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Muddy Gurdy – French Hurdy Gurdy meets the North Mississippi Hill Country Blues.

These punchy, wonderful recordings not only propagate the blues. They enrich its character, and most importantly, its significance.

This is one of the most interesting collaborations of blues we have heard in some time.  A trio of French musicians – Tia Goutteble (guitar, voice), Gilles Chabenat (Hurdy-Gurdy – a traditional French instrument), and Marc Glomeau (percussion) call themselves the Hypnotic Wheels Trio.  Their music draws its inspiration from traditional French music and North Mississippi Hill Country Blues.  In some respects, it’s like the efforts of groups like Tinariwen from Mali – marrying their native music with American blues.  In this case the Hurdy-Gurdy is used as a second guitar.  This is the first time that music from these two cultures have combined.  So, to make this, their second album, even more authentic, the trio travelled to Mississippi and collaborated with some of the major local artists.

Without recording studios or top shelf technology, field engineer Pierre Bianchi captured these sessions with an 8 microphone preamp and a computer. The recordings took place on front porches, back porches, and historic landmarks in Mississippi. With no gimmicks the sound is not only authentic but especially engaging as you can hear train whistles and highway traffic on occasion.

One year of work was necessary to sort out all of the details of traveling in the United States and getting familiar with the countryside of North Mississippi.  The results were:  four tunes with Cedric Burnside (vocal, acoustic guitar) at Sherman Cooper’s in Como, three with Sharde Thomas (fife, vocals) under the front porch of Moon Hollow Farm in Como, two with Cameron Kimbrough (guitar, vocals) at the same location, and two with Pat Thomas (guitar, vocals) at the Highway 61 Museum in Leland.  The trio themselves perform three tracks on their own at Dockery Farms in Cleveland (2) and at B.B. King’s Club Ebony in Indianola.

Burnside, Shade Thomas, Kimbrough, and Pat Thomas are all descendants of their prestigious elders (RL Burnside, Otha Turner, Junior Kimbrough, James Son Thomas).  None of the four approach the project with a “take charge” mentality.  Instead, they give humble, passionate performances, immersing themselves in the music. And, these musicians certainly passed on that North Mississippi Hill County feel to the trio.  Listen to Cedric Burnside leading “See My Jumper Hanging on the Line” or Sharde Thomas leading “Glory” and then catch the trio doing Mississippi Fred’s “Shake ‘Em On Down.”  No doubt, they got it.

Winter Wilson Far Off on the Horizon not so far off now.

Two years ago Kip and Dave released  Ashes to Dust  by far the best folk album of 2016,  13 excellent songs which highlighted the couples skills.

This year they have disappointed  us  with their new release “Far Off on the Horizon”.

Only 12 gorgeous,luscious,timeless songs. If they spent less time strolling on the beach we could have had 13 or even 14, you can never have to much of a good thing.

Once again we have a variety of songs that people can actually relate to, emigration with “The Ship it Rocked” made even more special with the fiddle of  Marion Fleetwood who appears on the title track too and what a title track it is. Poetry as good as Mr Cohen gave us.

“Another night and sleep won’t come;
I’m staring at the ceiling.
Just my thoughts for company
And the sound of my own breathing.
There’s a battle raging in my head,
The saints against the sinners.
Oh restless night, oh restless night,
The ghost of you still lingers.”

 

Love makes an appearance with the song Grateful for the Rain (Billy Boy), I thought I had put an Avett Brothers track on until Kips voice finally joined in. A track to play again and again.

I Cannot Remain sends out a message about the 21st century that every MP should listen to very carefully, Kips  accordion adding just the right touch to the words.

I could go on describing all the songs but why bother you can listen them on TME.FM Radio.

“Far Off on the Horizon” will be our ALBUM of the MONTH for February so you will get plenty of chances to catch the 12 songs.

The reaction of the listeners around the world has been excellent,with almost all at a loss how Winter Wilson are not “famous” are almost unknown “outside the UK” and “Lacking the recognition they fully deserve for the musical skills and songwriting brilliance”.

