In the contemporary folk world, few songwriters are as highly revered as Gillian Welch. She just has a way with a song that sets her apart from the pack. One of her tunes, “Wichita,” was originally recorded by Tim and Mollie O’Brien for their Away Out On the Mountain album in 1994. Welch, too, has included the lively number in her shows now and then, and it appears on The Revelator Collection DVD, but never on one of her records.
Enter Richard Shindell and Lucy Kaplansky (collectively known as Pine Hill Project) with their take on the little ditty. Kaplansky notes, “I’m a big Gillian Welch fan, but I hadn’t ever heard ‘Wichita’ before Richard played it for me and Larry. I loved the song and the way Richard sang and played it, and it was a natural fit for our harmonies.” For Pine Hill Project, the song leans on a honky piano and a chunky groove, rather than the acoustic guitar and linear rhythm of Welch’s version.
“Gillian Welch’s ‘Wichita’ is one of my favorite songs — a marvel of concision, lyrical and melodic tautness, and simplicity,” Shindell says. But Shindell didn’t come to his reframed musical conclusion alone. He adds, “Our version owes a lot to Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin, a wonderful UK duo whose half-time, more ballad-like approach to this song was a revelation. ”
Pine Hill Project’s Tomorrow You’re Going will be released on March 17 via Signature Sounds.
This article originally appeared on the Bluegrass Situation.