GILLIAN WELCH’S THE HARROW & THE HARVEST OUT NOW ON VINYL VIA ACONY RECORDS
THE HARROW & THE HARVEST IN CONCERT VINYL RELEASE TOUR
Gillian Welch has announced additional tour dates on The Harrow & The Harvest In Concert Vinyl Release Tour, adding shows in San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and two nights in Portland (full details below). On this tour, Welch and her musical partner, Dave Rawlings, will perform 2011’s GRAMMY-nominated The Harrow & The Harvest, which the Washington Post called “Welch…at her haunting, heart-aching best,” in its entirety. Tickets for these dates are on sale now and can be purchased here. The duo, accompanied by a full band, will also perform as Dave Rawlings Machine in cities including St. Paul, Bloomington, Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago (full dates below).
The Harrow & The Harvest was released for the first time ever on vinyl via Gillian Welch’s own Acony Records on July 28th. Of the process Welch reveals, “We have been working and waiting 20 years to bring you our music on phonograph record. It took a while, because we wanted to do it the right way, the absolute best way humanly possible, and I believe that’s what we’ve done. No sonic stone was left unturned, no nuance let fall by the wayside. There is honestly nothing else I can imagine hoping to hear out of the original tapes. It is all there in the groove. As people whose lives were changed by the sound of music coming off turntables, we humbly invite you to include us in your record collection.” The single LP will be packaged in an “Old Style” tip-on gatefold jacket with custom paper and will include full color cover art by artist John Dyer Baizley, also of the group Baroness, as well as a printed sleeve, and full lyric insert. The album was mastered directly from the original tapes through custom Ortofon amplifiers to a Neumann VMS-80 cutting system and plated and pressed on standard-weight audiophile-quality vinyl at Quality Record Pressings, and can be pre-ordered here.
Recently, Rolling Stone Country premiered the music video for Gillian Welch’s “Dark Turn Of Mind,” off The Harrow & The Harvest, calling it “spectacularly haunting”. The video features never before seen footage and you can watch it here.
The Harrow & The Harvest was GRAMMY nominated for Best Engineered Album (Non Classical) and Best Folk Album and highly praised by critics worldwide, including Uncut Magazine who called The Harrow & The Harvest a “timeless country classic,” NPR Music who proclaimed that the album “grabs the attention of a new generation” and The AV Club who said, “Welch and longtime partner David Rawlings are flawless.”
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings have recorded 8 studio albums and have lent their talents to countless fellow artists’ recordings. On August 11th, Welch & Rawlings will release their latest collaboration, David Rawlings’s Poor David’s Almanack, a wry mixture of acoustic and electric music rich in ageless American vernacular. The album of ten new songs was crafted by studio wizards Ken Scott (Beatles, David Bowie) and Matt Andrews on analog tape during a week of sessions at legendary Woodland Sound Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. Read more about Poor David’s Almanack here. Additionally, in recognition of their remarkable career, Welch and Rawlings were honored with the Americana Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting in 2015 and the Berklee American Masters Award in 2016.
THE HARROW & THE HARVEST TRACK LIST:
1. Scarlet Town
2. Dark Turn of Mind
3. The Way It Will Be
4. The Way It Goes
6. Down Along the Dixie Line
7. Six White Horses
8. Hard Times
9. Silver Dagger
10. The Way the Whole Thing Ends
“The Harrow & The Harvest” Tour Dates – Tickets at http://gillianwelch.com/tour/
October 3 /// San Diego, CA /// Balboa Theatre
October 4 /// Los Angeles, CA /// Orpheum Theatre
October 6 /// San Francisco, CA /// The Fillmore
October 9 & 10 /// Portland, OR /// Newmark Theatre
October 11/// Seattle, WA /// Moore Theatre
Dave Rawlings Machine Tour Dates – Tickets at http://www.daverawlingsmachine.com/tour/
August 16 /// Louisville, KY /// WL Lyons Brown Theatre
August 17 /// St. Louis, MO /// Sheldon Concert Hall
August 18 /// Kansas City, MO /// Folly Theater
August 20 /// Lyons, CO /// Rocky Mountain Folks Festival
August 23 /// Minneapolis, MN /// Pantages Theatre
August 24 /// Madison, WI /// The Capitol Theater
August 25 /// Chicago, IL /// Thalia Hall
August 26 /// Bloomington, IN /// The Bluebird
Not to get too meta about it, but the time was never more ripe for a Revival revival than on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Gillian Welch’s debut album, which helped launch not just her career but an entire musical movement. Revival, produced by T Bone Burnett and originally released in 1996 on the Almo Sounds label, was and remains one of the flagship albums of the contemporary roots revolution that came to be dubbed Americana, proving just how detailed and rich austerity can sound. Twenty years later, this landmark is being celebrated with Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg, a double-disc collection of outtakes that would make for a fine Gillian Welch release in its own right, even if the mother album had never existed.
