Payin' Dues: Martin Harley & Daniel Kimbro

Last year slide guitarist Martin Harley and bassist Daniel Kimbro went into the studio to record an album together. Due to their schedules, they only had one day to get it down, but they managed it and the result is the impressive Live At Southern Ground. “There was no expectation for the album other than I wanted to capture the sound we’d been making,” says Harley. “We did that, and I’m very happy we did.”

How did you meet Daniel Kimbro?
I met Daniel at Hippie Jack’s music festival in Tennessee. It became clear after playing together for a fairly short time that he was someone I wanted to record with. He’s an incredibly intuitive and melodic bassist. We clicked right away. We both take risks and improvise, and sometimes – not always – it works great. It’s refreshing for me to play in a less structured manner than a band offers and Daniel facilitates that.

Live At Southern Ground really captures a moment.
There was only one day free in both of our schedules in which we were able to record. We got together the night before, ran through the songs I wanted to put on the album and then went to the pub. The next morning was spent getting the room set up and microphones in place. We ran through a few songs before lunch, but it wasn’t until after that it started to feel really good. We had a couple of beers and just rolled with it.

We had some beers and just rolled with it

Why cover Blind Willie Johnson’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine?
It’s one of the first songs I learned on slide. I felt like I was paying my respects to my musical roots and to Blind Willie Johnson. There was no vision for how the song would sound, just a skeleton outline for the parts, leaving room for improvisation.

**What are your memories of staying in Mali in 2007?
**There’s a strong connection between the music of Mali and Mississippi, largely due to the slave trade. If you listen to Ali Farka Touré and John Lee Hooker, you can really hear it. I got to play at Ali’s son’s house and those guys are tough – really big, mean guitar sounds and certainly not too sure about long-haired visitors from the deep south of the Woking Delta. I experienced the more sophisticated sounds of the developing music scene in Bamako, but also got right out in the desert. Keeping up was hard work.

Live At Southern Ground is out now on Del Mundo Records