A decision taken after much difficulty. So many great albums have been sent to us lately the choice was hard almost cruel.
Why did “NEVER GOING TO LOSE” get it’s nose in front and win the race?
Songs being “Radio Friendly” helped.
Sean is a great guy but then so are the other artists.
You listen to a track from “NEVER GOING TO LOSE” and you think “that’s good”, listen to them all and they all sound good.
Listen to “NEVER GOING TO LOSE” again the songs sound different, you check to see if you are playing correct song, yes you are. There is so much going on during a song that it’s a different song the second,third… play.
Sean makes magic, magic music, that’s how he won the race.
No self respecting guitarist would ever admit they can’t play the blues, the chords are pretty simple, all you have to do is play a 1, 4, 5 progression, when you get to the end, put a little ‘turnaround’ piece in there and hey, you’re playing the blues. You’re not, you’re not playing the blues. You never will. You’re not Rembrandt, you’ve got the same paint, it’s the same canvas, the brush is in your hand… yet you still can’t paint a simple flower that makes you stop and stare in wonder.
Blues music was never popular, let’s not kid ourselves. It’s music born of Mid-Western barns and cheap wooden bars in desperate need of repair. All we have left are fading black and white images and crackling records. It was music made by the poor, mostly lives of solitary wandering to find a gig, or if they were lucky, they got themselves a residency for bed, beer, food and some tips. Some did find a little fame, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Willie Johnson, Robert Johnson were among the few.
Of course, we have Seasick Steve, making blues mainstream, but let’s not kid ourselves that he isn’t a circus act, he’s popular, funny and engaging, there’s a lot to like about the guy and his music, but he plays in the big top. All this talk about a blues revival misses the point, it never went away, it’s always there in the background like a grandfather watching over all of popular music. There’s a lot of polished, shiny stuff out there, all its minor faults ironed out by people using technology that would shame a space program. At 3:28 on track 2 Joe, there’s a snare beat that’s 3 milliseconds out, so Joe fixes it, after all, they wouldn’t want to offend anyone. Sometimes it seems there is more debate about mixing a track than there is in politics these days.
There are some of us left who like to hear strings buzzing, slightly mistimed finger strokes – to us it’s like a favourite jacket, it certainly isn’t designed by some high flyer, it wasn’t expensive, a lot of people think it looks aged, wrinkled, uncool, but we love it and wearing it makes us feel good.
Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes is a blues player, at 72 years of age he’s got a lot of history behind him. What is it about musicians that they never retire? Whilst we yearn for the day we finally walk away from the day job and seek a little peace and escape from everything we worked at for 50 years, these guys never give up, there’s always songs to write, another album they want to record, it must be a glorious yet frustrating life to live. Holmes is no exception, the Blue Front cafe, which his sharecropper mother and father opened in 1948, is run now by him. He opens the club every day and most weekends he’ll be there playing his music, often accompanied by friends.
From the opening guitar run of ‘Hard Times’, all the feel, the imperfection, the century or so of history and culture is brought out into the bright sunshine. Holmes’ latest album ‘Cypress Grove’ doesn’t change anything, it’s not a revolution, but who needs one of those when we can sit in our chair and listen to front porch blues? The title track is just over two minutes long, but packs in echoes of struggle and the desire for release. Played with such feel and ease, there’s a lifetime distilled down to 128 seconds right here. Holmes then ups the tempo for ‘Catfish Blues’ and ‘Going Away Baby’. Shuffling beat backing electric guitar breaks that overflow with distorted punctuation.
The album was produced by The Black Keys Dan Auerbach in Nashville, and his love of the genre and admiration for the work of Holmes is something that is evident throughout. Auerbach has done great work with this.
Little Red Rooster, that blues standard, receives the full band treatment and it is as laid back as it gets. It’s indulgent, of course it is, and so it should be, played in waves of instruments that wash and ebb over hypnotic beat. ‘Gonna Get Old Someday’ returns to punchy guitar with all the beating blues and sorrowful vocals, it’s full of energy but sung with contradictory world weariness. It’s a great example to anyone of Holmes’ work.
‘Train Train’ predictably uses a shuffle pattern to echo the engine on tracks of steel, and there is nothing wrong with that, the link between trains and the blues is almost as old as the genre itself. The train is running down the track, will it bring his baby back? Who knows… all I know is that I enjoyed the ride through this album, and if you get the chance, buy a ticket for yourself.
Americana Folk artist Courtney Hale-Revia among the first to adopt technology
If CDs are going away what will you sell at your live shows?
