Some opportunities in life are just too good to miss. When UK-based Winter Wilson were invited to appear as special guests on Fairport Convention’s Winter Tour 2018, the couple immediately recorded Far Off on the Horizon, which soon became their best-selling album to date. Welcomed into the heart of the Fairport family, both by the band and their die-hard fans, the tour was a huge success for Winter Wilson, culminating in their playing with Fairport on the stage at Cropredy Convention, in a tribute to the late Sandy Denny.
But what really sets this pair apart (and convinces so many venues to book them time and time again) is their live performance. “We’re very aware that we’re in the business of entertainment,” says Kip. “When people pay their hard-earned money for a concert, they want to hear good music, obviously, but it’s more than that. Some of our songs can be pretty hard hitting, so it’s important that the bits in between lift people up again.”
Dave adds, “It has been suggested that we go into stand-up comedy. I’m not sure whether the chap thought we were really funny, or he just didn’t like the songs. Either way, it’s just what we do. We both like a laugh, often at each other’s expense, and it tends to come out on stage. It’s not rehearsed; it just happens.”
With all this in mind, a live album seemed a no brainer, especially when that live album could feature the talents of Fairport Convention.
Myself a Lover featuring the unmistakable fiddle of Ric Sanders). Unusually for Winter Wilson, there’s also a cover but then, if you were invited to sing Sandy Denny’sIt’ll Take a Long Time in front of almost 20,000 people, you’d probably want to shout about it too. The album will officially be launched at Fairport’s Cropredy Convention in August 2019.Winter Wilson continue to tour throughout the year, including their first trip to Canada in September. As gap years go, there’s been worse.
Well our permanent reviewer has been working hard again, was a bad day when he found out about “copy/paste”.
Or maybe a good day when you read some of his reviews.
Good job there are plenty of music blogs that write great reviews.
So here is a video that I inserted for your enjoyment.
Now you have watched that you can read what was “copy/pasted” from the wonderful PR Company
“We cover a lot of acoustic singer-songwriters around here, so when we do feature one it has to be good. Rogers is talented. The way he cranks up the intensity of the vocal on the “really oughta know better by now” on the chorus reveals something deep and satisfying. It’s disturbingly personal….it’ll rip your damn soul out.” EAR TO THE GROUND MUSIC
Benjamin Dakota Rogers made his highly anticipated return to the folk world with his brand new single, digitally released January 25. Better by Now, strips the genre down to its core and emotionally charges it with raw human experience, immediately earning a top 40 single spot on the Airplay Direct Folk chart. With the release of his new single, this award-winning singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist folk-phenom proves he’s at the top of his game in every way imaginable.
Better By Now, the lead track, “a beautifully sad folk pop ballad” (Folk Roots Radio with Jan Hall) sets the tone, proving the depth and maturity of Benjamin coming of age, as he delves into the state we find ourselves while in a relationship and come to realize we “really ought to know better by now.” Cut two is an upbeat song featuring brilliant unbound violin bidding Fare Thee Well, as we realize we love someone but we need to move on. The third track leans into the love of dark starry midnights, reminiscing about Pretty Girls, and featuring haunting harmony with Meg Conti, the song paints a vivid landscape traveling town to town away from those we are far from.
’Til I Die leaves the listener feeling an ache of loss and a yearning to continue the search in the ocean “though she’s six feet in the ground” in these poetically gorgeous, yet grief-stricken lyrics and sorrow filled melody. Benjamin gives us a glimpse of his growing career as a musician in $7, the money needed, ironically, to continue carving his musical path singing “just need seven more dollars to ride that train.” Followed up by an interlude midway in the cd as Benjamin begs the Lazy Old Moon “bring me home safe to her” after fighting another man’s war.
Life is supposed to hurt, to make you feel, and Benjamin does just that in the gripping tale of Home “because if it doesn’t hurt when everything’s said and done and over with what was the fucking point.” Leading next to a reflective time laying in a field realizing friends and family will be missed as Benjamin’s career begins to take off, with instrumentation and vocals that soar in Rockabye. Bluesy, gritty folk storytelling lends further depth to the album in the next track about a fugitive being hunted by a Mercy (less) bounty hunter, inspired by a 1911 Rangers badge in Benjamin’s antique collection.
