KRISTIN M. HALL
---- — NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vince Gill, country music’s modern ambassador, and Paul Franklin, Nashville’s most sought after steel guitar player, are bringing the twang back to country with a new collection of songs from the Bakersfield era.
The two collaborated on their new album “Bakersfield,” out Tuesday, to update the California brand of country that Buck Owens and Merle Haggard popularized in the 1960s. The music took them back to when they first learned to play. The Bakersfield sound coming out of beer joints and clubs with its crying pedal steels and biting electric guitars challenged Nashville’s country music, which relied more on hollow-bodied guitars and pop music conventions.
“It goes right to our roots, where we both started as kids,” said Franklin, who is the most recorded pedal steel session player in Nashville over the last 25 years. “And at the time we were playing, this was the hottest stuff in America. If you turned on the radio it was Buck and Merle. So it seemed like that was the place to go.”
Gill and Franklin play together regularly as a part of The Time Jumpers, a super group of Nashville musicians that plays western swing and traditional country. It was those performances that led them to consider teaming up on an album focused on the instruments that defined the West Coast sound.
“I think that the most interesting element of this record is the conversation between the steel guitar and the Fender telecaster,” said Gill, a Grammy Award-winning artist.