It was a couple of years ago that I first heard about the work that Tim Duffy was doing with the Music Makers Relief Foundation. Initially he started out with the simple goal of recording some of the older musicians who lived in and around the area of North Carolina where he was living in order to preserve some great music that he feared would be lost otherwise. This soon evolved into trying to parlay the recordings into a means to raise money to assist those same musicians, who time and fashion had forgotten.
From those humble beginnings the Foundation took shape. Yet this isn't just some charity giving handouts; most of the men and women Tim met while making his initial field recordings were quite capable of still getting up on stage and performing or going into the studio and cutting sides like they did 40 years ago. Sure when someone's in dire straits from medical bills or other such calamity the Foundation is there to lend a hand but a good many people are being helped by being given the chance to work again doing what they do best - making music.
The Music Maker performers have now played festivals across Europe and down into Argentina, and released numerous CDs and a collection of DVDs. The early recordings were pretty raw, having mostly been culled from Tim's time out in the field from recordings made on a two track machine. As the foundation became more established they built their own studio and were able to bring the musicians in and record them with proper equipment in a more controlled environment. Now it appears they've reached the stage where they are making the leap to the next level and are no longer content to just preserve the music, but inject some new life into it as well.
John Dee Holeman has been one of the stalwarts of the Foundation's roster. He's recorded three discs for them already, two solo releases and one where he was paired up with the Australian alternative folk group The Waifs. Now, for his forthcoming release, You Got To Lose, You Can't Win All The Time, John is backed by a full band, and a slew of special guests adding finishing touches to his music that range from Wurlitzer solos to pedal steel guitar fills.