She Was A Singer is a song about a father telling his child about his Mother “in one of those old timey rock and roll bands” but she is gone. The final track, begins as a lilting, brutally honest love song launching into an energetic almost frenetic near end chorus with well-appointed harmonies and intense instrumentation buildup about living with mental illness and addiction: Saints And Sinners “you won’t find it in that bottle full of answers, that I found on the drug store shelf.”
“A multi-instrumentalist, singer songwriter and composer, Benjamin Dakota Rogers pushes the boundaries of traditional folk. Combining fiddle, guitar and mandolin with his unique voice and strong lyrics he is creating music that demands attention.” Jan Hall – Folk Roots Radio with Jan HallPrevious interview
ABOUT BENJAMIN DAKOTA ROGERS
Benjamin Dakota Rogers found a passion and purpose in folk music after inheriting his Great-Grandfather’s violin at the tender age of seven. From budding musician to awe-inspiring performer, his love of creating meaningful music has taken the reins and garnered much attention from folk artists and enthusiasts alike. “Rogers’ unique voice, thought-provoking lyrics, energetic performances and dynamic fiddle techniques leave this up-and-coming musician in a class of his own.” – InSpades Magazine
With the release of his most ambitious project to date, Benjamin continues to redefine the genre with an infinite sound evolution that promises to deepen the path he’s already carved for himself for years to come. This is an album that can only be delivered from the honesty and grit of a farm boy’s hands. Hailing from the countryside of rural Ontario, Benjamin funnels his penchant for starry nights and nostalgia into his stylized folk sound, reaching far beyond to include influences of roots, blues and country music.
Read more HEREand find Benjamin’s Canadian tour info HERE
Yes Spotlighting one of our favorite troubadours new album gives us great pleasure and I hope all of you listeners too.
Well one has to say that the poster was a poor effort but the album is far from that.
A big thank you to Adam Dawson for supplying the album for promotion.
Yes thats the Adam who tries to play music on a …
Adam Carroll’s musical biography is as winding as the stories in his songs, full of far-away places and close-to-home meditations that encompass a career built on countless shows in Texas clubs, thousands of miles on the road with his partner in life and music, Chris Carroll, accolades of all kinds, and still the burning desire to simply…write the next song.
Thank goodness for that, because Carroll’s songs tap into a vein of the human condition that make them deeply moving but often humorous. As No Depression notes, “Carroll slips easily between observed detail and poetic flight, framing everyday images as literary moments. He’s particularly adept at portraiture, whether it’s a colorful hustler, a rural taxi driver or a karaoke singer, he sees what you might feel, but couldn’t verbalize, capturing a person’s essence in the details of their physical being and actions.”
“The core of what I do is songwriting; it’s the one thing I’m passionate about. It’s the most fulfilling and challenging job I can imagine.” explains Adam. In fact, the scope of Carroll’s songwriting influence was recognized in 2016 when “Highway Prayer: A Tribute to Adam Carroll” was released, featuring esteemed writers/performers like Hayes Carll, James McMurtry, Slaid Cleaves, and Terri Hendrix covering Carroll-penned tunes. It has garnered attention from publications like Texas Monthly and Rolling Stone, the latter which noted that Carroll “is talented beyond his years.”
With tours crisscrossing the USA, Canada and Europe, Carroll is currently focusing on performances as a duo with Chris Carroll, Canadian singer-songwriter and Texas transplant. Their distinct energies and personalities play off each other onstage, and the effect is a both moving and entertaining show that delights crowds from coast to coast.
Carroll’s body of work is expansive with eight independently produced albums to his name. From studio records produced by Grammy Award winner Lloyd Maines (South of Town, Lookin’ Out the Screen Door, Live at Cheatham Street, Far Away Blues) through to his latest releases (Old Town Rock N Roll, Hard Times with Michael O’Connor, Live at Flipnotics), Carroll’s song credits also include co-writes and covers by Slaid Cleaves (“Race Car Joe”, “Hard to Believe”), Hayes Carll (“Take Me Away”, featured in the film Country Strong) and Band of Heathens (“Medicine Man”, “Maple Tears”).
