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  Western Bliss and Western Bling

Proving (twice) that good things are worth waiting for, Stephanie Davis follows her acclaimed 2003 Crocus in the Snow with two terrific releases that have long been in the works: Western Bling and Western Bliss.

Well known as an impressive performer as well as a gifted songwriter—Garth Brooks, Don Edwards, Trisha Yearwood, Maria Muldaur, Joey and Rory, Roger Whittaker, Martina McBride, Sam Moore and others have recorded her work—this time out she gives her inspired take on some well-chosen standards, and includes just one piece of her own. Both CDs are filled with a fresh and genuine originality in every aspect of production.

The songs will follow you around; they're contagious. You'll find yourself listening over and over to her unique, dazzling voice—always in perfect command—and its enormous range of emotions, which can be saucy and sweet, playful and serious, flirtatious and  innocent, and more. It all comes together with the rare quality of the inventive arrangements and the virtuoso musicians accompanying her: Cindy Cashdollar, Rich O'Brien, Reggie Reuffer, Clint Strong, and others. The projects exemplify Stephanie Davis's trademark for perfection.

The stand-out package design for each CD, with art by notable Montana artist Monte Dolack (www.dolack.com), is a great match for the spirited music inside.

Western Bliss will make you want to put on your dancing boots and head on out. It's a guaranteed good time. Ride along and find yourself "Hittin' the Trail Tonight" (Bruce Kiskaddon's poem put to music by Western Folklife Center Founding Director Hal Cannon), and that includes the wistful "Santa Fe
Trail" and the enchanting "Navajo Trail." When you get to the wild and flat-out fun "Bronco Buster's Ball" you'll be close to "Trail's End."

The "Trail's End Theme Song" is Stephanie Davis's song for her forthcoming radio show, which will include "sketches, sound effects, monologues, and the Trail's End Ranch Hand Band." A frequent guest on Public Radio's A Prairie Home Companion, its host Garrison Keillor urged her to create her own Trail's End Ranch Radio show. A show in 2007 at the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering tried out the concept with great success (watch and listen to it here on the Western Folklife Center's site).

Other highlights on Western Bliss include "Montana Cowgirl," "Old Faithful," and "Leanin' on the Old Top Rail."

Western Bling takes the romantic fork in the trail. Western Swing gets reinvented with this sparkling array of tunes, where Bob Wills meets Gershwin and they share the stage with the songs of Cindy Walker, the Mills Brothers, and Bobby Darin. Each track has its own special "bling." There's the hot opening track, "Talkin' 'Bout You," the steamy "Baby, That Sure Would Go Good," a most convincing "The Best Things in Life are Free," and a sweetly pouty "Slow Poke." You'll want to turn the lights down for "If I Had You."

Even heartbreak doesn't topple Stephanie Davis's signature humor and positive spirit. She describes "Nevertheless" in expanded liner notes, "...Ah, the terrible/wonderful angst of standing, trembling, hands clasped, legs poised, atop the High Dive Of Love...here's to all of you brave hearts and remember to check to see that there's water in the pool." Of Cindy Walker's "Hubbin' It," she writes, "If the only bailout you've been the recent recipient of involved the 'gentle as a kitten' stud horse your cousin Lester brought back from the  sale barn and an amorous cow moose, here's your song, Western Bling-style." In fact, those liner notes (read them below and at Stephanie Davis' web site) are a special added attraction to these projects, full of snappy writing that reflects her generous view of the world.

The quality of each selection, the unerring sense of timing throughout, along with the top notch vocal and musical performances makes this dual release a guaranteed cure for...you name it. You won't be anything but happy while you're treating yourself to Western Bling and Western Bliss.

 

 

 

Listen to a full-length interview about the new releases here at Stephanie Davis' web site.

Below are track notes and comments about the releases by Rich O'Brien and by Hal Cannon.

