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This Week: Twenty Years of Down to the Well!

down to the well

click pic to buy Down to the Well on CD

Hello everyone!

Join me in celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the release of the Down to the Well album this week–here are a few really good ways to do that (and pass some more bleak-and-bountiful Covidian time as well):




I’ll be playing the songs released on the Well album live, and talking a bit. (We only have 50 minutes on StageIt, so time, unfortunately, is very limited. Keep in mind that the StageIt site will say the shows are 30 minutes long, but there is a 20-minute “encore” period at the end of each, that I’ll go right into.)


cover by Thinking Out Loud Design; studio Polaroid by Jim DeMain

Down to the Well: Solo Demos Unearthed

Mastered by True East Mastering

Dropping this Friday, August 7, exclusively on Bandcamp (

About a year ago, while digging through the dusty piles, er, “archives,” I found an unlabeled cassette without a case. I put it on to hear what was there. Turns out there were about 15 tracks—all solo demos I’d made in the Fall of ’99, when preparing to record the Down to the Well album–we’d booked studio sessions for later that November & early December. This week will mark the 20th anniversary of Down to the Well’s release, on August 8, 2000. (Spotify will try to tell you it was June, but they are flat wrong.) I transferred the recordings from the tape to a hard drive and listened on my good speakers. Considering my nearly absolute ignorance of recording techniques back then, I was amazed at how well it all held up. I had one microphone, dented and scarred from years of club gigs, plugged into a guitar effects pedal(a Boss “analog delay” that I still use). I then ran a cord from the pedal into a home stereo cassette deck. The tape I had found was what captured the humbly-transmitted signal of my voice and acoustic guitar, howling and plucking away at the group of mostly new songs being considered for the Well album. 

After finding that cassette last year, several months passed—then I remembered that this 20-year mark was coming up. These demo recordings served as a kind of sonic diagram for the making of that album. At the time, they were only shared with fellow producers Bo Ramsey and Joe McMahan, and executive producer (and label head) Randall Grass. So there was no need to get uptight about much, since this wasn’t going public (such is the nature of “demos”). You can hear a landline phone ring in one spot. An unfortunate cough. A vocal or lyric flub here and there. Plenty of alternate lyric choices to ponder, and a bridge in one song that was dropped from the arrangement minutes before we recorded the final studio version. At the same time, Well was the first record I’d ever made where the label formally put up the (recoupable) funds for the recording budget, so maybe I was a little nervous and wanted the performances to sound tight, even if via low-fi means. After rediscovering them, this anniversary felt like a good time to release a selection of these tracks, as a glimpse into how the finished album came to be. The track list follows the sequence of the original songs on the album, followed by three bonus tracks: 


1/Down to the Well (draft version)

2/Burning the Church House Down

3/Marina Takes Her Aim

4/Promise Road

5/Deuce & a Quarter

6/Jimmy Reed is the King of Rock n’Roll

7/Flashflood (Water or Gasoline draft version)

8/Great Southern

9/Pueblo Dog

10/Oil City Girl


11/Red Door on a Green Cadillac (fragment)

12/Mississippi River Burning Down (Down the Well draft version)

13/Simple Life

This download-only release will also come with a PDF booklet of lyrics, photos, and other info about both these demos and the studio album that followed.

FYI, the original Down to the Well CD is finally back in stock on my site. Click the cover image at the top of this post to order one.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride this week–I’ll be posting more about both recordings in the coming days. Thanks, as ever, for your support. And I can’t WAIT to play for you in person again–as soon as it’s safe, I’ll be there! Stay safe, and well. And mask-up, please.



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