The Levins (pronounced LeVINNs) are a NY-based, nationally touring acoustic duo known for sunsplashed, peace-filled music that connects on a universal level with lighthearted depth. This selfproduced NEW RELEASE (4/26/19) “CARAVAN OF DAWN” goes deeper by taking an aerial view of life’s ability to break the chains of darkness and light, to explore the sorrow inside joy and joy inside sorrow. Guitar (Ira Levin) and piano (Julia Bordenaro Levin), along with unique harmonies & tightly blended unison vocals, reflect the married couple’s own compatible musical & personal relationship. They closed 2018 with an original full-scale San Francisco musical theater/EuroCircus production based on their 2013 release, “My Friend Hafiz” and they’re looking forward to where this new collection will lead them.
“Caravan Of Dawn is a powerful distillation of the duo’s artistic forays, bringing together its varied musical and sonic explorations into a signature aesthetic. Adding to the album’s potency is The Levins’ careful album sequencing, offering the listener a smoothly curated experience, brimming with elegant touches of cello, lush soundscapes, passages with trumpets, and tasteful electric guitar textures. Together, the songs on Caravan Of Dawn orbit around transformative messages of healing. Ira shares,“These days people seem so divided and polarized—many people seek safety in bubbles. We want to offer people hope and a place to connect.” Julia concludes, “We hope the album reaches people through its openness and honesty, and that it helps people to move forward and not feel so alone.”
PRAISE FOR THE LEVINS…
“The Levins music…a much needed remedy for a hurried and
harried world. They serve to remind us of the old adage that says music and poetry can indeed be a soothing balm for troubled times.”
– Lee Zimmerman, No Depression
“The Levins tap into musical inspiration that is both inspiring and inspired. They seek to create a musical harmony meant to raise listeners to a higher plane. Caravan of Dawn is a gorgeous work!”
– Joltin Joe Pszonek, Radio Nowhere
“The Levins have scored another “win” with the release of “Caravan of Dawn.” Their trademark harmonies have never sounded better and the collection of uplifting songs serve up the perfect tonic for whatever ails we might be facing. Uplifting, inspiring and loving – their latest CD is a stunning production that gives us a chance to pause and celebrate the joys of life. A most welcome recording!”
– Ron Olesko, WFDU
“The open hearted songs of The Levins feed my soul. What the
world needs now more than ever is the poetry, spirituality, and humanity of their upliftng musicality.”
– John Platt, WFUV, NYC
Well our permanent reviewer has been working hard again, was a bad day when he found out about “copy/paste”.
Or maybe a good day when you read some of his reviews.
Good job there are plenty of music blogs that write great reviews.
So here is a video that I inserted for your enjoyment.
Now you have watched that you can read what was “copy/pasted” from the wonderful PR Company
“We cover a lot of acoustic singer-songwriters around here, so when we do feature one it has to be good. Rogers is talented. The way he cranks up the intensity of the vocal on the “really oughta know better by now” on the chorus reveals something deep and satisfying. It’s disturbingly personal….it’ll rip your damn soul out.” EAR TO THE GROUND MUSIC
Benjamin Dakota Rogers made his highly anticipated return to the folk world with his brand new single, digitally released January 25. Better by Now, strips the genre down to its core and emotionally charges it with raw human experience, immediately earning a top 40 single spot on the Airplay Direct Folk chart. With the release of his new single, this award-winning singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist folk-phenom proves he’s at the top of his game in every way imaginable.
Better By Now, the lead track, “a beautifully sad folk pop ballad” (Folk Roots Radio with Jan Hall) sets the tone, proving the depth and maturity of Benjamin coming of age, as he delves into the state we find ourselves while in a relationship and come to realize we “really ought to know better by now.” Cut two is an upbeat song featuring brilliant unbound violin bidding Fare Thee Well, as we realize we love someone but we need to move on. The third track leans into the love of dark starry midnights, reminiscing about Pretty Girls, and featuring haunting harmony with Meg Conti, the song paints a vivid landscape traveling town to town away from those we are far from.
’Til I Die leaves the listener feeling an ache of loss and a yearning to continue the search in the ocean “though she’s six feet in the ground” in these poetically gorgeous, yet grief-stricken lyrics and sorrow filled melody. Benjamin gives us a glimpse of his growing career as a musician in $7, the money needed, ironically, to continue carving his musical path singing “just need seven more dollars to ride that train.” Followed up by an interlude midway in the cd as Benjamin begs the Lazy Old Moon “bring me home safe to her” after fighting another man’s war.
Life is supposed to hurt, to make you feel, and Benjamin does just that in the gripping tale of Home “because if it doesn’t hurt when everything’s said and done and over with what was the fucking point.” Leading next to a reflective time laying in a field realizing friends and family will be missed as Benjamin’s career begins to take off, with instrumentation and vocals that soar in Rockabye. Bluesy, gritty folk storytelling lends further depth to the album in the next track about a fugitive being hunted by a Mercy (less) bounty hunter, inspired by a 1911 Rangers badge in Benjamin’s antique collection.