I would personally like to thank Kip and Dave for sending the album for airplay and reviewing before the 25th January release.

Oh and they are over the moon to be going on tour with the legendary Fairport Convention. They have been invited along as their special guests to play twenty eight shows across England between January 25th and February 25th 2018.

The tour will coincide with the release of “Far Off on the Horizon”. See the dates here.

For me “Another night and sleep won’t come;” because I want to listen to more Winter Wilson.

 

 

 

We are enjoying The Early Mays.

We have been playing Chase the Sun for a couple of months and it has been brought to our attention that we have not posted anything about the band, so here goes.

With Appalachian-inspired harmonies, masterful songwriting, and a sweet old-time sound,  The Early Mays burst on to the scene with a #2 debut on the National Folk-DJ Charts in 2014. Watertight three part vocals won these women a loyal following in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and their growth as a band has carried them to the national arena with a 1st place win at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival in 2016 and a feature performance on NPR’s Mountain Stage in 2017. On their latest release, signature harmonies are central, but The Early Mays have upped their game with first-rate instrumental arrangements grounded in old-time styles. Chase the Sun is a fine collaboration on all fronts with songs that range from traditional to modern in style, and from contemplative to barn raising in spirit.

On “Chase the Sun,” Emily Pinkerton, Ellen Gozion and Rachel Eddy showcase their song and tune-writing talents, as well as the debt they owe to North American musicians who have inspired them.  In the title track, Emily paints a picture of a dry, cracked earth where two people slowly begin to emerge from destructive patterns. Sinuous harmonic progressions, edgy fiddle and clusters of vocal harmonies bring the harsh dreamscape of the lyrics to life. Little Pink, a beloved old-time song collected by Gerry Milnes, becomes a fiddle tune in the hands of the Mays, built around sweet vocals and stellar banjo by Ellen.  Though simple in form, the lyrical and rhythmic detail of the song will have you listening over and over.  Mannington #9 tells the story of one of the worst coal mining disasters in West Virginia history that took place outside of Morgantown where Rachel grew up.  It is a such an important part of her repertoire, that when she asked songwriter Keith McManus for permission to record it, he said there was no need to ask because “it was already hers.”  The recording features Rachel’s powerful clawhammer style, droning harmonium (a pump organ used in Indian classical music) and solid, stacked vocal harmonies from the group.

The Mays have felt a burning need to share the new sound of the group since Rachel came on board in early 2016.  Her strong voice and rock-solid instrumental chops have fused so well with Emily and Ellen’s songwriting and long-time love of traditional music. For Chase the Sun they returned to Broadcast Lane Studios in Pittsburgh to work with Lurch Rudyk (Sarah Harmer, Kathleen Edwards) and send their songs through his vintage analog gear they’ve come to love.

In The Early Mays, you won’t find a lead singer.  You’ll find a trio that enjoys lifting up each member’s work, putting the best of themselves into every song.  You won’t find harmonies that fall into a clear category—like old-time or bluegrass—but you’ll find yourself transported as you listen. There is an unsurpassed magic that springs from entwined and entrancing vocal harmonies. The Early Mays love the camaraderie of the studio, the road, and rehearsals, and you can feel the gratitude radiate from whatever stage they are on.

TME.FM Radio’s Top Songs Of 2017.

Below is the playlist of our 20 favorite songs of 2017.

Yes I know there are 42 but without declaring war among ourselves we could not make the list any smaller.

We had to use dirty tricks,back stabbing,bribery,coercion and  payment of favors but the 7 of us finally agreed.

We apologize to all the artists who have not got a song on the list , it does not mean they were not good enough we could not make a decision.

This list in no way reflects the TOP ALBUMS OF THE YEAR list which is being compiled in a much more democratic way. No bribes will be accepted from artists or PR companies I can assure you.

Now press play and listen to the best of the best of the best songs played on TME.FM Radio in 2017.

