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As you can tell from the artist lineup and by listening to the clips, this is an incredible record. Even better, by buying this record you can help support ongoing volunteer efforts to rebuild homes on the Gulf Coast. This CD is an all volunteer project, and all proceeds go to the reputable charities described below.
MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT
Yes, hurricane recovery is still an urgent need. Most people consider Hurricane Katrina ancient history, but the fact is, hundreds of thousands of people in New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast are still displaced from their homes. Hardest hit are the poor, the renters, the disabled, and the elderly. Some people still live crowded into the upper stories of their homes as the flood-ruined lower floors are gutted and rebuilt. Others live in toxic FEMA trailers in their front yards or on barren vacant lots, and risk being forced out when Federal trailer deadlines arrive. Experts say it will be years before recovery is at an acceptable level, and much of this work has been left to volunteers and charitable organizations.
With this CD, a number of Nashville’s most highly regarded musicians have come together to help. The CD is a 100% volunteer project, and all the artists, songwriters, producers, record labels, publishing companies, and many others have donated their efforts and/or royalties. Each and every artist who contributed to the record feels a desire to share their good fortune in life by reaching out to those who have not been as fortunate. All of them have expressed their appreciation for being included in this opportunity to help. They really care.
Proceeds will go to two home-building charities on the Gulf Coast: The Office of Disaster Response in New Orleans (a project of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana), and Camp Coast Care in Mississippi (a project of Lutheran-Episcopal Services in Mississippi). These wonderful charities rebuild not just homes, but also communities and lives. I’ve included links in the column to the left, so that you can read more about them. Both groups serve those in need without regard to religious affiliation.
MORE ABOUT THE SONGS:
The person writing this is Rebecca Wolfe, the non-musician of the three executive producers of the compilation. You can tell what the music is like from the clips, so instead of describing it I decided to share some of the remarkable personal experiences I've had during the creation of this record.
There are more Grammys and other awards represented by the contributors to this CD than I was able to count. Some of the artists donated favorite songs from their previously released CDs, but over half of the songs are new, previously unreleased material.
BONNIE BRAMLETT: “Last Night I Dreamed of New Orleans.” (New Release) This song is a nostalgic and evocative stroll in traditional New Orleans style. It feels delightfully familiar, as if it’s already a classic you’ve heard your whole life. It is one of several songs on the CD that were written by our partner Ric Kipp and produced by my husband Phillip Wolfe in his studio. I therefore had the indescribable privilege of meeting the iconic godmother of my generation of rock. Phillip and I fell in love with Bonnie, and missed her for a good two weeks after she left. She is pure, unassuming love. She actually brought her own camera to take pictures of us for her scrapbook, for crying out loud. We could see why Beatles slept on her couch and Eric Clapton poured his heart out to her and even left Blind Faith to be with Delaney and Bonnie. Our studio is set way back in over a hundred acres of woods, and as Bonnie was leaving she stood in the driveway, arms outstretched, and sang “Amazing Grace” into the woods at the top of her lungs, reveling in the echo. I will never forget that moment as long as I live. Her vocal on this song reflects who she is professionally and personally: The Real Deal.
RADNEY FOSTER: “Travelin’ On,” (New Release) I haven’t met Radney Foster in person yet, but look forward to it as it’s obvious from his phone calls and emails that he’s a genuinely good person, as likable as his voice. While telling me how much New Orleans means to him, he described how he took a road trip there in college, went into the first nightspot they picked at random, and came upon two guys performing in Indian costumes. They were the Neville brothers! We had been asking artists to provide us unreleased material, and Radney gave us this absolute gem. He was one of the first to give us a song, and personally worked very hard behind the scenes to help get the clearances we needed in order to include it on the CD.
JACK INGRAM: “Make a Wish (Coming Home Again)” (from the Big Machine Records CD This is It) When we contacted Jack Ingram through a mutual friend, he immediately responded by giving us this great song. Based on his music and on reading the expanded liner notes available online, he’s someone I think I’d like.
BUDDY AND JULIE MILLER: “Holding Up the Sky” (from the CD Buddy and Julie Miller) The highly regarded couple said I could use any of their songs. I picked this one because I agree that love can hold up the sky, and because the song is so pure, sweet, and beautiful. I love their voices together.
