Autumn officially takes the baton from summer, and it’s one of the more anticipated seasonal transitions. On this day in 1975, Pink Floyd’s game-changing album Wish You Were Here reached #1 in the U.S. On this day 45 years later, Madison, Tennessee’s Americana and folk picker Jordan Tice released his highly anticipated album, Motivational Speakeasy. It’s all connected- in a way.
And like many authentic Nashville-area artists, Tice gears more towards the community roots of the music than the glitz of country-pop stars in secluded recording studios, longing for photoshopped banners of themselves along Music Row. He lives in a Nashville that’s moved even beyond East Nashville’s hip, underground Americana scene to a more free-wheeling house session community based further down the Gallatin strip in Madison.
Whether it be the late night cosmic pickin’ parties at Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge, or back porch sessions within spitting distance of John Hartford’s cottage alongside the Cumberland River, it all lends itself to the essence and nucleus of Tice’s influence. He is a collaborator by nature, known for his work with progressive stringband supergroup Hawktail (featuring Brittany Haas and Paul Kowert of the Punch Brothers), but with Motivational Speakeasy, it is an intimate solo effort- just Tice and his cherished and well-worn Collings guitar.
The music of Hawktail showcases Tice’s distinguished instrumental skill, and his album displays this same guitar work as crisp and intricate as ever. His style is informed by everything from classical ragtime to psychedelic newgrass. Produced by close friend Kenneth Pattengale of The Milk Carton Kids, the focus of the recording was on finding the heart of Tice’s original songs and instrumentals, and honing on in his deep explorations into American fingerstyle guitar.
“So be it entertaining the idea of the Almighty-creator leaving a reminder on the refrigerator (“Creation’s Done”), a narrator arrogantly unaware of the inevitable demise he’s charted for himself and his unfortunate ex-lover (“Bad Little Idea”), or the waggishly-named “Bachelorette Party”—a two-minute guitar instrumental that took two years and countless iterations to shake off its feathers—Motivational Speakeasy equally evokes the smartest of songwriting as a form (à la early Paul Simon) and folk music’s ability to speak truthfully (like Jackson C. Frank’s “Blues Runs The Game”) all whilst buoyed by world-class guitar work on the level of (and inspired by) David Bromberg, Bert Jansch, John Fahey and Mississippi John Hurt,” says Pattengale.
Regarding his song “Walkin'”: “I wrote this song a few summers ago while walking around New York City hours before boarding a flight to Finland. I was feeling quite free, mobile, and generally peripatetic and I wrote the lyrics to the pace of my footsteps. The themes, both sonically and lyrically, to me are movement and transience and It was definitely inspired by Woody Guthrie/early Bob Dylan ramblin’ vibes. Hopefully it puts a spring in your step in this highly stationary time.”
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