Title - 'The Kingston Springs Suite'
Artist - Vince Matthews & Jim Casey
OK, let's be honest here. If you've got the one, and only Johnny Cash willing to provide his very own studio and engineer to have your album recorded, and then he steps up to the plate and suggests writing the actual finished liner notes also for you, you know you've done something musically right in this world! Furthermore, you then get the whole album produced by the talented Shel Silverstein, who himself then brings Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Cowboy Jack Clement into the mix), and suddenly you cannot contain yourself; knowing that an incredible album is about to be released unto the Nashville outlaw underground.
Well, all of that is very true, and still very true today, save for the fact that, mysteriously, this album in question was totally shelved for 40 years! No real knowledge has seeped through down the years about why that could have happened, why it did happen, but containing some incredible music, it is now, finally released by Delmore Recordings.
That was back circa 1967, when songwriter Vince Matthews moved from Nashville to a small town just west of Music City called Kingston Springs, TN. Named, and subsequently famed, for its pure mineral springs, the story goes that Matthews (together with his wife, Melva) had friends over to sing-along to whatever came to mind at that peaceful time.
Of course, that gathering always included a whole host of singers, musicians, songwriters and producers, and also included - in random appearance cycles - both Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. It was around that time that Jim Casey came onto the scene also. He had moved to Nashville to work alongside noted producer Alan Reynolds (Emmylou Harris, Crystal Gayle), found his way to one of Matthews' musical fireside gatherings, and become one of the family.
Ergo, soon both Matthews (who sadly died in 2003) and Casey began to write what became known as The Kingston Springs Suite, which is this incredible 12-track opus about the people of, and the lives led, in Kingston Springs in the early ’70s.
2. 'Laid Back Country Picker'
3. 'Mr. Sam'
4. 'Mr. Soul'
5. 'Melva's Wine'
6. 'The Old Man And The Boy'
7. 'I'm A Little Piece Of Tin'
8. 'Bessie That's A Lie'
9. 'Franklin Lady'
11. 'Five Hundred Houses'
12. 'God Save Kingston Springs'
And so, on this past May 19th, some 40-odd years later, The Kingston Springs Suite has now finally been released. In fact, not only was it digitally released, and made available on CD, but in a very wise marketing move, it was also released on vinyl - the way it was always only ever intended to be heard. It was also recently commemorated at an event at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville this past June 6th.