Folk musician and frontman of The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit, Willy Tea Taylor made quite an impression with his 2011 solo release 4 Strings. His creative force lies in his songs, beautifully written and simply executed on his 4-string tenor guitar. That album was independently released but for his follow-up album he is releasing it via a new record label called Blackwing Music.
For those that recognise the name Blackwing they are indeed the very same famous pencil manufacturer, used by writers such as John Steinbeck to cartoonists like Chuck Jones. I’m a lover of paper and pencil and they are pretty legendary today, take my word for it. In short, they were on the verge of disappearing entirely back in 1998 which led to their pencils going for silly money on Ebay. Thankfully they were saved by Palamino who now own Blackwing.
Because of the strong creative links and history behind Blackwing this has become a big part of their branding so the launch of a music label seeks to strengthen that image and one of their mottos – Blackwing is more than just a pencil. They spell it out still further stating “It’s a culture; a collective of independent but like-minded people who appreciate the little things in life, like the tactile sensation of dropping a needle on vinyl, or putting pencil to paper.”
Willy Tea Taylor is the first artist to sign to the label who began recording his new album in Nashville back in November which is expected to be released soon, possibly in March 2015. The album which is titled Knuckleball Prime has some big names on-board including Grammy-winning engineer Phil Harris and producer Michael Witcher who has worked with the likes of Dolly Parton, Bette Midler, and Dwight Yoakam and many others. Additional artists contributing to the album include Noam Pikelny, Riders in the Sky and Gabe Witcher of the Punch Brothers who is putting down some lovely fiddle arrangements according to Willie.
With a talented cast of musicians on-board we know the album will have a fuller sound, that goes without saying. We’re also fairly confident that he will maintain that simplicity and beauty of his earlier work, to do otherwise would slip away from the whole Blackwing philosophy maybe, it needs to maintain that feeling of being hand-crafted. As you can see from the recent album trailer, they’re not giving too much away:
For those of you that are new to his work here’s a video from 2012 with Willie performing his song “Young When I Left Home”.