Chris Wood – So Much to Defend

Former BBC 2 Folk Singer of the Year Chris Wood is something of a national treasure in folk music circles. An inveterate collaborator, he has appeared alongside Martin Carthy, Oysterband, French fiddler Jean-Francois Vrod and, most notably, melodeon maestro Andy Cutting. He is often seen as a champion of traditional forms of music and dance, but in recent years his own songwriting has come to the fore on a series of excellent albums including Handmade Life, None the Wiser and now So Much to Defend.
Wood’s approach is that of the impassioned troubadour, and his success comes from the way he meshes the personal with the political in a way that is subtle but often astonishing. Like all the best protest singers he humanises his subjects’…

…suffering and joy for maximum emotional impact. The title track, which opens the album, is a case in point. It is a lengthy series of character studies, captured with warmth, wit and a poet’s eye for detail. It is so wide-ranging that the song itself acts almost like a city through which a listener can travel, meeting a huge variety of people along the way. The one thing that links the narratives of these disparate characters is hope in adversity.

This track also marks possibly the first time that Ebbsfleet United Football Club has been mentioned in popular song. This may seem like a slightly obscure choice for a football team, but it is an interesting one – the man in the song is ‘Ebbsfleet till he dies,’ which is a telling turn of phrase given that the football club in question is barely a decade old, and Ebbsfleet as a place does not even exist. It’s an insightful observation on Wood’s part, a way of using apparently mundane detail to track change in its subtlest form, and a comment on the transience of apparently immutable institutions.

This Love Won’t Let You Fail tackles adversity of a more personal type: that very specific kind of loss felt by parents when their children leave home. Wood conjures the imagery of loneliness, melancholy and, again, hope. That it never becomes mawkish is testament to the verbal dexterity of its creator, and also to his musical skill: the gentle acoustic guitar that underpins this and many of the album’s other songs is a lesson in restraint, in how to let a song breathe. Gary Walsh’s Hammond organ somehow gives the song an even greater feeling of space.

The world of lower-league football gets the full treatment on Only afy Friendly, which takes clichéd pitchside talk and turns it upside down to create something surprisingly poignant: a song that both transcends and satirises its subject matter. Once again the characterisation is key. Wood’s forte is putting real human beings in real positions and drawing some kind of universal truth out of those positions.

The Flail is altogether more abstract, but no less impressive: a reminder that history is always constructed from a distance, and not always fair. 1887 continues the historical theme. It is an adaptation of AE Housman’s poem, set to music by Martin Butler, who also provides the piano accompaniment. Its examination of the ambivalence of patriotism makes it a natural choice for Wood, whose own lyrics often knowingly tread the line between localism and internationalism, irony and sincerity, with similar opacity.

Dan Michaelson – First Light

On the evidence of First Light, Northampton’s Dan Michaelson isn’t the sort who leaps out of bed to greet the day. His seventh album (two solo, five with the Coastguards) concerns itself with that first moment of consciousness, and his weary voice sounds suitably hypnopompic. Indeed, there are echoes of Bill Callahan in his delivery, the sense that his measured baritone could imbue even the most mundane line with emotion. Arnulf Lindner’s orchestral arrangements are a subtle delight, meanwhile, violins, cellos and violas beautifully framing Michaelson’s at times almost positive lyrics. If there’s a criticism, it’s just that too little distinguishes one song from another.

