On the album Nathalie Merchant and Corey Harris can also be heard. Stirratt did not get to directly work with Merchant but he enjoyed working with Harris, who is also from New Orleans, so they "had a lot to talk about."
"He [Harris] was really fun. He was fun to hand out with."Stirratt recalls. "He didn't get on the record very much but there may be a second record for this Mermaid Avenue, of all the tracks we didn't use for the first one. I would imagine that he will be on some of those tracks."
As the snow finally leaves for the day in Minnesota, Stirratt is in New Orleans standing outside in short sleeves. He's been keeping busy, enjoying his first break in a long time as he explains.
"Last year I thought we were gonna be off a bit but then the Woody Guthrie thing came up so we ended up going to Ireland to do that. We also ended up playing more then I thought we were over the summer. This is the first, I guess January to April is the first break that I'm gonna have in a long time. So I'm trying to take advantage of it."
An original member of Uncle Tupelo, Stirratt feels that he has "grown and know more about making records now and more about certain music theory." Taking his knowledge and skills he's applying it on his own projects.
"I write as well and write a little bit in Wilco, but I've got some stuff going on down here. Kind of just songs that I'm writing. I've done some other stuff during breaks with Wilco, but I've got studio time and some friends around here that are gonna play on it. It's fun, it's exciting. It's a full studio."
For those who don't know the history of Uncle Tupelo, it was the popular band that was said to be the "founding fathers of country-punk-rock." The band broke up after lead singer Jay Fararr left the band and started his own band [Son Volt], while the rest of the band continued under the name Wilco.
From Uncle Tupelo to Wilco, Stirratt has filled his music career with many achievements and memories. A moment in his career which he shared as "most forgettable" was a story that took place when he was with legendary roots-rock band the Hilltops.
"I was in a band with my sister and her now husband. We were in a band together and this is kind of another semi-funny not funny situation. But they eloped and moved to L.A. So they're stilled married and they're in a band [Blue Mountain.]And we're friends now."
As long as friends goes, he's got plenty within his own band Wilco. Stirratt was able to take a minute to find words to describe his bandmates. "I think Jay Bennett might be the biggest joker of the band. He's really funny, and very talented. Like really, he has a masters in math. And Jeff is you know one of the most talented songwriters that I definitey ever played with. I was always a big fan of his writing even before Uncle Tupelo. Ken is just one of the-it's just so funny. I saw Ken play with Dinosaur Jr. and he was in a band called Clockhammer.I remember seeing him in Nashville, opened for Dinosaur Jr. I remember saying I would like to play with him one day and voila. Later I met him he was the new drummer for Uncle Tupelo. So it's kind of a weird destiny thing."
Stirratt who has done many tours in his career finds that people may be the most irritating thing about doing shows.
"This is going to look bad but entertaining people. That is really the most exhausting thing there is. It's not so much so into the travel, I don't loose any gear, or anything. I have a pretty luxurious spot. But it's, actually if people get back stage if they're not your friends and you try to talk to them, it's that that can wear you out. Entertaining people that aren't invited and some that are."
Touring may have it's down points but there are always stories to tell about the road. "I can look back on this and laugh but on our '95, our first real tour for 'AM'(Wilco's first album) we did not complete a leg of any tour with the same bus that we left in. I mean we broke down like five or six times. it was really laughable. There was one that was kind of a notorious bus in the fleet, but like at nigh it would create this like-there was some sort of exhaust problem going up into the bus. It wasn't like carbon monoxide-which wasn't funny at all. But it was like this black soot you would wake up and it would be hazy and dark in the bus, in this area where everyone sleeps. You'd stagger to the bathroom and like puff, you're face is like black. It was like you're working in a coal mine or something. I mean we were like on the side of the road most of the time."
With many memborable shows, tours, and records Stirratt find his current nomination for a Grammy to be a milestone in his career. "Actually, I was just in the paper for the Grammy thing, on local tv, so I'm like yeah!"
Nominations, success, and his Fender basses, did not come from thin air. he first started playing the banjo with his dad who was a dixie land banjo player.
"There was country music around the house alot that was just really easy music to just sit down and play along with. As soon as I started picking up the guitar I kind of ditched the banjo. And started doing that. I started playing professionally in high school, around in a couple bands in high school, I played alot. Then i went to college and kept playing and never stopped."
He can also recall his first gig, where he played in front of a large crowd.
"It was battle of the bands, in Mandeville High in Mandevill, Louisiana. The band was called Fallout. We brought all our equipment and everything. We did some blazing interpretations of U2, I will follow, and others. We were actually a three piece and not really bad so that was pretty fun."
All grown up, with a strong career to look back on Stirratt looks to the future in hope to one day work with Beck and Built to Spill. As far as being famous, he says he's not.
"I should take advantage of what little notoriety I have and move up to Minneapolis or Chicago." jokes Stirratt.
If he ever chooses to move to Minnesota, we'll welcome him with open arms.