Josh Lief is singer-songwriter, guitar player based in Richmond, VA. Love In Disguise was recorded at Montrose Recording in Richmond, VA. Josh recorded Love In Disguise with the Josh Lief Band, that is playing gigs in Central Virginia and beyond. The Josh Lief Band includes Josh and the rhythm section of Debbie Flood on drums and Thomas Schoppe on bass. Both are veterans of several well known Richmond bands and Debbie has toured extensively as well as recorded with many artists. Debbie and Tommy are a great team and bring a solid yet exciting rhythm section to the upcoming album and live performances.
Josh’s album “Redemption” was released in April, 2017. The album, recorded at Montrose Recording in Richmond, VA, contains 8 original songs, and is a mixture of Americana, Country-Rock and Blues and is available on CDBaby.com, Apple Music, Spotify, and other download services as well as in RVA at Plan 9 records. The first single from the album, Five Forks Woods, got airplay on over 70 radio stations across the U.S. and is still in rotation on several stations.
Josh recorded his second album in 2 years – “Love In Disguise” – that will be released on November 2, 2018. The single Love In Disguise, including a live-action video was released 9/7/18. Also recorded at Montrose Recording in Richmond, VA, Josh recorded Love In Disguise with the Josh Lief Band. Ben “Wolfe” White of the Trongone Band joined the band on keyboards on several of the tracks on Love In Disguise., and Wolfe and Andrew Trongone sang backup on one song (Andrew contributed some licks on one song as well). The album contains 8 original tracks, and like Redemption, contains a wide range of music. Love In Disguise has a more blues/rock sound to it but still contains some elements of Americana/Folk.
The Josh Lief Band plays gigs throughout Virginia and beyond The band includes Josh and the rhythm section of Debbie Flood on drums -www.dflooddrums.com – and Tommy Dacat on bass. Both are veterans of several well known Richmond bands and Debbie has toured extensively as well as recorded with many artists. Debbie and Tommy are a great team and bring a solid yet exciting rhythm section to the upcoming album and live performances. In addition to band gigs, Josh plays solo acoustic shows on a regular basis.
Josh started playing guitar when he was 6 years old. His style is a mixture of the all the music he loved as a young musician. His influences started with his big three of Hendrix, Clapton, and Led Zeppelin. He also learned a lot of country style lead guitar from being a big Southern Rock fan as well as of the classic country of Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings. He is also loves the music of Neil Young, the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead and they can be heard in his lead playing and writing. He can play a wide range of styles from rock to blues to country to folk and in his solo acoustic shows does just that.
Once more we have an album from Jim Allchin as our SPOTLIGHT ALBUM.
About the Album
Prime Blues features 14 new tracks performed by an all-star group of musicians including bassist Glenn Worf, rhythm guitarists Rob McNelley, Bob Britt and Kenny Greenburg, keyboardist Kevin McKendree, drummer Tom Hambridge, vocalist Mycle Wastman, The Memphis Horns and special guest vocalists Grammy-winner Bobby Rush, and Blues Award winner Mike Zito.
Produced by 2x Grammy-winner Tom Hambridge. Recorded, mixed, and mastered in Nashville. Released September 21, 2018.
Prime Blues Reviews
“Prime Blues is hands down a must have album. Jim Allchin is right when he says it’s flat out fun. Get yourself a copy and you’ll hear what both he and we mean.”
– American Blues Scene, JD Nash, October 2018
“Jim Allchin is the consummate blues guitarist and vocalist. His brand of the blues is strong, energetic and funky, with impressive horns that complement his voice and guitar riffs. Recommendation: If you love the blues, you must have this album in your collection. Get it today!”
– Bob Leggett, LA Music Critic, October 2018
“…a savory collection of 14 amazing new tracks that dig deeper into the Blues and prove the notion that indeed lightning can strike twice. “
– Rick Bowen, Blues Writer award 2013-2017
“A sensational album but hey that’s why we had to move young Allchin to the top of the class. Score yourself an “A” and get your copy of “Prime Blues” or you will have to stay after class.”