She Was A Singer is a song about a father telling his child about his Mother “in one of those old timey rock and roll bands” but she is gone. The final track, begins as a lilting, brutally honest love song launching into an energetic almost frenetic near end chorus with well-appointed harmonies and intense instrumentation buildup about living with mental illness and addiction: Saints And Sinners “you won’t find it in that bottle full of answers, that I found on the drug store shelf.”
“A multi-instrumentalist, singer songwriter and composer, Benjamin Dakota Rogers pushes the boundaries of traditional folk. Combining fiddle, guitar and mandolin with his unique voice and strong lyrics he is creating music that demands attention.” Jan Hall – Folk Roots Radio with Jan HallPrevious interview
ABOUT BENJAMIN DAKOTA ROGERS
Benjamin Dakota Rogers found a passion and purpose in folk music after inheriting his Great-Grandfather’s violin at the tender age of seven. From budding musician to awe-inspiring performer, his love of creating meaningful music has taken the reins and garnered much attention from folk artists and enthusiasts alike. “Rogers’ unique voice, thought-provoking lyrics, energetic performances and dynamic fiddle techniques leave this up-and-coming musician in a class of his own.” – InSpades Magazine
With the release of his most ambitious project to date, Benjamin continues to redefine the genre with an infinite sound evolution that promises to deepen the path he’s already carved for himself for years to come. This is an album that can only be delivered from the honesty and grit of a farm boy’s hands. Hailing from the countryside of rural Ontario, Benjamin funnels his penchant for starry nights and nostalgia into his stylized folk sound, reaching far beyond to include influences of roots, blues and country music.
Read more HEREand find Benjamin’s Canadian tour info HERE
Super Exciting!! The Crooked Jades have been working their music alchemy in the studio, completing their 9th album, “Empathy Moves the Water.” We’re about to head out on our CALIFORNIA TOUR, including our San Francisco hometown show at the Great American Music Hall! And we are thrilled to have Megan Adie, our beloved bass player, coming in all the way from Sweden! Come on down!
The band’s following have been clamoring for a new album, and one fan in particular, who wants to remain anonymous, is helping to make this possible. He was so impressed with the Crooked Jades’ performance at the California Bluegrass Association Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival in 2017, that he became a benefactor to financially sponsor the new recordings with the band’s present configuration. We thank you!
O N T O U R I N C A L I F O R N I A
• THURSDAY MAY 17 – MICHAEL’S ON MAIN (Soquel/Santa Cruz) • FRIDAY MAY 18 – GREAT AMERICAN MUSIC HALL (San Francisco) • SATURDAY MAY 19 – CLAREMONT FOLK FESTIVAL (Claremont) • SUNDAY MAY 20 – TOPANGA BANJO & FIDDLE CONTEST (Topanga)
LIVE PERFORMANCES BY: • Dave Alvin and the Guilty Ones – Roots Rock Legends • The Crooked Jades – Old-Time, Old World Music Revolutionaries • Bula – Puerto Rican Community Bomba Group • Mostly Kosher – Jewish Cultural Revivalist Klezmer Band • Snap Jackson & the Knock on Wood Players – Bluegrass Quartet • Tom Freund – Singer Songwriter and Multi-Instrumentalist • Fivacious – West Coast Gospel
…and many more.
All day event starting at 10am. Free parking at Pomona College parking structure.
Featuring art & music workshops for all ages, vendors village, local food & libations!
More info at link above.
Sunday, May 20 / 9am-6pm (Jades performance @ 2pm)
LIVE PERFORMANCES BY:
Richie and Rosie, Jenna Moynihan and Màiri Chaimbeul, Jeff Scroggins and Colorado, Echo Mountain, Mike Mahaney & Friends, Latimer & Osborn, Ross Altman, and more
PLUS! Dance Barn with our pals Skillet Licorice, Ira Bernstein and more.
All day event with 4 Stages, Contests, Vendors, Food, Arts & Crafts and more. Info at link above.
Across the wide seas, distant mountains, and the vast complexity of the soul, The Crooked Jades new release “Empathy Moves The Water” emphasizes the lonesome in “High Lonesome” music. The band’s old-time roots reflect the cultural melange and longing implicit in the shadows of America – from haunting ballads punctuated by hypnotic fiddles that express digital isolation and humanity lost in a rapidly changing land, to the high energy revival songs inspired by early rural gospel blues. Reaffirming their reputation as an innovative old-time string band closer in spirit to Tom Waits and Nick Cave, The Crooked Jades create a unique and soulful modern sound by exploring the roots of Americana and interweaving the diverse musical influences of Europe and Africa.
