Daniel Davis Levin
Chris O’Connell & Don Margraf
For Song Records
It was always about a singer and a song. From the first mention of a recording project to the final master, and at every step along the way, this was to be about Chris O’Connell singing. In so much of western swing, which is so much of Chris’ history, the vocal takes a turn with the fiddles, guitars, horns, keyboards. Everybody gets a shot a interpreting melody. Everybody involved in this recording came to it with one goal: give this singer whatever she needs and let her run with it, because she is unbelievably good at what she does. Which, when it comes to spinning a song, turns out to be damn near everything.
There were daily little choices to be made. In picking songs, we favored songwriters who are pals from all the way back. In mixing levels we always turned the vocal up. In commercial considerations, a small joke developed: whenever the subject came up, the three of us looked at each other (Chris, me, Danny) and realized we knew absolutely zero about any of it, and went back to making everything sound good to our own ears.
Every player involved here is a top gun on an instrument (in Danny’s case, several) and that includes the completely amazing Bert Monroy. In these songs you hear that, but listen more than twice, you’ll hear and feel their complete respect and affection for the singer.
(Brenda Burns) Heavenly choir: Chris Piano, B-3: Danny Levin Electric rhythm guitar: Chris Bass: Tony Garnier Drums: James Gwyn Horns: Joey Colarusso
(Peggy Lee, Dave Barbour) Piano, B-3: Danny Levin Acoustic rhythm guitar: Chris Electric guitar: Derek O'Brien Bass: Tony Garnier Drums: James Gwyn Horns: Joey Colarusso
(Aubrey Mayhew, Johnny Paycheck) Tambourine: Chris Acoustic rhythm guitar: Chris Electric guitar: Junior Brown Electric baritone guitar: Bill Kirchen Electric guitar: Don Margraf Bass: Tony Garnier Drums: Kendrick Freeman
(Theodore Conyers, Lloyd Pemberton) Piano, B-3: Danny Levin Horns: Joey Colarusso Electric guitar: Don Margraf Bass: Cliff Hugo
(Traditional) Fiddle, cello, acoustic guitar: Danny Levin Lead Fiddle: Dennis Ludiker Dobro: Cindy Cashdollar Bass: Tony Garnier Acoustic guitar: Don Margraf Ukulele: Steven Strauss
(Brenda Burns) Piano: Danny Levin Accordion, percussion: Joel Guzman Acoustic guitar: Don Margraf Bass: Tony Garnier Drums: Kendrick Freeman Percussion: Chris Synth strings: Danny Levin Cornet: Chris Saunders Ghost vocals: Chris
(Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart) Piano: Danny Levin Fiddle: Paul Anastasio Bass: Tony Garnier Drums: Kendrick Freeman
(Leroy Preston, David Rhea) Backwoods harmony: Chris Dobro: Cindy Cashdollar Fiddle: Dennis Ludiker Acoustic guitar: Noah Jeffries Mandolin: Danny Levin Slap Bass: Tony Garnier Drums: Kendrick Freeman
(Bill Kirchen) Piano: Danny Levin Acoustic rhythm guitar: Chris Fiddle: Paul Anastasio Dobro: Cindy Cashdollar Trombone: Jon Blondell Pedal steel: Bobby Black Bass: Tony Garnier Drums: Kendrick Freeman Cornet: Chris Saunders
(Van Heusen, Sigman) Piano: Danny Levin Electric guitar: Carter Arrington Ukulele: Steven Strauss Bass: Cliff Hugo Drums: Kendrick Freeman
(Doc Pomus, Mort Schuman) Acoustic rhythm guitar: Chris Electric guitars: Don Margraf Electric guitar: Joel Jaffe Piano: Danny Levin Bass: Tony Garnier Drums: Kendrick Freeman
(Blackie Farrell) Piano: Danny Levin Bass: Jon Blondell "Peggy, the Cocktail Drum": Chris Electric guitar: Don Margraf
(Irving Berlin) Broadway chorus: Chris Piano: Danny Levin Fiddles: Paul Anastasio Ukulele: Steven Strauss Whistling lips: Bill Kirchen Trombone: Jon Blondell Bass: Cliff Hugo Drums: Kendrick Freeman