Pickathon returns to the woods outside Portland, Oregon from August 2-4, 2019, with an initial lineup to be released January 21. Pickathon has built a reputation over the last twenty years as the best festival experience, combing groundbreaking programming focused on discovery, sustainable ethics, and a lineup that pushes the boundaries of genre. This vision is clear in Pickathon’s initial lineup, which brings together key headliners like Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (Rateliff’s first time playing Pickathon and he’ll be bringing two different bands), Khruangbin, Mandolin Orange, Tyler Childers, Lucius, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Fruit Bats, and Mountain Man with a voraciously broad cast of other performers like well-loved Americana outsiders Caamp, Lambchop, and H.C. McEntire, doom metal band YOB, North African desert blues artist Mdou Moctar, new supergroup Bonny Light Horseman, Northwest indie royalty Damien Jurado, Laura Veirs, and Courtney Marie Andrews, returning favorite Julia Jacklin, psych soul outfit The Marías, Polaris prize winner Lido Pimienta, Congolese experimentalists Jupiter & Okwess, and word-of-mouth newer artists like Sudan Archives, Miya Folick, B Boys, The Beths, and Black Belt Eagle Scout, among many others.
Pickathon 2019 Lineup
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Bonny Light Horseman
Courtney Marie Andrews
Jupiter & Okwess
Black Belt Eagle Scout
Mike and The Moonpies
David Nance Group
The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys
Garrett T Capps
&more (Chill Moody & Donn T)
David Bragger & Susan Platz
The initial lineup shows the kind of deep curation and wide-ranging musical interests that have made Pickathon a key tastemaker event in the American music scene. It’s a lineup based on discovery, not draw, a diverse lineup intended to represent the best contemporary snapshot of music across more than a dozen genres. With many artists requesting to return each year, Pickathon has become a kind of pilgrimage for artists looking to renew themselves at a well of creative inspiration. Walking onto the festival grounds at Pendarvis Farm in the small town of Happy Valley, OR, you can see what draws artists back year after year. Pickathon is a riot for the eyes, a festival that takes a holistic view to the music. Each stage is visually spectacular, from the woven branches that make a towering shell of the Woods stage to award-worthy architecture of the Treeline stage, using renewable resources in a different array each year. The Mt. Hood Stage, the mainstage of Pickathon, was ringed with living gardens in 2018, and the festival makes use of rustic, picturesque existing buildings like the late-night-raging Galaxy Barn, or the interview-focused Lucky Barn. Each artist’s sets are curated specifically to each stage and the timing of the festival meticulously planned, all to inspire the artists to new heights and historic performances. An army of over 600 videographers and audio specialists record Pickathon, pushing for a spread of nearly 200 videos that will be released between festivals. It’s a wildly ambitious project that involves so many people because each person has come to realize that Pickathon represents our best vision for how music and community come together.
“Our secret,” explains festival founder Zale Schoenborn. “is that we continue to double down on choices that only make sense when your primary focus is to make the best experience possible, even when it sometimes conflicts with maximizing profits. We made a conscious choice some years back to limit our attendance to favor the comfort of our attendees over finding new ways to maximize how many people we can jam into Pendarvis Farm. Entering our 21st year, Pickathonremains inspired to innovate new ways to create the best festival experience.”
“Pickathon, like a microcosm of the Northwest itself, somehow continually manages to walk the line between quiet and pleasant genteel and/or raggedy and unkempt and wild,” says Eric Johnson of Fruit Bats. “Even though the visual pallette and lineup and feelings seem to get honed down to an ever-sharpened point every year, it still always feels totally raw and spontaneous at the same time. I like the blurred lines between the artists and audience, the children running wild, and the fact that I’m always compelled to not miss any set. You’ll never see more musicians watching other musicians. I’ve always likened it to a dog park for bands. I love running around with the other pups at this thing. It creates a completely unique unfiltered atmosphere that anyone watching can feel, even if they can’t explain it.”