Grayson Capps – Scarlett Roses

Apart from 2013’s self-titled collective Willie Sugarcapps album, with Will Kimbrough, Corky Hughes, and Sugarcane Jane, we haven’t heard new material from Grayson Capps since 2011. Of the illustrious bunch on that record, only Hughes remains, wrangling guitars and co-producing here with Trina Shoemaker and Capps. Recorded over two days in as many studios, these nine songs are chock-full of Capps’ poetic lyricism, and raw, rumbling grooves that meld Gulf Coast country, edgy garage rock (think Crazy Horse in their prime), folk, and blues.
The title track offers martial snares and interwoven electric guitars in a lament for love and the long-gone time that birthed it. “Hold Me Darlin”…

…is a jaunty, Piedmont-style blues rocker that’s also rooted in New Orleans R&B. Its tender lyric is road weary but celebratory. “Bag of Weed” is a rolling country rocker that actually makes room for Capps’ earthy lyrics. The medications listed in the refrain, pot, George Dickel, and a case of beer, aren’t for drowning sorrows, but for celebrating the survival of life’s trials. The strolling groove eventually ratchets up to explode in rockist glory. The syncopated blues-rock in “You Can’t Turn Around” is a manifesto of perseverance. Hughes burns in his lead break while Russ Broussard’s snare drum kicks up a ruckus. Topically, Capps shifts to gratitude for the stomping roots rock of “Thankful” with its snare breaks, wound-out guitars, and a stomping 2/4 roll affirmed by Shoemaker’s backing vocals. The tune takes everything in, good and band, day by day, and accepts it all as the spokes in the wheel of personal transformation. He builds on that with “New Again,” a lithe, languid, beautiful Americana ballad where Capps (and Dylan LeBlanc on backing vocals) shares hard-won worldly wisdom: “I take the gold from the sun/Hold it close when the day is done/Keep the fire inside me until the dawn…Remember Coco Robicheaux/He said I had a real young soul/Many lives to lead until the end/I’m getting old, my friends have died/I never got to say goodbye/They’re dead, they don’t miss you when they’re gone….” “Hit ‘Em Up Julie” is a ripping, slide guitar and harmonica blues stomp, while “Taos” is a droning, eight-minute psych-inflected rocker with screaming six strings. Closer “Moving On” is a proper bookend; it turns the record back on itself to reflect the title track but takes it further down the road emotionally and physically. It’s lucid, relaxed, and pointed, as the band builds a foundation under gorgeous layered vocal harmonies. Its lyrics reflect a time that, while eternally present, has been all but left behind.

The conflicts and dangers it depicts are global, archetypal, and personal, refracted in a psychic mirror as warning signs against complicity and ignorant contentment. Knowing how closely these are all tied together is, after all, wisdom, and makes for great songwriting. Scarlett Roses is the roots rock record we’ve been waiting for from Capps.

Chris Thile – Thanks for Listening

Released a little over a year after Chris Thile took over as host of the public radio variety show A Prairie Home Companion, Thanks for Listening collects ten Song of the Week features from his inaugural season. Each song was an original written for that week and premiered live on the show. Finding a common theme among personal, societal, and political topics in some of the songs — namely, the art of listening — Thile headed to the studio with producer Thomas Bartlett to record selections for a cohesive album. On these versions, the mandolin virtuoso covers stringed instruments except bass and viola, and sings lead, though he’s joined on some songs by guest vocalists Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’Donovan, and Gaby Moreno, all Prairie alumnae under Thile.

One of the album’s flashier mandolin performances can be found on the spare “Balboa,” whose multicultural wanderlust receives intricate and nuanced accompaniment. By and large, though, Thanks for Listening puts a premium on songs over chops, not that there’s any lack of instrumental proficiency here. An atmospheric track like “Feedback Loop,” for instance, uses a slow tempo, keyboards, and echo along with acoustic instruments. After setting an intentionally lethargic tone, lyrics get at our ability to filter unwelcome opinions on social media and elsewhere (“Feedback Loop, I play you to soothe my closed eyes/Closed mind/Open wounds/Open hate for anyone out of the Feedback Loop”). Later, the poppier “Falsetto” grapples with the constant derision, real and imagined, from a post-election Donald Trump, including what he might have to say about an activist musician. Other songs address fatherhood, family gatherings, and friendship in the context of the time’s technology and politics.

Despite its more collaborative origins, Thanks for Listening plays like a singer/songwriter album from Thile, one with moments of humor, poignancy, dread, and playfulness. Particularly “for anyone trying to hear through the din of a boorish year,” it captures the Zeitgeist of the first half of 2017 with a very human touch.

