A chance music-club encounter sparked Frisell’s bluegrass and country blues explorations with banjo player Danny Barnes and bassist Keith Lowe. “Over the length of 16 tracks,” says The Independent (UK), “the album accumulates a subtle resonancy that rings and rings.”
Guitarist, composer, and bandleader Bill Frisell released his 16th Nonesuch recording with The Willies. Taking the unique sound that the L.A. Weekly described “as unmistakably American as that of Charles Ives or Duke Ellington” deeper into aural explorations of American traditional music, The Willies is Frisell's characteristically inimitable and modern take on bluegrass and country blues.
The collection features eight traditional offerings including "Cluck Old Hen" and "Cold, Cold Heart," as well as eight original compositions. Produced by Lee Townsend and engineered by Tucker Martine, The Willies was recorded in Seattle at Flora Avenue Studio and features Frisell on electric and acoustic guitars and loops, Danny Barnes (Bad Livers) on banjo and guitar, and Keith Lowe (Fiona Apple, David Sylvian, and Wayne Horvitz’s Zony Mash) on bass.
“It’s hard to find a more fruitful meditation on American music than in the compositions of guitarist Bill Frisell," says the New York Times. "Mixing rock and country with jazz and blues, he’s found what connects them: improvisation and a sense of play.”
Produced by Lee Townsend
Recorded at Flora Avenue Studio, Seattle
Recording and Mixing Engineer: Tucker Martine
Mixed at Different Fur Recording, San Francisco
Assistant engineer: Adam Muñoz
Mastering by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, New York City
All compositions by Bill Frisell (Friz-Tone Music/BMI) except “Sittin’ on Top of the World,” “Cluck Old Hen,” “Sugar Baby” and “Blackberry Blossom” (Traditional); “John Hardy Was a Desperate Little Man” and “Single Girl, Married Girl” by A.P. Carter (Peer International Corp./BMI); “Cold, Cold Heart” by Hank Williams (Acuff Rose Music Inc./BMI); and “Goodnight Irene” by Huddie Ledbetter and John A. Lomax (Ludlow Music/BMI)
Design by Gwen Terpstra
Cover art by Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell electric and acoustic guitars, loops
Danny Barnes banjo, acoustic guitar, bass harmonica, pump organ
Keith Lowe bass