Santa Clarita singer/songwriter Susan Rey is beaming at the release of her new CD Ashgrove Sessions. The CD, three years in the making, is a collaboration of Susan and her longtime friend and guitar legend Jerry Donahue. Over the course of his 50 year career he has played with many of the great artists and his beautifully unique guitar skills earned him the title “string bending king of the planet” from guitar player magazine.
Jerry Donahue and Susan Rey created this album to celebrate their long careers and collaborations together. Each song chosen for the CD is representative of their histories, ranging from the pioneers of British folk rock, Fairport Convention, to reinterpretations of iconic songs like Bob Seger’s Turn the Page.
They had a very specific vision for this album so song selection was critical. Combine that with schedules of touring musicians and the fact that Jerry was spending at least half the year in the UK and Europe you can see why this project would take the time it did, and when you listen you will realize it was worth the wait.
Interestingly in modern recording Susan has never met some of the musicians that are on her CD. When they were working on the John F. Kennedy tribute song, released last May as a single, they realized that something was missing. The song had an anthem/march vibe and given JFK’s Irish heritage it seemed that “pipes” would be in order. So Davy Spillane, master of the uilleann pipes was able to record the track in Ireland and send it to the studio in Los Angeles. Davy’s name may not be familiar but you have heard his pipes in the themes from Titanic and Riverdance. Similarly when they needed specific sounds on the song Tired of Talkin’ they enlisted Maartin Allcock from Snowdonia (yes that’s a real place) in Wales who also was able to send in his tracks electronically.
Another surprise guest for the CD was Rockabilly Hall of Fame guitarist Gerry McGee of the Ventures. He was in town visiting and since Susan had done the background vocals for Gerry’s song Long Road she asked if they could use it on the CD. He agreed and played as well, trading guitar licks with Jerry. It was great for all involved especially since a teenage Jerry Donahue had taken guitar lessons from Gerry McGee back in 1960!
The other musicians on this CD are no less impressive. Tom Walsh on drums (America, Spyro Gyra), bassists include Grammy Award winning Matt Malley (Counting Crows), Russ Buchanan (Player, Thieves) and Harrison John Davis (Ricky Nelson) and Jimmy Powers on harp (Ray Charles, Buddy Guy).