Today’s Artists Read the Tea Leaves
CDs are going away and where does that leave merchandise sales at live performances? Performances are one of the few places where artists can continue to earn a nice living. Therefore on site music sales are important and making some profit would be nice too. Brian Baker, President, Sound Arts Recording Studio has a reputation for embracing technologies of the past and getting cozy with new technologies. He realized that the industry was making a major shift and his insatiable appetite for all things technology kept his eyes on new developments within the music delivery systems market. Courtney Hale-Revia is an upcoming forward thinking Americana Folk artist that knew going into the Sound Arts Recording Studio that she wanted to present her music in multi-format options such as vinyl for example. Her train of thought was and remains let audiences decide on what format they wish to take home. While Brian’s focus was on the technology Courtney’s was on audience appeal.
Shown: Three choices for show sales: Vinyl, Compact Disc, Credit Card USB
However, a third factor comes into play from a business point of view, profitability. With all of this in mind the two of them began to review options together. One option was this rather new device which is a credit card size delivery mechanism that was priced right and would not only hold audio files but Courtney’s video files and PDFs as well. This would mean that Courtney could add her new video onto the device along with her bio and audio files. You could actually have two different credit card size options if you wanted to – one with just the audio files on it and a second with both audio and video files on it. Therefore presenting two consumer price points. The bottom line is that a trusting partnership between the studio and the artist allows for crystal clear examinations of a non-stop evolving industry, the music industry. In this case it worked beautifully. If you are an independent artist and your CD sales have declined it’s probably not your music just that less and less people are using CD platforms these days. Auto manufacturers are not even putting CD players in new cars anymore unless you special order one. Because you need to protect one of the last bastions of profit, income from your live shows, you definitely need delivery options. Courtney Hale-Revia is an insightful songwriter and she is quite the entrepreneur. She comes by it honestly as her father has been a
A Unique Delivery Platform
Courtney Hale-Revia is both a forward thinking artist and venue owner. To the left you can see how she addressed the reverse side of her new credit card size delivery mechanism.
These storage devices can even be blister packed and include custom made messaging on the perimeter of the container including your logo.
life long folk songwriter and artist for as long as she can remember. As he has shared the beauty of creation and the enjoyment of sharing with his daughter over the years Courtney could not help but fall in love with the process herself. However, Courtney has taken her foray into music a step further. She opened a remote listening room back off the beaten path of interstate 10 just south of Beaumont Texas. Artists and music lovers alike love it. Her listening room embraces the intimate experience of being up close and personal. Sort of like when your Dad or Mom or one of your Uncles or Aunts might have performed at home so many years ago. There’s just something about these settings that sets the soul free.
Brian Baker of Sound Arts Recording Studio Houston Texas
There is fascination in vulnerability, we are beguiled by a stranger who chooses to share their emotions and history, their short story relationships that turned out to be sometimes painful yet deficient chapters in a novel none of us ever seem to finish. We can be beguiled by the stranger who can create beauty from what seems broken.
Alexa Rose takes a paintbrush from her soul and draws broad strokes across yours. Born in the Alleghany Highlands of West Virginia, there is craft and history here, an awareness of those that went before her, rooted in the traditions of folk and storytelling. Alexa holds these values close and sews together fine threads of quiet mastery and confident clarity, adding her own personality to create a unique style. Alexa holds onto the words as she sings them, not wanting to let them go, wringing all the lasting meaning from them, each one a precious piece of endeavour. Frazey Ford is one of the very few others who can do this so well and to such effect.
The subtlety of the musical arrangements throughout this album is something that you immediately notice, it’s not intrusive, it’s not the centre, not what the song is about, it’s a canvas upon which an artist adds the foreground. The opening song, “Borrow your heart”, shows the promise of what is to come, “Can I borrow your heart, I think I lost my own”, the line is so simple, but hides deeper currents of unresolved thoughts. The thing about Rose is that her lyrics throughout the album can seem contradictory, there is a conflict of thoughts which becomes fascinating. There are times when she writes with such feelings of weakness, confronted with the enormity of love that has taken so much of her but is ultimately fruitless, yet other times when realism and optimism is embraced.
The title track “Medicine for living” is at once haunting and torn, “Can I ask you a question, I know you don’t want to hear, but I’m the heirloom at the mercy of the auctioneer, There’s a crack in the finish, but it’s easy to miss, Are you going to love me when it ain’t like this”. It’s the throes of a relationship that is failing, with all its inevitability and feelings of powerlessness.
