March 1, 2019 “This is the kind of slow, thought-out acoustic music that is increasingly hard to come by, with the songwriters putting an equal emphasis on the the craft of lyricism and nuanced yet complex and intricate guitar solos. – Glide Magazine
Though Kagey Parrish and Laura Wortman of The Honey Dewdrops have long ago traded the Appalachian mountain air for the Baltimore sea breeze, one thing is certain: the duo, who’s fifth independent release, Anyone Can See out on March 1st, 2019, has lost none of the creative energy so prevalent on their previous releases. Rather, the duo are growing rapidly as artists, enthusiastically exchanging perfection for the compelling ebbs that accompany an intimate, authentic kind of expression.
For their newest release, Parrish and Wortman recreated 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. “There is no click track on this album and we found that the takes that had the magic, often had some variation of pitch and rhythm.”
While chasing the magic, Parrish and Wortman found that their sense of musical clarity also evolved over the course of the album’s creation. “The process made us look at how we define what is “right” and what is “wrong” in our performances,” says Parrish and Wortman. “What sounded good to us tended to go more in the direction of emotion, dynamics, and improvisation in the arc of a song.”
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 characteristic heart-wrenching melodies and intricate chord progressions. Producer Nick Sjostrom kept them on a path throughout the process, guiding the duo towards a grounded result even while they were undergoing such rapid growth as artists. “Nick has a great sense of melody and timing and brought forth some interesting ideas for rhythm changes and variations in our song structures,” says the duo. “His input became the fitting pieces to this record puzzle.”Ultimately, Parrish and Wortman decided to keep their listeners at the forefront of their thoughts throughout the production of Anyone Can See. “We want listeners to feel like they are sitting in the room with us, close by,” said the duo. “We used condenser mics to capture the voices and instruments, and we set up a few extra mics at different locations in the studio to get a “room” sound and feel with natural reverb.”
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 cozily into whichever personal living room, bedroom, bar, or studio it might find itself in. In this way, the intimacy oscillating throughout the record complements and overturns the melodic vastness: nobody will get lost in this expanse.
“The singer-songwriter has spent much of his life with music at its center, a steady marker amidst the turbulence. Born in Tarrytown and an active contributor to the Hudson River folk scene, the New York artist’s plaintive Americana stylings blossom throughout ‘Time Again’.” – PopMatters
“With a charming, wistful folk sound and a strong lyrical presence, Greg Jacquin and his band can expect an awful lot of critical acclaim when their new album.” – The 405
“Hudson Valley is quite an impressive return to the ‘arena’ for Greg Jacquin and his band’s anticipated full length, due in 2019, will undoubtedly prove to be one of the year’s most compelling indie releases.” – No Depression
Today, New York-based, indie folk, singer songwriter Greg Jacquin shares his new albumClocks Slow Down, out now on all DSPs. Earbuddy exclusively streamed the record in advance, stating “Recorded at Woody’s House in Croton, New York, the album is a sometimes somber meditation on pain, suffering, and self-discovery. Add a little politics and humor, and you have yourself an album.” Jacquin has announced East Coast tour dates in support of the album, and will be celebrating the release tonight with a performance at NYC’s Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1 at 6pm. See below for all his upcoming dates. Clocks Slow Down is out now on all streaming platforms.
Greg Jacquin and bandmates Paul Griffin (piano, keys, vocals), Rich Berta (guitar, vocals), Peter Wilson (drums) and Lalit Loomba (bass) recorded Clocks Slow Down, a beautiful collection of eleven original songs. The album is a sprawling statement of sadness and hopelessness, pain and suffering, rebuilding and self-discovery, with a dash of politics and humor, too. This time around, Jacquin enlisted another impressive crew of musicians for the album, including Andrew Bordeaux on violin and guitar, Jim Keyes and organ and electric piano and Sarah Browne on vocals. The album was recorded by Fred Gillen Jr. (Pete Seeger) at Woody’s House in Croton, NY, and mastered by Scott Hull (John Zorn, Snarky Puppy, Loudon Wainwright III, Uncle Tupelo, Edie Brickell, Ani DiFranco) at Masterdisk. The album art is by Ian Felice (The Felice Brothers).
All songs were written by Jacquin, eliciting collaboration with a variety of artists and bandmates. “Store Policy” and “Time Again” saw Lalit Loomba & Jacquin team up in their writing process, “Coffee” was written by Greg Jannacone and Jacquin, “Too Hungry For Dinner” and “Highways & Hotels” was written by Paul Griffin.
02.15 – Rockwood Music Hall – New York, NY (LP Release Show)
02.22 – Six Degrees of Separation – Ossining, NY 03.18 – Hotel RL (Brooklyn) – Brooklyn, NY 03.19 – Hotel RL (Baltimore) – Baltimore, MD
03.24 – Pianos – New York, NY
04.02 – Pianos – New York, NY 04.18 – Hotel RL (Brooklyn) – Brooklyn, NY
04.25 – Forest & Main Brewing Company – Ambler, PA 04.26 – Seasons & Seasons – Washington, DC 04.27 – Garden Grove Brewing – Richmond, VA 04.28 – The Juggling Gypsy Cafe – Wilmington, NC 05.02 – The Cellar in Newnan – Newnan, GA
05.06 – El-Rocko Lounge – Savannah, GA 05.10 – Hotel RL (Baltimore) – Baltimore, MD 05.11- Hotel RL (Washington DC) – Washington, DC
05.14 – Pianos -New York, NY
CLOCKS SLOW DOWN LP – TRACKLISTING
01. All These Strangers
02. Store Policy
04. Too Hungry For Dinner
05. Time Again
06. What If I?
09. Jim Carrey
11. Highways & Hotels
New York-based, indie-folk, singer-songwriter Greg Jacquin has spent much of his life writing and playing music. From singing and playing guitar as a little kid through writing his songs with his best friend and cousin in the 80s up to the present moment, Jacquin has been contributing to the rich music scene in New York’s Hudson Valley. Drawing on his own life experiences, the natural world, and politics, Jacquin is still out there pouring his heart and soul into every song he releases. His EP Hudson River was released to rave reviews in February 2018. After playing the new songs all over New York and the Hudson Valley for the past year, Greg was eager to get back into the studio in the summer of 2018.
Yes folks after much deliberation we have decided on our Album of the Month and what a treat it is, Beatles Blues Blast , 17 of the Liverpudlians great tunes Bluezed up by Gaetano and the boys.
The Fab Four are unquestionably one of the most influential groups of modern times, with over 500 artists recording cover versions or full tribute albums of Beatles’ songs. The list of artists spans the gamut from Ella to Elvis, the Philharmonic to Phish, even The Muppets and Alvin & the Chipmunks have had a go at them. The Beatles themselves began as a cover band, recording songs by 50’s icons Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Carl Perkins and the influence of classic R&B and blues can be heard on all the group’s albums. Several notable R&B stars had hits with Beatles songs, such as Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles, but only a few authentic blues acts have ventured into the territory of the lads from Liverpool.
Cleveland Ohio is the home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and birthplace of guitarist extraordinaire, Gaetano Letizia, leader of the Underworld Blues Rock Band, who was a teenager during the years of Beatlemania and the British invasion. The effect of those heady days has stayed in the forefront of his mind for decades and now, with a little help from his friends, Mike D’Elia on drums and bass man Lenny Gray, Gaetano presents “Beatles Blues Blast.” The third disc from the trio is a rowdy romp through 17 classics from the Beatles’ catalog, cleverly arranged and reframed as a funky blues jam session. Recorded live off the floor in a single day at Bad Racket Studio in downtown Cleveland, this lo-fi indie blues rock album takes this magical music back to its roughneck roots of dance clubs in a hard-working industrial town.
