A Conversation with Kris Delmhorst (continued)
PM: So the other project I'd like to ask about is current, and that's called Redbird. Tell us about that, please.
KD: Redbird, again, was an organically sprouting event, which came from a tour that I did last January with Peter Mulvey and Jeffrey Foucault. Peter and I had been friends for quite a while, and were going to do this UK tour together. And then Peter asked if we could bring along Jeffrey Foucault who he knew from Wisconsin, and whom I had never played with yet, but I said, "Sure." So the three of us ended up going over there, and we just had a great time on this tour. And the shows were really fun, and then also, all afternoon, whenever we would get to our destination of the night, then we would just end up sitting around and playing every song that any of us had ever even thought about knowing.
KD: And we did that for two weeks. And I can't remember, we did the math at the time, we've played like 700 or 800 songs over the course of the--
PM: Holy shit!
KD: I know, because we never repeated one. And we would get to the bottom of the barrel, like we knew that none of us knew any more songs, and then someone would remember a whole other little pile of them, and then off we'd go again. It was just really great. And so we decided that it would fun to do that with a mic on at some point.
KD: So that's basically what happened. We got together in Wisconsin for a few days this past summer, the three of us, plus Goody--David Goodrich.
PM: Goody, yeah.
KD: He plays with Pete all the time. And we just got a portable DAT machine and one really nice mic, and sat in a little circle around it and gathered a bunch of instruments and we just did the same thing for about three days, we played songs.
PM: Each other's songs or all cover songs?
KD: It's mostly cover songs. We played a few of ours. Let's see. We played so many that sometimes it's hard for me to remember what ended up on the record.
PM: Yeah, right.
KD: But I think what's on the record is Peter does one of mine, I do one of Peter's. We all do one of Jeff's, and there's one that I wrote and one that Goody wrote for the project. And then everything else is covers. There are a bunch of traditional songs, and then there are covers--there's a Tom Waits song. There are songs by friends of ours who are sort of more obscure.
PM: Really? We're interested in those.
KD: There's a song by Paul Cebar, who is a Milwaukee artist I've never met but Peter is a big fan. So we did a great song of his. And then I sang a song by Ry Cavanaugh, who now is in a band called Maybe Baby with Jennifer Kimball. It's great. And Ryan and I used to play in a band together for years called Vinal Avenue String Band.
PM: Oh, I saw that on your site, yeah.
KD: Right. He's one of my favorite songwriters in the whole world. I think he's amazing. And so we did one of his songs, just sort of a little lullaby song. And let's see, what else is on there? There's a Willie Nelson song, there's an R.E.M. song. There's a Greg Brown song. There are a couple jazz standards.
KD: Yeah, it's fun.
PM: What a neat energy you guys have woven together there. It's like the Respond thing, there's a real spirit there that isn't self-obsessed, and it isn't like, oh, my songs, your songs. It's music, it's jamming, it's the reasons why we all played music in the first place.
PM: Now, when you get together with these guys, do you play guitar or do you play the other things that you're very good at, cello and violin and--
KD: Well, we didn't have a cello at the sessions because we were out in the middle of Wisconsin. [laughs]
PM: I see.
KD: So I played a little bit of fiddle and guitar also. And on tour in England, the first time we all just had guitars, because we didn't really realize that was going to happen. But we're going to do another tour of England again in February, and all of the UK and Ireland too, and I'm going to bring a fiddle for that. And then Goodie, of course, plays everything.
PM: He does, doesn't he?
KD: He does. Yeah, he's one of those. So, there's a little bit of mixing it up on the instruments.
PM: Does he bring keyboards, or he's like a lap steel guy, or--
KD: He's a string guy. I mean, I'm sure he could play keyboards, but that's not really his thing. I don't know exactly what we're going to bring on tour. But on the record he plays the nylon string guitar, mandolin, regular guitar. He plays slide guitar, sort of lap steel. And then we also had this Papoose, which is a tiny guitar by Tacoma. It sounds somewhere between a high-strung guitar and a mandolin. So we all passed that around, too, and played some of that.
PM: They're remarkably good, those little Papooses.
KD: Yeah, they are. They don't really sound like a guitar, but they sound like a nice thing. continue