Beginning of the Day

Beginning Of The Day (Jim Dexter and Rich Stein) is the debut recording of an acoustic guitar duo that blends a lifetime of folk, rock and new age influences through a common lens to produce a sound that is fresh, unique and engaging. Much of the CD is improvised, owing to Jim and Rich’s nearly telepathic ability to compliment each other’s playing style. Overdubs are used sparingly to round out the compositional elements of the pieces. Though the occasional electric guitar finds its way into the recorded mix, Beginning Of The Day is first and foremost an effort by two talented and versatile musicians who share a passion for the acoustic guitar.

Though they met in 1997, Jim and Rich could have just as easily been lifelong friends, judging from their uncannily similar childhood record collections, toy boxes and favorite TV shows. Jim’s Long Island upbringing and Rich’s Michigan/Missouri history share far more commonalities than differences. Graduating high school in 1980, both players explored the wide variety of new sounds available to electric guitarists of the era while keeping their love for the acoustic instrument alive. By the time they met, both Jim and Rich had placed the bulk of their creative energies in the acoustic guitar and its sonic possibilities as a solo instrument.

Over the past dozen years Jim and Rich have performed alongside one another in bands, shared gigs as soloists and appeared on recordings by fellow Long Island artists. Jim’s band The Road Home and Rich’s Counterclockwise Ensemble provide both guitarists the opportunity to delve thoroughly into their highly skilled compositional interests; Beginning Of The Day’as a project name and CD exists with the opposite in mind, a sonic space both musicians can enter with limited preconceptions and "roadmapping." The songs on the CD took shape in the studio, as one idea gave birth to the next. The result is a recording that sounds fresh and spontaneous.

Both artists wish it known that no penguins were actually harmed in the making of Beginning Of The Day

Jim Dexter

Rich Stein

  • 1999 S.B. MacDonald custom acoustic guitar
  • Kopo Yalta Woody
  • Fender Telecaster custom
  • Baby Taylor
  • Guild bass guitar
  • Santa Cruz OM
  • Taylor 512
  • Fender Telecaster custom (thanks to Jim)
  • Danelectro baritone electric (thanks to Phil Jimenez)
  • Jay Turser Strat

CD artwork and photography by Heidi Kaestner

Track notes (RS):

  1. Beginning of the Day the first notes Jim and I played together in years quickly solidified into this piece. Like the vast majority of the album, BOD is improvised in the studio with judiciously rendered overdubs added later. Lisa C. did a splendid job matching percussion to the track "after the fact." I added the baritone slide guitar parts on the last day of recording. I’ve always found something very deep and slightly evil in the sound of long, slow and mournful slide guitar. Producer/engineer John Tabacco captured it perfectly.
  2. Shanti from a chord progression of Jim’s design. I play the melody, which is entirely improvised and, in another brilliant move by JT, recorded with a slight flange. Jim adds beautiful electric guitar swells and solo lines throughout.
  3. Lesson Learned the title comes from a Stein family story that involved my daughter Sarah, her computer and two very nice field agents from Homeland Security…Jim introduced me to CGDGAD tuning on our first get together and this tune happened pretty quickly thereafter. Three e-bow parts create the sustained, organ-like sound in the chorus sections. I take the first solo on Jim’s Tele, and Jim plays all three solo parts on the end of the track (Tele again, I think).
  4. He Went There One of two composed pieces brought to the recording sessions, this one is Jim’s baby. My son Andrew joined us on cajon for an afternoon of overdubbing, and JT added in some beautiful keyboard pads. The e-bow makes its appearance here as a solo voice – though I consider myself an acoustic guitarist these days, I get immeasurable pleasure from playing the e-bow on my cheap Strat copy with the tone rolled off to zero.
  5. Hammockland Also in CGDGAD tuning, Jim named this one after we agreed that the mood set by the piece was as stress-free as anything we’ve ever played. Funny thing is that we went into the recording sessions thinking the CD was going to be "two guys, two guitars " with no overdubs! Only this track and the final two on the disc retain that distinction. To this day Hammockland is my favorite piece to play live.
  6. Dancing In Vermillion A Jim Dexter chord progression that just begged for textural overdubs, DIV has a little bit of everything, especially Jim’s Baby Taylor with "Nashville tuning." My acoustic guitar lines in the 2nd and 3rd verse were directly inspired by the guitar stylings of Long Island songwriter/guitarist Tom Griffith.
  7. The Forgotten Man Another Jim Dexter tuning, this one with "the greatest Eb chord ever," CGDEbBbEb is used in its darker and sinister cousin key of C minor. We asked Joel to come in and supply vocals for the track, leaving out the part about not singing any intelligible words until he arrived at the studio. JT provided the subtle but evocative keyboard pads and rainstick. After the track started to take shape we got a wonderfully eerie feeling about what we’d captured in the session. The title fell right into place.
  8. Bela X2 My composed contribution to the project. Bela X is part of a trilogy of pieces from my 2007 CD Counterclockwise based on a melody in 7/8 time that’s reminiscent of the type of dance melody that Hungarian composer Bela Bartok might employ. I’ve arranged this piece for many situations over the years, with and without the middle chord progression. If I remember correctly, this was the first piece we recorded that just screamed "multiple overdubs" to Jim and me. I play acoustic solos (thanks to JT for lending me his nameless nylon string guitar for the first one) and Jim ramps it up with electric ferocity towards the end.
  9. Her Answer Completely improvised in the studio. DADGAD, capo IV. A lilting melody over a simple two chord progression that suggested something feminine to me.
  10. Capturing This For All Eternity an offhand remark, a pretty duet that stops dead in its tracks after my hand goes completely awry. So it goes.