Jeremy is a member of the Turtle Island String Quartet. We met jamming and playing music in a campground folk hang in northern CA just last summer. We hit it off right away and a phone call later, without having ever arranged strings for songs, Jeremy committed himself to writing all the stringsections for City of Refuge. Jeremy stood in the living room for hours laying track after track building the most glorious string sections with just the right amount of dissonance and curiousness throughout. Listening from the control room, every new line was like a revelation. I can’t imagine this record without Jeremy’s huge mark!
Tucker and Bill worked on the record from a satellite studio near the very end of recording. Tucker says Bill heard the tracks and said they already sounded full and complete to him, and YET he added some of the most memorable musical moments on the entire record like the descending line on the choruses of Last Train or the beautiful reflections in Dreams of Nectar. If you don’t already know Bill’s work well…
Chris is most well known for his role in The Decembrists but he’s got big musical guns and he wields them like a pro in every situation. He brought several musical ideas that I never could have fathomed including distorted guitar to several songs, bowed dulcimer to the start of Bring Me My Queen and dulcimer to City of Refuge. He adds a signature unique touch to everything.
Rayna and I have been playing music together since the beginning of my music days including 5 years in the band Uncle Earl together. She is such a deep and soulful fiddler and musician…I feel tremendous gratitude that she brought her beauty to several tracks on this record.
Carl is most well known for his part in the band My Morning Jacket. No matter what music he’s contributing to he brings the most gorgeous tone and intuitive offerings to the song. He didn’t play a wrong note and nailed the performances immediately. Pedal Steel and electric guitar are two instruments I have never collaborated with. Carl made it feel like they should be on everything!
Fei is a guzheng master and dear friend. Fei is able to function equally in Chinese and western music. We were introduced to one another in Colorado several years ago and haven’t stopped finding ways to collaborate since. in fact, along with Kai Welch, the 3 of us have started a little indie rock band in China called The Wu-Force- more to come soon.
At the young age of 16 Nat is a tremendous cellist. If you don’t know about him you need to. At the time of recording he didn’t even have his license yet so his mom, Jenelle, drove him to town from Brandon, MS to just wait for the prime moments to add the cello to Jeremy’s gloriously arranged string parts… and he killed it.
D-Bone rolled on up the driveway, pulled out his trombone and filled out the horn section on Dreams of Nectar perfectly. He dropped a couple sumptuous response lines in the middle verses.
Analisa Tornfelt is an old dear friend from the many crossed paths of touring. Tucker suggested she join the effort from a satellite studio in Portland not even knowing our pal-ship, and she added just the needed touch to Divine Bell.
First thing Kenny Malone said when he walked in the door was, “I need to see the lyrics.” That’s not the typical query of a drummer. Kenny played his heart out and gave each song his complete intuitive dedication. He kept running to his van to pull out a new percussive magical power tool until we found just the right one. You should’ve seen the living room full of festive time keeping options- a glory to behold!
I have heard of the magic of Viktor Kraus for a long time but didn’t know how power-packed the man really is til he came in and laid down perfect bass tracks first try in every instance. He is a phenomenon and I am grateful he took the time to contribute his opening upright tunings and massively sweet pocket to this record.
Jamie Dick is a dear friend and an awesome drummer. He laid down the glue on the track Chains. I’m proud to say that he is out on the road playing the music of City of Refuge live with me now. There is no one better to hit the road and share a life of music with.
Tim O’Brien is a huge musical hero in my life. I can hardly believe I get to sing with him on this record. When Kai, Rayna. Tim and I sat down to practice Bright Morning Stars together we knew we needed to record it in a sacred space… This is a pic of Tim standing in the chapel before the recording.
Thanks to Joe for driving in from Lebanon for a night of Tuba. You brought Ballad of Treason home!
The Burn Thru Choir
Special thanks to James Wallace, our Choir Wrangler, for pulling the crew together. Learn more… about James. And, you should’ve seen Kai conducting the entire orchestra!