DEAR WAYNE COUNTY
When I first picked up the guitar and started making up lyrics, I'd been a musician for nearly my whole life. This was a new format for me, though, writing simple melodies, simple harmonies, and scratching out lyrics on a pad. It was really hard, until I figured out what I should be writing songs about. Once I found my inspiration in Sodus, NY, the small town I grew up in, the songs just started flowing. I recorded 13, but you can bet there are another 30 that either never got completed or didn't make the cut.
Wayne County, NY is right off of Lake Ontario. A lot of things about Sodus have changed since I was born. Jobs have left since Kodak and Xerox reduced operations there, new waves of Mexican immigrants have come and settled, the lake shoreline has risen due to changes in the damn on the St. Lawrence, stores on Main St. have closed because of Walmart and other chains. A lot has stayed the same: people are resilient, hardworking, prideful, humorous.
Wayne County is a special place. Maybe not to the trucker driving down 104, but if you are from there, you've got really real memories of it. Now, a lot of people leave - I left - but I go back, and I bet everyone that left thinks about going back. You don't see people in Wayne County on TV, don't hear about them in the news, don't watch them in movies, but now you can hear them in music. America is a big, vast country, with people that look, sound, and think differently. Wayne County is a part of that America, a part that I want everyone to know.
Gotta lot of people to thank. Number one Gina and the boys. You did more than tolerate me spending so much time on this. You provided me input, inspiration, and man, when you all sang these songs and asked to keep hearing them, I knew I was onto something. Thanks Mom and Dad, you guys are so special and kept pushing me to wrap this up. The musicians - my friends - who offered to play on this album in exchange for friendship and gratitude. My backers on IndieGoGo who supported the project financially and had faith in me to get it done. Dave, for constantly bouncing ideas off, telling me to just finish the darn thing, and being an inspiration as I watched you complete your own project. Sant Rajinder Singh, for being my eternal inspiration. And to Wayne County, all it's history, residents, landscapes. You made me who I am.
Baby What's Wrong: An anthem about simple yet proud people I've known.
When I Was A Boy: A simple nolstagic song about growing up, and maybe not wanting to.
Dust Comes from Dust: Another simple number, featuring audio clips from my mother's documentary about migrant farm workers in upstate New York, After I Pick The Fruit.
Pictures of Heaven: Dedicated to my dearly departed friend, Tasker Divine. Features Mike on guitar and Aaron on banjo and mandolin. This was a tough one to pull off for too many reasons.
Them That's Got: Featuring the atmospheric guitar work of Mike, a kazoo duet, and lyrics that will make you wonder why anyone ever leaves.
My Dear Friend: Dedicated to my late friend, Steve. Beautiful and inspiring man, loving husband and father. Features the Robert Frost poem, "The Pasture", read by David Newcomb.
Atonement: The odd one out, this one's actually about Fujimori, the dictator-president of Peru during the 90s convicted of human rights violations. Features a clip of Fujimori's shocking defense during his trial, and Andean folk music drowning him out.
Christmas with my Father: Anyone who's met my Dad and been to my house will get this song. If you haven't, well, stop on by.
The Raven: Inspired by Townes Van Zandt's more esoteric work. My kids still don't know what "It's hard to take it slow, with trouble you just can't see" means.
Do Not Pass Judgment: A hodgepodge of people I've known.
For Jaimal: Inspired by my youngest son, who has taught me more than anyone.
The Drifter: A cowboy-western tale, features clips of an old radio show about the outlaw Sam Bass.
Versos: Dedicated to my wife, chronicling how we fell in love. Includes the poem "Todavia" by Uruguayan poet, Mario Benedetti, read by the poet himself.
Robin Axel, vocals and instruments on all tracks except:
John Benskin, bass on "Baby What's Wrong", "Pictures of Heaven",
"The Raven", and "Versos".
Michael Schulbaum, electric guitar on "Baby What's Wrong",
"Pictures of Heaven" and "Them That's Got".
David English, organ on "Baby What's Wrong".
Aaron Parrett, mandolin and banjo on "Picture's of Heaven".
David Newcomb recites "The Pasture", by Robert Frost, on "Versos".
Album photos by Nancy Ghertner. "Dust Comes from Dust" contains audio clips from the documentary After I Pick the Fruit, by Nancy Ghertner.
All songs written by Robin Axel and recorded at Dudley's Citadel. All songs mixed by Robin Axel, except "Baby What's Wrong" and "Pictures of Heaven", mixed by Josh Peck. All songs mastered by Randy LeRoy at Tonal Park in Takoma Park, MD, and published by Dudley's Citadel (ASCAP), copyright 2019.