Fans of the indie-rock group Arcade Fire curious about the early musical influences of founding members Win and Will Butler now can go back as far as the cradle with the release of an album of lullabies recorded by their mother, Liza Rey Butler.
The 13-song CD “Go to Sleep My Baby” won’t be available to the general public until October, but advance copies will be on sale at a Sept. 23 release party at Reel Pizza in Bar Harbor. The event includes the only Maine screening of “The Reflektor Tapes,” a film documenting the recording of Arcade Fire’s 2013 Grammy Award-winning album and the tour that followed.
The film initially wasn’t scheduled to be shown in Bar Harbor. Rey Butler, who lives in Mount Desert, admits to pulling a few strings to make it happen.
“I called [my sons’] personal assistant and said, ‘Ma and Pa want to play it in their hometown,’” she recalled during a recent interview. Reel Pizza owners Lisa Burton and Chris Vincenty didn’t have to think twice about making it happen on their end, she added.
The Montreal-based Arcade Fire has garnered considerable critical acclaim since releasing their first studio album “Funeral” in 2003. They also have received almost every major musical award. But Win and Will’s mother, who sings and plays harp and piano, has her own impressive musical résumé.
Rey Butler is the daughter of bandleader and guitarist Alvino Rey and Luise King, who was a member of the King Sisters, a swing-era vocal group. The King Sisters and Rey went on to host a weekly variety show on ABC, which debuted in early 1965. As a teenager, Rey and other family members were regulars on the show. She later performed in the house bands for the Tony Orlando and Dawn and Carol Burnett television shows.
The idea for “Go to Sleep My Baby” came while awaiting the birth of her first grandchild, Rey Butler said. She wanted her grandchild to hear the lullabies that her family and her husband’s family had sung to their own young family members. At first, there was no thought of making the music available to the public.
“I was never going to put it out,” she said. “It was just a personal thing.”
Rey Butler, playing solo on harp, recorded the basic tracks for the album at John Kurgan’s studio, which was then in Somesville. The impending birth of Will’s son, who is now three, fueled her creative energy.
“It’s like mystery and magic,” she said of becoming a grandmother. “I was in a really unique space to make a recording. I was very emotional, which makes for good music.”
About a year later, a second grandson was born to Win and his wife and fellow Arcade Fire member, Regine Chassagne. Rey Butler, at some point, decided to turn her harp tracks into a fully produced album.
She wrote out arrangements for strings and flute, lined up a group of Canadian musicians and again using her parental influence, booked time at Arcade Fire’s Sonovox Studios in Montreal. She and her husband, Ned, spent a week in the studio in February, returning in April for the final mix.
“It’s not like my usual stuff,” Rey Butler said. “It’s more classically influenced.”
Most of the songs on the album will be familiar to listeners. These include “Rock-A-Bye Baby,” “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “Brahms’ Lullaby.” The title track is a family song, and the closing song, “Nighty Night,” is a tune the King Sisters sang to GIs over Armed Forces Radio during World War II.
Rey Butler said she envisions the album as the first step and plans to follow it with an illustrated book, and later, by publishing arrangements of the music for young musicians.
Whether “Go to Sleep My Baby” is headed for a Grammy nomination is yet to be seen. In the meantime, the album is a hit with her sons and grandsons.
“They love it, and their babies love it,” she said. High praise indeed.
The album will go on sale online in early October at lizarey.com. Samples of the music and some video shot in the studio are available there now.
”The Reflektor Tapes” will be shown at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 23. Rey Butler will sell the album before the screening. She suggests coming early because seats are limited.