As just about any episode of Amoeba’s “What’s in My Bag?” series will affirm, it’s hard to make a trip to the record store without impulse-buying something from the bargain bin that catches your eye. A mystery LP can introduce you to entire new genres of music worth diving into, while for a musician this type of adventure can also alter the trajectory of their careers. As Portland-based songwriter Jeffrey Silverstein tells it, the dollar bin has consistently been kind to him in its bounty of records by Nashville sound co-creator Chet Atkins. “Over the years I've made a habit of grabbing any LP by ‘Mister Guitar’ Chet Atkins I come across,” he shares. “These albums formed the base of my collection and his playing opened the door to country music for me.”
Beyond that, a recent experience with a scratched Atkins record provided the base for one particular song on his forthcoming collection Western Sky: “Chet,” an instrumental number featuring additional guitar by William Tyler and pedal steel by Barry Walker, was built around the specific guitar chord and tone one of Silverstein’s Chet Atkins records got stuck on. “Instead of advancing the needle I sat and listened for quite some time, letting it wash over me and eventually capturing the loop on my phone,” he continues. “I used it as a guide to inform mood and texture. Once the band had an arrangement, I reached out to William to add some of his signature shine to it. It's quickly become one of my favorite instrumental tunes to perform live. I hope the country gentleman himself would have dug it.”
The blissfully upbeat recording arrives ahead of the release of Western Sky on May 12 via Arrowhawk Records, which you can pre-order on the label site here. In the meantime, Silverstein will be kicking off a UK tour tonight in Sheffield—you can find tickets for those dates here.