Darby spent six years composing the songs that made it onto this album. They were difficult years. She spoke to me about these hard times, as well as about her creative process from her home in Nashville.
A lot of people are completely clueless to my solo career thus far. At this point, people only know my work with the Chocolate Drops. Even though I founded the group, there was always more of a focus on the old-time music of North Carolina than on the music I was really passionate about. When I play as the American Songster, I have a completely separate repertoire. I know that the Chocolate Drops sound I helped create will come through on my new album, but I also feel that people will hear a little something different in my music, just because I am doing it my way.
For the past four decades, Williams has been best known as Swamp Dogg, the gonzo Southern soul singer-songwriter who, at his best, approaches the wild-eyed visionary showmanship of Sly Stone, Bootsy Collins, and Frank Zappa, while also summoning the down-to-earth class-consciousness of country music.
This is a collection that celebrates American storytellers, guardians of their ethnic traditions that range from blues to Cajun to Mexican corridos, traditional New Orleans jazz, Dixieland, jug band music, sacred steel, and 1960s folk and protest music. Somehow it all hangs together, one big story about North and Central America and its people.