Laying back on the grass late at night, with hyperdrive spreads of neon light flashing overhead on the Starlight Stage, Pickathon soaks into your soul. It’s the kind of festival you come back to every year, a place to renew yourself.
Americana duo The Honey Dewdrops – Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish– have long felt the push-and-pull between their original roots in the Appalachian mountains and their current home in urban Baltimore. You’ll hear it in their harmony soaked songs and the mastery of their instruments’ acoustic tones, but also in their songwriting, which reflects the hard realities of today. With their fifth independent release, Anyone Can See out on March 1st, 2019, they have primed the creative energy so prevalent on their previous releases. Each song sparkles with focused intensity, and, with their new album, the duo show that they’re growing rapidly as artists, enthusiastically exchanging an impossible quest for perfection for the compelling ebbs and flows that accompany an intimate, authentic kind of expression.
With Anyone Can See, Parrish and Wortman wanted to recreate the flexible, spontaneous atmosphere of their live performances. “We focused in on that live energy by sitting close to each other in the studio so we could hear everything in a natural way,” says the duo. “By recording each song in its entirety and keeping edits minimal we found the takes that had the magic often had some variation of voice and rhythm, like the songs were unfolding themselves.” Chasing this magic, Parrish and Wortman also found their sense of musical clarity evolving over the course of the album’s creation. “The process made us look at how we define what is “right” in our performances,” says Parrish and Wortman. “What sounded good to us was the unexpected, the improvisational moments that enhanced the arc of a song.” It helped too that producer Nick Sjostrom guided the duo towards a grounded result, helping to manifest a succinct album while also encouraging a freeing creative atmosphere. Though the creation of Anyone Can See contains elements of an artistic awakening in certain senses, Parrish and Wortman have also remained loyal to their roots, with the album evoking the duo’s characteristically powerful melodies and intricate chord progressions.
Making the album in Baltimore, it was inevitable that the city would be reflected in the songs, and three of the album’s best tracks focus on different experiences in Baltimore today. “Rainy Windows” paints the scene for the many overcast and wet days the two have had there, and “Welcome to the Club,” is a somewhat ironic take on their changing neighborhood of Hampden. One of the most powerful songs on the album, “Going Rate,” is a sobering reflection on the protests and the curfew that surrounded the death of Freddie Gray in 2015 while in police custody. Not ones to shy away from difficult topics for songwriting, “For One More,” speaks to a more humanist view on immigration based on welcoming rather than excluding. “We’re all better together,” says Parrish. Rounding out the album, the duo return to their American folk and country roots with the melodic instrumental “Ecola” and a clever cover of Hank Williams’ “Ramblin’ Man.”
Ultimately, The Honey Dewdrops decided to keep their listeners at the forefront of their thoughts throughout the production of Anyone Can See. “We want people to feel like they are sitting in the room with us, close by,” said the duo. The result is a record drenched in sonic roominess, each of the tracks stretching to fill the space, but with a warmth that allows the album to fit comfortably anywhere. In this way, the intimacy oscillating throughout the record complements and overturns the melodic vastness: nobody will get lost in this expanse.
Watch The Honey Dewdrops perform “More Than You Should Say”
Brady Novotny’s debut album drops on February 14, 2019
Fresh off performing for 20,000 people over Christmas, the Pittsburgh-based guitarist, songwriter and worship leader is releasing his first album in February.
“This album is going to set the guitar world on its ear…with Brady’s eclectic style, he’s solely in a category by himself.”
— Michael Stover, President, MTS Management Group
PITTSBURGH, PA, UNITED STATES, January 12, 2019 — Pittsburgh native Brady Novotny is no stranger to the stage, or the world of music performance. In fact, as a nationally-touring musician, the guitar virtuoso has been heard by thousands of people. This past Christmas season, Novotny performed to more than 20,000 attendees as a member of the Victory mega-church worship team.