Find order information below and at www.StephanieDavis.net, where there audio samples and links for iTunes, Amazon, and CDBaby. And wait! There's more!  You'll get "a genuine Montana CD opener
(quill from an organic, free-range, died-a-natural-death porcupine)...to the first 5,000,000 folks who order..." Of the porcupine, Stephanie Davis says, "...he was dying for a career in show business."

 


 



Read more about Stephanie Davis in our feature here.


photo by Clark Marten
 


Western Bliss


Cover art: "From the Mountains to the Prairies" by Monte Dolack www.dolack.com

Includes:

 1.  Montana Cowgirl
 2.  Hittin' the Trail Tonight
 3.  Santa Fe, New Mexico
 4.  Bronco Busters' Ball
 5.  Leanin' on the Old Top Rail
 6.  Navajo Trail
 7.  Texas Blues
 8.  Ol’ Faithful
 9.  Trail's End Theme Song
10. Idaho
11. There's a Gold Mine in the Sky

Rich "Badger" O'Brien on Western Bliss:

Several years ago I was in Nashville doing some overdubs on a western recording, and, after finishing the session, rode with the producer over to the office of a “record executive,” who was at the time affiliated with one of the major record labels. The executive sat back in his chair, feet on his desk, and, pontificating all the while, sort of heard rather than listened to the tape we’d delivered. Somehow, the name Stephanie Davis came up and the record exec made the curious observation that, “Stephanie’s western swing phrasing sounds just like Patsy Cline.”

I, of course, being the hypocrite I am, nodded in agreement.

Years have passed and I have had the good fortune to hear Stephanie do lots of “western swing phrasing.” And even though I’m a fan of Patsy Cline—and I realize the record exec was, in his own cryptic way, trying to compliment Stephanie—I have never been able to completely agree with him.

The truth is, to my way of thinking, that Stephanie Davis doesn’t sound like anyone else I’ve ever heard, whether she’s singing western swing, old pop tunes, cowboy music, or her own masterfully-crafted compositions.

Western Bliss is a project near and dear to my heart. The material is a mother lode of pure western gold that has not been recorded to death. The background tracks are solid and tasty. And Stephanie is superb. She manages to make each song her own without convoluting the melody into an unrecognizable mess. She is having fun with the music, but not at the listener’s expense. And though I know how hard she worked on this project to get everything just right, she makes it sound so easy.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Stephanie Davis is one of Western Music’s mega talents, and I’m honored that she included me on this recording.

I’d be willing to bet that Patsy Cline would agree with all of the above.
 


Following are Stephanie Davis' track-by-track notes, included with purchase, along with "a genuine Montana CD opener quill from an organic, free-range, died-a-natural-death porcupine) with each order."

1.  MONTANA COWGIRL: Mid-May, Daggett Canyon: The eastern sky blazes pink, purple, orange, and red above the still-silhouetted piney hills. A meadowlark on a cedar post trills his first “good morning,” as the little brook at his feet gurgles in cheery agreement. The clean, sweet scent of sage wafts in the breeze, as the little bay colt between your knees twitches his ears to the rhythmic jingling of your spurs. A coyote, no doubt returning from his all-night hunt, appears on the ridgeline. He pauses, studies you for a long moment, then tosses back his head and wails the coyote equivalent of, “It’s a good day to be alive.” You grin, toss back your own head, and, in your best coyote, wail what you hope passes for, “It IS a good day to be alive.” A little rough around the edges. Okay, seriously lacking in pitch and tone. Simon Cowell: “Stick to punching cattle, or whatever it is you do.” But the raven overhead caws “Encore!” The little brook chortles. The cottonwoods nod and murmur appreciatively. And people wonder why you live out here…

2.  HITTIN’ THE TRAIL TONIGHT: Another fine song for belting out on the trail, in the shower, on your rider mower, or, if you’re like me, while waiting for a highway patrolman to hand you a speeding ticket (“Ma’am, if you don’t slow down, you’re going to be Hittin’ The JAIL Tonight.”) Blame Rich O’Brien’s blissariffic, pedal-to-the-metal twin guitar riffs—that, and this blisstastic gem of a song. The words are from the magnificent Bruce Kiskaddon, one of my favorite cowboy poets. Music by Hal Cannon, one of my favorite people.

3. SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO: Late afternoon. The plaza. Tantalizing scents of chiles, meat frying, corn tortillas, drift through the warm desert air. Wildly cascading baskets of fuscia Bougainvilla line the street. An ornately dressed trio of Mexican musicans--fiddle, trumpet, guitarron--have just finished “Cietolindo.” Your favorite. Maybe it’s a sign. You sigh, silently wishing you could stay in this beautiful place forever. You turn…someone smiles…and says, “Hello.” could stay in this beautiful place forever. You turn…someone smiles…and says, “Hello.”

4. BRONCO BUSTERS’ BALL: No, in answer to my dyslexic friend Brad’s nervous inquiry, this song’s title does NOT refer to an unfortunate incident involving a saddle horn. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let me unequivocally state that if you haven’t been to a real cowboy dance, you haven’t lived. And we’re not talking about Tuesday night line dancing at the Rusty Spur. A real cowboy dance is a major social event. EVERYONE goes, from Grandma to baby Mikey…You’ll dance until your legs pert near buckle. You’ll make new friends and catch up with old ones. You might even find yourself sharing the beautifully boxed lunch you bid half a month’s wages on at midnight with its equally beautiful maker. Just be sure to comb your mane—girls hate burrs.

5. LEANIN’ ON THE OLD TOP RAIL: I learned this wonderful classic as a pup, off an Eddy Arnold record. Infectious melody, great lyrics, and Cindy Cashdollar’s steel put the bliss in this one. DAY-YAY-yippie-tay-OH-tee. Saying it three times fast has been rumored to lower blood pressure and cure bunions.

6. NAVAJO TRAIL: There is so much to love about this track—Paul Daniels’ silky background vocals, Reggie Reuffer’s sultry, soulful fiddle, Rich’s exquisite guitar, and of course, the song itself—dreamy, blissful, a delight to sing. Fifty bucks says you’ll be humming this one for days.

7. TEXAS BLUES: Well, it’s not Montana, but over the past few years I have found much to like about Texas, starting with the musicians and ending with the barbeque. Here’s one of my favorite Bob Wills tunes that Rich channels Junior Barnard on. Salty!

8. OL’ FAITHFUL: You’ve heard the saying: in a lifetime, a cowboy is lucky to find one good dog, one good horse, and one good woman…I would add one great guitar player to that list, and Rich O’Brien is it. One listen to this track will tell you all you need to know.

9. TRAIL’S END THEME SONG: “You should do a radio show.” “A radio show? Me?” “You should.” “I couldn’t.” “You could.” That little exchange between me and my hero and friend, Garrison Keillor, took place several years back, and has haunted me since. I could? I should. I will! And so, next February or so, the pilot of Trail’s End Ranch Radio will make its debut. Sketches, sound effects, monologues, the Trail’s End Ranch Hand Band…The details are a bit overwhelming, but it all starts with a theme song…Have I mentioned that we need sponsors?

10. IDAHO: This little Count Basie/Benny Goodman ripper took to our “Western Bliss” treatment like a musician to an open bar. Check out the blistering, first-take guitar solo by our friend Clint Strong, who has worked with everyone from The Hag to Herb Ellis. Guitar players everywhere will be tempted to turn their axes into cheese slicers when they learn that Clint actually talked and laughed all the way through the take. Can you say, “multi-tasking monster?”

11. THERE’S A GOLD MINE IN THE SKY: Yes, I’m an old prospector, promising my lame, one-hoof-in-the grave mule all the grass and good times he can stomach on the other side if he will only keep his exhausted carcass moving a bit longer on this side. A charming old crooner made popular by Gene Autry, among others.

