For millennia, humans have traced out meaning in the constellations. The stars have been watched and wondered at by poets, farmers, and astrologers looking for guidance and inspiration. On a summer night in 2016, these same constellations hung over the forests and rivers of Horsefly, British Columbia. Down below, a host of friends and family members were camped out in tents on the acreage of Pharis & Jason Romero. Since the release of their last album, the Juno Award-winning musicians and celebrated instrument makers had taken a year-long sabbatical from touring and recording to welcome their second child, build some banjos, and tear down their house and build a new one with the help of their local and extended community. But the stars had other plans in mind. As a fire came in the night to claim their shop, the Romeros found themselves surrounded by the community that came to support them. “I think being ‘pushed to the edge’ is a perfect way of of describing how that summer felt. The day after the fire, support just started pouring in,” says Pharis. “It was overwhelming, this sense of receiving when we had absolutely nothing to give other than love and thanks.” And in the midst of the chaos of building and rebuilding, taking care of children, and feeding everyone, Pharis says, “music and songwriting were hovering at the edge but never came inside. There was no space to just sit and be and let thoughts, melodies, and ideas ferment.” These experiences and the growing sense of gratitude would soon be connected and drawn together through music, becoming Sweet Old Religion, Pharis & Jason’s first album made up of entirely original songs.
“Just weeks after everyone left all the music, all of the songwriting, it just began to flow immediately as if a tap was opened,” says Pharis. “There was suddenly this space for all those months of really big feelings–having our son, dealing with loss and change, and receiving so much love and support–to be gathered into this big swirl of ideas, feelings, and melodies. It just all started coming out like crazy.” Having been together for a decade, making music together, working together, and parenting together, the Romeros are at their strongest and most free on Sweet Old Religion.
True Northwest originals, Washington State string swing ensemble Hot Club Sandwich has cooked up a delightful meal of new songs and tunes for their new release, No Pressure on David Grisman’s Acoustic Oasis label.
For the new menu, Hot Club Sandwich happily pairs jazz manouche with a bolero romantico, or follows a Hoagy Carmichael song with a Peruvian waltz from the same era. Long ago, the band adopted its own interpretation of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli’s open-minded ethic in pursuit of honest, adventurous improvisation and an embrace of music forms from around the world. The group pays homage to other legends who flourished around the same time, such as Slim and Slam or Stuff Smith, but they also love the music enough to look to inspirations closer to home, like 75-year old jazz guitarist Ray Wood, who’s long been a key member of the band, and shares his vocal talents here for the first time. For No Pressure, Hot Club Sandwich’s fifth album, they invited longtime friend David Grisman to both share in the experience, and also help shape it. Grisman acted as producer (in the casual sense of the term), and Dawg generously offered input on everything from instrumental arrangements to production strategy, while also joining in on mandolin on half the tracks! Improvising a recording studio in a old Victorian in Port Townsend, WA, the band created a comfortable, creative workspace for two weeks, with slow-food simmering in the kitchen and racks of outboard gear in the dining room. In the big room, the woodstove glowed where the band played. Hot tunes for snowy winter nights, and you can hear the camaraderie and the stellar musicianship in the new album.
Hot Club Sandwich is known for arrangements with sparks of instrumental interplay. On each record, they visit a variety of grooves and place emphasis on original compositions. From its first needle drop, No Pressure tips a hat to distinguished guest David Grisman by placing a ‘Dawg’ original at the top. “Swang Thang” commences with chromaticism on the intro, then a lighthearted bounce with twin mandolins: Matt Sircely on melody and Grisman harmonizing above. After a violin solo the two guitars trade solos on a chorus, and then Grisman lights up his own mandolin solo, pausing to note a bass feature on the bridge. “We’re humbled and honored that David Grisman appears on the new album,” says Sircely, “and we’re thrilled that No Pressure will join the remarkable collection at David Grisman’s Acoustic Oasis record label. We’ve always loved Dawg music, and to think that his label was releasing so many legendary vintage recordings just as most of us were starting to explore these older music forms… As a band we have so much to thank him for.”
