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Bryan Sutton goes "Almost Live"

By John Lupton, July 2009

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"I'm trying to do as much (singing) as possible now. It's an element of my musicianship, I guess, that I'm really hoping to develop more and more. I really love to do that. I was a singer in the band that we had all growing up, then I just stopped, you know, and I turned to the professional side of things, being a sideman on the acoustic guitar…I'll never be the greatest singer in the world, but I just want to know that it's something I can do and pursue."

Something of a departure from his previous recordings is Le Pont de la Moustache, in which he plays Django Reinhardt to Aubrey Haynie's Stephane Grappelli. After meeting in Nashville, they discovered a common fascination for the "gypsy jazz" made famous in 30s-era Paris by Reinhardt and Grappelli's Hot Club.

"I'm not a real true gypsy stylist, but I really enjoy especially playing rhythm in that style…there's a certain kind of ‘French' attitude about some of those songs that I think is part of the vibe of that whole music…the spirit of that gypsy swing, to me, is real similar to the spirit of old time fiddle music…the rhythmic element of it is just such a big part and just drives the whole thing."

Wonder Valley Gals is one of several originals, and Sutton says writing is a core part of his career he strives to pay the attention it deserves. Written for his wife and young daughters, it finds him playing the clawhammer banjo he learned as a pre-teen before putting it away to focus on guitar, though he's finding more and more opportunities to play banjo and mandolin in the sessions. Fiddle was part of things way back when as well, but he laughs and says, "I'm a happily retired fiddle player."

The session work is still rolling in, and the Hot Rize gigs as well, but Sutton wants to continue growing and branching out, recording outside of Nashville and doing more of the producing he's enjoyed (including "Almost Live"), even with the knowledge that he works in a business where uncertainty is a way of life.

"Basically, I'm just trying to maintain what I've got going on. I'm not exactly sure what that is. That's one thing about being in the music business, is there's not a real sort of career plan that you just jump into and you just sort of know things are gonna happen a certain way. You try to take advantage of opportunities as they come."

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