Some of the best acoustic performers pay homage to the late Butch Baldassari, mandolin master and friend.
Read what they say about their song selections for this CD.
Comments from the Contributors to
THE ROAD HOME
There is a river that runs through the woods in back of our house. You can see it from the deck and from my home studio as well. Butch and I got some inspiration from that scene when we were putting music together for our recording. I wrote Riversound around that time. When Dr. Brian Hull called me about the tribute for Butch, it just seemed to fit. I am grateful for the opportunity to dedicate Riversound to the memory of my friend, Butch Baldassari.
"There's something beyond just making good music that runs through this project, and that's love and respect for Butch. It bathes it all in a golden light. This song comes from the jug band tradition, and features two of my favorite musicians: Dennis Crouch on bass and Stuart Duncan on fiddle and long neck banjo. Brent Truitt, another fine mandolinist, recorded and mixed the track."
"I think I met Butch for the first "real" time when he came to teach with me at my music Kamp 1998 or so. He was the kind of friend you knew you had even when separated by time and distance. Just before his illness he called me to try to get me to come to Nashville to record a "real" CD and he was going to produce it. Schedules got in the way and it never happened. Something I will regret forever. I guess I picked these tracks out because I had heard BB playing them at Kamp and they always reminded me of him. As I told Sinclair one time, one of my proudest moments at Kamp was on stage with Butch and I got him to chuckle. Well it was really more of a smirk. Great times. Butch - Love you man."
"I first met Butch thirty years ago at a festival in Arizona. We struck a bond as refugees from the Northeast, new to mandolins and bluegrass, now living in the Southwest. Butch's playing was all about tone, and he was enthusiastically full of praise when he heard me play something he liked. Whenever we'd play at the same fester, I now admit that I was trying to pump out the tone for Butch, and I'd like to think he'd approve of my playing on this waltz."
I was at a party at the home of Paul Reed Smith and the hired entertainment was the impromptu trio of Ricky Skaggs, Cody Kilby and myself. The music was recorded to professional quality and there was such a warm vibe in the room that my brain immediately thought- “Butch’s album!” I made the suggestion to Paul before the playback had even finished and he generously agreed. It’s also fitting that Mingus’s tune is an elegy for a departed musical comrade. I think Butch would have looked great in a pork pie hat!
"Butch, John Reischman, and I shared a week of stories, laughs, and music while recording what became 'Travellers,' one of my favorite albums. Two years later I recorded the Missouri fiddle tune Red Fox Waltz - multitracking three guitars, mandolin and bass - and I couldn’t help noticing how reminiscent of 'Travellers' it was - and how obvious Butch’s influence on my mandolin playing had become - especially my tremolo. This track has been waiting all this time for just the right moment…and when Doc asked me to contribute a track to 'The Road Home,' I knew that moment had arrived. It’s an honor to be part of 'The Road Home' and I'm grateful for this opportunity to give something back to Butch."
"Butch has always been very generous with suggesting material to me for recording projects. It was his suggestion that I include the tune For Vic on my recording North of the Border. Butch is a big Beatles fan and once suggested that Two of Us would work great as a bluegrass tune, so it was a natural for us to record it for this CD. It is pretty different sort of tune for us, but we had a great time working it up. Butch was right, John and Paul wrote a powerful bluegrass number!"
"The tune Pine Grove Furnace' shows a love for old time music but with a modern sensibility. It's not overplayed--it's simple, yet there are twists which show more "sophisticated" (not trying to deride old time tunes or players, just mean more schooled) ears. The tune reminds me a lot of Butch. Not that it emulates his playing, but it does honor his approach. Butch had a wonderful talent for reinterpreting old tunes."
"I chose Happy Hollow because of the title. It was something I wanted to see happen, to see everything be "right" again. It was an effort to lend a positive note and influence the outcome."
"I introduced the tune A Place in the Heart to Butch when he was searching for material for his New Classics For Bluegrass Mandolin recording. It was composed by my long-time guitar playing gig partner Bill Crahan. Butch and I shared a common love for this beautiful piece of music, and when it came time to contribute to the project, it seemed it was the only logical choice. I knew he'd understand why I chose it. What a privilege it was to share that piece of music on a project honoring Butch's life."
"Every time Butch would call he would adopt his alter ego...'Western Red Cedar', saying "This is Mr. Western Red Cedar from The Music City calling for Mr. Steinway"...I had been trying to write a fiddle style tune and had some trepidation. Butch encouraged me by observing "original tunes are just snapshots of where you are musically at the time".So I decided to let it happen. Some of the unusual harmonic turns in the bridge I like to think reflect Butch's eclecticism and open mindedness. After I heard it I thought it should be named after my good friend Western Red."
The reason I chose The Rose City Waltz is because I thought Butch would have enjoyed the melody and the chord structure. And a waltz is very appropriate for this project.
“Butch’s Bounceback” was written to reflect the positive attitude that Butch maintained throughout his battle. I thought an up tempo tune would take the edge off the pain we were all feeling, and I wanted Butch to know that even if he could no longer play, he could still inspire music."
NME, joined by Blake Baldassari, at concert May 17, 2009