Not everyone has been enjoying the music of Jeremy Stephens for the past 25 years, but those of us in central and southwestern Virginia have been aware of his tremendous talent, and special love of traditional bluegrass, since he was a teenager. While still in high school, Jeremy was performing Reno & Smiley material in the Lynchburg/Roanoke area with his brother, and delighting audiences with how authentically they reproduced that vintage sound.
Now living in Nashville, and working with his wife, Corrina, in High Fidelity, people all over the bluegrass world know of his skill and allegiance to bluegrass and country music from the ’50s and ’60s.
And now Rebel Records is bringing out a solo project from Stephens, How I Hear It, expected in August, chock full of both early bluegrass and original music, played and sung in that style.
Stephens says that while a lot has changed in his life since he was a teenager here in Virginia, he still loves the old time sound.
“Twenty years have passed since my first solo project, Scarlet Banjo. In that time, I’ve grown considerably as a musician and singer, and I felt it was time to make another solo album as a picture of where I am today in my musical journey.”
Rebel has a debut single available today, Could I Knock on Your Door, a song he co-wrote and recorded in 2004 with Virginia bluegrass legend, Cecil Hall, who performed in this region for many years with his band, The Dominion Bluegrass Boys. He was something of a tutor to young Jeremy, teaching him a great deal about the music business, and Stephens says that he is proud to make this the song people see first from How I Hear It.
“Cecil believed in me and wanted me to carry on his music. Most of the songs he wrote in his later years, he gave me half writer credit whether I helped or not! Of all of Cecil’s compositions, this one always stuck with me because it was an upbeat and happy love song. I’m so thankful to be able to have it as the first single release on this album.”
He also explained a bit about how the arrangement was structured.
“When arranging this song for this album, I could really hear it with Benny Martin-flavored guitar playing, so I tried to play it in that style here with Hunter Berry offering some excellent Benny Martin-style fiddle playing as well!
Over the years lots of folks have commented on my playing the banjo without a capo, a technique associated with Don Reno, but one that I actually learned more about from my mentor, Troy Brammer. While I was tempted to capo up on this song, my wife and co-producer ,Corrina Rose Logston, really encouraged me to play it out of open B flat. I worked hard to come up with something that drove like an open banjo yet referenced some of the way I used to play it in C with Cecil.”
Have a listen.
Could I Knock on Your Door is available as a single wherever you stream or download music online, and pre-orders for the full How I Hear It album are enabled online as well. Radio programmers can get the single track now at AirPlay Direct.