With a bold vision and drive to innovate and inspire, the Crooked Jades release their brand new album “Empathy Moves The Water” on their own label, Jade Note Music. Largely recorded at Berkeley’s famous Fantasy Studios, this new album is produced by the highly celebrated Bruce Kaphan. The band once again features their signature mix of inspired re-arrangements of rare and obscure old-time gems and beautiful original compositions, played on vintage and eclectic instruments, including Hawaiian slide, Vietnamese jaw harp, harmonium, ukulele, banjo, ukulele, arco bass, and minstrel banjo.
The Crooked Jades continue their mission to move old-time music out of segregation and show its relevance in modern times. Their evocative, cinematic music has appeared in soundtracks for Sean Penn’s Oscar-nominated film Into The Wild and the PBS documentary Seven Sisters: A Kentucky Portrait.
PHOTOS BY STEPHEN JOHNSTON & CO. / COLLAGE BY LISA
“Going Across the Sea” (Erik & Jades at The Sweetwater) & “Girl Slipped Down” (Erik & Megan at Cyprian’s)
Known for their rare and obscure repertoire, inspired arrangements and eclectic, often vintage instrumentation, The Crooked Jades began with band leader/founder Jeff Kazor’s vision to revive the dark and hypnotic sounds of pre-radio music. Their new music continues their mission to re-imagine old-time music for a modern age, pushing boundaries and blurring categories with their fiery, soulful performances. Building on an old-time foundation, the band filters old-world sounds with universal and ancient themes through a post-9/11 lens, seeking to make sense of the future, reaffirming the importance of connecting to our roots in a time of intense digital connection. Writes Bluegrass Unlimited, “Chords in unexpected places, out of this world harmonies, and some of the most powerfully-arranged material I’ve ever encountered.” Innovative and fearless, constantly evolving and passionate, they bring their driving dance tunes and haunting ballads to rock clubs, festivals, traditional folk venues and concert halls across America and Europe.
The Crooked Jades core consists of founders Jeff Kazor (vocals/guitar/ukulele) and Lisa Berman (vocals/slide guitar/banjo/harmonium), with long-time member Erik Pearson (vocals/banjos/ukulele/harmonium/slide guitar), and the invaluable Megan Adie (vocals/bass) and Emily Mann (vocals/fiddle). This current line-up builds on 20+ years of The Crooked Jades performances and recordings. The band has traveled countless miles across 4 continents, 10 countries, and many festivals, resulting in 8 critically acclaimed albums.
“The two adjectives that keep coming to me during repeated listenings to The Crooked Jades are profound and transcendent. This is visionary music, forged from the raw materials of old-time forms and instruments. It’s easy to forget that the first old-time music recorded was a mirror of the times the musicians lived in. That was almost 100 years ago. Here, in the beginning of the 21st century, people in appreciable numbers are feeling as though they’re teetering on the brink of apocalyptic times. Through the lens of tradition, The Crooked Jades are voicing this feeling convincingly and beautifully.” – The Old-Time Herald
Aisha Badru makes an impressive label debut courtesy of Pendulum.
The LP puts its best foot forward as the opener ‘Mind on Fire’ takes hold of the ear. With an acoustic guitar clacking out a simple rhythm Badru, uses her melodic vocal tones to hum the backing track. The minimalist arrangement sets the stage for the New York artist’s confident, energized, and sweet voice.
The American sings:
“Have you seen the girl with the mind on fire? She set out to tell the world how they suppress our desires. Said she wouldn’t back down ’till the rules were amended and she didn’t give a f**k who she offended“.
It’s a strong lyrical offering that appears to tell of a protagonist looking to reignite her personal fire and make a difference to the world. It’s the LP’s most captivating track, which helps to propel the listener through the rest of what is an enjoyable auditory experience.
‘Bridges’ and ‘Navy Blues’ also impress on the album’s top half. The latter finds Badru reflecting on a toxic relationship with an antagonist who looks to tear down the partnership all the while maintaining the pretence of love.
“you kicked me down I got back up now. The scars I wear are fading”.
The tracks instrumentation again plays its role well with the violin’s melody proving a gentle accompaniment to the singer’s journey out of her misery.
In promotional material for the project it was revealed that the musician found her producer by scouring the pages of Google. An unorthodox approach you might say, but certainly a prosperous one.
Chris Hutchison Brings the acoustic and the electronic together well, with the artificial complementing the acoustic rather than overshadowing it.
Whether it’s the futuristic distorted backing vocals on ‘Bridges’, the drip drip drip opening of ‘Fossil Fuels’ or, the piano drum combination on ‘Just Visiting’, the producer holds the listener’s attention, whilst maintaining a tranquil easy listening mood.
The second half of the nine-song set isn’t quite as strong as the first.
‘Fossil Fuels’ takes a good shot at being lyrically fresh but, stretches in trying to pair up “precipitation” and “reciprocation” as representatives for love and life. Meanwhile, album bookends ‘Splintered’ and ‘Dreamer’ fall into the well-trodden category of ‘life’s a bit crummy right now but the solution is within us if only we would wake up.’
The songs by no means make for a bad ending, but they don’t match up to the rest of the strong Pendulum.
