From the opening sounds of “Passion”—the acoustic guitar, the sax and the drums—this was a band record. I was so pumped to record this album. I had aligned myself with the best musicians in Richmond: John Small on bass—c’mon honestly nobody plays like that—what a talent; Chardy McEwan on percussion—his overall presence lit up a room, a stage, a cave, whatever; without Chardy the early PMB would have been downright boring; Al Walsh and his soaring vocals—I knew his talents were gonna blow people’s minds when they merged with Jonathan Williams’s redunkulous pipes and keyboard chops to the backdrop of my music (they were already a band called Two Flights Up and I had heard them do their thang many times—they were the best acoustic duo I had ever heard).
I handed Al and Jonathan a copy of From The Wood and asked them to join the band. I am quite certain they never even opened it. Our first practice in Al’s living room, we looked at each other and we pretty much knew we had something very special. Chris Williams was the last to join the group in March of ‘96. John suggested we give him a look and it took one bar of one song. CW rocked it night after night and was always the guy who made us keep life in perspective. If this is possible he was an even nicer person than he was a kick-ass drummer. We miss him still very much and can’t wrap our heads around the fact that he’s gone. I am now and was then honored to share the stage with those guys every night.
On Revel I really wanted to add some new flavors to the sound. I enlisted JC Kuhl from the local jazz/rock group Agents Of Good Roots to blow sax on “Passion” and “All Around Us” (this is pre me knowing Michael Ghegan). We were huge fans of AGR and were stoked that JC tracked with us. I brought in Ira Gitlin on banjo to give it that porch-roots vibe. I recall being back in the same room I tracked From The Wood but this time we were a band. Chardy and I stayed up to the wee hours and pretty much lived at that studio. He came up with the album title: we were in fact “reveling” in what we were accomplishing. I recall driving back to Richmond with CW and Chardy in his crappy car and jamming out to the record before it went to press. CW was so pumped about his drum tracks and Chardy and I knew we were onto something. We had CD release shows at a frat house at VA Tech (this was no joke, tickets were sold and it was 110 degrees in that basement packed to the hilt), at Trax in Charlottesville and at the Flood Zone in Richmond. The big daddy release was at The Bayou in Georgetown for several nights. It was such an exciting time for us.