What if Dark Orchard (Jim Casson’s experimental music project) and “The Blues” got together in New Orleans and watched Twin Peaks with Daniel Lanois?
This is the question that inspired “Davis Hall & The Green Lanterns”.
The story –
During the COVID19 lockdown, musicians were trying to find ways to keep busy. Drummer Jim Casson was asked to record some backing tracks in his home studio "The Cherry Pit" for his friend, guitarist Steve Grisbrook with bassist Russ Boswell. After recording a few cover songs for Steve, Jim approached Russ to see if he wanted to try to write something original. Russ was game so Jim improvised a drum take while thinking with song form in his head, but with no firm idea of a song, just a funky New Orleans vibe. Jim sent this track to Russ who then added a bass line with chord changes to Jim’s track. They decided that the right person to add a guitar part was their old band mate Bernie LaBarge. Brent Barkman was then asked to contribute an organ part and the song “Marshville Station” was born.
Excited at the success of this first experiment, Jim decided to try another one, but this time the same magic was not repeated and the project was shelved.
Meanwhile, tuba player Jay Burr was working on a singer songwriter album and had asked Jim to contribute drum parts. Jim decided to ask Jay if he would try to add a tuba part to the shelved project. Jay agreed and it was magic again. They continued to collaborate on several more songs using the same formula of improvised drum takes and then adding form with the tuba.
Jim decided that the complimentary instrumentation for this project would be guitar (Wayne Deadder) and slide guitar (Mike Branton). With their additions, the project had a solid foundation.
Other contributors to become “Green Lanterns” were Steve Marriner (harmonica), Al Lerman (harmonica), and Stephen Miller (dobro).
Jim felt that this album should in some way pay tribute to his home, The Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. “Davis Hall” was the name of the community centre in his hometown where he attended nursery school and “The Green Lantern” was the soda shop in town when he was a kid. All of the song titles are names or former names of villages in the Niagara Peninsula.
The “Dark Orchard” element is the addition of samples, loops and spoken word elements into the songs. Everything came together when Jim discovered a recording from 1963 of local disc jockey Bob Bowland from CHOW radio in Welland, the station that was most played in his home while growing up.
With this addition, the tribute was complete.