Walking into a recording session for his upcoming debut album, Wyatt Ellis looked down at the welcome mat as he crossed the threshold of Cash Cabin, the legendary studio built by Johnny Cash. Instead of “Welcome,” the mat said “Get Lost.” Undeterred by the message, Ellis walked through the door knowing he had just found the perfect title for a tune he'd recently written.
14-year-old bluegrass phenom Wyatt Ellis debuts “Get Lost,” an instrumental tune co-written by Ellis and critically-acclaimed musician Jake Workman, which showcases Ellis’ more progressive musical leanings. It is the second single from an upcoming album set to be released later this year on Ellis’ Knee-High Records label.
Workman, a virtuosic musician and 2020’s IBMA Bluegrass Guitar Player of the Year, is also featured on the track. Like Ellis, Workman began playing guitar at a young age and grew to love bluegrass early on. While in his twenties, Workman was asked to join Ricky Skaggs’ band of elite instrumentalists, the award-winning Kentucky Thunder, and he continues playing with them today.
Also featured on the recording is legendary fiddler Michael Cleveland, who surprised Ellis by coming to the session and contributing to the track. Ellis recalls, "Michael is the greatest fiddler of our era, so to see him walk through the door unexpectedly, watch him learn my tune instantly, and then hear what he played on the track was priceless."
Workman also teaches mandolin. He and Ellis began online lessons just before the pandemic in 2020. Eager to improve under the watchful eye of an experienced musician, Ellis began to practice for several hours a day. “Get Lost" was written during one of their online lessons in 2021, when Ellis was only twelve years old. Since then, the pair have met for Skype lessons as schedules allow and have worked on mandolin, guitar, and sometimes, even electric guitar.
When asked about working and writing with Ellis, Workman says, “Wyatt’s love for traditional bluegrass music is special. He has great ears and digs into even the smallest of details when studying his heroes. Wyatt will help keep the old music alive, and that’s something he can be proud of. We had a good time working out ideas for this tune. He had an A part sketched out and I had a couple of thoughts for possible melodies/chords on the B section. The C part is a bit of a jam section. Wyatt and the crew ripped it up good!” Ellis adds, "Jake and I wrote this tune on our mandolins, but there was no question about who would play guitar on the track. Jake is the best of the best!"
“Get Lost” was produced by award-winning multi-instrumentalist and fellow East Tennessean, Justin Moses. Recorded when Ellis was just 13 years old, he was joined in the studio by a stellar list of who’s who of bluegrass musicians and holds his own with the best of them. In addition to the mandolin and guitar parts covered by Ellis and Workman, also on the track are Cleveland (fiddle), Moses (banjo), and Mike Bub (bass).
At first, the message emblazoned across the welcome mat of Cash Cabin may sound abrasive, but it's just possible the message had a different meaning for Johnny, and perhaps the studio was a place he could get away and get lost in the music. Ellis adds, "One of my favorite things is to get a little bit lost when I'm writing music. All this started when the world was in lock down--I was stuck at home, surrounded by nature and my instruments. That's when I fell in love with music and began creating my own."
Writers: Wyatt Ellis and Jake Workman
Producer: Justin Moses
Sound Engineer: Sean Sullivan
Mastering: David Sinko
Studio: The Tractor Shed
Happy Valley Road Goodlettesville, TN Recorded on 8/12/2022
Record Label Knee High Records
Release Date 9/8/2023
Wyatt Ellis - mandolin
Jake Workman - guitar
Michael Cleveland - fiddle
Justin Moses - banjo
Mike Bub - bass