“Among singer-songwriters, Adam Carroll is probably Austin’s best-kept secret. His tunes are marvels of economy; …constantly inventive and decidedly offbeat…Live at Flipnotics offers a typically low-key yet inviting overview of his career. With (Producer) Scrappy Jud Newcomb on guitar, he sparkles.” Jim Caligiuri, Austin Chronicle
“Influences? Adam Carroll. I used to skip my own gigs to go watch him…by far my favorite, somebody whose writing style I emulated in some ways.” Hayes Carll, No Depression 2011
In April 2018, Kramer returned to the studio to record her third full-length album. Valley of the Bones is a triumphant collection of original songs that illustrate and explore the expression human of love in all its various forms.
Tracked mostly live (including the vocal performances,) at Sound Temple Studios in Asheville, N.C., Kramer teamed up with her frequent collaborators: Free Planet Radio musicians River Guerguerian, Chris Rosser and two-time Grammy Award winner Eliot Wadopian; as well as Billy Cardine. The album also includes performances by Nicky Sanders of The Steep Canyon Rangers on violin and Asheville Symphony Orchestra musician Franklin Keel on cello.
The collection of 10 original songs was engineered, mixed and produced by Adam Johnson of Sound Lab Studios and co-produced by Kramer and Chris Rosser. Kramer says of bringing the earliest, tentative versions of her songs to Johnson and Rosser for arrangement help and production ideas, “I have never trusted two people more with my art. In the past, I have seldom let people hear my songs until I felt that they were polished, but as my musical relationship with and respect for [Johnson] and [Rosser] have deepened, it felt important to me to to involve them from the beginning”.
“I know that the songs and the record as a whole are much stronger for it, and their gentle but firmly constructive approach has made me a better artist. I’ve been looking for such allies and mentors for a long time,” she adds.
While most of the aforementioned musicians accompanied Kramer on her acclaimed 2016 release Carnival of Hopes, listeners will hear a distinct difference in the band’s chemistry, cohesion and almost electric intuition with one another on Valley of the Bones.
“Simply put, it’s because we’ve been playing together a lot over the past three years since I’ve moved back home to Asheville,” she says. “We’ve gotten to know each other personally, had a little time on the road together, sold out some shows in theaters together and have built an incredible mutual respect. We had genuine fun in the studio. I think all of that translates and comes through on the record.”
photo credit : Rose Kaz
Valley of the Bones’ songs tackle a breadth of subject matter, ranging from marriage to miscarriage. Spirituality and self-acceptance are expressed with poetic grace, vulnerability and unapologetically honest grit. Kramer’s endearing, self-effacing humor is also on full display. This warm, easy storytelling is paired with rich, nuanced arrangements that aren’t afraid to be simple when called for, and are punctuated with the unmistakably bittersweet southern wail of Billy Cardine’s dobro.
Standout tracks include the gutsy and reflective “Hymn” (which was a “homework assignment” from Mary Gauthier, Kramer’s musical mentor) the undeniably smart and sassy “Waffle House Song”, and the profoundly poetic and transcendent title track “Valley of the Bones”. This song was dubbed a “masterpiece” by Lydia Hutchinson of Performing Songwriter Magazine. Also noteworthy are the quirky and hilarious country zinger “I’ll See Your Crazy and Raise You Mine” and the sweet, earnest “Singin’s Enough” which speaks candidly of the struggles of a touring musician.
All of the songs on Valley of the Bones show Kramer arriving confidently and comfortably at home inside as both a woman and a masterful songwriter after over twenty years of honing her craft.
‘”Waffle House Song” proves that while Kramer may be eighteen years into her journey, she is solidly serving up a sizzlin’ hot and delicious portion of nourishment for one’s soul…..kinda like that yellow signed place she sings about.” – Tara Joan, The Daily Country
“I have watched Jane Kramer work diligently, patiently and persistently on her songwriting over many years, refining her natural ability with words to the level of songwriting mastery. She has composed a new collection of songs that beautifully serve the bold, confident intensity of her voice, and I could not be more excited about it. Bravo!”
– Mary Gauthier
“Jane Kramer is a folk singer, I dig that”
– Malcolm Holcombe
“For a singer-songwriter, Kramer has presented the holy trinity of brilliant and affecting songwriting, divine vocals that crackle with emotion and high class backing and accompaniment. That the result is a beautifully produced album that is a joy to listen to perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise”
-Pete Churchill, Americana UK
“The North Carolinian’s third album, Valley Of The Bones, is packed with memorable acoustic-led tunes, an expressive and attractive voice with autobiographical stories that leave you staggered at the breadth of topics and profundity.” – Tony Ives, Americana Music Show
“Her strong pretty voice and penchant for vivid lyrics are the deepest talents on display here, though the crack band (featuring Nicky Sanders of Steep Canyon Rangers on fiddle) is surely deserving of praise” – Joseph Neff, The Vinyl District
“A lovely down home voice, a sharp pen and great taste in musical pals make this organic/back porch set a high water mark for Americana that’ll just drive friends of owners of this album crazy since said owners won’t stop playing it.”
