I had a lovely chat recently with Pete Goble, one of the most prolific songwriters we have in bluegrass music, and a man who has “been there, done that” as far as most any aspect of bluegrass in the latter half of the 20th century goes. We talked about a pair of new projects showcasing his songs, one just released, and another nearly completed.
To insiders, songwriters and serious fans of bluegrass, Goble’s compositions are as big a part of the music as the banjo or the mandolin. More casual bluegrass followers probably know his songs, even if they don’t realize it. He’s crafted hits for legends like Larry Sparks (Tennessee 1949, Blue Virginia Blue), The Country Gentlemen (Joe’s Last Train, Circuit Rider, Billy McGehee The Drummer Boy), The Osborne Brothers (Big Spike Hammer, I’ll Be Alright Tomorrow, Midnight Angel, Windy City), IIIrd Tyme Out (Moundsville Pen, Phone Call Away), Hot Rize (Coleen Malone), and Doyle Lawson (Poet With Wings, Georgia Girl, She’s Walking Through My Memory).
And that barely scratches the surface of songs Pete has written or co-written. He has continued writing since the death of his long-time writing partner, Leroy Drumm, in 2010, and tells us that he still has more than 200 songs not yet recorded.
His latest project is Back To Jubilee Road, recorded as a partnership with former Lonesome River Band mandolinist Andy Ball. It contains 16 of his new songs, with several co-writes with two of his songwriting pals. The self-produced CD is available from Pete’s web site, where there are audio samples for all of the songs, and radio programmers can request copies for airplay.
Goble speaks very highly of working with Ball, with whom he said he hopes to record several more projects.
“Andy is up in Canada now, but I’ve known him since he was 10 years old, known his family. He can play all the instruments as well as anybody, and there is no limit to how high he can go on tenor.
The record is my songs, in my own style, in my own way.”
Ball, currently studying for a Ph.D. at the University of Alberta, explained a bit about how the collection of bluegrass and country songs came together, and who else was involved in the production.
“The album is a conglomeration of demos recorded between 2000 and 2004, while I was in college. These were all recorded in Pete’s personal studio, mostly on an old Otari tape machine that Pete owned at the time.
Some of the tunes have since been picked up by major bluegrass artists, e.g. Love Me As You’d Love The Rain (Doyle Lawson), I Can Make Her Whisper (Rhonda Vincent), Fiddler’s Green (Tim O’Brien).
I am playing most of the instruments on the tracks. For example, I am playing all of them on No Room Inside Your Heart, When They Write Those Country Songs, and I Can Make Her Whisper except for the resophonic guitar and fiddle. The former is the work of Detroit-area musician Barry Tuttle, and the latter is the work of the great fiddler, Ray Legere. Brad Campbell (formerly of Quicksilver) does the banjo work on Railroad Balladeer and Love Me As You’d Love The Rain.
Also, Detroit-area artist and songwriter Rob Mills, who wrote DL&Q’s I Know, I Know, sings and plays on three country songs on this project: All My Daddy Left Me, Thief In The Night, and Come On In.
Pete and I take the lead vocal on all the rest of the selections. Several of these tunes are somewhat raw and unpolished, but they convey the masterful artistry of Pete as a phenomenal tunesmith.
I have been extremely fortunate to have learned so much from him through our friendship and professional relationship over the past several years.”
Still in the works is another collection of Goble songs, which Pete is also excited to share.
“It’s called Let Me Sing Your Story – all story songs I’ve saved back.
I’m gonna work at it ’till I die. There’s a song in that, I think!”
I’m sure there is, Pete. I’m sure there is.