“That’s the way love is”. This ballad with its minimalist backing leaves Rose’s voice exposed in all its complexity and range and once again the lyrical quality leaves you in no doubt that this is an artist with depth. The song is a search into perpetual disappointment mixed with eternal optimism.
This is such a promising work, a debut album which deserves all the attention it will no doubt receive, we await more, and what a time we have in store watching Alexa Rose develop her music.
The debut album from Rick Faris, Breaking In Lonesome, releases to radio and for fan pre-order in advance of its Nov 15, 2019 commercial release. Containing a bulk of new bluegrass originals, and backed by a cast of talent, this long-awaited project showcases Rick’s depth of musicality and solid footprint in the genre.
“Rick Faris has consistently wowed me with his powerful vocals and virtuoso mandolin and guitar playing over the last few years with Special Consensus. He was playing mandolin when I first saw him and I immediately noticed he is a great singer live–suppose it shouldn’t have surprised anyone when he switched to guitar and was just as proficient and nimble. His range makes him a natural tenor, but his lead singing is convincing and expressive. And on top of all this, he’s an outstanding luthier, having built a number of great guitars–including those played on this record. In short, I thought of the guy as the vanguard of younger musicians who are carrying Bluegrass forward.
But now his solo record shows me that he’s put it all together. Turns out he’s also a thoughtful songwriter. He wrote or co-wrote 11 of the 12 songs on Breaking in Lonesome, and they run the gamut from Jimmie Rodgers-style jazzy ditties (“Mississippi Steamboat Blues”), straigh-ahead waltzes (“Wrong Done Right”) to contemporary Bluegrass (“If the Kansas River Can”), cool instrumentals (“Stoneman’s Raid”), blazing fast ‘grass (“Breaking in Lonesome”), a spooky traditional gospel song featuring Shawn Lane’s soulful tenor (“Matthew and Mark’s Wisdom”) and a contemporary Bluegrass gospel song (“Faith in Man”). The lone cover, Aaron Bibelhouser, Thomm Jutz and Milan Miller’s “How Long,” fits right in. Most of these finely crafted songs feature the rocking core band of Rick on guitar and lead vocals, Justin Moses on banjo and tenor vocal, Eddie Faris on bass and baritone vocal, Laura Orshaw on fiddle, and Harry Clark on mandolin. “Never is a Long Time” and the swingy “Honeybabe” feature Special C and make it easy to see why this version of the band has been so decorated.
Bluegrass music might be entering its 9th decade, but Breaking in Lonesome proves it’s more vital than ever, and this project is a perfect showcase for one of its truly bright lights“. -Tim Stafford (Blue Highway)
Fans can pre-order the album at Dark Shadow Recording, iTunes, and wherever fine music is sold on the internet. Streaming services will begin when the album officially releases on Nov 15, 2019.
About the label:
Dark Shadow Recording is a record label and full-service studio run by a musician for musicians in the Bluegrass, Americana and Folk genres. The small-but-mighty roster has been awarded multiple IBMA awards and is a testament to the DSR’s focus on quality over quantity in music and business. More at www.darkshadowrecording.com.
“In an era of widespread vocal sweetness, Libby Koch has that rare blend of powerful real-life honesty in her vocals that lends instant depth and credibility to her songs.” – Melissa Clarke, Americana Highways
“Her music makes you want to persevere on the off chance that the new morning might yield an unexpected creation. Such moments may be fleeting, but there are none as rewarding.” – No Depression
“Koch plays country the way it is meant to be played, with emotion, musicianship, and earthy, clever songwriting.” – That Music Mag
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of her first album, Redemption, Americana singer-songwriter Libby Koch is releasing a full band, track-for-track reimagining of the original solo acoustic recording. Redemption 10: Live at Blue Rock will be released by Berkalin Records on October 18, 2019.
The format of this record was an experiment for Koch. Recording her 2016 album Just Move On on Music Row in Nashville hooked Libby on the energy of making a record with a band playing the songs together, recording live in the studio. She wondered what it might be like to add a live studio audience to the equation – to let fans be part of the experience as well. Koch found the perfect location for this endeavor at Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio in Wimberley, Texas. Blue Rock is a state of the art studio and performance space in the Texas Hill Country that has the capability to film and broadcast live performances while providing an intimate experience for the audience and capturing pristine audio of the performance.
With the location set, Libby enlisted her friend Patterson Barrett (Buddy Miller, Jerry Jeff Walker, Nanci Griffith) to co-produce the project and assemble an all-star band of Austin musicians to record Redemption 10 in front of a live studio audience at Blue Rock. Tickets quickly sold out. Libby and the band played the album straight through once and then played a second take of a couple of songs, but in the end they decided that the flow and the feeling of the first takes were the ones that needed to be on the record. It was a magical evening.
