The history of popular music is filled with stories of nature inspiring great works. This happens to be the case for Americana music legend Jason Ringenberg’s latest album, Stand Tall, which was conceived in one of the most awe-inspiring places on earth.
Stand Tall was literally inspired by trees–and, as the title suggests, very big ones at that. The album was penned in June 2017 while Ringenberg was commissioned as the artist in residence at Sequoia National Park in northern California. There, the National Park Service provided him with the unique opportunity to occupy a remote mountain cabin for a full uninterrupted months’ time, in order to write and work on his music.
“I found that spending so much time alone in that primal wilderness did wonders for my songwriting,” said Ringenberg, and indeed, this is reflected on Stand Tall, a record filled with characters on a mission. Ringenberg’s point-of-view subjects bounce from time period to time period, ranging from John the Baptist (“John the Baptist was a Real Humdinger”) to John Muir (“John Muir Stood Here”) to a disillusioned Confederate conscript (I’m Walking Home”)–and even his own personal experiences, in particular opening for the Ramones on a string of Texas dates in 1982 (“God Bless the Ramones”).
While the album was written in California, Ringenberg returned to his old haunts in the backwoods of Southern Illinois in order to record the songs. Utilizing the core rhythm section from his first rock band, Shakespeare’s Riot, plus a rural tin-roofed studio helped him dig deep into his musical heritage to create the exact sound he wanted.
In order to flesh out his aural plans, Ringenberg enlisted the help of some of Nashville’s finest Americana musicians, such as Richard Bennett (producer of Steve Earle’s Guitar Town), Fats Kaplin (Jack White’s bands), Steve Fishell (the Emmylou Harris Hot Band), and Robert Bowlin (fiddle player for Bill Monroe).
The chemistry of those artists, combined with songs written in a place of profound natural beauty, has undeniably produced one of the most authentic records of Ringenberg’s career. “Writing songs while standing under 2000-year-old sequoias does tend to give you a leg up,” admits Ringenberg.
Ringenberg is no stranger to making inspired records that have resounded on the alt-country and Americana scenes; whether as a solo artist, under the name Farmer Jason, or with his acclaimed outfit Jason and the Scorchers. As far back as 1984 Rolling Stone magazine said that his Fervor record (with Jason and the Scorchers) “single-handedly rewrote the history of rock ‘n’ roll in the South.”
For more information, please visit www.jasonringenberg.com