I have been playing music professionally since I was 16 years old. I started out playing campfire music 5 nights a week for a wagon train dude outfit in the mountains northeast of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I played fiddle and guitar and sang cowboy songs at night, and wrangled horses and dudes during the day. I continued to work on various ranches and wagon trains around the West during my summers, through high school and college.
My musical background is quite varied. I played violin on scholarship for the University of Wyoming. I directed jr. high and high school orchestras for 4 years in my home
town of Afton, Wyoming as well as directed choirs and bands and taught general music K-12. I worked a summer at the Wyoming Territorial Prison Park doing six shows a day dressed in period clothes singing and playing old time ballads. This was the summer I learned to frail on the banjo. We had a lot of time to kill sitting around in the
"saloon" drinking sarsaparilla and goofing off looking historical between shows.
For the last several years I worked in the Jackson Hole region as a freelance side man. I played fiddle and mandolin with Phil Round, Judd Grossman, Ben Winship, and other band leaders in the area. We played for corporate events, private parties and weddings. The food and views were always fantastic. I also did a fair amount of solo work at area ranches.
Back when I first began playing on the wagon train I really enjoyed playing music that rang with a sense of
authenticity. Here I was, riding and driving horses, and singing and playing western music. This authentic musical experience is what I wanted to explore with this record project. The old time music that inspired the record comes from the country. Rural people whose lifestyle is rooted in the land have always made music that reflected the agrarian life they lived. It is this authentic connection that I wanted to showcase.
The style is deliberately sparse. I wanted the songs and instruments to stand on their own, unencumbered by
fancy production and extensive overdubs. The core of the record has myself playing fiddle or mandolin, with my brother Ansel playing guitar. We played tracks live and usually with just a few takes. Inevitably, the more takes we did the further we got from the fresh, "real," live sound I was seeking. As a consequence, a close listen
will reveal slight imperfections that I felt were a fine trade-off for achieving what I hope is a fresh and live sound. Ansel turned out to be invaluable in making the record what it is. His musical sensibilities and impeccable taste contributed greatly to the sound I was hoping for. The project wouldn't have been complete if I didn't invite my brother-in-law Tom Rardin to sing harmony vocals. We were in a bluegrass band together in the early nineties called the Javelinas. Ever since those days we have enjoyed singing songs in the old Monroe Brothers style. His natural old timey sounding voice added a lot to the songs he sings on.
The tunes are a mix of older traditional tunes and ones that I made up. My songs are always reflective of older, traditional styles. All the music is inspired by agrarian themes. In an age lives lived vicariously through others' experiences on television, I have tried to live and authentic life. I make my live by farming with draft horses
and it is, I hope, fitting that my music reflects that life.
After many years of working as sideman, essentially putting all my musical energies into helping make others sound good, it was exciting to do a creative project of my own.