“Hey, I never went away,” is what a lot of artists say when accused of making a “comeback album.”
Not Eric Brace & Peter Cooper. After releasing two duo albums that drew praise from a bevy of critics and colleagues, Brace and Cooper went away. They wandered across the U.S. and Europe to headline shows and to tour with luminaries including John Prine, Nanci Griffith, and Todd Snider. And they took a harrowing trip into the world of children’s music, earning a Grammy nomination (“nomination” is code for “they lost”) for producing I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow, a star-packed album that featured Hall, Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Bobby Bare, Duane Eddy, Jim Lauderdale, and many more.
Now, three years after their last adult-oriented (but not in an R-rated kind of way) release, Brace & Cooper return with The Comeback Album, a sparkling set that marries nine self-penned compositions with gems from Tom T. Hall, Karl Straub, and David Halley.
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Duane Eddy and Bluegrass Hall of Famer Mac Wiseman join Brace, Cooper, and country music torchbearer Marty Stuart for a revival of Hall’s “Mad,” and a band of players including Richard Bennett, Jen Gunderman, Rory Hoffman, Paul Griffith, David Jacques, Fats Kaplin, multi-instrumentalist/engineer Thomm Jutz and legendary steel guitarist Lloyd Green (the Byrds, Paul McCartney, Don Williams, etc.) provide the bed for Brace & Cooper’s splendid harmonies and deft storytelling.
The Comeback Album features scenes from a Johnson City jail, a Spartanburg slum, and the back ends of a few busted love affairs. It’s populated by fools, sages, tattooed sailors, victims and perpetrators, and for listeners, it’s a chance to come back and hear one of Americana music’s most intriguing and inventive acts.
Order The Comeback Album via the Red Beet Records website by clicking here.
Peter will appear on national television November 10, performing with Tom T. Hall and Lee Ann Womack on Austin City Limits Presents: Americana Music Festival 2012.
Recorded September 12 at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, the show features Bonnie Raitt, Booker T. Jones, Guy Clark, John Hiatt, Alabama Shakes, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Richard Thompson and many more.
Peter played guitar on a live version of "I Love," the title song from the Grammy-nominated I Love: Tom T. Hall's Songs of Fox Hollow album.
Peter co-produced and played guitar on Patty Griffin's version of Tom T. Hall's "I Love," a song that is nominated for Song of the Year at the Americana Music Association Honors & Awards.
"I Love" is the lead track of I Love: Tom T. Hall's Songs of Fox Hollow, the Grammy nominated Red Beet Records release. The song was a #1 country hit for Tom T. Hall in 1973. Now, 39 years later, Griffin's version is introducing "I Love" to new generations.
"Tom T. says he wrote "I Love" in five minutes, and recorded it in about four," Peter says. "That's nine minutes of work for a song that has thrilled millions. When Faron Young first heard that song, he was shocked that the guy who had written so many tough ballads about barrooms and graveyards was singing, 'I love little baby ducks.' In fact, Faron confronted Tom T. in the Nashville airport one day, saying, 'Little baby ducks? Have you lost your mind?' Tom T. just said, 'Hey, must be a hit.' I think he wrote that the same way he wrote most all of his songs: By writing the unfiltered version of what was on his mind. He really does love little baby ducks. So do I.
"When we recorded 'I Love,' I was playing guitar a few feet away from where Patty was singing," Peter continues. "And I had a great view through the glass of Tom T., sitting on a chair in the control room. He told Patty, 'If you forget any words, just make them up. That's what I did.' She didn't forget any words, she just opened her mouth and warmth and truth poured out. She sang it once, then said she figured she should sing it again. Co-producer Eric Brace and I agree, not 'cause there was anything wrong with what she did but because we wanted to hear her sing some more! What you hear on the record is exactly what happened on that second take. No tuning, no overdubs, just Patty and a spectacular band: Lloyd Green on steel guitar, Mike Bub on bass, Mark Horn on drums and me impersonating an acoustic guitar player. If you listen close, you might hear the tear that was in Tom T.'s eye as he heard Patty singing his words and melody."
The Americana Music Association's Honors & Awards show will be held Sept. 12 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
Here's Peter's new video, featuring Greer Stadium, a vintage Sounds jersey and plenty of toddler shots. Something for everyone!
I Love: Tom T. Hall's Songs of Fox Hollow has been nominated for a 2011 Grammy Award for Best Children's Album! You can hear the songs at www.songsoffoxhollow.com.
Produced by Peter Cooper and Eric Brace, the CD is a celebration of country music songwriting legend Tom T. Hall's 1974 album of songs for children of all ages. The songs on the album were performed by Tom T. Hall, Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Duane Eddy, Bobby Bare, Peter Cooper, Eric Brace & Last Train Home, Jim Lauderdale, Elizabeth Cook & Tim Carroll, Gary Bennett, Mark & Mike (Mark Horn & Mike "Supe" Granda), Jon Byrd, Tommy Cash, Bobby Bare, Fayssoux Starling McLean, and Baker Maultsby. The band included Lloyd Green on pedal steel guitar, Jen Gunderman on keyboards, piano, and accordion, Mike Bub on bass, and Mark Horn on drums.