STEVE AZAR: “Indianola” (From the CD Indianola) Steve Azar, originally a native of Mississippi, was extremely happy to be able to help out. He was especially glad that the project includes the Mississippi coast and not just New Orleans. Although over 90% of Mississippi’s coastal neighborhoods were obliterated by Katrina, that area is even more forgotten by the general public than New Orleans has been.
STEVE EARLE: “Steve’s Hammer (for Pete)” (from the CD Washington Square Serenade) Steve Earle’s social conscience makes him a perfect fit for this record. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, our government has most certainly let its people down. The rebuilding has largely been left to charities and volunteers.
JON JUSTICE: “Brighter Day” (from the CD The Rebound, also on CD Baby) Jon Justice is an award winning, up-and-coming blues artist whom I am honored to claim as a close personal friend. He is an exceptionally deep, sensitive, insightful, creative, original, and innovative human being, and all those qualities are right there in his lyrics and his wonderfully unique vocal delivery. This song is a heartfelt gospel-backed blues song about the need for people to work together for genuine change rather than merely voicing empty platitudes.
CHRIS KNIGHT: “Backwater Blues” (From the CD The Trailer Tapes) At first Chris Knight was going to send one of his newer songs, then decided he’d rather go with this one because of the theme of our CD. To me, the bare-bones solo acoustic performance adds to the emotional power of the song.
BRUCE “BUSCOYO” BELLOTT: “Mari Gras” (New Release) Bruce Bellott is a Katrina evacuee who came to Nashville with the specific goal of making a record to benefit other hurricane victims. Bruce is a super-enthusiastic person who makes everyone smile. His song “Mardi Gras” is catchy feel-good Cajun music that reflects Bruce’s native love for New Orleans by painting a vivid lyrical and musical picture of the city’s historical trademark.
MOSES CROW: “The Legend of Moses Crow” (New Release) This swampy blues song is the tale of rising artist Moses Crow. Rising from the grave! Accompanied on harmonica by an alligator named Joe de Blanc who is best known for his banjo playing, Moses Crow might be a haint, he might be a saint, or he might be just a Cajun musician who looks and sings like the son of a loup garou. This song (and also “Stay Down in New Orleans”) fulfilled my husband’s longtime dream of having three women at once (in the studio singing backup vocals!).
LEE ROY PARNELL: “Forgotten but Not Gone” (New Release) Lee Roy Parnell’s inspiring performance of the title song of the CD features not only his trademark slide guitar and a fantastic vocal, but also glorious backup vocals by some of the other artists on the CD. “Forgotten but Not Gone” is an anthem for those who have endured so much, feel forgotten by their country, yet remain determined to overcome. While doing this record I learned that although Lee Roy is as sensitive as you probably imagine, he has enormous strength of character and I'll always have a high regard for that as well as for his music.
WOOD NEWTON: “Hard Times in the Big Easy” (New Release) Wood Newton wrote this zydeco style song when he visited New Orleans shortly after Katrina. It is truly a work from the heart. Getting to know Wood has been one of the greatest rewards for me of working on this record. We’re all eagerly waiting for the longer-term reward of seeing our project actually helping real people. Wood is the kind of person whose efforts to help those on the Gulf Coast won't stop with donating a song. He’s already shown that he’ll be actively involved in and working hard on all phases of this project through to the end.
MIKE FARRIS, WITH THE MCCRARY SISTERS: “Trouble of the World” (New Release) This is a powerfully haunting and soulful performance of a traditional spiritual made famous by Mahalia Jackson. Of all the songs on the CD, this is the one that best expresses the feelings of utter devastation caused by misfortunes such as Katrina. Ann and Regina McCrary are singing the low backup vocals and also the spooky high parts that sound like a theremin or else real ghosts in a graveyard. I've really enjoyed getting to know Mike Farris and I like him a lot. Anyone with that much talent would have a right to be egotistical, but Mike is at the opposite extreme. He is a down-to-earth man of great and wide-ranging intellectual curiosity, and the subject that seems to be of the least interest to him is himself.
