Thunder & Lightnin’ celebrates first studio album
“Thunder & Lightnin’ – a noise from up the holler” is the debut studio recording from the Roots-Americana trio Thunder & Lightnin’. They celebrated in a sold-out Grashopper Grill- upstairs and down December 23rd.
Responding to requests for recorded versions of their original works, members Belita Mullinax, Steve Estes, and Rob Gibbs committed to doing so, using revenues from the tip jar to assist in production costs. Never announcing the plan, generosity from their followers did a lot more than just help. It actually covered the entire cost of studio time, and a good deal the CD duplication and packaging process.
As for the album, it is pure Thunder & Lightnin’. The work features original compositions, 14 in all, delivered via fiddle-banjo-guitar instrumentation with close attention to dynamics, lead vocals and tight harmonies.
Weaving together titles from the album, a tapestry of Americana emerges with themes ranging from a new definition of paradise, a secluded mountain cabin, and honoring an old corner country store. The importance of and challenges to the Verde River, bad habits made funny, robbing banks, and daring to take chance add to the traditional roots-grounded experience, as well.
David James of Mudshark Recording Studios immediately found the right palette and fabric in his recording technique to capture the trio’s personality. “It’s like he read the mind of the band, and got inside our collective soul,” Estes says. “The result is pure authenticity – in both the audio presence and the musical performance.”
To get that sound, James uses iconic, historic tube amps and mics from the 1930’s through the 1970’s. Estes’ guitars were run through a mixing console from Willie Nelson’s studio of days gone by. Banjoist Gibbs recorded his vocals into the mic Tom Petty used to record his “Damn the Torpedoes” album. Mullinax’s Appalachian fiddling flowed through a vintage RCA ribbon microphone.
At the event, the trio performed all 14 of the original songs in the same set and in the same order as on the album. “We’ve performed these originals many times, but never together in one set dedicated to just these songs. We’ve held out until now and really had a blast doing that.”