The album was recorded at Tom T. and Dixie Hall's Fox Hollow farm. Engineers were Richard McLaurin, Alex McCollough, Troy Engle, and Adam Bednarik. It was mixed by Adam Bednarik at House of David and mastered by Alex McCollough at Yes Master in Nashville. Original album artwork was created by Julie Sola, with CD design by Bill Thompson.
I Love: Tom T. Hall's Songs of Fox Hollow is a co-release of Red Beet Records and the Country Music Hall of Fame's CMF Records. The Grammy Award winners will be announced on February 12, 2012.
Just in time for Tom T. Hall’s 75th birthday, Peter Cooper and Eric Brace have assembled the perfect cast to pay tribute to country music’s greatest storytelling songwriter. Gathered in the recording studio at Tom T.’s Fox Hollow farm, the group put their own spin on the Country Music Hall of Famer’s most beloved work, his 1974 album, Songs of Fox Hollow.
Indie label Red Beet Records has joined with the Country Music Hall of Fame’s CMF Records for the May 24 release of a new children’s classic, I Love: Tom T. Hall's Songs of Fox Hollow. The album features Peter and Eric, and includes musical contributions from Duane Eddy, Bobby Bare, Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale, Fayssoux McLean, Tommy Cash, Elizabeth Cook & Tim Carroll, Gary Bennett, Mark & Mike and Jon Byrd. Tom T. himself lends his vocals to a new song he and Dixie Hall wrote just for the occasion.
The original Songs of Fox Hollow was born one long-ago summer, when two young nephews of Tom T. and Dixie Hall spent the summer roaming the farm and asking Tom T. a host of questions about the land and the animals. To the kids, Fox Hollow was a place of activity and enchantment, and pretty soon Tom T.’s answers began to rhyme. The record that came about offers kids laughter, melody, and lessons in kindness, care, and conservation. For adults, it offers the same, as well as a welcome window into kids’ thoughts and feelings.
When it was released in 1974, Tom T. Hall's Songs of Fox Hollow produced two No. 1 hits, "I Love" and "I Care," and the album entered the consciousness of a generation. Recorded over three magical days at Fox Hollow - the farm that inspired the original album and is still home to Tom T. and Dixie - I Love: Tom T. Hall's Songs of Fox Hollow is a gem of Americana music, a new classic for kids and adults alike.
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper lay down a Herb Pedersen tune while aboard the Music Fog / Celebrity Coaches bus at Folk Alliance in Memphis. (2/20/10)
In the new issue of Nashville Arts & Entertainment magazine, Peter is named one of Nashville's "10 Most Interesting People," along Titans quarterback Kerry Collins, financial guru Dave Ramsey, American Idol contestant Mandisa, Nashville symphony conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, rock band Kings of Leon (actually, there are four of them, so it's really more like Nashville's 13 Most Interesting People, but still...) and other notables.
"At first, I thought something fishy was going on, because I am certainly not more interesting than Tom T. Hall," Peter said. "But then I remembered that Tom T. actually lives just outside of town, in Brentwood rather than in Nashville. And so I'm very pleased and humbled to be included on this list. I would like to congratulate the others on the list, and I wish to encourage those who didn't make it. Tim McGraw, Emmylou Harris, Kenny Chesney, John Prine and Al Gore: Keep on working, and you too may one day be considered this interesting."
Peter was also named best music writer in the Nashville Scene reader's poll for the eighth straight year, and his "715 (For Hank Aaron)" was included in Juli Thanki's list of five best baseball songs on www.the9513.com, along with tunes from Steve Goodman, Todd Snider, The Gibson Brothers and Alabama.
This fall, Peter and duo partner Eric Brace have shared stages with Nanci Griffith, Chris Smither and others, and played to a packed house at Nashville's Station Inn with an all-star band that included legendary steel guitar man Lloyd Green and legendary Dobro player Mike Auldridge. That band has also been in the studio with Peter and Eric, working on a follow-up to the You Don't Have To Like Them Both album. Peter and Lloyd Green have also completed an adventurous new album (due out in 2010), with help from Rodney Crowell, Kim Carnes, Fayssoux McLean, Julie Lee and others.
After a trip to Lambeau Field to witness Brett Favre's return to Green Bay, Peter will be hitting the road with Eric for shows in the midwest, the Atlantic seaboard and the cross-Atlantic seaboard (Ireland!).
Peter's Mission Door album is the subject of a Nashville Public Radio report, with commentary from Peter, Lloyd Green and new Country Music Hall of Famer Tom T. Hall. Click on the NPR logo or the link below to hear the story, which comes courtesy of WPLN's Kim Clark.
After an eventful tour of Holland and Germany, Peter is back in Nashville, working on songs, writing stories for The Tennessean and preparing for June shows in Virginia, Wisconsin and Ohio.