Now, Brady Novotny has harnessed his live performance energy, along with an eclectic blend of influences, to release his debut album, “Passions Collide.” The mostly-instrumental album highlights Brady’s love for all things guitar. From “guitar hero” 80s shred to flamenco, classical, rock and jazz, all with a positive and inspirational message…the styles are all well-represented. The album includes two vocal tracks, including the first radio single, “Redemption’s Cry,” featuring a vocal by Brady’s wife, Jennifer Novotny. Produced and engineered by Dave Granati (Granati Brothers, G-Force) “Passions Collide” is scheduled for February 14, 2019 release on MTS Records.
“This album is going to set the guitar world on its ear,” said Michael Stover of MTS Management Group. “Brady is like no other guitarist on the scene today. The closest I can think of would be Lincoln Brewster. But, with Brady’s eclectic style, he’s solely in a category by himself. If you like rock, he’s amazing. Flamenco and classical? Incredible. Inspirational, Christian and AC? So different and accessible, that you can’t deny it.”
Watch the lyric video for “Redemption’s Cry”
Watch “Passions Collide”
ABOUT BRADY NOVOTNY: Citing Randy Rhoads as his muse, Brady began playing guitar at age 10. An attendee of Berklee College of Music, he has taught summer guitar workshops at renowned Duquesne School of Music. His experience ranges from the Pittsburgh rock scene to national tours. He has worked as a Pittsburgh session guitarist, Worship leader, and guitarist at several mega-churches. Brady is also a licensed therapist, with a Master’s Degree in Psychology.
NOLA BLUE, INC.was established in 2014 with blues legend Benny Turner as its first client. Recognizing the need for Benny’s story to be told and music to be heard, work began across three major areas: worldwide distribution of his music, active marketing of him as a world-class performer and collection of photographs and interviews for his autobiography.
Four years and three critically-acclaimed releases later, Benny has received the Jus’ Blues Foundation Little Milton Lifetime Bluesman Award and was inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame in October, 2017. In July, 2017, “Survivor-The Benny Turner Story” was published and is available in hardcover and eBook formats.
Nola Blue Records begin expanding its artist roster in 2018, as well as providing artist management consulting services and social media marketing services.
After careers spanning six decades, BMA nominee Benny Turner and Grammy-winning co-producer Cash McCall return to their roots in this inspired collection of Chicago treasures.
Producer Benny Turner says, “A death in the gospel world inspired me to contact my old friend Cash. I had no idea about his health problems and wanted to do whatever I could to help. Getting him involved in a music project seems to have been the best medicine in the world for him, because he is really excited about it. I asked Billy Branch if he was available to be a special guest on the record, and he didn’t hesitate for a minute to say, ‘Count me in!’”
Blues legends Benny Turner and Cash McCall’s friendship began in Chicago over sixty years ago. The pair reunited to revisit their roots and the songs they once played nightly in South and West Side nightspots for their album “Going Back Home.” The joyous blues summit took place at studios in Memphis, New Orleans and Chicago with an array of the finest players and special guests including, pianist Joe Krown, drummer Rodd Bland and three-time Grammy nominee Billy Branch. The duo trade off on lead vocals with Cash handling guitar and Turner laying down the bass as he did for years in his big brother Freddie King’s band. The ten songs each hold a special place for Cash and Turner and are a collection of Chicago era favorites and rare gems from the treasured songbook of the Blues Standards.
The horn infused soul stomper ‘Got To Find A Way,’ opens the set with Turner’s daughters adding backing vocals, creating a Staples Singers vibe and making the track a true family affair. The straight forward reading of ‘Spoonful,’ pays tribute to both Howlin’ Wolf and Freddie King who played on the original recording for Chess in 1960. Turner shows off his charms on the playful shuffle ‘Poison Ivy,’ stepping into the role of Don Juan with flare on another deep cut from the Chess records catalog. McCall spells out the root of all evil on the blues sermon ‘Money;’ the album’s only original tune is a statement of real truth.