– Peter Merrett, PBS, October 2018
Releasing his debut at a time where there were a lot of people with extra coin taking a breather to chase the dream, you knew that Allchin was one to bet on. Four records in, this white boy with the blues has jacket copy on his latest full of names like Hambridge, Zito, McKendree, Rush, Memphis Horns and more. He delivers. Loaded with gusto and a half, he doesn’t stoop to manqué around when he can keep it his real—which is really good. White boy blues has entered the next level of the game.
“This new Oslo-based band will make you feel so very fine” – Noisey
“The soaring vocals of Feist with the erratic percussion of Dirty Projectors” – V Magazine
Ones To Watch at The Guardian
“Hajk has delivered one of the best debuts of the year” – The Line Of Best Fit
“Crisp, clear, and smooth… street-ready guitar-pop” – Stereogum
‘Drama’ – of the interpersonal kind – that’s what Hajk have turned their focus to in 2018. The band burst onto the scene with their self-titled debut album last year, garnering support around the world as well as making a name for themselves in their home country of Norway. Now, the highly anticipated follow-up ‘Drama’ has been announced for February 2019 – a record that both pulls at the heartstrings and urges you to dance away your sorrows. Lead single and first taste of what is to come arrives in the form of the bubblegum-flavoured new cut, ‘Dancing Like This’. It’s a lyrically melancholy and wide-eyed love song, with an addictive melody that looks to sugarcoat your tears.
Hajk’s 2017 debut received praise from the likes of Astrid S, Sigrid and Kimbra, as well as actress and model, Chloë Grace Moretz. International acclaim came in waves from Noisey, Stereogum, The Line of Best Fit, Drowned In Sound, V Magazine, The Independent, Indie Shuffle, and more, noting their idiosyncratic, yet supremely catchy pop tunes, while likening them to everything from Fleetwood Mac and Aztec Camera to Dirty Projectors and Little Dragon.
With their second album, ‘Drama’, a more self-assured band reveals themselves. Sharpened by more studio experience, they have once again produced the record themselves, taking extreme care over every second and minute detail of their work. Blending analogue and digital sounds, switching between programmed arrangements and live takes from the studio, drawing on three lead vocalists and an assortment of guest musicians, Hajk conjured up whatever was necessary to fulfill their creative vision.
The title ‘Drama’ relates to the drama of humanity and a somewhat naïve yearning for love in a world in which love can sometimes seem in scarce supply.
‘Drama’ is due for release on February 1st via Jansen Records. First single from it ‘Dancing Like This’, was released on September 28th, listen here.
Preben Sælid Andersen – Vocals
Sigrid Aase – Vocals
Johan Nord – Percussion
Knut Olav Buverud Sandvik – Bass
Einar Næss Haugeth – Keys
Critically Acclaimed Blues-Rock Guitarist, Songwriter and Vocalist Jim Allchin
Announces Prime Blues, His Newest LP, for Release September 21, 2018
Produced by Grammy and Blues Music Award Winner Tom Hambridge and featuring a team of veteran studio and touring professionals including special guests Bobby Rush and Mike Zito
Jim Allchin, the American blues-rock guitarist, philanthropist, and a former software executive, is releasing his fourth widely distributed contemporary blues album: Prime Blues, produced by Producer and Grammy®, ASCAP and Blues Music Award winner Tom Hambridge, whose production credits include: Buddy Guy, Marcia Ball, Susan Tedeschi and James Cotton, among many others.
Prime Blues features 14 new tracks performed by an all-star group of musicians including: bassist Glenn Worf, rhythm guitarists Rob McNelley, Bob Britt and Kenny Greenberg, keyboardist Kevin McKendree, drummer Tom Hambridge, vocalist Mycle Wastman, The Memphis Horns and special guest vocalists Grammy-winner Bobby Rush, and Blues Award winner Mike Zito.
Hambridge stated: “I’m so very proud of this major step forward in Jim’s journey as a Bluesman. We had an absolute blast co-writing some of the songs, planning and recording Prime Blues and we’re anxious for blues
fans around the globe to hear these incredible tunes and performances.”
Featured in Apple Music and receiving wide critical acclaim, Allchin’s last LP, Decisions, topped Contemporary Blues and Blues Rock charts for months and was named a Top 20 Blues Rock Album of 2017 by the venerable
Roots Music Report. The LP registered nearly 1 million plays on Spotify.
