ABOUT THIS RECORDING: This is really a dream come true. For years I have been hoping to record with some of my favorite musicians and it seems that as time passes, I inevitably get an unexpected phone call that another one of my friends has passed away. I finally decided that I wasn’t going to wait any longer. So, I seized the moment and began talking to Kevin Houston about partnering with me on this project. And thus the seed was planted for this collection and this is it: Before the Last Time.
I knew from the beginning this was a recording I could only make in Memphis and I would have to enlist Paul Taylor who became the backbone of the project. I would also need my friend Daniel McKee to hold down the low end groove on a few songs. I also needed my dear friends Leroy and Charles Hodges of legendary Hi Rhythm who have been on my list for years to record with.
And, I wanted to record with some of the best pickers on the planet. The insanely gifted Rory Hoffman, one of my mentors, Robby Turner, and one of my longtime friends and music hero, Tommy Burroughs. I would need trumpets, saxophones and other vocalists to help me sound my best and believe me, I am blessed with powerful friends. Thankfully Tom Clary and Jim Spake of the Mighty Souls Brass Band said yes to the call. As did the wonderful Susan Marshall, Claudia Russell and Kim Boeving who sing like angels.
This collection contains two of my own original songs, the first one, “Western Wind” was inspired when I lost my friend Lance Strode, an extraordinary country singer/songwriter that I was lucky enough to record a handful of songs and play many gigs. The other song, “Found a Home” was originally conceived on the rooftop of the Gilmore Apartments at sunrise one morning after an all-nighter back in the mid to late 1990’s. I had just learned that my friend Todd Snider’s father had passed and the funeral was that day. The basic tracks were recorded in 1999 during sessions for my first, now out of print CD, “Heritage.” For whatever reason, at the time I abandoned the song. Later, I discovered the tracks while going through some old ADAT tapes with David Alley at Utopia Soundwurks, and decided that I wanted to finish it. After all, Mike Morris’ harmonica was so good; I owed it to him to complete it. Now it truly has found a home.
Some of the covers I chose to record for this CD are songs I have been doing many years and are fan favorites. The updated version of “Freeborn Man” takes it down to the Mississippi delta and back to East Tennessee and really showcases Tommy Burroughs fantastic mandolin playing. John Prine’s “Daddy’s Little Pumpkin” with my dear friend Claudia Russell and the Townes Van Zandt classic, “White Freight Liner Blues” includes blistering pedal steel work by Robby Turner and face melting guitar by Rory Hoffman. It also provided an opportunity to work with the great Kim Boeving.
The other songs are either written by friends, traditional or my take on a cover. There’s more info in the individual song credits. I’ve tried to give as much insight there as well. The rest you’ll have it figure out yourself.
I made this record with a lot of love, heart and care and hope you the listener can hear it. I hope you can find the common thread of love, loss, and saying goodbye that connects these songs, places and people. And if there is a message I’m trying to deliver, it would be: “Don’t wait until tomorrow to tell people you love them.”
I want you to know that I have done my best, I’m not perfect, but who is? Could I have played a “certain” solo better? Have I played it better? The answer is yes, but I did the best I could and that is what I give you now, the music that was captured on this record in Memphis, Tennessee. – Eric Lewis