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Acknowledgments

I’m deeply grateful for the musical contributions of these people. Their talent and creativity made this project fun and rewarding and brought these songs to life in a way that would not otherwise have been possible.  

 

  • Dave Budzinski – A dear friend of thirty years and one of my personal heroes. Bud is a lifelong seeker of truth and tone, a curmudgeon’s curmudgeon, insightful boxing analyst and winder of superb electric guitar pickups featured on many of the tracks on this album. Please check out www.budzguitars.com .

 

  • Ellie Cruze – Ellie is a valued friend, a great vocalist, and the literacy litmus test by which I know if I’m on the right track with my songwriting. The fact that I’ve been gigging and writing songs the past few years is directly attributable to her participation in our acoustic group, the Solo Duo. As the person who has to “sing it and bring it” she needs the lyrics to be true, unambiguous and relatable. These songs are much better for the fact that she cares so deeply.

 

  • Donn Deniston – Don is simply the best drummer I’ve ever played with, and a skilled musician whose musical choices enhance the character of the song and the impact of the lyrics. It was his idea to bring everything to a full stop after the line about assassinations in “Diminution.” I’ll never forget the delighted look on his face when I explained I wanted an over-the-top, no holds barred performance on “The Ride.” Apparently, that doesn’t happen often in the life of a studio musician!

 

  • Dave Falk – Dave arranged and performed the stellar dobro parts in “Get my Price.” I love the vocal quality of his playing, alternately mournful and angry. His dobro lends a timeless quality to the song, which now sounds as if it could have been written at any period of conflict in our country’s past.

 

  • Mike Gentry – A few years ago I saw a local Craigslist ad for a songwriting seminar led by Jas Obrecht, whose name I recognized as that of a former editor at Guitar Player Magazine when I was a subscriber in the 80’s. I only had a couple of tunes ready to share and was not at all sure that I had the chops to hang with this group, but I wanted to start writing songs again after a long hiatus, so I signed up despite my misgivings. I needn’t have worried. Jas is a fine teacher and facilitator who made sure that the environment was welcoming and encouraging for everyone regardless of the current level of their craft. I learned a lot and met a number of good friends in that circle.

 

The first among these was Mike Gentry. I felt as if I knew him as soon as he walked into the room. His mixture of gentleness, sincerity and sly humor was a familiar blast from my hippie past… we had each other laughing within minutes. The songs he brought to the group, often written that very morning, were profound, well crafted, deceptively simple and strikingly vulnerable. I was much less inclined at that point to expose myself with that level of candor in my own songs, but Mike’s contribution in a discussion in the seminar hit me like a brick: He said, “All of my songs are true – these things either happened to me or to someone I know. I just try to evoke that same emotion in the music and the lyrics.” And that, folks, is what it’s all about.

 

Thanks, Mike for your feedback, your encouragement, your hard work in producing this record, which took MUCH longer than I thought it would, and your insistence on bringing out the truth, the tone and emotion in the performances. I treasure our friendship, and I’m delighted that I got you to reveal your rock star credentials in these tracks.

 

  • Sara Gibson – I met Sara during the recording of Mike Gentry’s album and was enchanted with the feeling and tone she wove into his songs. She is in great demand and I’m delighted and honored that she brought her interpretive magic to “December 32nd” and “Better Than a Dream.”   

 

  • Damien Hyde – Damien was a total pro, bringing the perfect saxophone tone and swinging sense of Motown fun I wanted to hear on “No Use Trying.”

 

  • Rod Johnson – Rod is a great songwriter and singer, another veteran of the Obrecht songwriting group. I’m happy to hear his voice on “Diminution” and “No Use Trying.” The line in “Like a Simile” about annoying elitists with sentences that end in prepositions was a snarky reference to Rod’s encyclopedic knowledge of the language. Despite the dig, he kindly advised me to change a line in the chorus to reflect better grammar usage. So much for irony…

 

  • Dave Roof – It would be easy to be intimidated by a musician of Dave’s caliber. I admit I was a little self-conscious bringing demos of my bass lines to the area’s first-call bassist. Dave’s impressive musicianship is borne of a lifetime of love for the craft, and he brought every bit of that to bear in making this album sound great. He believed in my songs and understood the ideal I had in mind for their presentation. His skills and sensitivity are evident everywhere on this record – in the multitude of tracks and instruments that he played, in the care and expertise he applied to the engineering. He was encouraging, informative and fun to work with. This experience was nothing short of a delightful, supportive, collaboration.

 

If  you’re thinking of recording a song or a project, go to www.rooftoprecording.net and check it out before he starts charging a fraction of what he’s worth.

 

  • Mallory Wayt – I showed up at an open mic last year and saw a friend arrive with a tall woman sporting a fabulous, curly blond mohawk. When she went up to the piano to play one of her songs, I wandered over to greet him, and the instant I heard her sing I said “Holy shit, do you KNOW her? Do you think she’d sing on my album?  Can you tell her I’m not some creepy old stalker and I’m really recording some songs?” Chris did introduce and vouch for me, and Mallory turned out to be simply delightful; fun, creative, intuitive, musically knowledgeable, with a unique, sweet character in her voice. Ellie was about to make her annual winter pilgrimage to Florida, and I needed someone to sing harmony on a number of these tracks. I’m so grateful Mallory agreed to do this despite her demanding schedule. We considered using a Mellotron to get an atmospheric, ethereal vocal effect for the bridge of “Another Direction,” but my producer Mike Gentry had the great idea to have Mallory multitrack her own harmonies. We ended up using the “Mallotron” instead in one of my favorite moments on the album.

 

  • A special shout out to my six grandkids for their first appearance on a recording. Historians, take note.

 

I also want to thank the many musicians whom I’ve learned from, been inspired by, played and fought with (!) for the last 50 years. Thanks for letting me jam along with you all and for keeping me enthused about playing guitar, which has been a great joy and refuge in my life.

 

Some other essential co-conspirators, inspirational icons and enablers to whom I am grateful: Jas Obrecht, Steve Dawson, Michael and Patty Schwartz, Barry Codron and my wonderful and creative son and daughters, Michael, Sharon, and Deborah. Finally, and always, I’m grateful beyond words to the love of my life, Nancy.  

 

This album is lovingly dedicated to the memory of my cousin, Mitch Aronson.

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