The reviewers said:
• “Decisions is Jim Allchin’s best release to date!” Blues Bytes Review
• “Lovers of modern blues need to check him out.” Norman Darwen, Blues in the South Review
• “If you decide to hear some great music, here it is!” Smoky Mountain Blues Society
• “Allchin flat out rips” Rick Bowen NW Blues
Allchin added: “The title Prime Blues refers to both my love of the blues as well as my love of mathematics.
Prime Blues is more concentrated blues than my past albums and at the same time more diverse in terms of style, guitar technique, and guitar tone. Each song tells a story – about an experience, life observation, or my life philosophy in general. I hope you find some of these songs just flat out fun!”
This old proverb ‘strike while the iron is hot’ quickly comes to mind when reviewing the new album “Prime Blues” from pacific Northwest guitar man, Jim Allchin. For it clearly alludes to the imagery of the blacksmith at his forge; if he delays shaping the iron when it is hot and pliable the metal soon cools and hardens, and the opportunity is lost. Allchin astutely heeded this council while hard on the heels of his critically-acclaimed and chart-topping 2017 album “Decisions” and continued running with its winning formula.
In spring of 2018 he returned to the vaunted Blackbird Studios in Nashville to collaborate again with Grammy-winning producer, songwriter and drummer Tom Hambridge and his team. To kick up the flavor a notch the duo invited special guests Mike Zito, Bobby Rush and The Memphis Horns to add their special sauce to the recipe. The result is a savory collection of 14 amazing
new tracks that dig deeper into the blues and prove the notion that indeed “lightning can strike twice.”
A growling guitar riff and a horn-drenched blues rocker ‘Give it Up’ opens the set of “Prime Blues” with Allchin encouraging us all to find our inner truth. Kevin McKendree spares with Allchin on the Hammond B3 on the greasy blues ‘Devil Don’t Sleep.’ The crew then heads down to the bayou to sing the praises of an enchanting Cajun queen for the swampy ‘Voodoo Doll,’ and keep the groove sexy with enticing rocker ‘Snuggle Up.’ Allchin flat out rips on the full tilt instrumental
‘Jimmy’s Boogie,’ and the horns return for the sweet Memphis-styled love song ‘Summer Sunrise.’
Mike Zito steps up to the mic for the Texarkana stomp ‘Enough Is Enough’ that features another gritty solo from Allchin and fiery honkytonk piano from McKendree. Bob Britt from the Delbert McClinton band sits in on the swinging autobiography ‘Found The Blues’ that has Allchin detailing how “music blew his muse” and most likely saved his life.
The full force of The Memphis Horns and a six-piece Nashville band are brought to bear on the bump and grind blues ‘Two Bad Dreams’ to complement the paramount personality that is Bobby Rush. Next Allchin picks up his acoustic guitar for the old-time tale of hard luck and trouble ‘Pawn Shop Man,’ before shredding more hot leads on the sizzling Chicago blues shuffle ‘Lost My Mind.’
The soul-searching track ‘Up To Destiny’ mixes thought-provoking lyrics with pop music sensibilities on an arrangement that has a bit of Santana-like appeal. The patented double shuffle from Hambridge creates an authentic motif for Allchin’s tongue-in-cheek dig at our obsession with cell phones on witty ‘Tech Blues.’ The final track ‘Logoff’ serves as a clever double entendre, with the bluesy groove serving notice to the end of bad love and the poetic finale of the grand adventure that is the album “Prime Blues.” Once again, we are blessed to have Jim Allchin share with us his quest for universal truths and superb guitar tone on what could prove to be his crowning achievement.
Rick J Bowen
Rob Mortimer on vocals, guitars, lap steel guitar, pianos, organs, synth; Jeffrey Tonos on guitar, synth, backing vocals; David Morgan on bass; Walter Washington on drums; Art Edmaiston on Saxophones; and Bob Dowell on Trombone.
Rob Mortimer, is the trifecta of a Mississippi Delta Blues Artist, a Undertaker, and a Reverend.
From the days of playing greasy local juke joints to playing major festivals, Rob Mortimer remains an unfettered, blissful performer, singing with a gravely Mississippi Delta spirit over the bone-deep grooves of his compositions. His stage presence before an audience is something startling and immediate, at times a funk bounce, or sometimes a Weezerish Otis Redding, and other times a sort of mass-absolution for the mortal weaknesses that make him and his audience human. When you see Rob Mortimer, and his emaculate band (GoodPaper) you will see the man is fearless.
