Willie DE’s First Album Set for Release This Fall
Batesville guitarist Willie Denton-Edmundson, who goes by the name Willie DE, released his first album, Egg Cracked, The Bird Went Wild, in the United Kingdom June 14. One track from the debut solo CD was released in the United States May 25, but the album will not be out in the States until October 12.
Denton-Edmundson, 20, graduated from Western Albemarle High School in 2011. He called it “breaking loose from the all-American incarceration machine.” In the year after, he said, he “opened up a torrent of creativity” that led to the album. “The songs are about freedom,” he said. He is now a full-time student studying jazz performance at Virginia Commonwealth University.
This summer, as his parents visit the Mediterranean Sea as part of the University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea program, he is busking—playing for tips in public areas—at ports of call in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Admired for his guitar-playing, Willie has played at Charlottesville’s Friday’s After Five, at Floyd Fest on the main stage and he’s had gigs in New York City and Brooklyn. Recently at the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville he was asked to jump up and jam with Luther Dickinson and the North Mississippi All Stars. He played shows at Mudhouse in Crozet and at Plank Road Exchange in Batesville before he left for Europe. “I want to be known in my own territory and to let people know about the CD,” he said.
He began playing when he was five years old and at seven tried busking outside U.Va. football games and on the downtown mall in Charlottesville. He said the experience gave him “a hard-nosed musician’s work ethic.”
The album was produced by Eli Cook. Some tracks were recorded and engineered by Dave Stipe at Little Rhodie Studio in Crozet and other tracks by Jeff Romano at Jimmy Dog Studios in Charlottesville. Thomas Dean of Crozet did the cover art. Devon Sproule and Terri Allard also sing on the CD.
Willie DE wrote all the lyrics and music. He said his favorite song is “Egg Cracked, The Bird Went Wild,” as well as “I Fall Down,” which is adapted from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence.
“We did everything live and I re-recorded some things,” said Willie DE. “Eli Cook worked on arranging the tunes and was there during the recording to give advice.” Willie had been playing with a WAHS band called The Wave and his high school friend Brenning Greenfield plays drums on one of the new CD’s songs. “Everybody broke up and went to different schools,” said Willie. “It’s all solo now.” He said he can play the bass and drums himself. “I couldn’t hold down the show, but I can jam.
“This is the dream,” he said of releasing the CD. “I’m taking breathing room. I’m writing more and putting some demos down. That’s how you develop songs. Mostly I’m thinking about music 24-7. The big game plan is to be able to play for shows and open for bands.”
He called his style “alternative indie rock.” He’s also working on “jazz stuff” now. (He played guitar in the Henley Jazz Band.) He said it is “more difficult to play and it’s influencing my style. I’m really interested in fusion players like John Scofield and Wes Montgomery.
“I’m trying to learn different genres, but I’m going for ‘rock singer-songwriter.’ I have to be persistent. Lots of things will go wrong. But things will come out. When I got pulled up on stage with the North Mississippi All Stars, a blues group, that was great. It was shocking.”
Willie DE is handling distribution of the CD himself. It will be available through the website williede.com, which also has a music video for the CD on it that relates to the song “Willow.”
He will play with the Willie DE band at the Misty Mountain Music Festival in Crozet September 28.