Notes on the Recording of 'Hands of The Wicked'
I get the years a little mixed up. I think it must’ve been fall of 2007. My then wife, and I were up in the north Georgia town of Dahlonega, wasting an afternoon in the many shops on the town square when we stumbled on a music store. Vintage Music. A small, old house, converted into a store with an extraordinarily curated selection of instruments, and as the name suggested, many of them vintage, and quite beyond my price range. Marveling at the old guitars, mandolins, and various other instruments I stumbled into a back room.
I wasn’t sure I was supposed to be in there, but there I was. Me, and a recording console. I looked through the window above the mixing board, into another small room, filled with microphones, a drum set, and several guitars and amplifiers positioned around the room. I had found the studio where I would record my debut album.
I booked the time, early in the coldest months of 2008, I think, and went back to my hometown with a head full of ideas.
When the time came for my first session, I went in with just my guitar, harmonica rack around my neck, and my harmonica case. I recorded for hours, and walked away with a dozen versions of 4 songs, and not a single take that would make the final record. I knew when I left that night that I wanted my band.
We rehearsed the songs that would become “Hands of the Wicked” and when the time came, went back in and gave it all we had. We were young, naive, not great, completely ignorant to how any of this should go down, but willing to take on the whole world.
John Grimm, the owner/producer/engineer, and occasional musician on the record, was and still is, a wonderful man, a wonderful player, and absolutely the right person to help me make my first record. He was patient, like a teacher, and his presence made the experience extraordinary.
The band recorded their parts in one session. I’m not sure how many more times I went back in, but I made up all the missing parts myself. John plays a beautifully, rugged lap steel part on “Don’t Sleep Under My Tree” otherwise, if it’s not a bass part, or drums, it’s all me. All the background vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, footstomps, poorly played piano, harmonica, anything else I might be missing, all me.
In some ways the album suffers for this, but in most ways, I think the inexperience, the very limited budget, and the will to get it all done, in spite of my own limitations, makes it as unique and intimate as it is.
The songs have power. Many of them remain staples in my live sets. They were the best of what I had at the time, and they remain like old friends. A collection of wonderful companions for the times when I need them most.
Hands of the Wicked; I could have just as easily named it Songs of Innocence. That would have been more apropos of the time.
Every now again, life is nothing but magic. Recording this album was just that; simply magic.