guitarist Jamie Dunphy came to the attention of mwe3.com thanks
to the 2010 album he recorded with the jazz-fusion band called Mill
City Trio. Jamies 2019 album, called No More Waiting,
was recorded and released by his new rock project called Jamie
Dunphy And True North. In a completely new direction, on the 25
minute, six-track No More Waiting, Jamie proves his merit as
a guitarist, songwriter and lead singer. Speaking about the shift
from his jazz-rock instrumental band to the country rock sound of
his 2019 album, Jamie tells mwe3.com, "Ive always considered
myself a guitarist who sings, but I really enjoy singing. In earlier
bands, I wrote primarily with other members of the group, contributing
riffs and chord changes while leaving the lyrics to someone else.
But over time I got more comfortable presenting full songs, particularly
when I started leading that eight-piece group. After graduate school,
I became immersed in jazz, and I didnt sing publicly or write
songs for many years. Its been great fun getting back to it.
I was surprised how long it took to get my voice back into shape,
but I feel pretty strong now." Very
much rooted the Dylan-esque Americana, country-rock style, the six
track No More Waiting CD features Jamies excellent electric
and acoustic guitar work and singing, backed up by the fine rhythm
section of Seth Peterson (bass) and Tod Salmonson (drums,
percussion). Produced by Brian Charles, the first CD by Jamie
Dunphy and True North, No More Waiting shows the expansive
range of talent and diversity from an excellent guitarist with a whole
lotta varied musical influences and styles. www.CDbaby.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
I remember the Mill City Trio CD, Looking Up, from a few years
ago, and mwe3.com did an interview for it too. So after a great jazz-fusion
album what made you go write and record a country-rock album on No
More Waiting? Are you still playing jazzy guitar instrumentals
or are you now heading straight away into country pop?
Jamie Dunphy: After that last Mill City Trio album, Seth Peterson,
the bassist in True North, and I did an album of original songs for
lute, voice and viol da gamba called Stare Into the Sound.
The performances we did in support of that album reminded me how vocal
music can connect with audiences in such an immediate and powerful
way. Shortly after that, I did a reunion gig with my college band,
which made me realize how much I missed the visceral experience of
playing music with that kind of energy. I started thinking that maybe
I had something to say again in the context of a rock group. Mill
City Trio still plays occasionally, and I still do some freelance
jazz playing in addition to the rock and early music/lute stuff. Leading
a triple musical life, as it were!
mwe3: One thing is consistent between both of your styles is
your expert guitar playing. Were the No More Waiting tracks
recorded live in the studio and did you do many overdubs and what
guitars are you primarily using for both acoustic and electric on
the new CD?
Jamie Dunphy: Thank you! The basic tracks were all done live,
although we cleaned up a few guitar and bass bits later. The solos
on Im Not Here were done live; the others were overdubbed
because we wanted a rhythm guitar underneath. I like the way we did
it-primarily live, so it has that feel of a real performance, while
still allowing ourselves to polish things a bit and experiment with
some guitar and percussion overdubs. For the more country-rock songs,
I used an early 00s Epiphone Casino. Its an inexpensive
guitar, but I love it. I use John Pierce archtop strings on that guitar,
which gives it a nice acoustic sound. For the more rocking, overdriven
stuff, I played a DAngelico EX-SS. Beautiful guitar, incredibly
versatile. It works great for these heavier songs, but Ive used
it recently on a few jazz gigs, and it has a nice, warm, clean sound
too. I played my little Seagull Coastline Grand acoustic on Im
Not Here to double the solos and beef up the rhythm guitar.
Its a small parlor guitar, not super-powerful, but I wrote all
of the songs for the album on it, so I thought it deserved an appearance!
The solo on After All was done on an old Guild acoustic
guitar that lives at Zippah Recording Studios, where we did the album.
