Seth Mulder on next Midnight Run album

Seth Mulder & Midnight run with engineer Jim Robeson, and co-producers
Ken Irwin and Dudley Connell – photo © Jeromie Stephens

We caught up with Seth Mulder over the past few days, and learned some very interesting details about his next album with his touring band, Midnight Run, on Rebel Records.

For several years Seth and the boys have been burning up the road with their fiery traditional bluegrass, much of it original, from their home base performing at the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery in east Tennessee. As they were preparing to get started on their first Rebel project, Mulder was able to pull together something he had been hopeful of accomplishing for several years, getting Dudley Connell to produce the band in the studio.

From an initially discouraging discussion, he not only succeeded in convincing Dudley, he also got Ken Irwin to commit to co-produce, the first time he has ever done so for a project not on his label.

But let’s have Seth tell the story…

“The journey to bring Ken Irwin and Dudley Connell on board for our next album has been quite the adventure.

Dudley has been a personal hero of mine since I first heard of the Johnson Mountain Boys. Ken, on the other hand, has played a strong behind the scenes role in much of the music that has shaped me as an artist.

I first met Dudley Connell backstage at the Gettysburg bluegrass festival in 2021, which would be the first of many meetings eventually leading up to this moment. We connected again in 2022 when I asked him to write the liner notes to our In Dreams I Go Back Album. Since then, we would cross paths at various festivals over the next two years.

In January of 2023 we played a festival with the Seldom Scene in Prince Edward Island, and I got the opportunity to spend the weekend with some great people. At some point that weekend I brought up the idea to Dudley about producing an album for us. Though it was met with a ‘you don’t want me to do that’ response, I kept that idea in the back of my mind for quite some time.

I have been aware of Ken Irwin for quite some time as well. In 2021 at World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC, Ken watched a couple of our showcases, but we didn’t get the chance to meet. We were just coming into our own as a band at that time, and it just wasn’t our time. However, as fate would have it, Ken Irwin and I would have the opportunity to cross paths on the exhibit hall floor at the 2023 World of Bluegrass, giving us the opportunity to connect. I took the opportunity to introduce myself and strike up a conversation. After all, that is what IBMA business conference is all about.

During our conversation, I expressed my admiration for the albums Ken had produced, and the creative direction he brought to them. During our discussion, I expressed my interest in collaborating with Dudley Connell as a producer for our next album, and shared Dudley’s initial apprehension, given his lack of experience producing for other artists. However, after outlining the project’s direction and vision, Ken suggested the possibility of both himself and Dudley co-producing the album.

Fast forward to January 2024, and we’re making final arrangements for our album, so I decided to reach out to Ken and Dudley one last time. I sent an email to them both, and asked if this is something they would be interested in being involved in. Soon after, we set up a Zoom meeting to discuss the practicality of it all, and if it would even be possible. That was the Zoom that changed it all. It started out as a ‘Let’s see if we could work together’ meeting, to a ‘let’s get the ball rolling and block out some studio time’ meeting, starting the trend of what would become our regular weekly Zoom meetings to discuss the album over the next few months.

Their passion for the music and desire to share their knowledge have made this collaboration truly special. This endeavor marks significant firsts for both Ken Irwin and Dudley Connell, outside their usual realms. To my knowledge, this is the first album Ken Irwin has produced that was not on his own label. This also marks the first album Dudley Connell has produced outside of a band project he has been a part of.

Teaming up with Rebel Records, I aimed for this album to signify a milestone in our band’s journey, showcasing our growth as a band and as individuals. With the right songs and producers, I’m confident this project will be a turning point for us.”

This will certainly be one to look forward to hearing.

Many thanks to Jeromie Stephens for the photos.

Share this:

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.