Virginia native Mac Wiseman releases masterwork album
Maybe someone will do another one like this – like Mac Wiseman’s Songs From My Mother’s Hand – one day. To do so, they’ll need to have a mother who writes the words to songs she hears on the radio into composition books that serve as the family songbook. In those books, they’ll need to find passion and inspiration that fuel a monumental, Hall of Fame-caliber life in music. They’ll need to cherish those books throughout their life, then take them into a recording studio at age 89 and sing the songs their mother wrote down, in a voice of weathered, heartening beauty.
“Songs From My Mother’s Hand is a treasure,” says roots music icon Marty Stuart. “Every song appears as a long-lost story that’s waited the better part of a century to be told. The words Mac’s mother wrote down come with a mother’s knowing and a mother’s love. She apparently knew which songs would make one of America’s premier balladeers shine in an even more reverential light.”
Wiseman, among the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, still holds his mother’s books, and sings the songs she heard in the 1930s over the radio station signals that cleared the mountains and entered the Shenandoah Valley. “Her notebooks were the beginning of my life,” Wiseman says. “I’d sit at the old kitchen table with a kerosene light and read, go from one page to the next.”
As a teenager, he learned to play the guitar – he would become one of acoustic music’s most distinctive rhythm guitarists – while reading and singing lyrics from the books: “You’re a Flower Blooming in the Wildwood,” “Blue Ridge Mountain Blues,” “Little Rosewood Casket” and all the rest. Wiseman no longer plays much guitar, but Musicians Hall of Famer Jimmy Capps and world-class instrumentalist (and co-producer) Thomm Jutz lent a pre-bluegrass blend to Songs From My Mother’s Hand that nods to Wiseman’s style and evokes the sounds that Ruth Wiseman heard and loved.
Grammy-nominated co-producer Peter Cooper says, “When Mac showed me his mother’s composition books, I thought, ‘These should be under glass.’ But Mac did them one better than putting them under glass. He gifted them to us, and raised them in song.”
Leading lights including Capps, Jutz, 23-year-old mandolin virtuoso Sierra Hull, Grammy-winning bass player Mark Fain, heralded multi-instrumentalist Justin Moses, harp master Jelly Roll Johnson and hammered dulcimer delight Alisa Jones Wall aided Wiseman in delivering the songs from his mother’s hand.
Songs From My Mother’s Hand will be available September 23 from Wrinkled Records. Label head Sandy Knox adds, “When producers Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz approached us with this historically significant record, there was a resounding, ‘Yes, please!’ from the entire Wrinkled crew. It is a perfect fit for the vision of this record label, and we are thrilled to be a part of it.”