Premiere: Chris Castino, Sam Bush and Chicken Wire Empire Offer Bluegrass Take on The Big Wu’s “Red Sky”
photo credit: David Jackson
Chris Castino, The Big Wu’s frontman and principal songwriter, offers a new take on the band’s material with his forthcoming record Fresh Pickles. With time on his hands during COVID-19 lockdown, he worked with the Milwaukee-based group Chicken Wire Empire to record bluegrass arrangements of Big Wu songs. Castino also drew in some celebrated guest musicians, including: Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan, Tim O’Brien, Nick Forster, Keller Williams, Vince Herman and Andy Hall. Adam Greuel (Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, The High Hawks) produced the record with Castino and also adds vocals to a couple songs.
Castino says of the project as whole: “It brings me joy to hear how these songs in particular have been given new life. For music lovers who are unfamiliar with my songs I truly believe that this record will be a fresh experience for them. It’s not essential to understand the history of these songs to appreciate them. My hope is to bring a new audience to my music, so that the next record can reach more people. This is my only desire. And my best tunes are yet to come.”
Today we premiere the version of The Big Wu fan-favorite “Red Sky.” Castino tells Relix, “The song ‘Red Sky’ helped define The Big Wu as a real jamband. No more noodling in an E blues progression for us! It was inspired by a couple tunes I was really into at that time: Phish’s ‘Mango Song,’ and The Dead’s ‘Help On the Way.’ On this version the layered fiddles of Sam Bush elevate the song to places previously unrealized. Yeehaw!”
Fresh Pickles will be released on February 4 and is now available for pre-order.