These aren’t just demos or alternate takes of the familiar material from Revival, although there is certainly some of that. Among the 21 tracks are eight songs that Welch never ultimately put down on that or any other record, including “Dry Town,” a longtime live fan favorite that Miranda Lambert and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band got around to including on an album before Welch ever did. Also included are separate demo and outtake versions of the song that put her on the map — “Orphan Girl,” recorded by Emmylou Harris just prior to Revival, in a cover so compelling that it whetted music aficionados’ appetite for Welch just on the basis of a songwriting credit alone.
“Listening to these outtakes again, I see why it wasn’t the for-all-time snapshot of the song, but really, they all have something to recommend them,” Welch says. “Think how beautiful and precious your family snapshots are when you just have, like, four. And it’s your mom trying to fish something out of the trunk of your old car, and suddenly, at a couple-decade remove, it’s perfect. All it was was a stupid, misfired snapshot of her taking groceries out of the trunk, but it seems to capture everything you remember about your mother. The hope is that this archival project will have some of that.”
You can find whatever layers of irony you like in the fact that some of us are experiencing a nostalgia for the era that brought us Revival, when that album evoked a wistfulness for a far more distant time, when acoustic brother-act giants still walked the earth and novelistic murder ballads were a viable commercial subgenre. But time (revelator that it is) has always been a funny thing in Welch’s world. Songs that seem to be set long ago in a dust-bowl galaxy far, far away might actually take place in the present, even if her old-time recording rigs or careful use of occasionally archaic language suggest a trip back in time. Gillian Welch music exists fairly outside of time… which doesn’t mean she fails to keep an eye on the calendar.
The 20th anniversary of Revival gave her and musical partner Dave Rawlings the excuse or deadline they needed to hunker down and focus on their first real retrospective project.
“When you tape all your shows and save your tapes and you keep all this stuff — basically, when you compile an archive — the assumption is that, at some point in the future, you’ll start to go through it and see if there’s anything of value or at least of interest,” says Welch. “So we kept waiting and wondering when that day would come that we would be able to bring ourselves to start going through this pretty extensive vault. And the real lynchpin of this project, the whole reason this happened, is because we found this guy Glen Chausse,” she adds, referring to their now-official archivist. Chausse has been a friend of Rawlings’ since they were growing up in the same small Rhode Island town, and it was Chausse who convinced his pal to pick up a guitar so they could play Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” in a high school talent contest. All these decades later, he was the man most responsible for making Bootleg more than a whim. “Glen is a man of impeccable taste. If he said, ‘Man, this is great!,’ we trust him. And we had the added impetus of this 20-year mark for Revival. Those two things combined are why we finally actually did it.”
There was a lot of material for Welch, Rawlings, and Chausse to wade through. In the end, there are 19 distinct songs among Bootleg’s 21 tracks, with only “Orphan Girl” and “Paper Wings” appearing in two versions apiece. “We probably came into that session with about 35 songs, for a 10-song record,” Welch recalls. “And it was an interesting process, because of the way T Bone Burnett and Rik Pekkonen (the mixing engineer) had decided to work, Rik was a proper, old-school-enough engineer that he was live-mixing stuff to mono tape, while we performed, just as if it was 1958,” she laughs. “So we didn’t have to go back in and do that terrible thing where you attempt to deal with raw tracks and mix them 20 years after the fact. Everything was mixed.”
