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North Carolina's Caleb Caudle dishes on his new record, working with bluegrass legends

Caleb Caudle
Joseph Cash
submitted image via
Caleb Caudle's new record is Forsythia.

North Carolina's own Caleb Caudle has been hanging out with some pretty highflyers. His new record is Forsythia and includes appearances from bluegrass legends Jerry Douglas and Sam Bush.

It was recorded at Cash Cabin with John Carter Cash who helped assemble the players.

The album reflects many of Caudle's thoughts while walking through the valleys and mountains of North Carolina after returning from some time spent in Nashville, — cut short by a tornado — the pandemic, and the inability to tour.

Caudle joined WUNC recently to talk about his latest record.

This is an excerpt of an edited transcript of that conversation. You can hear the full interview by clicking the LISTEN button at the top of this post.

As we listen to "I Don't Fit In," can you explain how you got to work with these guys?

"During the pandemic, I had lost all my shows, everyone was kind of sitting on their hands. And so I think that maybe worked to my advantage in a weird way. You know, usually Jerry and Sam are both on tour but I'd written a song called "The Gates" with John Carter Cash and we started talking about assembling a band for it. He shot them a text and 10 minutes later, we had the whole band. I went from singing at my phone for two years, and the next time I was playing music with other people I was sitting in between Jerry and Sam. And so it was a really surreal moment for me and quite an honor."

You came back to North Carolina from Nashville. What prompted that return?

"We had lost about 150 shows, you know Better Hurry Up came out April 3, 2020, which was perfect timing. ... We lasted in Nashville for about six months. And then we had to cut our overhead in half. So we moved back to the countryside in North Carolina and moved back around family too. That was a big one. I was like if I'm gonna ride out a world pandemic, I want to do it around the people I love."

You wrote "Red Bank Road" when you were a teenager. Why did it hit you as the right time to finally record that one?

"We had a recording of it that I did a long time ago in this abandoned dairy barn in Johnson City, Tennessee. And it was really before I knew how to play and sing. I was just kind of getting my start then. And it was a song that I just kept playing live, even after I had written so many other songs, and it just always found its way back into my set. And so afterward, people at the merch table they're like, 'Where can I get this song?' 'Well, you can't, you have to come see me live.' So I knew that I wanted to re-record it at some point. And when I was presented with the opportunity to record it with Sam and Jerry I just felt like maybe it will make the record, maybe it won't, but I would be a fool to pass up on this opportunity to record the songs that mean so much to me with those guys. And so after it was done I remember us listening back to everything and John Carter just said, 'You know we got to close the record with this song. It's just too special to not use at the very end.' And he was right and I'm really glad we put it there."

Caleb Caudle's new record is Forsythia. He played at the Pour House Music Hall in Raleigh this past weekend.

Eric Hodge hosts WUNC’s broadcast of Morning Edition, and files reports for the North Carolina news segments of the broadcast. He started at the station in 2004 doing fill-in work on weekends and All Things Considered.
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