For about 60 years or so, my Daddy, Bud Ledbetter has been filling our family home with music. He sings and plays multiple instruments including guitar, piano, banjo, organ, and mandolin. He is well-versed in every kind of Roots-Americana genre of music that you can imagine including, bluegrass, country, blues, rock and roll, gospel, and hillbilly. I grew up hearing him tearing up the guitar and piano and singing and playing an endless array of songs over the years. So many of those licks I heard as a child are permanently ingrained in my musical DNA and form the groundwork for everything I have ever learned as a musician. Every one of my siblings also inherited musical abilities and a vast appreciation for the magical force of music, as did my son and his cousins.
Bud used to have an old reel-to-reel tape deck and killer record player that was a constant source of entertainment for the whole family with hundreds of songs to choose from. Over the years our family gatherings often turned into planned picking and jam sessions with various friends and extended family and sometimes we just break out instruments and start playing. To this day, I am always amazed at the number of songs Bud has turned us on to over the years and as we all got older, he started picking up songs from us. It’s not uncommon for our jam sessions to include everything from Ralph Stanley and old Gospel songs to pieces by the Stones or Grateful Dead. John Prine has always been a favorite artist that we all share a love for. I have managed to capture many of these sessions with my low tech recording systems, including some boom box mixes from the 80s, but most of them are really low quality recordings.
After talking about it for years, we all pitched in for his 80th birthday a year ago and gave him a day in the studio to record some music with the entire family. After being sidetracked by my Momma, Dale Ledbetter’s diligent battle to whip cancer’s ass, we are now scheduled next month to take the family into the incomparable Bates Brothers Recording studio to do six of our favorite songs. It was pretty tough to narrow down all of the songs we’ve done over the years to six, but we settled on a good list and have had several rehearsals over the past few months and we’re all real excited about doing these sessions, our musical gift to Bud.