While not a traditional live album, the atmosphere and the feedback from the crowd absolutely fed the band and shaped the experience that was caught on tape. Koch and her band sound relaxed and in an energized zone that only a live setting can provide, but at the same time they have the tight knit sound of an experienced studio band. In the end the experiment was a resounding success. The record shows a Libby Koch that her fans have loved for a decade now and presented these tracks in a fuller more realized way. If Redemption 10 is your introduction to Koch, you are in for major musical treat.
The band of Austin all-stars included lead guitarist Bill Browder (Denim, Steve Fromholz), drummer Eddie Cantu (Bruce Robison, Maren Morris), violinist Javier Chaparro (Austin Symphony, John Denver), and Glenn Schuetz (Jimmy LaFave). Libby played acoustic guitar, harmonica, and sang lead vocals, while Patterson Barrett rounded out the sound of the record by providing pedal steel, piano, organ, mandolin, and harmony vocals.
When asked about the inspiration behind the project Koch says:
“Ten years ago, when I recorded Redemption, I was a young attorney at a big law firm in Houston. At the time, I thought this was probably the only record I would ever make, and I certainly didn’t anticipate I would ever have a career in music. Once I self-released the album and started playing shows and selling copies of the CD in Houston, one thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was building a career in music! Ten years later, I’ve put out a few more records (Redemption 10 will be the sixth), and I’ve played hundreds of shows across the US and Europe. It’s been an incredible adventure, and I’m most thankful for all the great friendships I’ve made with musicians and music lovers across the globe. Revisiting my first album feels like a fun and fitting celebration of the music and memories I’ve made over the past decade.”
1. Houston: I wrote this song the day after I graduated from law school in Nashville. The movers had come and gone, and the house was empty. I was leaving for my new job and new life in Houston the following morning, but before I left, this song had to be written. At the time, I thought I was saying goodbye to a guy, but upon reflection I now see that I was closing one chapter and starting another.
2. Just the Way: This song is about the somewhat cyclical nature of “dating” (I don’t think the kids call it that anymore). It was written in a time when I was perpetually single and not particularly good at keeping it casual! This has been one of the most fun songs from Redemption to revamp and play live, both for the band and the folks on the dance floor.
3. Can’t Complain: Writing this song was an attempt to gain a little perspective after a breakup and remind myself that, at the end of the day, I was going to be okay. In true Texas style, I was raised to dust myself off and get back on the horse after you fall out of the saddle, and this song is part of that tradition.
4. Stay With Me: I wrote this song in law school. When I played it for my roommate, she said “oh my god, that’s the saddest song I’ve ever heard.” Little did she know, I was just getting started!
5. Redemption: One of the most interesting elements of this project has been revisiting the songs to see if they’ve changed, I’ve changed, or both! This is one of the songs that has grown in meaning and depth for me, as it was written for someone who I now know never really loved me back. Now I sing it for someone who really deserves these words.
6. How Long: This record definitely intertwines spiritual themes into love songs…How Long is a great example of that. I based this song on the text of Psalm 40, with lines of each verse and the chorus tracking the Psalm: “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of a slimy pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand”
7. Down: This is probably the song that changed the most from the original version. I always heard this song in my head as a honky tonk number, but Patterson said “what if we make it a rocker?” Once the band kicked into gear on this groove it was clear that it was meant to be. We had THE most fun with this song!
8. Don’t Give Up On Me: This is a spiritual song that I wrote in high school. I got my start playing guitar in my church’s youth group and the Young Life band, so a lot of my early songs were written from a spiritual angle. At such a young age it was easier for me to write those spiritual songs than it was to write something personal about someone else…I was so afraid people would figure out the songs were about them!
9. Ready Now: This is another song I wrote when I was young that started out as a spiritual song, but ended up being a love song. It’s also one of the songs that has changed for me in the past decade since I recorded the original version. Now I see this song as a readiness to dive in headfirst to life and love to see what happens (spoiler: good things usually happen when you do that).
10. I Still Miss Someone: I decided to close the album with one of my favorite Johnny Cash songs, I Still Miss Someone. The original Redemption version was just me, my harmonica, and my guitar…a really intimate version of the song. This live version ended up being a little more lively and faster than we anticipated, but I think we were all having such a great time and in a nice groove that it turned out the way it did. I love both versions and am so happy with how this entire project turned out.