"Alpinism is the art of climbing mountains by confronting the greatest dangers with the greatest prudence. Art is used here to mean the accomplishment of knowledge in action. You cannot always stay on the summits. You have to come down again...There is an art to finding your way in the lower regions by the memory of what you have seen when you were higher up. When you can no longer see, you can at least still know. . ."
Sam Eliot took to the mountain during the summer of '11 with no intent to make a record. There were only songs and a feeling that something needed to happen. That there was something more to be done. Packing up his car with a studio's worth of recording equipment, Sam Eliot enlisted his dear friend and recording engineer Dave Middleton and percussionist Zack Kampf and ascended a mountain in northern California overlooking the Napa wine country to begin work on what would become Monte Sereno.
Musically, Monte Sereno ranges from sparse folk to kitchen sink spaghetti western melodrama, with a solid rock and roll center. Through this wildly shifting musical landscape, Sam Eliot's strength as a songwriter emerges as the grounding force of the record, weaving a romantic and bruised lyrical fabric of biblical characters, Los Angeles rave waifs, cold hearted lovers, personal confessions and psycho-spiritual ruminations coexisting within the same song.
In the live performance context, Sam Eliot is supported by the Market Club Band, a quintet of one of a kind personalities and musical talents that not only brings the album to life, but injects it with a drama and intensity that take the songs to a higher level far above piano recital indie rock mediocrity.
Monte Sereno ultimately is a statement about reengaging, reexamining, and reacquainting with the wonder of the world around you. When Sam Eliot sings, "Everyday's a blank new page it's easy to get wrapped up in the clouds. But it's not a miracle." He believes it. Maybe you will too.
Created: March 8, 2016, 3:57 p.m.
Last Modified: May 22, 2016, 4:58 p.m.