Marc Moss would certainly enjoy performing in person with Steve Black and Dave Meredith. It would be fun to get out of the studio and in front of an audience. “I love playing with those guys,” Moss admits.
Then he thinks about listeners in Norway.
Throughout 2022, the three musicians who comprise Black Moss Meredith have created music in a very 21st-century manner. Instead of convening in a studio and working with an engineer to assemble an album, they trade files back and forth via computer, working on lyrics during Zoom meetings and distributing tracks through streaming services. Not that they had much of a choice, with Meredith living in Wilmington, Black in Chester County and Moss on a farm in New York’s Catskill Mountains.
That pragmatic approach is also a nod to age: All three members of the band are over 60. It’s also a response to COVID-19 and how the pandemic forced everyone to stay home. The result is Gravity and Time, Black Moss Meredith’s new album. Its first song, “Brandywine,” is Meredith’s tribute to the creek—one initially inspired by the Superfine brand of flour once milled on its banks. Other songs on the album address the passage of years and the understanding that life can never be completely understood or predicted. “The central message is that this is a group of older gentlemen who realize where they are in life and are all facing a great unknown,” Meredith says. “We’re wiser than we were 20 years ago. We’ve been through divorce, through heartaches and experiences. This is about the virtual handprints we leave on the wall.”
With Moss as his producer, Black enjoyed notable success as a Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter in the 1990s. When Meredith met Moss in early 2000, he’d transitioned from band member to solo artist, financing his first album with an early-morning paper route. Not long after, Black Moss Meredith emerged with their 2003 debut, World of Wonder.
Meredith and Moss went on to record two CDs as a duo. Moss, meanwhile, had developed a reputation as a first-class producer, working and touring with David Bromberg in 2011. When it came time for Moss to reunite with Meredith, they missed the synergy that came when Black was in the mix. Earlier this year, the three reconnected. “Steve is a really good wordsmith,” says Moss. “He just fills in the cracks. Dave has a magical voice. I’m the cook that puts it all together.”
Focused on his cabinet-making business, Black hadn’t played in earnest or composed any music since the last BMM album. “When they called me, I said, ‘I don’t know what I have to offer,’” he says. “But as soon as I started, the juices were flowing. I’d get so fired up, I’d write until midnight.”
An unexpected result of the band’s remote recording and distribution methods has been the ability to reach a broader audience than it could’ve ever imagined, including folks in northern Europe. Moss reports that the album was number one in August on the Nashville-based streaming service Airplay Direct. “We can get a lot more accomplished by sitting at a computer and sending files out around the world,” he says. “I’d rather be played in Norway than play a local gig.”