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On Waiting on a Song, Dan Auerbach’s first solo album in eight years, it’s clear he has finally made Nashville his home. The album is his love letter to Nashville, filled with songs of sin, dangerous women, beautiful tarnished losers, undying love and equally undying friendship.
But first, he had to make the space for it. Dan Auerbach had toured constantly since forming The Black Keys with Patrick Carney back in 2001. After an especially grueling five-year stretch, touring around three Black Keys studio albums, and a lengthy tour with the Arcs that ended in late August 2016, Auerbach realized he needed to unplug for a while. Not because he was planning on recording a solo album; more that he just needed to stop. “When I finally told myself that I needed a break, that was probably the start of this album,” explains Auerbach.
But stopping didn’t mean that Auerbach even considered relaxing. It just meant that he didn’t tour. During the summer, he produced seven albums and finally got acquainted with the city he loves so much and some of the world-class musicians who live in it. “I was on the road too much and didn’t have the time to stop and really take part in what was here in Nashville. I was too consumed with my day job to ever build relationships with any of them until this summer.” says Auerbach.
The key to these relationships was Dave Ferguson, one of Nashville’s most respected engineers and producers, mentored by the late, great “Cowboy” Jack Clement and a longtime collaborator of Johnny Cash’s on all his records for American Recordings. “I’m just remembering now that Fergie was with me when I bought my old Ford Truck on Craigslist from this old guy in East Nashville. He basically took me under his wing when I first got to Nashville eight years ago.” But most importantly, he introduced Auerbach to most of the musicians he knows and now runs with in Nashville. “He introduced me to some of his favorite people in town––writers he thought I’d click with, and most of the time he was right. That’s who basically all the people on this record are.
“Fergie took me to the Station Inn to see John Prine play. I knew of him, of course, but I didn’t know his stuff too well. But when I saw him live, I couldn’t believe how amazing he was. Fergie introduced me to ‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement. We’d go to Cowboy’s house and listen to him play songs on his ukulele and tell us stories. To think Cowboy was at my studio waltzing around the live room floor to my music… and now I know I’m part of that tradition that stretches all the way back to Cowboy and Sam Phillips opening up Sun Studios in Memphis—it changed my whole universe,” says Auerbach softly. And it changed the way he made records, working seven days a week, co-writing songs––something Auerbach had never really done before, certainly not in such a structured way.
When you’ve been making music for as long as Robert Finley has, you know that the key to success is in your instincts. You learn to trust your gut, you learn to trust your ear, and most of all, you learn to trust your company. Fortunately for us, here in 2017 Mr. Finley has all three in spades. The singer lives in the tiny, forgotten town of Bernice, Louisiana, right near the Arkansas line, but in his younger days his music took him all over the world.
Joining the Army as a teenager, Finley was sent to Europe as a helicopter technician but found more appealing work as the leader of the Army band, and toured the continent many times over on guitar and vocals. Following his rambling military service, he learned the trade of carpentry and settled back home in the States. He leaned on his gospel and blues songs for a hobby rather than career, and mostly confined his artistry to the streets of the South. But now, in the true spirit of the American Dream, Finley’s music is once again primed to reach doors and shores at home and abroad, as his new LP Goin’ Platinum! is set to be released through Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound this fall.
The American West. America’s America. It was here in three very different worlds that Shannon and the Clams were spawned. From the dark redwood forests of Oregon emerged Cody Blanchard: singer and guitarist. The dusty walnut orchards and vineyards of northern California gave us Shannon Shaw: singer and bassist. Out of the lonely dunes of California’s central coast shambled Nate Mayhem: drummer and keys. These three talented visual artists were drawn separately to Oakland, California and it was there that the Clams began playing house parties and grimy clubs.
The band was forged in the anachronistic remote communities of the west, in some strange mixture of computer show and country fair; their music is some odd alloy of The Last Picture Show and The Decline of Western Civilization. The pioneer spirit of western life is all over this band: pushing into the unknown, blazing their own trail, creating their own destiny, with the accompanying canyon-esque loneliness and untamed joy only truly known by those with the courage to pull up stakes and head off into the big empty sunset.