In classic Beatles’ fashion the album begins at the end with ‘Come Together,’ which was the opening song of their final studio album “Abbey Road,” where the trio forgo the dramatic intro and jump headlong into the groove setting up the formula for the project. D’Elia turns McCartney’s first drum track into a jungle beat of swamp rock fury on ‘Do It In The road,’ and then we all yell “More Cowbell!” during the four on the floor funk ‘Drive My Car.’ 1960 Motown hit ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’ is injected with surf guitar as a tip of the hat to the American bands that also covered it. Harrison’s Rocker ‘Taxman’ is given a Texas Shuffle treatment, and his beloved ode to the six string, ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps,’ shifts between a samba and power ballad. ‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,’ retains the funky groove of the Joe Cocker version, and they keep the psychedelic blues rocker, ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy),’ true to its original metal prototype form. The Latin tinged ‘And I Love Her’ has a 70’s Santana vibe, and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love,’ is turned into a Chicago Blues. Letizia steps hard on the fuzz pedal for ‘You Can’t Do That,’ and plays ‘Yesterday,’ as a soft blues rhumba.
The boys pick up the rooftop party right where the Beatles left off for a rocking ‘Get Back,’ then bring out the full drama for ‘With A Little Help From My Friends.’ The novelty song with a great riff, ‘Birthday,’ is tossed in for laughs before a sweet country blues reading of ‘Blackbird’ that features marvelous finger picking lead guitar and articulate counter point on the bass. The aptly chosen closer ‘A Day In The Life,’ also the final track of the 1967 album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely-Hearts Club Band,” is bumped up with touches of Soul and Rockin’ Fire for an epic climax.
By tackling this iconic repertoire, Gaetano Letizia and The Underworld Blues Rock Band, have created a whimsical and yet sincere tribute with “Beatles Blues Blast,” that will find a respected place in the Pantheon of Beatlemania that remains strong some 50 years on.
Rick J Bowen
Gaetano Letizia – Guitarist, Song Writer, Vocalist
Gaetano, also known as Tom, was born in Cleveland in 1951. He began performing his own blues shows at the age of 16. One of his first stage appearances was with the James Gang, sitting in for Joe Walsh at his Alma Mater, Kent State in 1970. Since then, he’s performed all over the U.S. along with Europe and Asia. Early performances with June Core of Robert Jr. Lockwood’s band, gave Gaetano a strong blues foundation based on B.B. King, Albert King, Muddy Waters and all the great blues patriarchs.
Producer of ten blues and jazz guitar CDs, Gaetano has received stellar reviews in Downbeat, Guitar Player and many national/international publications and his music has been played on radio stations in every state as well as most foreign countries.
The Underworld Band is Gaetano’s blues trio formed in 2010 and now beginning to tour the U.S. with plans for European and Asian tours in the works. The band won the Cleveland Blues Society’s 2014 Memphis Challenge and did four great shows in Memphis. The Underworld Band plays creative blues shows that audiences love and will remember. The band has two excellent albums, “Voodoo Doll & Other Blues Lessons” (2014) and “Resurrection” (2016).
Described as “a guitarist’s guitarist” and a “virtuoso” by music critics, Gaetano’s music stays true to the roots of blues while advancing the standard blues forms to delight the listener. “A new take on the blues” describes Gaetano’s treatment of modern blues problems in our lives now that we’re far from sharecropping in Mississippi. With blazing electric solos, red hot slide playing and nylon string guitar, listeners will be treated to a fun style of blues rock combined with funk and R&B that grooves and makes you move. The guitar playing is top shelf and the performances are high energy, audience oriented fun.
Michael D’Elia – Drummer, Vocalist
Born in Canton, Ohio in 1953, Mike started playing drums professionally at the age of 8 and toured nationally with various groups in his teens. Mike is the “go to” drummer for almost all the Cleveland based groups not only because he is a dynamic vocalist, but because he is a great drummer whose powerful groove and solos drive audiences wild. Known affectionately as “Daddy Sweet Roll”, Mike is loved by his thousands of music fans and everyone who meets this great lifetime blues rock musician.
Lenny Gray – Bassist
A Cleveland native born in 1950, Lenny started playing drums at 10 years old and switched to bass to play in R&B bands in 1966. Nephew of Slide Hampton, Lenny’s family is loaded with professional musicians, family reunions are big jam sessions. Lenny’s style is based in blues and jazz, heavy on the groove side. A Victor Wooten student and disciple, Lenny pops with the best and swings with all the rest.
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.
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.
Kansas City’s Bill Abernathy has released his new album, “Crossing Willow Creek”
Kansas City, MO folk/americana artist, Bill Abernathy has released his latest album, “Crossing Willow Creek.” MTS Management Group will handle promotions.
Sometimes life gives you a second chance. I walked away from music for a myriad of reasons. Now, I’ve been given a second chance to pursue music, and I am really enjoying the ride!””
— Bill Abernathy
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, USA, November 6, 2018– 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.
Now, Bill Abernathy’s latest collection of songs, “Crossing Willow Creek” is available. The album is a mix of revamped songs from Bill’s previous release, “Changes,” a couple covers, and a brand new song. First single, “Cry Wolf” is hitting radio airwaves around the globe.
Award-winning publicity and promotions firm, MTS Management Group will handle press for the release.
“Sometimes life is good to you and gives you a second chance. In my youth I walked away from music for a myriad of personal reasons. Now, I’ve now been given a second chance to pursue this thing we love called music, and I am really enjoying the ride!”
The hard-working, hard-driving contemporary blues band, Peter V Blues Train, has been tearing up the airwaves and the touring routes since their formation in 2013. The veterans of the NY and NJ scene hit us once again with their remarkable second album of 2018 “Shaken But Not Deterred.” The nine original tracks and four fresh covers recorded by Joseph DeMaio at Shorefire Recording Studios, are a sophisticated blend of modern blues with jazz and funk overtones that prove the band means business. The quartet is led by guitar man and vocalist Peter Veteska, aka Peter V, a native of the projects in rough-and-tumble Bushwick, Brooklyn. He is backed by Alex D’Agnese on drums, Sean “Gravey” Graverson on bass and Aron Gornish on keys and joined by a few special friends, including Jeff Levine (B3) and Danny Walsh (sax), to bolster the sound and add fun and fire to an already potent mix.
Drummer Alex D’Agnese introduces the opening track, ‘Don’t Wanna Leave Memphis,’ with a classic shuffle groove that builds to a powerful triplet fill that brings in the band and boldly declares this band knows how to swing and rock steady. Peter V names a few of his heroes from the home of the blues and his love for Beale Street that grew deeper after representing the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation at the International Blues Challenge, while sax man Danny Walsh spars with Jeff Levine on the Hammond B3. The crew then rips out a bump and grind arrangement of Fats Domino’s ‘Blue Monday,’ updating the New Orleans standard with a muscular punchy beat and gritty guitar. Written by Peter V and Joanne Cesario, ‘By The River,’ previously released as the opening track on their 2017 album “On Track,” is revisited and refined here by colorful guitar from Bob DelRosso and a sweet remix from DeMaio that brings out the funky groove but still retains the blues underbelly. Peter V drew inspiration for his emotional delivery from soul singer Donny Hathaway for the oft recorded ‘For All We Know,’ added to the lexicon by kicking up the fire and playing the 1934 ballad like a south side dirty blues.