No Chicago blues party would be complete without the Elmore James bar room anthem ‘Shake Your Money Maker,’ delivered here with a jumping groove, hot horns and greasy slide guitar. Billy Branch adds his renowned blues harp to the emotional cover of the Tampa Red staple ‘It Hurts Me Too,’ with the old friends celebrating their brotherly love and vowing to stick together through life’s trials and tribulations. The oft record song is given even greater weight after it was revealed that McCall had been battling lung cancer during these sessions.
The history of jazz and blues is filled with reinventions and spinoffs of familiar tunes, e.g. G.L. Crockett’s 1965 release of ‘It’s A Man Down There,’ was an adapted cover of Elmore James’ 1964 release, ‘One Way Out.’ Turner and McCall jam out on a rollicking uptempo two beat blast through the song, featuring fantastic barrelhouse piano and blues harp from Johnny Sansone. McCall adds his own twists and turns to the bawdy old-time blues ‘The Dirty Dozens,’ giving it a Fats Waller spin. Next to Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon is recognized as the most influential person in shaping the post–WWII sound of the Chicago blues. Turner and McCall take on one of his most famous songs, ‘Built For Comfort,’ as a duet commanding the bump and grind blues show stopper with bravado. Billy Branch is on hand again for the album’s finale, the revival of Sonny Boy Williams ‘Bring It On Home,’ as a joyous celebration of Chicago and the reunion of two of her finest sons.
Rick J Bowen
Born in Gilmer, Texas in 1939, Benny Turner and his older brother, Freddie King, learned to play guitar from their mother, Ella Mae (King) Turner. Although best known for his role as bassist for the Freddie King band, he later played for Mighty Joe Young and then for Blues Queen of New Orleans Marva Wright. Turner’s earliest musical endeavors include work as a recording artist for the M-Pac! and One-Derful! labels. He also appears on gospel recordings with The Kindly Shepherds and Otis Clay. He toured with Dee Clark and the Original Soul Stirrers. Turner’s award-winning autobiography, “Survivor-The Benny Turner Story,” was published in 2017.
A native of New Madrid, Missouri, Morris Dollison, Jr. was born in 1941 and is better known as Cash McCall, a name that has been renowned ever since his 1966 recording “When You Wake Up” became a national R&B hit. McCall was a Nashboro Records recording artist while a member of the Gospel Songbirds. He went on to record as a solo R&B artist for the Thomas, Checker, and Paula labels, and worked at One-derful! and Chess Records as a session musician and songwriter. Performing with Minnie Riperton, Etta James, Bo Diddley, and many more while living in Los Angeles, Cash was also a member of blues legend Willie Dixon’s band, the All-Stars, and co-produced his Grammy Award-winning “Hidden Charms” album.
The semi-autobiographical album, scheduled for January 18th release is a soundtrack to a musical of the same name, penned by renowned playwright, Amy Hartman.
John Vento is such an interesting human being. He’s as hard-working and blue collar as they come in this town.”
— Michael Stover, President of MTS Management Group
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, UNITED STATES, January 8, 2019 — John Vento is often called a chameleon in the Pittsburgh music scene; and, while his critics may use the term as a pejorative, Vento views it as a compliment. He understands that they’re motivated by the frustration of their inability to lock him into a specific musical style. After all, the front man for the rockin’ Nied’s Hotel Band, is also known for his introspective, brooding solo recordings.
Rather than a drawback, however, Vento considers such diversity to be among his strengths; and his fans agree. They relish sharing his tumultuous trek toward achieving his artistic vision, which he accomplishes by channeling a blend of eclectic influences through his own, raw emotions.
