XNA ALLSTARS –
The Project –
Last winter Earl and Ernie Cate and I got together for lunch to discuss a possible recording project. The brothers had recently semi-retired abandoning their relentless road trips to stay home and enjoy life. The idea was to assemble some of the regions’ best musicians in the studio and see what happens. The Cates got on board and with their name and connections; we were able to bring together a diverse mixture of area pros.
There are a lot of great musicians in the Northwest Arkansas Area (XNA) and we were lucky to have several join us. The incredible blues guitar master Jimmy Thackery (Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers, Nighthawks) lives near Eureka Springs. Jimmy adds his guitar wizardry to several of our tunes. The area’s best sax man, David Renko (Cate Brothers Band) plays his scintillating sax on several tunes. He also lives in Eureka Springs as does vocalist Karen “Sparkle” FitzPatrick (The Ariels) and drummer Tony Walker (The Ariels). Earl Cate’s daughter, Dawn (Earl’s Garage) also sings on several songs. We did bring in our bass player, Corey Duplechin (Chubby Carrier & Bayou Swamp Band) from Houma, Louisiana. Corey is a fabulous bass player and singer. He was instrumental in this project guiding the rhythm section and adding funk to the sound. We were also lucky to get Fred Tackett (Little Feat) to play mandolin on one track. He has a home in Eureka Springs and spends a lot of time there.
We gathered at this really cool studio on Beaver Lake, Winterwood, operated by world-class engineer Eric Schabacker. We chose a variety of songs and genre to showcase the talents of the musicians. The players laid down some wonderful music, magical at times. The spirit was with us. We had a lot of fun and we hope you enjoy the music.
The Players –
Earl Cate – Guitars, Co-Producer. Ernie Cate – Keyboards, Vocals
Earl and Ernie Cate have been mezmorizing crowds with their music for decades. Earl and his twin brother Ernie broke into the local Northwest Arkansas music scene in the late 1950’s. After winning several local talent contests while still in their early teens, the brothers formed the Delrays, which evolved into the Cate Brothers Band. The Cate Brothers reached stardom in the 1970’s with their hit song “Union Man”. They toured with Levon Helm and The Band, Fleetwood Mac, the Beach Boys, Heart, and many other big name acts. Bob Dylan played with the Cates at President Clinton’s inaugural event. They have kept a presence in the local, regional and national scene until 2006 when they semi-retired from the road. This is their first studio work since giving up the road.
Karen (Sparkle) FitzPatrick – Lead Vocals on Can’t Let Go, Down to the Well, Snake Dance, Steamy Windows, Only Girl, Rock Me.
Karen has been the lead singer for the Eureka Springs based band “The Ariels” for several years now. The Ariels are a local favorite, winning band of the year contests in Eureka Springs many times. Karen, a mother of two young sons and husband Christian live on the Kings River. He is a carpenter and she works at a private school in Eureka Springs and for Nightflying. Prior to moving to the Eureka Springs area, she lived in Little Rock and performed with several bands in that part of the state. She was co-lead singer of the hot Little Rock band the Bhangers in the 1990’s.
Tony Walker- Drums, Percussion.
Tony has been a sought after drummer in the Ozarks for many years. He is currently the drummer for the Eureka Springs band, “The Ariels” and has been in the music scene for over 30 yrs.. He has also played with the Bramhall Brothers and the Mike Alexander Band.
Corey Duplechin – Bass, Lead Vocals on Talk to your Daughter and Superstition.
Corey hails from Houma, La. And brings the Cajun flavor to the group. He is the bass player for what maybe the best zydeco band in the country, “Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band”. He has many friends in Arkansas due to frequent stops in the state.
David Renko –Saxophone. Alto, Baritone and Tenor.
David is best known as the great sax player for the Cate Brothers Band. David joined the Cates in the late 1980’s and continues to play with the band on their rare performances. David was a child prodigy and has been on stage since childhood. He played in a band with his parents called David and the Immatures. David’s father, Dick Renko, has been involved in the music business for many years. Since the semi-retirement of the Cate Brothers, David has been freelancing playing gigs with the Nace Brothers, Jeff Fox, and others.
Jimmy Thackery - Blues guitar legend, currently touring with his band Jimmy Thackery and The Drivers. Formerly of the Nighthawks. Jimmy has recorded over 20 ablums in his illustrious carreer. He adds his touch and magic to Can’t Let Go, the blues drivin Talk to Your Daughter, and Superstition.
Dawn Cate – Lead Vocals on Even Now, Rocket City Bar, and Nature’s Way
Dawn Cate is Earl’s daughter and has been performing locally with her band “Earl’s Garage” for many years.
Fred Tackett – Mandolin. Down to the Well.
Fred is the Mandolin, Guitar, and Horn player for the legendary group “Little Feat” His music resume is pages long. He laid down the mandolin track on “Down to the Well” as a gift to us. Fred is a great guy.
Eric Schabacker - Engineer/Co-Producer. Eric moved to Beaver Lake near Eureka Springs approximately 10 years ago after a stellar music career in Florida. During his carreer he has been involved with recording and producing for several big name acts such as Molly Hatchet, Judias Priest, and Cameo. He lends his ear, creativity, technical savy, and enthusiasm to this project.
