only three person quartet in the known universe, since the fourth member,
jack a. lope,
is a project I would have never stumbled across if I didn't have connections.
No, not industry music kinda connections. I'm talking the kind of
connections when God whispers, this would be a good one to support, and
you listen to Him. Yes music is one of the treasures God threw in
for our pleasure. What is good music is judgmental according to the
listener. What is great music; is music from the heart, music from
the soul, music inspired by our Creator. Again that doesn't make
all "Christian" cataloged music great. But this project is stamped
with heart, soul and the Creator's inspiration. Order the CD at:
Return to the awesome website supporting this project at: Appalachian Home
was drafted and sent, with the hope that it would provide some insight
into the inspiration of the project for listeners. None of the guys
are internet surfers, so I knew it would be tough to get their responses.
But Danl, the webmaster is awesome, and he got the interview into the hands
of Michael. Enjoy his responses and order the CD today! ~ suzan
you give birth to the three person quartet concept?
Michael: It was an accident- when we started the band we had four people; -David Dibbern, Mathew Johnson, Catherine Lurding and myself. As we were coming up with the arrangements we all agreed this would not work with any less than four musicians.
The reason being, with no singing and no words it's quite a challenge to perform instrumentally; a concert that is interesting enough to hold peoples attention. With four of us, at least we could change up the instrumentation a lot. All that to say that the next year; 1998, Mathew and Catherine could not join us and so I began looking for two other musicians to fill the void.
I chose Joe "Cobra" Curet and Brad Layher. Well everything was going fine until three weeks before the Christmas season and "Cobra" calls to say he is not going to make it. He had schedule changes with This Train, the band he plays drums in.
for quite a predicament because all of the promotion was for a quartet.
All of the flyers had four guys listed and the promotional posters and
bio's had already been sent off. Instead of finding someone to fill
"Cobra's" position (which would be impossible, because he brings not only
great musicianship to the table he is also the funniest man I have ever
met in my life) the three of us decided to try and make it happen as a
And how is jack a. lope doing?
Michael: He's fine--- he's locked in my basement.
Working out new air drum arrangements I imagine.. How long have you been planning this CD?
Michael: Since we formed this band, people who have attended the concerts have wanted to be able to take the music home. I never really thought it would be a reality but then we (Brad, David and I) started discussing it during the Christmas season of 1998.
Would you comment on the arrangements?
Michael: I think it is some of the most musical and creative stuff I have ever been apart of. We all have different musical influences and I think we respect each other enough to let those influences affect our arrangements.
Good King Wenceslas ~ David arranged this just as he had learned in Music Theory II, therefore it comes out sounding Bach'esq.
Carol Of The Bells ~ Is pretty normal until the end, and at the end the tonality goes out the window. This is a contemporary approach to harmonization I have learned in my composition studies.
O Come O Come Emmanuel ~ Brad has listened to a lot of folk style guitar playing and I think it shows in this arrangement.
I could go on for days ------------ maybe I'll come back to this question if I have time. Michael if you do, we will definitely add it!
How did you decide to break the songs down on who would do the arrangements?
Michael: We didn't--- We each ran with our own ideas. For example, one day I asked David to come up with a new arrangement for the band. A few days later he faxed me the guitar part I needed to play for Good King Wenceslas.
Brad and I were in my truck driving and he said "I think accordian would be a nice way to start What Child is This". The next day we work it out and the next night we play it.
So I guess it just decides itself--- and no matter who starts the arrangement we all throw in our own flavor--- so maybe we should say that we all arrange every song?
Have any/and or which of the arrangements have gone through some revisions since the 1998 concert?
Michael: They all have--- every time we get together arrangements are subject to change. This is simply because the three of us are constantly evolving as musicians and we allow our music to do the same. Fortunately, this is not a pop music band that has some weaker members or members that are not open to change. We are completely open to change if it equals better music.
This band is solely about music. There is no way we would be able to stand on a stage every night and regurgitate the same stuff, concert after concert, year after year. We have all had to do that and will continue to have to do that in order to make a living performing music. This band is not about a slick-mistake free performances that are guaranteed to go smoothly; it's about making the best music we can.