The slinky ‘In Demand,’ is a slow burning hunk of funk that has Peter V begging at the feet of his best girl. Blues standard ‘T Bone Shuffle’ is reinvented as a heavy Chicago shuffle featuring more hot lead guitar and organ solos. D’ Agnese’s heavy bass drum foot and a gritty riff creates a distinctly modern feel on the heady track ‘Alibi,’ before the band delivers some good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll for the barnstorming ‘Don’t Cheat On My Lady.’ Peter V lays out his bluesman manifesto declaring “This is who I am, not what I chose to be,” on ‘Rodeo. (No BS),’ and repeating “this is a blues show, not some rodeo,” passionately driving his point home. Gary Neuwirth adds hot blues harp and powerhouse vocalist from the Jersey shore, Vanessa Vause, trades verses with Peter V on the saucy duet ‘Getting Closer Now.’ Paul Levinsky sits in as the funky drummer for the hip-hop influenced east coast blues update ‘Been So Long.’ The title track, ‘Shaken But Not Deterred,’ is a jagged time-shifting blues rocker that has influences from Albert Collins and fellow New York shouter Popa Chubby. The live-in-the-studio acoustic duet of the blues chestnut ‘Worried Life Blues,’ tagged as a “bonus track,” closes out the set as a delicious encore.
This strong second release of 2018, “Shaken But Not Deterred,” will no doubt follow in the footsteps of their third album,“Running Out Of Time,” keeping The Peter V Blues Train high on the charts and is sure to receive glowing reviews while maintaining the bands presence in the vibrant original East Coast blues scene.
Rick J Bowen
Here’s what Peter V has to say:
“I was born in Manhattan in 1959 and grew up in Jamaica Queens. When I was twelve years old, I saw a black Les Paul in the window of a pawn shop. I got a press route delivering papers on a bike. Each week I would drop off a payment on layaway. After a few months of weekly payments, I was able to pick up the guitar that I had dreamed of. Listening to Derek and the Domino’s and the Allman Brothers I started teaching myself and learning to play my favorite artists. I performed at my first paying gig at the age of 15. For the remainder of my teenage years and adolescence, I played at numerous bars and clubs throughout New York and Long Island. At the age of 21 I was disenchanted with the music scene, and I decided to step away from it. The next twenty-five years, of my life, I only rarely picked up the guitar. My musical taste changed, as I discovered Jazz, and other genres of music. All this music had a very big influence on my musical growth. When the economy tanked in 2008, I reconnected with my lifelong passion of playing the guitar with a renewed vigor.”
“I really got into my “blues” roots. I also discovered many of the blues greats from the 50’s, as well as, new contemporary blues artists such as Robert Cray. I cut my teeth playing various local blues jams. I was the “new kid on the block” yet I was in my early 50’s. I was encouraged to sing, so that I could get up more often, to play at the local jam events. I took that advice and worked on my vocal skills. Today, I have flourished into a solid “blues” guitarist and vocalist, which helped to create the distinctive sound of the Peter V Blues Train. My musical focus is to create a unique sound of blues music which is more upbeat and influenced by jazz and funk. I write and perform original music, as well as, reinterpretations of lesser known blues classics.”
Individually, Tiffany Pollack and Eric Johanson are both powerhouses in the Louisiana music scene – she as an established jazz vocalist and he as a rising singer and blues-rock guitarist. Together for the first time here, they create a New Orleans flavored rue guaranteed to have you yearning for more.
The musical meeting didn’t happen by chance. When Tiffany reunited with her biological family about a decade ago, she discovered that she and Eric were cousins, and their mothers have been pushing for them to work together ever since.
A native of the Big Easy and adopted at birth, Pollack began working professionally since her teens after a neighbor, Louisiana legend Russell Batiste, invited her to sing backup in his band. Her journey included several stops, including P.H. Fred’s The Round Pegs, The Consortium Of Genius a pair of jazz ensembles and an ‘80s metal band while raising a family and first studying mortuary and then opening a business.
She walked away from the funeral industry a few years ago, and has been dividing her time between two jazz groups: The Dapper Dandies and her own Tiffany Pollack & Co. This release is her first album.
A native of Alexandria, Eric began jamming in the Crescent City at age 15, but immigrated for a while to New Zealand after losing everything he owned to Hurricane Katrina. He returned stateside in 2010 and spent time in the bands of Cyrill Neville, Terrance Simien and Corey Henry’s Treme Funktet before fusing funk, blues and rock and making his debut as a bandleader with the well-received CD, Burn It Down, on Whiskey Bayou Records in 2017. He’s been touring recently in support of Tab Benoit, who produced.
Pollack and Johanson penned seven of the 11 cuts here. They’re backed by John Gros on keyboards, producer Jack Miele on bass, bass guitar and percussion, Phil Wang on bass, Brentt Arcement on drums and keys with Sean Carey providing backing vocals. Harp player Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone and the 504 Horns both make single-cut guest appearances.
The title tune, “Blues In My Blood,” opens the action. It’s a slow blues that opens acoustically with both a Delta and gospel feel that gives Tiffany plenty of space to show off her warm, powerful alto voice. It builds in tension throughout and gives Eric room to deliver a burning, but brief electric solo. The feel and tempo continues with Johanson at the mike and Sansone making haunting runs on the reeds for “Memories To Forget,” which recounts walking away and turning his back on his one true love.
A step-down run on acoustic guitar kicks off “Keep It Simple” before the action heats up for a driving, stop-time electric blues with Tiffany urging a lover to stop changing his mind and making things more complicated than they should. The mood turns somber as she delivers the acoustic dirge “Michael.” Based on her former job, it’s tribute to a strapping 19-year-old who lays dead on her mortuary table.
The duet, “Diamonds On The Crown,” powers out of the gate with loosely veiled statements that speak out against war, poverty and the world’s current state of affairs, before covers of the Rolling Stones’ “No Expectations” and Nina Simone’s “Do I Move You?” The blues-rocker, “Slave Of Tomorrow,” finds Johanson wondering if he’s to blame or “if the world’s half-insane” before the true blues love song, “Get Lost With Me,” brightens the mood. Two more covers — Joni Mitchell’s “River” and an interesting take on Pete Seeger’s warhorse, “If I Had A Hammer” – bring the disc to a close.
Available through iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and other outlets, Blues In My Blood is rock-solid. The mighty Mississippi and hints of the past flow throughout as Pollack and Johanson deliver material with thoroughly modern themes.
Everyone knows at least one of them – the one who makes it look easy. The athlete who can effortlessly succeed at any sport, the friend who can quickly produce the best meal out of seemingly nothing, the music fan who can quickly and completely dissect any new song or album. We mere, flawed mortals may at times resent those talents, but we know that, behind all that “easy” success, there’s most likely years of hard work and learned failure that’s brought out and honed that talent for us to enjoy. Adam Carroll is that guy. Through six previous studio albums, Carroll has made the job of being a singer-songwriter seem effortless and tossed off, but if you’ve ever picked up a guitar or a notebook, you know that ain’t the case. Now, on his seventh album, I Walked In Them Shoes, Carroll reminds us how deceptively difficult, but still rewarding, a musician’s life can be.
The lead track, “Walked In Them Shoes” (written with Brian Rung and Paul Cauthen), is THE story of the modern-day road musician. Like most Carroll songs, it’s simple guitar and vocals – he even continues his habit of mentioning the song’s title at the beginning of the recording. We’re told about the travel conditions – “Stuck in a Detroit diesel/Pretty sure it’s a Silver Eagle/The heat’s been off for about a hundred miles.” But the effort is worth it, at least somewhat: “Well sometimes it’s gold, or so we were told/But we go the extra mile.” It’s the workaday life that thousands of musicians are living, but few express it so plainly and concisely.
Carroll is not the most overtly political of songwriters, but he sees wrong where there should be right in “Storms”, noting that one’s (mis)fortunes are often simply a function of geography: “Well I pray for Puerto Rico/While I’m in bed safe and warm/And when I lay down to go to sleep/They’re still struggling with that storm.” On a more personal level, “The Last Word” (written with Dustin Welch and Halleyanna Finlay) asks why we shout when we should be listening: “If we’re always trying to write the end/We’ll never look back on the time we did spend.” We lose too much when we fight.