MARTY STUART AND HIS FABULOUS SUPERLATIVES: “There’s a Rainbow (at the end of every storm)” (from the CD Souls’ Chapel). This is the type of pure and genuine country gospel song that characterizes Marty Stuart. It features some amazing backup vocals by co-writer Harry Stinson. If not the very first to give us a song, Marty certainly was one of the first few. His participation gave us credibility needed for other major artists to trust us with their song donations and get the project rolling. I have never met Marty, but Harry Stinson is wonderful. When we were in a pinch needing backup vocalists for the title song, I called him out of the blue to ask for help and he came right over at his first opportunity. He's a delight to be around.
CARLTON COLLINS: “Chillin’”(New Release) This song by veteran Nashville songwriter Carlton Collins is a break from the heavy, inspirational, and hurricane-themed stuff and is a song about just plain life I love the song and the way the flute, bass clarinet, muted trumpet, and organ interweave to augment the mood. Knowing Carlton is like having Andy Griffith for a friend. He’s as honest, good, and genuine as anyone could ever be, with a dose of great country savvy thrown in, the kind of person it restores one’s faith in humanity to know. The fact that there were so many such people involved in making this CD made working on it an inspiration.
BEKKA BRAMLETT: “Stay Down in New Orleans” (New Release) This rousing and defiantly inspiring barn-burner is another powerful anthem for Gulf Coast residents determined not to give up. Although Bekka’s vocals bear a resemblance to and are obviously influenced by her mother’s distinctive vocal style, she definitely has her own individual and remarkable vocal thing going. I was also struck by a second strong similarity to her mother, which is the caring and empathy Bekka immediately gives to those around her. While she was in the studio, I could tell that she had a genuine concern for the well-being of each and every person there, even though it was the first time we’d met. I could tell that it was very important to her that everyone not only felt comfortable around her, but felt included and valued. Like her mother, Bekka Bramlett is a personal as well as musical national treasure.
BONUS TRACKS ON THE LIMITED EDITION ONLY: (Limited by terms of licensing to 10,000 sales; after that you can only buy the Regular Edition)
DELBERT MCCLINTON: “Everything I Know about the Blues” (From the CD Room to Breathe) Only in Nashville can you get the phone number of one of your lifelong musical idols off the internet, call on a long shot and request a song for your CD, and get an immediate yes. Back in my mid-twenties, I actually borrowed a friend’s child to get into a Delbert McClinton concert at a Parents’ Without Partners picnic. That came back to haunt me a decade later when my profession required a security clearance and someone claimed I had “misrepresented myself for personal gain.” Fortunately, even the FBI understood when I told them it was to see Delbert! I am thrilled to have this man on our CD, and this is such a great song. There’s something about the combination of the world-weary lyrics with a luscious string arrangement that makes it exceptionally moving.
TONY JOE WHITE: “Louisiana Rain” (New Release) When he heard we were seeking new, previously unreleased material for this CD, the legendary Tony Joe White went into his studio and did this powerfully haunting version of "Louisiana Rain" just for this project. Unbelievable. In my opinion, this is one of the masterpiece performances of his lifetime. Everytime I hear it, it moves me profoundly and stays in my head for days.
KIERAN KANE and KEVIN WELCH with FATS KAPLIN: “Somewhere in the Middle” (from the CD You Can’t Save Everybody) This is a wonderful back porch song, or maybe a front porch song, or perhaps a song of Kieran’s porch in the Adirondacks. It's definitely some kind of porch song. However, in addition to being a wonderfully pleasant way to end the limited edition version of this CD, it does address an issue relevant to Hurricane Katrina recovery which is the importance of taking a stand on things that matter. Kieran was another of the first artists to actually give us a song and help get the project moving, and we thank him. Maybe “you can’t save everybody,” but Kieran has certainly done his part to help quite a few.
This is a project dreamed up by three ordinary people. The kindness of a huge number of others made our dream a reality and showed that seemingly impossible dreams can come true. We sincerely hope that this CD will help many people whose biggest dream is merely to get back the basics of their lives.
---- Rebecca Wolfe, Nashville, TN
Gulf Coast Relief, Inc.