On episode 71 of the Americana Music Show, John Lilly talks about meeting Bill Kirchen and Bill’s help on his most recent CD, Cold Comfort; how he funded the CD by winning a songwriting contest; working at the Country Music Hall of Fame and getting to visit “the cathedral of Country Music”; his yearly Hank Williams Tribute show; and introduces us to three songs on his Cold Comfort CD.
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John Lilly talks about Cold Comfort, his most recent release, which debuted at the top of the Freeform American Roots Chart. He talks about how the technical production and the fullness of the sound came together and the musicianship of everyone on the CD.
John Lilly talks about Bill Kirchen playing on the CD. He tells the story about how he met Bill Kirchen at a party in the Washington DC area in 2002. So John Lilly introduced him self and talked about how much he liked the Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen era of his music Bill Kirchen invited him to get guitars out and started playing music right away. They’ve been friends for a long time and Bill Kirchen helped him line up the producer and some of he musicians on the CD.
John Lilly introduces “Come and Go,” the track that finance a big part of the CD. He entered a songwriting contest that was being sponsored by Midas Muffler and Spin Magazine. They were looking for the “Next Great Road Song.” So John wrote a travel song. It was an online voting thing. He had to pester all his friends and family and Facebook Friends to vote. He sent out press releases to media outlets to try to get it to be a statewide pride issues and on the last day of voting he surged from #4 to #1 and won it. The prize money helped finance the rest of the CD.
John Lilly talks about his gig as a tour guide at the Country Music Hall of Fame. He says it taught him how to talk and walk backwards. He said it was interesting and tedious. He says it was kind of like a Country Music College. The first two weeks they let him do nothing but listen to music. And John Lilly is interested in early country music. John Lilly described it as “the cathedral of country music.” He was amazed that he could listen to music from his some of his favorites like Molly O’Day, Skeeter Davis, and Jimmy Work.
John Lilly said the most interesting thing he learned while working at the Country Music Hall Of Fame was that Nashville wasn’t always the center of country music. It was a deliberate decision to consolidate the country music industry together so they could pool their resources and stand up to the increasing popularity of rock and pop music. So consolidating in Nashville enabled them to have radio conventions and fan gatherings etc to build it back up. The “Nashville Sound” was part of that to keep country music viable.
John Lilly told a story about giving a tour to a group of fourth graders and Tammy Wynette was one on the chaperons. So he enjoyed getting to ask Tammy about some of the memorabilia. He also got meet people like Kitty Wells, Bill Monroe, and Harold Bradley.
John Lilly introduces the title track, “Cold Comfort.” His co-producer, Tommy Detamore. He lined up the musicians. This cut was recorded Detamore’s studio in Forestville Texas. He knew all the best Texas honky tonk musicians. John told Tommy he wanted to recreate “that Ray Price shuffle” and he knew exactly how to put that together.
John Lilly talked about the harmony on “Cold Comfort” and how they had to tune it to A-flat. He talks about the relaxed aching quality of the vocals for that style of music. It’s not tense like bluegrass. There’s a ringing sound in the formation of vowels.
John Lilly talks about his Hank Williams tribute concert that he does in West Virginia every year. Hank Williams was found dead in Oak Hill West Virginia on New Years day. John Lilly’s day job is editor os the state’s history and folk life magazine, called Goldenseal. They did a big report on Hank Williams’ death because a lot of the people who were involved in reporting and investigating his death were still alive and in the area. (You can parts of the article in the Winter 2002 issue of Goldenseal.) John’s friend Rob McNurlin started to do a Hank Williams tribute in one of the small towns in West Virginia. It turned into an annual event that grows every year. This year it’s on January 7th in Charleston West Virginia at the Clay Center for the performing arts. (See John Lilly’s tour calendar for details.)
John Lilly introduces “Somewhere In Texas,” It’s a guitar and vocal CD. He slept in Detamore’s recording studio the last night of the recording. And Detamore had to slam the door because it had been raining and the door had swollen. That door slam triggered the opening line of the song.
John Lilly talks about working as an independent artist. He says that on each CD he does try to go through the motions of pitching it to labels, but they always decline. And then he puts it out independently and has success with them. He says working independently enables him to make a lot more money per CD sale than he would with a label. He also talks about how working independently enables him to pick the musicians he wants to work with.