On his new autobiographical album, “Love, Lust And Other Wreckage,” Vento delivers thirteen introspective tunes with the help of some of Pittsburgh’s top musicians. Produced by David Granati (G-Force, Granati Bros.) at Maplewood Studios in Ambridge, PA, Vento is joined on the album by David’s brothers Hermie and Joey, and nephew, Jules Granati; Cherylann Hawk; Joffo Simmons; Bob Fetherlin; and others. The collection was mastered by Brian Foraker in Nashville.
“Love, Lust And Other Wreckage” is scheduled for January 18, 2019 release on MTS Records. The album will also serve as the soundtrack to the musical of the same name, penned by award-winning playwright, Amy Hartman. It opens soon at The Oaks Theater in Oakmont, PA.
“John Vento is such an interesting human being,” said Michael Stover of MTS. “We talked about this project, and I immediately connected with his backstory and the vibe of his songs. First off, he’s a Penn Hills graduate, like myself. He’s as hard-working and blue collar as they come in this town. I think this album is going to really touch listeners and expand upon his already rabid fanbase.”
CHICAGO RAMBLER the new album from Tomislav Goluban is finally to be released on Friday. We have been lucky enough to have had a copy of the album for a while and after listening to it carefully our highly paid reviewer came up with a cracker of a review – read below.
We got our moneys worth.
So we decided to make Tomislav our Spotlight Artist for the next 30 days so our listeners can agree with our review.
After 20 years of intense study of one of America’s greatest artforms from afar in his homeland, Croatia, singer songwriter and harmonica master, Tomislav “Little Pigeon” Goluban made a journey to the source to record an album of authentic blues music in the Windy City for his tenth studio album, “Chicago Rambler.” Goluban enlisted the skills of prominent figures in the Chicago blues scene, led by acclaimed producer and guitarist Eric Noden to collaborate with him on 11 new songs written for the project. A year ago, Tomislav flew to Chicago to record at Joy Ride Studios. Noden wisely brought in two “Sons of the Blues” as the rhythm section; E.G. McDaniel on bass and Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith on drums, both building prestigious careers for themselves while preserving their musical heritage. Harmonica man Joe Filisko also contributed to the project by playing harmonica on two songs, and engineer Blaise Burton manned the console for the frenetic two-day session.
The full tilt ‘Pigeon Swing’ kicks off the album with much pizzazz, as Goluban blows like Little Walter resurrected on an instrumental that was supposed to be a bonus track but has so much fire it was pushed to the lead-off slot. The 12/8 blues ‘Locked Heart’ reveals the influence of Jimmy Reed and Slim Harpo on the timeless tale of a soft-hearted bluesman. The heavy-duty south side shuffle, ‘Bag Full Of Troubles,’ is a spot-on Chicago-land prototype that could only be delivered by seasoned pros. Inspired by the friendship between Goluban and the late country bluesman “Philadelphia” Jerry Ricks, the tasty rhumba, ‘Jerry Ricks On My Mind,’ recants images from the last concert he performed alongside Goluban before his untimely death in 2007. He was buried in the cemetery in Kastav (Croatia) where the annual Tribute to Jerry Ricks – Kastav Blues festival is now held.
Noden’s slide guitar moans with sorrow of a hundred-year flood on the lowdown ‘Can’t Find Myself’ and Smith demonstrates his encyclopedic knowledge of authentic blues grooves as he nails the high energy boogaloo surf blues for the audacious ‘Home Made Honey’ and classic Bo Diddley beat for ‘Do The Right Thing.’ Between those two numbers, Goluban’s fantastic harmonica imitation of a train, an old-time tradition among harp players, introduces ‘One Way Ticket,’ a traveling blues ramble. He lays out a twist on a Muddy Waters’ style blues with ‘Little Pigeon’ extolling his manly prowess to arouse a lover. Track ten is an acoustic version of ‘Jerry Ricks On My Mind.’ The quartet glides thru the Jimmy Reed style country blues ‘Searchin’ For My Baby,’ before transforming a traditional Croatia folk song ‘Išel budem v kleticu (I’ll Go To My Cottage)’ into a straight-ahead Chi-town shuffle from a hot Saturday night at the Peppermint Lounge.
