Erice Brace and Peter Cooper – Master Sessions
Kudos to Red Beet Records for producing two of my favorite albums of 2010. First there was Peter Cooper’s The Lloyd Green Album and released almost simultaneously Eric Brace and Peter Cooper’s album Master Sessions. In the first album Peter continued and expanded his ongoing relationship with pedal steel guitar legend Lloyd Green and in the second Eric, Peter and Lloyd added renowned dobro player Mike Auldridge. Peter and Eric both grew up admiring Auldridge’s work with the Seldom Scene. Eric eventually recorded an album The Skylighters with Auldridge and last year Peter and Eric came up with the idea of bringing both of their heroes into the studio together for the first time! They surrounded them with some other great players like Richard Bennett (Mark Knopfler, Steve Earle) on guitar, Jen Gunderman (The Jayhawks, Last Train Home) on keyboards and accordion, Pat McInernay (Nanci Griffith , Don Williams) on drums, and Dave Roe (Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson) on upright bass. Then they added some harmony vocals from folks like Kennt Chesney, Julie Lee and Jon Randall to round out the great sound of Master Sessions.
The album is full of great songs interwoven around the beautiful instrumentals of both Green, Auldridge and company. Seven of the eleven songs on the album are written by Cooper alone, Cooper with Don Schlitz (The Gambler), Eric and Peter or Eric with Karl Straub. The other four songs include songs by Herb Pedersen, Tom T Hall, Jon Byrd and the late great John Hartford.
The album gets off to a great start with Herb Pedersen’s “Wait a Minute” a Seldom Scene favorite. Kenny Chesney provides some additional vocals on this track. Another great track this one from Cooper and Schlitz “Suffer a Fool” follows. On track 4 Auldridge’s dobro opens Eric Brace and Karl Straub’s train song “It Won’t Be Me”. Tracks 5 and 6 “Big Steve” and “Circus” are both stand out tracks for me. “Big Steve” is a song about Nashville’s favorite doorman likely to be found at Douglas Corner! I love the chorus:
Maybe you came for the music, but at the end of the day you will leave
when they play the last song, the crowd will move on
and the music goes home with Big Steve
Auldridge and Green both stand out on track 6 “Circus” as they weave their magic around Eric and Peter’s great lyrics about the circus, clowns and kids. Again the great lyrics about how a child views the circus”
he doesn’t worry about the lions,
tigers and bears they are his friends,
I’m left with fearful agitation,
and disbelief I can’t suspend.
A bunch of characters make an appearance in Peter Cooper’s “Behind Your Back” including Lonesome Bob Chaney, Chris Richards, Allison Moorer, , David Olney, Denice Franke, Vince Bell and Eric Taylor. (the last five also appear in my CD collection). Sometimes talking behind your back isn’t a bad thing!
Tom T Hall’s “I Flew Over Our House Last Night” is next, and once again Green and Auldrisge’s playing bring this classic new life. Peter’s “Nice Old Man” a song written probably about his grandfather John W. Cooper follows. Track 10 is Jon Byrd’s ” Silent Night” a song that reminds us that the carol’s sentiments can still apply when you’re “gliding down the road on a hot summer night, so bright“. The album ends with a cover of John Hartford’s song ” I Wish We Had Our Time Again” and fittingly the interplay between Lloyd, Mike and Richard Bennett on the outro is great!
So if you’re like me and two of your favorite instruments are dobro and pedal steel you won’t want to miss this album. Oh and by the way the two other guys Brace and Cooper are pretty good, too!!
Here’s a video from Eric Brace about putting together Master Sessions
You can also check out their music at their Myspace Page
Here’s an instrumental version of Don Williams song “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend” featuring Green and Auldridge.