"Thanks for all the interest in and orders for The America Gene. I wasn’t sure what would happen when I decided to self-publish but the response has been great. I have been down at the studio signing away so we can get all the orders out. We are not quite caught up, but we are working hard every day and expect to be sometime next week. I’m spending all my days signing books and writing a new one. Life is good.
I’m not sure how to describe the new book I am writing. It is non-fiction and is a kind of cross between memoirs and a catalog raisonne. It has given me a chance to go back over many of the ideas I explored when I was doing some of my early work and brings me right up to the present.
Right after the Monkees TV show closed down I started the First National Band with John Ware, Red Rhodes, and John London. I got a deal from RCA and the first album we recorded was Magnetic South, the first of a trilogy that included Loose Salute and Nevada Fighter.
Fortunatley for me Chet Atkins and Harry Jenkins were running RCA at the time so they were happy for me to be doing this type of music. It was the first time I was able to record it since I had written it because it didn’t fit with any of the Monkees shows or LP’s.
One of the many albums I was listening to during the writing and recording of the trilogy was Sweet Moments by the Blue Velvet Band. It had a big effect on me because it gave me courage to go ahead. They were all about my age – sort of – and they were playing great traditional music that was just like the title of their album.
The BVB was Eric Weissberg, Bill Keith, Jim Rooney, and Richard Greene. There is almost nothing out there about them that I can find now. I did find a single vinyl copy of Sweet Moments on Amazon and bought it. I lost mine years ago, and anyway it was worn out.
There are some very good copies of the music posted on You Tube. Here is a link.
I don’t imagine this music is for many of the Monkees fans since it is very traditional and the band is full on acoustic except for the Pedal Steel. The steel player was – dare I say it – almost as good as Red, but Red had a surreal quality that put him in a farther orbit than most of his peers and made his playing deep and rich with unique harmonies and motion — that made Red sui generis.
Sweet Moments is the way a traditional bluegrass band plays and sings ballads and slow swing dances. I loved this record. It’s great morning music, all daylight and flowers and lilting light on a rippling water. Nice for these tough times – nice for any time.
Thanks again for the support of America Gene."
Live in 2021