Tommy Talton reunites with bandmates Capricorne to record music for new anthology

Tommy Talton, left, works on a song with engineer Jeremy Stephens in the control room of Historic Studio A at Capricorn Sound Studios on April 4.

Nearly 50 years after playing together on Gregg Allman’s “Laid Back” tour, a band of Southern rock legends have reunited at historic Capricorn Sound studios.

Tommy Talon, prolific guitarist and co-founder of the band Cowboy, brought the musicians together at their old stomping grounds in downtown Macon to record seven songs for his upcoming anthology. The collection of 80-90 songs is set to be released digitally later this year.

The Capricorn “was kind of like our little clubhouse back then. We were always in there. If we weren’t on the road, we were usually in the studio recording something,” said Talton, who in the 1970s played in sessions with the Allman Brothers Band, Dickey Betts, Clarence Carter, Billy Joe Shaver, Kitty Wells and many others.

“It’s amazing to come back. It’s like being able to go back to your childhood neighborhood.

The studio, which is part of the larger Mercer Music in Capricorn complex, reopened in 2020 after a multi-million dollar renovation lifted it from decades of disrepair. Talton’s recent April 4-6 session was held in Historic Studio A, which has been fully restored and contains original furnishings as well as a modern, custom API recording console.

The musicians gather in the control room
Musicians work on a recording in the control room of historic Studio A at Capricorn Sound Studios on April 4.

Reuniting with Talton at Capricorn were veterans of the Cowboy and ‘Laid Back’ tour chuck leavel and Randall Bramblett on keyboard, Charlie Hayward on bass and Bill Stewart on drums. Wet Willie’s Rick Hirsch has joined on guitar and will help with post-production work.

“We haven’t been all together at the same time in the studio, especially in this studio, in a long time,” Talton said. “It’s amazing. You can come in, and it’s like time hasn’t passed. You’re still friends. You’re all still laughing at the same things and still remembering the same things. … That was it simply wonderful.

Talton’s friend Jeremy Stephens – protege of legendary recording engineer and producer Johnny Sandlin, who was best known for producing albums by bands like Allman Brothers Band and Wet Willie – engineered with Capricorn’s chief engineer Rob Evans.

Joe Bell, co-founder of Hittin’ the Note, a music magazine that covered the Allman Brothers Band and sold merchandise for 24 years, is the project’s executive producer. Patrons Danny Randolph and Pat Haney also contribute to the realization of this project.

“Tommy, in my opinion, is the greatest songwriter I’ve ever known, both in quality and quantity. He’s a prolific songwriter,” said Bell, who came up with the idea for an anthology. “His songs today are absolutely as good as when he started – actually better, really.

“He has a wisdom perspective in all of this, and the things he writes about are intimately tied to his personal life.”

Talton, 73, began playing music as a teenager, and the anthology will cover his musical career from 1965 to 2022. It will begin with the music of his first band, We the People, enter the Cowboy years and the Cowboys reunion, and will include music from his many solo albums, as well as previously unreleased tracks.

The songs tracked at Capricorn will be the only new recordings included in the anthology, and the session marked the first time any of them have been recorded in a controlled studio. This includes “Time Will Take Us,” which fans might recognize from Cowboy’s performances on the “Laid Back” tour.

“I changed a few little musical things just to make it a little different,” Talton said. “We recorded it on April 5th and we had Chuck there, and he duplicated a lot of his solo that he did on the live version of Gregg’s solo tour album, but it is still different. It’s the same but different. »

From left, David Brown, Tommy Talton, Scott Boyer, Bill Stewart and Chuck Leavell during a rehearsal for the ‘Laid Back’ tour. Photo by Herb Kossover

A book with photographs, taken by Bill Thames and others, and Talton’s stories about the songs will accompany the anthology. But don’t expect Talton to tell fans what each song means.

“I don’t think it’s good for a songwriter to tell the listener what the song is about, because if you do that, you’re really limiting the listener’s possibilities for more personal inspiration,” he said. he declared.

Talton recalled meeting a fan after performing one night at the rock ‘n’ roll landmark Fillmore East. Cowboy’s debut album, “Reach for the Sky,” was recently released on Capricorn Records.

“A young boy approached me. I was only 22 and this kid must have been around 18, 19. And he was shaking, nervous about talking to me, which surprised me from the start, but he said, “I wanted you to know that I have your album, and when I put this piece of plastic on my platinum, that means more to me than anything right now because your lyrics have shown me a new way to see the world, and you’ve changed my life for the better,’” Talton said. cool to hear you did this for someone. And it’s happened many, many, many, many times throughout my life.

The anthology gives Talton the rare opportunity to chronicle his life’s work.

“Not many people have a recorded history of their life moments,” Talton said. “It’s not my whole life, but those are brilliant times.”