Pieces & Bits from Jimmy Gaudreau

Jimmy GaudreauJimmy Gaudreau’s musical legacy in the bluegrass world is already partly written. He is what the baseball writers would call a “future hall of famer” – an active player who has already achieved sufficient notoriety to ensure his eventual induction as one of the greats.

His career in bluegrass began more than a generation ago when he stepped in to fill John Duffey’s place with The Country Gentlemen in March of 1969. Over those 40 years Jimmy has toured and recorded with The Tony Rice Unit, JD Crowe & The New South, IInd Generation and a number of others, and splits his time these days supporting Robin & Linda Williams as a member of their Fine Band, and as a duo partner with Moondi Klein.

Gaudreau is hard at work finishing a new album of his instrumental tunes for mandolin, one that he hopes will be released before the end of 2009 on a new label, Stonebridge Records, which he has formed with Stuart Martin. The two met when Martin was engineering 2:10 Train, Gaudreau’s 2008 CD with Moondi Klein on Rebel Records. Jimmy and Stuart have become serial collaborators, and will be working together on the new instrumental project as well.

“The basic concept of my project is to feature ‘pieces & bits’ ( a possible title) of instrumental tunes I’ve composed over my career, some of which I have recorded on earlier albums and some I simply haven’t gotten around to recording until now. The ‘pieces’ will include rhythm guitar, bass and various other lead instruments while the ‘bits’ will feature abbreviated versions and include only mandolin or mandola backed by rhythm guitar, octave mandolin or bouzouki. The idea is to weave these in between the production numbers possibly using a fade-in/fade-out technique, although that’s merely one idea we’re tossing around.

In the end, I’m sure what will happen is that Stuart will hit on the ideal way to tie it all together, and we’ll go for it. He’s just that good!”

Orrin Star has contributed guitar to several cuts, and Jimmy offers high praise for his playing.

“I really like the way he interprets my music. I think if I were to be a guitar player, I’d want to play like him!”

Jimmy also mentioned that he is now completely fascinated by a couple of long scale 8 strings that have recently come into his possession…

“I must confess that the bouzouki, when tuned to the traditional Irish tuning (GDAD) is messing with my brain, but I’ve taken to the shorter scale octave mandolin like a duck to water. Both are made by Trinity College and are part of their professional series which, in my opinion compete with the custom instruments of this type that I’ve seen and played (but never owned) over the years.

I immediately started leaving it out on a stand next to my old Gibson A-model (my practice mando) in our family room and I find that I’m picking it up constantly if I’m watching some mindless TV show or just getting in some quiet practice time after my wife, Gloria, goes to bed…which is more often than not, before me.

I find the scale to be comfortable, the guitar-like register to be open-chord friendly for strumming, and the general tone to be quite “soothing” …and dare I say a “stress reliever?” Hey, take it from one who has dealt with his share of stress, anxiety, etc. over the years of performing and having to book myself or the act I’m involved with (Ugggghhhhhh!), if you can find a non-prescription stress reliever or any natural means to calm the mind and body, you are WAY ahead in the game.

From what I’ve experienced thus far, I’m of the belief that it’s helping me in a number of ways, including re-kindling the fire that I’ve found to be somewhat diminishing over the last several years (probably the reason it’s taken me so long to get on the stick with the mandolin project). Anyway, I could go on and on about this, but I’ll just conclude by saying that even if I never used it on stage, I’m getting countless hours of pleasure just having it in my home and thank the folks at Saga for giving me the opportunity to ‘test drive’ these (pro series) prototypes, and thus open a new door in a career in which I’ve walked through so many doors, I didn’t think there were any left to open. Wrong!”

You can keep up with Jimmy’s live appearances on his official web site, which will also have news about the CD when it is ready for release.  He will be with Robin & Linda this weekend (6/6) at the Volunteer Farm Benefit Concert in Mount Jackson, VA. The show will raise funds for an area food bank, and also feature performances by Bill Emerson & Sweet Dixie.

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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.