Someone once said that there is really only one band in Ithaca, but what it's called depends on who shows up. When this particular ensemble gets together, the result is Ironwood. Performing original songs by veteran NYC songwriter Bill Ring, they range from country and folk to hard driving electric blues. Besides Bill on acoustic guitars and lead vocals, the band features Joe Crum on bass, Don Fenton on harmonica, Stacy Farina on vocals, Sue Spencer on drums, and Dave Redmond on lead guitar.
"When I first moved to this area, I was thrilled to find so many talented instrumentalists happy to support a singer/songwriter. I started forming the Ithaca edition of Ironwood in 2009 by the simple expedient of swiveling around in my chair and saying, 'Hey Joe, you want to play a gig?' At the time bassist Joe Crum and I both had day jobs at the same engineering company."
From that casual beginning Ironwood has expanded to a six piece group adept at a wide variety of styles, according to the demands of the songs. Also featured on the CD are dobro wiz Larry Real and lead guitarist "Skinny" Joe Hodes, who was with Ironwood briefly before moving to New Orleans.
"It took three years to get to this point, and I think this recording shows it was worth the effort. Most of the songs were written up here while working with Ironwood. A few were written in New Paltz, where I lived for a few years before moving to Ithaca, and one, King Kong, is an oldie that I never got around to recording before. Flatland was released on one of my earlier CDs, but I really love the live version included here. This is my sixth CD, and it's been a blast making it. We are all doing exactly what we want to do, and the pieces fit together beautifully, whether we are playing acoustic or electric or somewhere in between."
Before moving to the Finger Lakes region in 2007, Bill Ring lived for five years in a renovated barn in New Paltz, NY, where he set up the recording studio in which he completed his first five CD's. The first four were remastered compilations of earlier recordings. The fifth, Still On My Mind, was recorded and mixed in the barn. The most recent Ironwood CD was recorded and mixed in his personal studio in Trumansburg.
"The completion of Ironwood is the end of a creative and technical Odyssey that began with buying my first guitar at age 16 and getting my first sound-mixing gig as roadie for the Elephant's Memory in 1969. I've been writing songs, performing, and engineering ever since."
Bill began playing in New York City in 1968. His first band, Another Country, was a folk-rock group that played mostly at the appropriately named Cafe Bizarre on Third St. in Greenwich Village. After 15 years of solo performing, he joined with Sally Eaton, (of the original Broadway cast of Hair) and multi-instrumentalist Peter Pasco to form a new version of Another Country, featuring assorted acoustic instruments, three-part harmonies, and the considerable songwriting talents of all three. The acoustic edition of Another Country appeared frequently at Speakeasy and Folk City.
He then began working with the first edition of Ironwood, which at one time or another has included many prominent New York City players, including Brahm Stuart, Bob Lepre, and others. In 1991 Bill teamed with Constance Taylor to front Ironwood. They also appeared as a duo under the name Cool Dolphin.
About the songs:
When the Deal Goes Down - A mostly unplugged tune with a Sunday afternoon backporch feel.
Arrow Of Time - If there were still such a thing as a single, this would be it.
It Wasn't Me - Dedicated to anyone who has pleaded "not guilty" in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Tell Your Story Walkin' - Can't do country without a divorce song. Stacy sings lead.
Guitar Man - A backhanded salute to Billy Joel's Piano Man, featuring Larry Real on dobro.
Aren't You Dead Yet? - Sixties one hit wonder meets annoying "fan".
Much Too Young - Seriously Chicago style, inspired by Don Fenton's former band, 505 Blues.
Goin' Down Slow - Back to basics, showcasing Don's other side and Stacy's harmonies.
Single Again - Got folk if you want it. He said/she said with Stacy and Bill splitting the lead.
Cold Sober - Happens to the best of us. More dobro.
Everybody Knows But Me - Folk blues. We all feel this way sometimes.
King Kong - Acoustic rock. Believe it or not, Carolyn Hester covers this one. Go figure.
Rode Hard And Put Away Wet - Electric country, nice back and forth between harp and lead guitar.
Low In the Water - Bill and Stacy share the lead on this dreamy, contemplative tune.
Flatland - Recorded live on WVBR-FM "Tuesdays with the Band" hosted by Dan Cole. "Skinny" Joe Hodes on lead guitar.
Vocals - Bill Ring and Stacy Farina
Acoustic guitar, 6- and 12-string – Bill Ring
Bass – Joe Crum
Harmonica - Don Fenton
Drums - Sue Spencer
Percussion - Sue Spencer, Bill Ring
Electric lead guitar lead - Dave Redmond (except on Flatland – Joe Hodes)