Connor Jay Liess
Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Banjo, Whiskey Bottle
“Mustang” Mark Stolpe
This album was conceived in the mountains of the Boise National Forest, written originally on that trusty banjo I was speaking of. But these songs wouldn’t be what they are without the heart and soul that my dear friends listed below showed from the day we first gathered to busk on the Boise Greenbelt to that final night in the studio. This album is just as much theirs as it is mine. Special thanks to my best friend Caltin Cross, whose pioneer soul has always been there for me through times good and bad. “Take Me Home” will forever be a song in your honor.
Thank you to Myles Davis, Sef Idle, and Simpul Studio for running the show and getting this sucker laid down right. And lastly, thank you - yes, you - for showing up and lending an ear these past few years and giving this fireside strummer the courage to showcase these songs in a more manifested way. Now pass around that bottle and put an ear to Ponderosa.
Take Me Home
The first song I ever wrote about Idaho and its awe-inspiring wilderness. I've longed for a life amongst the ponderosa pines and the creatures that thrive beneath their branches. The line "the wolves sing to me at night" was about a time I was camping 15 miles north of Bogus when three wolves swept through my camp at around 3 in the morning.
Every Americana musician needs to have a good murder ballad. Here's mine.
"Kiss my Mamie hello" — a little shoutout to my grandma — were my final words before they slipped the burlap over my head to hang in 1883.
The Ballad of Bear Hollow
I got lost on some backroads in early fall while exploring the forests a few miles north of Robie Creek. I had just bought a car in California, and it still had its original CA plates.
It was the look one local and his German shepherd gave me that day that inspired this song.
Ride On Home
I met a man in Idaho City one time who shared with me that he was "ready to die any day now." I didn't really have a response, and just sat quietly, wondering what it'd be like to be up there in age, so eager to get on with it and greet ol' Death at your door and maybe invite him in for a quick drink before you head on up to be with your Molly again.
My great-grandpa was a train engineer in the 1940's; this song was written for him. I didn't know him long before he passed, but I heard many tales from my great-grandma of the trouble he'd get into while on the railroad.
This is also a song about my fondness for Old Crow whiskey.
Meandering its way through the Boise Basin is a little stream called Mores Creek. It holds a special place in my heart. It inspired my first take on a love song.
Will I Ever See My Son Again
One of the first pre-1900's song I ever wrote, a somber one. It seems my entire upbringing stemmed around this time period. I have my dad to thank for that. Aside from the forests of Idaho, I cannot think of any other place that reunites my soul to its origin than dead and dying mining towns. This one's about a miner who leaves his wife and son in search of gold.
Idaho Mountain Song
I couldn't think of any other way to close out this album than with Idaho Mountain Song. It's the only song on Ponderosa that features all four of us; and not only does it reference the ponderosas, but it's a tribute to this magnificent state that I call home. This song is for every tree sat beneath, every stream and river fished, and every mountain road explored.
All photos taken by friends and family. Thank you kindly Caltin Cross, Tandi Liess, Sara Jean, Myles Davis, Jason Rose, and Mike Hassoldt for going long for the ride during some of these mountain adventures.