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The Brass Junkies 65: Ken Watters

Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

The Brass Junkies 65: Ken Watters

Andrew Hitz

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This was a fascinating interview! Trumpet player Ken Watters, who is the brother of former TBJ guest Harry Watters, gave us an inside look at the recording process in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where artists such as The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin and Willie Nelson have all recorded over the years.

Pretty incredible to get to hear how the entire process goes down from the first call trumpet player. Ken did a great job of painting a picture. I found it riveting.

From the show notes:

Alabama Horns trumpeter Ken Watters joins Andrew & Lance for a fascinating masterclass in the difference between the Nashville horn sound and the horn lines from Muscle Shoals. Ken currently spends the majority of his time recording with legends like William Hightower, Eddie Floyd, Smash Mouth and Billy Ray Cyrus. He explains how Muscle Shoals became such a hotbed for recorded horn sections and explains how sessions and arrangements come together. He talks about how to write good lines, that simple is good and less is more and that sometimes it is best to write away from the horn. There are also tons of great stories from his time in NYC, Atlanta, recording and touring with his brother (TBJ guest and psycho buddy to A & L) Harry Watters and the story of how he met another TBJ alum, Wes Funderburk, in a 10 pm phone call, summoning him to come record with Natalie Cole.


He is also the first person to actually play his horn on the show (how did that happen?) and says that his trumpet is the watermelon. Whatever that means.