The Artists in the Tall Boots Project

With special guests…

  • 1928 National Square Neck Tricone – Style 3 – Stacy (Honolulu Bound, Clowin’ The Fretts)
  • 1928 National Square Neck Tricone – Style 2 – Doc Stein (Saddle Your Worries)
  • 1933 National El Trovador – Mike (he played this one on the pretty solos on Sierra Nevada)
  • 1946 Epiphone Emperor (Blondie) – Suze
  • 1951 Epiphone Empress (Cutaway) – Suze
  • 1953 Fender Custom Triple Neck Steel Guitar – Bobby (High steel, no pedals)
  • 1954 Stromberg Master 400 – Douglas (Rhythm chunk on Sierra Nevada)
  • 1956 Oklahoma Special Box – Bobby
  • 1958 Martin 000-18 – Suze
  • 1960’s Goodwill Drinking Glass – Mike (train bell)
  • 1976 Martin M-36 – Mike
  • 2002 Scheerhorn Resophonic Guitar – Stacy

The Sons of the Pioneers have fallen through the cracks in the recent varieties of roots music revivals. Not quite country, swing or folk; they combined all those elements with their own talents and ingenious harmony singing to define the music of the American West in the 20th Century. Their songs harbor evocative lyrics and a peerless vocal blend. Their manly trios and quartets have never been approached and they had a duo of superb instrumentalists. Hugh and Karl Farr are the Western equivalents of Grappelli and Reinhart. In addition to sensitive accompaniment to songs, the Farrs could compose jazzy pieces on the fly and effortlessly morph into a traditional fiddle band. Suze Marshall has created not only a stunning tribute to a quintessential American music, but has rescued many unreleased classics, each interpreted anew by a wonderful collection of musicians.
Stacy Phillips – Grammy award winner ‘The Great Dobro Sessions

Bobby Koefer is America’s most unique steel guitarist. He plays a 1953 standup, Fender, triple neck steel guitar. Being self-taught has resulted in an unorthodox technique and a very swinging style. He has the distinction of having worked with two Hall of Famers’, Bob Wills and Pee King, been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (via Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys) and was inducted into the International Steel Guitar Hall of Fame. His unique style and sound remains unchanged. He also has a 1956 Special Box that only he can play. It was an honor to work with Suze, Riders in the Sky, and all of the other great talent that she used on this CD. I admire her for wanting and insisting that all of the music and material used be authentic and original sounding. The Sons of the Pioneers and Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys were the worlds two most elite musical organizations in their fields. I’m very happy and thankful that Suze is carrying on their music and traditions today.
Bobby Koefer – Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys – Country Music Hall of Fame

What a pleasure it was to be part of this Tall Boots recording project. For me, the welcome challenge of exploring Karl Farr’s guitar style was reason enough to clear my calendar and head off to Seattle. The wonderful songs that Suze Spencer brought to this project and the terrific musicians she gathered to play them simply doubled the fun. Many guitarists seem to be in either a rhythm or a lead mindset, but Karl Farr was a complete player. Along with his brother Hugh on fiddle, Karl provided great musical backing for the Sons of the Pioneers and he knew that it’s in that gray area, in between rhythm and lead, where the listener can get a glimpse of the personality of the player. Karl certainly had his own jazzy swinging style (which he played at times with a sort of controlled abandon and, always, a touch of humor), but he also played sparse, evocative waltz accompaniments and all that rich guitar territory in between. Listen to Farr and this is where you’ll hear those peculiar “Karlisms” that define his style — when he isn’t locked into a particular role, but can sort of float along, helping the music to percolate. Thanks, Suze, for bringing life to these wonderful songs, for including me on the session, and most of all for the opportunity to add a few Karlisms to my own playing.
Mike Dowling – May 2005 – Grammy award winner ‘Henry Mancini: Pink Guitar’

The majority of people today are probably familiar with the Sons Of the Pioneers only through their vocal hits such as “Cool Water” and “Tumbling Tumbleweeds.” Prior to this recording project so was I. It wasn’t until I began watching a lot of old movie clips of the band that I learned two things: they featured quite a lot of instrumentals, and their fiddle player, Hugh Farr, was amazing. He could play hot jazz fiddle on par with legends like Joe Venuti, then turn around and rip out a hoedown or schottische equal to any of the best barn-dance fiddlers. Few, if any other, fiddle players have played and recorded in such diverse styles with such total conviction, honesty, and panache. It’s no coincidence that there are three fiddle players on this recording – I think it took James, Stacy, and I to cover what Hugh did. Although none of the songs recorded here are note-for-note the way Hugh played them, we all did our best to preserve the spirit of what he did in each of them, and if you know his playing you’ll hear some quotes and echoes here and there. To me this recording is in part a tribute to Hugh Farr, a great and unjustly unheralded musician.
Paul Elliott – May 2005