Ben died on November 18, 2013 in Livingston, MT.
Montana songwriter Ben Bullington has released “Lazy Moon,” his fourth CD of original songs. Bullington, until recently a family doctor in Big Timber, Montana, is known for his thoughtful songs and intricate stories. He dedicated the project - “To the hardy and hard working people of Montana and the Rocky Mountain West.”
“There is something in the freedom of the West, the countryside and the people, that I needed,” said Bullington. “It’s the perfect place for me to raise my sons, to work and to write. With ‘Lazy Moon,’ I figured I’d stay closer to home with a collection of songs centered in Montana and the West. It’s string band music with a modern feel.”
The eleven song CD was recorded at Fred Baker’s Electric Peak Recording near Gardiner, MT. “Fred is an excellent and knowledgeable engineer who really understands how to dial in a rich natural sound,” Bullington said. “We collected some great musicians for the project including Andy Bullington, Tom Murphy, John Lowell, Russell Smith, Buff Brown, Joanne Gardner, Tracy Nelson - more guest musicians than I’ve ever had. The majority of the record was a core group, then ‘Livingston’ features our pack of Livingston misfits and adds Bill Payne and Kris Clone for a stomper final track.”
Bullington offers commentary on each of the CD’s tracks:
The title track Lazy Moon features Ben’s old buddy Bruce Stanger. “I’ve wanted to record that song with him ever since we played it in his kitchen in Iona, Idaho at Christmas time 8 years ago, a bottle of Talisker 10 year old on the table. I love his touch on the banjo. He’s a big mountain of a cowboy with a feather light touch.”
Candle in the Window – “That big amazing voice on this song of mourning features the extraordinary Tracy Nelson. Hers is such an archetypal American voice. This was the first example of string band meeting electric guitar – featuring Tom Murphy, Russell Smith and my brother Andy Bullington.”
Montana Girl – “Tom, Russell and I doing a waltz time tune. This was a big hit at the Red Ants Pants festival. It’s a tribute to some of the greatest girls on earth – Montana Girls. “
I Didn’t See You, Maggie – “This one I recorded in my brother Andy’s studio in Massachusetts with him on nylon string guitar and New England Conservatory trained Molly Glazer playing gorgeous cello.”
Lone Pine –“This features legendary Montana flatpicker John Lowell on the long scale Resophonic guitar; great playing and a great sound. It’s an edgy ballad about a bachelor farmer in these post Afghanistan times.”
Cup of Strong Black Coffee – “A cautionary tale for young men – and which head they think with. Russell does a great job on this track – the big man Russell Smith on the big bass. And I LOVE Tom’s one off solo- ‘bout perfect.”
Sage After Rain – “A characteristic Bullington novella with beautiful electric guitar from Andy. That’s Joanne singing with me. It’s a bittersweet tale of love and a friendship.”
I Despise Flies – “Deadpan Buffalo Skinners feel with Andy B’s lyrical electric and Bullington humor.”
Green Heart – “One of the first songs I wrote when I started writing more consistently about the time my youngest son was 4. Debuted it at the hospital fundraiser in White Sulphur Springs 10 or 12 years ago. It’s been looking for the right record to join up with. A story about how love occasionally doesn’t work out.”
Buckles and Leather – “This song came from reading Buck Brannaman’s autobiography. The Horse Whisperer was based on Buck - he had a tough early life. Buff Brown plays a haunting harmonica part – just nailed it.”
Livingston – “If you’ve been to the Murray Bar on a Friday night, you know what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t – well – this gives you an idea about rough, kind and rowdy Livingston. Bill Payne leads the merry band on a mad ride fitting of a Livingston Friday night. Kris Clone (representing Ten Feet Tall and 80 Proof mentioned in the song) joins on bass and vocals. We had all hands on deck for this track.”
The cd cover is an original painting by Livingston’s Edd Enders. The package was designed by Stephanie Sandston of Shack Up Design in Bozeman, with photography by Bullington’s long time friend William Campbell.
Bullington says of the cover painting, “Edd is Livingston’s Van Gogh. His take on Montana is not what other people do – he sees the foreground of this place, as only a real Montana artist would.“
People might say the same of Bullington. This year found his original tunes reaching a larger audience with performances at the Red Ants Pants Music Festival and tours in the Northwest, Colorado, Upper Midwest and Chicago. At a very special December show at Nashville’s historic Station Inn, Bullington traded songs with legendary songwriters Rodney Crowell, Darrell Scott and the Americana visionary Will Kimbrough.
Ben is opening a show in Bozeman on January 16th for John Mayer and Zac Brown – a benefit for the first responders and firefighters on the Pine Creek Fire. The new year finds him in California and then stopping at the prestigious 30A Songwriter Festival in late January with scheduled shows soon after in Pennsylvania and his home state of Virginia as well as a return to Nashville.
While in Nashville, Ben recorded yet another new project. Produced with Kimbrough, whose electric guitar artistry brings just the right atmosphere to Bullington’s vital songs of love, death and justice in the age of global warming. David Jacques adds bass to the project. Bullington adds, “Dave is tasty as always and brings sweet movement. This one will be a little departure, but not a jolt.”
Why two CD’s so close together? Dr. Bullington is now himself a patient, undergoing chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer. He’s had to give up his medical practice and plans to play as many shows for as many people as he can. “I’m digging being a full time artist and plan to stretch it as long as I can.”