Humming House – Companion

Photo courtesy of the artist

2017 is an unusual year to release a new album. Songs that were possibly written years ago are listened to within the context of current events, and in many cases can take on new meanings: hopeful tracks become rallying cries, somber songs serve as soundtracks for fresh tragedies.

Nashville band Humming House’s new album Companion was written with such a phenomenon in mind. The album’s 12 tracks, which the band began writing in earnest in 2015, seek to be just as the LP’s title suggests: musical companions for trying times. The four-piece band recorded the album, which is the follow-up to 2015’s Revelries, with producers Jordan Lehning and Eric Masse, and recruited Ed Spear for mixing. The resulting album is a sonic departure for the band, described by vocalist Justin Wade Tam as “Humming House goes electric.”

“Our goal was to embrace where we’ve been as a band while simultaneously attempting to remove the barriers of genre and instrumentation,” Tam explains. “On our last album, we set out to arrange pop songs with solely acoustic instruments. While we enjoyed the exercise and are proud of it, we wanted to dive deeper.”

Thematically, many of the songs on Companion achieve a sense of universality by daring to venture into the deeply personal. “Make It Through” was inspired by Tam’s own chronic health problems but may as well be an anthem for those of us struggling to read the daily news. “Silver Lining” is exactly that — a sliver of brightness gleaming in the dark.

“’Wishing Well,’ one of my favorite songs, is an appeal to take care of one another, to recognize the beauty and fragility of our shared humanity,” Tam adds. “Such a central sentiment has felt increasingly poignant as we’ve faced so much tragedy in 2017. ‘Find What Waits,’ ‘Hope In My Head,’ and ‘Sign Me Up’ highlight my existential wandering and search for meaning. We’re all trying to find our path, our purpose, our means of survival.”

Ilya Portnov – Strong Brew

Harmonica player Ilya (i l e e y u h) Portnov’ s debut instrumental album contains nine eclectic tunes, seven of which are originals together with an arrangement of ‘Cincinnati Flow Rag’ and ‘In A Town Garden.’Here’s what Ilya has to say about his new recording:

“On this album, I wanted to feature different kinds of music that play a big role in my life. Being in the US I’ve been playing a lot of blues and roots and some jazz music. I’ve been also playing and recorded with a few bands that play Brazilian music in the styles of choro and forro both here and in Brazil. As I grew up in Russia, I was exposed to a lot of European and Russian classical music and folk music from Europe and Russia.

I wrote most of the music for this album and at first the plan was to feature all these three countries on the album. I was going to record the “American” and “Russian” parts here in the US and then go to Brazil to record the “Brazilian” part and mix everything in the US. But after we started recording here in the US I realized that the overall sound of the album seemed very “American,” even though there were a lot of elements coming from Europe and Russia. So, I decided to exclude the Brazilian part from this album and record a separate album in Brazil (hopefully sometime soon).

I wrote tunes in different styles for it; there is one that is kind of a tribute to a great early jazz clarinet player Sidney Bechet. There is a surf-rock tune. There are several kinds of blues. There is an old American ragtime tune by Rev. Gary Davis, ‘Cincinnati Flow Rag.’ There is a popular Russian tune from the 1940’s, ‘In A Town Garden,’ (one of my grandmother’s favorite) that we recorded in a kind of organ trio style. There is a waltz that I wrote. Tango is very big in Russia especially in the first half of the 20th century and many Russian composers wrote tangos. So, I wrote one for this album.

It was all recorded at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios in San Jose, which mostly specializes in blues and roots music. Kid plays bass and guitar on the album and was the recording engineer too. It also features some other great musicians that specialize in blues, roots and jazz music. Chris Burns plays piano and keyboard. June Core on drums and percussion. There are also a couple of special guests – Rob Vye on acoustic guitar on one of the tracks. (Rob and I have a country blues duo that participated in the 2017 IBC representing the Golden Gate Blues Society). And Ben Andrews plays violin on two tracks. (Ben also plays in my other band, Choro Bastardo).

