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12 SONGS ABOUT THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS
DEDICATED TO ANDY RUSSELL & HIS CANADIAN WILDERNESS

Trapper's Attic, as the name suggests, is a proverbial hodgepodge of mountain melodies, dance hall debauchery, and environmental soundscapes inspired by the era of the Rocky Mountain trapper in the Northwest frontier from Idaho to Alberta. I've spent every aching moment of the last couple years with these songs, sounds, and poems, clogging my headspace, and the only way to ensure the end result was harmonious with the aches and pains of my misplaced soul was to produce an album entirely from scratch. So, here it is.

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thank you to the album's supporters
Monty Sholes
Eileen Fuller
Jeff & Tandi Liess
Jeff Smith
Ashley Bradford-Thompson
Fatty McGhee
Dexter Rezaii
Madelline Liess
Garret Smith
Bud Broderick
Kurt Schmidt
Mamie & Papa Jay Sholes
Becky Jergenson
Haley Adams
Boston Topping
Steve Looy
Jarrod Torkelson
musicians
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Mustang Mark Stolpe

Upright bass, vocals

Ethan Mansfield

Fiddle, vocals

Christy Rezaii

Vocals

Adam Straubinger

Fiddle

 

Matt Skipper

Mandolin

Austin Clark

Fiddle

Jolie Blue

Backing Vocals

Connor Jay Liess

Vocals, Guitars, Banjo, Electric Bass, Harmonica, Percussion, Jaw Harp, Organ, Synth, Piano, Spoons, Washboard

 
A SPECIAL THANK-YOU
Despite this being a solo record, the real credit goes to the dozens of folks who dedicated their time, money, or both to make this dream of mine a reality. From the musicians who recorded on this album to my friends and family who helped pay for its completion, I cannot thank you all enough for how truly blessed I am to have you in my life and what your generosity means to me.
 
So thank you to the following people who helped build Trapper's Attic. 

Monty Sholes

Eileen Fuller

Jeff & Tandi Liess

Jeff Smith

Ashley Bradford-Thompson

Fatty McGhee

Dexter Rezaii

Garret Smith

Bud Broderick

Jarrod Torkelson

Kurt Schmidt

Mamie & Papa Jay Sholes

Becky Jergenson

Haley Adams

Boston Topping

Matt Mayo

Matt Gilbert

Diego Marquez

Madelline Liess

Steve Looy

Sef Idle

Austin Clark

Adam Straubinger

Mark Stolpe

Ethan Mansfield

Christy Rezaii

Matthew Skipper

Steve Fulton/Audio Lab 

Joel "Jolie Blue" Buckert

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“There are moments of great space with guitar and harmonica reverberating through your soul like the wind in January. There are moments of quiet solitude with gentle acoustic melodies and deep, column vocals. There are moments of heartfelt glee with violins dancing through the hoots and hollers of men at play. We’ve got that banjo plucking along providing both rhythm and tune. I even heard a mouth harp in there.

 

"Overall, a dynamic and diverse album exploring a difficult but simple lifestyle that many of us have not experienced. It’s folk-country at its peak, I cannot recommend it enough.”

 

- Standard Vinyl

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VIDEOS
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BACKSTORY
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Trapper's Attic would have ceased to exist if it weren't for Andy Russell. I first picked up a book of his, Trails of a Wilderness Wanderer, from a second-hand store in Ketchum, Idaho, of all places. I have always idolized the iconic mountain man, the landscapes they roamed, and the stories they carved into time, so the cover photo immediately grabbed my attention. But it wasn't until reading Andy Russell's mid-century portraits of a fading Rocky Mountain wilderness that I felt I had truly established a relationship with nature.

​By now, you've probably gathered that I feel quite lost in today's modern world and, instead, find solace romanticizing the latter part of the 19th century. My old soul has sniffed out many authors, frontiersmen and women, and historical icons over the years, but none have cut as deep as Mr. Russell. 

His connection to the wilderness and the vast swath of creatures that inhabited it were the very concepts I sought out to celebrate on Trapper's Attic. From cover to cover, you felt the misty rain of the British Columbia rain forests; you heard the bugle of a distant elk; you felt the intense, black eyes of a grizzly staring at you through the alders; you held your breath as a string of Dall sheep traversed a rock ledge 500 feet above the valley floor; you smelled the unforgettable aroma of woodsmoke, horse manure, and wet canvas back at camp. If Andy Russell could capture those senses within a book, I wanted to capture them with a musical record. 