 

  

Western Bliss

Produced and arranged by Stephanie Davis and Rich O'Brien

Tracking: Aarom Meador
Vocals and Mixing: Charlie Beutter, Nathan Winter
Mastering: Mike Wells
Cover Art: "From the Mountains to the Prairies," Monte Dolack ( www.dolack.com)
Back Cover Photo: Clark Marten
Layout: Rick Philipp

MUSICIANS:
Rich O'Brien: Guitar
Clint Strong: Guitar, track 10
Ronny Ellis: Bass
Brent Dacus, Billy English: Drums
Cindy Cashdollar: Steel
Reggie Reuffer: Fiddle
Dale Morris, Jr.: Fiddle, track 105
Paul Daniels, James Hinkle, Rich O'Brien, Ronny Ellis, Brent Dacus: Background vocals
 

 Available for $17 postpaid from www.StephanieDavis.net

Order here and find links for iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby

 

 


 

Western Bling


Cover art: "Night of the Shooting Stars" by Monte Dolack www.dolack.com

Includes:

 1.  Talkin' Bout You
 2.  I Didn't Realize
 3.  Soon
 4.  Hubbin' It
 5.  Nevertheless
 6.  Beyond the Sea
 7.  Baby, That Sure Would Go Good
 8.  Slow Poke
 9.  If I Had You
10. The Best Things in Life Are Free
11. Going Away Party

Hal Cannon, Founding Director, Western Folklife Center on Western Bling:

Last night was Valentine’s dinner and my wife Teresa and I prepared a special meal. I was in charge of baking new red potatoes and preparing Steak Diane from some fine fillets. Teresa conjured up a delicate beet and orange salad and a chocolate soufflé.To accompany all that measuring, mixing and chopping, we put on an advance copy of Stephanie Davis’s Western Bling. We set a fine table and just as we were lighting the candles, the CD ended.  In the silence, we looked at each other and Teresa said, “Why don’t you put that on again?” It doesn’t get any better than that: music you can’t get enough of, and endless romance.

Western Bling: what a concept! “Bling” comes from hip-hop, a term for lots of shiny gold chains and sparkly jewels. Western bling is Cindy Cashdollar’s double-neck Fender steel guitar with a flashy chrome-plated slide bar; Rich O’Brien’s carved-topped Gibson L-5 with gold, deco tuners; and Stephanie Davis’ voice, a multi-faceted diamond. Blink your blingy eyes and the voice changes. One minute it’s a 1934 Ford V8 Roadster eating up the open road on some isolated Texas byway, radio blaring—next it’s a single silk stocking folded carefully in a World War II duffle bag alongside a dog-eared photo of a curly-haired sweetheart.

Is it blingy, this music? To be sure, it has a laid-back effortless swing. The musicianship is so damn good it almost seems transparent as it envelops you. And yet its definitely not the “emperor’s bling.” Don’t be fooled. These folks make up an all-star cast. And Miss Stephanie’s voice? Silky, sparkly, plenty of horsepower, simply delicious. Downright bling-riffic.


Following are Stephanie's track-by-track notes, included with purchase, along with "a genuine Montana CD opener(quill from an organic, free-range, died-a-natural-death porcupine) with each order."

1.  TALKIN’ BOUT YOU: A fun opening romp of an old Bob Wills tune, featuring the boys’ Louie Jordan-style vocals, Cindy Cashdollar’s delightful steel work, Reggie Reuffer’s breathtaking fiddling, and the celestial twin guitars of Rich (“Badger”) O’Brien and Clint Strong. Roll up the rug!

2.  I DIDN’T REALIZE: Another wonderful Bob Wills tune that I learned from Rich. Features some extra tasty, “How’d he do that?” solos by Clint and Reggie.

3.  SOON: Lovely…wistful…a perfect marriage of melody and lyric…this George and Ira Gershwin gem, from the 1929 Broadway show “Strike Up The Band,” shimmers and sparkles with our Western Bling treatment. Check out Rich’s always-tasteful, understated guitar work and Reggie’s swoonarama triple fiddles.

