Heading towards the 30th anniversary of his professional recording debut, Bruce Hornsby shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, the piano-wielding Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter is making arguably some of his finest work here in the present day, as exhibited on his two most recent solo studio releases, Halcyon Days (2004) and Levitate (2009). In the midst of those activities, Hornsby made a jazz record with Christian McBride and Jack DeJohnette, spent some time pickin’ on bluegrass with his longtime friend Ricky Skaggs and summarized his career to date with an eclectic box set release Intersections (2006) that mixed deep cuts with his more familiar hits in a form that often transmogrified them beyond recognition.
Somewhere in between expanding his discography with the above releases, Hornsby found time to put together his very first musical, cryptically titled SCKBSTD, a project that he spent several years working on with longtime collaborator Chip DeMatteo prior to eventually debuting the work this past January in Norfolk, VA.
With SCKBSTD officially submitted for public approval and feedback (and one should note that the audience approved), Hornsby has turned his attentions at least briefly back to his main gig of making music and with the upcoming Bride of the Noisemakers live release [which will initially be available as an Amazon exclusive in May with a general release following in June], Hornsby takes a moment to recap where things are at. Since his initial live release Here Come The Noisemakers was released in 2000, Hornsby and his band of Noisemakers (an appropriate band name for Hornsby’s longtime musical cohorts) have continued to refine a live show that was already quite epic at the time Noisemakers was recorded.
In fact, Bride shows how far Hornsby and the Noisemakers have come in the past 10 years; Bride plays like a mixtape for the diehards, loaded with nearly three hours of deep tracks, newer songs and relative rarities. While the Noisemakers live release occasionally felt a bit premature at points, with moments like the glorious “Fortunate Son/Comfortably Numb” segue not yet realized, Bride gets it right, first and foremost with that hallucinogenic Hornsby/Floyd mashup finally present and accounted for.
Besides “Fortunate Son,” you won’t find a lot of repeats and there are even fewer of the expected hits, which if you know what Hornsby’s about, this part will make perfect sense. In their place are some of the most definitive versions of many of the greatest album tracks from Hornsby’s catalog. No matter how many bootlegs you have (speaking from personal experience), the versions of “Resting Place,” “Dreamland” “Country Doctor” and the previously mentioned “Fortunate Son” on Bride of the Noisemakers (and I’m only naming a few of many highlights) will lift you up to new and higher places.
In a world of entertainment constantly wrestling for your dollars, the Bride of the Noisemakers release from Bruce Hornsby is worth every last cent and then some. It’s a mighty fine prelude to this summer’s dream pairing of Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers, who will share the stage with longtime friends Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. I had the chance to talk with Bruce earlier this week to find out what we all can look forward to.