Road and touring songs form the core of I Walked In Them Shoes. “Crescent City Angels” (written with Michael O’Connor and Carroll’s wife, Chris) expresses a love of New Orleans, warts and all. “My Only Good Shirt” follows producer Lloyd Maines (and his clothes) through the high and lows of his career – “I’m not Viva Las Vegas/But I’m Motel 6 famous.” And “Night At The Show” follows the emotional swings of an evening at the local honky-tonk, from musician to fan to lonely drinker: “You were the best friend to that kind/(Which is my kind)/That I’ve ever known.” This song is a tribute to Kent Finlay, long-time owner of Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, Texas, who was the patron saint of Texas songwriters and passed away a few years ago.
The musical adornment is pleasantly sparse on the album. “Caroline” features some fantastic pedal steel from Lloyd Maines, and “Cordelia” rides a bed of harmonium, which was provided by engineer Pat Manske during the original recording of the song but played by Carroll (at Maines’ insistence) on the final cut. That’s it for studio trickery on the album, leaving the songs to sink or swim on their merits. And swim they do.
I Walked In Them Shoes was produced by Lloyd Maines and recorded, mixed and mastered by Pat Manske. Carroll (vocals, guitar, marmonica, harmonium and keys) and Maines (pedal steel, rhythm and slide guitars) are the sole musicians of record on the album. Carroll, who isn’t known for his frequent release of new material, has promised a second album this year, a collection of songs written and performed with his wife, Chris. If you like I Walked In Them Shoes, keep that on your radar.
Nominated for four Blues Music Awards, including “BB King Entertainer of the Year,” powerhouse, soul-blues singer, Sugaray Rayford will release Somebody Save Me on March 1, 2019 via Forty Below Records and produced by its founder, Eric Corne.
I’d say somebody got smart by choosing this fierce vocalist and performer, Sugaray Rayford, and letting him loose on 10 original new blues, soul and rock n’ roll tracks, written by Corne. Vocalists like Sugaray Rayford don’t come along every day. He’s raw talent with a voice like a canon, but with pure groove and emotion. Rayford has the capacity to caress slow songs like a modern day Teddy Pendergrass or grab the wheel of an up-tempo number and steer it home with soulful command.
This is the case on Somebody Save Me. Sugaray Rayford has the vocal chops to die for, but he’s got something else—it’s called star power and charisma. And there’s no way you can manufacture any of that with auto-tune or Pro Tools. This guy’s got ‘It.” See if you don’t agree by clicking the first track, “The Revelator.”
Opening with a heavy downbeat and bass line not unlike some 90’s hip hop, this song takes off as Sugaray blasts the R&B-soul-blues track with his dynamic and spirited voice. He grabs this song with both hands and digs deep. He’s feeling it–and the groove. And so was I. This is a song I want to see Sugaray perform live. You’ve got the soul factor with the backing singers (wah-oo wah-oo) and some kind of stellar trumpet solo—then the song glides back to that heavy base line.
It’s more than great vocal chops. Sugaray throws his larger than life personality into the track and takes control from the front seat of that song.
“Time To Get Movin’” is a rocking blues number with plenty of social commentary. It’s an up-tempo song with great rhythm and catchy guitar riffs. Sugaray gets behind this song with his old school voice and passion. This is one tight band that includes guitarist Rick Holmstrom, bassist Taras Prodaniuk, drummer Matt Tecu, keyboardist Sasha Smith, guitarist Eamon Ryland and the horn section from Late Night with Conan O’Brien. A couple of nice harp riffs fill out the track courtesy of Eric Corne. This is yet another song that’s perfect for a vocalist like Sugaray.
There are some soul songs on the album like “You and I,” complete with the insanely tight horn section that creates a good platform for Sugaray–he sinks his teeth into this soul blues tune as well. You can just hear who Sugaray is when you listen to this track and others on the album. With some strong backing vocals, this is a classic up-tempo, soul/R&B tune with groove.
“I’d Kill For You Honey” is a standout track on the record with swampy groove and slide guitar. The drummer, Matt Tecu, locks it down tight with some great rhythm. This band boasts outstanding musicianship. Sugaray is in good company and he kills it on this one. He growls, he sings softly with plenty of body and soul, and works his magic on an already stellar tune.
With almost a Zydeco rhythm, “Sometimes You Get the Bear (And Sometimes the Bear Gets You)” is another standout, with a swampy, lively feel that shifts mid-song into a blues shuffle, complete with classic blues guitar riffs. Sugaray’s magnetic vocals could almost overpower a song or a band, but he works it like the seasoned pro that he is.
The title track “Somebody Save Me” is a vintage soul crooner and Sugaray’s deep, soulful voice is a touch of velvet. I could do without the effects on the organ solo but those don’t detract from this being a deeply moving song. Sugaray sings it not just with controlled vocal power but with enough emotion to get you out of your seat and into the arms of your Honey on the dance floor.
The album closes with a winner, “Dark Night Of The Soul,” a hot, slower soul-blues number with sultry horns and backing singers. Sugaray is right on time with his phrasing and vocal punch. It seems that he’s in his element, steering this track into the pocket of rhythm.
Sugaray is a singer to be reckoned with–authentic, gutsy, and with vocal chops you just have to be born with and hone. He’s the real deal.
The concept of this collection of songs is inspired by the home of the blues, the Crossroads in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Leslie Bixler (aka Miss Bix) spent several months there soaking in the culture and learning the blues from the founders themselves. This is a rare find, 12 songs that pack a punch, in a conceptual flow, reminiscent of days past, when albums told a story.
Leslie Bixler and co-producer Ralph Carter (previously with Eddie Money and Sugaray Rayford), who brings bass, percussion, guitar and keys to many of the songs, are joined by John ‘JT’ Thomas (keyboardist with Hornsby), Gary Mallaber (drummer previously with Van Morrison, Steve Miller and more), blues guitarist extraordinaire Franck Goldwasser (aka Paris Slim), sax man Bill Bixler, and harp player RJ Mischo.
The songs reflect the culture that permeates the south – ‘Voodoo Man,’ ‘Black Widow,’ ‘Slave To The Grave’, and ‘Crazy ‘Bout You’ all have the smoky sensuous sound of the bluesy south. At the same time, Bixler creates a sound and voice that is all her own, and each song tells a different story. The Hendrix inspired ‘You’re A Child’ harkens back to the excitement of early rock days, and features the amazing RHCP drummer, Chad Smith, with whom Leslie worked on the children’s album “Rhythm Train.” The opening track ‘Follow Me Down’ draws the listener in with a trance-like psychedelic groove and from there the excitement builds.
Artistic influences like Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Peter Gabriel, Sting, John Mayer, and many others weave together in this altogether new package. Hints of Motown are perceptible in the R&B feel of ‘Baby Come Back’ and the ending cut is a sensitive homage to the muse herself, that never ends, in ‘All The Time.’ The title cut ‘We Don’t Own The Blues’ is a playful look at the nature of love and heartbreak, and is destined to become a blues classic, as is the romping ‘If You’re Doing What I’m Thinking.’ The vocal stylings of the heartbreaking ballad ‘It Wasn’t Me’ are beautifully framed with the gorgeous keyboard virtuosity of John ‘JT’ Thomas.
Josie’s Country-Rock vocal style, combined with the skillful musicianship evident throughout the CD have prompted a number of listeners on ReverbNation to ask the question, “were these recordings done in Nashville?”.
The CD was in fact produced and recorded on Long Island at “Melts In Your Ears Studio” and mixed at “Workshoppe East”, both located in Huntington.
Can’t Go Home contains 10 tracks of original music in which Josie covers a wide range of subjects related to the human condition. The title track contemplates the loss of one’s past. Other tracks cover themes such as Infidelity (Dignity), Infatuation (Crush), Relationships (Good People, Bad Love), Drug Addiction (Mother’s Love), Long Island Living (Kit House) and even Political Partisanship (Two Trains). Two Trains was co-written by Mike Nugent, the CD’s producer, and is the only co-write on the CD.