So, there is a big mixture of things on the album and a lot of different styles and I was trying to be very respectful to each of these styles.”

BACKGROUND

Ilya was born in Russia and grew up in the suburbs of Moscow. As he was born in 1989, all his documents say that his place of birth is the USSR. He came to study at the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he obtained his Master’s degree, as the first person to be accepted with the diatonic harmonica as the main instrument. After graduating from NEC in 2014, Ilya moved to the West Coast. At first to San Francisco and now he’s based in Los Angeles.

Ilya started out playing piano at the age of four, mostly classical music. His dad is really into rock music, so he always heard a lot of British rock (Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc.) growing up. He also had a couple of friends, who played blues on the harmonica, and he was really into its sound. Finding an old harmonica that belonged to his dad, he was hooked and spent all his free time practicing, even skipping college just to stay home and practice. As he already had theoretical knowledge about music, he progressed swiftly on the harmonica and five years later was accepted into the Master’s program at the Contemporary Improvisation department of New England Conservatory, one of the most prestigious music schools in the US.

His first harmonica teacher in Russia, Alex Bratetsky, greatly influenced Ilya’s technique, developing an excellent basic foundation and introducing him to the “overblow” technique, which allows one to play a full chromatic scale on a diatonic harmonica. His teacher also introduced Ilya to the music of Jason Ricci, Howard Levy and Carlos del Junco, a major turning point in his development. “After hearing these guys, I realized that I can play anything on the harmonica and that’s when I became very serious about it,” says Ilya. “I always liked the blues and that’s what I started with on the harmonica, but I could never see it as the only thing I would do just because of my background, the place where I grew up, and the culture I was surrounded by. So, hearing these three guys really changed a lot for me and I realized I can play anything I want on the harmonica. And later I was lucky enough to study with all three of them on different occasions. Also since coming to the US (and especially after moving to the West Coast) I started studying blues and American roots music on a deeper level and it’s now a much bigger part of what I do. After graduating from NEC, I started playing chromatic harmonica too. And even though I can play all the chromatic notes on a diatonic harmonica, the chromatic harmonica has a different sound and I do like it for certain projects.”

“Strong Brew” is his debut solo project. A few years ago, Ilya recorded an album with one of his bands called Choro Bastardo, which plays Brazilian music, and he has also recorded on a bunch of other people’s albums. Some of them are released in the US, some in Brazil, and some in Russia. Ilya is featured in an NPR Music article on the harmonica – http://www.npr.org/2015/12/26/460860955/pocket-sized-revolution-behind-the-harmonicas-world-music-takeover.

 

TITLE
STRONG BREW
LABEL
SELF
RELEASE DATE
NOVEMBER 10, 2017
DISTRIBUTION
CD BABY
LINKS
Artist Website
Artist Facebook

Harmonica player Ilya (i l e e y u h) Portnov’ s debut instrumental album contains nine eclectic tunes, seven of which are originals together with an arrangement of ‘Cincinnati Flow Rag’ and ‘In A Town Garden.’Here’s what Ilya has to say about his new recording:

“On this album, I wanted to feature different kinds of music that play a big role in my life. Being in the US I’ve been playing a lot of blues and roots and some jazz music. I’ve been also playing and recorded with a few bands that play Brazilian music in the styles of choro and forro both here and in Brazil. As I grew up in Russia, I was exposed to a lot of European and Russian classical music and folk music from Europe and Russia.

I wrote most of the music for this album and at first the plan was to feature all these three countries on the album. I was going to record the “American” and “Russian” parts here in the US and then go to Brazil to record the “Brazilian” part and mix everything in the US. But after we started recording here in the US I realized that the overall sound of the album seemed very “American,” even though there were a lot of elements coming from Europe and Russia. So, I decided to exclude the Brazilian part from this album and record a separate album in Brazil (hopefully sometime soon).

