about a year ago, I started to conceive a project of recording twelve instrumentals I wrote for a CD. The tunes are a collection of songs written on the mandolin. Six are Irish in nature. Two tunes are gypsy style in D-minor, two are bluegrass fiddle tunes, and the final two are waltzes. As the title implies, the inspiration for the music came primarily from my journeys and experiences throughout Ireland, Corsica, and the southern United States.
I have found that my environment, along with greatly varied life experiences, stimulates my best writing. When in a stimulating situation or location, I just seem to “find” tunes in my mandolin. The song Mary’s Last Waltz was found in my mandolin after my last visit with my mother before she died. I had the honor of playing that tune with my cousin at my mother’s funeral. The tune will be forever linked with memories of my mother and thus will always have a special place in my heart. Gretchen’s very emotional fiddle lead always makes me tear up. I feel in my heart that my mother would be honored by the tune.
At first, we were going to record the tunes by four of my friends playing the tunes live as a group. The result was not very good, mostly due to my lack of vision. On the advice of a number of people, we finally realized that we’d do much better recording each artist individually. We also started working on setting up a studio in my home. We made a strong effort to provide a comfortable, friendly atmosphere for the recording process with the belief that being comfortable results in music from the heart.
You have may have noticed that mentions of “I” in the dialogue evolved into “we.” As such, there are three people that need to be recognized:
- My friend, engineer, & co-producer, Brian Kelly, has provided artistic vision in which a large number of takes were expertly crafted into an artistic whole.
- Another friend and co-producer, Bob Nobles — besides playing bass and rhythm guitar on the project — has provided his finely-tuned ear as well as good advice on all aspects of the effort.
- Another friend, Jordan Bates, is the organizational glue that has held the business side of the project together.
We also reached out to a number of artists who agreed to work on this project. I am so humbled that such talented and wonderful artists spent time sharing their incredible vision and talent to this project. Now to introduce the musicians: On fiddle, the incomparable Gretchen Priest-May; on lead guitar, Stan Lawrence; on woodwinds, Dave Boisvert; on bass and rhythm guitar, Bob Nobles; and on mandolin, Tony Huber. I cannot say enough about the wonderful job these musicians did both in preparation and in the studio. As you will hear, the music speaks for itself.
— Tony Huber
Additional Releases (Bluegrass Unlimited, May 2014 issue)
by Bill Foster, Contributing Writer: Bluegrass Unlimited magazine
TONY HUBER & FRIENDS – BEARTRACKS: JOURNEYS – Tresbear Music 0001. This is a pleasant instrumental project from Huber and friends, showcasing his original songs with mostly Celtic feel. Huber plays mandolin, and his friends include Gretchen Priest-May (fiddle), Stan Lawrence (guitar), David Boisvert (woodwinds), Stuart Bonnington (banjo), and Bob Nobles (bass). The Celtic strains are heard throughout with tiles that include “Sailing the Irish Sea,” “Journey to Ireland,” “Docks of Dublin,” “Irish Smile,” and “Running Through the Garth.” There is also “Corsican Dance,” “Moorish Prince,” “Charlotte Waltz,” and “Mary’s Last Waltz.” Huber’s arrangements have a nice blend of the instruments and mostly feature the mandolin, woodwinds and the fiddle. However, with the exception of the two waltzes, the songs all seem to be in the same key and have a similar tempo. With the Irish bent, the CD may be a good source of tunes for St. Patrick’s Day. (Tresbear Music, 573 Southerland Road, Dickson TN 37055, www.tresbearmusic.com.)
Review by Amy Kurland, founder of Bluebird Cafe
Simple and homey, Tony Huber’s BearTracks: Journeys takes me away from the rush, glitter and madness of the 21st century. The music transported me to civil war camps, barn dances, the wharf, and maybe even the Russian ghettos of the late 19th century. The music isn’t one bit fancy or overdone; instead, it sounds genuine, as though I am hearing the music of ordinary working people playing to get through their days and times.
I enjoyed this album very much!
Founder, The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville
[ History of Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe ]
Review by Rich Fagen, songwriter
BearTracks: Journeys is a traditional folk album with twelve lovely, vibrant instrumentals written by Tony Huber. The accompaniment is simple but well played and full of spirit. These songs hearken back to a time before records, radio, or television — back when people sat round and played music for the pure love of it… and this really shows.
Beautifully simple & simply beautiful!