Greg Blake / Blog

New progress report on my solo project!

Hey folks ... great news! The CD is mastered and the artwork is going through the final revision and hopefully off to the printer/manufacturer tomorrow! If all goes well, and there are no more "hitches", those of you who pre-ordered will get your physical copies before Sept. 1 - the day that it hits the radio and iTunes and so on. Thanks for being so patient --- I hope after you hear it, you'll feel it was worth the wait! Stay tuned for announcements of "release events/concerts" ... the first one will be in Raleigh, NC at the IBMA World of Bluegrass on Wed. night, Sept. 30 with almost the entire CD cast present and performing songs from the album! Somebody better be there with some smelling salts to revive me after fainting when I realize that all of this work is finally coming to fruition. Talk at ya soon, Greg

Vicki Smith
Vicki Smith  (almost 2 years ago)

That's fantastic, Greg! On pins and needles, but nothing like how you must feel! :)

Four, straight-ahead, very traditional tunes on the new CD!

Well, hope you had a great Christmas ... I was hoping that I would have CDs in hand by Christmas, but as we all know, we just don't always get everything we want for Christmas! But production continues on the new project and I'm so anxious to get it into your hands ... partly because of the great tenor singing that my buddy, Jeff Brown, contributes to four cuts - three lesser known "standards" and an original song. Jeff used to be a part of Larry Sparks' band, the Lonesome Ramblers. Now, he fronts his own band - Jeff Brown and Still Lonesome (www.jeffbrownandstilllonesome.com). Jeff and I met at a festival in Oklahoma a couple of years back and struck up a friendship. I knew I wanted him to sing tenor with me on some of the CD because we like a lot of the same stuff. Here are the songs he's helping with: Sweetest Love. This is a song written by Carter Stanley - one of my favorite bluegrass lead singers. Not only was he a passionate singer, but he could really construct lyrical lines that captured the pain of lost love and a broken heart ... "Here's a story of two childhood sweethearts; and a love that we shared still untold. How are simple little vows they were broken - and a love that I cherished more than gold. Are you tired of the life that you're livin'? Does your mind wander back to the past? Do you think of the love you've forsaken? Darlin' true love is too sweet to last!" One of Jeff's contemporary mentors is Ralph Stanley - you can tell that when you listen to his tenor on this song. Thinking of You. Here's another one from "a way back"! Although the song is credited to Bill Monroe, I can't help but think this is one that had some Lester Flatt influence on it. This song also tells the story of "lost love", but not from broken vows and unfaithfulness. No, this is the story of a widow (or widower) recalling the love shared while their companion was still alive ... "Will the angels tell her for me? That my love will never die? Someday, I'll walk along beside her on that Golden Way up there." Many times I've seen the effect that losing a lifetime mate has had on the remaining partner - this song is all about that. Again, listening to Jeff's treatment of the tenor line on this song reminds me why I love Traditional Bluegrass so much! Home Is Where the Heart Is. A more "recent" classic, this is one of the handful of songs on the CD that incorporates both of my overarching themes. I first heard the Bluegrass Cardinals do this and I used to perform it with my old band The Bluegrass Missourians. I have many fond memories of my home(s) back in West Virginia ... and the phrase in the 2nd verse - "down along the road I know so well" conjures up numerous childhood scenes. Hold on to your seats for this one ... the instrumental breaks are blistering and Jeff's tenor will peel the paint off your walls! 50 Miles From Nowhere. This is a song I collaborated on with my good friend, Lyla Carder. One day after a show, she handed me a file folder of poems. This is the first one I put a tune to and folks have really enjoyed it. Look for more Blake & Carder compositions! Two more titles to reveal ...

More song titles announced on the new CD!

