In many ways, it’s not so different from hundreds of other albums you’ve listened to in your life. It was made by a bunch of fairly ordinary middle class white people in their 30s who hail from northern New England in one way or another. These people increasingly have families, kids, normal day jobs, houses where they keep a garden, maybe a little flock of chickens.
On Friday and Saturday nights they head to town to play a little music when they can.
I’ve been writing music for 20 years now and I’ve put out over ten albums of original music under the name Wooden Dinosaur. Somehow despite the workaday aspect of all this, our newest album, Working Weather, is quite different.
I say “somehow” because it’s a mystery to me still why some pieces of art take on a different life than others. Perhaps it’s just that the stakes are higher this time. When the responsibilities of adult life start tugging at your limbs from all sides, you need to prove to yourself that this thing called music is still worth your time and money.
Maybe it’s that when you throw a couple of kids in the equation, you start raising the only critics that really matter.
Let me tell you where this album really began: it’s a little before five a.m. in the morning, early December 2013. I’m awake with my infant daughter, Ada. In the months prior I’ve started to suffer from a mysterious throat pain that will make it hard for me to sing for the next year or so. I’m starting to wonder whether I can be a good musician and a good dad at the same time.
And yet despite this, the song “Get Down” appears nearly fully formed when I need it most. Rebirth comes at the strangest times, but sometimes all it takes is a tiny seed, a tiny song to get started.
In the past few years, I’ve had to work at this music thing harder than ever before in my life. I’ve sacrificed sleep to simply find a few minutes to sit down with a guitar and write, to make it to a gig or rehearsal. I’ve worked to find the money to record another album that will deplete my bank account, not to mention juggled the schedules of the twelve other musicians who appear on this.
And throughout it all I’ve sung and reworked these songs over and over in my head as I’ve gone about the manual tasks required to live on a homestead with animals and a garden and wood to cut for heating our home.
Earlier this spring I drove over to our engineer’s studio in New Hampshire one night a week to mix this album, and then I’d listen to new mixes in my car on my daily commute with my daughter Ada. At first she protested at the music selection, preferring the kids’ songs and nursery rhymes she knows.
As the weeks wore on she protested less and less, and when I pulled the final mix from the CD player, she looked at me and said “Dada, can we listen to Daddy and Uncle Frank’s band again?”
So start at the beginning again for Ada, the part where I tell the world that I’ve got a new life now.
released September 30, 2016
Songs by Michael Roberts | Engineered by Ben Rogers | Mixed by Michael Roberts and Ben Rogers | Mastered by Carl Saff | Additional engineering by Jeff Berner, Chris Regan, and Asa Brosius | Horn arrangements by Craig Barowsky | Performed by Michael Roberts, Jeffrey Murphy, Frank Roberts, Katie Trautz, Julia Wayne, Craig Barowsky, Andrew Gould, Jimmy O'Connell, Mark Barowsky, Chris Regan, Seth Roberts, Asa Brosius and Sam Moss | Photographs by Shane Darwent | Design by Tom Jandernoa