GET ON BOARD

Submitted by nonesuch on Thu, 01/06/2022 - 18:34
Release Date
DescriptionExcerpt

Nearly sixty years after they first played together, Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal, longtime friends and collaborators, reunite with an album of music from two Piedmont blues masters who have inspired them all their lives: GET ON BOARD: The Songs of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee. With Taj Mahal on vocals, harmonica, guitar, and piano and Cooder on vocals, guitar, mandolin, and banjo—joined by Joachim Cooder on drums and bass—they recorded eleven songs drawn from recordings and live performances by Terry and McGhee. “The music feels intimate and lived in, the sound of two old friends jamming away in a small room," says Rolling Stone. "But because they also want to romp things up, what could have been a tasteful salute becomes a record that’s bristlingly, viscerally alive." Grammy Nominee for Best Traditional Blues Album.

Description

Grammy Nominee for Best Traditional Blues Album

Nearly sixty years after they first played together, Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal, longtime friends and collaborators, reunite with an album of music from two Piedmont blues masters who have inspired them all their lives: GET ON BOARD: THE SONGS OF SONNY TERRY & BROWNIE MCGHEE, released April 22, 2022, on Nonesuch Records. A video for the track “Hooray Hooray” may be seen below, as well as an interview with Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal about the record. 

With Taj Mahal on vocals, harmonica, guitar, and piano and Cooder on vocals, guitar, mandolin, and banjo—joined by Joachim Cooder on drums and bass—the duo recorded eleven songs drawn from recordings and live performances by Terry and McGhee, who they both first heard as teenagers in California.

Explaining where Terry and McGhee took him musically, Cooder says, “Down the road, away from Santa Monica. Where everything was good. ‘I have got to get out of here,’ was all I could think. What do you do, fourteen, eighteen years old? I was trapped. But that first record, Get on Board, the 10” on Folkways, was so wonderful, I could understand the guitar playing.”

Taj Mahal adds, “I started hearing them when I was about nineteen, and I wanted to go to these coffee houses, ‘cause I heard that these old guys were playing. I knew that there was a river out there somewhere that I could get into, and once I got in it, I’d be all right. They brought the whole package for me.”

Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder originally joined forces in 1965, forming The Rising Sons when Cooder was just seventeen. The band was signed to Columbia Records but an album was not released and the group disbanded a year later. The 1960s recording sessions, widely bootlegged, were finally issued officially in 1992. Cooder then played on Taj Mahal’s 1968 self-titled solo debut album. GET ON BOARD is Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder’s first recording together since then.

Harmonica player Sonny Terry and guitarist Brownie McGhee, both originally from the southeastern United States, had active solo careers as well as collaborating with some of the most celebrated musicians of their time. But they were best known for their forty-five-year partnership, which began in 1939 and included mesmerizing live performances around the world and numerous acclaimed recordings.

Their Piedmont blues style became popular during the folk music revival of the 1940s and ’50s, centered in New York City’s flourishing club scene for jazz, boogie-woogie, blues and folk music. Terry and McGhee traveled in the same circles as Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Leadbelly, and Josh White, among others in a rich mix of writers, actors and musicians. As a new generation emerging in the 1960’s drew inspiration from folk and blues, Terry and McGhee toured the world as the foremost exponents of the acoustic music of the Piedmont. They were named National Heritage Fellows in 1982 in recognition of their distinctive musical contributions and accomplishments.

“You got the south on steroids, when you got the music of the south, the culture of the south, the beauty of the south, through Brownie and Sonny,” Taj Mahal says. He describes McGhee as a “solid rhythm player. To really play behind the harp like that. He would set stuff up. He wasn’t making many notes. Sonny had all the notes, running around. But Brownie, he laid it down.” Cooder adds: “This thing of squeezing the thumb and first finger and a little bit of the second finger, which I still do. I’d forgotten where it came from. That’s what Brownie did. I saw him do that and said, ‘I think I can do that.’”

