Across A Bering Strait Bridge (2007) is my first CD.
I dedicated this project to my longtime friend, Dr. George Detlefsen.
George was a visionary who was involved in the development of computer timesharing, and then went on to oversee the automation of manufacturing facilities for General Motors, the digitalization of millions of documents for the Hubble Space Telescope, and the computer systems involved in privatizing military bases. He was equally at home designing laser optical scanners and paint ball mortars. He was a great husband and father and friend, and he died too young. He dreamed of a bridge between Alaska and Russia.
The songs on this CD are written from the heart. They are meant to inspire and uplift. They come from 50+ years of experience, including 25 years of wonderful marriage raising 5 terrific children. They reflect many deep experiences of God working in my life and in the lives of others, and they reflect my interests in the Old and New Testament. I was terrifically fortunate to have some great musicians who are also great folks to collaborate with on this project.
Richard Walton stood as my colleague, my mentor, my coach, cheerleader, and great friend on this project. Without him, this CD would never have happened. Richard is an encyclopedia of music history, and a great engineer, who handled the recording and mixing of the project. He also played bass on all the songs, and rhythm guitar on a number of the songs, along with vocal harmonies. And … he heroically kept everyone on the beat! Richard Walton has been involved in the Mid-Atlantic original music scene for more than 25 years. He has produced & released 9 CD’s of his own music many with his instrumental contemporary jazz group. Visit his site at: http://notlaw.com/pages/
Orrin Star contributed his “Magic” on guitar, mandolin, and banjo to this project. I would bring him the basic songs with rhythm guitar and lead vocal, and my thoughts about what should happen in each song. He invested his heart and creativity and helped transform each song. Some of his counterpoint work between guitar and mandolin is truly inspired. The music fits each song and brings them to life! Orrin Star is an award-winning guitarist and mandolin player who combines hot picking, cool singing and good humor. Once described as ‘Arlo Guthrie-meets-Doc Watson’, he was the 1976 National Flatpicking Champion, has appeared on A Prairie Home Companion, and boasts a repertoire that ranges from bluegrass standards to little-known folk gems, Celtic fiddle tunes to fingerstyle blues. Orrin performs solo, in a duo with mandolin icon Jimmy Gaudreau and, and with his group, Orrin Star & the Sultans of String (with whom he also plays banjo).
Rickie graciously agreed to lay down some fiddle tracks for me between cities during his national tour with Emmylou Harris. Rickie recorded tracks for six songs: “Songs of Love”, “What Would You Have”, “When The Fiddles”, “To Be A Man”, “Rise Again”, and “Across A Bering Strait Bridge”. He kept me waiting nearly a week, because “Man, I just wanted to listen to them for a few days and make sure they’re perfect before I sent them to you”. Thanks Rickie, you are a class act!!! His music grabs you by the heart. Rickie Simpkins grew up in Montgomery County, VA, immersed in the sounds of his family’s Appalachian roots. He learned the banjo, guitar, and fiddle as a child, even performing with heroes Flatt & Scruggs at the age of nine. Simpkins joined the Virginia Squires one of the most acclaimed bluegrass bands on the festival circuit, and released The Heights of Grass in the early ’80s. He then joined the Tony Rice Unit, combining traditional bluegrass and jazz. He released a solo album, Dancing on the Fingerboard, in 1997 which included an all star group of musicians. In the late ’90s, Simpkins was splitting time between the Lonesome River Band and the gospel group the Isaacs, while also doing session work with Mary Chapin Carpenter and Randy Scruggs. His second solo release, Don’t Fret It, arrived in 2002.
Mike was also travelling with Emmylou Harris, in between a slew of other gigs across the country. I asked him to play on “God’s Got A Place”. The chorus goes “Sometimes that Steel Guitar, Sounds Better Than a Harp” – so I HAD to have a steel guitar. He offered me a deal on the dobro, but graciously relented and dragged his entire steel guitar assembly over to Rickie’s house to record a track for this CD. Mike Auldridge was a founding member of Washington D.C.’s legendary bluegrass band, “The Seldom Scene.” Before, during, and since his work with the “Scene”, Mike was involved in several hundred recording projects in a variety of musical styles. These include bluegrass, pop, country and swing music. Mike recorded with such artists as Linda Ronstadt, Emmy Lou Harris, Dolly Parton, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Hank Williams, Jr., Suzy Boggus, Merle Travis, Doc Watson, the Country Gentlemen, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, to name but a few. In addition to his studio work, Mike has nine “solo” recordings available on four different labels. Mike left us on December 29, 2012.