-Chris Spector, Midwest Record
“Kramer is a natural and you’ll find that in her music, as the songs take you down quiet, gravel country roads, beautiful forests of peaceful mountain retreats, and the sometimes lonely nights of motels and truck stops on the road of life.” – Sheryl Craig, Nashville Music Guide
“these songs are kick-up your heels good. These are old timey string band tunes with a modern feel, songs that will appeal to traditionalists and Americana fans alike. Turn it up!” -Viola Krause, Making a Scene
“She appears to be more comfortable and confident in herself and her songs than ever.” – Billy Phoenix, Steemit
Recorded at Sound Temple Studios in Asheville, NC www.soundtemplestudios.com
Engineered and Mixed by Adam Johnson of Sound Lab Studios www.soundlabstudios.com
Produced by Adam Johnson
Co-Producers: Chris Rosser and Jane Kramer
Additional Engineering, String Arrangement for “Wedding Vows” and Mastering by Chris Rosser of Hollow Reed Arts in Asheville, NC.
All Songs (Words and Music) by Jane Kramer (ASCAP, Famous Brown Boots Music.)
The Band Is:
Jane Kramer – Lead Vocals on All Songs
Chris Rosser – Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Keyboards, Harmonium, Octave Mandolin, Harmony Vocals
Eliot Wadopian – Upright Bass
River Guerguerian – Drumset and Percussion
Billy Cardine – Dobro
Allison Hall – Harmony Vocals
Nicky Sanders (of The Steep Canyon Rangers) Fiddle
Franklin Keel – Cello
On the walls of any local used music shop there hangs a gallery of mysteries. Picked up and handed down across the decades, each instrument contains the imprints and stories of those who have played it before, most of which remain untold. For Kansas City-based songwriter Kelly Hunt the most intriguing of these stories is the origin of her anonymous calfskin tenor banjo. “I really wasn’t looking for it,” she says, “but I opened up the case and it said ‘This banjo was played by a man named Ira Tamm in his dog and pony show from 1920 to 1935.’ I strummed it and said ‘This is unlike anything I’ve ever heard.’ People often think of the banjo as being rather brash and tinny – loud and kind of grating – but this was so warm and mellow, with an almost harp-like quality to it, very soulful” – apt words for the Memphis native’s debut album, Even The Sparrow, coming out May 17 on Rare Bird Records.
The daughter of an opera singer and a saxophonist, Kelly Hunt was raised in Memphis, TN, and grew up performing other people’s works through piano lessons, singing in choirs, and performing theater. “It was a very creative, artistic household,” says Hunt. During her teenage years, influenced by musical inspirations as diverse as Norah Jones, Rachmaninov, and John Denver, she began writing her own songs on the piano as a creative outlet. After being introduced to the banjo in college while studying French and visual arts, Hunt began to develop her own improvised style of playing, combining old-time picking styles with the percussive origins of the instrument. “I’m self-taught, I just started letting the songs dictate what needed to be there,” she says. “I heard a rhythm in a song that I wanted to execute, so I figured out how to do it on the drum head while still being able to articulate certain notes in one motion.” After college, Hunt followed a rambling path that took her through careers in acting, graphic design, traditional French breadmaking, and medicine, all the while making music as a private endeavor. “I wanted get serious about a responsible career choice, but music kept bubbling up. I was writing a lot and playing a lot and started to not be satisfied just playing to my walls of my room.”
