Welcome to the world, Holidays in United States! It started years ago as a somewhat absurd album title from a glitch which kept appearing on my iPhone and became my socio-political statement in a time of great reckoning and unrest— an unrest of our inner selves and broader society during Covid and the summer of 2020 (and beyond). At the risk of sounding grandiose, I hope it can take its place as a statement of note amongst the albums and creative expressions documenting this historic time. I noticed a marked strength in the songwriting in this collection. I pushed myself late into many nights on the back porch of our new home in the late spring and summer of 2020 to write this album. It’s a 15-song record distilled into the 8 songs which speak directly to the moment of its writing. Stay tuned for those other seven… they’re on deck.
I am so grateful to all of the talented people who helped bring this record to fruition. Will Robertson hosted, produced and engineered the initial, Covid-friendly recording sessions at his Gallop Studios in Atlanta. He also played electric and upright bass. Will is a wildly talented musician and composer and one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. My friend and ace guitarist Bret Hartley, who often plays with me on duo shows and in my band, The Wild Fires, played electric and lap steel guitars. I’m fortunate to have him. The same goes for inventive zen drummer Colin Agnew, who joins me on many live shows, and brought his sophisticated ideas to the songs. We then sent it to my friend and longtime collaborator Bronson Tew at Dial Back Sound, who enhanced and sometimes deconstructed the material. Holidays has his stamp and DNA all over it, and he’s credited as the main producer. He added acoustic and electric guitars, sang his signature harmony vocals, mixed, and mastered it. We recorded two of the songs at Dial Back with Bronson on drums (and engineering) and Matt Patton on bass— “I-20” and “People Are Callin’”. Schaefer Llana played Wurlitzer on “I-20” and sang harmony vocals on a bunch of tunes. Jamison Hollister added the gorgeous pedal steel on “Old Gold”. Hank West the horns on “People Are Callin’”. Horace Willis played electric guitar on “People Are Callin’”. Spencer Thomas sang harmony vocals along with Horace and Schaefer. And Jay Gonzalez’s masterful contributions on keys on many of the songs can’t be overstated.
For “I-20”, Damon Moon re-engineered the acoustic guitar and vocals (read why here) at his Standard Electric Recorders, and Kyshona Armstrong, Nickie Conley, and Maureen Murphy added their powerhouse gospel vocals.
Sean Dunn took all of the photos including the cover, my press photos, and those in the album packaging. Jason Harwell, also longtime collaborator and incredible guy, designed the CD and vinyl packaging and promo materials for the release. Jason also designed the cover art and packaging for Wounded Electric Youth, Sky Blue DeVille, Archer’s Arrow, Low Flyin’ Planes, Little Tiger EP, and now Holidays. I am beyond fortunate that he brings his talents to my projects.
Speaking of long-term collaborators, filmmaker and photographer Jeff Shipman now fits the bill. He’s a brilliant talent, a close friend, and a joy to work with. Jeff did all the video work you may see in connection with the album, including the “Bright Rails Shine” lyric video, the “Ohio Revisited” Tiny Desk video, and another piece which has yet to premiere.
I want to thank publicist and home team dude Frank Keith of Sweetheart Pub for pounding the pavement and spreading the word, and Joe Swank for doing the same for Americana radio. Come on DJs… put these songs on the airwaves! And… ATL Collective awarded me a song release consultation. Thanks to Elliott Garstin of 20 Eyes and George Fontaine, Jr., of Normaltown Records, for their insights and recommendations.
Just as importantly, and certainly not last or least, I’m grateful to all 279 backers who supported the project on Indiegogo way back in 2021 by pre-ordering a CD, vinyl, digital download, t-shirts or other merch, etc. The upfront cash played a huge role in getting this album to the finish line.
I’ll leave it at that for now. Check out the BIO on my website for the full story of the record and also read about “I-20” via the song premiere on Glide Magazine. And… you can read an essay I wrote about performing “I-20” for a January 6th insurrectionist couple in the excellent online magazine Salvation South.
Buy a CD, buy vinyl (it’ll be ready in the fall), buy a shirt, stream the record (Spotify / Apple Music / YouTube / Bandcamp / Amazon), share it on social media, tell a friend about it, put a song on a playlist… I would love for you to help push this hard-made record out to listeners everywhere.
Come say hey and catch the release shows in Georgia on 4/15 + 4/22, and then 4/28 in Birmingham.
With love and gratitude,