Born and raised in the rich, fertile soil of a Mississippi Delta (in the back of a Hearse/Ambulance combo), Robert Mortimer bases his songs on personal experiences of heartache, love, loss, local religion & politics, catfish, cotton, stories, fibs, and lies.
Mortimer is also in the family business; a second generation funeral director, embalmer and cemeterian. Growing up in a funeral home has helped Robert Mortimer see the end as a new beginning and enjoy the happier side of bad situations.
With the wit of Tom Waits and the Southern charm of Conway Twitty, his music overflows with dynamic rhythms and pounding bottoms, while his sextronic lyrics are at times both humorous and thought provoking.
Onstage, Mortimer delivers his songs with compassion and a relentless honesty, but perhaps not until “Lock It Down Tight” 2018, has a studio record captured the fierceness and intimacy that defines a Mortimer live performance.On the new album, GoodPaper of the Reverend Robert Mortimer offer grace and groove in equal measure, with an easygoing quality to the production that makes those beautiful muscular drum-breaks sound as though the band has set up in your living room.
“Lock It Down Tight” was recorded in early 2018 at American Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. It was rounded off my a Grammy Nominated Horn Section: Art Edmaiston on Tenor and Baritone Saxophone, Marc Franklin on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Bob Dowell on Trombone. The horn section was nominated for Grammys in2017, for their work on Gregg Allman’s “Southern Blood” and Robert Cray “Robert Cray & Hi Rythm” albums.
When he isn’t touring, Mortimer exerts his prodigious energies in the family business, as President of Mortimer Funeral Home, that he owns and operates along with his family.
Released in 2004, Mortimer’s Good Paper album “Peep”, was recorded in a old funeral home next to a cemetery in Indianola, Mississippi. Composed of 11 original songs concerning the book of Revelations, Quentin Tarantino, and the hurt inflicted by women, Peep was well received by their extensive fan base.
Released in 2010, Good Paper’s sophomore album “Our Stupid Selves” was recorded at Tweed Studios in Oxford, Mississippi; This chapter in Mortimer’s life concentrated on Mississippi Delta heritage, local economy, almost love, and the supernatural.
Mortimer’s songwriting is influenced by Muddy Waters, Stevie Wonder, Tony Soprano, George Bush, Ben Harper, JJ Grey, Sly & The Family Stone, John Mayer, John Scofield, past and present girlfriends, Abe Lincoln, Hernando Desoto, animated preacher men, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and most of all JAMES BROWN as contributing factors to the evolution of the band.
The band was compared to sounding like “The Beatles with James Brown as a front man.”
TYLER GRANT & ROBIN KESSINGER Kanawha County Flatpicking
August 24, 2018
Tyler Grant and Robin Kessinger are two champion flatpicking guitarists, renowned for their skill on their instruments and intuition into the deepest pools of American roots music. They’re also fast friends, with a kind of ersatz father-son relationship. On their new album, Kanawha County Flatpicking, you can hear their virtuosity, but also their friendship, as they crack jokes and chat after takes. This is informal back-porch picking, the kind of super jam you might find at the campground of a major bluegrass fest after hours. They’re exploring the Appalachian heritage that Robin’s family is known for, but they’re also just playing their favorite tunes and songs together in a welcoming, informal session.
LISTEN TO “SOLDIER’S JOY” VIA BLUEGRASS TODAY
National Flatpicking Champion Tyler Grant is an internationally recognized guitar virtuoso, songwriter, vocalist, producer and leader of the band Grant Farm®. Tyler has appeared at most major US festivals and performed thousands of concerts and guitar workshops worldwide. He was an original member of the Emmitt-Nershi Band and a sideman for Abigail Washburn, April Verch and Adrienne Young. He has produced four solo albums and four releases by Grant Farm for his own Grant Central Records.
