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Rhythmatic steel guitar instrumental album
From the desk of Bobbe Seymour: Because of hundreds of inquiries concerning the production of the Rhythmatic steel guitar instrumental album that was released a couple of years ago, I will take a couple of newsletters to explain many questions that I have received on this subject.
First of all, I have been flattered to have received many extremely flattering inquiries from some of the people that I respect greatly in the music industry. Some of Nashville’s finest producers and some of the most wonderful in the Los Angeles area also.
I feel that me explaining how and why I did some of the things as a producer and player on this album, could help many other steel guitarists or players of any instrument, to create their own excellent album.
When I first decided I wanted to do an album that was not to be just another country composition, we needed to decide not only what I was capable of but what would be extremely interesting for the inquisitive musical minds to find immensely enjoyable.
I wanted an album that was not just country, jazz, pop, rock or bluegrass, but rather an album that could not be pigeon-holed into a category that could compare it directly to anything else. I wanted it to be what I am and what makes me tick.
I grew up on about every kind of music in my father’s music school and retail store. However, my uncle was a professional steel guitarist that loved more complex music, but loved to make everything understandable and enjoyable.
My father, being a big band arranger and me being with him about every conscious moment of the day, he ingrained a love of music that was hard to get away from. He was not a hard jazz musician but he did work all over town when he wasn’t teaching music in school, in a great jazz-pop quintet. He played keyboard and vibes.
He was very definitely a strong influence on me wanting to create music that everybody could love, but only as a part time fun thing in the beginning anyway. I really leaned very hard toward country music because of my steel guitar playing uncle in the beginning of my career and after being sent to Texas and Oklahoma in my Air Force days, I got very deep into Western Swing and country.
However, never wanting to be pigeon-holed as only being able to play one kind of music, my mind was always open and upon visiting my parents in their music store while on leave from the Air Force, I asked my father if he had any 33 and a third records that he couldn’t sell in his store.
“Of course.” He replied. “Go through the racks in the back room and search out all the jazz trio and quartet albums. I can’t give those away in this town.” Which was Virginia Beach, Virginia.
I put them in my flight bag and hopped a C130 flight back to where I was stationed in Gene Autry, Oklahoma and proceeded to play these albums over and over and over, not really understanding what I was hearing for the first few years anyway.
Pretty soon, chord progressions started imprinting themselves on my mind and the intricate jazz improvised melodies started making sense and being enjoyable to me.
Then hearing such players as Buddy, Maurice and Curly, I realized that steel guitar really had no limitation. As a matter of fact, there are some things that can be played on steel guitar that could not be played on other instruments.
Suddenly a whole new world of music had opened up for me. And this was 25 years after I started playing in the beginning. Then suddenly, in order to make a living on steel guitar, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee and took several steps backward and started playing country music for a living.
Finally, I started getting off into other branches of country music in Nashville, hanging around other players that didn’t worry about how simple they could play the melody, but rather how interesting and intelligent they could improvise simple tunes or complicated tunes.
Now back to the Rhythmatic album. It was important to me to make a statement to all that knew music well and possibly to all that just thought I was a country music E9th player only.
I wrote 15 pretty complicated and different style tunes, charted everything out, arranged some complex parts for some other instruments and hired some brilliant minds in Nashville to help with my ideas, like the great horn arranger, Jim Hoke and guitarist Andy Reiss.
After working with many great rhythm sections in Nashville, I hired two drummers and two percussionists and a couple of Nashville’s finest bass players and started building the rhythm section from the ground up.
Different studios in Nashville had different advantages over other studios, so it didn’t really make sense to do everything in one studio, nor did it make sense to use the same type of steel guitar on every song.
I wanted every song to sound different to keep the album extremely interesting. This was a lesson that I learned from the great songwriter Mickey Newberry. Having worked with him on many of his album projects, I picked up some wonderful hints from him on how to make music interesting, even if you sit down and listen to an album over and over again.
I also learned that there are more important things to creating an interesting composition than just playing notes or just saying words. In this Rhythmatic album, the engineer, Skip Mitchell and myself, recorded thunder storms, rain, waterfalls and several different kinds of birds and mixed them in to the final mix with my 1971 Emmons. I used Bigsby, Fender and Sho-Bud along with the Emmons.
Choosing the correct timbre on each instrument for each song is as important as choosing the right words if I were writing lyrics, which I did not.
It took almost three years of constant work to create this one steel guitar album. There are 34 musicians on the album, used 9 different studios and overdub mixing rooms and I don’t feel that Madonna or Michael Jackson put any more effort or love into anything they have ever done.
This album needs to be played loud with a lot of concentration on everything that was recorded. After all, this album was done for musicians and all people that love music tremendously, not just steel guitar players, lead guitar players, not just jazz fanatics and not just those that love world music, but those that truly care about really good music.
No time, money or amount of talent was spared in the production of this album and to some of the most brilliant musicians in Nashville, I owe deep thanks to.
My reason for covering this with you is to help answer the many hundreds of questions that I have been asked about this project. Myself and some of Nashville’s greatest talent have given our best to make this as good a project as is sonically possible and hopefully a project that all steel guitarists everywhere and any musician that has ever worked out of Nashville can be proud of.
Rhythmatic is the name.
Steel Guitar Nashville
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Hendersonville, TN. 37075
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