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Ring Around the Sun by Tim Flannery

I caught Tim Flannery coming out of our offices here at KPRI a few days ago as he had just delivered his latest album by hand. That says a lot about the kind of person he is. First, it takes guts to bring an album to a radio station in person. It doesn't matter who you are ...trust me. Radio people are going to listen to your art and they are going to have an opinion. You never know what they will say. Worse...what they won't say. The album is called "Ring Around the Sun".

Flan and I've talked off and on about this album for a while now. Two of the songs on the it were performed publicly first on my morning show.

The title track, "Ring Around the Sun", was written or at least germinated as Tim was driving north through hills around L.A. during the 2003 firestorms that were sweeping southern California. "It was the strangest thing Keith..." he said in that soft friendly tone of voice that always makes everyone feel you are his best friend. "It was one of those times where you just need to get out of town to clear your mind and there I was in the hills outside L.A. and the whole scene was ...like from another planet. I looked up and there was a ring around the sun. And just like that everything that was going on in my life at that time seemed to flash into perspective."

The other premier track is an emotional knockout punch. It's Tim's tribute to his friend and former San Diego Padre Ken Caminiti.

Caminiti's tragic death created a media circus that lasted for weeks. But as you listen to the song, you realize that the "Ken Caminiti, Media Figure" was ultimately a fabrication. The real Ken Caminiti was a human being, a friend and a father.

Kelly Flannery (Tim's daughter) spent many nights with Caminiti's daughters at the Caminiti household. Kelly was devastated when the news broke of Ken's death. The media spoke as if they knew Caminiti on an intimate level. They spoke of a man Kelly Flannery had never seen.

Tim wrote the song to help explain in a gentle and human way that Ken Caminiti was a man dealing with inner struggles like everyone else. The genius of the song is its truth. There is a false familiarity created around our sports stars and media figures. A familiarity that allows us to act as if we really know the celebrities we admire. This false familiarity also seems to give us permission to shun.

Assisting with the heavy lifting in the album is veteran multi-instrumentalist Doug Pettibone who had just finished a tour with Lucinda Williams when he hooked up with Flannery to do a little surfing. It's a great collaboration rounded out by the always-organic production wizardry of Jeff Berkley as assisted by Jon Edwards.

Also helping create the magic on the album "Ring Around the Sun": Dennis Caplinger, Sharon Whyte, Randi Driscoll, Eve Selis, Lizzie Wann, and Calman Hart. (I could go on and on about each of them. Suffice it to say they are all terrific musicians and wonderful people.)

Flan wrote five new songs for the album and rounded it out with Gram Parson's "Hickory Wind", a haunting version of Lucinda Williams' "Overtime", John Prine's "Spanish Pipedream", Gillian Welch's "Tear My Stillhouse Down", Rodney Crowell's "Till I Gain Control Again" and "Dreaming My Dreams with You" by Allen Reynolds.

It's album number seven for Tim (who once wore number 11 for the San Diego Padres.) It's already my favorite Flannery album.

These songs will sound even better live. Tim Flannery and Friends are performing at the East County Performing Art Center (www.ecpac.com) in El Cajon on Saturday Night February 12. Pick up the album, it will be available after the 12th at www.timflannery.com. And don't miss the show.