"Coast of the Soul." This was the second collaborative work between Chris Lowry and myself, the first of being 'my kind of nerdy thing.' I had come up with the basic guitar lines about a week before Chris came over to record, and just let him go for it.
Chris: "What do you think about using prepared viola?"
Me: "Sounds cool."
He had some paper napkins in his viola case (my guess is that he'd been dying to use them somehow) and proceeded to stuff some under the viola strings to get the buzzy plucked sound at the beginning of the piece.
From there we moved on to a more traditional pizzicato section for the viola, then the bow came out. The song then moves to a strummed (rasgueado) movement, very upbeat and percussive. It obviously needed some drums or perc in the track.
Chris: "How about if I play the viola drum?"
Me: "If you don't mind smacking it around."
So we recorded Chris smacking his viola. I keyed in a sample of a deep African drum and we had a rhythm track. Then came the lead sections. I wanted to keep this sounding fresh and improvisational, so we went back and forth, writing and recording our sections. I had to re-record my leads later that night, partly because I'm OCD, and partly because of cicada noise bleeding into my tracks. We actually had to redo a couple of the viola lines as well, because of the world's loudest insects, which led to the inspiration of another song on this CD...
With the guitar and viola finished, it really needed a bass line. I had keyed in bass lines to the other songs, but this one really needed something actually played, something special. I had just the guy in mind: Jeff E. Cox.
I've known Jeff and his wife Julie for years, and thought he'd bring the perfect touch to the song. He had recently recorded with one of my heros, Earl Klugh, the nylon guitar playing Jazz legend, so I was even more excited to get him to play bass on a couple of tracks.
I had an old email for Jeff, so I hadn't heard back from him for a few days after trying to get hold of him. I had just finished playing for a wedding at the Carnton Plantation in Franklin when I heard someone call out my name from the bandstand. Unbelievably, it was Jeff! It really is a small Nashville.
I sent him the tracks and he laid down the bass lines at home and sent them back to me via the internet. I plugged them in, mixed it together, and, voila!