Todd Phillips (pictured at right) is the acoustic bassist of choice on many of the most innovative as well as traditional acoustic bluegrass (and beyond) recordings made over the last twenty years. A bassist since he was eleven years old, he has aligned himself with the finest musicians and creative contributors to acoustic instrumental music known, such as the original David Grisman Quintet and the Tony Rice Unit, as well as with bluegrass legends J.D. Crowe, Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, and many, many more. He currently records with a variety of artists, while writing, arranging, recording, and producing for his own projects.
Mike Marshall can play anything and everything (and he lives nearby). Since about 1979, when Mike joined The David Grisman Quintet, we've worked together regularly on a great variety of projects, bands, tours, recordings. He should be on every record I ever make, he's got the energy, the brains, the talent, and he can cook (and I do mean food).
Darol Anger is in the same class; but I'd say we've practically grown up together since 1975 when we began our apprenticeship with David Grisman about the same time. Darol's fiddle style is much the same now; he's one of a kind. He approaches the musical ideas as much as he is approaching the fiddle itself. I always get the feeling that if he didn't have the fiddle he'd still get those ideas out, even if he had to use garbage cans and hammers or anything he could find. But it's his confidence and mastery, and the sound of his instrument, that I've been proud to watch develop.
Scott Nygaard played a huge role in helping me get this record going. Scott knows his "old-time" material, and he sent me a tape with some of the best and obscure tunes that we used on the recording. Scott can also adapt from bluegrass to old-time, swing or jazzier complex chords to new-agey cross picking, or you name it. His flexibility adds much to the process of developing arrangements, and his solos are amazing.
Tim O'Brien is a songwriter, singer, mandolin/guitar/fiddle player. I hope you know his work with Hot Rize, Tim O'Brien and the O'Boys, and Tim and Mollie (his sister) O'Brien. Every bit of work he does with any group he's in is great. Tim really helped me out a lot; he just happened to be in the area, and he just happened to spend much of that time with me in the studio. His fiddling style added just the right element to the project.
Tony Trischka came to California frorn New York to take part in this recording. After his highly acclaimed World Turning record, I saw that his appreciation for the history of the music, and of the banjo, would be perfect for this project (and indeed it worked out). He added his bent to the tunes I had already picked out, and brought his own ideas for material as well. The Untitled piece especially is a great addition. Also, I want to mention that Tony was at the first album recording session I ever worked on. In Nashville, in 1975 with David Grisman, from 9pm to 9am after a week of recording The David Grisman Rounder Album, we cut an album side for Tony's Banjoland. I wanted to get even, so I worked him pretty hard while he was here this time.
Stuart Duncan, like Tim, I hadn't necessarily planned on. But while I'm traveling, or if I can get someone as they pass by in their travels, I'll do it. Stuart is just the best fiddle player there is, that's it, there is nothing else to say about it. When Stuart plays something, the whole piece and all the parts become focused. That sound and natural ability shines, and he gets the job done so efficiently there's time to hunt down the best home style Mexican food in Nashville too.
John Reischman and I are like brothers. John joined The Tony Rice Unit in about 1980 and we became great friends, recording on each others' records (listen to John Reischman/North of the Border) and we still are in a band together now (Kathy Kallick and the Little Big Band). I could only snag John for a few tunes this time because he has moved to British Columbia, but he was here for a day with Tony and Scott so we got to do Train on the Island, in which he gets to tear one up (John can really play really fast really good).
I've played on Laurie Lewis records before, but we really started hanging out together at "Bluegrass at the Beach" music camp in Oregon. She invited me to teach there in 1994 and 1995, and I had a great time learning how to teach six bass players at once and play in her band for an hour at the end of the week. I realized that Laurie has got drive - there's no falling asleep at the strings when she's in the band.