Chris Kasper is an American songwriter, with a style rooted in folk, rock and blues. His music has been compared to everything from Paul Simon to Beck. For the past 12 years, he has been on the road in one form or another, traveling in and out of his home base of Philadelphia, scoring shows and tours with the likes of Amos Lee, The Wood Brothers, and The Avett Brothers, among others. After 4 albums and 25 years of playing music, Chris has emerged as one of the most compelling musicians and songwriters, period. With his most recent recording, Bagabones, Chris steps into the shoes of producer and arranger. The result is an album of rare depth and true originality that stands up on its own to be recognized.
Bagabones was written in small cabin in West Hurley, NY, just outside the town of Woodstock. The cabin was built in the mid 70’s by his late uncle and Chris felt the energy of Woodstock dance its way into these songs. By retreating there for the winter with a some notebooks, a pawn shop tape recorder, a rescued puppy and some fine spirits, Chris dove deep into his own musical history. Daily walks to the top of Byrdcliffe Mountain, spent listening to and studying his heroes, helped clarify his vision of songwriting and arranging. This also allowed Chris to hone in on certain producers and their style. Finding the right producer is like finding another member of the band. They play a key roll in the development and representation of the music, and the choice should not be taken lightly. When it came time to move forward, Chris decided since the vision was clear on what he wanted, he would produce himself.
Enter Kawari Studios and the artistry of engineer Matt Muir. His knowledge of vintage gear and recording techniques focused in on a sound the loosely channels the Woodstock years of Van Morrison, The Band, and of course, Bob Dylan. Chris also used his touring band to play on the record. He knew that if he were to lose sight and burn out, his long time friends and the calm approach of Matt Muir would help reassure his direction.
Chris had some conscious sonic choices on Bagabones. The first was to eliminate crash cymbals from drummer Daniel “Skrappy” Bower’s kit, giving the sound much more space and weight. The second was to use Phil D’Agostino’s skills on upright bass to enhance the earthiness of it all. Further influenced by records like Beck’s Sea Change and the soundtrack to Beasts of the Southern Wild, Chris collaborated with long time friend and fiddler, Kiley Ryan, to produce both lush string arrangements and rhythmic pizzicato sections. Finally, he saw an opportunity to again break the mold of predictability by diving into minor keys rather than (what was becoming known as) his signature major key, dreamy sound.
When it came time to mix, Chris sought out the mastery and expertise of long time Philly soul producer, Jim Salamone (Teddy Pendergrass). Jim brought out the subtleties to life, gave everything a sonic place and formed a tight bond with Chris and this record. By the end of this process, the both of them realized that they captured a sound rarely found from a self-produced, independent artist.