While most bands would slap the fact that it had a member of Led Zeppelin in its ranks on fliers, posters and Facebook, Dave Rawlings is cagey about the mystery lineup of his and musical partner Gillian Welchs short, pre-Thanksgiving Southeastern tour as the Dave Rawlings Machine.
When is this article going to run? he asks at the beginning of our conversation. Because the lineup hasnt been announced yet.
So far the Dave Rawlings Machine, which plays Neighborhood Theatre Monday, is advertised as Americanas reigning royal couple (you rarely meet young roots musicians who arent influenced by them) with members of Led Zeppelin, the Punch Brothers and a former member of Old Crow Medicine Show. Its not hard to figure out which Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is joining them on tour.
Anybody who really wanted to figure out this lineup probably could have, laughs Rawlings. John Paul Jones has sat in with him and Welch on tour in the UK. Willie Watson (who left Old Crow in 2011 and has previously played with the duo) and Punch Brothers bassist Paul Kowert round out the band.
Jones was busy focusing on writing an opera when Rawlings approached him with the idea. At first he wasnt game.
He called back two days later and said, You know, that sounds like a good bit of fun. We found a window where everyone was available and put it on the books pretty recently, says Rawlings. The show was just announced last month, but Rawlings doesnt like to plan too far in advance. I drive booking agents and business people crazy.
The show will touch on Rawlings 2009 album, A Friend of a Friend, which he and Welch made with friends as an outlet for songs that Rawlings sang and as a way to get back into recording mode before Welchs 2011 album. Perhaps more importantly, the tour will also be a unique concert experience for both the crowd and the band, who, as of Monday, had not yet rehearsed.
I love that I can put together a group of people that have never played together and with no rehearsal. ... Theres a beautiful thing about this kind of music that well be able to play a show for people and theyll be able to experience what were experiencing the fun of finding your way through music and everyone contributing what they do using this common language, Rawlings explains. I tried to put together an evening of music like we would if these people got together at a house.
Welch and Rawlings are long past playing house shows. He is best known for his impeccable guitar picking and ample contributions to music recorded under Welchs name. Hes produced, written and recorded with Old Crow, Welch and Ryan Adams. In 2012 the Americana Music Association named him instrumentalist of the year. (Welch was named artist of the year.)
The flexibility of the Machine allows the couple to shake things up live while not disappointing Welchs fans.
When you have four or five records out, by the time you work through everything people want to hear there isnt much space, he says. (The Machine) has released nine songs, so theres plenty of room for shaking things up.