Keyboard player Nathan Olsen has been a Hornsby fan since the grand old eighties. He also had the fine sense to pass this down to his kid brother, Matt. Nathan honed his chops in blues and funk bands, adding in Bruce-like flavors all the while. Matt ended up playing the more obscure hammer dulcimer, playing acoustic gigs as a kid and teenager. While the brothers kept broad tastes in music, Bruce Hornsby’s output always provided a natural common ground. In over twenty years of making music, this project marks their first-ever release done together as a collaboration. They also had the very good fortune to work on this track with Kevin McCarthy. A veteran musician with equally superb stage and studio pedigrees, McCarthy joined the Bruce movement by contributing his own stellar vocals. He also generously engineered the project at his facility, Cityview Recording, where neither ice nor snow prevented the mix. “The Road Not Taken” has been a long-time natural favorite for Matt and Nathan. With this arrangement, the effort was to bridge two big influences in Bruce Hornsby’s music: American folk roots and piano driven jazz. Starting with the raw sound of the intro sequence, paying respects to Virginia’s Carter family and the song’s own Appalachian themes and ending with a funk jazz groove in odd time, the more conventionally Hornsby-flavored treatment of the song itself does its best to connect the musical dots. The hammer dulcimer, often considered an ancestor of the piano, has a long history in American traditional music. It was fun to put it in a Hornsby setting– possibly for the first time since Bruce himself played dulcimer on “The Red Plains”.
Nathan and Kevin are both currently working musicians. Kevin leads the eponymous rock outfit Kevin McCarthy Band (KMB) and heads up Cityview Recording (cityviewrecording.com). Nathan plays keyboards in a number of funk/R&B, pop and rock bands, including KMB. Matt is working on his own recording project out on the Oregon coast, after taking about a dozen foolish years off. We hope you enjoy the track. Many thanks go to Bruce for the music and to Si for pulling this all together.
Matt Olsen: hammer dulcimer, autoharp
Nathan Olsen: piano, organ, key bass, synth drums
Kevin McCarthy: vocals
Sample: “Bury me under the weeping willow”, The Carter Family 1927.
Produced by Nathan Olsen, Matt Olsen, and Kevin McCarthy, engineered by Kevin McCarthy at Cityview Recording.