Making music with fiddle player, Stuart Duncan

I LOVE good fiddle playing. One of my favorite parts of making the “One Time” CD was flying down to Nashville with my producer, Lorne Entress, and meeting up with fiddle player Stuart Duncan for a day of recording at Compass Records Studio.

I’ve been admiring Stuart’s playing for years. I have so many CDs that include him on fiddle or mandolin (which is what he’s playing in the photo here) – it feels like he’s on half of the music that comes out of Nashville. The list of folks he’s played with goes on and on…Marty Stewart, Alan Jackson, George Strait, Patty Loveless, TBone Burnett, Alison Kraus & Robert Plant, and Elvis Costello, to name a few. He is an amazing fiddle player and everybody knows it.

Getting Stuart really felt like a long shot considering his resume, but Lorne and I decided to try. We knew it would add so much to the music to have his soulful playing on the CD. Lorne found Stuart’s wife and manager’s information and reached out. Lucky for us, he did have one day available between gigs (one with YoYo Ma) and he graciously accepted our offer to participate.

I’m always so happy to meet incredibly talented people who are also humble. That is definitely the case with Stuart. What a great guy. And to get to be in the studio with him for six hours was pretty darn cool. Mostly it was just fun to get to watch Stuart do his thing. The fact that he was enjoying playing my music was exciting for me. When he played on “Stay” he came out of the studio and said, “That’s a fun song. Who wrote it?” It felt good to say, “I did!”

Stuart’s playing on the CD totally fires me up. I listen to his solos over and over—they are high points for me. It’s clear he did have a lot of fun on “Stay” – his playing is playful and high energy. On “Ain’t No Grave” he got the old time feel down, complete with some killer “stabs” which I ask him for. He really rocked out on “One Time” – totally nailed it – and on “You Lied” his playing brought tears to my eyes. We asked him if he would play a little mando on Kris Delmhort’s tune, “Words Fail You” and his playing took the song to a whole new level.

I’m so happy that Stuart is on this CD. Thank you, Stuart, for being a part of the project and for playing so beautifully. It’s really a dream come true to have you on this record. And thanks to Tim Carter (yes, he’s from THAT Carter family), the awesome engineer and musician who recorded Stuart that day. He was super encouraging about my music and a lot of fun! Thanks also to the folks at Compass Studio. I felt right home there. I look forward to getting back there sometime soon!

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