March 9th, 2019
Milwaukee’s favorite “shanty-grass” ensemble, the gruff and lovable, Pay the Devil, released their sophomore album, “To Hell Luck” last night at the Walker’s Point Music Hall. Though I don’t play with the group regularly anymore, I actually did contribute bass to all but one track, and played cello on three others.
The band recorded all of their parts at banjo-Ivan’s house (yes, there are two Ivans in the band, one on banjo, one on guitar), usually in a group setting with the vocals added later. I then rented a stand-up bass to lay down the bass tracks in my home studio, where I also recorded the cello parts. Harmonica was layered in all the way from Erie, Pennsylvania, performed by banjo-Ivan’s dad. Once everything was recorded and mixed by Ivan, he headed into my home studio where we sat down to a night of mastering and Thai food. It was a long but enjoyable and collaborative process.
A particularly collaborative song is “Buffalo Bill”, written by a friend of the band, Lucas Riddle. Banjo-Ivan plays guitar and performs lead vocals, I play cello, Ivan’s dad added harmonica, and the band’s new bassist, Jacqueline, provided backup vocals. The track turned out fantastic despite none of the performers actually sitting down to play the tune together!