​Over the course of 13 months, I devoured countless books of his and other famed outdoorsmen and conservationists, and reflected on my own explorations as a modest woodsman living in Idaho. In March 2020, I constructed a rudimentary recording studio in my home, dubbed Trapper’s Attic, adorned with countless skulls, momentos of the frontier, and several animal hides I’d tanned myself. Acting as a sort of sound proofing, we arranged the hides around the room so that it would dampen problematic sounds. I was very proud of that space. During the summer and fall months of 2020, I manned the controls and engineered roughly 25 songs, some finished, others just the barebones. Those recordings went on to become the groundwork for this album. “The Murder of Lloyd Magruder” — the opening track on the album — was the first track we ever recorded, all in one night with members of the Aldape Bootstompers, while each took their turn around the room’s single microphone. 

We repeated this technique over the course of several months. With only one microphone (sometimes two, when bass and guitar needed to be recorded in sync), each track grew organically. Some nights would just be Christy Rezaii’s vocals; others would be various fiddle tracks; and some would just be me overdubbing and mixing until midnight. The Trapper’s Attic narrative grew with each additional recording session. The sights, sounds, and smells of the Rocky Mountain frontier were being carved, one by one. 

During these 13 months, I spent roughly 350 hours arranging, recording myself and other artists, overdubbing, and mixing these 12 songs, all while reminding myself that I’d never get another chance to see this through. There were times when tensions were high, anxieties were bubbling, and a well-timed cigarette break in the skinning shop was enough to dull the frustrations of both myself and anyone recording that session. I may have known what I wanted the album to sound like, but I could not have even come close to achieving that without the help of the musicians you hear on this album: Christy Rezaii, Mark Stolpe, Austin Clark, Matt Skipper, Ethan Mansfield, and Adam Straubinger. I cannot express enough how grateful I am for their musicianship, their commitment, and their friendship. 

There will never be a live performance of, adaptation of, or resurrection of Trapper’s Attic. What you hear is what you get. There was never a temptation to go spend thousands of dollars on studio time. We never once gave a thought to buy publicity in a magazine or pay some all-powerful blogger to play Caesar to the 12 tracks we poured our blood, sweat, and whiskey into. We never discussed what genre boxes we’d check upon its release. We never hoped that this album would be played by thousands, but instead by the select few who wanted to experience the soundscapes and history of the Rocky Mountains. The goal was always simple: self-produce a studio album completely from scratch with the folks you care about most. And that’s just what we did. 

This album is what it is: A collection of 12 songs that capture the essence of the Rocky Mountain frontier wilderness as the pioneers lived it, as Andy Russell documented it, and as I have just begun to explore and protect it. On behalf of everyone who donated their time and money (or both) to see this project through, I proudly present to you, weary traveler, Trapper’s Attic. 

 
who was andy russell?
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Andy Russell was what people think of when they hear the word cowboy. He was as at home in the saddle as the drawing room of his mountaintop home near Pincher Creek (near present-day Waterton Lakes N.P.). He could charm listeners with his stories – or stir them with his anger over what he saw happening to the wilderness he loved. Russell was, through it all, an articulate advocate for the environment, and an accurate observer of nature, and wrote 13 books on what he saw, as well as dozens of magazine articles.

Among his books, Trails of a Wilderness Wanderer, Grizzly Country, and Horns in the High Country, are spellbinding accounts of the Canadian West. He was the last of a breed to ride the untamed foothills and mountains of the West before the area was opened up by industrial developments. His outdoor documentary films, books, and articles helped earn him the Order of Canada – and three honourary degrees.

As a young man, he joined Bert Rigall's pack train outfit, breaking horses for them out on the trail, and guiding groups through the treacherous mountain terrain. He held a guiding license in Waterton Lakes National Park from 1936-1960, taking hunters, photographers and adventurers into the wilderness.

During his early photographic safaris he started taking pictures and movies of his own. His first movie was an hour and a half of wildlife footage accompanied by a ‘talk’, and the audiences ate it up.

He has raised a family in these mountains, and passed his love of all things wild on to his children.

Andy Russell, famed conservationist, writer, cinematographer and broadcaster and cowboy, died on June 1, 2005, at the age of 89.