Taj Mahal calls Terry “a wizard harmonica player.” Cooder says, “Sonny had incredible rhythm for one thing. Making sounds with his voice and the harmonica so you couldn’t tell quite which was which. He was good at that.”

“We’ve been doing this a while,” Cooder says. “Perhaps we’ve earned the right to bring it back. Taj Mahal concludes. “We’re now the guys that we aspired toward when we were starting out. Here we are now … old timers. What a great opportunity, to really come full circle.”

ProductionCredits

PRODUCTION CREDITS
Produced by Ry Cooder
Recorded, Mixed, and Mastered by Martin Pradler at Temple of Leaves, Altadena, CA and Wireland Studios, Chatsworth, CA, July 9-11, 2021
The Ton3s were recorded by Laphelle Taylor at Soul Lab Studio, Greensboro, NC

Package Design by Al Quattrocchi & Jeff Smith at Tornado Creative
Photos by Abby Ross

ns_album_releasedate
Album Status
Artist Name
Taj Mahal
Ry Cooder
MusicianDetails

MUSICIANS
Taj Mahal, vocal, harmonica, guitar, piano
Ry Cooder, vocal, guitar, mandolin, banjo
Joachim Cooder, drums, bass
The Ton3s, background vocals on “Packing Up Getting Ready to Go”

reissues?
new-release
Cover Art
UPC/Price
Label
LP+MP3
Price
19.00
UPC
075597913231
Label
CD+MP3
Price
13.00
UPC
075597913255
Label
44/24 HD FLAC
Price
10.00
UPC
075597913200
Label
MP3
Price
9.00
UPC
075597913385

News & Reviews

  • Congratulations to all of the Nonesuch nominees for the 65th Grammy Awards: Molly Tuttle for Best New Artist and Best Bluegrass Album for Crooked Tree with Golden Highway; The Black Keys for Best Rock Album for Dropout Boogie and Best Rock Performance for "Wild Child"; Dan Auerbach for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical; Cécile McLorin Salvant for Best Jazz Vocal Album for Ghost Song and Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Vocals for "Optimistic Voices / No Love Dying"; Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride, and Brian Blade's LongGone for Best Instrumental Album; Brad Mehldau's Jacob's Ladder for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album; Punch Brothers' Hell on Church Street for Best Folk Album; Caroline Shaw & Attacca Quartet's Evergreen for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance; Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder's GET ON BOARD for Best Traditional Blues Album; Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition) for Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes for Bob Mehr; and Astor Piazzolla: The American Clavé Recordings. for Best Album Notes for Fernando González. 

  • Congratulations to all of the Nonesuch nominees for the 65th Grammy Awards: Molly Tuttle for Best New Artist and Best Bluegrass Album for Crooked Tree with Golden Highway; The Black Keys for Best Rock Album for Dropout Boogie and Best Rock Performance for "Wild Child"; Dan Auerbach for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical; Cécile McLorin Salvant for Best Jazz Vocal Album for Ghost Song and Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Vocals for "Optimistic Voices / No Love Dying"; Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride, and Brian Blade's LongGone for Best Instrumental Album; Brad Mehldau's Jacob's Ladder for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album; Punch Brothers' Hell on Church Street for Best Folk Album; Caroline Shaw & Attacca Quartet's Evergreen for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance; Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder's GET ON BOARD for Best Traditional Blues Album; Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition) for Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes for Bob Mehr; and Astor Piazzolla: The American Clavé Recordings. for Best Album Notes for Fernando González. 

  • About This Album

    Grammy Nominee for Best Traditional Blues Album

    Nearly sixty years after they first played together, Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal, longtime friends and collaborators, reunite with an album of music from two Piedmont blues masters who have inspired them all their lives: GET ON BOARD: THE SONGS OF SONNY TERRY & BROWNIE MCGHEE, released April 22, 2022, on Nonesuch Records. A video for the track “Hooray Hooray” may be seen below, as well as an interview with Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal about the record. 

