On episode 83 of the Americana Music Show, Chris Castle talks about how he lined up the stellar group of musicians for his latest project, Last Bird Home, and managed to get it recorded in Levon Helms studio; how he got started in song writing and landed his first job working for music publishers on Music Row, and how he connects the dots from Sublime to Lefty Frizzell.
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The Americana Music Show is copyright 2012 by Taproot Media. The music and interviews in this episode are used with permission of the artists. The Taproot Theme music is called “Meltdown Man” by Derek K. Miller of Penmachine.com.
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Chris Castle describes how he put together the band behind Last Bird Home. In 2008, Chris Castle did an EP project at Levon Helm’s studios and got to know Justin Guip, the head engineer there. They discussed doing a full length project a couple of times when they’d cross paths on the road. About a year ago Chris Castle was touring with the Womack Family Band and he started talking to them about doing a full lenth projct. Chris had also met Tommy Ramone at a show. He is now doing roots music with Uncle Monk, playing mandolin and banjo. Chris thought it would be great to get him on the project. Chris had also researched online to find Garth Hudson and reached out to he and his wife Maude and got them signed up. In short, he pursued this project as an “indie artist from the middle of nowhere” and just put it together even though it makes the business side of things more complicated. In March of 2011, he booked the studio and got everyone up there to record.
Chris Castles sets up “Trees Fall Every Day.” He notes that Tommy Ramone (sp?) is playing mandolin on this track.
[plays "Trees Fall Every Day"]
Another player on this CD is Gabriel Butterfield who is the son of Paul Butterfield, the blues player from the woodstock era. Gabirel was running a venue down in Florida. While playing there a while back they got to talking about song writers of that ers. Of course all conversations like that start with Dylan and The Band, and Butterfield and Bloomfield and how they were all working together. Gabriel was talking about growing up in Woodstock and meeting all those legends so early. Chris Castle thought it would be cool to get Gabriel on the project as well.
Chris Castle talks about the troubles they had recording “Trees Fall Every Day.” As producer, Chris has to assemble great players and not offending any of them but also recognizing that not every player is going to be able to play on every track.
Chris Castle sets up “All Kinds Of Time,” featuirng Larry Campbell. Chris told Larry this is gonna be a Hank WIlliams Sr. Intro/outtro sort of fiddle tune. All he needed to hear a couple of pick up notes before the 1 beat, like an old hank record.
[plays "All Kinds Of Time']
Chris Castle tells the story of how he landed a gig as a song writer on music row in Nashville by the time he was 15. His father had died early on and so the family struggled. His mom had always supported his musical interests both becuase she was proud of his early successes but also because he helped put money and food on the table.
She say a special on TV about The Bluebird Cafe in Nsahville. She saw that and arranged for Chris to record a demo of 10 original and sent it to the BlueBird. He got a letter back from the booking agent at the BlueBird who said he had enough potential that Chris should come down to Nashville and play some open mic nights and play with some more experienced performers. So Chris and his Mom went down there and he got to play at some Songwriter nights. A song writer named Casey Kelly (wrote “The Cowboy Rides Away” for George Strait) helped Chris out a lot. He started teaching Chris the fundamentals of song writing. And after about 6 months of training including “homework” assignments, Casey introduced Chris to a published and Chris landed a job at a publisher at the age of 15. Chris describes it as the best “college education” he could have had. Chris talks about the grind of working for a publisher.
Chris Castle sets up “Dirty Water.” It’s a blusey song. Garth Hudson and Gabriel Butterfield.
[plays "Dirty Water"]
Chris Castle talks about paying it forward by helping out a young band called the Womack Family Band. They area quartet and Chris is trying to teach them to pay attention to their locale in their music. They have been touring with Chris. Chris described the series of artists he exposed them to in order to get them from Led Zeppelin to Lefty Frizzell.