With this album Tomislav Goluban fulfills his dream of wandering the musical streets of the city that gave birth to so many of his heroes and becoming a bona fide Chicago rambler.
Rick J Bowen
After a 20-year music career and 10 studio albums, the proverb “The older – the crazier” definitely applies to Croatian harmonica player Tomislav “Little Pigeon” Goluban, whose songs and performances burst with energy, passion, humor and above all, fantastic music. Goluban has been playing harp since 1997, inspired by old school masters such as Sonny Terry, Slim Harpo, Paul Butterfield, Gary Primich, Kim Wilson and Joe Filisko to name just a few.
Performing solo/duo and with a band, Goluban has played in the U.S. and across many European countries at festivals and events such as the Notodden Blues Festival (Norway), Amal’s Blues Festival (Sweden), Blues sur Seine (France) and International Blues Challenge (USA).
Looking back at his discography reveals delta, country & Chicago blues, zydeco, rock ‘n’ roll and world music. He’s been recording his music in a wide span from raw delta duo sound to the full instrumental arrangement with 20 musicians playing one song.
In the period from 2005 to 2019 Tomislav has:
published ten studio albums and three maxi singles,
won four Croatian top discography awards “Porin” (the equivalent of a Grammy in Croatia),
won three “Croatian Musicians Union” awards “Status,”
performed in 20 countries in two continents (Europe and the USA),
won 4th place at World Harmonica Championship in Germany 2005,
is the sole Croatian endorsee of the world’s finest and most famous harmonica manufacturer “Hohner,”
was the first Croatian representative at International Blues Challenge, Memphis, USA in 2009 & returned in 2017,
was one of the founders and the first president of the “Croatian Blues Forces” association,
developed an educational music program called “The harmonica in Blues” which is presented to the pupils of elementary and high schools all over Croatia.
REPRESENTING MINNESOTA BLUES SOCIETY IN THE BAND CATEGORY AT THE 2019 INTERNATIONAL BLUES CHALLENGE (IBC)
Minneapolis became noted as a center for rhythm and blues (R&B) in the 1980s, when the multi-talented star Prince rose to fame. But the twin-cities region had long been known for giving birth to notable modern folk music, gospel, blues, alt rock and jazz artists. Dee Miller grew up in Saint Paul Minnesota, singing along to her favorite vocalists and was a member of many local bands earning the title “The Duchess of the Blues” from the Minnesota blues community. The self-proclaimed “barrelhouse” singer formed her own band in 2004 and in the fall of 2018 the Minnesota Blues Society inducted Dee Miller into the Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame in the category of “Performer.”
Her sizzling hot band features the vocal lead and harmonies as well as the blazing guitar work of the phenomenal Craig Clark. His rich deep sound is rounded out by the rhythm section of Eric Meyer (bass/vocals), Mike DuBois (drums) and the keyboard work of Jesse Mueller.
Their third album, “Leopard Print Dress,” was recorded at the Villa Studios and features ten tracks – a cross section of house rockin’ blues heavy duty soul and dance party R&B that showcases the muscular abilities of this tight hard-working band. The sharp originals and creative covers reflect the variety of blues, rock, and R&B deep-cuts in the group’s repertoire. Inspired by wild nights in steamy nightclubs the rousing ‘Hot And Sweaty,’ open the set with dance floor filling swing and sizzle. Miller proudly carries the torch for Etta James on the blazing cover of ‘Strongest Weakness,’ with her powerful, deep, earthy voice bridging the gap between R&B and rock ‘n’ roll. John Pinckaers sits in on piano for the gospel-fueled reading on the Eagles’ classic ‘Take It To The Limit.’ Craig Clark shares the lead vocals for the title track ‘Leopard Print Dress,’ which won the Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame award in 2017 for “Best Song.” The four on the floor blues rocker was cowritten with Jimi “Primetime” Smith and features a greasy slide guitar solo that has become Miller’s trademark anthem. The house party really gets rolling for the horn-infused boogie woogie ‘Back In The Saddle,’ then Clark steps up on the soul blues burner ‘Last Two Dollars,’ delivering powerful vocals and a ripping lead on the Jonny Taylor hit that has become a staple of the club scene. Steve “Boom Boom” Vonderharr added his hot blues harp to the bump and grind shuffle ‘I Sing The Blues,’ and Toby Marshall lays down sweet Hammond B3 on the lovely cover of ‘Midnight In Harlem,’ with Dylan Salfer tackling the daunting slide guitar part written by Derrick Trucks over a new double chorus outro.