George Dombek - Nationally acclaimed watercolorist George Dombek created the cover artwork. He lives in Goshen, AR and has a studio in Goshen and in New York City. George’s work has been shown in many Galleries across the country. Many of his paintings are in private collections and held by national corporations including Tyson Foods and Stephens, Inc..
The Material –
CAN’T LET GO
Lucinda Williams had recorded this song in 1998. She is a native of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Karen has always admired Lucinda and does a great job on this tune. Jimmy lays down some riveting slide guitar tracks on a 1927 National, that was purportedly owned by Bill Haley’s and the Comets’ lead guitar player. Tony plays the drums and provides the finger snaps. Earl plays acoustic guitar and Corey carries the beat on his bass.
TALK TO YOUR DAUGHTER
A blues classic recorded first in 1954 during J.B. Lenoir’s Parrot Sessions. J.B. was a Chicago bluesman with his roots in the Mississippi Blues. He tragically died in a car wreck at age 38. The song has been covered many times over the years. We proudly add our version. Corey’s strong vocals and steady bass lead the song. Jimmy plasters the track with his classic blues guitar. Ernie pads the song with the organ. Earl and Tony keep the beat grooving on this one.
DOWN TO THE WELL
Thanks to Oxford American 2001 for turning us onto this song. It really grows on you. Ernie’s lead vocals are perfect and Karen adds the women’s touch. Karen was interviewing Fred Tackett for Nightflying about “Feat Fest” in Eureka Springs when she learned he loved this song. So we asked and he agreed to add a mandolin track to the tune. Thanks Fred! Earl plays both acoustic and a striking electric guitar while Jimmy adds flavor with his baritone stratocaster. Corey and Tony nail the rhythm section down.
The Cates pulled this out of their repertoire. Dawn Cate sings this ballad with a sensuous style and feel. Eric loves this song. It is truly a Cate family endeavor as Earl and Ernie play all instruments. We hope this one will rekindle many a romance.
We found this song on Marcia Ball’s 1990 “Dreams Come True” album. The guys first said they couldn’t figure this one out. Earl finally got it unraveled and it’s turned out to be a fun tune. Karen’s sultry vocals and David’s sexy sax take you on a slinky dance. Earl’s disco beat on the guitar; Ernie and Corey’s funkiness and Tony’s percussion bring this together.
Tony Joe White wrote and released this song in 1991. Tiny Turner, John Anderson and others have covered it. I have always liked the Cate Brother’s version. This time we added a female lead singer. Karen knocks it down and David’s sax is simply extraordinary. He and Earl trade lead licks throughout this very hot version. Ernie’s clavinet and keyboards are out of sight. Again, Corey’s steady hand and Tony’s drums drive us through the tune.
I MUST BE DREAMIN’
A new Cate Brother’s tune showing the mastery of Earl and Ernie. Tight, precise and melodic lead riffs with soothing vocals leave no doubt the brothers are alive and well. Earl and Ernie produced most of this song in Earl’s home studio. Ernie added vocals and some special keyboard effects at Winterwood.
Karen’s song! She lived it, wrote it, sings it and sparkles on it. Earl and Ernie arranged the song and have crafted a beautiful tune. Earl plays both acoustic and electric guitar while Ernie caresses the keys. David adds a soft touch of sax and Corey and Tony keep the rhythm going.
We wanted to take this great country tune by Deborah Allen and rock it up. What we got was a Southern Rock – Allman Brothers sound. Earl weaves this song with rolling lead riffs showing off his enormous talent. Karen’s raw vocals will rock you. The rhythm section of Ernie, Corey and Tony just keeps you moving on this favorite of Eric’s.
Another new one from the Cate Brothers. Ernie’s unmistakable voice makes you feel the pain. Earl’s piercing leads take us to another level. This song was also produced in Earl’s home studio with the brothers playing all parts.
ROCKET CITY BAR
A Cate Brothers’ remake but with Dawn singing. Her deep, rich voice carries this one. Earl’s lead electric guitar is always prominent while Ernie and Tony’s beat lead us through this musical journey. We aren’t sure where Rocket City is - perhaps Houston, Huntsville?
Vintage 1970 “Spirit”, as meaningful today as it was almost 40 years ago. Penned by the then 19-year-old Randy California, its message has met the test of time. We did take the liberty to change two words – “dying trees” to “ rising seas”. We hope he would condone the change. Randy tragically perished in a riptide while surfboarding in Hawaii in 1997. We wanted to add new age flair to this tune. Earl created the flutes on Ernie’s Yamaha. Dawn and Ernie sing a beautiful duet, Earl plays the acoustic guitar and Tony adds the percussion.
Corey’s song! He brings funk and punch to this 1972 Stevie Wonder classic. Jimmy describes Corey’s voice as “real cool”. We agree. His bass solo stretches new boundaries in bass playing. David’s Saxes are equally powerful. He plays alto, tenor, and baritone sax. Jimmy and Earl add driving and fascinating dueling guitar solos. This song has great energy. The rhythm track was recorded in one take; magic was in the room that night. We hope Stevie will like our version.
Swingin’ Door Records
P.O. Box 747
Fayetteville, AR 72702