, intimate performances.' 'I've been waiting to do this for 25 years,' says David, 'but I think I wasn't ready to do it until now. The way it happened was serendipitous, propitious and cool. We did it with our own money and on our own terms, and we learned a lot.' With the money he spent on this project, Eric muses, 'I could have bought a car - a really nice car. Lots of people have nice cars, but I'd rather have this CD.' If the album has a theme, Eric says, it has to do with 'leaving home, going out and encountering the world, and coming back again. In some of the songs, you go through doors that you can't go back through, and you look back and see the people you've left behind; and in some of songs are you actually come home.' Time and life experience have clearly informed their music. The songs are packed with images of journeys and passages, highways and rivers. 'This is music guys in their 40s and 50s make, not guys in their 20s,' says Eric. 'It's not full of angst; it's full of questions.'