A regular artist here at TME.fm Radio John Prine released a new album this year, here is the best review I could find. It’s followed up by an excellent biography and some tracks to listen to.
On his first album of new songs in over 13 years, John Prine baits you but good.
The opening tunes to “The Tree of Forgiveness” are presented with ragged simplicity and homey cheer. Then the veteran songsmith, from an emotive standpoint, tosses you off the cliff with works full of stark, devastating resolve. Then, just as you think his world (and, perhaps, yours) has fallen into ruin, he winds the record up with a reverie of mortality that makes the hereafter sound like a street parade.
To perhaps no one’s surprise, “The Tree of Forgiveness” enlists the help of Dave Cobb, who became the Americana producer of choice during Prine’s prolonged writing absence.
Wisely, Cobb keeps things simple, even when he invites a few friends and clients – Jason Isbell and Brandi Carlile, among them – to the sessions. Their contributions provide attractive color, but Prine’s best music has never involved fuss. He tells stories succinctly, keeping his songs focused on lyrics of Mark Twain-ish worldliness with melodies dressed by the lightest and most open of folk melodies.
So it’s business as usual to hear a back porch reverie like “Knockin’ On Your Screen Door” with its sleepy summertime candor and references to sweet potato wine and George Jones 8 track tapes masking a sheepish sense of loneliness at the record’s onset. Three songs later, though, the album heads into the abyss with “Summer’s End,” a tune whose delicacy doesn’t even pretend to hide its sense of loss. “You never know how far from home you’re feeling until you watch the shadows cross the ceiling.” The song’s resulting sadness takes hold so immediately that it’s easy to overlook how graceful and gorgeous the melodic structure is.
But there has also been a mischievous slant to some of Prine’s music that regularly runs hand in hand with homespun, but very pointed social commentary. Case in point is “Lonesome Friends of Science.” It’s partly a slow-poke country rebuke of fact-denying politicos, but it’s mostly another worldly washing of hands, much in the way the classic “Fish and Whistle” was four decades ago. “The lonesome friends of science say the world will end most any day. Well, if it does, then that’s okay, ‘cause I don’t live here anyway.”
The mood is gloriously reprised for the album closing “When I Get to Heaven,” a view of the afterlife both affirmative in its abounding sense of forgiveness but ripe with show biz panache. “As God is my witness, I’m getting back into show business, open up a nightclub called The Tree of Forgiveness and forgive everybody who ever done me any harm.” But Prine saves his prime agenda for the pearly gates to the end as a chorus of laughing children and kazoos ring out. “This old man is going to town.” Sounds like heaven to me.
Artist Biography by Jason Ankeny
One of the most celebrated singer/songwriters of his generation, John Prine is a master storyteller whose work is often witty and always heartfelt, frequently offering a sly but sincere reflection of his Midwestern roots. While Prine‘s songs are often rooted in folk and country flavors, he’s no stranger to rock & roll, R&B, and rockabilly, and he readily adapts his rough but expressive voice to his musical surroundings. And though Prine has never scored a major hit of his own, his songs have been recorded by a long list of well-respected artists, including Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, George Strait, Bette Midler, Paul Westerberg, and Dwight Yoakam.
John Prine was born October 10, 1946, in Maywood, Illinois. Raised by parents firmly rooted in their rural Kentucky background, at age 14 Prine began learning to play the guitar from his older brother while taking inspiration from his grandfather, who had played with Merle Travis. After a two-year tenure in the U.S. Army, Prine became a fixture on the Chicago folk music scene in the late ’60s, befriending another young performer named Steve Goodman.
Prine‘s compositions caught the ear of Kris Kristofferson, who was instrumental in helping him win a recording contract. In 1971, he went to Memphis to record his eponymously titled debut album; though not a commercial success, songs like “Sam Stone,” the harsh tale of a drug-addled Vietnam veteran, won critical approval. Neither 1972’s Diamonds in the Rough nor 1973’s Sweet Revenge fared any better on the charts, but Prine‘s work won great renown among his fellow performers; the Everly Brothers covered his song “Paradise,” while both Bette Midler and Joan Baezoffered renditions of “Hello in There.”
For 1975’s Common Sense, Prine turned to producer Steve Cropper, the highly influential house guitarist for the Stax label; while the album’s sound shocked the folk community with its reliance on husky vocals and booming drums, it served notice that Prine was not an artist whose work could be pigeonholed, and was his only LP to reach the U.S. Top 100. Steve Goodman took over the reins for 1978’s folky Bruised Orange, but on 1979’s Pink Cadillac, Prine took another left turn and recorded an electric rockabilly workout produced at Sun Studios by the label’s legendary founder Sam Phillips, and his son Knox.