Ahhhhh, ... 9 days before Christmas ... and we're frantically working to get the new CD out! Well, as promised, here are some more song titles to whet your appetites ... In putting a CD together, there are some songs you absolutely KNOW FOR SURE you want to put on there. Sometimes, however, songs are "brought" to you by suggestion. That was the case with three of the thirteen cuts on the album - and I couldn't be happier with the way they turned out! One was suggested by my producer, Sally Van Meter. When I first submitted to her the songs I was considering, she suggested a song by West Coast great, Laurie Lewis: The Hills of My Home. The more I listened to it, the more I fell in love with it. After we laid down the initial tracks in the studio, Sally and KC Groves were talking about what kind of harmony should go on it. They came up with the idea of sending the song to Laurie to let her know I was doing it and lo and behold, Laurie offered to lay down the harmony track! Oh, she did such a great job ... on her song! LOL! I was stumped at what guitar instrumental to put on the album. There are so many great tunes I love to play. Sally wanted something, different, unique - not just another standard "contest tune". She was talking to mandolin great from Open Road, Caleb Roberts, and he said, "Let me do some thinking and I'll get back to you". Well, Caleb researched guitar instrumentals for HOURS and came up with David Harvey's tune that Larry Sparks (one of my guitar heroes and stylistic mentors) recorded many years ago: Cruisin' Timber. Its in Dm and everybody gets a little piece of it -- even Mark has this funky bass stuff he's doing during this vamp that's going on before the final pass. By the way, we learned it IN THE STUDIO, THEN RECORDED IT! I'll leave it up to you as to whether or not you agree with me that it turned out great. And then, Mark Schatz told me he had some songs that he'd been collecting over the years and sent me a bunch. I listened to them and liked several, but it was like sensory overload and I never got back to them. When we were in the studio, after listening to the direction the project was going, Mark brought one of the songs to me and Sally. It was a Bill Staines song - "Where I Live" - that I think he had suggested to Tony Rice some time back, but for whatever reason, got overlooked. Well, again, I'll have to let you be the judge, but I fell in love with the song - the lyrics are incredible: "There's a tree that stands out back, waiting for the falling axe" "To split its rings and show the secrets deep inside;" "Years of drought and little growth; years of good - its seen 'em both" "Now its there and waiting only for the fire." "Where I live there is a road, that's seen me come and seen me go;" "And taken me so far I thought I'd lost my way." "Where I live there is my heart - it won't be long before I start" "Back again to where that river slips away." More titles revealed soon ...

A Very Special Guest Vocalist on my new CD -- Claire Lynch!!!

Hey everybody! I just got back from playing a festival in Iowa and wanted to continue sharing a little about the cuts on my new CD. One of the things that even got me seriously considering this CD was the opportunity I had a few years ago at Midwinter Bluegrass Festival, here in Denver, to have an "exclusive" jam session with the Claire Lynch Band. On the first Friday night of the festival, my friend KC Groves walked up to a jam session I was in and, in between songs, introduced me to Mark Schatz (IMO, one of the greatest bass players of all time!) ... after Mark listened for awhile, we exchanged pleasantries and he said, "We need to jam some before I leave on Sunday". Cool - no way! Well, the following night, after their final show, Mark spotted me and said, "let's jam!" Claire and the rest of the band were enjoying some down-time in Damon's (the restaurant/bar in the Ramada where Midwinter is held) and we thought that would be a nice place to jam a little bit. Pretty soon, Matt Wingate and Jason Thomas (another member of the band at that time) busted out their instruments and we had us a grand ol' jam going. Several gathered there in the restaurant to listen. After that, Mark and Claire and I kept in touch and they were very complimentary and supportive of my music. They were the first two I asked to be on my solo project. I've always been a big fan of Mark's since his days with the Tony Rice Unit. And how can you not be simply overwhelmed with Claire's amazing singing and songwriting. I was so happy when they both responded with a resounding yes to help with the project. Claire adds beautiful harmony to 3 tracks on the album; plus, on one of those three (Dreaming of a Little Cabin), she sings a solo on one of the verses! The other two songs on which she joins me are the 80s country hit of Joe Diffie, "Home" and the great gospel song written and performed by my good friends, Steve and Annie Chapman, "Turn Your Heart Toward Home." She absolutely KILLS IT on those tracks! I can't wait for you to hear her. Stay tuned ... I'll share/reveal some more titles next week!

