Brotherhood - 1/27/2015

Leigh and I have been kicking around the idea of recording a tribute to the brother acts who have paved the way for us to be able to do what we do.  We decided that now is the time.  Brotherhood will be released officially on February 24.  When word got out about our album’s direction, brother duet aficionados started to send us material we had never heard before.  Thanks to Phillip Wells, Ken Irwin, and Walt Saunders, we were able to cull through material from acts like the Webster Brothers, Brewster Brothers, Bailey Brothers, Bailes Brothers, Carlisle Brothers, Church Brothers, Lilly Brothers and York Brothers while on our own we dug deeper into familiar-to-us acts like the Louvin Brothers, Everly Brothers, Blue Sky Boys, Jim and Jesse, Osborne Brothers, Delmore Brothers, Stanley Brothers, and Glaser Brothers.  We learned a lot and feel that our singing has reached a new level thanks to this process of examining what it is that makes a brother act special.  We tried to include songs by as many brother acts as possible, but, in the end, we recorded what we felt best suited our voices and our band.  Speaking of our band, this record would not be what it is without the wonderful musicianship of Mike Barber, Clayton Campbell, and Jesse Brock.  Musicians like this make us want to sing.

1.  Bye Bye Love – We sang this as kids on the farm when Uncle Bob Gibson brought us some Everly Brothers material.  We tried it on stage finally for the first time last January at the Jekyll Island Bluegrass Festival.  The crowd really responded to it.  We were saddened, however, when a man came up to the merch table and told us the news that Phil Everly has passed that very day.  Nobody ever had a smoother blend than Don and Phil.

2.  The Sweetest Gift – We first heard the Seldom Scene’s version of this classic number popularized by the Blue Sky Boys and Bailey Brothers.

3.  Angel With Blue Eyes – We had never heard of the Church Brothers until Ken Irwin sent us some of their songs.  I’d have loved to have heard what the Johnson Mountain Boys could have done with this number, but we’re really happy with how our version came out.

4.  Each Season Changes You – We wanted to pay tribute to the Osborne Brothers, but we had never done a ‘high lead’ song before.  We brought in our buddy Ronnie Reno to kind of coach us and sing a third part with us.  Ronnie spent quite a few years harmonizing with Bob and Sonny (and later with Merle Haggard and Bonnie Owens).  He really helped make this performance special.

5.  I Have Found The Way – We listened to versions by the Monroe Brothers and the Louvin Brothers.  In the end, we decided to strip it down to just mandolin, guitar, and vocals.  Jesse Brock, always stellar, really shines here.

6.  How Mountain Girls Can Love – So many Stanley Brothers songs have been covered so well so many times.  We really struggled with which song to do.  Ken Irwin suggested re-inventing a classic, coming at it from a different angle.  Leigh jokingly said, “Yeah, let’s make “How Mountain Girls Can Love” into a waltz.  Then Leigh and I just looked at each other.  We imagined it in the vein of the Stanleys’ “Stonewalls and Steel Bars.”  We love the attitude and the groove we hooked.  We hope listeners will!

7.  It’ll Be Her – Our dad loved Tompall and the Glaser Brothers.  I remember him telling my mother, “Shannon, go to Plattsburgh and buy some Tompall and the Glaser Brothers.”  We just about wore out the record she picked up with songs like “Loving Her Was Easier’” “Mansion on the Hill,” “Busted,” and this one.  I don’t think we realized how much we were influenced by them until we started to record this.

8.  What A Wonderful Savior Is He – Ronnie and Rob McCoury told us late last winter that they had heard Eddie Stubbs play a Brewster Brothers song on the radio that just floored them.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t remember the title.  Not long after that conversation, our friend Phillip Wells sent us a song recorded by the Brewster Brothers and Webster Brothers together as the Four Brothers Quartet.  Leigh played the song for the McCourys on a van ride from Cumberland Caverns to Nashville a few weeks later, and Ronnie said, “That’s it!  That’s the song we heard.”  We just had to record our version of the Four Brothers Quartet with Ronnie and Rob.

9.  Long Gone – Phillip Wells strikes again.  This catchy tune was recorded by the York Brothers.  I was telling Ricky Skaggs about them and he said, “I’m related to them.”  

10.  The Eastbound Train – We learned this sad story song from a Doc Watson record many years ago.  The Blue Sky Boys popularized it originally.

11.  Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes – Jim and Jesse were the first brother act that we really paid attention to.  They always sang so well together, had great bands, and chose wonderful songs.  This is one of them.

12.  Seven Year Blues – The Louvin Brothers are our favorite brother duet, so we had to include something by them.  The Webster Brothers version of this song at least rivals Ira and Charlie’s version.  I love Clayton’s mournful fiddle on this one.  He sounds almost like a bagpipe on the choruses.

13.  Long Time Gone – The Everly Brothers popularized this song, but the York wrote and recorded it originally.  We first heard it by bluegrass heroes the Nashville Bluegrass Band.

14.  I’m Troubled I’m Troubled – We learned this from a Blue Sky Boys recording but recently heard a version by the Lilly Brothers that we really love.

15.  Crying in the Rain – We have had fans tell us many times over the years that we should try some Everly brothers songs.  I don’t know why we waited so long.  Our voices seem to fit their songs.  Leigh pushed for this beauty, and I’m glad I listened.

     We are really proud of this album.  We hope that it does well enough that we can do Brotherhood 2 someday and include even more brother acts.