It began during a downtown Manhattan loft party on New Years Eve of 2008. A somewhat intoxicated Grant Maxwell, lead singer of The Morning Pages, was approached by an equally intoxicated Russell Simins, drummer for The John Spencer Blues Explosion. He had heard The Morning Pages’ EP and was impressed with the band's unique blend of Country, Soul and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Simins and the band got to talking and eventually agreed he would produce The Morning Pages' debut album, Rising Rain.
Simins and The Morning Pages hunkered down in Brooklyn-based studio, Cowboy Technical Services (Ryan Adams, Steve Earle), and began work on the 11 tracks that make up Rising Rain. Surrounded by walls of vintage gear and faded Al Green and Waylon Jennings album covers, the band tore through material ranging from the raucous stomp of "With The Lord," the epic beauty of "My Name Is Lion" and the classic country-flavored duet of the title track. The Morning Pages brought in a cast of NYC's brightest up-and-comers to help out on the record, including sister-duo The Pierces who sing harmonies on over half of the record, Simins himself on percussion, Alec Higgins (Alberta Cross) on piano, and Gillian Rivers (Nicole Atkins) on fiddle.
With prominent influences such as The Band, Waylon, Willie, and Gram Parsons, The Morning Pages, who originally hail from Nashville, Austin, Tulsa, San Francisco, Ohio, and Massachussettes, bring a deep, rural passion to the New York City scene. Alongside contemporaries like The Felice Brothers and Blitzen Trapper, the band blends the speed and sophistication of the city with the organic depth of the country. Their debut EP, The Company You Keep, released in the summer of 2007, perked the ears of critics, with The Tripwire declaring: "The sound that these guys got onto tape comes from the mighty heavens. It's like American Beauty slept with Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris while cheating on The Band's version of 'I Shall Be Released.'"
Photo: Ginny Maxwell