In January 2014, Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank were touring through Colorado behind their new critically acclaimed album Number One Contender. After a show in Aspen, instead of staying in town, the hard travelin’ Hobo Nephews got back on the road.
“We PLAY in Aspen but we don’t STAY in Aspen,” laughed Teague Alexy. “Aspen hotels are slightly above our tour budget so we always drive out of town after the show.”
On this particular night, Ian and Teague Alexy, touring as a duo, drove through the Rocky Mountains to Ian’s old friend Adam Frehm’s place in nearby Vail. Adam is a well-known dobro player in Vermont and a founding member of the alt-bluegrass band Smokin’ Grass. Adam also played dobro on the Chieftan’s legendary Nashville album Further Down The Old Plank Road. Ian and Adam had played and recorded together when Ian lived in Vermont but hadn’t seen each other in over a decade.
“Ian and I slept on the couch and woke up to Adam making coffee and rolling big Colorado cigarettes,” said Teague. “We wiped the sleep from our eyes and before long we grabbed the guitars.”
Ian and Teague were touring behind Number One Contender, but they had their mind on their next album, American Shuffle. They already knew the next Hobo Nephew album was going to be recorded at Trampled By Turtles fiddle player Ryan Young’s new studio.
“Yeah, we were really into jamming these half-finished songs with everyone we could to hear how people would play along,” said Ian. “We’d keep those musical ideas floating around the back of our head until it was time to go to the studio.”
“Are you ready to make rock history?” Adam asked with a smile as he pulled out a little recorder meant for taping live shows. Amidst more laughs, coffee and drags of those Colorado cigarettes, and without a plan, they gathered around the little recorder on the coffee table and the Hobo Nephews Vail Sessions began to come to life.
By the time Adam’s friend Lizzy brought over a bag of breakfast donuts, Ian, Teague and Adam were in the midst of an early version of Teague’s new song “Low Flying Bird.” You can hear Lizzy come and go between verses on the recording but the music doesn’t stop. Teague belts out another chorus while Ian and Adam start trading guitar and dobro lines into an extended instrumental jam.
By early afternoon, Ian and Teague had packed up the van to head to the next show in Salt Lake City. Five years later, The Vail Sessions are being released as part of the digital deluxe version of American Shuffle.
American Shuffle digital deluxe track list:
1 . Everybody’s Got a Baby But Me
2. Down The Line
3. Over and Back Again
4. Low Flying Bird
5. When The Night Comes
6. Take This Town
7. Old Number Four
8. Down So Low
9. The Day Billy Martin Quits
10. Me, You and The Universe
11. There’s The Train, Here’s Your Ticket
12. Time To Move On (bonus studio track)
13. Nothing To Say About Love (bonus studio track)
14. Forever Takes So Long (bonus studio track)
15. Over and Back Again (demo)
16. Changed My Ways (Vail Sessions)
17. Time To Move On (Vail Sessions)
18. Low Flying Bird (Vail Sessions)