Thursday, June 7, 2012

Where did the "My Brother's Keepers" album title come from?

Never make a companion equal to a brother. ~Hesiod

Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense, but the past perfect! ~Owens Lee Pomeroy

My earliest musical memories are of me and my brother sitting in the floor reading album dust covers and listening to James Taylor and Jim Croce records. To me, those songs told stories which were more vivid and wonderful than I could've ever imagined by myself. What made them all that more impressive was the fact that those songs were more or less built around one guy and one guitar. (I understand there were lots of accompaniment on those records, which I also loved, but the essence of the music was a man, a guitar and a story). With this as my background, it is no wonder that when I began performing , I gravitated toward solo acoustic gigs. These gigs attracted some fans and supporters and therefore some heavy hitters in the local music world (Tim Stanton and Brian Graves). Our styles melded into The Ugli Stick. The Ugli Stick became this funk/rock/reggae/hiphop beast that is something I dearly cherish and something of which I am very proud. The Ugli Stick however is far from a singer/songwriter venture.

     During my stint with The Ugli Stick I had been a writer for FAME publishing in Muscle Shoals , I had written songs for TV shows, I written songs for multiple other projects.....but most of it was music of a style which was very far from my singer/songwriter roots. I therefore eventually came to a point (late 2011) when I decided that it was high time to address the issue of not having a CD that truly represents me as an acoustic singer/songwriter.
    At this point I thought back to those early days in front of the record player. I basically got a check list of things I'd need to create this album: pick, acoustic guitar, capo, pen, paper, ....oh....and my brother, Wendell. He had always been there with me during those formative years. He would understand the essence of what I was wanting to "get back to" musically better than anyone. NOTE: It doesn't hurt that Wendell happens to be a phenomenal songwriter.
   After I discussed the idea with Wendell, we decided we would write the whole album together. But now we needed a plan of attack. So I said to him, "Why don't I look through your pile of uncompleted songs and pull out the 'keepers' and complete them? Meanwhile you sift through my pile and pull out the 'keepers' and do the same." This is how the title "My Brother's Keepers" was born.
     Once we had the songs themselves finished we enlisted the help of the incredibly talented, Rick Hirsch, at his Studio H2O, to help produce it.
     I am confident that these 12 songs are the best I've ever been a part of writing, but I am also ecstatic that we were able to truly capture their essence in the studio. A lot of credit is due Rick for helping us reach that goal.
    We kept the reigns pulled back to be sure as to not end up with an over produced album which has tons of featured guest just for the sake of having featured guests. The guest appearances on the album are much more potent because we were judicious about the use of them. We had the amazing, Corky Hughes, but only on "I'm Through". We have one of the best organ players in the country, Red Young, but only on "Too Close To Heaven" and "If Two Wrongs Dot Make A Right". We have Kristy Lee, Donna Hall, Chuck Schwartz, Darryl Huffman, but all used very sparingly. We did use Tom Morley's violin parts and the Hussy Hick's vocals and guitar abilities throughout the album, but even then they were used as to set up a canvas more so than being a featured instrument. And the result is an album that still sounds like a guy, a guitar and a story.
    I had the intentions of making an album that brought me back to sitting in the floor listening to singer/songwriter records with my brother. And I succeeded.


  1. I'm glad you explained the title. I was wondering what the meaning behind it was. Thank you! And even though I have said it hundreds of times - I LOVE IT!

  2. Thank you Nikki. You're the best