Its one of those instruments that just records really well.
mwe3: Tell us about the band that plays with you in the True
North band? Whats the chemistry like between the musicians and
tell us about working with producer Brian Charles up in the Boston
area? Are you planning to play live shows for the No More Waiting
Dunphy: The band features Seth Peterson on bass and Tod Fish
Salmonson on drums. Seth was one of the first people I met when I
moved to Boston in the early 90s, and he is one of my
dearest friends. Weve done all sorts of crazy projects together,
and hes been a hugely important part of my musical development.
Not sure Id still be at it if it werent for Seth. Fish
and I were in the college band I mentioned earlier as well as this
wacky 8-piece rock band I led for a few years. Hes such a great,
positive person, and one of my oldest friends. The two had met but
had never played together before this project. They are both superb
musicians, and while I suspected they would form a mighty rhythm section,
one never knows. But they clicked right away, and the group has really
great chemistry. I feel very fortunate to be able to make new music
with two great friends at this point in my life. And the parts they
add to the songs really bring them up to a whole different level.
Brian is an amazing person to work with, incredibly talented and one
of the nicest people youll ever meet. I believe this is the
seventh album Ive done at Zippah... why go anywhere else? Brian
is a topnotch engineer who gets beautiful, warm sounds. But to me,
the producer role is where he shines even more. Hes always supportive
and positive, but is not afraid to speak up if something just isnt
working. Those situations are always approached with a problem-solving
attitude, and weve always found a good solution. Brian also
has a great ear for vocal harmonies and where to add percussion and
acoustic guitar overdubs. Im always surprised by how those little
things can really change a track from good to great. The band has
a number of shows booked in the Boston area to support the album.
March 30th at Uncharted in Lowell and June 21st at the Burren in Somerville
are the two official release gigs. Were looking
into some out-of-town dates, New York, etc. but will probably not
stray too far. We all have jobs and families, so touring is not really
in our plans.
Your vocals are great on the new album. Whats your background
like as a singer-songwriter and lyricist and what were these songs
Jamie Dunphy: Thank you! Ive always considered myself
a guitarist who sings, but I really enjoy singing. In earlier bands,
I wrote primarily with other members of the group, contributing riffs
and chord changes while leaving the lyrics to someone else. But over
time I got more comfortable presenting full songs, particularly when
I started leading that eight-piece group. After graduate school, I
became immersed in jazz, and I didnt sing publicly or write
songs for many years. Its been great fun getting back to it.
I was surprised how long it took to get my voice back into shape,
but I feel pretty strong now.
mwe3: Who are some of the singer-songwriters that influenced
your own singer-songwriter style?
Jamie Dunphy: Honestly, one of the biggest influences on my
songwriting has been our own Seth Peterson. The words he contributed
to Stare Into The Sound are beautiful and thought-provoking,
and really raised the bar for me. That project was my first experience
setting preexisting lyrics to music, and it made me rethink a lot
of things. I see now that the underlying music really needs to serve
the words, first and foremost. We all want to play interesting parts,
and there is room for that too. But sometimes something very simple
is whats called for. Along those lines, Im a big fan of
Jason Isbell; he has such intelligent lyrics and beautiful melodies.
And Id say Stuart Adamson of Big Country has been a big influence,
particularly in terms of picking subject matter and exploring themes
of social and personal change. To me, that band was the perfect balance
of song writing and musicianship, with four great players who played
intricate parts but left enough room for the vocal to shine through.
Tell us about Ashes Of You. Is it about reincarnation?
The plight of the humanoid thrill
or the metaphor of how death
is like winter and under the ice is the promise of a brand new day.
Jamie Dunphy: Wow, I had never thought of the reincarnation
angle, but that interpretation really fits pretty seamlessly with
the lyric. To me that song is about the danger of becoming numb to
our political situation. It was written right after the Trump inauguration,
which, political leanings aside, was a pretty nervous time for a lot
of people. There was an undercurrent of fear, and I think a lot of
people who were unhappy with that outcome were unsure how to act.
So the song is a call to arms of sorts, a call for fire in the
valley, meaning passion and the courage to speak up and fight
for what you believe in. I think it also serves as a reminder that
nothing is permanent, that this dark winter will pass.
mwe3: Reveille is an interesting track. Interesting
title, how does it relate to the lyrics? Is it about war?
