Guitar wizard John Jorgenson debuted his J2B2 band’s new bluegrass album, From the Crow’s Nest, Thursday afternoon (June 28) with a live show at the BMI Theater on Nashville’s Music Row.
Performing with Jorgenson, who played mandolin for most of this set, were Mark Fain, bass; Rob Ickes, dobro; Darin Aldrige, guitar and vocals; and Brooke Aldridge, vocals. Jon Randall, who’s featured on the album, sat in with the band on two songs.
Herb Pedersen, also a principal player on the new album, was ill and unable to join in the live rollout.
The 15-track collection is light on standard bluegrass fare, with the Dillards’ “There Is a Time” probably being the most canonical of that genre. There’s also a moving cover of Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss’ 2004 country weeper, “Whiskey Lullaby.”
“One of the goals of this album,” Jorgenson told the audience, “was to bring new material into bluegrass.”
Jorgenson wrote or co-wrote six of the songs, including the dazzling guitar instrumental, “Feather,” as well as “If You Could See,” which was inspired by the suicides of two musician friends, and “Travelin’ Angels,” an affectionate nod toward his touring band members.
The other songwriters are Pedersen, Randall, Bill Anderson, J. D. Souther, Chris Hillman, Mitch Jayne, Rodney Dillard, Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark, Libby Pedersen and Steve Hill.
The album takes its title from having been recorded at Sheryl Crow’s Nashville-area studio.
Country fans first came to know Jorgenson through his lead guitar and vocal work for the Desert Rose Band. DRB flourished from 1987 to 1994 and racked up the No. 1 hits “He’s Back and I’m Blue” and “I Still Believe in You.”
In the years following DRB’s breakup, Jorgenson formed, recorded and performed with the Hellecasters, toured for six years with Elton John and performed and/or recorded with Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Earl Scruggs, Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Barbra Streisand and Luciano Pavarotti.
His John Jorgenson Quintet specializes in gypsy jazz. J2B2 performed on the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night (June 30).