In 1998, while Prine was working on an album of male/female country duets, he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, with the cancer forming on the right side of his neck. Prine underwent surgery and radiation treatment for the cancer, and in 1999 was well enough to complete the album, which was released as In Spite of Ourselves and featured contributions from Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, Connie Smith, and more. In 2000, Prine re-recorded 15 of his best-known songs (partly to give his voice a workout following his treatment, but primarily so Oh Boy would own recordings of his earlier hits) for an album called Souvenirs, originally issued in Germany but later released in the United States. In 2005, he released Fair & Square, a collection of new songs, followed by a concert tour. Two years later, alongside singer and guitarist Mac Wiseman, Prine issued Standard Songs for Average People, a collection of the two musicians’ interpretations of 14 folk and country classics. In Person & on Stage, a collection of performances from various concert tours, appeared in 2010.
Most people who know Phil Madeira know him as one of the most seasoned players in Nashville. Since his arrival in 1983, Madeira has seen success in a plethora of different ways. He has quietly released five solo critically-acclaimed records and has shared the stage with Neil Young, Sheryl Crow, Leon Russell, and Jack White. If you can think of it, Phil Madeira has probably lived it; but that’s what most people don’t know about Phil Madeira – his own story – and he’s finally ready to tell it.Released on April 6, Providence is a rare look at the man behind the music, a chance for listeners to get to know Madeira’s own stories, after having spent decades helping other songwriters and musicians tell theirs. Click here to read Madeira’s interview with Rolling Stone Country + watch the video for “Gothenburg,” a song that celebrates his family’s immigrant experience.
Comprised of 10 songs, Providence gives listeners a closer look at Madeira’s life and the inner conflict of being raised in New England, yet feeling an undeniable attraction to the music of the South, “It’s an album full of love songs to where I’m from and where I’ve come to.” Songs like “Rich Man’s Town” reflect on his childhood in Barrington, a suburb of Providence, Rhode Island. Others, like “Dearest Companion” with the words “We’re Dixon and Mason, lost in translation. If love ain’t frustration, I don’t know what is,” make the connection between where he was raised and Nashville, his home of over 30 years.
Independently produced, the album is a complete change from anything he’s ever done, “I don’t know what happened, but I fell in love with piano again.” The record straddles his iconic Americana style and jazz, more specifically, a sixties jazz piano style. Made at Nashville’s Sound Emporium Studios, the live album features “three quarters” of The Red Dirt Boys, with Chris Donahue on bass, Brian Owens on drums, and Madeira providing lead vocals and piano. Will Kimbrough (also a Red Dirt Boy) lends guitar work on one songs, and jazz icon John Scofield adds guitar to another. Touches of brass and reeds round out the sound, but it all hinges on the trio of Madeira, Donohue, and Owens.
If Madeira has proven anything to the world, it’s his ability to bring people together in whatever capacity he’s working in. Though he didn’t intend on the “feel good” record having one overarching theme, he says the most important message is evident in the last track, “Gothenburg”, the Swedish city from which his maternal grandparents immigrated to America from. “It’s a reminder that most of us are immigrants. Most of us picked out a city and trusted that the community was going to embrace us, which is what Nashville has been to me.” Just like Nashville embraced Phil Madeira, Providence embraces the ultimate universal truth – we all have our differences but are, inherently, the same.<
As an instrumentalist, playing electric guitar, lap steel, accordion, dobro, or a Hammond B-3 with icons like Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, Sixpence Pence None the Richer, Mavis Staples, and Garth Brooks — to name a few. As a producer, producing tracks for Keb’ Mo’, Emmylou, The Civil Wars, Humming People, The Band Perry, and the 2012 release of Americana Paul McCartney covers, Let Us In: Americana. As a songwriter, with a cut list that includes Alison Krauss, Amy Grant, Toby Keith, and The Civil Wars’ 2014 Grammy-winning single, “From This Valley.”
About Phil Madeira:
The last of three children, Madeira was born in Rhode Island to a Baptist minister and a church pianist. He’s lived and breathed music since he can remember, but that didn’t always coincide with his religious family. By high school, he had joined the school band and eventually began to write songs and dabble in piano. From then on, Madeira continued on his own path. He left Rhode Island for Taylor University, a conservative, religious school in small town Indiana, to study art. He continued to write and play songs in his free time, but everything changed when he met popular Christian guitar player Phil Keaggy. “When I met Phil, he said, ‘I think you’re gonna be in my band someday,’ and sure enough, three years later, I was playing with this guy.” He joined Keaggy’s band in 1976, but after recording just one record, the band broke up. Five years later, he made the move to Nashville and was immediately embraced by the Christian world, but always knew that he belonged elsewhere. In the early nineties, Buddy Miller hired him for studio work, which eventually led to him joining Miller’s band and finding his place in Americana.
