For The Record: Becky Buller #8

Once again, Stephen Mougin at Dark Shadow Recording has prevailed on one of his artists to retail their recording experience for us in blog form. This time, it’s Becky Buller who is working on her first solo project with the label. Here is the eighth installment of her studio diary. A talented songwriter, Becky also tours and records with Darin & Brooke Aldridge on fiddle and clawhammer banjo.

March 14, 2014

Rob Ickes, disappointed by the lack of cookies at his session with Becky BullerSpent the morning in musical mayhem with Rob Ickes (resophonic guitar, Blue Highway). He added another layer of spookiliciousness to Didn’t Die (our token murder ballad).

Since that took him next to no time at all, we had him swipe through our single, Nothin’ To You.  It was awesome before, but he just made it extraterrestrial. He said it had almost as many chords as a Tim Stafford song, which warmed my heart. (I’m an extry-large fan of Tim Stafford songs.)

My friend Donica Christensen (banjo picker, fiddler, and senior director of All Eyes Media, Nashville, TN) and I were about 15 when Blue Highway came out with their first album. I was visiting her in her hometown of Washburn, WI, while attending a local fiddle contest. We had gone to Wal-Mart for something else and breezed through the CD section. She picked up It’s A Long, Long Road and casually said, “This’ll probably be pretty good. All these guys have been in some big bands.” 

To this day, Blue Highway is my favorite bluegrass band and I love every record they’ve made. Honestly.  And it’s been so fun getting to work with the guys these last few years: writing with Tim and Wayne Taylor, getting to record with Rob twice now, and picking with Jason Burleson when he filled in with Darin and Brooke Aldridge’s band a few times this past year.

Donica Christensen performing with Ronnie Bowman at IBMA 2008 - photo by Ted LehmannSince I mentioned Donica, I must give her the credit for getting me back into bluegrass after a slump during mid-high school. None of my friends listened to bluegrass. I wasn’t cool, and felt it bitterly. The only people I knew who played the music in my area were my parents’ age and older. We had a few Nashville Bluegrass Band, Alison Krauss & Union Station, and Johnson Mountain Boys albums, but, for the most part, my parents were old-school in their tastes. I fell into a period of rebellion, wherein I only listened to Simon & Garfunkel and acted out by wearing old ladies hats and sack dresses on stage with Prairie Grass, the band I played in with my parents and Gordy and Roxy Schultz.  

Then I met Donica at the Minnesota Bluegrass And Old-Time Music Association’s (MBOTMA) August festival in Zimmerman, MN,…somebody my age who was into bluegrass music! And another girl at that! Who’d a thunk it! In addition to Blue Highway, she introduced me to the music of Del McCoury, IIIrd Tyme Out, and Lonesome River Band.  (How many jams did we crash with Money In The Bank?) And Lou Reid, Terry Baucom & Carolina’s album Carolina Moon (she called it “the bible on tape”) which introduced me to East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass and Country Music Program…bassist Marcus Smith went through the program and then director Jack Tottle did the album’s liner notes.

Donica and I went to our first IBMA World of Bluegrass together in 1995 when the event was still in Owensboro, KY, with Jed Malischke of MBOTMA as chaperone and a shoebox full of Moon Pies. Cold Virginia Night won song of the year. (I was ecstatic about that. Love that album!) I was a sophomore in high school and the principal let me out for the week. Looking back, I can’t believe my parents let me go! Fanfest was the first time I’d seen a lot of those bands live. I sat there for hours, afraid to even get up and use the bathroom lest I miss something. All of that really pushed me over the edge into pursuing a career in the music.

When it came time for college, Donica and I were planning on going to ETSU together, but she ended up going a year early, choosing Nashville and Belmont University. She went the business route and has done well for herself. I pursued a PR degree from ETSU, then hit the road with Valerie Smith for ten years, now here I am!

(How did I get off on that tangent? Blue Highway. Right. Ok, back to the recording blog…)

Rob Ickes, pacified with pork rinds at his session with Becky BullerRob was verklempt that I didn’t bring him any homemade cookies, but was quickly pacified by pork rinds and a promise of lunch at the Star Café in Goodlettesville. Jana and Sammy Mougin joined us, too. That ended up being our last visit to the Star Café, which is no more.  ery sad indeed, as they had great eats!

(I have a lot of parentheticals in this piece, don’t I?) (And I didn’t think I was going to have much to write about because Rob got his parts done so quickly.)

End of day eight. I gotta pick up the baby! I’m late!