VETERAN MUSICIANS’ ROOTS-GOSPEL ALBUM “TAPROOT” TO BENEFIT INNER CITY YOUTH
(The Joy of Music for Service)
The boys in the Crooked Smile Band ain’t no spring chickens. With ages in the five-piece, fourteen-year-old Americana group ranging from 41 to 62, these guys have definitely been around the block. “We’ve all been playing most of our lives and come from very diverse musical backgrounds. It keeps things interesting because we all bring a different slant to the compositions,” says David Dyer, principal songwriter and founder of the group. “Yet one thing we have in common is a deep love for making music.”
Gratitude and praise are elemental components of the group’s latest record, a collection of rootsy-gospel tunes titled, “Taproot.” It all began in the fall of 2007 when Bernie (Petteway, the band’s lead guitarist and son of the late Methodist Minister Warren Petteway), invited David to attend a bible-study in which he was involved. “At least part of why I went was because Bernie is a fabulous guitarist and at the time was only playing with us now and then. I thought this might be a good way to endear myself to him and get him in the band full-time. Five years of bible-study later, I guess it’s safe to say God had a bit more in mind.”
David has been writing songs most of his life and group members have performed in a variety of rock, country, folk and jazz bands over their 220-plus collective years in music. Somewhere during David’s study of the book of Matthew and particularly the book of John, he began receiving songwriting inspiration of a decidedly more spiritual nature. “I had written spirituals over the years but this was just one after the other and many of these songs seemed to just write themselves.” The Spirit’s muse combined with the joy of creating music with a terrific group of guys hatched the idea of Taproot. “We set out to make a record of thanks and praise for the gift of music. It was my hope that we might also capture live some of the joy and beauty we experience playing together to open up musical channels in people to receive God’s message and bring them closer to Him.”
As they began to perform the songs, Hayes Barton United Methodist Church (of which David and Bernie are members), invited the band to play for a spiritual renewal event they were hosting. It went over well and felt so right playing in the sanctuary that the group asked if they could come back and record the bones of the record there live. Hayes Barton welcomed them and most of Taproot came out of those three nights of live sessions with overdubs done later at Crewcuts and the Burlap Palace in Raleigh, NC.
There were many instances when David knew they were part of something greater than the normal recording project. Songs just flowed and more than once he would write something and then shortly thereafter encounter previously unread scripture in his bible study mirroring what he had written earlier. Band members from varying beliefs came together. People to help work on the project materialized. People started asking for the record. And then it all just stopped.
For about twelve months after recording in the church they couldn’t get schedules to mesh and just couldn’t move the project forward. “It seemed the harder we pushed, the less progress we made. It was frustrating yet we definitely learned something about patience during this time. A friend reminded me of God’s preparation of King David while he was still a shepherd and how we too are not to despise our time in the pasture. Then just as suddenly, everything cranked up again and we finished the whole thing in just a few more weeks. I guess God wasn’t ready for it to be done until then.”
Now that Taproot is complete, to keep the emphasis on thanks and service the band is giving all proceeds from the first 1,000 records sold to two wonderful inner-city youth programs; Weecare (http://weecareinc.org) and Haven House (www.havenhousenc.org).
“It was a phenomenal experience working with the guys on this project,” says David. “It definitely brought the band closer and I believe we all feel we gave it our best shot. Whatever happens from here is up to the Man Upstairs. I hope it does some good.”