A native-born living West Virginia flat pick guitar legend, Robin Kessinger keeps a busy schedule, teaching both beginner and advanced guitar students, and still finds time for memorable concerts, workshops and contests. Robin headlines many festivals and judges up-and-coming flat-pick artists in contests around the country. He has appeared on PBS and BBC television specials and NPR radio shows. He has been an instructor at the Augusta since 1983. Robin lists his influences as “everything I listen to”; his father, Bob; and his great uncle, legendary Appalachian fiddler Clark Kessinger.
“Cinematic and lovely, the song and story share the connection between kindred spirits and the support of those that know and love them.” Parade Magazine
“The quintet, led by vocalist/guitarist Felix Bechtolsheimer, is back August 17 with sophomore album As I Fell, and the LP continues the band’s exploration of its patented Amerigothica sound—one that comfortably rides right alongside both Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Drive-By Truckers.” – Magnet Magazine
August 17, 2018- Acclaimed London five-piece Curse Of Lono new album, As I Fell, is out now, via Submarine Car Records. Today, the band has unveiled the video behind the story on the title track, “As I Fell.” CLICK HERE TO WATCHexclusively on Parade Magazine.
Felix, the lead singer says, “’As I Fell’ is the title track off our new album which comes out today. I wrote the song for our bass player, Charis, when her boyfriend, Tom Edwards, passed away unexpectedly last year. They had been together for over four years and were talking about getting married this year. Tom was on tour in the US with Adam Ant when he caught pneumonia, which quickly turned into sepsis. He died on the tour bus on January 25th last year. Tom, who was only 41 years old, was a huge part of our musical family. There were times when we saw more of him than our own families. He was an incredibly charismatic and caring human being as well as a wonderful guitarist who, as well as being Adam Ant’s long-time musical director and lead guitarist, worked with numerous other artists including Edwyn Collins, Roddy Frame, Andrea Corr and Fields Of The Nephilim. His passing has left a huge void and it was important to us to pay tribute to him on the day our album is released.
Recorded between Joshua Tree and London with producer Oli Bayston (AKA Boxed In), the track builds on the band’s deeply cinematic blend of harmony-laden Americana and driving, gothic alt-rock. It’s a sound that owes as much to old faithfuls like The Doors and The Velvet Underground as it does to more contemporary artists such as The War On Drugs and Wilco.
Formed in London in 2015, Curse Of Lono is Felix Bechtolsheimer (vocals and guitar), Joe Hazell (lead guitar and vocals), Dani Ruiz Hernandez (keys and vocals), Charis Anderson (bass and vocals) and Neil Findlay (drums). ‘As I Fell’ is the follow-up to ‘Severed’, one of the most critically acclaimed debuts of 2017, and builds on Curse Of Lono’s deeply cinematic blend of harmony-laden Americana and driving, gothic alt-rock. It’s a sound that owes as much to old faithfuls like The Doors and The Velvet Underground as it does to more contemporary artists such as The War On Drugs and Wilco. Although some of the songs on ‘As I Fell’ revisit familiar themes like murderous jealousy and the death of loved ones, much of the album covers new ground.
Curse Of Lono recently completed a UK headline tour, including a sold-out show at London’s Lexington, and a run of European support dates with both Steve Earle and Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes. Catch them at a series of festival dates this summer.
CURSE OF LONO – LIVE
August 19 Beautiful Days Festival, Devon
August 26 Graze Festival, Hampshire
August 28 Stockholm, Bryggarsalen (with David Ramirez)
August 29 Oslo, Café Mono (with David Ramirez)
August 30 Malmo, Folk å Rock (with David Ramirez)
Back when the Palomino was ground zero for the post-cowpunk California country scene, the Mustangs were an all-girl band who were long on chops and strong on harmonies. 2017 marked a renewal of a band that began in Santa Monica in the late 80’s and performed across the US and Europe through the mid 1990s. With a new name,TheMustangs of the West, the band is back in LA, recording and will be releasing a new single and video “T-Shirt From California”(August 17th) on the Blue Élan record label. This dynamic all-girl band decided to get back in the studio to see what kind of music they’d make today. With 3 of the original members—Suzanna Spring, lead vocals/songwriter/acoustic guitar; herry Rayn Barnett, lead electric guitar, vocals; Holly Montgomery, bass/vocals, and two new additions—Suzanne Morrisette, drums, vocals and Aubrey Richmond, fiddle/vocals— the group is setting their sights on breaking new ground.
