Richard Bennett
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For a long while I’ve been toying with the idea of making a steel guitar album exploring the many voices that instrument has to offer and maybe I’ll get around to it one day but Contrary Cocktail isn’t it. However, you will find more steel guitar on this collection than what I’ve hinted at in previous records.

I’ve played steel since I was a teenager but never touted myself as such even though I’ve done session work with Neil Diamond, Dave Mason and others along with various movie soundtracks playing steel in my old L.A. days. Since moving to Nashville in the mid-80s, steel guitar quickly became a hobby as there’s no lack of brilliant steel players in this town. A friend of mine once said, bringing another steel player to Nashville is like bringing another hooker to Las Vegas. He was right.

I suppose Mark Knopfler’s to blame. He has always been encouraging of my steel work and I’ve played non-pedal steel in several songs on his records over the years, Red Staggerwing, Daddy’s Gone To Knoxville and All That Matters. He more or less threw the gauntlet down in 2013 insisting I bring a pedal steel along for that tour. We made good use of it on a couple of songs and I guess that officially tagged me as one who dabbles in the arts of the instrument. The upshot was, by the end of the tour I’d written a few tunes for pedal as well as straight steel guitar and you’ll hear four of those songs in Contrary Cocktail.

Another project on my ‘to do’ list is an album of country instrumentals but I’m afraid Contrary Cocktail has missed that boat as well, though you’ll no doubt hear the influence bobbing up here and there. Along the way you’ll catch a Cuban rocker, a bit of jazz, music for movies yet unmade and a slightly Gregorian something-or-other. I’ve also included three tunes played on acoustic guitars.

It’s a seemingly disparate collection of pieces… musical whiplash… a contrary cocktail. Yet for me, they all work very nicely together.

This is Contrary Cocktail. Overindulge responsibly.

RB 2015