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The Amarillo Sessions-Learning the Songs (2017)

The Amarillo Sessions-Learning the Songs (2017)

The Amarillo Sessions-Learning the Songs (2017)
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Amarillo Sessions - Fort Worth

Amarillo Sessions - Fort Worth

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Faucett's  in the house

Faucett's in the house

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Cowboy Hats and Cadillacs - Nope

Cowboy Hats and Cadillacs - Nope

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Back Story: 

Jill Riley was born into the fourth generation of a large cattle ranching family. Her great grandparents and their children survived both the dirty thirties and the great depression in the Texas Panhandle. Jill grew up observing the fitting debates and resulting divisions among the cattlemen of the second and third generations. This work is a rare jewel. Story albums  have been written in the past, but never has there been a story album written about a true story in which the singer/songwriter is an actual character in the story.

The Amarillo Sessions:

"The Amarillo Sessions" is as big a part of this story as the story itself. It was Jill's plan to "capture the sound of the region" and her plan worked. This is an excerpt from an email sent to these session players explaining why she was so passionate about working with them. 

From an Email to the Players:
When I was in the 7th grade, my dad, owned an oyster bar and live music venue in Wellington Square, and he lived across the street in the Wellington Manor Apartments. Rhett Butler's was just on the other side of the apartment complex. I spent that summer with him absorbing live music from every direction. Watching local bands like Anderson, Flesher, and (Woody) Key, eventually proved to cement my musical destiny and desires that summer. I absorbed the life of traveling musicians who played these venues, like the Bees Knees out of Dallas and Cobra (pre Stevie Ray Vaughan) out of Austin, and a duo that I don't remember the name of, but Dad was wise to point out that they made $60,000 per year traveling around playing shows even though they were virtually unheard of. 

I returned to the Amarillo music scene quite by "accident" when I was coming through town from Arizona on my way to Nashville. I had seen a local blues band called The Shakers (with John Reid on bass) a couple of times while visiting and was blown away! I couldn't get over the talent in that town! I stuck around a few years and integrated to some degree but always felt a little like the outsider because I was a pretty immature musician at the time and I, like you, had not been there year after year, gig after gig, honing what I'll boldly call the "Amarillo Sound," but I came to very much believe in the sound of that town. Watching guitar players like Woody Key, or hearing the incredible heart-tied intricacies of the sounds that would run off of Rick Faucett's steel, these things sunk in while I was there for that short period.  

When I finally committed to finish writing this record in January of 2017, and fully owning the entire vision of The Common Ground Sound Project, I knew that this album had to be made in Amarillo, by these Amarillo musicians. But, another reason was that it was my way of paying sincere homage to this incredible group of musicians and their collaborative musicianship and sound. 

Covenant Studios: 
It was nothing short of providence that I discovered a best kept secret studio right there outside of Amarillo, owned and operated by Glenn Storlie. When I visited and saw the open floor and sight lines in that studio, I was knocked out. I have dreamed of producing an Owen Bradley-style, open floor session where all the players can look each other in the eye as they play and feel the music together. I was convinced it would make a huge difference. Owen Bradley is my all-time favorite producer and to this day, his sound slays me. I'm not claiming this measures up to Owen's genius but it was a dream come true for me. 

Historic RCA Studio C:

Due to unforeseen circumstances in Texas trying to finish the mixes during the peak of the Covid crisis, I decided to return home to Franklin, Tennessee and finish the mixes in my home studio and with mixing engineer, Eddie Gore in RCA Studio C. This would be another dream come true as well as a full circle move. I managed a mastering studio in the RCA Building in the 90's. So, it felt like going back home there. But even more important was that it is my understanding that RCA Studio C was originally built by Chet Atkins and Waylon Jennings for the purpose of recording vocals on one of my biggest influences, Jessi Colter. What a gift it has been working with Eddie in that studio.  


Woody Key: Slide Acoustic, Lead Electric (All except Run and Last Days) Classical Guitar (Yellow Rose)
Rick Faucett: Steel Guitar (All)
John Reid: Fretless Bass (Yellow Rose) 
Scott Nelson: Bass (All except Run, Yellow Rose, and Ft Worth)
Buddy Squyres: Bass (Fort Worth) Bowed Bass (Four Down) 
Curtis Jay: Bass (Coffee) 

Danny Darling: Drums (All) 
Amy Coffman: Banjo (All except Homer) and Bass (Run) 
Tim Lorcsh: Violin (Common Ground) 

Joseph Shackleford: Fiddle (Fort Worth) 
Anna Barker: Violin (Four Down) 
Michael Ricks: Banjo (Homer) 
Mike McCrackin: Dobro (Last Days)  
Carolyn Fletcher: Piano (Cowboy Hats and Cadillacs/Grace Greater Than Our Sin) 
Stan Fletcher:
Classical Guitar (Pearl and Run) Elec (Last Days)
Jill Riley: Acoustic Guitar (All)
BGVs: Stan Fletcher, Jill Riley, Eddie Gore, Cynthia Blanchard, Kim Parent, JK Jones  


Glenn Storlie and Jill Riley: Tracking (All except Coffee) and Mixing (Cowboy Hats and Cadillacs, Wagon Wheel, Pearl, Fort Worth)
Gregg Wingrove: Assistant Engineer, Covenant Studios (and all around great dude!) 

Eddie Gore and Jill Riley: Mixing (Yellow Rose, Adriane Elaine, Run, Last Days, Common Ground, Homer) 
Steve Tillisch: Sound Consultant
Glenn Meadows and Jill Riley: Mastering


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Listen to a sample of the album here.