Good Friends And Good Music

Bruce Von Stiers

I have reviewed albums by Lizanne Knott and Jesse Terry. Both of them have had garnered fairly large followings. At times they have toured together. And a few times they have toured with fellow artist Michael Logen. Over time the three of them have become good friends.

It is from those pairings of the three of them that a kernel of an idea for an album began. Since they had come together so many times on stage, why not make an album together. That's exactly what they did. The result is an album titled Sunset Avenue Sessions.

The album has songs where each artist is the lead vocalist and one song where all of them share the lead vocals. The album has eleven songs and a play time of thirty-eight minutes. The production elements for the album was done by Glenn Barratt through his Morningstar Studios. He has worked with Lizanne in the past. The album was released on the Transoceanic Records label.

They chose a Tom Petty song for the first track on the album. The song is Learning To Fly, a soft and gentle tune that became Petty's top ranked single. It has been covered by Lady Antebellum and Bonnie Tyler among others. Lizanne, Jesse and Michael each take a turn on the verses of the song with the three of them singing together on the choruses. The three of them also played acoustic guitar on the song. They were joined on guitar by Tom Hampton, who also played mandolin, electric guitar, dobro and lap steel. Aside from being a studio musician, Hampton has performed with Poco, Marshall Tucker Band and others.

For What It's Worth is the Stephen Stills penned song that was recorded by Buffalo Springfield. It's probably best known for the lyric “Stop, children what's that sound? Everybody look what's going down.” Originally written as a protest song, the lyrics are somehow very appropriate for what's going on in the U.S. these days. Michael takes the lead vocal for the album's rendition of the song and plays guitar. Jesse and Lizanne do the backing vocals and play guitar. Tom Hampton again plays guitar and supporting instruments.

Johnny Cash's song Ring of Fire has been covered by many artists. Jesse does a great job on his lead vocals on the song for the album. Michael and Lizanne do backing vocals and along, with Tom and Jesse, play guitar and other instruments.

Aside from covers, the album features some original songs. Lizanne does a couple of hers on the album. The first one is Why You Wanna Break My Heart. Fluid and lyrical vocals are in front of a love lost ballad. Instead of Jesse and Michael, Lizanne has some other guys backing her up on the song. Eric Johnson is drums, Ken Pendergast is on upright bass, Ross Bellenoit is on electric guitar and John Conahan does the backing vocals. Johnson is a well-known session musician. Pendergast also is well known as a studio musician and has done gigs in prestigious settings such as the Kennedy Center. Bellenoit has toured with the Amos Lee band and teaches and does studio session work. Conahan has a solid reputation as a composer along with supporting other artist's works.

Jesse has the first of his original songs on the album with Dance In Our Old Shoes. It is a toe tapping tune that features Jesse on vocals. He has Josh Kaler on drums, bass and guitar and backing vocals. Danny Mitchell is on piano, organ and backing vocals. Kaler has worked with a bunch of artists and things he's produced has been heard on such shows as Grey's Anatomy. Mitchell has several albums out, been a sought after session artist and has toured with Kim Richey.

Already Home is a beautiful original song from Michael about someone being in his heart even though they aren't physically there. His great vocals are backed by Randal Kent on several instruments. Kent also does backing vocals. Michael plays guitar and piano on the song too.

The second song from Jesse is Stargazer. It is a soft and gentle song that once again has the talents of Josh Kaler and Danny Mitchell. But the song also features the wonderful vocals of Dar Williams. She has several accolades behind her, including touring with Joan Baez and having one of her songs as an unofficial anthem for Bryn Mawr University.

Then there is Try, the Busbee, West song that several artists have covered. Michael does a terrific job with the vocals on the song and Lizanne is great on backing vocals.

Caroline is the second original song from Lizanne. It is a light toe tapper about a woman who is mean spirited, seemingly with a lot of emotional baggage.

Ocean Floor is the other song from Michael. It has a lot of subtle guitar and mellow vocals. Jeff King and Gary Burnett are on guitar and Ethan Pilzer is on bass. Chad Cromwell plays the drums on the song. And Jill Phillips does a fantastic job on backing vocals. King has played guitar on albums for Montgomery Gentry and Trace Adkins. Burnett has played on albums by several contemporary Christian along with some county artists. Cromwell has worked with Joe Walsh, Joss Stone and Bonnie Raitt. Phillips is a contemporary Christian artist who has toured with Caedmon's Call and Bebo Norman along with recording her own albums.

The final song on the album is Wildflowers, another great Tom Petty song. Lizanne does a wonderful job on lead vocals for the song. Michael does backing vocals and helps Jesse and Tom Hampton on guitar and other backing instruments.

The music of Jesse Terry, Michael Logen and Lizanne Knott has been classified as both alt folk and Americana. Each has their own style though that goes well beyond those two categories. In this album the three of them meld their individual styles into a cohesive sound that makes for a really great listening experience.

Sunset Avenue Sessions is out now and can be found at most music retailers.

There isn't a joint web site for Lizanne, Jesse and Michael. But their individual sites are , and .

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© 2019 Bruce E Von Stiers