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Edward David Anderson Releases 'Live And Solo' Album; Geeked About Backyard Tire Fire

Edward David Anderson plays Nightshop in Bloomington Saturday night
Troy Phillips
Edward David Anderson plays Nightshop in Bloomington Saturday night.

Bloomington Americana singer/songwriter Edward David Anderson says his new "Live and Solo" album intentionally tried to capture where he's at in his current iteration.

The last live album he recorded was by necessity 20 years ago when his now revived band Backyard Tire Fire needed material to showcase to venues.

“I’ve been on my own for several years,” said Anderson on a recent visit to WGLT. “It’s been evolving and I sort of like where it’s at and where it’s going in the direction with just me by myself, so I wanted to capture the moment and do it in front of a couple ‘hometown’ crowds and see if I could get some magic.”

The album recorded at Nightshop in Bloomington and Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights contains a handful of songs from his most recent studio recording “Chasing Butterflies.” There’s also the Backyard Tire Fire classic “Good to Be” and seven previously unreleased songs. Anderson said you may hear some of those songs more fleshed out on an upcoming EDA-with-Black Dirt Revival album. That includes “You Can’t See Me,” which turned into an audience participation piece when Anderson reached the third line of this verse:

She’ll catch fish and I’ll catch songs When I screw up she'll right my wrongs Let’s all raise a glass and yell out ‘cheers’ “You Can’t See Me” by Edward David Anderson

“It’s a random story about where the song came from. It was just a friend showing us a picture with a large group of people and saying, ‘You can’t see me, but I know where I am.’ So I crafted it into a song down there in Alabama,” Anderson said referring to his winter home in lower Alabama.

The late folk songwriting and guitar legend Guy Clark is the subject of “Guy Built Guitars,” another of the seven unreleased cuts from “Live and Solo.”

It ain’t in the numbers, some time you get lucky Was a line in his book and it jumped out and struck me You see Guy built guitars, each one unique Assembled with patience with soul and technique He said ‘some will sing loud and more clear than others Some for some reason come from red-headed mothers. “Guy Built Guitars” by Edward David Anderson

Anderson noted how Clark has been a huge influence on both his songwriting and guitar playing. Also, the documentary “Without Getting Killed or Caught” in the pipeline was a motivating factor. The movie examines the dynamic between Clark, his wife, and Townes Van Zandt, based on the book of the same name. He was particularly struck by a passage in the book he references in the above lyrics after Clark built what he thought was identical guitars, but one sounded much better than the other. He sent the guitars to a world-renowned Luthier guitar maker and asked him why one played well and one not.

“So, the guitar maker got back to him and said, ‘It ain’t in the numbers, sometimes you get lucky.’ And I thought that sounded like a line in the song,” said Anderson.

When you see Anderson in a live setting, there are at least five different performance possibilities: solo; with band; with his other band Black Dirt Revival, with Alabama Getaway playing Grateful Dead songs; and with the reformed Backyard Tire Fire. Anderson said those options are part business calculation, part ability to express himself in different ways.

“I love playing on my own, it’s the setting I feel most comfortable in and it’s the easiest way to make a living and logistically,” said Anderson. “Black Dirt Revival is my go-to band with (bassist) Stevie Manuel and (drummer) John Ganser. I’ll also go out as the Black Dirt Duo with Stevie if they want a smaller setting.”

Backyard Tire Fire’s lineup includes Anderson’s brother Matt, Scott Tipping on guitar and Ganser on drums, who replaces founding member Tim Kramp. Anderson deflected questions about the percussion change, choosing instead to extolling Ganser’s virtues.

“I’ve played with him the last three to four years with Black Dirt Revival. We’re all very excited about this lineup and getting into the studio and seeing what happens,” said Anderson.

Back to the days on the road with BTF? Anderson said not really, as his brother has a day job and ...

“Ganser gets up at 2:00 every morning and on the farm by 4 a.m. and Scott’s in a ton of bands. I think for a handful of gigs per year … the right festivals and a couple club dates and stuff it would be fun to get these guys together to play and record. I’m really excited about this new batch of songs to see what it turns into,” said Anderson.

Edward David Anderson unveils "Live and Solo" at Nightshop in Bloomington Saturday night. He opens with a solo set; EDA and Black Dirt Revival follow.

The full Edward David Anderson interview.

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Jon Norton is the program director at WGLT and WCBU. He also is host of All Things Considered every weekday.