In 2008, Madeira joined Emmylou’s famed band “The Red Dirt Boys”, a group with alumnus like Ricky Skaggs, Sam Bush, Al Perkins, and Buddy Miller himself. During the first campaign for Barack Obama, he became disheartened with the political climate and approached Emmylou with an idea. “I went to Emmylou and said, “You know? I want to do kind of a Gospel record. I want to do a record that says God loves everybody.” Shortly after, the two began working on what would become Mercyland: Hymns for the Rest of Us. The critically-acclaimed album, released in 2012, featured an all-star track listing – beginning with The Civil Wars’ “From This Valley”. The album featured songs from the likes of Shawn Mullins, Buddy Miller, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Mat Kearney, Amy Stroup, John Scofield, Emmylou, and Madeira himself. The same year, the Americana Association asked Madeira to perform Mercyland at the legendary Downtown Presbyterian Church, as part of the AmericanaFest. A second volume was released in January 2016, that included Americana staples Will Kimborough, The Wood Brothers, John Paul White, and The McCrary Sisters; as well as newcomers like The Lone Bellow and Humming People, among others.
This gem was recorded in a South Austin garage with an old Peavey p.a. system, and originally relased on cassette! Proof that true creative ability cannot be constrained by a lack of materials. The essentials were in place—-great songs, great musicians, great ears (engineering, production)
The title cut, “Daddy’s Coal,” is timeless and startling in its profundity. Betty’s and Hal’s (Ketchum) vocals soar effortlessly and majestically above a lyrical but sparse acoustic bed (Betty’s guitar, John Hagen’s cello), in the same way the symbolic eagle of her song soars “upon the wind”. This song is as much a triumphant testimonial to a child’s love for parent as it is a memorial to innocence lost by an entire Viet Nam War generation. The memory of such loss is simply and tenderly expressed in both the title cut and the traditional, “A Drifter’s Prayer” — perfect portrait of a loss of faith. A soul with its tether cut.
The prophetic “Jericho” expounds on the lack of virtue displayed by TV evangelism, and the anthemic “Pilgrim” close the too-short collection, proving once again that one can indeed make much with little.
Note: the CD version contins a bonus gem: a raw living room recording of Betty and Gene’s living room performance of “Two Hearts Together, Three-Quarter Time.”
DADDY’s COAL ~ 1989
Produced and arranged by Betty Elders 1. Bed Of Roses/ Bed Of Thorns 3:31
2. Heartache 4:14
3. A Drifter’s Prayer 3:05
4. Daddy’s Coal 6:02
5. I Never Think Of You At All 2:37
6. Jericho 3:14
7. Welcome Home Heart 3:22
8. Silver Wheels (#2) 3:22
9. Two Hearts Together, Three-Quarter Time 3:26
10. The Pilgrim 3:26
Betty: acoustic guitars, keyboards, harmony vocals
Gene Elders: 5-string violin
Scott Neubert: acoustic and electric lead guitars, dobro
Rick McRae: acoustic guitar on “Silver Wheels” and “Welcome Home Heart”
Gene Williams: acoustic guitar, electric bass on ” A Drifter’s Prayer”
Keith Carper: double bass
Roland Denney: string bass
John Hagen: cello on “Daddy’s Coal”
Rene Garcia: trombone on “Welcome Home Heart”
Hal Michael Ketchum: harmony vocal on “Daddy’s Coal”
Tommy Daniel, Bow Brannon, and Doug Floyd: harmony vocals on “A Drifter’s Prayer”
Recorded at: MARS (Mid-Austin Recording Studio), AWOL Studio (Manor TX), and Songwriter Studio
Engineers: Charlie Hollis, Rick Ward, and Jess DeMaine
Mastered by Jerry Tubb at Terra Nova Digital Audio, Austin, TX
Cover concept and jacket photographs: Betty and her dad, Charlie Pruett, Jr.
She always knew she would be an artist. Her love of music, melody and words began longer ago than she can now remember. The relentless stirring of the mortal soul, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me…” left an indelible imprint on her music. That hymn, her first musical memory, would shape her future.
Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, of Scottish descent, Betty began playing piano at the age of Four, and by age six had already begun to compose melodies. She loved hymns. She loved the rhythm of poetry, especially the words of Robert Louis Stevenson, Carl Sandburg and Robert Frost. By age ten, she had written several of her own. One, “Snow,” would be honored by the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, in 1961.
Betty studied ballet and taught herself to play guitar by listening to records. At fourteen she formed a folk trio with two girlfriends. Just Us, and they played at talent shows and cafes, displaying an eclectic musical repertoire and love of vocal harmonies. In the wake of the arrival of the Beatles and the sounds of the British invasion, Betty played drums for a year in an all-girl Beatles cover band. Soon more dynamic rhythms and melodies caught her ears, in the music of Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Jackie DeShannon, and James Brown.
Summers were spent at her aunt and uncle’s farm in Woodlawn, Virginia. There Betty added to her influences the lilting harmonies loved by her uncle; the memorable refrains of Ralph Staniey, The Clinch Mountain Boys and, of course, Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys. Once again. her love of yearning melodies and harmonic voices was rekindled.
Later, the folk artists of the sixties and seventies expressed yearning with a social and political conscience, leading Betty in another direction. One of Betty’s “favorite first songs I ever learned to fingerpick on guitar” was Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” It will still occasionally surface on her set list, when homage is being paid to those influences which artfully combine great poetry with great music.
