And now for something completely different…
Fiddler John Mailander has been on our radar since 2012, when he was an undergrad student at the Berklee College of Music. Two years later, we found his debut album, Walking Distance, to be a fine example of contemporary fiddle music. Living now in Nashville, he has become one of the city’s top session players, and a member of Bruce Hornsby’s Noisemakers, touring as things reopen after shutdowns last year.
He stays up on his bluegrass chops collaborating with Billy Strings and has, as a passion project, created an ensemble called John Mailander’s Forecast which performs and records music that combines elements of bluegrass with jazz, rock, folk, and avant-garde music. It’s sound that’s hard to peg, and Mailander knows that it might be a bridge too far for some bluegrass lovers to cross. But he invites us all to have a listen, and enjoy this more experimental side of his musical journey.
It involves adding instruments not heard on our side of the street as a rule, including pedal steel guitar and saxophone, to the melodies and arrangements John creates. A new album, Look Closer, is set for release on May 7, with a live stream concert the night before from The 5 Spot in Nashville.
He has suggested this track, Returning, as one to share as a tease for the record and the stream, which you can hear in the almost static video below.
John says that the title is a perfect exposition of how it was to be making music again in the studio.
“Returning was one of the first tunes we tracked on day one in the studio. After so many months of isolation, the way we arranged this tune together, and how each musician’s voice enters and joins in one at a time, the creation of this track, and album as a whole, felt like a joyful rediscovery of musical connection and purpose. Thank you for listening!”
Mailander is on fiddle with Ethan Jodziewicz on bass, Jake Stargel on guitar, Chris Lippincott on pedal steel, Mark Raudabaugh on drums, and David Williford on tenor saxophone.
Returning is available now as a single wherever you stream or download music online. Pre-orders for Look Closer can be placed for digital, CD, or vinyl purchase, from John’s bandcamp page.