Ace Slim is an idea, not a person. The man behind the curtain is guitarist, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Trevor Turville.
“My grandfather’s name was Ace and he flew planes,” he explains of the moniker’s origins. “The name was given to him and I am simply using it. I always associated Ace with excellence so it seemed like a great way to strive for that anyway--and ‘Slim’ comes from one of my all-time favorite musicians Memphis Slim.”
Born and raised in the fertile musical environs of Atlanta, Georgia, Turville began playing guitar when he was just 10 years old.
“It just happened really,” he says. “I don't know how or even why, all I know is I wanted figure out everything about how it worked.”
It ended up being time well spent.
By high school he was already jamming and performing with longtime friend and musical collaborator Hill Roberts, and before long the duo were cutting their teeth at local blues jam sessions in the Atlanta area. This continued into and after college at Appalachian State University where Turville studied classical guitar, musical performance and theory, learning and mastering a wide array of instruments, and assimilating diverse musical styles from jazz to bluegrass, folk, soul music and nearly everything between.
It wasn't too long after college that he began to work on some of the songs which would eventually become a long-term recording project and, finally, the self-titled album “Ace Slim.” But it would, in fact, be a long Odyssey--almost ten years from start to finish--before he found that promised land.
“It’s amazing to think that it took that long, but the majority of it was actually done in intense sessions over the last two years,” he says.
Turville admits to being a bit of perfectionist which serves to explain the long road from start to finish.
“I also understand that things should be perfectly imperfect, and that in the end, that is what makes them perfect--if that makes sense,” he says. “So to get that balance, and since I had the time and was doing it all myself, I would take 10 or 30 takes or whatever was necessary.”
He also proudly admits to being by design a “genre buster” when it comes to his eclectic, multi-dimensional sound and the variety of styles he employs--both on the album and in the live show. This is also not surprising once we delve further into the wide variety of music that influenced him over the years.
“I was introduced to the blues when I was in high school after I had listened to so much Allman brothers, Led Zeppelin, Clapton and Hendrix that there wasn't anywhere else to go,” he says. “I found out what they had listened to and where it came from. Blind Willie McTell was my first blues hero but there are tons of them like Big Bill Broonzy, Jimmie Reed, Howlin Wolf and Muddy--and they are all amazing!”
His affinity for the blues only grew over the years but would soon mingle with jazz, bluegrass, folk, classic country and hints of early soul and R&B. Also evident on the new album is the strong influence of proto jam band The Grateful Dead and, later, Phish (both of whom he saw live countless times and listened to obsessively until he had seamlessly mastered every nuance).
The self-titled album assimilates all these influences and bears witness to the journey from which it was born.
“Initially, I was just trying to document the songs I was writing and maybe make a demo,” Turville says. “I learned a lot along the way. Eventually, I went back and redid it all for this album. I started in my studio space in Atlanta and finished it here in Flagstaff.”
Over those intervening years Turville did everything from start to finish--all the recording, instruments, vocals and overdubs. He then turned to Jeff Lusby-Breault of the Flagstaff band Enormodome for a fresh set of ears during the mixing and mastering process.
The result is an album which is by turns intimate and diverse--at times even breathtaking in style and scope--as only a 10-year journey like the one that created it could be.
Celebrate the release of “Ace Slim” with the band at their show this Saturday, Feb. 17, at Firecreek Coffee Co. Archie Carry On opens the night at 8 p.m. and then Enormodome follows Ace Slim. Tickets are $6. Visit www.aceslim.com for more information.