Rural Rhythm is preparing a new all-star project for a February 12 release. God Didn’t Choose Sides offers 13 tracks, each a new composition dealing with stories and characters from the US Civil War, picked and sung by a who’s who of contemporary bluegrass artists.
The fascination many Americans have with this epic and destructive war seems not to ebb in the least as the years move along. Families north and south still share stories of heroism and devastation, while many descendants of freed slaves mark the start of their family trees by the end of the war.
Tackling such a monumental subject is a tall order, even more so trying to cover this period from all sides. But this is precisely what Rural Rhythm’s Sam Passamano set out to do. He tells us that there are plans for a total of three album projects in this series, all meant to share the personal toll of folks living through the 1860s.
“There are many songs available about the popular military commanders, battles and the politics, but I wanted to focus on real stories about the common soldiers, citizens, slaves and immigrants whose lives, and the lives of those around them, were changed forever because of the Civil War…these true stories and people should not be forgotten or lost through the years.”
To realize his vision, Passamano brought on Steve Gulley to produce and engineer the record. Steve assembled a fine cast, with vocals from Tim Stafford, Ronnie Bowman, Russell Moore, Dale Ann Bradley, Bradley Walker, Rickey Wasson, Carrie Hassler and more. Providing accompaniment are Lonesome River Band, Alan Bibey, Ron Stewart, Adam Steffey, Mark Fain, Tim Stafford and Justin Moses.
Gulley said that he jumped at the chance to work on the project.
“I was a history major in college, and the Civil War is the most interesting time in our country’s history to me. That made it a little more interesting when I was approached by Sam Passamano to produce the project. I instantly wanted to be involved.
It was a bit intimidating when considering the scope of the theme, as well as the job of putting people with songs and completing wish lists of players and singers you want to be involved in the project.”
Steve not only produced and engineered, he also sang the opening track and debut single, I’m Almost Home, which he wrote with Tim Stafford.
“Sam, who was executive producer, and I made the final decisions on material and artists. It was really great that everyone we asked to be involved with the music said yes. We recorded all but a few overdubs and the LRB track at my place, The Curve, in Cumberland Gap, TN.
We didn’t have to go far to find good songs. My good friend, Brink Brinkman, along with some of his writing partners had presented a ton of good songs to choose from. Brink, along with Sam, had the original idea of doing the project so we had a leg up on suitable material.”
Passamano says that they are planning as many as eight music videos from the album in 2013, with his son Sammy behind the camera. And since word of this project began to slip out, he has begun to hear from people suggesting stories handed down by their families as possible song themes for subsequent releases.
It looks like they have a rich vein to mine.
God Didn’t Choose Sides won’t hit until next month, but all the tracks are available to preview now at Airplay Direct, where radio programmers can download them for broadcast.