Things have been jumping of late for Rebecca and John Frazier of Hit & Run. In addition to managing a busy touring schedule, the two were married last summer (August ’06), and they moved to Nashville from Colorado this spring. Nashville is a powerful draw for folks serious about a career in the music business, and like so many before them, John and Rebecca felt that they were missing opportunities by being so far from the center of gravity.
One such opportunity arose almost immediately upon their arrival – a bluegrass tribute to the music of TV’s animated blockbuster, The Simpsons! It will be released this summer on CMH Records, to coincide with the theatrical release of The Simpsons full length feature film.
Rebecca said that taking this on as a Hit & Run project fell into place immediately, and was among the first things they tackled after getting settled in.
“CMH has been asking us to do a project since they first heard us in 2004, but we’ve always been too busy on the road to fit in a record for them. This spring we took some time off the road to get moved to Nashville, and we actually recorded it seven days after we got to town. Basically we drove a U-Haul to Nashville, unpacked boxes, and drove to Merlefest to play with Donna Hughes. Two days later we cut this record.
Since John and I had just moved and were unable to fly in the other band members, we asked our good friends from The Infamous Stringdusters to pitch in their efforts.
We were lucky enough to work with Rich Adler at Soundwave Studios. We had a blast with him! He has recorded everyone in bluegrass, it seems. He recorded Every Time You Say Goodbye (Alison Krauss), and Mark Twang (John Hartford). He also recorded Comes A Time, one of my favorite Neil Young records.”
The title of the CD is Four Finger Music – The Bluegrass Tribute to the Music Made Famous by The Simpsons. I don’t suppose you have to be a big Simpsons fan to get a kick out of this, but if you are one (like me), it seems destined to be a cult classic.
I asked Rebecca if they were fans of the show.
“Frazier is the real Simpsons fan of the group. He’s seen more episodes than I knew existed, and he quotes them freely and fondly.
It was definitely an enjoyable experience. CMH choose the songs, and some of the music is so silly, we’d all just burst out laughing while we sang it. The tunes are hilarious and they definitely evoke the spirit of the show. We kept the show-tune feeling on a lot of the songs, but we bluegrass-ized them at the same time.
I think you can hear that we were having fun in the studio. We recorded it in three days, basically live, with improvised solos and zero tuning on the vocals.”
You can find a full track listing and audio samples on the CMH web site. The opening and closing instrumental themes from the show bookend the project, with the 12 vocals in between. Regular Simpsons watchers will recognize the songs, with standouts like The Stonecutters theme, I Bagged Me A Homer and Hail To Thee, Kamp Krusty.
It is set for a July 17 release, ten days before The Simpsons Movie opens in theaters.
I also asked Rebecca how they like living in Nashville.
“It’s been a blast here so far. We’ve met incredible, talented, soulful, creative people, and we love being in the center of so much music. I know that we haven’t even begun to experience what Middle Tennessee has to offer, but we’ve enjoyed it so far. Plus, we’re closer to our parents, who live in Chicago and Virginia!
As I type, we’re headed down to Georgia for a festival. The past couple weekends, we did festivals and shows in Utah, Colorado, Ohio, and Michigan. We’re still playing with Larry Gangi on banjo (from Missoula, MT) and Ricky Keen on Dobro (from Benson, NC). The newest member is our bass player/singer, David Mayfield, who lives in Nashville.”