The Goat Rodeo Sessions

The Goat Rodeo Sessions, an amazing record from Yo Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile, was released yesterday and is likely going to be my album of the year. The stunning arrangements keep the listener coming back to discover new depths. The musicianship, as always with these fellas, will make your jaw drop, and the dynamics that this album provides are incredible. There are two tracks with vocals from Thile and Aoife O’Donovan which are simply brilliant and provide a good change of pace at precise moments on the album. Seriously, check out the preview for the record below along with a live performance of “Attaboy.” Enjoy and Go Buy It!

“Attaboy” Live


Papa and Talitha

One of the most precious and important photos I will ever take.

I recently had the great privilege of doing a shoot with Quills Coffee and their new roaster. This shop has been challenging the coffee culture in Louisville for some time now. With its inviting atmosphere, consistent baristas, excellent coffee, as well as strictly manual methods of brewing (a practice adopted in recent months), this shop has set new standards time and time again. Now, they move into the world of roasting their own beans. Along with this venture comes many excitements and challenges. But with John Letoto (below) heading up roasting, excellent management, and their solid staff in the shop, Quills Coffee will only continue to bring greater growth to the Louisville coffee culture. (If you would like any of these photos for your own use, please leave a comment below, and I will get the files to you.)

Last night, Louisville coffee lovers banded together again, not only to enjoy delicious coffee and watch a latte art throwdown, but primarly to provide relief for victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Louisville folks participated in a silent auction, bidding on items from local musicians, artists, and breweries amongst other worthy pieces. Along with that, the latte art competition involved patrons bidding on the baristas drinks in the competitions, with some lattes selling for upwards of $10. Darren Jennings ended up winning the competition, and I just so happened to have won the bid on the winning latte. It tasted just as great as it looked. All in all, it was a great evening and another good progression in the comradery that is present in the Louisville coffee scene. Mad props goes to Jesse Harriot for organizing the event, all of the baristas and roasters involved, and Ryan Harrison for designing the poster. Be sure to come out to Quills next friday for part two of this event. Enjoy the shots I took below.

Last Saturday, I received a record in the mail on pre-order that I’ve been looking forward to for the last several months. Having been a Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers, and Chris Thile fan in general, I was eager to check out the new project he had been working on with Michael Daves. I knew that they had played together at the weekly bluegrass jam at the Baggot Inn in NYC, and that the record would be concerned with old bluegrass tunes, but I knew very little of what the finished product would involve. Thile has stated that Daves’s visceral relationship to music has freed him up to not over-think everything going on and just to let the music happen, and that is clearly evident in this new batch of old tunes.

So, let’s get to the music.
On the surface, it’s just 16 old bluegrass tunes cut at Jack White’s Third Man Studios in Nashville. Dig a little deeper and you will see how excellent this record is on multiple levels. To begin, this album is truly a Thile/Daves record, not a Chris Thile and this other guy record. Having not heard of Daves before, I was primarily excited about this project because…well…it’s another project from Thile. Daves quickly exceeded my expectations, and I am sold that he is one of the best guitarists and exciting vocalists I have heard in a while. Both musician/singers get equal playing and singing time, and the two sound as if they are brothers having a great time together.

Rabbit in the Log from Chris Thile & Michael Daves on Vimeo.

Their approach to these old tunes is quite refreshing. In the musicianship itself, Daves’s effect on Thile’s playing is evident. It is not as if Chris is sloppy or careless, but he plays the songs fervently, with a rustic nuance that is hard to find in other Thile projects. It’s exciting to hear him not being as careful and precise (as wonderful as that always is) and to just hear him playing these tunes as they are–gritty. These songs are about raw life, and Daves and Thile perform them that way.

My Little Girl in Tennessee from Chris Thile & Michael Daves on Vimeo.
Daves and Thile are clearly masters of their instruments, and it often shows in their restraint. You quickly learn that they can plow through an extremely fast solo with ease, but speed is not always the point. When soloing, they play within the boundaries of the song, only doing what properly lives in the world of the tune itself. The album is vocally exciting as well. Daves’s voice is intriguing; he sings like his life depends on it, sometimes hitting notes you think he shouldn’t attempt (“Cry, Cry Darlin'”), only to be rewarded with more life and emotion in the song. Thile sounds like he is having a blast on the faster tracks and delivers the lines of the ballads as if he wrote them. Even he offers a surprise or two, particularly on the standard “Rain and Snow.”

Lastly, the songs. This will be a great introduction for many, including myself, to some wonderful old bluegrass numbers. I have gone back and listened to many of the old recordings, and Thile/Daves not only show great respect for them, but they also give the songs appropriate and exciting updates. In the end, I highly recommend this record to musicians who want to be challenged, those who love bluegrass, and all who enjoy good music and would like to try something new. Go get it!

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite bands, Okkervil River. I came across them several years ago thanks to a Paste Magazine music sampler. The bands leader, Will Sheff, is a masterful songwriter and composer. There is a literary element to the music they produce that is unceasingly interesting to me. Their new album, out on May 10, is entitled “I am Very Far” and is streaming free for the next few weeks at NPR. The new record is an interesting, and exciting turn for the group. Their previous records, which are all on sale for $5 at Amazon right now, are brilliant and come across as hopeful, energetic….epic. With this new installment, the band sounds like they are on the verge of destruction, creating a beautiful, nervous sounding album that somehow stays intact. It’s a darker album, but the lyrics and beauty within make this record very much worth your listen. Here is a video for “Wake and be Fine.”


This post is mainly for family and friends, to see how big our little girl is getting. These were taken last Sunday.