I occasionally receive messages from fellow Banjo Hangout folks – so I wasn’t too surprised when I got one one day through my email box that began, “Jed, I’m a fan of your music. I believe that two of your songs ought to be hits and I want to talk to you about them.” He was talking about two MP3s I’d posted in the BHO jukebox. One was a pretty little banjo tune I called “Calla’s Waltz” – and the other was a song called “Even As I Ramble” that I’d written for a film I worked on last year. Both, of course, featured my banjo.
Now it’s always nice to hear from someone who likes your songs and this contact was no exception. I was about to write back a “thanks for the kind words” to this guy, when he told me he was a retired, longtime, well known Executive Producer from Warner Brothers Records – and he was dead serious about helping make these songs hits. OK ...that put a very different spin on his message, and on my response!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m 63 years old and have no illusions about being a star – nor do I have any interest in that sort of thing – but I do make my living at this, and I really do want to see my music go as far it can – so we began a serious dialogue via email. I loved those songs he contacted me about and I was determined to give them my best in a new recording project.
We talked about banjos. We talked about Banjo Hangout. We talked about the music business and in the end; we talked about how these songs (and others) might be best presented to the music and film industry. He became a true friend, my champion and my mentor!
At his suggestion, I reached out to Jay Ungar and Molly Mason to ask if they would collaborate with me on the project, and to my surprise they were happy to do so. I also asked producer Paul Mills of London Ontario to work with us. Jay and Molly chose a superb studio and engineer near their location in NY – and we had a great recording session there in early January. Paul Mills and I returned to his studio in Canada to record other tracks and finish the album, Calla's Waltz. It was released on March 17, 2016.
Now my time is spent on pushing the album, promoting the songs and presenting the selected tracks to the music industry. I have no idea where all of this will go – but I absolutely love the album and I am sure the songs will get a chance to be heard. What more can I ask? And all this because of Banjo Hangout!
My friends kid me about Banjo Hangout being a place where banjo geeks like me go and talk about strings and rings, and pots and picks, and necks and woods and makers … well I guess that’s all true, but for me this BHO contact was a Godsend! For me this conversation between a couple of “banjo nerds” has begun a new day. There’s no saying what will come of this, of course – but I am sure the conversation inspired a superb album – and I hope it’s not too rude of me to say that about my own music – I am sure these songs will get a chance to shine on their own.
My BHO mentor was at Warner Brothers for a decade and a half. As he was encouraging me to begin working the Calla’s Waltz project he said to me, "You know inside you, that this could be something special. I know that too!" My heart already believed him – and my brain considered where this guy was coming from – so I jumped in with both feet!
PS: I will add a couple of sample tracks from the album to BHO Jukebox.
Friday, March 25, 2016 @7:49:47 AM
Wow! And AMEN! First, I admire your values here, Jed. In saying "yes" to your musical gifts, you've made a timeless (and warm/healing!) contribution to humanity. One is never too old to show compassion. And your music is rich with feeling. Thank you for that.
Craig frailin Evans
PS - I'm listening to Calla's Waltz as I write. It's already made my day. Blessings!
R C Benson Says:
Saturday, March 26, 2016 @10:37:54 AM
Thanks Jed, a lovely tune ... sounds a bit Celtic as well ! Very nice ... it is one of those songs that does not need words ... your playing communicates so much! I hope the song flows through many many airways! An elderly and well known artist in our city shared with me after listening to one of my songs ... "Rick it now has a life of it's own, it will touch some of whom you will never know."
Thursday, March 31, 2016 @5:37:44 PM
Great music. Great writing.
Saturday, May 5, 2018 @9:45:04 AM
I just wanted to post this here in hopes that all Jed's friends listed on his Banjo Hangout page will receive it. Sadly, Jed passed away last Wednesday 5-2-18 at his home. There are many tributes coming in to his Face Book page. He was a great Celtic, American Roots singer/songwriter who will missed by many.
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