As I promised… here’s more on the making of my new Christmas CD.

As I promised… here’s more on the making of my new Christmas CD.

Tech stuff…

First of all, I started working on my new solo guitar CD last year. I have a number of songs recorded for this project that my friend Eric Johnson also helped me with by allowing me to use his studio. His engineer, Kelly Donnelly has worked with ‘EJ’ now for a few years and I’ll have to say is a tremenous engineer and a great guy to work with. His expertise in mic placement and great ear has not only earned him his position with EJ but with other record and movie producers in which he has been very busy with in Austin. He has been a real blessing to me. Eric invested in some of the best microphones in the world for acoustic music, two of which are my favorites… the KM-58 Neumman mics. These tube mics, along with Kelly’s other mic placement magic, have created a sound on my new Guild guitars as well as Gretsch and Fender that I think is the best sound I’ve had yet. Thanks to EJ and Kelly for not only a great job but their encouragement and enthusiasm. Agree with me for a tremendous Christmas for them and all they do. They’ve both gone out of their way to help make this Christmas album as good as we possibly could.

Years ago when I was a youth pastor at a church in Jacksonville, FL I had a Tuesday night youth service called Power House, which grew to be as large as the church congregation, especially on some occasions as having in our special guests David and the Giants. David Huff and his brothers Rayborne and Clayborne and their drummer Keith Thibodeaux (who as a child actor played ‘Little Ricky” on the I Love Lucy Show) made up the band David and the Giants, and I had never seen a more dedicated and sincere group of musicians. I’ll never forget that even during set up time they were praying for God’s blessing on their concert and “HE” always did. Their Beatlesque style was captivating, and the audience always responded. Starting out as a rock band from Laurel, MS, they all became Christians (starting with “Little Ricky” who continuously witnessed to them) and continued on as a Christian Rock band. David Huff today is still a favorite singer, songwriter and musician of mine, as well as being a great friend. At the time we met, David Huff had no idea I was a guitar player, and through the years he saw my name around and reached out to me. He offered his great studio and expertise to me to be a blessing. He has since worked on my CDs and DVD projects such as Bridging the Gap, Live Sessions, The Lights of Marfa song and DVD and now Christmas with Doyle Dykes. His son, Tate, who ran the L.A. studio for The Dream Center mastered this project. I can’t tell you all what a blessing the Huff family has been to me.  Join me in wishing a very Merry Christmas to David Huff and Tate Huff and their family for prayerful and talented involvement in this project.

The Nashville studio was recommended to me by my guitar buddy, Sonny Thomas. Mark Thornton, the engineer and studio owner, worked with Jerry Reed the last ten years of his carreer.  Mark totally gets what I do and captured my tone on the Starfire on Winter Wonderland, the Del Vecchio, and Caleb on the Sand guitar and Jake’s bass and especially Haley’s voice and was quick and accurate, which really helps when trying to do your best. Mark was always available and has a great attitude. When I heard him pick up a guitar and start playing… I thought maybe ‘I’ should jump over and push the record button!  When he comes out with a solo guitar album (which I’m highly encouraging him to do) you’ll hear about it from me. That’s gonna be a must-have.

Aspen Pittman is one of the most talented and smart people I know. I first met Aspen Pittman in Frankfurt, Germany. I knew I had to do something at his place. I’m so glad it was this CD. He is the founder of Groove Tubes, which besides replacement tubes for amplifiers also included microphones, tube amplifiers, tube pre-amps and many other products. His studio was vibey and warm and his engineer, Brian Ascenzo, (whom I met in Michigan at Huber Breese Music) is a talented and friendly fellow who made recording there fun. Although Michael Lloyd actually engineered and produced Christmas at Knebworth (with you) at Aspen and Associates studio there in San Fernando, CA and mixed it at his own studio in Hollywood, Brian recorded What Child is This?, which also made the album. I’m so thankful to Aspen Pittman for his involvement and encourage you guitar players to try out his studio. His collection of mics and tube pre-amps make his studio unique and fun especially for a guitar player. Aspen has a collection of amps and guitars… as well as cars and car paraphenalia that almost makes you forget what you’re there for. Amazing place and amazing folks.