There are, however, some extremely complex arrangements that we can't change on the fly. So when one of us has a new arrangement idea for one of these we have to spend a bit of practice time, insuring that musically or logistically it is possible to pull off.
Your schedules are busy, so how did you arrange for the time to record the CD?
Michael: In Brad's case Mitch McVicker was nice enough to allow Brad this time off. David just planned six months in advance to spend a week in Nashville, and I was already in Nashville finishing up production on a Ryan Long album. Good question, because we all certainly live separate lives, therefore planning and scheduling are the most important ingredient for any of this band's endeavors.
How long were you guys in the studio?
Michael: The three of us were in the studio 4 days together, but there was tracking and pre-production that occurred before and after these days. With everything combined, pre-production, tracking, overdubbing and mixing I think it was 14 days of studio time.
Did any of these songs on the album just flow easier than some of the others?
Michael: The hammered dulcimer duet Holy, Holy, Holy was quite an amazing experience. In most respects, this should have been one that killed us trying to record, but it was not. Brad and I sat down to the instruments with a look of "ok we are not going to leave here until it's right, and that could be until next Christmas". Basically we played it and took a coffee break and went on to the next song. It was a truly inspired performance. It was one of those musical experiences that touches your soul so deeply you are left wondering if The Creator of music might have enjoyed it. With only a few exceptions the whole album flowed pretty well.
Did any of the songs...get clogged when you were playing them..? Left someone unhappy until you recorded it over, and over and time was a factor?
Michael: No, this stuff was hashed out in pre-production.
Did you have other songs for consideration and have to cut them?
Michael: Yes, we have quite a few arrangements that did not end up on the album for one reason or another. But the one big decision that had to be made before we began was whether we would sing on the album. If you've been to a concert of ours, you would know we occasionally do a group sing--- Chieftains type thing on a couple of the songs and we use guest singers for others. We could not figure out how to have these on a mostly instrumental album. So after quite a debate, most of which went on in my head, we decided no singing. Maybe we will on the next album. As far as deciding which songs to record, we simply chose the ones we thought were the best at that time.
Who is the perfectionist in the group?
Michael: Me--Brad--David ~ in that order.
Who is the most flexible?
Michael: This band requires that we all are flexible. Brad--David--Me ~ in that order.
Can you describe some favorite memories from doing this recording?
Michael: Watching David tear it up on the bass was a pretty cool experience. The Holy, Holy, Holy thing I already described. Going to Phil Keaggy's house to have him record guitar on Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. And last but not least, the three of us guys working out a new arrangement to Be Thou My Vision on a day off.
Impressions working with each other in the studio?
Michael: We have all "done time" together before, so I think we all knew what to expect going in to the studio.
How are you planning to distribute the CD?
Michael: It is available on our web site and we will also be selling them at our concerts. As far as "larger" distribution opportunities, I think there is some stuff brewing but I don't know the specifics at this point.
Anything you would do different if you had the time?
Michael: I think that we allowed enough time to do what we could do. As the years go by I'm sure this answer would change.
Anything you would like to tell your fans and people who buy this recording?
Michael: ENJOY IT!!!!!!!!!--------we did.
Michael, can you give some special comments about producing this project?
Michael: From a producers point of view this album was unique in the fact that we did not use any music that we could not replicate live-in concert. So I did not have the option of filling out a guitar part by doubling it and then adding a third guitar part with a higher voicing and then enhancing all of that with a string quartet.
This album was also unique and challenging due to the fact that all of the instruments are acoustic. This becomes tricky because you have to have "clean" tracks, which means the microphone selection is extremely important and the pre-amp selection is even more difficult. On most albums you know your going to have, for example, some electric guitar noise that will help cover up the click bleed coming from the drum tracks. But on this album it is just "naked" tracks that won't sound good if there is any unnatural noise.
Another highlight is that this is the first album that I have produced in which I was one of the artists, so that was pretty cool and rewarding.
Your answers are very insightful and create a thirst to hear the completed
project. I look forward to the release of very little music, so this
is great that the wait will be short! Again, I would encourage people
to support this project and Order the CD at: Order
Read my music review of this project at Appalachian music review
The interview is
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