Dear Jean: Artists Celebrate Jean Ritchie
On September 2, 2014, Compass Records will release Dear Jean: Artists Celebrate Jean Ritchie. Writing for The Lonesome Road Review, Donald Teplyske called it a "uniformly outstanding tribute." The album, produced by Mick Lane, Charlie Pilzer, and Dan Schatz, features many of my favorite folk artists, and I am humbled to have been included on it as well. I play fiddle on two of the tracks: Dan Schatz's gorgeous rendition of Jean's original "Thousand Mile Blues" and my own solo fiddle arrangement of the traditional play-party song "Golden Ring Around the Susan Girl." I had a wonderful time recording with two great engineers here in Chicago. Jesse McQuarters at WFMT helped me with Dan's track and Dennis Cahill, a long-time musical hero and recent duet partner, recorded "Golden Ring" in his own studio.
This album gives us a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Jean Ritchie's life, legacy, and music while she is here to bask in our appreciation, and also to turn our attention to the causes for which she has advocated throughout her life. Susie Glaze, whose rendition of Jean's "West Virginia Mine Disaster" is an album highlight, wrote a lovely article about the pre-release celebration concert in Berea, Kentucky that featured Jean herself singing from the front row. John McCutcheon, Tim O'Brien, Suzy Bogguss, Kathy Mattea, Stuart Duncan, and Bryn Davies open the album with a stunning rendition of my favorite Jean Ritchie composition, "Black Waters." The song is devastatingly relevant, a necessary reminder of the havoc we continue to wreak on our planet.
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