Last but not least here would be the album photos and layout. I don’t have a photo of Dan Miggler at Noiseland in Minneapolis, but I asked if he could get a feel of my favorite guitar album cover of all times. It was Chet Atkins’ Christmas album with the single cut Gretsch 6120 standing upright in the snow covered landscape. I still don’t know how they did that, but Dan went a little different direction to make our cover look a little cheesy, retro 50s look. Sort of like an old post card. The back cover is my White Falcon and a white and gold Nutcracker piece I found in Cologne, Germany right next to the Dome Cathedral.  Holli was taking photos of my guitars and I decided to take the Nutcracker out of my wife Rita’s curio cabinet and it just matched perfectly. With the right photographer and a great layout guy… it’s amazing what can be done. Holli took photos of my red and green 1961 Guild Starfire guitars which made the front cover. I already had the candy cane strap and the red Santa cap was given to me by a young man at First Baptist Church in Texarkana, TX a couple of years ago. He was probably 8 or so, and I didn’t want to take his Santa hat. He insisted so I gave him a CD. Things that are personal and simple also make things special. This may seem silly to some people, but I guess I’m sentimental enough that it’s all important to me.

IMG_3332
Doyle and Brian Ascenzo.
Aspen Pittman.
Doyle and Aspen Pittman.

IMG_3329

IMG_3318

Johnny Tillotson.
Johnny Tillotson.
Michael Lloyd and Brian Ascenzo.
Michael Lloyd and Brian Ascenzo.

IMG_3289

IMG_3287
Producer Michael Lloyd.
Recording "Ave Maria" at EJ's
Recording “Ave Maria” at EJ’s
Recording "White Christmas" on "Harvey"
Recording “White Christmas” on “Harvey”
Kelly Donnelly
Kelly Donnelly
Kelly at EJ's
Kelly at EJ’s
EJ's
EJ’s
EJ's
EJ’s
EJ and me
EJ and me
Eric Johnson in Austin
Eric Johnson in Austin
At Mark Thornton's in Nashville
At Mark Thornton’s in Nashville
Mark's in Nashville
Mark’s in Nashville
My (rarely ever used) Del Vecchio
My (rarely ever used) Del Vecchio
Haley and Caleb St. Mark's
Haley and Caleb St. Mark’s
Me with "Studio Tree."
Me with “Studio Tree.”
My daughter, Holli, the Shutterbug.  This made the back cover. Love this shot!
My daughter, Holli, the Shutterbug. This made the back cover. Love this shot!
My brother Aubrey recording keys at Mom's in FL.
My brother Aubrey recording keys at Mom’s in FL.
photo-3
David Huff (Studio Tree)
David Huff at GA Studio.
David Huff at GA Studio.

So as I promised, here are a few more stories and facts that I didn’t write in my liner notes. All the people and places involved in Christmas with Doyle Dykes also influenced the sound, feel and look of this record. I hope this has been interesting to you.

Today is the 5th anniversary of my father’s heavenly homecoming. I miss “Bubba” every day. My mother and I talk about him pretty much every conversation we have. They were true soul mates. My brother Aubrey and I talk about him a lot too. I wish Dad could’ve heard this record. Perhaps he has. He’s involved in it for sure. Every time I pick up a guitar and play it is a reflection of him. I miss my dad. As Chet used to sing… “No matter how hard I try, no matter how many years go by… no matter how many tears I cry… I still can’t say Goodbye.”

My Dad "Bubba"
My Dad “Bubba”

Merry Christmas!

Doyle

As promised…

Hi everyone!  As promised,  I wanted to give you a few more little stories and insights on my new CD… Christmas with Doyle Dykes.