The Band gets funky on rousing take of Albert Collins classic ‘Black Cat Bone,’ highlighted by groovy keyboard from Jesse Mueller and icepick guitar from Clark. Miller dedicates the album closer ‘Steppin’,’ to all her “girlfriends out there who’ve been done wrong” then preaches the blues the way it is supposed to be; down and dirty, raw and live off the floor. The Dee Miller Band are poised to make some bold impressions and tell the world what the Twin Cities has known for some time; The Duchess and her boys are here to tear the house down.
Rick J Bowen
“It is upbeat, engaging, tight, and extremely, butt shakingly danceable. If you are lookin’ for a REAL GOOD TIME, you have found it in The Dee Miller Band and “Leopard Print Dress.” A highly recommended addition to your collection!” John ‘blueshammer’ Hammer, Blue Monday Monthly
Dee Miller is a Minnesota musician who has a performance pedigree that spans many years on the local and Midwest blues scene. Dee’s “barrelhouse” style of singing has earned her the label “Duchess of the Blues” in the Twin Cities and regionally.
From her early days as a child listening to her mother singing the blues around the house in Maplewood, MN, Dee has been a singer. She first started singing along with Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin recordings as she crafted her skills. The sounds of Etta James, Bonnie Raitt, and Mahalia Jackson were part of a life spent singing as she walked down the railroad tracks that were right next door to her house. During these times, Dee realized the power of music and what a refuge it is for her.
Dee’s first professional gig was with the blues band “Minnesota Barking Ducks”. She has also been a member of “Liberty Street”, “Bottom Line”, “Night Train” with her dear friend Liz Cummings, and several others before she started the Dee Miller Band in 2004. Dee has performed in many local music establishments. On a national level, Dee has performed in Chicago at Buddy Guy’s Legends, and in Washington D.C. at Madam’s Organ. Dee has also performed on stages in Memphis, San Francisco, Greenwich Village, Key Largo and Florence, Italy.
During her career she has shared the stage with Koko Taylor, Janiva Magness, Bobby Messano as well as local favorites Lamont Cranston, Annie Mack, Renee Austin, Mick Sterling, and many more incredible musicians. International guitarist Jimi “Primetime” Smith was an integral part of the Dee Miller Band for several years.
Dee was inducted into the Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame as Performer of the Year in 2018. Also, in 2018, The Dee Miller Band was selected to represent Minnesota at the 2019 IBC in Memphis in January. Her awards prior to that include a Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame award in 2017 for “Best Song” for “Leopard Print Dress” cowritten with Jimi “Primetime” Smith.
Yes after a long break preparing for the Christmas festive season we are back at the keyboard here at TME.fm Radio.
Decorations are down, presents put away and the traditional diet has commenced.
Just one small change for 2019 – Roots Rock show has gone – don’t worry we will still be playing plenty in our Chart shows, yes we now have two every day! This change gives us more time for our Blues Artists to get spins and charge up the charts!