MUSTANGS OF THE WEST RETURN WITH A NEW SINGLE AND VIDEO“T-SHIRT FROM CALIFORNIA” (AUGUST 17, 2018)
The All Woman Rock-Tinged Country Band Re-Invents Itself
“This is as classic a heart-tugging Southern California song as anything heard since, well, the Eagles were trying to check out of the Hotel California. Welcome back Mustangs.” —Bill Bentley
August 2018 Los Angeles, CA – California country is back, and The Mustangs of the West are about to ride again with a new single and video, “T-Shirt From California” which will release on August 17, 2018. The Mustangs were an integral part of the budding Los Angeles 80’s and 90’s alt-country scene, opening for Rosie Flores, Jim Lauderdale and Lucinda Williams. An all-female country band, they were an anomaly on the scene and their career paralleled that of The Dixie Chicks. As Barnett reminisced to The Pasadena Weekly, “We were on a lot of the same bills just before the Dixie Chicks Broke. We’d be there one week and The Dixie Chicks the next.” After many years of gigging and touring extensively, the band broke up in 1997 and eventually scattered to various cities.
Twenty years later, The Mustangs are back with a name change (The Mustangs of the West) and three of the original members, Sherry Rayn Barnett (electric guitar, vocals), Suzanna Spring (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), and Holly Montgomery (bass, vocals). They’ve also newly added to the team Suzanne Morissette on drums and vocals and Aubrey Richmond on fiddle and vocals. Featuring the same three and four-part vocal harmonies, the chemistry of their voices and instruments creates a powerful sound that draws on both country and rock influences.
Re-connecting in 2017, Sherry, Suzanna and Holly rekindled their interest in the Mustang sound and decided to take it into the studio where they added Suzanne and Aubrey to record the upcoming single, “T-Shirt From California”, a sentimental song about love gone wrong. The song was written by lead singer, Suzanna Spring (co-written with Wes Hightower), and recorded at the Los Angeles-based Taylor Made Studio. “I wrote T-Shirt from California when I was living in Nashville and homesick for California,” said Barnett. “Sitting on my couch one morning, strumming my guitar, the chorus melody and chorus lyrics came through, almost complete. I took that chorus into a writing appointment with Wes Hightower, and we wrote verses and the story. He had the idea for those great Beach Boys harmonies in the chorus, and Mustangs of the West has such a beautiful vocal blend; it was natural that we’d record this song.”
The arrangements were worked out as a band adding jangly guitars and full harmonies. “Originally the song was called “She’s Got Your Heart, but the band said, “No! It’s T-Shirt From California!” Barnett explains. “It just FEELS like California at the edge of summer, driving with the top down, Highway 1. Singing the chorus always makes me smile.”
BIOS: Sherry Rayn Barnett is a guitarist who loves anything with a good twang. Her passion for 6 strings began as a classical guitar major at NYC’s “Fame” School of Performing Arts. She continued to Los Angeles, lured by the west coast sound of classic country rock, and the opportunity to play with like-minded bands. Sherry was an original Mustang in the group’s first incarnation, and is the founder of the newly reunited Mustangs of the West.
Suzanna Spring: “I’ve always been drawn to outsiders,” says this classically trained musician and prolific songwriter who grew up on both coasts, many parts in between, and now calls northern California home. Discovering Steve Earle, Tom Petty, and Lucinda Williams inspired a writer whose poetry, melodies and haunting vocals seem to embody longing and the quest for home. Suzanna worked as a staff writer and artist at Bluewater Music in Nashville, where she wrote “T-Shirt From California”. An original Mustang, she is currently writing and recording again with Mustangs of the West.
Holly Montgomery first began playing as a Mustang during the mid-90, and now plays bass, sings and writes for the Mustangs Of The West. She is a multi-instrumentalist originally from Kentucky and is currently very active in the DC/Mid-Atlantic area doing live shows with her band and other live and session work. Holly is equally comfortable rockin’ out or adding melodic bass lines to a hardcore country classic.
From the small Canadian town of Chicoutimi, Suzanne Morissette’s family migrated to Quebec where she began studying music earnestly, focusing her energy on drums and percussion in her teens. As a master’s level graduate of the Quebec Conservatory of Music and honors graduate of Hollywood’s Percussion Institute of Technology, she met bassist Holly Montgomery, and together they played all over Los Angeles, reuniting this last year to form the rhythm section for the Mustangs of the West.
