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Tim O'Brien will release his latest album, Chicken & Egg, on July 13 and he brought in a bevy of famous friends to help him out, including clawhammer banjo player and singer Abigail Washburn and former SteelDrivers lead singer Chris Stapleton.
One young artist Time was particularly impressed with was bluegrass/folk singer Sarah Jarosz, who also contributed to the new set. "She’s really a real gem and a real amazingly talented artist out of the box," Tim tells Country Weekly. "She calls me her mentor. It’s funny 'cause I remember once she asked if she could take a lesson from me. I didn’t think she needed any lessons, but I said, 'Let’s get together.' We talked about songs, and she said she wanted to play a song with me, and she played all of the licks back at me that were on the record. It’s kind of eerie. It’s really flattering and reassuring. When I heard her solo record, I thought, 'This is really great, because it means that the music is in good hands.' I'm really proud that the considers me an influence. She’s writing some nice songs and is a great singer." Tim's album also features Nashville players Stuart Duncan, Bryan Sutton and Darrell Brown.
With his 13th solo album, Tim keeps his passion and musical skill fresh by continuously expanding his knowledge and repertoire. “One of my heroes is a guy named Art Stamper," Tim says. "He was a great fiddler. Before he died, I remember asking him, ‘What’s your favorite tune?’ He said, ‘It’s the one I’m learning right now.’ You have to keep looking for new sounds and influences. I keep seeing that in the [younger musicians] who are coming up."
One of Tim's new favorites are the Carolina Chocolate Drops. "They have a lot fewer preconceptions of how the music is supposed to work, so they just reinvent it,” Tim explains.
He also looks to those musicians who have gone before him. “I keep going back to the old recordings and finding new things in them," Tim says. "Sometimes I find new themes in older music. I don’t want things to be completely new, because I think tradition is at least half of what goes into it. I want to be true to that and then let it be itself.”