Everything was mixed from the T Bone Burnett sessions, that is. Not everything from that era was quite so ready for prime time. “The cassette home demos were probably the diciest,” she says. “Twenty-plus-year-old cassette tapes! But, you know, tape is a marvel.”
If you know anything about Gillian Welch, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that her love of tape runs across the board, and that she is no enthusiast of digital.
“If you snapped your fingers and there was no more tape, it would be really hard for me to make records,” she says. “I don’t want to make records that way, at all. I’ve done it. Every now and again you’ll be asked to do a one-off for a tribute project or something, where you go in sing on someone else’s thing, and they’re working digital. But tape changes stuff. And that never happens on the digital. You don’t get that weird thing where suddenly it goes from a recording to art. It’s that same thing that film does. Film is not reality. Tape is not reality. Tape is paint. It’s an altered reality. It’s a beautifully altered reality, just as film is. That is not the way the world looks. The same thing with tape: That is not the way the world sounds. But it’s so beautiful. So, I don’t know how to work digitally. I suppose I could learn, but I have no desire to. Our entire process is built around the bravery and the brashness of tape, where you do not get to save everything. If you want to edit, you are slicing up your master. You’re destroying it to create something you are gambling is going to be better. And knowing that makes you tough, makes you sharp, makes you very opinionated. These are all good things when you’re an artist.”
She has her favorites among the altered-reality moments found on this Bootleg.
“I’m smiling right now as I even think about the early demo of ‘Dry Town,’ and no bones about it, it’s a pretty damn good song. It’s funny, the rhymes are really good, and it’s a good story. And then we did it with a great musician that we just loved who passed away right as we were starting to make our second record, Roy Huskey Jr., who was a really famous upright bass player here in Nashville. The fact that he’s on this demo is partly why it’s very near and dear to our hearts. He takes a really rippin’ bass solo. He was such a humble dude, it was hard to get him to step out, but we managed to get him to take the solo on it, so it’s a little treasure.
“This whole thing is riddled with really, really early moments. These are the first couple days that Dave ever played his little Archtop guitar. He had just gotten it and strung it up. It was also true on Revival, but some of these things in this new Bootleg release are less polished and more exploratory, and he was really goofing around and experimenting with ‘Wow, what does this do?,’ because he had only played a flattop prior to that. I really love that, and it kind of blows my mind that the first few hours of Dave translating the guitar player that he had been before onto that Archtop are there on tape.
“And while I see why the version of ‘Annabelle’ that is on Revival is the master, this earlier version has such beautiful things. Because it’s an earlier take, I can tell that my connection to the story is just a tiny bit crisper. I’m really in the narrative, and it’s a tiny bit more immediate. And you can hear Dave searching for what to play to amplify the emotional color. It’s a little freer, and it goes a little sideways. His solo is a little brasher, a little bolder, and kind of goes outside of the idiom.
Performance nuances aside, Welch says, “I’m happy that the songs hold up. That’s probably the thing I’m most proud of. You know, there is that interesting moment in any writer’s first batch of songs — or any writer’s first novel or a filmmaker’s first movie — that always seems to have something that is different from what comes after. Something happens in that first push, maybe because you’re usually up against more resistance. But there is a purity or a diamond hardness to the first batch that doesn’t seem to happen again. And so Revival has that when I look at it. Maybe it’s lack of ego. You know, there really was no me,” she laughs. “The artist Gillian Welch didn’t really exist. And then after that, I did.
“Nobody was really looking at us when we made that stuff. Everything in the very beginning was about trying to get attention, not dealing with attention. And that seems to be a difference that affects artists profoundly. Everything kind of changed after that in some way. So I’m not sure that the first stuff is better, but it does have a quality that I look at now and am able to say, ‘Wow, we were doing good work.’”
And that capacity for slightly begrudging self-appreciation is opening the archival floodgates. The No. 1 appended to the Bootleg in this album title? It’s not just there for show. “We already know what the next one’s going to be,” Welch says. After we’ve fully absorbed the double-album of entirety of this one, get ready for another Welch/Rawlings revival meeting.