"Tributary" is my third full length album, and the first I feel is an honest effort to create a complete work. To me, this isn't just a collection of songs. Each tune is a tip of the hat to one or more of the musicians that have influenced me since I began seriously studying the guitar, and music as a whole. That journey started with jazz, but took me to funk, soul, hip hop, blues, Americana, folk, rock, country, and back. I've recently realized most of the music I love rests on the shoulders of Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and Charlie Christian.
"Tributary" is also a nod to St. Louis, Missouri, the town where I was born and raised. The city has an incredibly rich cultural history, largely because its location on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers allowed it to become the second largest port in the US during the mid 19th Century. Major travel routes that criss-cross the country have always stopped through St. Louis, bringing many musicians, artists, and writers to and from the city--not to mention the many who are from the area, including Miles Davis, Grant Green, and Chuck Berry. St. Louis has always been a music town, closely linked with jazz, blues, and rock & roll. However, there's no defining genre associated to the city, like Chicago blues or Memphis soul, instead the music of St. Louis is very much a melting pot of styles from everywhere else--much like a musician funneling a wide range of influences into a personal sound.
I wrote the music for "Tributary" gradually during a two year period, introducing the tunes to Brad and Kenneth one at a time over the course of many gigs. The three of us broke them in and exposed the weak spots, giving me a chance to adjust the arrangements until they felt natural. The long incubation period also granted me time to realize my larger vision of composing tunes that fit together, borrow from each other, and hopefully paint a bigger picture for the listener.
Part of the bigger picture, for me at least, was to incorporate some of the sounds, textures, and people I've worked with in my other musical outlets. After two days of tracking the trio, I brought the tracks home and added some additional instrumentation. I also enlisted the help of two very talented singers to add some background vocals. Erika Lloyd, who Brad, Kenneth and I all play with in the band Little Grey Girlfriend, and Lauren Zettler, a singer/songwriter who I've been writing, recording, and touring with since '08, contributed layered vocals on one track each. The sum of these parts has made "Tributary" truly representative of the last several years of my overall creative output.
Erika Lloyd - vocals on Ghost Town
Lauren Zettler - vocals on The Return
Produced by Cameron Mizell.
Recorded by Eric Heveron-Smith at Seaside Lounge Studios in Brooklyn, NY on September 17 and 18, 2009.
Editing and additional recording by Cameron Mizell.
Mixed by Eric Heveron-Smith and Cameron Mizell.
Mastered by Kevin Reeves at Universal Mastering Studios-East.