First of all,  I will admit my goal was to have my new CD to debut at Huber Breese Music in Fraser, MI on November 15th.  Paul and Judy Huber and the entire gang there are very special people to me.  Every year for years, I’d call Paul a few days before Christmas and he’d bail me out helping me find last-minute gifts for the kids.  Especially for my son Caleb.  Our event for Huber Breese Music was also sponsored by Guild Guitars (Fender) and the sales rep for that area, Ron Mancuso, is about as fired up and spontaneously funny as any stand up comedian!  We (several hundred of us) all just had a blast!  Caleb also came and helped me play my very first Christmas concert.  This was also my first look at my new CD, as I had them sent there directly.  Sweet Baby James,  Paul and Judy’s new (and first) grandbaby, took most of the attention. We should also give Andrea a little credit for giving him birth.  Isn’t it amazing to see your friend’s children… having children?  Another Christmas gift.

Now, also… let me say how incredibly impressed I was with Frankenmuth, MI.  I had heard of this place back in the 80s from a friend of mine.  I had no idea how popular and beautiful it was.  My son-in-Law Jake Johnson’s best pal is Chris Zehnder of Zehnder’s Famous Chicken Dinners Restaurant, bakery and hotel in Frankenmuth.  Chris had moved to Nashville and was trying his hand at playing the guitar and singing and had formed a band called the Avery Set that Jake had joined before he and Haley were married.  I thought their music was great and very original.  Chris is very versatile and clever in his writing and brings a cool factor in his style of music.  I must say Jake’s bass playing added something different that other bands didn’t have.  They were all great players and Chris was the lead singer and a fine song writer.  He and Jake are also co-writers on some of their tunes.  Chris worked at a small restaurant in Nashville and seemed like a happy young musician living out his dream in Music City.  His family has owned Zehnder’s now for three generations.  His dad, whom I also met, is a very stately and gracious man and was very supportive of Chris’s endeavors to go out and see other places and play his music and fulfill his dreams. I wondered why he moved back to a small town in MI and now I know.  If you’ve never been there… you should go.  If you have been there, then go back to Zehender’s and realize the folks there are as nice and friendly and good as you hoped they were.  Maybe Chris will be playing around the area.  He and Jake are cooking up something for next year so more on all that later.  Maybe they’ll borrow a little of my Country Fried Pickin’ to go along with the restaurant.  Maybe not.  I must say it was a great weekend to debut my new Christmas CD.  I even bought some guitar-shaped Christmas lights at Bronner’s Christmas Store.  Google that up!

Chris Zehnder and me.
Chris Zehnder and me.
I always liked the song Auld Lang Syne, but not enough to where I wanted to play it.  It didn’t interest me until this past New Years’ Eve, I got a text from my friend Bob Taylor (of Taylor Guitars).  Bob says… “Do you know what I’d like for New Years?  I’d like to hear Doyle Dykes play Auld Lang Syne on the guitar just for me.  Maybe just record it on your iphone.  Do you think that could happen?”  I told him I thought it was very likely to happen.  Only thing was, I didn’t have an arrangment.  I made up something… recorded it and he said he and all his family gathered around and listened to it and they all teared up.  I played it on an old 20th Anniversary Taylor that Bob personally gave me from his own collection.  I did my best… but I didn’t think it was the best I could play it.  The song stayed in my mind for a month.  I started loving it so much that I would get teared up listening to it.

When I wrote, Christmas at Knebworth (with you) at my mother’s home in Florida,  I thought I would maybe play a Christmas song as an intro.  I did several versions but Auld Lang Syne just seemed to fit better than all of the others.  I loved the chord changes and melody so much that I came up with a whole new arrangement with a G on the 5th string and a C on the 6th which is the tuning I wrote Christmas at Knebworth in.  Auld wasn’t long enough for me so I made up an entire intro and an orchestral hook line that eventually turned into an entire movement on the end sort of like I do on Ave Maria.  When a song strikes me that strong and hard I often try to make it longer because I enjoy playing it so much that I simply don’t want it to end so quickly.