I wrote tunes in different styles for it; there is one that is kind of a tribute to a great early jazz clarinet player Sidney Bechet. There is a surf-rock tune. There are several kinds of blues. There is an old American ragtime tune by Rev. Gary Davis, ‘Cincinnati Flow Rag.’ There is a popular Russian tune from the 1940’s, ‘In A Town Garden,’ (one of my grandmother’s favorite) that we recorded in a kind of organ trio style. There is a waltz that I wrote. Tango is very big in Russia especially in the first half of the 20th century and many Russian composers wrote tangos. So, I wrote one for this album.

View post on imgur.com

It was all recorded at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios in San Jose, which mostly specializes in blues and roots music. Kid plays bass and guitar on the album and was the recording engineer too. It also features some other great musicians that specialize in blues, roots and jazz music. Chris Burns plays piano and keyboard. June Core on drums and percussion. There are also a couple of special guests – Rob Vye on acoustic guitar on one of the tracks. (Rob and I have a country blues duo that participated in the 2017 IBC representing the Golden Gate Blues Society). And Ben Andrews plays violin on two tracks. (Ben also plays in my other band, Choro Bastardo).

So, there is a big mixture of things on the album and a lot of different styles and I was trying to be very respectful to each of these styles.”

BACKGROUND

Ilya was born in Russia and grew up in the suburbs of Moscow. As he was born in 1989, all his documents say that his place of birth is the USSR. He came to study at the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he obtained his Master’s degree, as the first person to be accepted with the diatonic harmonica as the main instrument. After graduating from NEC in 2014, Ilya moved to the West Coast. At first to San Francisco and now he’s based in Los Angeles.

Ilya started out playing piano at the age of four, mostly classical music. His dad is really into rock music, so he always heard a lot of British rock (Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc.) growing up. He also had a couple of friends, who played blues on the harmonica, and he was really into its sound. Finding an old harmonica that belonged to his dad, he was hooked and spent all his free time practicing, even skipping college just to stay home and practice. As he already had theoretical knowledge about music, he progressed swiftly on the harmonica and five years later was accepted into the Master’s program at the Contemporary Improvisation department of New England Conservatory, one of the most prestigious music schools in the US.

His first harmonica teacher in Russia, Alex Bratetsky, greatly influenced Ilya’s technique, developing an excellent basic foundation and introducing him to the “overblow” technique, which allows one to play a full chromatic scale on a diatonic harmonica. His teacher also introduced Ilya to the music of Jason Ricci, Howard Levy and Carlos del Junco, a major turning point in his development. “After hearing these guys, I realized that I can play anything on the harmonica and that’s when I became very serious about it,” says Ilya. “I always liked the blues and that’s what I started with on the harmonica, but I could never see it as the only thing I would do just because of my background, the place where I grew up, and the culture I was surrounded by. So, hearing these three guys really changed a lot for me and I realized I can play anything I want on the harmonica. And later I was lucky enough to study with all three of them on different occasions. Also since coming to the US (and especially after moving to the West Coast) I started studying blues and American roots music on a deeper level and it’s now a much bigger part of what I do. After graduating from NEC, I started playing chromatic harmonica too. And even though I can play all the chromatic notes on a diatonic harmonica, the chromatic harmonica has a different sound and I do like it for certain projects.”

“Strong Brew” is his debut solo project. A few years ago, Ilya recorded an album with one of his bands called Choro Bastardo, which plays Brazilian music, and he has also recorded on a bunch of other people’s albums. Some of them are released in the US, some in Brazil, and some in Russia. Ilya is featured in an NPR Music article on the harmonica – http://www.npr.org/2015/12/26/460860955/pocket-sized-revolution-behind-the-harmonicas-world-music-takeover.

 

TITLE
STRONG BREW
LABEL
SELF
RELEASE DATE
NOVEMBER 10, 2017
DISTRIBUTION
CD BABY
LINKS
Artist Website
Artist Facebook