The very active live music scene on Long Island, and the abundance of local talent continues to inspire Josie as a songwriter and performer.
Josie enjoys creating images and telling stories through song and often says, “hooks are everywhere, you just need to listen”.
Josie will tell you that she’s been singing every day of her life — around the house and everywhere she went since childhood. She can remember her mother saying to her, “Please, try to pipe down, just for a little while”.
Luckily for local musicians, Josie is quite active on the Long Island music scene. She runs several open mics: at Urban Coffee in Greenlawn on 2nd and 4th Fridays and at the Park Lounge in Kings Park on 3rd Fridays.
Additionally, once a month she hosts a Singer-Songwriter night at Urban Coffee. Josie performs with her husband Frank Bello as “Duo Bello” at many festivals throughout the Island including their annual hosting of the Long Island Fall Festival Acoustic Stage. She is honored to participate in the LI-based group OOMPA (Organization of Open Mic Performing Artists) and recognizes all the talent and support their membership provides to open mics and musical charitable events throughout the Island.
Josie’s music is available on most digital distribution platforms such as iTunes and CD Baby. A hard copy of the CD can also be purchased at CD Baby. Here’s the link: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/josiebello
After seven years of fronting the popular Appalachian stompgrass band, The Wild Rumpus, at countless festivals, concerts, and clubs including Merlefest, Bristol Rhythm & Roots, and the Americana Music Association, as well as writing nearly all of the songs for their three studio albums, Andrew Adkins has now firmly established his own voice with the release of his fourth solo album, Who I Am, on Mountain Soul Records.
The album features an all-star lineup of West Virginia musicians, Chris Stockwell (dobro), Johnny Staats (mandolin), Ammed Solomon (drums), Clint Lewis (bass), Bud Carroll, Ron Sowell (guitar), as well as Mira Stanley, Chuck Costa, Cara May Gorman, Stephen Struss (of The Sea The Sea) and Annie Neeley on harmonies and background vocals.
Andrew has a voice that is both real and comforting, taking listeners through his songs that are filled with the highs and lows of life and love. I challenge anyone who listens to this album to not find a phrase, a lyric or even an entire song that doesn’t bring up a memory, or at the very least, the sense of being able to identify with Adkins and his songwriting.
After my first listen, I was immediately drawn to the songs,“Fragile Heart”, “Praying for Rain” and “Every Monday Morning“. Sometimes its lyrics that draw me in, other times its a melody or the beat. The first line of “Fragile Heart” hooked me immediately, “There was a time I gave my love away free. Gave it to a girl who never loved me”. I can’t imagine there isn’t someone out there that hasn’t felt this way, especially in their youth. Unrequited love is a powerful thing, and Adkins sings about how it shaped his fragile heart. Most importantly this song is one that people can relate to and that’s what’s great about this record. It’s full of real and relatable songs, that capture emotions or stories that people have most likely lived themselves.
“Praying for Rain” is another song on the album with lyrics that I immediately thought could have been pulled from my own head. “Well, sometimes I wish it was raining…. to match my mood”. There have been many days in my life that a sunny day is just too much and I long for a rainy and cloudy day to match how I’m feeling inside. In “Praying for Rain”, the song reflects on love that was lost. With amazing lyrics like “I don’t need you, but I want you. Pretend I don’t care, but I do. You’re the sweetest poison that I’ve ever tasted…”
If you’re wanting a lighter song that won’t give you all the feels, may I recommend the song, “Every Monday Morning“? It’s got an upbeat tempo, which I love, and when the first notes of the stand up bass hit, you can’t help but tap your feet. The song has a definite old school/ Rockabilly feel to it and nicely balances some of the softer, more emotional songs on the album.
If you’re looking for a well-rounded album, filled with phenomenal songwriting and musicianship, then you’ll want to pick up Who I Am .
Based in Germany after being discharged from the Army more than 25 years ago, Big Daddy Wilson has made a name for himself as an acoustic bluesman in the past, but delivers a set of sensational soul blues here in an album recorded stateside under the direction of Grammy-winning producer Jim Gaines.
Born Wilson Blount in Edenton, N.C., he grew up in poverty, sang gospel in church and listened to country on the radio. His first exposure to the blues didn’t happen until adulthood in Europe, where he’s made his home since marrying a German woman.
Once a shy man who penned poems on the side, he quickly realized that he’d “found a part of me that was missing for so long in my life.” Influenced by fellow ex-pats Champion Jack Dupree, Louisiana Red, Eddie Boyd and Luther Allison, he started putting his words to music and putting them on display at jams, where he quickly won over audiences with his tunes and powerful, warm baritone voice.
Now in his early 60s, he began a recording career in the 1990s and has at least a dozen releases to his credit, both as a leader and in acoustic partnership with Doc Fozz. He’s been associated with the Ruf imprint for the past three years, joining Vanessa Collier and Si Cranstoun for Blues Caravan 2017: Blues Got Soul and the CD/DVD solo release, Blues From The Road.
Wilson hooked up with Gaines, a 1999 Grammy winner for his work with Carlos Santana and recorded this triumphant homecoming at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala. Featuring an all-star lineup that includes Laura Chavez and Will McFarlane on guitar, Dave Smith on bass, Steve Potts on percussion, Mark Narmore and Rick Steff on keys, Brad Guin on sax, Ken Waters on trumpet and Mitch Mann on backing vocals, this disc swings from the jump.
Big Daddy penned ten of the 12 cuts here. You know you’re in for a treat from the opening phrases of the slow-blues shuffle “I Know (She Said),” which describes love at first sight and the realization that it would be eternal after “one smile, one word, one simple dance.” The theme runs powerfully throughout, continuing with the medium-fast “Ain’t Got No Money,” which states: “I’m a full grown man with strong loving arms” and everything else he needs.
“Mississippi Me,” a keyboard driven ballad written by Sandy Carroll, keeps the refrain going with images of the wind blowing through the willows in Tupelo before the band gets funky to deliver “Tripping On You.” This time, the love bug’s bitten Wilson so deeply that it’s akin to dreaming, singing and dancing in the rain.
The message shifts slightly for “I Got Plenty (Money Don’t Grow On Trees).” This time, Big Daddy sings praises for all the good folks he encounters every day. He cautions not to worry about what other people say in “Hold On To Our Love” before “Deep In My Soul” reveals that all of his tunes come from a life that’s included picking cotton and a hard-scrabble existence.
That song sets up the bittersweet material that follows. “I’m Walking” finds Wilson tired of fussing and fighting with his missus along with what he terms her “nasty” ways – so much so that he’s heading for the door. He recognizes his lady’s torment in “Crazy World” and vows to stay , but quickly discovers he doesn’t what to be the “Redhead Stepchild” after realizing that there’s “too much salt in my gravy” and that she’s there when he returns home after a hard work day.
What’s to blame? “Voodoo,” he says, still in love and deeply confused, before bringing the album to a close with a brief acoustic refrain of the traditional gospel tune, “Couldn’t Keep It To Myself.”
Available through most major retailers, Deep In My Soul is a welcome return home to someone who’s been away far too long. If you like old-school soul blues, you’ll love this one. It makes your heart sing then tugs at your heart strings!
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 get in the list?
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.
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Cover Kinky Friedman Resurrection
Music Review: Kinky Friedman – ‘Resurrection’
Richard Marcus November 1, 2019 Comments Off on Music Review: Kinky Friedman – ‘Resurrection’ 89 Views
After a 40 year hiatus Kinky Friedman proves with the release of his new album, his second in as many years, Resurrection, he’s back as good as he ever was. While last year’s release, Circus of Life, was a great reintroduction to Friedman, this album is even better.