West coast born and raised, Aubrey Richmond is a California native who grew up playing fiddle, classical piano, and riding horses amidst the woods and rivers of Northeast Washington State. Her love of music finally led her to Los Angeles where she’s spent the past 12 years building her career as a professional live & studio musician, and the last three of those touring and recording as the violinist/vocalist for Shooter Jennings. A big fan of horses and all-female bands, she is honored and excited to join the MOTW line-up!
Never afraid to take the proverbial bull by the horns, Seattle-based singer songwriter and band leader, Michele D’Amour – Michele De-MOORE (rhymes with “the floor”), – releases her fourth album, “Wiggle Room,” the inaugural debut on her record label, with her band, The Love Dealers. All this comes hard on the heels of a last year’s album, “Lost Nights At The Leopard Lounge,” from which one of the tracks won a Grand Prize in the 2017 John Lennon Songwriting Competition.
“Wiggle Room” also marked a point of expansion for D’Amour and her team as she added four new members to the band. She teamed up with Washington Blues Society Hall of Fame member and renowned guitarist Mark Riley to produce the record and recorded all the rhythm tracks at Strange Earth Studios with Grammy-winning engineer Steve Feasley. The ten new tracks feature D’Amour’s powerhouse vocals and renowned songwriting and showcase the talents of new guitarist Jeff Cornell and drummer Dave Delzotto, while adding the elements of a full-time keyboardist in Brian Olendorf and sax man Noel Barnes to the Love Dealers sound. The collection is also an expansion of style, pushing beyond the group’s previous catalog of straight-ahead blues, funk and rockin’ soul and delving into jazz, swing, boogie, Latin and touches of country and gospel.
The opening track, ‘Falling Down,’ is some hot funk with an Albert Collins edge, with Cornell and Barnes trading solo licks. D’Amour then delivers some quick advice for all the gals on the swinging ‘Sweet Lovin’ Man,’ with long time Seattle Blues Diva Nora Michaels joining her on the chorus. Trumpeter Greg Lyons plays the role of Chet Baker on the luscious jazz lounge title track. Barnes lets his sax wail while D’Amour channels Lydia Pense for the East Bay Soul burner ‘Honey On The Side.’ Bass man Patrick McDanel digs deep into the walking line on the upright as D’Amour paints a vivid picture of the homeless man on the corner, who could be any one of us given a set of unfortunate circumstances in ‘Nothing To No One.’ The tune again showcases Lyons on a Miles Davis-inspired flugelhorn solo, joined by McDanel on trombone.
The Southern California sound of ‘Let It Slide’ also colors an important message about tolerance and self-preservation with conga man Angelo Ortiz adding spice to the smooth groove. D’Amour plays the woman scorned on the break neck boogie ‘Been So Long,’ and delves further into the psyche of self-esteem on the dramatic torch song ‘Worthy,’ featuring a haunting guitar riff by Cornell. Olendorf then flashes his skills on the keys with some jaunty ragtime piano on ‘He Can’t Be Wrong,’ a timely rebuke of a common bully. He then delivers a classical intro to the album closer ‘Hard Times,’ a heartfelt gospel-infused lament that paints an all-too-clear picture of current events, with John Oliver III adding soulful backing vocals.
Michele D’Amour is a songwriter, who is fulfilling her mission, as stated in the liner notes, to make music that reflects the moments of joy amid times of struggle, because when we feel most deeply is when art is clear and focused, and the message on point.
The title of her sixth album says it all, for L.A. based Indie Blues Artist Lawrence Lebo is truly an “Old School Girl” and proud of it. This new album also features her prowess as a songwriter as the seven new tracks delve into soul-blues territory that pay homage to her “Stax Records’” influences. Lebo partnered with Rich Wenzel at Ardent Audio Productions to mix and master the album for his familiarity of “Old School” ways of record making. Wenzel places Lebo in the center of a pulsing rhythm section spiced with classic Hammond B3 organ, sweet lead guitar, hot blues harp and rock-solid bass lines.