Auld Lang Syne was used also in my Christmas Prelude at the beginning of the CD, so it made it on the album three times.  So, thanks again Uncle Bob for the encouragement and inspiration to record Auld Lang Syne.

Well,  that’s the news for today on Christmas with Doyle Dykes.  Caleb and I dodged the storm tonight.  It should be passed over by now here in Michigan.  May the warmth of this Christmas Season permeate your spirit, and may the Love and Joy of it flow out to others.

Merry Christmas… in November.

Doyle

11/10/13

Hi folks!

As I said in my last blog I wanted to share some other stories and insight on my new Christmas CD if you don’t mind reading.  I’ve been looking forward for years to record a Christmas album but never really felt ready.  I suppose this is because Christmas means so much to me not only as a parent and grandfather but as a believer in Jesus Christ and his immaculate birth.  I finally gave in and went for it this year.  I’ve had a Christmas tree in my guitar room all year long.  I’ve had such fun and have drawn comfort and inspiration by recording this record.

One thing that sort of gave me a ‘love-shove’ to get this done was the fact that a couple of years ago the Lytton Cobbold family asked if I would come over and perform at their beautiful estate… the Knebworth House in Knebworth, England.  They explained that for years they had sponsored a “Charles Dickens’ Christmas” where an actor would come in and read A Christmas Carol from Charles Dickens’ book.  They wanted to do something different this year, so they said they wanted “A Doyle Dykes Christmas” or “Christmas with Doyle Dykes” which is now the title of my new CD.

736717

I have visited with Henry and Martha Lytton Cobbold and their family many times in their stately home.  I also wrote the song “Knebworth Dream” and recorded it in their 500-year-old barn converted into a recording studio.  I interviewed Henry on video at their mansion after I played the song inside the house as part of my Live Sessions DVD.  My good friend Robert Wilson from Knebworth village was responsible for introducing me to the Lytton-Cobbold family at their church and for setting all this up.

On my new CD I wrote “Christmas at Kebworth… (with you)” and our good friend Michael Lloyd (producer- Dirty Dancing, Lou Rawls, the Monkees, the Osmonds, Donnie and Marie, Debbie Boone, Pat Boone, Barry Manilow… and many more records and movie credits that line his Hollywood home) recorded and produced it for me.  I will never forget writing this song at my mother’s home in Florida at the beginning of the year.  I was playing some Christmas songs for her that I told her I wanted to record.  This was right before I started on the project in the studio.  My mother,  “Mert” had not been well for a couple of months and I was down visiting her.  She sat on the couch and listened as I started playing and this little waltz came into being.  I told her I wanted to write another song for Knebworth House as I was supposed to play Christmas concerts there this year.  This was back in February.  I told her that I thought a waltz would be nice since my old friend, Rusty Wilcoxen, who produced the Grand Ole Opry, once told me before a show that Chet Atkins said to him, “Everybody loves a Waltz.”  My mother loved it.  I was stumped on the end of the chorus and thought it out on my way back home.  When I got up to my guitar room I played “Christmas at Knebworth (…with you)” for the first time in its entirety.  I called “Mom” and told her the song was completed.  I kept thinking of a vocal line….just one line at the end of the song. I didn’t particuarly want to sing it but the lyrical line in my head is what prompted the melody.

