Stillwater Black came together in 1991 when Chris Thayer met Ahmed and Sam Pierstorff while playing in the pit band for a high school musical production. Issac McCorkell was quickly recruited on drums and the band recorded its first EP, The Last Virtuous Lady of Athens.

In 1995 they signed with Cleaves Entertainment, a now-defunct independent label based out of Southern California's Inland Empire. Stillwater Black recorded their debut LP, Adam. They played frequently with local and national acts including Dishwalla, Save Ferris, Reel Big Fish, and IE punk/ska mainstays, The Skeletones.

In 1997 the members parted ways and the project lay dormant for two decades.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Our secret weapon

This past Saturday proved to be a very inspiring studio session.

The focus was rhythm guitar for three new songs and I laid the first instrumental tracks I've played in over two decades. I said a small prayer before each take, both an expression of gratitude and a request from the Divine that I be gifted a clean performance.

Thankfully, my playing is still serviceable and as we listened to playback we could hear the songs starting to take shape. And, to be really honest, I think we are all pretty excited about what is happening.

After my work was done, Chris immediately got busy tracking some guitar and piano parts. He really wanted to get in there and start building things out. He could hear things in his head that simply couldn't wait. He moved between an acoustic nylon string guitar and one of his many hollow-body electrics. He shuffled between different keyboards listening for the piano and organ sounds that he knew would work.

Issac and I sat back, watched and made comments now and again as Chris moved deftly between his instruments and the recording console, tracking, retracking, mixing, listening back, and taking another pass.

After the session, I gave Issac a ride to where he was staying in Corona. He had to get ready for a show that he would be playing in L.A. with his project, The Sovereign Artist. We were talking and I mentioned that I had proof that the music we were making together was not just good, but spectacular.

The proof I offered was Chris.

Issac has been working with Chris off and on for probably 25+ years. He knows better than I that Chris doesn't just sign up to play with a band. Chris has spent years developing his skills, his guitar playing, his bass chops, his voice, his drumming, his piano work, and his recording console engineering hacks. Chris doesn't need anybody to make music.

And when he feels like doing some live stuff, he puts a band together. He recruits players to bring his compositions to life. This is serious work that has garnered him some serious accolades over the years.

I snapped this picture to capture at least some of the local recognition that Chris' work has commanded. The Inland Empire Music Awards honored him in 2009 with Best Song and recognized his project, Big Papa and the TCB as producing the Best Blues music in the area. He's won similar awards for Best Live Band and his music has been featured in national advertising campaigns. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it's very possible you have heard his work without realizing it.

One thing that Chris very rarely does is sign up to be a part of something else. Between his own musical projects, his comic books, his work schedule, and his family, he has to be extraordinarily selective about about how and with whom he is spending any remaining time.

When Chris sets aside time to collaborate with me and Issac, it's not because he's nostalgic or bored. His contribution to Stillwater Black is, I submit, proof of our excellence. He is a man that has the talent and energy to do anything he wants. And he is choosing us. He is our secret weapon.

It's been just over a year since we started working again. To date, we have released one original song and one cover. There are only a very small number of you that are reading and listening. But, God bless you, you are doing so with such sincerity and passion.

We are working hard to bring you music that will level you, music that will allow you to experience the emotional release that inspired its creation. We have music coming that will have you dancing. We have music coming that will bring tears to your eyes. We have music coming that sounds impossible for three guys with hardly any time and no money to have produced.

We want to share all of it. I cannot think of an experience that isn't better shared.

And as much as we would love to get out there and play live and meet people and share our music in that organic, visceral way, our lives at the moment won't allow for it. We're working individually and collectively to change that, but in the meantime we're kind of stuck.

But we have another secret weapon. Actually, it's kind of a small arsenal.

It's you guys. Until we can do a better job of ironing out competing schedules and priorities, we are relying almost exclusively on you all to help us share this work.

Don't be shy or timid. Share Stillwater Black links with everybody you know in full confidence that what you are sharing is brilliant. After all, it's enough that Chris likes it :)

And don't forget to share what's happening with you and yours on any of our social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and SoundCloud.

Until Thursday!

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