The sultry ‘You’ve Got A Secret’ opens the album with Lebo calling out the deceitful ways of a lover who’s doing her wrong, with Larry David and Tony Mandracchia trading delicious solos on organ and lead guitar as Lebo pours her heart out. The title track finds Lebo laying out her retro manifesto, over a sweet swing groove and walking bass. She namechecks her heroes Etta and B.B and throws shade on the “New School Girls,” who prefer an Uber ride over a 57 T-Bird. The album’s lone cover of the T Bone Walker standard, ‘Stormy Monday,’ is given the full knee-deep shag and Sunday church service treatment with thick B3 backup that spins up into a rollicking double time for a fabulous harmonica solo from David and more hot lead guitar before Lebo takes us home for the dramatic finale.
We head to the bayou for some Cajun jitterbug dancing on the Zydeco spiced ‘Stop Shouting Your Business,’ with Lebo channeling the Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas, on the accordion fueled second line gumbo. The Memphis soul styled ‘Give Me A Try’ is straight out of the Soulsville catalog with a fatback beat, chicken picking lead and funky Fender bass from her longtime partner in crime Denny Croy. Lebo then lets it rip on the full throttle Texas double shuffle ‘Bad To The Core,’ with all of her sass and spunk front and center, declaring she is done “being good,” while Tony wails on his Stratocaster. The classic twelve bar ‘Happy Anniversary, Baby’ is a blues sonnet, with a lush string arrangement and emotive solos, lovingly delivered as a tribute to a soulmate who has shared all the good times and bad, with equal devotion.
Lawrence Lebo plays the game on her own terms, an artist who has earned her street cred “Old School Girl,” by working in the gritty clubs of Los Angeles, and by earning a degree with honors from UCLA, to become a respected American blues & roots musician.
Rick J Bowen
Daughter of a Sears & Roebuck shoe salesman, Lawrence grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles, far away from the entertainment industry. She worked into the business the hard way, by singing in bands in every gritty little dive bar, all the while struggling as a single mother. While her recordings receive airplay internationally, raising a family kept Lawrence’s performance schedule mostly local. She is well known and loved in Los Angeles. The LA WEEKLY awarded her BEST BLUES SINGER in their annual BEST OF LA 2014 special addition and wrote “Lebo remains one of this country’s greatest living blues singers.”
In 1985 Lawrence was working in a duo act at a little bar on Venice Blvd in West Los Angeles. On her break she walked down the street to another bar to hear their band and met bassist Denny Croy (Lawrence Lebo, Doug MacLeod, Fiona Boyes, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Moon Martin). “We had this up and down the street romance,” says Lawrence. A year later they were married and playing music together, with Lebo writing material and fronting the band! Over 30 years later they are still performing and recording together. That is so Old School!
Lawrence has always relied on the strength of her music. In a career that has lasted several decades Lawrence was a successful self-releasing artist long before any artist ever dared consider doing such a thing! In 1989, before everyone had a computer and access to the internet she released her debut EP on her label On The Air Records from the kitchen of her tiny rent-control apartment, using just a typewriter and her Rolodex. All of Lawrence’s body of work contains the element of Old School.
Lawrence is a consummate performer and entertainer who takes her audiences along on a magical journey. In their live concert review Music Connection wrote “Ms. Lebo took complete control of the stage. She was a comfortable performer who worked her audience well, often at times offering humorous as well as educational explanations for her choices. She had style, spunk and charisma! This was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.”
Ms. Lebo has worked long and hard at developing her craft and expanding her education. In the 1980s, she had attended the vocal program at Grove School of Music in Los Angeles, California. With this educational background, a steady performance schedule and raising family, she returned to traditional academia in 2000, earning an Associate of Arts degree in music at Santa Monica College, and then transferring to UCLA to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2005. She received two of UCLA’s highest honors, including a Regents Scholar and a Gold Shield Alumni Scholar, that covered her entire tuition. Lawrence proudly notes however, “The best part of my experience at UCLA was getting to study Duke Ellington under Professor and world-famous Jazz/Blues guitarist Kenny Burrell. It just doesn’t get any better than that!” She graduated from UCLA with Latin Honors and became the first in her family to graduate from higher education. Periodically she teaches a blues singing techniques workshop at world famous McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, as well as at other venues in conjunction with her concerts.