The Trick Is To Breathe is first solo album by Sid Griffin (the Coal Porters, the Long Ryders) in a decade.
Recorded in Nashville, Tenn. at the home studio of Thomm Lutz in February 2014 over four days, the album will be released in the U.S. on September 16, 2014 on Prima Records through Burnside Distribution.
When Sid Griffin started recording 30 years ago the term Americana was unheard of. Now he is considered one of the genre’s founding fathers. With the now legendary Long Ryders he crossed punk’s spirit with country music chops and pioneered cowpunk and alt-country. Currently a Coal Porter playing acoustic music, Griffin now uses bluegrass instrumentation to play original folk/Celtic songs. “It is the familiar heard anew,” he says.
“Before Christmas I had sent some Nashville friends acoustic demos of my songs and of my new arrangement of a version of the Youngbloods’ great “Get Together,” recalls Griffin, a Kentucky native who has spent the past two decades living in London. “These men and women had learned the songs off my demos and most of the songs we recorded were second takes. In fact these players are so accomplished I don’t think any track was recorded in more than four takes.”
"Blue Yodel no. 12 & 35" here. Regarding the first song shared from the album, "Blue Yodel no. 12 & 35," Griffin says, "Jimmie Rodgers, the Singing Brakeman, was a star shining brightly in the late 1920s till the Great Depression drove his sales down and TB drove him down. Bob Dylan was a sizeable Jimmie Rodgers fan and so am I. This led me to wonder what would happen if you crossed their two musical styles. And the answer is in this song ... you get a tune which sounds like Willie Nelson!" Listen here:
After recording in the U.K. for most of the past two decades, Sid decided to do everything differently from his last solo album, As Certain as Sunrise. “I recorded in the U.S. instead of Europe, I did not engineer, co-produce nor mix the album. On a few tracks I only sang, I put myself entirely in the hands of others, I did not use any of the Coal Porters’ vast musical talents, I primarily used musicians I had not met before the sessions and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Without question it was time for a change — time to shake things up.”
As promoters and venues were frequently contacting Griffin about solo shows, it became obvious that it was time for some new Sid solo music. Yet the multi-tasking Griffin, a musician first, a writer second, a broadcaster third and, oh yes, a family man on top of all that, didn’t have much time to spare to record. “You can spend weeks doing an album. Both my previous solo albums were done piecemeal —recorded in bits here and then bits there over weeks. I needed to get an album done quickly.”
“Billy Bragg told me his last album was recorded by Joe Henry in just a few days out in Pasadena, Calif. and I remembered Dylan did Nashville Skyline in only a few days. So I contacted some Nashville cats I knew, they recommended Thomm Jutz as a producer, and he and I hit it off. Thom picked most of the players. And by the time I flew to Tennessee these folks knew my songs better than I did. Hence we started on Monday and were done by Thursday.”
Sid did play mandolin on two tracks, guitar on about six more, but the core of the band was Mark Fain from Ricky Skaggs' Kentucky Thunder outfit on bass, the virtuoso Sierra Hull on mandolin, Paul Griffiths on drums, Thomm Jutz on guitar, Justin Moses on banjo, fiddle and dobro, and gospel legend James T. Brown on backing vocals. Other than Jutz and Griffiths none had met Sid before the sessions began.
The Trick Is To Breathe announces Sid Griffin is back on the world stage as a solo artist, globetrotting troubadour and singer-songwriter. “I am in a good space as the saying goes and The Trick Is To Breathe is going to help keep me there. Yes, I am an American who lives in Europe but my heart resides south of the Mason-Dixon and it shows on this album. I can’t wait to tread the boards again and play these songs for the people.”
In his vast spare time, Griffin recently authored liner notes for Bob Dylan’s The Basement Tapes Complete, part of Sony Legacy’s Bootlegs series.
Find out more at: www.sidgriffin.com/