Stripper 1 - Cris Plata

November 2011

Cris Plata

First Stripper session.November 6th, 2011 photographer Chris Norris and I drove out to rural Columbus, WI where Cris and Ann Plata live. Their modest white farm house stands next door to an older, more traditional looking home where Ann was raised. Both homes are opposite the working farm that Ann’s brother runs. Cris and I have been friends for a long time -  we met during the making of Life Is Hard, a full length recorded in 2003 at my old recording studio, Coney Island. He was born in South Texas, the son of migrant workers who moved from region to region in North America following the harvest. In a family where playing music and song writing were a way life, Cris grew up being exposed to many different musicians and genres (See Article in Rick’s Cafe). Norteno (Northern Mexico border music), conjunto (elements of both European and Mexican music fused by early residents of South Texas, and ranchera (Mexican country) music. He’s pairs it down to “Mexican Roots”.After some catching up in the kitchen I began thinking about where in the house I’d record. The living room was a humble space but after hearing Cris play, I found it a little too airy - a bit cold, actually. The kitchen was an option, and it sounded nice, but Cris never played guitar there and something made me want to have him in an environment that was familiar to him and his process. Upstairs was a sweet music room of his overlooking the pasture outside the house. If felt like the right spot for the work.The session was quick. Some musicians hit their mark within the first few takes of a song and Cris is one of them. He played “Barbaro” twice - my only suggestion for the second take was to sit back a bit  - You go beyond those two takes and there’s a good chance you might never get back to the center of the song. I have so much respect and admiration for Cris’ gift and for the story he brings to the world that it unsettles me. He’s one of the sweetest cowboys I know. His wife, Ann (who plays bass in the band), is another true human being and a damn decent vet who helped care for my two cats up till their passing.“Barbaro"  is a beautiful and tragic song about a beloved horse who, two weeks after winning the Kentucky Derby in 2007, shattered his leg and was euthanized following complications in surgery.