4.  HUBBIN’ IT: If the only bailout you’ve been the recent recipient of involved the “gentle as a kitten” stud horse your cousin Lester brought back from the sale barn and an amorous cow moose, here’s your song, Western Bling-style.

5.  NEVERTHELESS: Another classic from 1931, also a hit for The Mills Brothers in 1951. Ah, the terrible/wonderful angst of standing, trembling, hands clasped, legs poised, atop the High Dive Of Love…here’s to all of you brave hearts and remember to check to see that there’s water in the pool…

6.  BEYOND THE SEA: We “Western Blinged” this wonderful Bobby Darin classic, and danged if it doesn’t take to it like a newly washed dog to a mud puddle. Even if your kitchen window looks out onto the parking lot of Bubba’s Lube, Oil, and Filter, Bakery, and Internet Café (“Have a Baguette and Surf The ‘Net While We Service Your ‘Vette”) in Bedsore, Oklahoma, this one will have you swaying, swooning, and staring dreamily out to “sea.” Somewhere out there is a handsome/beautiful, exotic, financially independent, sane, sober, non-incarcerated, well…you get the picture…

7.  BABY, THAT SURE WOULD GO GOOD: Can you tell we’re crazy about Cindy Walker songs? This one features Oakland’s wonderful Paul Daniels’ velvety background vocals and some sultry instrumental riffs. Our webmaster, manager, and chief cook and bottle washer, Rick, recommends a ’74 Petrus, decanted and at cellar temperature for this track.

8.  SLOW POKE: Dealing with someone who’s always running late? Tired of sitting around and waiting? This charming Pee Wee King song has probably saved countless marriages, governments, and even an Earthlink Technical Support operator or two, by encouraging martyrdom, codependency, and a splash of Stockholm Syndrome. We just like making the ticking clock noises.

9.  IF I HAD YOU: The dreamy standard, recorded by everyone from Rudy Vallee to Bing Crosby, slips into our Western Bling format like deer guts on a doorknob. Features some ridiculously fabulous steel playing by Cindy.

10.  THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE: Economy getting you down? Hey, try being a musician. Or a songwriter. Or a rancher. Or all three at once. Ah, heck. Life is still pretty wonderful, and our take on this sweet classic by the legendary Tin Pan Alley songwriting team of Lew Brown, Ray Henderson, and Buddy DeSylva is guaranteed to put the spring back into your step.

11.  GOING AWAY PARTY: My favorite Cindy Walker song, and my favorite track on the whole project. Magical, live, first-take vocals (if I say so myself.) Achingly exquisite solos by Rich, Cindy, and Reggie. The reason God invented Western Bling. If this doesn’t land you sobbing in a fetal position, check your pulse.

 

 

Western Bling

Produced and arranged by Stephanie Davis and Rich O'Brien

Tracking: Aarom Meador
Vocals and Mixing: Charlie Beutter, Nathan Winter
Mastering: Mike Wells
Cover Art: "Night of the Shooting Stars," Monte Dolack ( www.dolack.com)
Back Cover Photo: Clark Marten
Layout: Rick Philipp

MUSICIANS:
Rich O'Brien: Guitar
Clint Strong: Guitar, tracks 2 and 10
Ronny Ellis: Bass
Brent Dacus, Billy English: Drums
Cindy Cashdollar: Steel
Reggie Reuffer: Fiddle
Dale Morris, Jr., Steve Story: Fiddles, tracks 2 and 5
Paul Daniels, James Hinkle, Rich O'Brien, Ronny Ellis, Brent Dacus: Background vocals
 

 Available for $17 postpaid from www.StephanieDavis.net

Order here and find links for iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby

 

 

Stephanie Davis's Web Site and Contact Information


photo by Clark Marten

 

 

For More Information

Contact:

Rick Philipp
Recluse Records

recon@cmn.net 

838 Countryman Creek Road
Columbus, MT 59019
(406) 326 -2180


www.StephanieDavis.net

 

Visit Stephanie Davis' web site for more about her and her music and poetry, track samples, lyrics and poems, downloads, orders and more.

 

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