Back during the SPBGMA convention in February, I had the chance to spend some time with Amanda Cook and her husband, Dennis. They proved to be charming dinner companions, as did their banjo player, Carolyne VanLierop.
As I had previously lived in south Alabama, not far from their home in Pensacola, FL, we talked freely of people we knew in common, and familiar places along the Gulf Cost bluegrass scene.
We also talked about her recently released Mountain Fever album, Deep Water, and it’s vivid cover image of Cook floating in a pond. Knowing of the sorts of creepy crawlies that live in the water down south, I was quite interested in her story of how they accomplished the shot.
Just this week she has shared with us a few additional photos from that day, and a recap of her feelings going into the not-so-deep water.
“After I wrote the song Deep Water, about mid-way through the song selection process, I envisioned something representing the ‘water pulling me under’ for the cover. My photographer, Christina Cutts-Stevens, is a long time friend of mine, and when I approached her with the idea of using Deep Water as the title track she was just thrilled to test her skills, and go outside of the norm for a bluegrass cover.
The pond is owned by a family friend of hers, and having seen the pond before I will tell you, I was not thrilled at the prospect of floating in that algae, snake, and gator-infested water. We actually shot on two different days, and the first day I was giving a bit of a reprieve because it started to rain. The second day I was not so lucky. When I actually floated in the pond, both Chrissy’s and my husbands were there, with pistols loaded and boat paddles at the ready.
Honestly, living in Florida my whole life, alligators and snakes are something that we are really kind of just used to, so I was really more timid about the algae and plants touching me to begin with. That was until Lester, and my husband Dennis, thought they saw a water moccasin skimming across the top of the pond, and started smacking the water with the boat paddle…they almost lost me there.
They talked me down off the ladder… and back into the water to get the shots. Thankfully, Dennis was in fishing waders, as you can see in the picture, so that did help me calm down to get the photos finally taken. Chrissy is an avid outdoors woman and she loves natural shots, so she would never dream of photo-shopping this type of picture. So in the water I went.
The cover is such a talking piece, at IBMA I had at least 50 people stop at my booth and ask about the picture and if it was photo-shopped. I laughed and responded with ‘nope, and I have the outtakes to prove it!’ While it may be considered to be brave… I didn’t feel very brave at the time.”
Amanda survived, and ended up with a beautiful cover for her troubles.