We’re all making that mad dash to the holiday finish line, just a few more days ’til Christmas and the first days of Chanukah. I hope everybody’s winding their way through the seasons rush and crush. A liberally laced egg nog does wonders. Or, like me, simply ditch the nog and go straight for the lacing.
I just got home from twelve great days in Austin, Texas producing a new album for my old friend Steve Earle. Steve wanted to record at the legendary Arlyn Studio down there so off we went. He’s written one of his finest records in a long line of great albums. We used his band, The Dukes, and they are as fine a bunch of musicians as you’ll find… made my job a breeze. I didn’t play… didn’t need to, and was able to sit on the opposite side of the double glass and really focus on the overall picture. The recordings went down live including Steve’s vocals and there was very little in the way of repair work. Steve’s longtime engineer and often co-producer Ray Kennedy was on board behind the recording console and this stuff sounds terrific. Ray and I began mixing today, will continue through the holidays and hope to have it wrapped up the middle of January. We recorded sixteen studio tracks in six days followed by two live shows at Austin’s famed Continental Club which were also recorded for possible use later. The album is sched’d for a June 2017 release on Warner Bros. Records.
Austin’s a great city.. no lack of brilliant food there. One of the finest Italian restaurants anywhere is Vespaio on South Congress St. Also, fantastic Mexican cuisine and Texas barbecue.
Here comes 2017 and I have some ‘back to the future’ news to report. Thirty years ago in 1987, after a long, happy and fruitful recording and touring association with Neil Diamond, I struck out on my own. Having worked 17 years with him I felt I had some other things to do, I wanted to pursue producing records and get back again to a more active studio musician career here in Nashville. In order to do that I had to be off the road and stay in town. Things worked out very well with those endeavours and they were busy years for me on both sides of the studio glass. It also lead me to Mark Knopfler and a beautiful recording association then back to touring again, which continues.
About three weeks ago I heard from the Diamond camp, who I’ve never lost touch with through all these years. Turns out both of Neil’s tenured guitar players had, independently of each other, retired. Neil was wanting to contact my son Nick whose reputation as a guitar slinger preceded him. By the way, might I be available as well? It was a convergence of opportunity, desire and scheduling. For many years I’ve always thought how good it would be to do one more lap with my old buddy and boss. I’d learned so much from him in those early years and could now approach it as a seasoned professional. The very first contact I made was Mark K. and got his blessing as it looks like a quiet year for touring. The next was to my friend Kim Richey who I’d promised to produce an album for next year. I was looking forward to working with her again and this would be a disappointment for us both. Finally, I doubled back around to Neil to make sure he was serious about having me back in the band after such a long hiatus. He was serious. There was little else to say but yes. So, it’s official, I will be on Neil’s 50th Anniversary Tour beginning in April. I’m looking forward to playing some music with him again and some of my old mates who are still in the band as well as elbowing my way in with the newer members. A big plus for me will be sharing the guitar duties on stage with my son Nick who is really a great guitar player. We’ve done a fair bit of recording together but this will be a new adventure playing large venues with him riding shot-gun and saving my ass no doubt. Speaking of Neil, I am playing on his current Christmas album, Acoustic Christmas.
As for my own album, I’m so close to wrapping up now but with rehearsals and the tour ahead, more than likely I’ll put it on the back burner for the time being. I do have a couple of things I’ll try to get recorded before I get away and will leave it at that. I’ll no doubt have plenty of time to do some more writing this coming year and will add those to the stack. Look for a late 2017 or early ’18 release.
A full compliment of the Bennett clan will be around the holiday table this year and our usual Christmas dinner will be served…. Navajo Tacos, complete with Pollo Guisada con Chilli Verde. A Christmas trifle and persimmon pudding are also on deck. The only thing missing will be a big, blazing yule log as it’s threatening to be nearly 70 degrees here on Christmas day. Shorts and t-shirt weather.
Stay tuned, I will be up-dating this page a little more frequently in the coming year. Meantime, here’s wishing everybody warm, peaceful holidays and only the best for 2017.