My UK buddy Robert Wilson introduced me to Michael Lloyd as well as my good buddy, Johnny Tillotson, who is from my hometown of Jacksonville,  FL.  I recorded Christmas at Knebworth at Aspen Pittman’s (Groove Tubes fame) studio in San Fernando, CA and none other than Johnny Tillotson and his wife Nancy came to the session.  I love Johnny’s singing.  I literally wrap presents and we open our gifts to Johnny Tillotson’s Christmas CD every year.  It’s a tradition at our house.  I asked Johnny if he would sing the last line in the song.  Although this was an instrumental piece,  I told him that this lyrical line helped create the melody so I asked him to simply sing… “Christmas at Knebworth with you” and say “Merry Christmas” at the end of the song.  Johnny was perfect for this as he also knows the Lytton Cobbold family and has visited Knebworth House in the past.  Johnny is the crooning voice on the theme song for “Gidget” as well as his many hits including “Poetry in Motion” and his own original song “It Keeps Right On A Hurtin’ Since You’ve Gone” recorded by himself, Elvis Presley, Dean Martin and over 100 others artists.  I remember when I was a young boy and my dad took me to Main street in Jacksonville, FL to a radio station.  There was a flat bed trailer and a band with a cool young singer and a whole lot of people listening to him out on the street.  It was a promotional appearance for the radio station and one of his new hit songs.  I asked my dad who the singer was and he said,  “Why that’s Johnny Tillotson… he’s a big star now and he’s from right here in Jacksonville.”  What a privilege to have Johnny on my recording of this special new song.  Johnny was so sweet to my parents as he sent them a stack of signed CDs.  Dad cherished these until he passed on a few years ago.  I wanted only family and close friends on this record.  I got it!

I will be performing at Knebworth House in December.  To all our friends in the UK and all over Europe,  I hope you’ll make it over for one of these performances.  Maybe even someone from the U.S. will venture over and enjoy the hospitality of the Lytton Cobbolds and the elegance of their 500-year-old stately home which has been the location for many films including “Batman” with Michael Keaton and Kim Basinger.  In fact,  I’ll be performing in the very room that they dined in at “Bruce Wayne Manor.”  What a wonderful place to enjoy the Christmas season!

Well,  I said I would share some stories from the Christmas CD.  This is only one.  I have more.  Please drop back in on the site in the next few days for another story from… “Christmas with Doyle Dykes.”

Blessings!
Doyle

 

What a wonderful Fall it has been! I’ve had some great experiences, such as…

What a wonderful Fall it has been!  I’ve had some great experiences, such as the special presentation for Grandpa Jones at the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Had “Grandpa” lived, he would’ve been one hundred years old just a few days ago.  I was on a panel with Ramona Jones (Grandpa’s wife), Fred Foster (producer and President of Monument Records), Sam Lovullo (Producer of Hee Haw), and we told stories of “Pa,” and the Hall of Fame played back excerpts from live shows including Hee Haw and showed lots of photos on a giant screen.  It was almost as if he’d just come back to us for a day.  His family was all there, and we sang and played “Eight More Miles to Louisville” (Charlie McCoy sang), “Falling Leaves,” sung by his daughter Alisa Jones, and his son Mark Jones played Grandpa’s Vega banjo, which was the one he played when I was with him.  Mark plays just like Grandpa.  What a memorable and honorable occasion that I won’t forget.
My Christmas record is finished!  I’m so excited to finally be able to share some Christmas music with you folks.  Christmas is my very favorite time of year and although I’ve even had a Christmas tree in my guitar room (two or three actually) and have been playing and listening to Christmas music all year,  I still haven’t gotten tired of it!  I love Christmas!  It’s not just a holiday or a season but the very foundation of my belief in God and the Savior of the world.  He came to us as a little child.  That may be hard to comprehend and even why God chose this way but the simplicity and tenderness that lingers still warms my heart like nothing else.   When I was a young man I played guitar for J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet.  They always said “We came to sing about the greatest story ever told.”  It is truly the greatest story ever told!

