It’s been five year’s since Cory Chisel released his last album (2012’s Old Believers). He broke that hiatus on August 4th with the release of Tell Me True, produced by Dan Knobler (Feist, Rodney Crowell). Now, a month beyond its release, Tell Me True has hit the #1 Heatseeker for the East North Central US and #36 on the Americana chart with nearly 6000 albums with all sales benefiting the Refuge Foundation For The Arts. Today, Chisel and Denae share a live video of album track “Southern Arms.”
This Friday, Chisel and partner Adriel Denae will open for Ryan Adams and Emmylou Harris at Breese Stevens Field in Madison, WI. “I was just told that Cory Chisel and his wife are going to be on the bill. They’re fantastic. I was lucky enough to get to write with him and Rodney (Crowell) on the last record. It’s going to be a nice night,” Harris told Madison.com. They’ll also play the Shitty Barn on October 9th and 10th as headliners.
Tell Me True was recorded at Chisel’s own Refuge Foundation For the Arts- a 33,000 square-foot, 80 year old monastery and artist retreat that houses a recording studio, 50+ bedrooms, performance spaces and even a radio station in his hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin. Chisel will return to Appleton on December 14th for his annual Christmas show at Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Tickets will go on sale soon.
Although it seemed like a long break in Chisel’s recording career, he was anything but quiet. Chisel and Denae had relocated to Nashville after making both Old Believers and Chisel’s full-length debut Death Won’t Send A Letter there (RCA) there. His time in Tennessee was fruitful, he wrote songs for Roseanne Cash and the title track to Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell’s The Traveling Kind earned Chisel a 2015 GRAMMY nomination. He also started a Country supergroup of sorts- Traveller – with Robert Ellis and Jonny Fritz. Traveller has recorded a forthcoming record and have been playing shows and festivals around the countryin Including Austin City Limits the first weekend in October. Meanwhile Denae wrote and record her solo debut record produced by Norah Jones (forthcoming).
But Chisel didn’t forget about the town that raised him – Appleton, Wisconsin. Chisel’s long love affair with his hometown is well documented in his songs and interviews. So he decided to begin a festival there in 2013. Mile of Music just completed its its 5th year, or “Mile 5,” and attracted 70,000 people over the course of the weekend this summer. The festival is cover-free and takes place in 70 venues across the city with more than 900 live performances.
It was Chisel’s return to Appleton that led him to a strange and once-in-a-lifetime offer: to become the steward of an 80 year-old monastery on the outskirts of town. The place was situated on 10 acres along the riverfront. It had 55+ bedrooms, a commercial kitchen, groves of fruit trees and a massive chapel with top notch acoustics. To Cory, the possibilities were endless. He returned to Appleton to move in to what he has now named The Refuge. In his short time as steward he has built a recording studio, started an artist-in-residence program, moved a local radio station into the building and raised enough money to create an endowment that would help artists record and release records free of the burden of debt that so many musicians must take on. It was here that Chisel and Denae recorded Tell Me True – in the chapel of The Refuge that they had built.