Jim Van Cleve’s solo debut out today

Mountain Heart’s celebrated young fiddler, Jim Van Cleve, steps out today with his first solo release. No Apologies is the title of his debut project on the Rural Rhythm label, where he showcases his well-established prowess as a fiddle man, but also his skills as a vocalist, producer and songwriter. Jim has invited the other members of Mountain Heart to participate, and Adam Steffey, Jason Moore, Barry Abernathy, Clay Jones and Steve Gulley are all featured, along with Ron Stewart, Rob Ickes, Bryan Sutton, Ronnie Bowman and Sonya Isaacs.

The CD should be available today in stores and from online resellers. There were no audio samples on the Rural Rhythm web site, but we did find a few on Jim’s MySpace page.

Jim shared some thoughts with us recently about how differently he reacted during the process of recording and releasing this project as a solo artist, as opposed to a member of Mountain Heart, or as a sideman on another artist’s session.

“In cutting No Apologies there were several major differences that became obvious to me as we were recording. First, I noticed that I was being INTENSELY more picky than I normally am. In doing a lot of studio work, you begin to learn what you sound like, kind of what your ‘thing’ is, and along with that, you learn when your performance is good and/or just ‘good enough.’

I noticed at about day three of cutting this record, that ‘good enough’ wasn’t good enough anymore. I realized that I was being VERY exacting in getting what I wanted from everybody that was playing or working on the record…from myself, from the engineer, from the label, even from the art director! I probably drove everybody crazy. I about drove myself crazy! I just became extremely driven to make the best project I knew how, from every angle. And that was mostly due to my name being on the front of the album when I was done…I would be solely responsible for the finished product…no group to disappear into or hide behind as you can kind of do with a band situation like Mountain Heart. A lot of times with Mountain Heart, we have an outside producer, and a lot of the things that I had to be on top of with No Apologies, I don’t really have to deal with on a Mountain Heart recording. So basically, I was realizing that as a producer, I was really doing a lot of work just trying to get the BEST performance from everybody I was paying to work on this record! In a lot of ways, the music was the easiest part…mostly because that’s the part I enjoy the most.”

We also wondered what it might be like to step out front as a singer after having been associated as a member of such an acclaimed vocal group as an instrumentalist.

“I have been taking notes, criticism and instruction for several years now from some of the finest singers in our industry with Mountain Heart. So it was actually pretty cool to get to finally do that myself some too. I let them (Barry Abernathy and Steve Gulley) tell me what they thought of it after the fact, and they were all really supportive… it seemed like they were almost proud in a way, actually. It’s fun to do, and I’m glad I finally got that monkey off my back!”

Jim will celebrate the CD’s release with a special performance tonight at The Station Inn in Nashville. There will be food and drink, and CD signing, followed by a performance from Mountain Heart. The release party begins at 5:30, with music from No Apologies being performed around 6:30. Mountain Heart goes on at 9:00, and separate tickets are required for their show.

We are hoping to have some photos from the party and show which we can post on Bluegrass Today tomorrow.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.