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The WDVX Blue Plate Special – 10/6 – Jamie Adamson / Caleb Caudle
October 6, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Forsythia, the latest studio LP offering from Caleb Caudle, is a portrait of his truest self, of the artist at his most solitary and reflective. Thematically, it meets anticipation for the unknown future with nostalgia for the past, and reconciles both with meditation in the present. It paints a vision of who Caudle was, is and will hopefully be someday. The album, recorded at Cash Cabin and produced by John Carter Cash, features acclaimed session players Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Dennis Crouch and Fred Eltringham, and the vocal talents of Carlene Carter, Elizabeth Cook and Sarah Peasall McGuffey. Due to circumstances beyond his control, Caudle saw Forsythia as possibly his final album, and somehow turned that fear of the unknown into his most meticulous and expertly crafted collection of songs to date.
On his last release, Better Hurry Up, Caudle found himself feeling like time was moving too fast. For nearly a decade, he was consistently writing, recording and releasing new material then touring it around the world while working on the next project. The hustle of being a musician left little time to pause and think ahead further than the next album cycle. In 2019, he and his wife left their home state of North Carolina to move to Nashville. He jumped in and began working with bucket-list collaborators at his dream studio, the Cash Cabin, shortly after their arrival. By early 2020, with a new home base in a community of musicians, a few years of sobriety under his belt and the release of his best album yet imminent, Caudle was prepared for the next phase of his career. But a few days before Better Hurry Up came out, a devastating tornado ripped through Nashville; a week later, just before he was set to depart for a lengthy tour, the world went into lockdown.
“At the time I had no idea just how much work would get taken away,” explains Caudle. “It took awhile to come to terms with but I knew I needed to turn my focus to the things that made me feel normal. Hiking and writing became a daily routine as I learned the importance of living in the present.”
For the first time in a long time, he had nothing but time. The couple moved back to the mountains of North Carolina for the duration of the pandemic, where he spent most of his time in the woods– hiking, observing, thinking. He considered many things he hadn’t before, like where he wanted to eventually be in life and at the end of his career. His attunement to nature opened him to channel the muse, penning his simplest desires into song. On these hikes, and in his songwriting, oak trees represented memories of pocket knives and toy slingshots bought from the general store on the rural road he grew up on; and blooming, bright yellow forsythia bushes became omens, much like their use as a symbol for “anticipation” in literature and folklore.
“The natural world has always shown up in my lyrics but with these songs I felt that get magnified,” says Caudle. “The beauty and force of it all became sacred to me. I felt unplugged from the hustle and free to pay close attention to the details and it completely changed my approach to life.”
As uncertainty for how to earn a living as a musician in a world with no live music loomed, Caudle decided to make what he thought could be his last album. He took John Carter Cash up on his offer, made over a fishing trip, to produce his next record. John Carter Cash recruited Jerry Douglas and Sam Bush to play on the sessions alongside Dennis Crouch and Fred Eltringham. Caudle asked previous collaborators Carlene Carter and Elizabeth Cook to sing alongside him. The carefully selected group gathered within the holy walls of Cash Cabin, surrounded by instruments, photos and artifacts from the family. The perfect alchemy of self-reflection, powerful songs and support from a room full of Nashville’s top musicians gave Caudle the confidence to record an album he would be happy with, even if he never had a chance to make one again. He’s an artist who has always done things his own way. While he draws influence from the legendary lineage of country musicians whose presence can be felt in the Cash Cabin, he’s never set out to write recreations of Carter Family or Johnny Cash songs– or replicate sounds from country music’s past. On this record, outsider influences come into play nearly as much as his foundational knowledge of traditional Appalachian folk and other music history. Simplistic arrangements– in which Caudle was the only guitarist– built a framework for space that is filled intentionally so that the songs themselves can be heard and appreciated without an overcrowding of instrumentation.
“I knew I had to bring the best 10 songs I could possibly write,” Caudle says. “I had been singing into my phone for a year and a half, not playing music with anyone. The first time I played with other musicians again was with Jerry, Sam, Dennis and Fred. I wish I could bottle that feeling up and sell it. It was pure magic and exactly what I needed.”
Jamie Adamson has spent the majority of his life singing and writing songs. Jamie grew up between Alabama and Mississippi where he was either listening to his Grandpa Herman play guitar or fiddle around the wood stove in the back room of their old general store home place or watching his mother and dad sing in church. Jamie eventually became a part of those old gospel style camp meetings where he started out playing a snare and high-hat with Pastor Ray Thompson. Jamie would soon get his first guitar at age 13 from Pastor Ray and take his first crack at learning to play an electric guitar. The skills he learned early in life carried him on to Nashville at the age of 23. Where he honed his singing and guitar skills to the degree of actually becoming a working musician. Jamie toured the casino and club circuit for many years and shared a stage with greats like Steve Cropper of The Blues Brothers Band, Blind Mississippi Morris, Jerry Waddell, Ryan Larkins from CMT Can You Duet, Jennie C Riley, and Mark Collie. Jamie moved back to the Alabama Gulf Coast in 2015 and is looking to build on the music career he started in Tennessee. If you have an opportunity to see him perform you will not be disappointed. Jamie’s songs are written with heart felt lyrics, coming from true life experiences, and filled with pure raw emotion.