Friedman’s fans are legion, and it turns out worldwide. When he was doing a book tour in South Africa in 1996 he met Tokyo Sexwhale who had been imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela. Sexwhale reported Mandela listened to Friedman’s song about the Holocaust, “Ride Em Jewboy”, for three years while in jail.
Which may go a long way to explaining why the opening track on the CD is about Nelson Mandela. Of course there was lots to admire about Mandela, but finding out he was listening to your music on Robben Island is bound to make an impression. That being said, the song, simply titled “Mandela”, is a wonderful homage to a great man and acknowledges the sacrifices he made in the fight for freedom.
Starting with that track the entirety of Resurrection shows Friedman in fine form as both a songwriter and a performer. His raw and occasionally raspy vocals are the perfect antidote to the gleam and polish of what the majority of country music had descended to. No over produced dreck from Friedman, just real songs about the life, regrets and hope.
Take the title track, “Resurrection”, where he ruminates on those who’ve fallen by the wayside, those who clawed back from addiction to die clean and free, and those, like him, who have been given second chances. There’s nothing maudlin or sentimental about this song. Life is what it is and Friedman loves all his broken and beautiful friends and appreciates the chances he’s been given.
One thing Friedman isn’t as sure of is the state of Nashville today. In “Me and Billy Swan” he laments how the places and folk which gave Music Row its character are now gone: “Now the cranes block out the sky/And Captain Midnight sighs/As a piece of Nashville dies/A piece of Nashville dies.”
Friedman doesn’t rage against the inevitable, or even wax nostalgic about how things used to be better when he was young. He’s simply telling us how it was, and sometimes progress that smooths out the rough edges isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Country music, like its cousins rock and roll and the blues, needs to be rough to be effective. On Resurrection, with the help of some friends including Willie Nelson singing backup on the title track, Kinky Friedman proves he not only understands that idea but can deliver on it.
This is a great album of music from one of the great survivors of the 1970s Outlaw Country music scene. Heartfelt and thoughtful, Resurrection from Kinky Friedman will warm the hearts of anyone who loves the strength and beauty of a good song.
John McDonough is a singer/songwriter from Austin, Texas whose shows span five decades of hits combined with unique originals. John’s acoustic guitar work, passionate vocals, and personal lyrics result in a modern singer/songwriter/pop sound rarely heard.
John has spent the last 22 years playing in and around Austin while co-producing and self-releasing seven CDs of original music. He has played to the rowdy crowds of 6th street, the dinner crowds of Austin restaurants, and everything in-between. Eight years ago he decided to retire from practicing psychotherapy and focus solely on music. In that time he has written and recorded four new CDs, played over 400 gigs, performed in ten major music festivals as a solo artist, eight times appeared and performed on local radio, and embarked on successful tours through the midwest and southwest. His previous two releases, ‘Dreams and Imagination’ and ‘Surrounding Colors’ both received great reviews and airplay all over Europe and the United States, and both releases spent six consecutive months on the Americana Music Association Record Chart in the United States. He has drawn comparisons to Elton John and Harry Chapin for his vocal style and abilities, while Austin radio host Stephen Rice has compared John’s emotional storytelling to the songwriting styles of James Blunt and Damien Rice.
The Infamous Stringdusters received the Bluegrass Album of the Year Grammy for 2017's Laws of Gravity. That album followed Ladies and Gentlemen, in which the band collaborated with a stellar group of women singers. The creative roll continues with Rise Sun, a musically potent meditation on the journey from darkness to light.
It is a 21st century pop music cliché to say that nobody makes album-length musical statements anymore, but that is an easily debunked myth, with artists ranging from Drive-By Truckers and Jason Isbell to Radiohead to Kendrick Lamar making records that reward sustained beginning-to-end listens.
Rise Sun easily joins the ranks of Isbell's The Nashville Sound and Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly as a album that rewards the time a listener is willing to put into it. Nearly an hour long, Rise Sun sprawls but rarely feels self-indulgent. Extended introductions and fade-outs create effective transitions from one song to the next, giving the album a seamless flow that gently guide listeners on the journey. Solos give the band members the chance to display their extraordinary musicianship, but always in service to the song.
In making an album with this kind of ambition, the members of the Infamous Stringdusters (Andy Falco - guitar, Chris Pandolfi - banjo, Andy Hall - dobro, Jeremy Garrett - fiddle, and Travis Book - double bass) do not seem to have concerned themselves much with recording any specific song that explodes all over radio or YouTube. Even after listening to the album several times, and thoroughly enjoying it, I wasn't feeling an earworm. Like so many A&R reps of the past and present, I wasn't "hearing a single". At the same time though, the album, filled with songs that weave together elements of folk, country, rock, gospel, and pop, was sinking deep into my musical heart and soul, where I think it has found a permanent space.
While the instrumentation of Rise Sun is rooted in the bluegrass of Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs – as well later innovators like the Seldom Scene -- the album only occasionally hints at the traditions of the genre: a high lonesome vocal here, a certain banjo or guitar lick there. The Infamous Stringdusters have built their career on respecting the past while moving the music forward and Rise Sun is another bold step in that direction. Having said that, "Long Time Going" feels like a solid relatively traditional bluegrass tune.
While their respect for tradition is evident, it's clear that the Infamous Stringdusters, who co-produced the record with Billy Hume, don't subscribe to the ragged-but-right aesthetic that is sometimes associated with roots music. Rise Sun is a beautifully played and produced record, with every note in place, even when the band is jamming.This kind of precision can be a recipe for sterility, but the album generally avoids this, maintaining an engaging feel that nicely evokes the excitement of the Infamous Stringdusters' concerts.
Rise Sun is an album about the light and how to reach it. From the handclaps and stomping gospel of the opening title track through to the closing "Truth and Love", the Infamous Stringdusters are traveling the highways and chasing the light, both physical and spiritual.
You can't seek the light without acknowledging the darkness, which the Infamous Stringdusters do throughout Rise Sun. Hints of damaged relationships crop up, as do allusions to a world slightly off-kilter. Even "Wake the Dead", where the pursued light is primarily carnal in nature ("Go all night til there's nothing left / Have a little fun with no regrets"), ominously notes "Like some kind of zombie freezing cold / I think we all better check our pulse."
In the end though, light prevails in the luminous closing track, "Truth and Love". "Seek the truth / Find your love," the lyrics note, as the album closes with the gentle suggestion, "Let the light shine from your soul." In some contexts, this sentiment might sound trite. Heard at the end of Rise Sun, it feels like an epiphany, simple yet profound.
When a musician is as good as Richard Thompson, he's going to stand out from his accompanists no matter who they happen to be. But one of the many pleasures of Thompson's albums from 2007's Sweet Warrior onward has been the way he's grown into the fruitful working relationship with his rhythm section of drummer Michael Jerome and bassist Taras Prodaniuk. They rarely do much to call undue attention to themselves, which is as it should be with a good rhythm section, but Jerome is a drummer who can add color, shade, and depth to a song while holding down the backbeat, and Prodaniuk defines "in the pocket," keeping the low end solid while filling out space that allows Thompson to take flight when he solos (and reminds us all that he is arguably the finest guitarist alive). If you want to fully appreciate the sound and feel of Thompson's electric trio at work, 2018's 13 Rivers captures the interaction between these players beautifully. Thompson produced the set himself, and he and engineer Clay Blair have done an unusually fine job of capturing the nuances of the performances, both as individuals and as a group. They know how to make use of the studio, but they also know this band can make its own magic and the effect here is crisp, natural, and transparent. Hearing Thompson and his band dig into these songs is truly satisfying, and as usual, he's left us no doubt that he's a master tunesmith, in particular in the troubled introspection of "The Storm Won't Come," the edgy contemplation of the unreliable inner voice in "The Rattle Within," the toxic certainty of "You Can't Reach Me," and the uncomfortable obsession of "She Was Meant for Me." The wit that usually dilutes the darker moments on a Thompson album is, for the most part, conspicuous in its absence on 13 Rivers (though it's briefly evident on "O Cinderella"), but it does give this set a thematic consistency that's effective, and Thompson's vocals are superb throughout, making the most of his dour but incisive stories. 13 Rivers isn't an unusual Richard Thompson album in most respects, but it is one that makes the most of his craft as a guitarist, songwriter, and bandleader. Not many artists continue to create bold, compelling work that doesn't sound like it's treading creative water after a half-century, but 50 years on from Fairport Convention's debut LP, 13 Rivers is striking music from a musician who remains fresh, contemporary, and peerless.