After moving to Kansas City and discovering her mysterious Depression-era tenor banjo, Hunt began recording Even The Sparrow in Kansas City alongside collaborator Stas’ Heaney and engineer Kelly Werts. “It took almost two years to record,” she says, “learning how to let the songs dictate the production.” Having finally come to light, the album displays Hunt’s penchant for masterful storytelling and intriguing arrangement, as researched and complex as they are memorable, punctuated by her articulate melodies and a well-enunciated and creative command of lyrical delivery infused with deft emotional communication. While reminiscent of modern traditionalists such as Gillian Welch–a number of her songs even borrow titles and phrasing from traditional American music (“Back to Dixie,” “Gloryland”)–Even The Sparrow reveals an ineffable quality that hovers beyond the constraints of genre, à la Anais Mitchell and Patty Griffin. In “The Men of Blue & Grey,” what begins as a Reconstruction-era ballad about the repurposing of glass photographic plates in a greenhouse roof soon becomes a meditation on the hope that growth and life may one day be able to emerge from the ruins of suffering and haunting of war. “Across The Great Divide” turns an otherwise traditional accounting of spurned love into a philosophical epic of the ethics of forgiveness and freedom, evoking the ideas of Søren Kierkegaard and Walt Whitman.
As for the original owner of Kelly Hunt’s mysterious tenor banjo, not much is known. “I’ve never been able to find anything about Ira Tamm,” she says. “I think he just had a humble little traveling show,” she says. What’s clear is that the itinerant performer laid down his banjo at the height of the Great Depression, almost eighty years before it would be picked up by Hunt. “That banjo has stories. I wish I knew them all,” she says, though the banjo’s most intriguing story may just be beginning with Even The Sparrow. “The marks of Ira’s hands are still in the calfskin head, so I can see where he played and left his mark,” she says. “Now my own hand marks are there too, in different places, like a kind of portrait.”
KC-based folk artist Bill Abernathy has released his new single, “Changes” to radio stations everywhere. It is the second single from “Crossing Willow Creek.”
We are constantly in flux, learning to adapt to the many changes and challenges that occur in our lives every day.”
— Bill Abernathy
KANSAS CITY, MO, USA, March 25, 2019 — In 2017, Kansas City, MO-based singer-songwriter Bill Abernathy hit the top of the Roots Music Report’s Traditional Songs chart with “Goodbye Will Never Come Again.” His album, “Find A Way” reached the Top 5 on the Traditional Albums chart, that same year. The following year, Bill released “Crossing Willow Creek,” an album of revamped versions of previously released tracks, covers and one new song. That album spawned the politically-charged radio hit, “Cry Wolf,” which reached the Americana Top 15, the iTunes Top 100, the Airplay Today Top 20, and #4 on the New Music Weekly country singles chart. The track led to Bill’s feature as an Emerging Artist in Billboard Magazine.
Now, Bill Abernathy is releasing the 2nd single from “Crossing Willow Creek,” “Changes:” “Change is the one constant in our lives we can depend on,” said Bill. “We are constantly in flux, learning to adapt to the many changes and challenges that occur in our lives every day. My tune, ‘Changes’ explores how changes have affected me personally and how embracing these changes have brought me to where I am today. ‘Change always teaches us to be everything we’re destined to be.”
ABOUT BILL ABERNATHY: Everyone loves a good story about second-chances, and that’s exactly what Bill Abernathy’s story is all about. The Kansas City, Missouri resident began writing songs in his early teens. He played all through his school years, but then he stopped…Life took over. Bill went about getting married, building a business career, and raising his children. After his kids graduated from school and started their careers, Bill picked up the guitar again and began trying to rekindle his love of music. In 2017, Bill’s album “Find A Way” reached #5 on the Roots Music Report Traditional Folk Albums chart, spending more than a year on the chart. His single, “Goodbye Will Never Come Again” reached #1 on the Traditional Folk Songs chart. His current album, “Crossing Willow Creek” features the Top 100 iTunes chart and Top 5 New Music Weekly chart single, “Cry Wolf.” Bill is a Billboard Magazine Emerging Artist. www.billabernathy.com
Richard Thompson has announced an extensive UK tour for October and November 2018 in advance of a new studio album which will be released later this year on Proper Records, kicking off in lovely Liverpool’s Philharmonic on 11th October. Last year, Thompson released two volumes of acoustic recordings: ‘Acoustic Classics Vol. II’ featuring acoustic renderings of songs from the Richard Thompson catalogue, and ‘Acoustic Rarities’ featuring new recordings of some of the more obscure songs in his repertoire. He celebrated the 50th anniversary of Fairport Convention, the groundbreaking band he co-founded as a teenager in the ‘60s, with a performance at its annual Cropredy Festival last August. He also briefly did a remarkably authentic stint as Abe Simpson when he berated the state of modern music at the AMAUKs last year.