From birth until she recorded her first album of original songs, After the Curtain, in 1981, Betty Elders’ music had been shaped by all she beheld. In its diversity one may clearly see her love of that music which speaks to the soul’s struggles, its yearnings, from the early influence of church hymns to popular music, to an education in the brilliant blues of Gershwin’s melancholy, the vast expansive scores of Aaron Copeland and Ferde Grofe, and the exquisite marriage of rhythm and melody in the orchestrations of Maurice Jarre. Betty still claims Jarre’s score for the movie. “Thee Comancheros.” to be among her favorite film scores of all time.
Betty settled in Austin, Texas, in 1984. Her self-produced release Daddy’s Coal was issued on her own Whistling Pig Music label in 1989, and earned her several year-end awards from Austin’s Music City Texas Insider: Best Independent Tape, Song of the Year (shared by two of Betty’s songs), Best Female Vocalist and Best Female Songwriter. The release of Peaceful Existence, issued in 1993 on Whistling Pig, resulted in another round of awards from the Insider’s poll and the Austin Chronicle’s Music Poll. It also attracted a degree of critical acclaim truly unusual for a release on an artist’s own label. Reviews in Detroit’s Metro Times, Detroit Free Press, Austin Chronicle, Performing Songwriter, Richmond Times Dispatch Dirty Linen, Folk Roots and many other publications range in tone from laudatory to reverential. Dave Goodrich of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette named Peaceful Existence one of the five best releases of the decade.
She’s been a featured artist in six standing-room-only showcases in the internationally renowned South-by-Southwest Music and Media Conference 1989-1994. Meanwhile, she co-authored “He Never Got Enough Love” on Lucinda Williams’ critically acclaimed 1992 release, Sweet Old World.
Highlights of the 1994 season include her performance on National Public Radio’s “Mountain Stage program Jan. 9; a successful tour of the Northeastern U.S. in July; the release of Daddy’s Coal on CD; and her enthusiastically received performance on the Main Stage at the 1994 Kerrville Folk Festival.
What Betty Elders Peers Are Saying
Betty’s songs and her sweet, haunting voice call forth the spirit of Appalachia combined with a keen vision and revealing honesty about what really matters. Betty is a favorite of mine and deserves to be heard!
It is and has been to me for some time a source of amazement that an artist of Betty’s caliber has not been recognized yet on a national level. Maybe this will be the album that slaps some heads.
Her music will touch your soul. From deep inside the genuine person she is, Betty Elders’ songs speak through the pain and happiness of all the moments. Just simply being–and carrying on. I hope she always does.
Edgelarks fly in on the tailwind of BBC award winning duo Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin. The new band name comes with anew project, taking the roots of their previous work – British traditional musics, Indian classical slide guitar, stomping roots beatbox harmonica party; adds a strong stem of original writing; and runs wilder with each gig.
definition: Edgelark (verb) – to sing about or from the margins
This album is about transitional spaces. Liminal places, people and times, the straddling of boundaries and thresholds; crossroads and borderlands; travellers and refugees; dusk and dawn. The pause between an old way and a new. The idea that, despite often being places of marginalisation, these are also places of change – and therefore places of hope. That, when social norms break down, when you are between two established worlds, there is a chance for new perspectives. That in the end, we have far more in common than things that divide us, because we are all liminal – we are all standing on the threshold of tomorrow. We are all just passing through.
releases October 6, 2017
Hannah Martin – lead vocals, banjo, tenor guitar, fiddle, viola, shruti box
Phillip Henry – vocals, Dobro, Weissenborn, Chatturangui, harmonica, acoustic and electric guitar, tenor guitar, electric lap steel, shruti box
John Elliott – drums, percussion, piano, Moog synth, harmonium
Lukas Drinkwater – electric bass, double bass
Niall Robinson – tabla
Recorded May 2017 at Cube Recording, Cornwall.
Produced by Phillip Henry and John Elliott.
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Gareth Young.
Assistant engineer Matt Conybeare.
All lyrics by Hannah Martin, all music by Martin / Henry, except What’s The Life of a Man? and Estren, trad. arr. Martin / Henry.
‘I’ve just recorded an album with an American band,’ said Olivia Chaney, introducing a new song on her support slot for Shirley Collins at the Barbicanearlier this year. I remember hearing that remark and thinking it’ll be interesting to hear her in a band context with some transatlantic backing.
What I didn’t expect (although it would be entirely possible to work it out) was that she’d just recorded an album with The Decemberists. In case you don’t know, they are a very popular Grammy-nominated American indie rock band from Portland, Oregon. They’ve recorded seven acclaimed albums including 2011’s The King Is Dead – which reached No. 1 in the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.