Easy Money picks up where Old Man Luedecke's award winning, and most successful release to date, Domestic Eccentric (2015), leaves off: four years farther down the road, dreaming about his ship coming in, still a parent but now grappling with the newness of middle age, dad jokes, love for an abiding partner, the death of a parent, along with some calypso-feeling local Nova Scotia history thrown in for good measure.
Composition and recording were both begun at the Banff Centre's songwriter-in-residence program. It was there that Luedecke met the album's producer Howard Bilerman of Montreal's famed Hotel2Tango studio where the album was eventually recorded. The two hit it off when Luedecke composed "Easy Money" on the tracking floor on the first day of the program. Desperate for something worthy to use in his recording time, Luedecke channeled a traditional Christmas number he knew from a Harry Belafonte record and sang largely improvised verses into a winning tune that is sure to be a modern classic: Oh yes I need it, Oh yes I want it, I dream about easy, I dream about Easy money." Don't we all.
The further nine new original compositions and two covers run a modern storytelling line from the fifties folk and calypso boom into the everyday of tangible middle life. Guest appearances by long-time collaborator and Grammy award-winning Tim O'Brien, Afie Jurvanen of Bahamas, and Fats Kaplin (Jack White, John Prine) add piquant accents to the impeccable playing of Luedecke and a crack Montreal studio band of Mike O'Brien, Joshua Toal and Jamie Thompson.
The album begins with three upbeat incantations of what is surely the beginnings of a mid-life crisis (Dad Jokes? Wakeup Call, come on!) then moves to 2 songs musing about death; both inspired in part and in different ways, by the passing of Luedecke's father, the passing of Leonard Cohen and current politics and the death of truth. There are two island-themed numbers that imagine a laid-back life in the local un-tropical paradise of the Canadian Maritimes. Then comes a country song with killer fiddling and harmony singing by Tim O'Brien, a dance number of frightful worry and then a cover of Nana Mouskouri's French language cover of Bob Dylan's topical apocalyptic plaint, "Hard Rain's Gonna Fall". This is followed by a traditional sea shanty about a mermaid and a shipwreck. The album closer, "'I Skipped a Stone", is the most beautiful song about hoping your wife will pick up the phone. The song is made all the sweeter by the special appearance of Bahamas' playing and singing, to close out Luedecke's sixth full length studio album.
One of the virtues of the Record Company's 2016 debut album, Give It Back to You, was its simplicity and the band's stripped-down approach, so it's a bit curious that their second long-player, 2018's All of This Life, is an improvement because there's a bit more gingerbread. But on their second turn at bat, this band have managed to fill up their sound a bit without cluttering their surroundings, and the additional harmonies, keyboards, and guitar overdubs on All of This Life put muscle and not fat on the frames of these songs. Give It Back to You was also flawed by a certain lack of originality in their songs, and if All of This Life still follows plenty of well-established blues and roots rock templates, at least this time the influences appear less obvious, and the performances are strong enough that the energy and commitment pull these tunes over the finish line when all else fails. (Though stretching the moody "You and Me Now" out to nearly six minutes was not one of this group's better ideas.) And just as on the debut, All of This Life leaves no doubt that the Record Company know their stuff and work together well; Chris Vos' guitar work is both inspired and concise, bassist Alex Stiff and drummer Marc Cazorla give the music a strong and soulful foundation, and the vocals are full-bodied but generally stop a few notches short of histrionic. Give It Back to You suggested the Record Company had potential they hadn't tapped just yet, and All of This Life shows that they found at least some of it, and it's an honest step up for the band.
The 19th Bruce Springsteen album has been heralded as a dramatic break from tradition. So dramatic, in fact, that in the interviews accompanying its release, Western Stars’ author has felt impelled to reassure fans that he’ll be back recording and touring with the E Street Band later this year. It’s hard to miss the hint of “normal service will be resumed as soon as possible” about that announcement, balm for Boss fans horrified by how far Western Stars takes their hero from either of his standard musical styles.
There’s not a hint of the E Street Band’s booming Sturm und Drang, nor the stripped-back earthiness of his previous solo albums here: they’re replaced by luscious orchestrations, heavy on the strings and French horn, cooing female backing vocals, guitars that shimmer and quiver with tremolo effects, mournful pedal steel. It’s not founded in country music so much as a distinctive musical hybrid that flowed out of Hollywood’s recording studios in the late 1960s and early 70s, which stirred Nashville with west coast folk-pop and ambitious, sophisticated arrangements: the grownup American pop of Glen Campbell’s collaborations with Jimmy Webb or Harry Nilsson’s covers of Everybody’s Talkin’ and I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City.
This is clearly a departure, although there’s a sense in which it’s entirely in keeping with Springsteen’s approach. His sound is almost invariably based in burnished nostalgia. The E Street Band and The Ghost of Tom Joad alike are rooted in the music that flourished in the US when Springsteen was about 12 years old: the former an amplification of pre-Beatles American pop – both the echoing drama of Phil Spector and the blare and honk of Dion and the Belmonts – the latter a take on the early 60s folk revival, with particular reference to Bob Dylan in young, keeper-of-the-Woody-Guthrie-flame mode. Western Stars simply shifts its backwards gaze on a few years, to the stuff that would have dominated mainstream taste during Springsteen’s late teens, at a time when it might have been hipper to dig Jefferson Airplane – but what budding young artist could fail to have his head turned by such consummate examples of the songwriter’s craft?
Certainly, there’s a real and rather affecting love evident in the way Springsteen channels the sound on Western Stars. There are moments of transcendent loveliness – not least the shivering instrumental coda of Drive Fast – but he’s also unafraid of its occasional tendency towards schmaltz. Quite the opposite. Listening to There Goes My Miracle or Sundown, on which he slathers on the high-camp strings and transforms his voice into a croon, denuded of the usual Springsteen grit, you get the feeling he’s having a whale of a time: an artist always held up as the apotheosis of honest, blue-collar heartland rock revelling in artifice, in much the same way as he audibly delighted in telling audiences at his Broadway residency that the character of Bruce Springsteen was a Ziggy Stardust-ish construct who had never done anything. It helps that the songs are strong enough to withstand the treatment, seldom slipping into pastiche. The only real misfire is Sleepy Joe’s Café, which feels a little round-edged for its own good, not aided by an ingratiatingly perky accordion: the E Street Band could have turned it into something more driving and potent.
“It’s the same sad story, going round and round,” Springsteen sings on The Wayfarer and listening to the rest of the album’s lyrics, you take his point. If the sound of Western Stars sets it apart from Springsteen’s earlier solo albums, the words pull it closer. Like Nebraska or The Ghost of Tom Joad, it offers a selection of bleak narratives and lingering pen-portraits, and, like Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad, it seems a product of its era. The former album’s cast of conflicted cops and desperate criminals undercut the gung-ho triumphalism of Reagan’s America, while Tom Joad’s illegal immigrants and drug runners did the same for an era of record highs on the Dow Jones index. Western Stars, meanwhile, is populated by characters past their best – the title track’s fading actor, reduced to hawking Viagra on TV and retelling his stories for anyone who’ll buy him a drink; Drive Fast’s injured stuntman recalling his youthful recklessness, the failed songwriter of Somewhere North of Nashville and the guy glumly surveying the boarded-up site of an old tryst on Moonlight Motel – all of them ruminating on how things have changed, not just for the worse, but in ways none of them anticipated.
