[ From Butch Ross ] The Moonshiner’s Atlas Turns Ten
News, info and tourdates for Butch Ross
butchross at butchross.com
Wed Jun 17 08:26:40 EDT 2015
Hard to believe, but it’s been ten years since those cartons of CDs showed
up at my door in Bowling Green, KY. “The Moonshiner’s Atlas”, my first
all-dulcimer CD. Recorded literally across the globe in New Jersey,
Killarney, Ireland and Port Townsend, Washington and produced by the great
I wanted to call the CD “Jerpoint Epiphany.” I don’t why, but that phrase
had come to me out of nowhere and had stuck with me for days. I couldn’t
tell you then what it meant, but one of few things I’ve actually learned in
this life is to trust my instincts.
Robert wanted to call the CD “I Like Singing Folk Songs” after the country
music marketing technique of naming the album after the first single, and
making that song the first song on the album. He was right of course, but I
thought of an album then, as I do now, as a set of ideas, like a novel or a
collection of short stories, if you will. Plus, I was then hung up on the
idea of my album tiles being vaguely literary in nature (for example, my
singer/songwriter record was called “Selected Works of Friction.”) So,
armed with that idea, and the thought that the songs called “Moonshiner”
and “Atlas” were the two likely to get any airplay (in so much as any
folkie gets any airplay anywhere) “The Moonshiner’s Atlas” was born.
And “Jerpoint Epiphany” became the title of an instrumental (my first by
the way) on “The Moonshiner’s Atlas.” Written in the Newark airport and so
named after my friends Jimmy and Maggie told me that the original title
“The People Mover Is Not a Ride” was dumb. They, too, were right.
I was never sure what the phrase “Jerpoint Epiphany” actually meant, and
I’m still not. However, working on touching up this record for its reissue
brought up an old memory, one I’d completely forgotten about until now…
I was playing and staying at a Camphill Community called Jerpoint. Camphill
Communities are organic farms basically run by mentally disabled people.
It’s too long to go into what they do here, but it’s worth researching.
Camphill International is an awesome organization. They occasionally have
musicians perform in their communities and I’ve been lucky enough to be
among those who are invited to play.
Camphill Communities are based in part on the philosophies of Rudolf
Steiner, who is probably best known for his influence on the Waldorf
Education System. This influence can also be found in the architecture -
with its emphasis on natural elements and buildings made of wood, tile,
glass and stone. It was here that I found this tile-lined sun porch, maybe
6x10, just off of the main house. It was a beautiful room with a resonance
that suited my instrument and my voice perfectly. Enamoured with the space,
I propped myself up in a chair and sang my heart out. I sang every song I
could think of that I could play on dulcimer for what seemed like hours.
But unbenounced to me, Robert had been out for walk in the countryside. As
he was returning to the house, he heard me singing, and sat himself behind
a bush to listen. Now, Bob is an absolute genius when it comes to seizing
the moment; seriously, i’ve never met anyone better. I wasn’t auditioning
for the guy, and he probably wasn’t thinking seriously about working with
me at that point either. But here was an opportunity to hear someone
singing for themselves, unfettered and just for the sheer joy of it. We all
know it happens but how often do we ever see or hear it? Rarely, if ever,
would be my guess. He must’ve liked what he heard, ‘cuz later that night at
the pub (this is Ireland after all) he told me that if I wanted to record
an all-dulcimer record, he’d produce it and put it out on his Blaine Street
record label. And the rest--as they say--is history. History that you can
So in honor of its tenth anniversary, I’ve made a limited run release of
the “The Moonshiner’s Atlas”. The album is remastered and features the
original artwork from back when I was going to call it “Jerpoint Epiphany.”
There will also be links to downloads of the lyrics, demo versions and
alternate takes. There’s only 100 of these being made (in digipacks) and
once they’re gone I’ll go back to the original brown artwork in sleeves.
There’s also a tab and a songbook for it as well. We’ll see if my printer
can have them up in time for KMW. But if not, they’ll be on the website
soon and I’ll let you know here as well.
KMW starts next week and it’s gonna be a great one. Not only is this one of
my favorite festivals to play, the lineup (as usual) includes some of my
absolute favorite people on the planet, and some new faves as well. There’s
still time to sign up if you haven’t, but one way or the other I hope to
see somewhere soon.
C-ya out there.
"Now I know what a dulcimer is supposed to sound like" —Jake Shimabukuro
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