Richard Ferreira Talks about Charlotte Park Rangers, New Album
Richard Ferreira’s “Somewhereville” didn’t get much notice, but it was one of the soulful Americana gems of the early 2000s featuring one of the best kiss-off songs ever, “Bye Bye Baby.” Ferreira’s catchy melodies and solid lyrics made the record sound familiar from the first listen. Now, the veteran Nashville songwriter is back with a trio, Charlotte Park Rangers, that explores terrain both familiar and new, touching a toe in some old time country with an assist from bluegrass legend Carlton Moody and drummer Rick Lonow.
This album was – what? — seven years since your solo effort?
Yeah about 7 years, where does the time go, but I have been pretty busy with life.
Tell me how you assembled the songs.
The process was to get together and drink a lot of coffee and then start playing while rolling tape
We would play a lot of covers early in the day to loosen up, lots of R&B tunes and George Jones songs, Eventually we would find a lick or something would pop out, and we would find ourselves on the hunt of a song, Once we got to that point the songs wrote themselves for the most part. I went back later on and did more lyric writing to straighten out a few things before final vocals were put down. Most of the lyrics though were done rather spontaneously. It was also a way for me to get out of my own head and write for Carlton’s voice.
I had the concept that the songs were to be light and funky, I didn’t want to do a serious introspective type thing and I didn’t want to get into Nashville style co-writing where you sit around with yellow legal pads, It was an attempt I suppose at a big pink type of situation and I wanted to create a mythical landscape based on the characters and geography of “Charlotte Park,”, which is a real neighborhood on the banks of the Cumberland river in the northwest corner of Nashville where I live and the album was written and recorded
You co-wrote them with Carlton Moody and Rick Lonow for the most part. Were they done in the studio?
Carlton brought in “Fall In Love Again” & “Angeline” and I brought in “I Want To Get Lost. ” Everything else was written on the studio floor. We all share equally in the publishing, no matter who wrote what. It was the chemistry of the combined talent that was the juice. We have a bunch of leftovers; hopefully there will be volume 2
How did you guys get together?
Carlton’s other band Burrito Deluxe recorded a few of my songs on there last couple of records and I also played guitar and organ on those records so how that’s how we first met. Rick Lonow has played with me for years. He was on “Somewhereville.” So we had all worked together before. Originally, we were just doing some demos but it turned into a project once we saw what we had.
There’s a co-write with Gwil Owen. How did that come about?
I’ve written a lot with Gwil over the years and I produced his last 2 cds, Gravy and Ahabs Birthday which is just released. We had 3 co-writes on the last Toni Price cd
The album shifts styles from songs with your lead vocals that favor The Band and
songs with Carton’s lead vocals that are more straightforward country. Was that a conscious decision?
Well, I knew it sounded that way and I’m ok with that, if we do another record it will be probably be more seamless because everyone will be on the same page from the beginning, part of it is the quality of Carlton’s voice. its razor sharp country and I love the contrast of putting him in unorthodox non traditional settings, theres also a Burrito Brothers vibe imbedded in the record which is probably more Carlton’s .
How does that reflect your interests?
I think it makes it interesting, I guess I am known more for my R&B leanings, but I’ve been writing country songs for a long time, and I was really trying to write for Carltons voice. “Georgia Time” is a key example, and I love the way it slides into “Catfish Song.” I think it reflects my interests pretty well. I probably should point out that was done over a fairly long stretch of time. Carlton was living in Paris the whole time this was being done so on any given day I might of been feeling more country than soul but it all works for me.
Certainly your vocal resemblance to Rick Danko and a bit of Levon Helm comes across.
Well, its a very soulful style of singing, I don’t consciously try to sound like those guys though, although my natural voice does sound a bit like Danko’s. We all listened to the same records growing up; we are about the same age. I am a little big younger, I get this a lot, and Van Morrison and Elvis Costello. Really the guy who I always wanted to sound like was Al Anderson, I grew up next to Al and he was a really huge influence on me. Thanks Al.
How important are those guys to what you do?
Pretty strong I would say, anybody in this arena of music would be hard pressed to deny that, but they are only part of it, aside from there huge musical chops. It’s Robertson’s writing that really floors me.
Richard Bell makes an appearance. Tell me about that.
We are so fortunate that we got to know and play with Richard, probably the best musician I have ever known and a super guy. He passed away last year and we miss him dearly.
We met Richard through Garth Hudson, who is a friend of ours. I first worked with Garth in 1989 on my first album. Garth and Richard were best pals,
Richard of course was an original member of the Hawks. He had the best rock and roll stories you ‘ve ever heard, amazing piano player, very funny and sweet. RIP Richard
Where does the name Charlotte Park Rangers come from?
I guess Charlotte Park is sort of my Lake Woebegone , I envision future CPR outings with other guests and vocal pairings, a great outlet for songs, and a relief from being me. As I explained earlier, it’s my neighborhood. Maybe if we get famous the value of my home will get back up to where it was when I bought it.
Tell me about the origins of “Catfish Song.”
I live close to the river and I go down there a lot in the early morning and I think about bringing a fishin’ pole but I never do. It’s great, a great place for morning meditations and a creative well that I visit. So I was developing these Charlotte Park characters, and because they are mythical they do strange things, the wrongly accused murderer in “Georgia Time,” the prostitute who finds Jesus and then drowns herself in “Sunshine,” and the love-lorn loser in “Catfish” who goes downtown for a hooker and laments his lost love to her. I was looking for folks who had lost it, and what they do next. It’s all about redemption in a way.
“I Want to Get Lost” finds you trading leads. Was it written that way?
Well, not when we wrote it but I liked the effect of it, that was me just wanting to get out of town, about once a day I consider moving to a quiet place and getting out of Nashvegas.
Did you find your way to “Where the Soul…” through Hank Williams?
Carlton had that, but, yeah, it goes back to Hank, Carlton was a member of the Moody Brothers, a traditional Bluegrass/Gospel brother trio that won 2 Grammy years ago. He’s from that Carolina Moody dynasty,, Clyde Moody etc, so he’s been playing that song 40 years
Will you guys be touring?
Absolutely. We are dirt broke! Probably as a duo at first; nobody can afford a band anymore.