Nuc taught my son Andy, in his first year as a band teacher at Wilde Lake Middle, Columbia, MD. He transformed that program and blew everyone away. I ran into Nuc again at the Mid Atlantic Songwriters Contest awards dinner where he performed. Nuc is an amazingly versatile percussionist, spanning celtic, jazz, and rock. His artistry raised the entire project many notches. He recorded 12 songs in two sessions. Absolutely world class! Nucleo Vega received the First Year Secondary School Educator Award for Howard County Maryland 2004, shortly after graduating from the University of Maryland-College Park. He conducts concert bands, directs sr. high youth, and is a professional drummer in the Baltimore-D.C. metro area and Seattle, Washington. Nuc began playing cello at the early age of 8 and picked up drums at the age of 10. Nucleo, partnering with Mel Bay, published his first book “Understanding Groove.” Nuc plays jazz and rock drums and also celtic drums in a band Harp46 with his wife April who plays celtic harp and his brother Posido who plays bass.
Frank is a good buddy who generously offered to play piano for the project. We’ve played together a lot and he knows my music as well as anyone. Frank brings 40 years of music performance experience to the project. His piano is tasteful and clean. In “It Don’t Mean I Don’t Love You” and “God’s Got A Place”, he cooks. Frank Grow was a member of “Rat Creek”, a highly successful Austin, TX band in the 1970s. Frank toured internationally for several years but then put his music aside to focus on business.
Tecla is Richard Walton’s wife and a fabulous violinist. On “The Storm Ahead” she captures the soul of the song – like the Irish Penny Whistle in Titanic’s “My Heart Will Go On”. Tecla’s career as a freelance violinist has spanned 15 years and includes performances at the National Cathedral, Kennedy Center, and Chicago’s Orchestra Hall. She has performed with many artists including Ray Price, Bobby Vinton, Roy Hargrove, Ray Brown, and Dave Grusin and is comfortable in many genres including blues, jazz, rock, and classical.
I approached Cara because I felt that Storm Ahead needed another instrument. It’s a sea chanty style song, and harmonica fit in nicely. Cara’s fiddle style harmonica playing fit the bill! Cara is very humble and engaging – working all day for the City of Austin and evenings and weekends putting out world class music! Cara Cooke is a fiddle-style harmonica player living in Austin, Texas. She plays a great deal of bluegrass music, but also some jazz, blues, country, Irish, and classical. For Cara, her harmonica is essentially a fiddle with reeds, instead of strings and a bow. She has been playing fiddle-style harmonica for 30 years or so and is interested in sharing information with other players with similar interests. She is one of the songwriters of American Heritage, and currently play for RedEye, Manchaca AllStars, the Blazing Bows, and K. R. Wood.
Mark Poss is the man to go to if you have any question about Jew’s Harps. He has every key covered! Mark layed down a great Jew’s Harp track for “Songs of Love” that just blends perfectly into the background, like being out in nature. Mark Poss, is a native of Fostoria, Ohio and has been involved in music since his first stage performance at the tender age of five. His background is that of a percussionist with Jazz, Rock, and Blues influences, as well as being a poet, singer and songwriter. Since moving to Idaho’s Treasure Valley in 1988, Mark has had an increased awareness of “World” music and odd instruments. His harmonies, percussion and energy add depth to the unique ODDTONE sound. He now lives in Southern California. Mark is webmaster for the Jew’s Harp Guild. With Wayland Harman and Dan Gossi as partners, he helped form Mouth Music Press in May 1998 to promote and sell mouth-resonated instruments and related items. Mark spends his time on the phone playing instruments for customers and packing up their orders.
Kathryn Turyna worked with Richard on harmonies for most of the songs. She’s a great musician and a very kind person! Kathryn Turyna has a masters in Music Composition, and is trained as a recording engineer. A native of Ellicott City, Maryland, she studied guitar for ten years and then switched to music composition. She has written and recorded music in many genres ranging from country music to worship chants. Among the CDs to her credit are:
– The Music Box, 1998, a full length musical
– Blue Iris, 2001, folk & jazz
– Into The Mystery, 2007, chants with modern harmonies www.kathrynturyna.com
In addition to her music Kathryn has taught martial arts.
Susan Savia is a fabulous singer who enthusiastically offered to help with this project. The harmonies are not intuitive and she worked hard to make then sound really good. Susan’s love for music comes through in everything she does. Susan Savia played piano and sang from a very early age. She began playing guitar at 12, and would perform at church, at weddings and other events. Susan sang professionally for over 15 years in Maryland, Virginia, DC, and New Jersey with the groups “Easy Street” and “Backseat Drivers”. Susan has actively practiced Buddhism and Taoism since 1997. She recently released her first CD, “Cosmic Summer Sojourn” featuring mostly her own original music.