To give you an idea of the scale of the contrast, Olivia has just over 1,500 followers on Spotify, The Decemberists more than 275,000. Don’t take that as a criticism, in my book Chaney should have much, much more than that…
Her debut album from 2015, The Longest River is a masterpiece, lauded by FRUK’s David Kidman as ‘eminently treasurable’, and receiving rave reviews in The Independent and The Guardian, alongside many others. So Chaney is definitely not an unequal partner here, albeit an emerging rather than an established artist.
The collaboration came about when Decemberists’ singer, guitarist and lead songwriter Colin Meloy opened a conversation with Olivia on Twitter. Like anyone with ears to please, Colin was a fan of Olivia’s debut, and the tweet exchange led to a support slot for Chaney on The Decemberists’ tour. It was during a late night conversation that Colin suggested, “Have you ever thought of having a backing group? We’ll be your Albion Dance Band.” It turned out to be the king of offers…
The fact that Meloy knew about No Roses by Shirley Collins and the Albion Dance Bandin the first place gives you an indication of his (and the band’s) deep love for British folk rock. And that he saw Chaney in the same mould as Collins demonstrates his appreciation of her as a major talent.
The offer came good and so good. The resulting collaboration The Queen of Hearts is a towering, majestic work. It is effortlessly confident, an album that shifts from pleasure to pleasure – a consistent collection superbly arranged and played. Produced and recorded by Tucker Martine (Modest Mouse, My Morning Jacket, Neko Case) alongside Colin Meloy, it is at turns a nostalgic nod to the great British folk-rock albums of the late 60s and 70s but equally assured in a fresh, contemporary way.
The material is largely traditional, and much of it familiar to folk audiences. The Queen of Hearts, which opens the album, was learnt from Martin Carthy and versions have been recently recorded by The Unthanks and Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker.Willie o’Winsbury is about as familiar as it gets – only last year Jim Moray offered his own beguiling version, William of Barbary. So you might wonder if we need more interpretations of these trad songs. But they are sung so beautifully by Chaney, and The Decemberists bring fresh life to these age-old tales that familiarity is never an issue.
And what’s great is that (hopefully) these songs will get a much wider airing and appreciation because of their inclusion here. And it’s not just ballads that get The Decemberists treatment, a set of Morris tunes, Constant Billy (Oddington) / I’ll Go Enlist (Sherborne), has been deftly arranged by The Decemberists’ accordionist Jenny Conlee. True to their word, they sound like Prospect Before Us-vintage Albion Band. It’s two minutes of absolute, unexpected bliss.
The album is firmly in the rock end of folk often with electric guitar, drums, bass and hammond organ backing, augmented by harpsichord, accordion and violin. Sheepcrook and Black Dog positively rocks with fuzzy electric guitar a la Zeppelin’s No Quarter over which Chaney soars like Trembling Bell’s Lavinia Blackwell. Sheepcrook pushes the band into wyrd new realms, sounding like psychedelic folk legends The Trees.
The song segues into To Make You Stay making an eight-and-a-half minute psych-folk epic. Colin takes the lead vocals on this, the final track, a cover of the Lal Watersonmasterpiece from the album Bright Phoebus. And Colin is clearly having a blast singing this obscure but brilliant song. He also takes the lead on Blackleg Miner which owes much to the Steeley Span version but sounding much fresher and more upbeat here.
Another cover is a heart-stopping The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face sung by Chaney, which lays the ghost of the Roberta Flack-emoted version, with hints of the traditional Cruel Mother taking Ewan McColl’s standard back to its folk roots.
I really hope that this album is taken to heart by long-term folk fans on this side of the Atlantic because it’s nothing short of a love letter to the music and traditions we adore. The performances are passionate rather than studious, rawkus rather than reverential.
Joe Boyd, another American with a deep love for British folk (and a catalyst to the invention of British folk rock) is a fellow admirer of Chaney. ‘I’ve only heard Olivia a few times,’ says Joe. ‘But that’s enough to make me a fan.’
In his acclaimed account of his life in the music industry, White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s, Boyd writes, ‘Why does England hate its own folk music?… In England, the mere thought of a morris dance team or an unaccompanied ballad singer send most natives running for cover.’ It’s an attitude I’m sure FRUK readers and listeners are only too familiar with, although it’s unlikely to be a perspective we share!
Boyd later shares an anecdote about American blues legend Taj Mahal who came to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Radio 2 Folk Awards, positively lapping up a performance by The Watersons, The Copper Family and various folk royalty. The unaccompanied harmonies on the traditional Thousands or More so enthralled Taj that he rose to his feet and joined in the chorus. ‘…his grin testified to the pleasure that evening’s music gave him,’ writes Boyd. ‘Perhaps it’s easier for foreigners.’
That thought might explain the alchemy of Offa Rex. Chaney is undoubtedly one of the freshest and most exciting talents of the British folk scene, but teamed up with The Decemberists might just mean this music goes mainstream (please!). Anyone who’s seen or heard her knows that Chaney is cool, and I don’t believe that The Decemberists are on a mission to make British folk cool. I think they had no idea it wasn’t ‘cool’ in the first place.