The folks at A Simple Life magazine have called on a pair of noted bluegrass/old time musicians to help encapsulate the publication’s wistful and nostalgic look at simpler times when lives were less stressful and crowded.
A Simple Life is a project from Jill Peterson, whose several books amplify that same theme, generally with ample photographs, celebrating primitive home furnishings, gardens, holiday decorations and recipes. And what goes better with antiquing, home gardening and the old timey way than a banjo and a fiddle?
This new record is called Out Of These Mountains, containing 15 mountain favorites performed by Shad Cobb and Charlie Cushman. It’s split between vocal and instrumental music, with Shad providing vocals, clawhammer banjo and fiddle, and Charlie laying down three finger banjo, bass and guitar.
Most of the songs and tunes will be familiar to anyone who has followed traditional Appalachian music, with songs popularized by The Carter Family (My Home’s Across The Blue Ridge Mountains, Will The Circle Be Unbroken), The Stanley Brothers (Rank Stranger, Little Birdie, Shout Little Lulie, Pretty Polly), Doc Watson (Shady Grove), and Fred Cockerham and Tommy Jarrell (When Sorrow Encompasses Me ‘Round).
Peterson shared a few words about how this CD came to be.
“Although A Simple Life magazine is more about antiques and history, I personally just have a profound love of early mountain music and bluegrass. So I am always looking for ways to incorporate the two. The magazine does often feature articles on life in early Appalachia, and Appalachian culture, which is also a passion of mine. We publish articles about early musicians, fiddlers, and songs as often as we can as well.
I had been looking for the ‘sound and voice’ of A Simple Life for quite awhile and just never could put the right sound with the right musicians with the right personality to make it all come together. And then along came Shad and Charlie. They ended up filling in for another group who was supposed to play for us on the porch of our log cabin booth at the Heart of Country Antique show in the Opryland Hotel last year. Things were looking rather desperate at the final hour when the hotel was able to contact Charlie, who then gathered up Shad and came to the rescue. At that point, I was just thankful for warm bodies and had no idea what kind of music they would play, (although it was a good sign that Shad carried a fiddle case and Charlie carried a banjo case!)
I asked Charlie if either of them sang and he said no. But again, I was just happy they were going to play at that point. An hour or more into their gig, I was inside the cabin working with a customer when I heard the purest voice I had ever witnessed. I went outside and stood in awe of Shad’s beautiful expression. Until that point, Shad has spoken very little so when he was done, I said, ‘You don’t talk, but you sure can sing.’ He gave me his signature grin. Charlie looked over in amazement and said, ‘I’ve known this boy for nearly twenty years and I didn’t know he could sing like that!’
So here we are, at this beautiful place in life when everything came together in a perfect way. I found the two most talented musicians in Nashville, literally, and one of them sings like you can’t believe. They already had the spirit of the old mountain songs that I love so much, in their blood. I had several songs already in mind for the project but as we got deeper into it, Shad had the uncanny ability to just bring forth songs from within, that I had either not heard before, or had forgotten, that fit our purpose perfectly.
These fine men are truly the, ‘Sound of A Simple Life,’ and I am very proud to call them friends.”
Out Of These Mountains is being distributed through A Simple Life, and could certainly serve as a proper introduction to traditional mountain music for the magazine’s many subscribers. It would serve as a fine addition to the collection of any fan of banjo and fiddle music as well.
Details for ordering the CD can be found at the magazine’s web site. Download purchases are enabled from popular online resellers.