Joel P. West created the rhythm section as rough outlines and then looked for a fantastic group of musicians who could bring the lyrics to life. They had Justus West on the guitar, Lynette Williams on keys, Thomas Drayton on bass, and Karriem Riggins on the drums. Although the group had never played together or met before, they quickly started drawing from each other’s energy and locked into a really unique sound. They got to spend three days at Capitol Studios exploring and running takes on ideas just like Joel P. West would do jazz albums, and he discovered that the more he let go and allowed the group to form their collective stamp on the pieces, the music got better. In the end, he was pretty happy about the end product.
After the session, Joel P. West and the band spent an entire day recording strings. They had made an arrangement for a gospel choir to come over in the later hours and do the final touches on the score. It had been a demanding and long day, and they were exhausted, but they stepped out of the booth into a space full of love and joy and were instantly energized by the crew. Listening to the group sing together was the best experience one could have following a long and creative journey. Everybody in the building immediately ceased doing what they were working on and went to be fed and listen to the group’s positivity and talents.
Joel P. West was incredibly honored to have had the opportunity to be one of the people telling Brian Stevensons’ story. The Equal Justice Initiative makes it very easy to contribute to their work as well as further educating yourself on the history of racial injustice in the country, which has led to institutionalized indifference and racism that we tolerate more often than not through our ignorance. Thanks to Destin, who was the rock of thoughtfulness, perseverance, and humility through the entire process, and everybody who was involved, the project was a success.
Since The Tree Ring band was formed in 2010, it has experienced tremendous growth. The band’s albums such as Generous Shadows, Brushbloom, and the 10 Rivers have been massive hits in San Diego. The Americana Band’s unique effort has seen them garner the Best Americana Album at the San Diego music awards of 2011 and 2013. However, despite these achievements, The Tree Ring Band still remains as one of the most understated and underrated bands in San Diego. Joel P. West’s most recent work includes the score for Just Mercy, which features a gospel choir and a hip-hop jazz combination integrating a touch of orchestral strings. The Folk Americana band Integration of cinematic chamber pop and folk with punctuating horns and swelling strings makes their music quite unique and worth listening to.