It adds up to an album that manages to be both unexpected and of a piece with its author’s back catalogue. Normal service may well be resumed in due course, but Western Stars is powerful enough to make you wish Bruce Springsteen would take more stylistic detours in the future.
Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real kick off Turn Off the News, Build a Garden with "Bad Case," a pop tune powered by an incandescent jangle of riffs that evokes memories of the Byrds, or perhaps R.E.M. It's an appropriate opening salvo for a record that is lithe and bright, functioning in some ways as the flipside to the group's 2017 major-label debut for Fantasy. Where that eponymous album tilted toward burlier Americana and weathered country, Turn Off the News, Build a Garden is relaxed and open-hearted. Working its way through rockers made to bask in the sunshine, Turn Off the News has its share of barbed protest -- most evident on the second version of the title track, an acoustic rendition which ends with Nelson cussing -- the record winds up delivering on its title promise by offering organic music designed to be a sustainable resource. Taking advantage of the opportunities that have come their way since they teamed up with Neil Young -- opportunities that included contributions to Bradley Cooper's Oscar-winning 2018 remake of A Star Is Born -- the Promise of the Real do sound bigger than they did in their earliest days, and they sound wilier, too. Unlike a lot of Americana bands, Nelson and co. have omnivorous tastes and a sense of humor, a combination that results in slow-grooving R&B numbers, sun-kissed pop, rangy rockers, and a persistent good vibe. In troubled times, the band have managed to deliver an album filled with optimism, and that's a remarkable feat.
A national treasure, singer Delbert McClinton shows no signs of slowing down, sounding as energized and relevant on his latest project as he did over forty years ago on classic albums like Genuine Cowhide and Victim of Life’s Circumstances. He had a writing every song, typically in conjunction with his regular guitarist, Bob Britt, and his outstanding keyboard player, Kevin McKendree. The trio also served as co-producers on the sessions, done at McKendree’s Rock House Studio in Franklin, TN.
Than band swings like crazy on “Mr. Smith,” with Joe Maher on drums and Glenn Worf on bass setting the pace, with McClinton’s animated vocal perfectly framed by a robust horn section consisting of Jim Hoke and Dana Robbins on sax, Roy Agee on trombone, and Quentin Ware delivering a memorable trumpet excursion. The horns are replaced by the violin master Stuart Duncan on “No Chicken On The Bone,” the swinging pace continuing, but in a darker vein as McClinton expounds on his latest fascination. “A Fool Like Me” finds him trying to curtail a budding romance, adding the telling admission, “How could I love somebody, who would fall for a fool like me”. The dazzling arrangement includes stellar work by McKendree on piano, Britt on slide guitar, and a closing solo by Hoke on clarinet that injects some New Orleans-style seasoning.
“If I Hock My Guitar” has a swaggering strut with McClinton professing his love for the blues to the bitter end, then he recalls his glory days on “Can’t Get Up” before fessing up to the fact that there is no escaping the aging process. Both tracks feature a scaled-down band consisting of Maher, Britt, and McKendree on piano and organ. Hoke adds his baritone sax on the former track. Yates McKendree adds his guitar to “Loud Mouth,” a rocking tune that once again explores the folly of human existence.
The small group establishes a late-night mood as McClinton issues a clear warning to a troubling woman from his past on “Lulu”. The mood grows even darker on “Temporarily Insane,” a haunting recollection on life’s wrong turns, McClinton’s weathered tone conveying the anguish with every note. “Down In The Mouth” is brief, muscular Texas-style shuffle recounting the emotional carnage of lost love, with James Pennebaker guesting on guitar. Dennis Wage takes over on piano, Michael Joyce handles the bass, and Jack Bruno, a regular in McClinton’s band, is on drums for “Ruby & Jules,” a detailed portrayal of a roadhouse love affair. The trio stick around for the laid-back “Let’s Get Down Like We Used To,” with Pat McLaughlin joining Britt on guitar. Hoke switches to accordion, adding a Tex-Mex touch to “Gone To Mexico,” as McClinton looks to escape life’s heartache. “Any Other Way” finally finds him happy, radiating in love’s embrace. Robbins contributes several smoky tenor sax statements.
The final piece, “A Poem,” is a minute long proclamation from McClinton, accompanied by Britt and McKendree, offering one final summation on the human experience. McClinton has always been one of the best at revealing life’s most intimate moments and feelings in his songs. As a coda, it stands in stark contrast to the other thirteen tracks that are brimming with spirit, humor, and outstanding musicianship. It is always a treat to get a new one from McClinton. Tall, Dark, & Handsome is one of his best……making it highly recommended!
Growing up in the heart of Appalachia, Trae Sheehan was surrounded by the sounds of honest, integrity driven music. At twenty-one years his songs span lifestyles and cultures unseen by most in a lifetime. With an understanding and empathetic tone, Trae delivers a sound that can only come from the deep roots of an old West Virginia soul.
There are a fair number of bluegrass bands that can make me dance in my seat and cry within the space of a couple of songs. But Balsam Range, while doing just that with the new Mountain Home Music Co. release Aeonic, is the first to send me to the dictionary.
Aeonic, it turns out, is Greek for something that endures. And Balsam Range clearly has done that over a high-profile career that has made the band one of the best and most consistent in the business.
Aeonic is everything we’ve come to expect from a band that features an IBMA award-winning vocalist, Buddy Melton, exquisite harmonies, and solid pickers on every instrument, every song. And it’s expertly produced by the band, providing one of the few exceptions to my rule that bands shouldn’t produce themselves because an outside ear can identify issues that the insiders won’t.
Aeonic is solid from the opening mandolin riff of The Girl Who Invented the Wheel to the closing notes of George Harrison’s iconic Beatles song, If I Needed Someone.
There are a handful of songs that are made for radio, including the bouncy Get Me Gone and the previously mentioned Girl Who Invented the Wheel. And there are a handful of tender, thought-provoking ballads and religious-tinged songs that, to me, are the heart of this project.
The most powerful of these, Angel Too Soon, is hard to listen to with dry eyes, but I can’t stop myself from going back to it time and again, and I find myself singing the chorus as I move through the day.
Writers William M. Maddox and Paul W. Thorn tell the heartbreaking tale of a young girl who dies, the worst nightmare of parents everywhere. These lines are so devastatingly beautiful that I simultaneously wish I’d never heard them AND wish I’d written them:
“Today would have been her birthday,
so her mama made her favorite cake.
She wasn’t there to blow out the candles,
But daddy lit ‘em anyway.”
Nearly as powerful, and just as honest, is Help Me To Hold On, a song about those who are marginalized in America. Writers Milan Miller and Thomm Jutz focus on a homeless man who is “sad as sad can be” and a 17-year-old girl contemplating suicide after dealing with “bad choices and a bad man.” It’s effective without being preachy.
Still, I have some reservations about Aeonic, which, frankly, probably says more about me than about Balsam Range. The band has performed at such a high level for so long that a few good but not great songs here have a certain sounds-like-I’ve-heard-them-before sameness that makes them all run together. And while Melton is an outstanding vocalist worthy of his trophies, the band has three other outstanding singers – Caleb Smith, Tim Surrett and Darren Nicholson. I long to hear more of them out front, especially Nicholson, whose voice is a secret weapon.
Overall, though, Aeonic is a winner, proving that Balsam Range hasn’t only endured but thrived. You should own this record.
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