Roots musicians Keiran Kane and Rayna Gellert visited MTSU and WMOT’s Wired In sessions to play songs from their new album The Ledges, a spare duo recording made by themselves last summer in a cabin in upstate New York.
“If you like the show, you’re going to love this record, because it’s exactly what we did," says Kane, adding that the album title comes straight from the recording locale, with its rocky outcrops. Gellert says the setting for writing and recording was idyllic - in the woods with views of water and no cell service: “Which was key I think for getting into the space that we got into and doing the writing we were doing and being able to relax into recording in a way where there really was no schedule.”
“I grew up in New York and spent a lot of time there as a kid,” says Kane. “I fell in love with this spot. It’s on a beautiful lake. It’s a small cabin, and it’s just this wonderful, magical place. And we could come back and do (a song) again if we weren’t comfortable with a performance. And ultimately that’s what we were shooting for - performances of the songs where our brains were taken out of it.”
Gellert is a life-long old-time fiddler and singer most widely recognized as a founding member of the innovative old-time band Uncle Earl. She’s also done stage and recording work with Virginia’s Scott Miller, English rocker Robyn Hitchcock and Afro-Jam band Toubab Krewe, so she’s no rigid purist.
Kane is a songwriter and instrumentalist who enhance the sound of country radio significantly in the 1980s as half of The O’Kanes and who pioneered the Americana movement in Nashville as a co-founder of artist-owned Dead Reckoning Records more than 20 years ago.
They met a few years ago at San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Gellert says, “What I heard in his playing resonated so much with me and I’m so happy that now that we’re actually doing this duo. That sense of the musical connection I thought we would have has come to fruition. I completely believe my gut instincts were right, and now even Keiran is convinced.”
Kane played on and produced Gellert’s folky Workin’s Too Hard recording of 2017. But The Ledges is their debut as a formal duo. It’s also a revival for an important music brand that’s been quiet in recent years.
“We wanted to kind of re-launch the record label and actually put out records again and this record is the launch of that, and I couldn’t be prouder of it really - of what it is and what it represents.”
The Dead Reckoning catalog includes music from Mike Henderson, Kevin Welch, Tammy Rogers and other widely known roots artists. Welch has recently issued a retrospective collection (in limited vinyl edition only) and is preparing a new release as well.