Jon Rauhouse falls squarely into the "is there anything this guy can't do?" category.
A master on the pedal steel guitar, Hawaiian guitar and banjo, Rauhouse is the type of multi-instrumentalist so in demand for session and touring work that his own projects keep getting pushed to the side.
Rauhouse - in a mixture of humor and truth referred to as "Mr. Orchid Fingers" on his website - is perhaps best known now as a fixture in Neko Case's band, but that's barely the tip of the iceberg. The Tempe/Phoenix has sat in with Tucson's Giant Sand and Calexico, as well as a host of others: Old 97s, Kelly Hogan, Jon Langford, John Doe, Jakob Dylan, Visqueen and plenty more.
Now, in a bit of a break in between recording Case's new album and finishing his own upcoming full length, Rauhouse is releasing an acoustic EP, Songs From The Stratton Sessions, with proceeds going to two Phoenix charities.
Rauhouse will perform Friday, Oct. 12 in free patio show at Club Congress, starting at 7:30 p.m.
The Stratton Sessions is five spare and gorgeous acoustic tunes, mostly just guitar and violin from Megyn Neff of Phoenix's Dry River Yacht Club (quickly becoming a Tucson favorite).
The EP came about after guitar maker Stephen Stratton embarked on a project to film musicians playing his handmade guitars. He scheduled some time with Rauhouse and Neff happened to tag along, and three videos went online seven months ago. Liking the sound, Rauhouse decided to record a follow-up session himself.
The album kicks off with a couple of instrumental Rauhouse had knocking around on guitar, "Old School" and "January 5," then "Brother," co-written with his wife Jennifer Rauhouse, who also contributed banjo and harmony vocals from his wife .
The fourth track is a new one written by Rauhouse and Neff just for the project. With Rauhouse on Hawaiian guitar and longtime collaborators Tommy Connell on guitar and Robin Vining on accordion, "Chicken and Potatoes" is a funtime country ditty.
Then there's an instrumental version of "Hammered Light," a song originally recorded and written with Visqueen's Rachel Flotard, which Tucson audiences will likely remember from the Luz de Vida compilation. Flotard's Seattle label Local 638 Records is releasing the Stratton Sessions.
It's a pleasant and reflective EP, a chance to raise some money for charity. All proceeds from the sale of the EP (available digitally as well as a limited number of CDs) will be split equally between Phoenix's Peer Solutions and providing free Suzuki violin lessons to low income Phoenix children.
Next up for Rauhouse? Another solo album, his first in more than six years, featuring Case, Flotard, Calexico, Sergio Mendoza, Billy Bob Thornton and Los Lobos' Steve Berlin. Also next year, Local 638 Records will release a re-mastered box set of his entire solo catalog including: Steel Guitar Rodeo, Steel Guitar Heart Attack, Hawaiian Guitar Expedition and Steel Guitar Air Show.