© 2023 by Tyler Reece. 

I ain't worried

My first solo album, released in 1982. Now re-mastered - 2018

In Memory of Son House, Lesley Riddle, and Rob Roy.

“I ain’t worried” was released on vinyl in 1982 on the Rooster Records label.  It was my first solo record.  Will Wright—the owner of Rooster—will forever have my deepest regard for encouraging me to make a record that was quite outside of the traditional acoustic music for which the label was known. I have too many fond memories of making the record to document adequately in the limited space here, but I must register with the firmest of convictions that the musicians and technicians involved in the project seemed like magicians.  I brought the vaguest of ideas to the table, and the players, singers, engineers, and the producer, Bob Lawson, made it all work.  Over the years, I have been encouraged to keep the record available—from fans and from Michael Hakanson-Stacy of Time & Strike Records, whose company released the first digital version of the record in the early nineties.  I must also thank my musical collaborator of many years—Bill Foss—for badgering me to keep the record available.  My wife and daughters—my guides as always—have encouraged me to pay attention to the project.  There’s a lengthy “thank you” list to follow.  I hope I haven’t left anyone out.  That’s always the great fear.  If I have lapsed in some way, it is just that—a lapse (which garners absolutely no absolution).

  1. Stubborn Kind of Fellow --I had a vinyl compilation of Marvin Gaye’s hits.  I used to rent a small apartment in a house in Portland, Maine.  My landlady lived in the apartment next door.  I would get inspired in the wee hours and listen to this song, careful to wear headphones.  She would greet me cordially, but primly, the next day and complain about my foot-tapping.  

  2. Cottonfield Blues—When I toured with The Ambassadors in the late 70s, we always listened to this wonderful Henry Thomas song on the van’s cassette player.  We listened to it often, because we logged many miles in that van.  One day—somewhere between Black Mountain, North Carolina and Mamou, Louisiana—something clicked for me.  I wanted to give the song a shot in the studio.  Bob Lawson gave me the freedom to tackle it in his wonderful Bluejay Studio, allowing me to try overdub after overdub on all the instruments.  It took a while.  I have never recorded another song in this manner—with me overdubbed on each track.  But I very much like this one effort, and my pleasure in hearing it is much enhanced my memory of the unflagging support of Bob Lawson during the tedious process of getting levels on instrument after instrument.

  3. Muddy Water—The older I get, the more I lose touch with what caught my attention as a youngster—with smells, jokes, voices, tactile sensations—and songs.  The attention is still there with this song, but I can’t remember when I first encountered it.  There was something very visceral about the lyric “slept in a hollow log.”  For this reissue, I have enjoyed the process of trying to remember the sources (I think of it as a sort of folk music duty), but this one eludes me.  And that seems just right.  I’m not certain I would feel at all relieved to be enlightened as to its source.

  4. Je Peux Pas T’Oublier--I first heard of D. L. Menard through my good friend and Ambassador band-mate Bau Graves.  Bau instructed me in many musical and worldly things.  He is a wonder still.  When I traveled with the Ambassadors in the late seventies, we had the great fortune to attend the National Folklife Festival at Wolftrap, VA—where we heard performances by many great musicians, including D. L. Menard.  He didn’t do this song, but I heard his voice when I fashioned this song of his as an instrumental.  My session at Bluejay with John Gawler remains one of the magical moments of my recording life.  We did it live and looked up at each other at the end as if to say, “We squeaked that one out.”

  5. Mary Lou—As with many folks in my generation, The Band was a huge influence.  When they were Ronnie Hawkins’ back-up band, they recorded this tune.  I figured out the little intro lick in a bathroom (the acoustics were great) in North Carolina when I was touring with The Ambassadors.  Beth Borgerhoff walked by and listened, chuckled, and said, “Creighton, you sound like you’ve been listening to Bach.”  I think it was a compliment.

  6. Ain’t Nothing You Can Do—This song has many sources, and I can’t recall which ones I combined for our arrangement, although Bobby Blue Bland’s rendition had a huge influence.  Rob Roy plays bass on this tune, and my fond memories of Robby defy the confines of album notes.  He was always willing to learn a tune, play it with conviction, a smile, and a laugh.  He was a hard worker who worked with love and devotion.  He was one of the greats, and I was lucky to have shared some time with him.

  7. It Hurts Me Too—When Andrea Re did that little whine on the conga, I knew we were in a good groove.  Tommy Blackwell was an exacting and thoughtful drummer; Chris Daniels played just the right bass notes—and that’s what everyone wants.

  8. They’re Red Hot--A song I learned by listening to the Columbia recordings of Robert Johnson, released during my teens.  That double lp set had a huge impact on our generation.  I loved it that this tune was very much out of character for Johnson—a sort of novelty number in an otherwise dark and very personal song-list.  Robby Roy, Jeff Davison, and I stood around a mic and had a ball doing those background vocals—another of my favorite moments in a studio.  I recall it now as if it had happened just yesterday.  Robby and Jeff—two of the wonders of the universe.

  9. This War Will Last You for Years—Son House had an enormous impact on my life.  He is often lauded as one of the “fathers” of the slide guitar, which of course is certainly true.  But I have always greatly admired his singing.  He has a very distinctive and plaintive voice, which I think is one of the greatest of the blues voices.  This song is atypical for him—political and topical.  Amazing how his choice of topic doesn’t seem to go away.  We still send our youngsters off to fight our battles.  And the wars go on for years.

  10.   If You See My Savior—I learned this from a recording of Eugene Rhodes, recorded in the Alabama State Penitentiary.  It’s a very standard gospel song, but Eugene makes it dance and pop.  My experience of recording this song brought me back to some sort of ground-zero: I had to do it with a guitar and my voice and one microphone.  I’d had such wonderful support throughout the recording of the record, and suddenly it was all up to me.  During that take, I recall thinking about how much I wanted to get through it all in a presentable way.  I just didn’t want to mess up.  The result at the time let me down—I just knew I could do it better.  But time was up, and Bob Lawson signaled that it was a wrap.  Now I’m glad that he did so, because with the mentality of  “I could do it better” –-as all musicians know—I’d still be doing another take

Many Thanks: Janet Lawson, William Wright, Spike Haible, Eric Schoenberg, Dana Bourgeois, Peter Bass, Elyse Wilson, Smokey McKeen, The Ambassadors, David Larsson, Michael Hackanson-Stacy, Field Horne, Bill Foss, Hans DeKline, Brian Chojnowski, Rick Ward, Deborah Lindsay, Claire Lindsay, Sophie Pratt.

 

Special Thanks from Creighton: When Michael Hakanson-Stacy reissued the vinyl album in CD form, Bob Lawson spent many hours with his staff at Bluejay Studio restoring the original two-track tape mixes to a digital format that would best approximate the sound of the original analog recordings.  I am indebted to Michael for his interest in the project, and I will forever feel gratitude to Bob Lawson for his support, enthusiasm, and creative spirit.  Without Will Wright of Rooster Records, Michael Hakanson-Stacy of Time & Strike, and Bob Lawson--none of this music would be available.