Richard Thompson UK Dates 2018
Thu 11 Oct – Liverpool Philharmonic
Sat 13 Oct – Perth Concert Hall
Mon 15 Oct – Canterbury Marlowe
Tue 16 Oct – London Barbican
Wed 17 Oct – Bath Forum
Thu 18 Oct – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
Sat 20 Oct – Stoke on Trent Victoria Hall
Sun 21 Oct – Manchester Opera House
Mon 22 Oct – York Grand Opera House
Tue 23 Oct – Hull City Hall
Wed 24 Oct – Gateshead Sage
Fri 26 Oct – Birmingham Town Hall
Sat 27 Oct – Southend Cliffs Pavilion
Sun 28 Oct – Oxford New Theatre
Tue 30 Oct – Cambridge Corn Exchange
Wed 31 Oct – Salisbury City Hall
Thu 1 Nov – Bexhill De La Warr Pavilion
Fri 2 Nov – High Wycombe Swan
Sat 3 Nov – Woking The New Victoria
Aisha Badru makes an impressive label debut courtesy of Pendulum.
The LP puts its best foot forward as the opener ‘Mind on Fire’ takes hold of the ear. With an acoustic guitar clacking out a simple rhythm Badru, uses her melodic vocal tones to hum the backing track. The minimalist arrangement sets the stage for the New York artist’s confident, energized, and sweet voice.
The American sings:
“Have you seen the girl with the mind on fire? She set out to tell the world how they suppress our desires. Said she wouldn’t back down ’till the rules were amended and she didn’t give a f**k who she offended“.
It’s a strong lyrical offering that appears to tell of a protagonist looking to reignite her personal fire and make a difference to the world. It’s the LP’s most captivating track, which helps to propel the listener through the rest of what is an enjoyable auditory experience.
‘Bridges’ and ‘Navy Blues’ also impress on the album’s top half. The latter finds Badru reflecting on a toxic relationship with an antagonist who looks to tear down the partnership all the while maintaining the pretence of love.
“you kicked me down I got back up now. The scars I wear are fading”.
The tracks instrumentation again plays its role well with the violin’s melody proving a gentle accompaniment to the singer’s journey out of her misery.
In promotional material for the project it was revealed that the musician found her producer by scouring the pages of Google. An unorthodox approach you might say, but certainly a prosperous one.
Chris Hutchison Brings the acoustic and the electronic together well, with the artificial complementing the acoustic rather than overshadowing it.
Whether it’s the futuristic distorted backing vocals on ‘Bridges’, the drip drip drip opening of ‘Fossil Fuels’ or, the piano drum combination on ‘Just Visiting’, the producer holds the listener’s attention, whilst maintaining a tranquil easy listening mood.
The second half of the nine-song set isn’t quite as strong as the first.
‘Fossil Fuels’ takes a good shot at being lyrically fresh but, stretches in trying to pair up “precipitation” and “reciprocation” as representatives for love and life. Meanwhile, album bookends ‘Splintered’ and ‘Dreamer’ fall into the well-trodden category of ‘life’s a bit crummy right now but the solution is within us if only we would wake up.’
The songs by no means make for a bad ending, but they don’t match up to the rest of the strong Pendulum.
A regular artist here at TME.fm Radio John Prine released a new album this year, here is the best review I could find. It’s followed up by an excellent biography and some tracks to listen to.
On his first album of new songs in over 13 years, John Prine baits you but good.
The opening tunes to “The Tree of Forgiveness” are presented with ragged simplicity and homey cheer. Then the veteran songsmith, from an emotive standpoint, tosses you off the cliff with works full of stark, devastating resolve. Then, just as you think his world (and, perhaps, yours) has fallen into ruin, he winds the record up with a reverie of mortality that makes the hereafter sound like a street parade.
To perhaps no one’s surprise, “The Tree of Forgiveness” enlists the help of Dave Cobb, who became the Americana producer of choice during Prine’s prolonged writing absence.
Wisely, Cobb keeps things simple, even when he invites a few friends and clients – Jason Isbell and Brandi Carlile, among them – to the sessions. Their contributions provide attractive color, but Prine’s best music has never involved fuss. He tells stories succinctly, keeping his songs focused on lyrics of Mark Twain-ish worldliness with melodies dressed by the lightest and most open of folk melodies.