All the "tracking" on the new CD is FINISHED!!!

Well, I'm sure you know at least one thing I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving ... you got it, the CD is almost done! All the harmony parts and vocal/instrumental "fixes" are completed ... now it goes to James for mixing, then David at Airshow for mastering, then replication. As promised, I'm going to reveal the titles of the songs on the album ... I thought about waiting until the next blog and make a single blog entry for each title. But I want to tell you what happened last weekend that was so cool as it relates to one of the titles. On November 6, Jeff Scroggins and I boarded a plane headed to New Jersey as we embarked on a 10-day tour back out East. We had scheduled performances in Vermont, Massachusetts and upstate New York. The tour would end with the band (Jeff Scroggins & Colorado) performing showcases at the NERFA (North East Regional Folk Alliance) conference, held in the Hudson Valley Resort in the Catskills. In addition to showcasing and networking, we attended a session called "On the Griddle"; in which you submit a track of a new project and the first 60 seconds is played and reviewed by a panel of professionals including radio DJs, venue owners/managers, festival promoters, booking agents, talent buyers and other music industry professionals. Knowing that only the first 60 secs were going to be played, I chose a cut from the new CD that - even though it hadn't been finally mixed nor much "enhancement" rendered - I knew had a short, but catchy intro. and then vocals and hopefully would get about halfway into the first instrumental break. The song was one of my favorite Johnny Cash tunes - "Hey Porter". The track starts with a funky bass line that Mark Schatz delivers for a couple of bars then all the instruments come in on the downbeat and play through a couple of bars and then you hear me start singing, "Hey Porter, hey Porter - would you tell me the time!" I finish the first two verses and then Blaine Sprouse, Jeff Scroggins and John Reischman trade off solos over the melody line of the verse with Schatz interjecting that funky bass theme in the spaces between hand-offs. Well, what happened next blew me away. Before the first panelist had a chance to give his/her input, the room burst out in applause. Then, the first panelist (a AAA DJ, not folk or bluegrass, but rather Rock, pop & Indie) said, "Oh yeah - I've already said I'm not much into bluegrass - but I'd play THAT on my program all the time!" And then, in the midst of the other panelists very positive comments, the talent buyer for over 20 years at The Birchmere in DC (home to the Seldom Scene, the Country Gentlemen and other great acts over the last 40 years) said, "I would like for this band to share the bill with the Seldom Scene at our annual New Year's Eve bash." Another comment that meant a lot to me went something like this: "... the right blend of tradition and cutting edge ..." --- EXACTLY what I was shooting for! I'm very pleased with the project and I can't wait for you all to hear it! Stay tuned for more song title announcements ...

Joe Price
Joe Price  (over 2 years ago)

outstanding no suprise to me

Work on the new CD resumes!

After a few months of "stand still" with regards to the new solo project, I went back into the studio earlier this week and "fixed" a couple of spots -- a sharp vocal note, a wrong word and a different 2nd guitar break on the instrumental. Claire Lynch (2013 IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year; 2014 Song of the Year) is putting harmony vocals on three cuts - an old Joe Diffie 80s hit, one of my all-time favorite Albert E. Brumley songs and a song written by my good friends, Steve & Annie Chapman. My good buddy in Virginia, Jeff Brown (Jeff Brown and Still Lonesome) is gonna slap some Appalachian tenor on a handful of the straight-ahead, in-your-face traditional numbers (I bet he's gonna scald it). Stay tuned ... I'll be keeping you posted on further progress and availability. I'm also going to be revealing the song titles soon. And if my tech person can show me how to do it, I'll put some 30-60 second samples up for you to hear. Talk at ya later! GB

Tom Stuart
Tom Stuart  (over 2 years ago)

Greg. Don't over do it. We're wanting to listen to you sing and pick.