In the Rhode Island and Connecticut area of New England, Swamp Yankees are known to be scoundrels, ill reputes, sometimes less-than-honest, shady characters, who generally are shrewd traders. It’s an old term and presumably goes back a number of generations, but people are still referred to by the term today.
In light of the Christian experience it struck me that all of us have a little Swamp Yankee in us. And all of us need the saving grace of Christ to walk a Christian walk with a refining process that often takes us over bumps in the road. And so was birthed Swamp Yankees in Paradise. The songs “Swamp Yankee in Paradise” and “Mickey McKnight” both reference that experience and album concept.
After penning the first eight songs I discussed the album concept with Tim Coffman of Rolltop Records, a friend and very savvy engineer/producer. With his support, I decided to record the horns, guitar and most of the lead vocals out in San Diego at Tim’s studio. Rolltop is a great studio, with more vintage gear than anyplace I’ve ever seen. The tones and overall sound that came out of that equipment was nothing short of wonderful!
We began tracking in California at Rolltop, using demo tracks recorded in Delaware at our Rosebud Studios. During the year we split recording between the two coasts and soon Rosemary, Alexandra and I were flying out to California to mix and master the project.
Mixing was done at Rolltop Studios and Tim and Pam Coffman made us welcome in their home while we worked to mix the project. Micajah Ryan came out from Kansas to engineer the album and we spent 8 long days with Micajah’s golden ears working hard to get us a great mix. Assisting the engineering and production of the album was Tim Coffman, who worked miracles on his awesome gear, and Larry Larraga, a great friend, musician and studio owner from Delaware.
When the mix was complete we took the stereo tracks up to Hollywood to Doug Sax’s “The Mastering Lab” and had Robert Hadley master it on their exquisite analog mastering equipment, before converting to digital for the master disc. The result is a sonically beautiful album. Final cover design and artwork was done by graphic artist, and good friend, Keith Heckert. Duplication of the CDs was done by Disk Makers and copies were made from a glass master just like other commercial albums.
The strength of an album is only as good as the songs, the arrangements and the performances. In the latter category we had the best people we could find performing.
Leigh Taylor and Rose Coletta did an awesome job on lead vocals and
Keith Heckert came up with some great ideas for the background vocal arrangements. The horns were phenomenal with John Rekevics on all saxes, Mitch Manker on trumpet and flugle Horn, and Kevin Esposito on trombone. Guitar work by Beau MacDougall took the songs to a totally new level graced by lyrical solos and strong rhythms. James Seabra, my long time friend and a musician’s musician played drums, vibes, marimba and assorted percussion. With close to 20 people contributing to the entire album, there is not enough time to detail everybody’s contribution but the credits below will at least provide some recognition for the wonderful work they did.
Thanks to: Tim Coffman, a friend whose creative help was invaluable and whose drive pushed me through the countless hours to the finish line. Your production work and awesome vintage gear in your skillful hands put the 'sizzle' on the project. To Rosemary my wonderful wife and my precious daughter Alexandra for your love, support and patience over the past year as I worked on this project. Thanks to James Seabra for your fantastic drums and percussion work on the album. More than that, thanks for your friendship over the years. We've paid more dues together than most people do in a lifetime. To Larry Larraga, for your friendship and prayer, plus the percussion and production help! Your best work is in the 'can' for another album. To my friend, Keith Heckert for the great vocal arrangement ideas, vocal coaching and performance and for the incredible artwork on the album. To the New Life Worship Team, and Pastor Ernie Beers for your support. Thanks to all of the musicians and singers for your talents and contributions. Special thanks to Micajah Ryan for your 'golden ears' and wonderful job mixing the album. To Dad for paying for those accordion lessons and my great family especially Mom Kate, Mark, and David who throughout my years growing up endured many basement band rehearsals. (And Mark, it really was a pork roast.) Most of all, thanks to God the Father, Son, and Spirit for being the inspiration and enabler for this album. Lastly, to all the people who will listen and hopefully enjoy the album, thanks so much!
Musicians and singers:
Lead vocals: T. Leigh Taylor and Rose Coletta
Background vocals: Angela Burns, Allan Coletta, Rose Coletta, Jim DiBiaso, Derek Forsberg, Terry Haskell, Keith Heckert,
Trumpet and Flugle Horn: Mitch Manker
Alto, Tenor and Bari Sax: John Rekevics
Trombone: Kevin Esposito
Guitars: Beau MacDougall except rhythm on Brother Bob Bailey, I’m Gonna Rise Up, Saturday Night, Good Night, Guitars by Steve Wilcox
Acoustic Bass: Alan Start
Drums, Percussion, Vibes, Marimba: James Seabra except,
Percussion: Larry Larraga (Quien Es El Rey)
Congo: Jim Burns on I’m Gonna Rise Up and Saturday Night Good Night
Electric Bass: T. J. Hill on Working Many Blues and Hector Maldonado on Quien Es El Rey and Shine Through Me
Piano and Hammond B-3: Allan Coletta