My first introduction to Don Pedigo was with his band, The Coyotes. A straight up solid rock band here in Nashville. The new album, 16 Ton is eight songs mostly recorded at 16 Ton Studio in Nashville between 2012 and 2013. Don’s journey has taken him on some unexpected paths and shifts in his life and in his career and now these songs are finally out for everyone to hear. I wanted to highlight a couple of tracks today and a Christmas single called, “Troubadour 364”. I know we’re half way through February, but it’s one of those songs that sounds good to me any time.
AnaLee: The new album, 16 Ton is named for the studio where you recorded most of these tracks. Sadly, the studio is no longer. Tell us what the studio meant to you and what was special about the time you spent recording there several years ago?
Don: Hi, Ana Lee, thank you for having me. During the time of this recording, I was gigging a lot and had locked into a great pre-Coyotes rhythm section. 16 Ton was an old house studio on Music Row with some really cool vintage gear. Our takes were mostly live and the tracks had bleed through. Mixing the bleed with analog tape makes a sort of glue that cannot be achieved any other way in my opinion. Our general vibe was loose and the takes were captured in two or three runs. The mixes were done on the fly, same day. Back then I didn't realize how special it was to be on point and in a situation where we could pull that off. My mindset was just in doing my job. Looking back on the experience I'm still satisfied with the outcome.
AnaLee: You’ve had some pretty series obstacles get in your way, including the death of your son. I am terribly sorry for such a profound loss. You also had trouble gaining control of some parts of your music. Can you talk about what’s changed since then and what it means for you to be able to release these songs now?
Don: Thank you. Yes, I've stayed true to the course of timely record making. It's been challenging to get music released for several reasons, though. My recordings, in their various states, require different finishes in mixing and mastering. That can be expensive and I found myself having to make choices in the past for money reasons. Good music can get lost that way. In the past, the people I’ve worked with and myself have also run into walls of financing record releases. I've spent more time on the spirit trail than in the material world these past few years though. Since losing my son, Christopher, I’ve had to sort of re-enter life. Now with technology, I'm able to release the music I've been making properly and on a budget. My truest intention is to never squander the gift of music and to release a body of work that can be seen in a completed form. My hope is that my family now and for generations to come can know I was a man who followed his heart and has something quality to give from that journey.
AnaLee: There are two tracks from 16 Ton I wanted to ask you about today, “Fallin’ For You” is the track I go back to the most when listening to the album. And the other one is a live video recorded at The 5 Spot and just released called “Young and Dead”. Can you talk about these two tracks?
Don: “Fallin’ For You”, I wrote with Brad Martin from the duo Martin Ramey. I was opening for them at the Tin Roof on Demonbreun every Tuesday at the time and we all became friends. My 16 Ton bass player Kevin also played with them. Brad and I wrote that on a rainy day and at his place in Hermitage. It's one of those songs that sort of just fell out of the sky. I wrote “Young & Dead” after reading most all of the Louis L'Amour collection given to me by my father. I'm glad you like the video. It feels great to perform these songs again. There are some other personal trails explored in the song's story and message. I'm reluctant to take the meanings much farther because songs mean different things to different people, The context in which I wrote the piece is a secret I’ll hang on to, but the common thread in the nature of a western outlaw sets a known stage - Recklessness.
AnaLee: I included your song, “Troubadour 364” below, I know it’s February and this is a Christmas song, but it’s more than that and it sounds good at any time of year! Can you tell us about this song?
Don: Well…this song is obviously about me, though I've never been stuck on Christmas Eve, I have traded a few special moments in life for a gig though and I regret that. I think musician or not others can relate to these feelings. Christmas brings particularly enhanced feelings and the images I included were intended to bring the listener into moments that are supposed to be joyous but are also a little bit sad. For me, the idea came full circle in my heart as my desire is to always be the hero in my home. A back story on how the song was pulled from the ether though is, radio promoter Joe Swank called my people asking if I had a last minute Christmas song to add to a radio sampler. I of course said yes, but didn't really have one I felt represented me as a recording artist. I was sitting at the piano the next night and the song came in. It was one of those, "wrote it in fifteen minutes," gifts songwriters always love to receive. Perhaps it came so easy, too, because in some way it eases the burden of me missing some of those special moments. You know if we are telling stories though, we've gotta go for happy endings! Maybe they in some way help make up for the ones in real life that aren't happy. Maybe they in some way too help keep hope alive.
Don Pedigo and The Coyotes, “Young and Dead”
Don Pedigo “Fallin For You”
Don Pedigo, “Troubadour 364”