Jody Stecher’s new CD is named both for his recording it just after he turned 77 and because it is a collaboration with the young bluegrass band, Mile Twelve. Jody sings lead, plays guitar, and wrote eight of the 12 cuts. Mile Twelve’s personnel includes Ella Jordan on vocals and fiddle, Evan Murphy on vocals and guitar, Nate Sabat on vocals and bass, BB Bowness on banjo, and Korey Brodsky on mandolin. The lyrics and the songs reflect Jody’s love for quirkiness, and this collaboration really seems to suit the material well. The CD is available at Jody’s website and the tune notes are also there.
The CD opens with what Jody thinks is the first bluegrass rendition of “Geronimo’s Cadillac.” It begins with Jody’s guitar and Ella’s fiddle and then the others gradually join in. “When the Wind Comes Up” has a more typical bluegrass arrangement. The song is about both the wind in San Francisco and Jody’s love for the peace of the desert. “The Weight of the Years” is about getting older. “Jones Mill” is by Larry Sandberg and about a young man who takes a wrong turn in life. “Kaiser Bill” is about interdependence; you’ll have to listen to the song to get that. “The Only Sunshine” is about light and dark mixed with fog and has a minor feel. “John-John” is a tribute to the late John Herald. I remember seeing him perform in Berkeley not long before his tragic death. “Hanamariah” is Jody’s reworking of an old song in what he called a rockabilly style. Jody learned “How Sweet I Roamed” from a long-time friend of mine, 8-string dobro player Gene Tortorro, who got it from the Fugs. The lyrics were written by the teenaged William Blake and are a mystery to be unraveled. Next is a medley of “On the Way to Getting There” and “The Seventh Pterodactyl,” which is an instrumental which takes its title from the lyrics of the song. The song is set in the waters around San Francisco and feels like one of those dreams where you wonder where you are and what is happening. But is also about getting older. “Second Sail” is a song Jody heard in a dream. It has an unstable recurring theme. The CD ends with “Hoppin’ John,” which refers to a southern meal. It is musically inspired by blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin, who played with Howlin’ Wolf.
In “Mile 77,” Jody takes the listener on a journey to places few have ever seen or heard. These are places worth visiting.
The recording in various formats is available on Bandcamp