As I look back on this year, one of the things I’m proudest of is the new album I released this past May. After the songs were written, I had a dream team of musicians I wanted to feature on this album, and to my surprise they were all able to find time in their busy schedules to help make this album everything I wanted it to be. (Almost all – Ben Folds never responded to my emails). So I wanted to share with you a little about these people I am so proud to have worked with.
(If you bought the physical CD version of “Philip”, you can find these credits in the booklet!)
KRISTOPHER KEUNING. To say Kris is the “drummer” on the album wouldn’t do him justice. He has always been extremely dedicated to helping me fine-tune my songwriting and sound. Months before we got in the studio, while still in the songwriting process, I kept giving Kris rough drafts of songs on CD-Rs and he kept giving me feedback which helped me immensely in deciding which songs to record and how to record them. That said, Kris’ drumming on this album is superb. As these songs were recorded live, Kris’ percussion kept the tempo consistent and accurate, while still allowing for expression and feeling. During a 10 hour recording session, all I remember him eating was a bag of Doritos. Definitely couldn’t have done this without him.
BRANDON MINNIS. I met Brandon through Kris a few years back, and as we played more gigs together, it became clear to me that Brandon’s bass playing was going to be a must on this record. What I didn’t know originally is that he could sing too, and you can hear his vocals featured on “Home of the Brave” and “Keep Up the Fight”. As mentioned above in regard to Kris’ drumming, Brandon’s bass playing was all done live in studio, with no splicing of bass parts, and it is perfect. Recently Brandon’s career led him to a move to Ohio, but I’m extremely thankful for the time he spent in the Quad Cities and that I was able to have him play bass on the album.
PAT STOLLEY. Pat is a sound engineer who owns FutureAppleTree studio in Rock Island, IL. He specializes in analogue recording and, has a very long list of incredible recordings under his belt. Having Pat record my album to tape seemed unattainable – I didn’t think he had time, and if he did I thought it would be too expensive. However, after sitting down with him, he explained to me that he had time, his rates were reasonable, and he was very interested in working with me to find a sound we could both be really proud of.
The chilly morning of February 13th, 2017, Kris, Brandon and I met Pat at the studio and he worked tirelessly, finding the right mic, getting the right mix, constantly back and forth from the mixing room to the studio, to help us record 8 songs in one day.
MATT VAN. Matt Van is a singer-songwriter and producer who I met playing open mic around the Quad Cities. Matt mastered every song on “Philip” and despite never having worked with an analogue recording before, hit the perfect balance between achieving loudness and sensitivity to tone and texture. In the past few months several other sound engineers have been impressed with the mastering and asked me, “Who mastered that album?” Matt Van.
CALLEN BROWN. Callen’s beautiful trumpet playing on “Be in the Time” expresses this song just as much as the lyrics. Callen is currently studying Music Education at WIU, works, does theater, and is just extremely busy, so I was extremely honored she made time to grace this song with her oh-so-smooth tone.
LEAH SPROTT. Leah is my sister, and a songwriter, among many other talents and roles. I’ve always been impressed by her effortless way of writing a catchy song with relate-able words. Leah and I have that thing where your voices blend together cause you’re related. So getting Leah’s voice on this album was a must. She sings on “Music is the Only Drug I Need” and “Keep Up the Fight” and her voice is just the right thing.
STEPHANIE SEWARD. Stephanie has recently graduated with her masters degree in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, and has dedicated herself to helping people and making the world a more loving place for everyone. Stephanie generously made time to get in the studio and add her beautiful melodies and harmonies to “Keep Up the Fight” and “Heaven on Earth”. Working with her was a delight.
MIRACLE LEACH. Miracle is a 25-year-old gospel singer/songwriter from Joliet, IL When I first met Miracle at a gig, a mutual friend invited her up to the stage to sing. She was a bit shy and maybe a little embarrassed at the impromptu invitation, so when she started singing, I was shocked at the power, expression, and amazing tone of her voice. From then on she stayed in my mind as a person I wanted to sing on the album, and you can hear her on “Heaven on Earth” and “Keep Up the Fight”.
FAITH HARDACRE. I met Faith playing open mic in the Quad Cities, and we have played several concerts together. She has a unique talent at understanding how to vocally interpret a song. Her ability to harmonize on the fly is impressive. She sings on “Heaven on Earth”, “Keep Up the Fight”, and “Music is the Only Drug I Need”
AMMON PAQUETTE. Ammon is an acoustic musician who has recently moved from the Quad Cities, so I’m especially thankful he stayed around long enough to record those warm violin tones on “Slow Lane” and “Color and Warmth”.
JOSH FORBES. I’ve been gigging with Josh for a while now and he’s become a great friend in addition to being a great sax player. We wanted to go for a bit of a LeRoi Moore sax sound on “Home is Where” and Josh nailed it.
CHRISTOPHER BELL. I knew I wanted cello on “Jesus & Mary” and I knew I wanted Chris Bell to record it. Without his cello, the emotion of this song isn’t the same. Chris is a songwriter and engineer who currently lives in Nashville, TN.