Stumpjumper art by Jeff Nelson (Jephemera).
Life has always had a kind of soundtrack for me, my memories fit nicely in the grooves of the records that played through those times, specific records, too, the very ones themselves, complete with the pops and scratches in just the right places. I have them now, waiting in the basement to haul me right back to whenever I want to go. Last fall I took this trip and played some guitar in the East and my soundtrack was mostly various versions of the old blues/murder ballad "Delia," Blind Willie McTell, Koerner Ray and Glover, David Bromberg, and on and on, the song was the thing. When I didn't crave Delia in all it's form I was listening to Spider John Koerner and Willie Murphy's amazing Running Jumping Standing Still over and over. The news is always bad, you can count on that for sure, so when I got tired of hearing all that bad and harsh news on the radio my soundtrack would kick in to save me. By the time I left Richmond VA though the world had gotten more grey than normal and I drove in silence to Hillsborough, NC where this record was made. These songs felt a little different to me than others I’d written, like they had different goals in mind for themselves that I didn't know about, and now they woke up to whole new way of sounding themselves out, turning into a new soundtrack for me that I hadn't really experienced before, one of my own music. I was pretty happy when I left the Triangle and turned the radio off and rolled all the windows down, listening to the wind all the way to Knoxville, TN.
Evil Companion - The guitar part had been
crashing around in my head for a long time and then I overheard a
couple having this really sad conversation about how much they
apparently didn't like each other. It was sad, but them and the
guitar part seem to get along alright.
Empty Out Your Pockets - `when I die I'm gonna tell God what you did to me' comes to mind.
Falcon - My ode to John Tanner, who disappeared into Canada with his children nearly 150 years ago after being kidnapped then assimilated into the Ojibwa Nation, he left behind a fascinating auto-biography.
Remember Me If I Forget - For my Aunt Mid, who was a tough customer, also wise, sensitive, and hilariously funny. She stomped the terra.
On Marrying a Woman with an Uncontrollable Temper - I visited Thief River Falls once with Emily many years ago, we were gonna live there if she found a job but it wasn't meant to be. It's a great part of Minnesota, but not really on the way to anywhere.
Over the Red Cedar - We all deal with aging a little differently, last summer I yelled at a guy older than myself for speeding down our street. You can't have nothing nice.
Resurrection - Lazarus, according to accounts not found in the bible, was not seen to smile again for 30 years after Jesus raised him from the dead until he witnessed a man stealing a bowl and Lazarus grinned and said, `look, the clay steals the clay.'
Stumpjumper -I can recall a 1966 International Harvester pickup truck with no hood and 4 snow tires, breaking field road land speed records on my way to my job in a filling station.
Temperance River Blues - For Duluth, and my little family, and the state park that is my favorite on the north shore, this song seems to want to be a waltz instead of a blues, but my waltz time sounds bluesy to my ears.
Frank Miller Blues - Death visits Frank to take him home but Frank needs to finish his chores and so Death helps out. Frank’s wife is pissed.
Delia - The finest murder ballad, in my humble opinion, is this one. The great Blind Willie McTell and David Bromberg versions both play into my own, it's a song I can’t get tired of playing despite the horrible night it must have been.
Photo by Sara Padgett Heathcott (Endless Endless).
• Stream Stumpjumper on Spotify
• Live at Duke Gardens with Stumpjumper band concert video
• Live at Satori 2014 tour recording (Bandcamp)
• "Remember Me If I Forget" video (50 Feet of Song)
• "On Marrying A Woman With An Uncontrollable Temper" video (Couch by Couchwest)
• "Frank Miller Blues" video (White Wall session)
• 'Stumpjumper' is a new fork in a long and winding road (The Current)
• Alone with the Blues (Star Tribune)