ddChristmas

I have put this Christmas album off for many years mostly because I never thought I was ready for such an important and meaningful collection of music.  I felt the same thing with “Songs of Faith and Freedom,” and it has become one of the greatest albums of my career.  I wanted only family and friends on this record.  My son-in-law Jake Johnson played electric and string bass, and I told him this album would not have been the same without him.  The same goes for Haley, as she sang “In the Bleak Midwinter,” and my brother Aubrey’s genius skills on keyboard set this album apart from all others I’ve done.  My son Caleb played “Silent Night” with me.  What a wonderful thing to even say besides the fact he played brilliantly.  Andy Leftwich on fiddle and John Gardner on drums on a few select tunes gave this album what it needed and more.  Eric Johnson played “White Christmas” with me.  Can I just say that again… Eric Johnson played White Christmas with Me!  Man!  This was such a blast to do!  My times working in the studios with Kelly Donelly and Josh Johnson in Austin, Mark Thornton in Nashville, Michael Lloyd and Brian Ascenzo in L.A. and David and Tate Huff in Georgia were all very special times in the making of this CD.  You have to have folks who are ‘into’ what you’re doing.  All these guys were.
I was at my mother’s house in Florida in the early part of this year.  I remember playing several Christmas songs for her as I was about to start recording in Texas a few days later.  She sat there for several hours listening to me.  I told her I wanted to write a song for Knebworth House in England.  My friend Robert Wilson called me a couple of years ago and said the Lytton Cobbold family of Knebworth wanted me to play a few Christmas concerts at their stately home in England.  For a number of years they had Christmas events there every year they called “A Charles Dickens Christmas” with an actor from London who would come and read “The Christmas Carol.”  They expressed their desire to have “Christmas with Doyle Dykes” which is what gave me the sort of “Love Shove” to get things underway for this album, not to mention a lot of encouragement from my family.  So,  while at mom’s house I started playing a melody that I had in my head for awhile and “Mert” (Mom) liked it.  I came home and finished it.  A few days later I went to Los Angeles and recorded “Christmas at Knebworth (with you) at Aspen Pittman’s studio and Michael Lloyd (Google him up!!) came and recorded and produced it.  Who else but Johnny Tillotson and his wife Nancy came walking in to see what we were doing.  I had to ask Johnny to do something on it and so Michael and I persuaded him and sure enough… he did!  Johnny and Nancy had also visited Knebworth in the past and were very close to Robert and Mary Wilson there in England.  This was like another “Marfa Light” experience for me.
These are but a few experiences I didn’t have the room to write about in the CD liner notes… so I may add another story or two in the next few days.  Needless to say I’m very excited to tell you about all this!  By the way,  we have opened up our online store for pre-orders.  I just approved the final insert info even today and so they should be shipping by mid November.  All pre-orders will ship first.
I hope these next few weeks are very special ones for you and I sincerely hope you’ll enjoy this Christmas and remember that it’s more than just a tradition.  The Joy of Christmas is as real as the story itself.  The greatest story ever told.
Joy and Peace….
Doyle

Pre-order your copy of Doyle’s NEW CD, “Christmas with Doyle Dykes” NOW!

Doyle’s long-awaited Christmas album is now available for pre-ordering at doylestore.com!  (Ships mid-November)

ddChristmas

1.  ”Christmas” (Prelude)
2.  Jolly Old St. Nicholas
3.  What Child Is This
4.  Ave Maria
5.  White Christmas (with Eric Johnson)
6.  Up on the Housetop
7.  Winter Wonderland
8.  In the Bleak Midwinter  (with Haley Dykes Johnson)
9.  The Christmas Song
10.  Jingle Bells
11.  Christmas Carol Medley
12.  Classic Christmas Medley
13.  Christmas at Knebworth (with you)
14.  O Holy Night
15.  Angels Medley
16.  The Little Drummer Boy
17.  Silent Night
18.  Auld Lang Syne

*Available in packs of 3/6/12 as well!  Click here to order!

In the studio…

In the studio this week at Mark Thornton’s place in Nashville with my son Caleb, daughter Haley, & son-in-law, Jake Johnson, working on my upcoming CD.  “Merry Christmas!”

IMG953350

IMG_3363

IMG_3361

IMG_3352

IMG953366

IMG953356

IMG_3351