So it’s business as usual to hear a back porch reverie like “Knockin’ On Your Screen Door” with its sleepy summertime candor and references to sweet potato wine and George Jones 8 track tapes masking a sheepish sense of loneliness at the record’s onset. Three songs later, though, the album heads into the abyss with “Summer’s End,” a tune whose delicacy doesn’t even pretend to hide its sense of loss. “You never know how far from home you’re feeling until you watch the shadows cross the ceiling.” The song’s resulting sadness takes hold so immediately that it’s easy to overlook how graceful and gorgeous the melodic structure is.
But there has also been a mischievous slant to some of Prine’s music that regularly runs hand in hand with homespun, but very pointed social commentary. Case in point is “Lonesome Friends of Science.” It’s partly a slow-poke country rebuke of fact-denying politicos, but it’s mostly another worldly washing of hands, much in the way the classic “Fish and Whistle” was four decades ago. “The lonesome friends of science say the world will end most any day. Well, if it does, then that’s okay, ‘cause I don’t live here anyway.”
The mood is gloriously reprised for the album closing “When I Get to Heaven,” a view of the afterlife both affirmative in its abounding sense of forgiveness but ripe with show biz panache. “As God is my witness, I’m getting back into show business, open up a nightclub called The Tree of Forgiveness and forgive everybody who ever done me any harm.” But Prine saves his prime agenda for the pearly gates to the end as a chorus of laughing children and kazoos ring out. “This old man is going to town.” Sounds like heaven to me.
Artist Biography by Jason Ankeny
One of the most celebrated singer/songwriters of his generation, John Prine is a master storyteller whose work is often witty and always heartfelt, frequently offering a sly but sincere reflection of his Midwestern roots. While Prine‘s songs are often rooted in folk and country flavors, he’s no stranger to rock & roll, R&B, and rockabilly, and he readily adapts his rough but expressive voice to his musical surroundings. And though Prine has never scored a major hit of his own, his songs have been recorded by a long list of well-respected artists, including Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, George Strait, Bette Midler, Paul Westerberg, and Dwight Yoakam.
John Prine was born October 10, 1946, in Maywood, Illinois. Raised by parents firmly rooted in their rural Kentucky background, at age 14 Prine began learning to play the guitar from his older brother while taking inspiration from his grandfather, who had played with Merle Travis. After a two-year tenure in the U.S. Army, Prine became a fixture on the Chicago folk music scene in the late ’60s, befriending another young performer named Steve Goodman.
Prine‘s compositions caught the ear of Kris Kristofferson, who was instrumental in helping him win a recording contract. In 1971, he went to Memphis to record his eponymously titled debut album; though not a commercial success, songs like “Sam Stone,” the harsh tale of a drug-addled Vietnam veteran, won critical approval. Neither 1972’s Diamonds in the Rough nor 1973’s Sweet Revenge fared any better on the charts, but Prine‘s work won great renown among his fellow performers; the Everly Brothers covered his song “Paradise,” while both Bette Midler and Joan Baezoffered renditions of “Hello in There.”
For 1975’s Common Sense, Prine turned to producer Steve Cropper, the highly influential house guitarist for the Stax label; while the album’s sound shocked the folk community with its reliance on husky vocals and booming drums, it served notice that Prine was not an artist whose work could be pigeonholed, and was his only LP to reach the U.S. Top 100. Steve Goodman took over the reins for 1978’s folky Bruised Orange, but on 1979’s Pink Cadillac, Prine took another left turn and recorded an electric rockabilly workout produced at Sun Studios by the label’s legendary founder Sam Phillips, and his son Knox.
In 1998, while Prine was working on an album of male/female country duets, he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, with the cancer forming on the right side of his neck. Prine underwent surgery and radiation treatment for the cancer, and in 1999 was well enough to complete the album, which was released as In Spite of Ourselves and featured contributions from Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, Connie Smith, and more. In 2000, Prine re-recorded 15 of his best-known songs (partly to give his voice a workout following his treatment, but primarily so Oh Boy would own recordings of his earlier hits) for an album called Souvenirs, originally issued in Germany but later released in the United States. In 2005, he released Fair & Square, a collection of new songs, followed by a concert tour. Two years later, alongside singer and guitarist Mac Wiseman, Prine issued Standard Songs for Average People, a collection of the two musicians’ interpretations of 14 folk and country classics. In Person & on Stage, a collection of performances from various concert tours, appeared in 2010.