River Boy

The official subtitle of this post is Talent!

Biffle is a fairly talented musical being, and since he's been in Charleston, he's had the good fortune of getting connected to a group of musicians who are are equally talented (well, okay, maybe not equally talented--I mean, I could make a pretty good case for Biffle's talent slightly exceeding the rest--but it's possible that I'm biased.) Shayne Floyd has a perfect bluegrass voice, and he's a great bluegrass songwriter, too. Bob Sachs is so skilled on the mandolin that for years he commuted from Charleston to Cambridge, MA, to play bluegrass in a national bluegrass mecca, the Cantab. These three guys got together and made an album called River Boy, consisting almost entirely of original songs written by Shayne. Biffle was delighted to get to be on the album, but even more so when Shayne invited him to be a coproducer--something he's always wanted to do.

The music is great. The thing I love the most about the album is that Shayne, Bob, and Biffle are all fabulous at inventing multilayered harmonies, so they're prevalent throughout. And they've just come out with a video for the first song, "Caroline." This is my favorite song on the album for a number of reasons--one of which may be the fact that this was the song mastered by one of Biffle's best friends, Neal Cappellino, who is, as long-time readers will remember, a Grammy-winning producer and engineer.

I'm not much of a fan of videos in general, and this one hasn't radically changed my attitude on that front, but the song is really worth listening to. And the video is worth it if you wait until the end, when you'll see Shane and Caroline together. Plus, Bob, Shayne, and Biffle are pretty cute.

Hi: It's "Biffle." Thanks--or props, as the cool kids say--should go out to Alison for posting this shameless bit of promotion. She did a good job, but still, i'd like to clarify some things: Yes, she's right that Shayne Floyd has a great bluegrass voice and is a great songwriter. She's also correct about Bob being good enough to be flown in to Boston, but she's incorrect about where he played. It's an understandable mistake, and there's a story in there actually. Here it is:

One night--here i Charleston-- i was called up to sub for someone at a gig. I'd gigged with the band before but this time there was a new mandolin player. Well, you've been watching musicians play sometime and seen them lean in toward each other and start to have a conversation not privy to the rest of audience, right? If you're like me you want to know what they're saying. Well, it kinda goes like this:

Hey, I'm Walter.

Hey, I'm Bob.

Haven't seen you before, Bob. You're a great picker.

Thanks. You too.

Where you been playin?

Well, i live here but i've been commuting up to Boston for a band I play with there.

Oh yeah? I used to pick up there. At the Cantab.

Oh yeah? Our banjo player is a member of the house band: Rich Stillman.

No S***t! I've picked with Rich a whole bunch.


Okay. So the moral of the story is that it's a small world. Oh, and also that those esoteric conversations musicians have on a stage are mostly as pedantic as those you have in your daily life.

So, yes, Bob was flown in to Boston, but not to play at the Cantab, but to play with a band called Southern Rail at various venues around New England.

Next, i don't know how i feel about outing Neal on this project. I'm sure, as an engineer, he's been involved in some plenty of less-desirable projects, so i guess it's okay. Anyway, Neal didn't master Caroline, he mixed it. And he did a way amazing job of it. Thanks, Neal! I still maintain that if i had Protools, limitless time and a room full of monkeys with iMacs i coulda done as good a job, but that wasn't in the budget, so, so be it.

Finally Alison left out a final thing: In the 5 year, nigh-on-700-post history of Baxter Sez, there hasn't been a single commercial post. Mentions have been made, but nothing has genuinely tried to be sold on this website. That said, this is actually Shayne's baby, not mine, so i don't feel too bad about pluggin it.

So: If you like, you can go here and check out the songs on Itunes. Or, you can go here and see Riverboy's Facebook page.

Okay. Thanks.


Quiche said...

Whoooo hooooo, Walt Biffle! On a dang album! You go boy! Oh yeah! It's just a damn good day all around! Bee-u-ti-ful Bluegrass banjo...yeah, the rest of the band is great, but bee-u-ti-ful banjo pickin', singin' Biff! I'm jumping up and down! Congrats to both of you! Already shared it on Facebook! I knew it!!! Thank you Alison for sharing your good news (:

Kenneth said...

How awesome!

Alison said...

As a response to Biffle's addendum to my post, particularly his claim that we've never engaged in commercialism here: I kind of tried to market my book. I've written at least 18 posts about Girl Zines. It's not necessarily a purely commercial interest, but still.

claire said...

I liked that song a lot and have forwarteded it to my brother who is something of a bluegrass fan.

Kenneth said...

Singing harmony with Walter Biffle is one of life's great pleasures.

Biffle said...

kenneth: That's so sweet! Thank you.

I've always thought our wordless and spontaneous Bel Air quartet harmony was some of the prettiest and most effortless singing i've ever done.

Biffle said...

oh. y'all, i posted the wrong link for the Facebook. I corrected it today. Sorry for those of you who went to spamville for "The" River Boy.

Kenneth said...

The wordless and spontaneous Bel Air quartet harmony is exactly what I was thinking of. Pure magic. Bel Air Quartet sounds like a Hovie Lister side project.

James said...

Walter, your Facebook ad worked. :-)

What a great listen, very compelling! Very glad I bought it. I'll definitely be promotin' it.