    With Taj Mahal on vocals, harmonica, guitar, and piano and Cooder on vocals, guitar, mandolin, and banjo—joined by Joachim Cooder on drums and bass—the duo recorded eleven songs drawn from recordings and live performances by Terry and McGhee, who they both first heard as teenagers in California.

    Explaining where Terry and McGhee took him musically, Cooder says, “Down the road, away from Santa Monica. Where everything was good. ‘I have got to get out of here,’ was all I could think. What do you do, fourteen, eighteen years old? I was trapped. But that first record, Get on Board, the 10” on Folkways, was so wonderful, I could understand the guitar playing.”

    Taj Mahal adds, “I started hearing them when I was about nineteen, and I wanted to go to these coffee houses, ‘cause I heard that these old guys were playing. I knew that there was a river out there somewhere that I could get into, and once I got in it, I’d be all right. They brought the whole package for me.”

    Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder originally joined forces in 1965, forming The Rising Sons when Cooder was just seventeen. The band was signed to Columbia Records but an album was not released and the group disbanded a year later. The 1960s recording sessions, widely bootlegged, were finally issued officially in 1992. Cooder then played on Taj Mahal’s 1968 self-titled solo debut album. GET ON BOARD is Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder’s first recording together since then.

    Harmonica player Sonny Terry and guitarist Brownie McGhee, both originally from the southeastern United States, had active solo careers as well as collaborating with some of the most celebrated musicians of their time. But they were best known for their forty-five-year partnership, which began in 1939 and included mesmerizing live performances around the world and numerous acclaimed recordings.

    Their Piedmont blues style became popular during the folk music revival of the 1940s and ’50s, centered in New York City’s flourishing club scene for jazz, boogie-woogie, blues and folk music. Terry and McGhee traveled in the same circles as Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Leadbelly, and Josh White, among others in a rich mix of writers, actors and musicians. As a new generation emerging in the 1960’s drew inspiration from folk and blues, Terry and McGhee toured the world as the foremost exponents of the acoustic music of the Piedmont. They were named National Heritage Fellows in 1982 in recognition of their distinctive musical contributions and accomplishments.

    “You got the south on steroids, when you got the music of the south, the culture of the south, the beauty of the south, through Brownie and Sonny,” Taj Mahal says. He describes McGhee as a “solid rhythm player. To really play behind the harp like that. He would set stuff up. He wasn’t making many notes. Sonny had all the notes, running around. But Brownie, he laid it down.” Cooder adds: “This thing of squeezing the thumb and first finger and a little bit of the second finger, which I still do. I’d forgotten where it came from. That’s what Brownie did. I saw him do that and said, ‘I think I can do that.’”

    Taj Mahal calls Terry “a wizard harmonica player.” Cooder says, “Sonny had incredible rhythm for one thing. Making sounds with his voice and the harmonica so you couldn’t tell quite which was which. He was good at that.”

    “We’ve been doing this a while,” Cooder says. “Perhaps we’ve earned the right to bring it back. Taj Mahal concludes. “We’re now the guys that we aspired toward when we were starting out. Here we are now … old timers. What a great opportunity, to really come full circle.”

    Credits

    MUSICIANS
    Taj Mahal, vocal, harmonica, guitar, piano
    Ry Cooder, vocal, guitar, mandolin, banjo
    Joachim Cooder, drums, bass
    The Ton3s, background vocals on “Packing Up Getting Ready to Go”

    PRODUCTION CREDITS
    Produced by Ry Cooder
    Recorded, Mixed, and Mastered by Martin Pradler at Temple of Leaves, Altadena, CA and Wireland Studios, Chatsworth, CA, July 9-11, 2021
    The Ton3s were recorded by Laphelle Taylor at Soul Lab Studio, Greensboro, NC

    Package Design by Al Quattrocchi & Jeff Smith at Tornado Creative
    Photos by Abby Ross