There at HearthPR, they’re all writers as well as publicists. So to them, there’s nothing more exciting as hearing a great songwriter, who’s also a great writer, wax philosophical. This interview between Jonathan Byrd and No Depression is chock full of great quotes and wild ideas. From his weekly roadhouse poetry readings to his burgeoning love for Kierkegaard, Byrd doesn’t hold anything back. Here’s a few quotes:
“People are interested in stories; there’s something about the way our brains work that keeps us interested in hearing them and telling them. Stories put us in a place where we can entertain ideas that we would never talk about or actions we’d never do or lives we’d never live.”
“Scientists have pretty much figured out how old the Earth is, but they can’t heal your broken heart, and hardly any of them know how to tell a good story.”
Do you have to read books until you’re finished with them, or can you walk away from a book without finishing it?
“I walk away from books all the time. I walk away from shitty people in midsentence. I’m 47. I don’t have time.”
Are there one or two books that have shaped — and continue to shape — your life and work?
“The Bible. It’s the keystone of Western literature. It’s weirder than anything on the internet.”
Singing around the campfire. Music shared person to person around the country, like heirlooms or secret messages. This is Jonathan Byrd’s world. The characters in Jonathan Byrd’s songs crackle with life, each one seemingly drawn from a chance encounter on the road with a true American. And that may be the case, as Byrd is drawn to the nomadic working class of this country, the kind of spit-and-grit souls immortalized in the writing of John Steinbeck or the music of Woody Guthrie.
A songwriter’s songwriter, Byrd is fascinated by wordcraft, passionate about unheralded artists, but most of all driven to contribute to a national community of song lovers, a world that’s little seen outside the mainstream. “There’s this underground musical community that travels around the country,” Byrd says. “We see each other at festivals and conferences. It’s a rich, authentic life of music that I wish more people could discover, because I think they’re actually looking for it.” On his new album as Jonathan Byrd & The Pickup Cowboys, Byrd’s goal was to bring a glimpse of this song-driven life to his audience.
There’s a bit of wry humor to his songwriting, a subtle shade of Randy Newman, as in the song “Tractor Pull” that relates finding love at a redneck jamboree, or the bittersweet smile of “It Don’t Make Sense,” as the singer grapples with love and life lost. But the manifesto of the album is found in “Pickup Cowboy,” a song Byrd wrote for a South Dakota construction worker, his friend and fellow songwriter Matt Fockler. The Pickup Cowboy is a character who doesn’t need much money, fishin’ for breakfast and living on tupelo honey, the hard-worn spirit of the West shines through in the song’s subject. Byrd pays further homage to Fockler by including two of his songs, “Lakota Sioux” and “Do You Dream.”
When you live as much of your life on the road as Byrd does, you learn that home and family are fuel to the creative fire. So he returned home to Rubber Room Studios, a recording studio he helped build by hand, and brought his closest musical friends, the Pickup Cowboys – guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Johnny Waken and cellist Paul Ford – to make the album. But life had other plans. The last day of recording, Ford stayed home, complaining of feeling like he had the flu. He called at the end of the day with the news that the doctor had discovered a terminal brain tumor. Ford never went back to the recording studio and passed away the next year. The shock of losing such a close friend put the Pickup Cowboys on hold for a year, but ultimately, Byrd felt that the songs and recordings deserved to be heard. He and Waken took the recordings to Winnipeg to complete the album with Joanna Miller on drums, and Alexa Dirks and Andrina Turenne on backing vocals. Now Byrd is bringing the Pickup Cowboys on the road, traveling out to the many friends he’s made over years of crisscrossing the US with these new songs to share.
It may seem unusual for a songwriter to cover two songs from another songwriter on his album, but it’s part of Byrd’s ethos and the ethos of his community of song collectors. “This is a golden age of songwriting,” Byrd says. “Community songwriting. It’s person-to-person music. Songs get picked up and passed around and end up around the campfires. We wanted to bring some of that to the record. That kind of authenticity, and the real people and real stories in the songs.”