Jamie Dunphy: Such a cliché, but that one was inspired
by a dream I had. I was long gone, looking down on my daughter roaming
this sort of post-climate disaster wasteland. The song turned into
an apology to her and her generation for the way my generation has
damaged the planet and left it to them to deal with the aftermath.
The line I should have pressed that flower in that book and
sounded reveille was meant to mean, I should have done
my part to preserve the earth and help call attention to the irreparable
harm were causing. But obviously, the word reveille
has military connotations, and I like that it can be taken as an antiwar
Im Not Here is a really funny country music song.
Is it about not being able to face something or someone? You have
some interesting lyric citing, Rio, Cain and Abel too
Any clues on your frame of mind on Im Not Here?
Jamie Dunphy: To me, that song is about not taking responsibility
in conflict. I think weve all been in those situations where
we feel like were not being heard, like were invisible
in a sense. At thats particularly difficult when youre
trying to resolve a conflict of some kind. The choruses are this sort
of comical list of all the things one can blame for ones behavior,
instead of admitting the inconvenient truth that in almost
every contentious situation, both parties bear some of the blame and
need to take on some responsibility in the resolution process. It
takes two to tango, as they say.
mwe3: Sounds like The Great Flood was inspired
by Dylan. Tell us about The Great Flood.
Jamie Dunphy: Maybe not directly, but certainly his strong
imagery and sense of place are an influence on my writing. Hes
one of those iconic figures who influenced every modern songwriter
whether theyre aware of it or not! I wrote The Great Flood
during a very trying week when I was overloaded with e-mails, texts
and bad news everywhere I looked. So its about how the flood
of information that technology brings us can be very damaging, how
despite what advertisers would like us to believe, it separates us
rather than brings us closer. And the song is also about the flood
of time, and how those waves bring us along whether we want them to
or not. You cant hold back time; take it from someone
mwe3: Is Shadow Crossing about living through the
hard times? Do you write more from the heart or the head? Its
an emotional plea but also clear-headed.
Dunphy: That song is a tribute to the late Stuart Adamson of Big
Country, who as I mentioned earlier has been a huge influence on me.
I weave in a lot of references to his lyrics, while very loosely telling
part of his story. That band was a mighty force, inspiring and encouraging
audiences while drawing attention to important social issues. But
after their fourth album, their popularity plummeted. I assume partly
for that reason, Adamson started drinking heavily. Sadly, he took
his own life in 2001. But the song ends hopefully, with the notion
that we can learn from his life and death, and pick up where he left
My favorite music has a good balance of the head and the heart. I
think a lot of my early writing, particularly the material I contributed
to Mill City Trio, was almost hyper-intellectual. Im allowing
things to be simpler now, and trying to speak from the heart, particularly
on some new songs Ive written in the last few months. Its
scary to be vulnerable like that, but I think you have to be to really
connect with people.
mwe3: Is After All about your family? Tell us about
your family and where youre from and where you live now? Also
what plans do you have this year for you and you music?
Jamie Dunphy: That song was written for my daughter, who my
wife and I adopted about a year and a half ago. Like a lot of people
in their 40s, I had gotten to the point where I thought, OK,
this is what my life is going to be. And I was perfectly happy
with that. But then she came along and turned everything upside-down
in the best possible way. I suddenly realized that life could be much
better than it was. The first two verses are about the experience
of meeting her, and the third is a bit of fatherly advice. I cringe
listening back to some of my older songs. I think I was a bit of a
know-it-all, and a number of those songs are a bit pushy in giving
unsolicited advice. But I think in this case, Im entitled!
the release shows, well actually be back in the studio this
summer, working on a couple of tracks for a benefit album for Musicians
Without Borders, a wonderful organization Ive worked with for
the past four years. Those sessions will also be the start of a new
full-length album, the working title of which is Sophomore Slump.
We have gigs booked through the end of this year, so well be
busy. Out of that lute recording grew a group called Nights
Blackbird thats been performing pretty regularly for the last
few years. In addition to our concerts, were going to start
working on our first album at some point this year. Much to look forward