No Pressure also incorporates two songs from the collection of Ray Wood, and his songwriting partner Vann Cantin, drawn from the duo’s musical, The Alligator Circus. Wood sets the scene for a back-porch cook-out with bluesy jazz with his delicate, intentional touch on the guitar and gentle vocals. In a similar spirit, the hot-footing “Blackpot Coozie” is a new song from Sircely, inspired by his annual pilgrimage to the Blackpot music camp and festival in Louisiana’s Cajun Country. No Pressure captures the essence of Hot Club Sandwich’s recent five-year period with Joseph Mascorella on drums and vocals while also spotlighting the work of founding members Kevin Connor on Selmer-style guitar, James Schneider on bass, Sircely on mandolin, and Tim Wetmiller on violin. The final track on the album, a striking cover of “St. James Infirmary,” features vocals from Tracy Grisman, also creator of the album’s cover artwork.
With so many influences, it can be hard to pin down this band’s genre, but eventually it becomes clear that there’s only one dish on the menu: a Hot Club Sandwich!
Yes Folks 30 days of Victor and his Train here on TME.FM Radio.
Though his career began over a decade ago with genuine rock n’ roll honky-tonk, Wainwright has broadened his artistic scope over the years to include music representing virtually every corner of the blues. His insatiable interest in music discovery, sheer love for entertaining and curiosity have led him all around the world, and the resulting perspective is a reflection of his passion for entertaining and creating progressive roots music in an effort to move the art-form forward. Composer, producer, vocalist, and award wining entertainer and piano player; Victor Wainwright is a raucous high-octane, dynamic performer and crowd pleaser with soul to spare.
“Wainwright serves as an electrifying guide to a good time-spinning tales, telling his listeners how to beat the blues, and meticulously conjuring raw soul and energy out of his acoustic piano. He displays a sharp sense of humor and a knack for storytelling… every track is brilliant.” -Living Blues Magazine
“Victor Wainwright is a world champion piano player, two times over! Not only is Victor one of the greatest blues piano players in the business, he’s also a world class entertainer and vocalist.” – Blues Revue Magazine
“Victor Wainwright, winner of this year’s Pine Top Perkins Piano Player Award at the BMA’s, is a force to be reckoned with on a piano. He IS honky-tonk and boogie, with a dose of rolling thunder. Wainwright’s playing is simply beautiful madness.” -American Blues Scene
“Savannah, GA native Victor Wainwright is all about boogie woogie piano, deep soul, and a voice that recalls Dr. John at his best. He is a blues star, a tremendous player.” -Chicago Blues Guide
Only three years old yet the UK Americana Awards jamboree is already established as THE showcase for all that is great and good in these benighted times. With two days of conferences, panel discussions and live shows featuring acts from across the UK, the event culminated last night with the Awards show held at The Hackney Empire.
Hosted again by Bob Harris there was live music from Robert Vincent, The Wandering Hearts, Emily Barker, Imelda May, Courtney Marie Andrews, Aaron Lee Tasjan, The Worry Dolls, Angaleena Presley and Mumford & Sons. Star guest of the evening was Robert Plant, there to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award and of course old Percy couldn’t stop himself from getting up on stage to sing along with Mumford & Sons.
Americana UK was there and tweeted all the results live but here’s a handy catch up for all those who weren’t glued to our Twitter feed…
And the winners were…
Lifetime Achievement Award – Robert Plant
Trailblazer Award- Mumford & Sons
The Bob Harris Emerging Artist Award – The Wandering Hearts
Grass Roots Award – Come Down And Meet The Folks
Best Selling Americana Album – Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters – Carry Fire
UK Album of The Year – Robert Vincent – I’ll Make The Most Of My Sins
International Album of The Year – Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound
UK Artist of The Year – Emily Barker
International Artist of The Year – Courtney Marie Andrews
UK Song of The Year – Home by Yola Carter
International Song of The Year – Tenderheart by Sam Outlaw
Yes folks we finally get the chance to see one Blind Raccoon’s artists here in the Peninsula.
Los Angeles-based soul brother number one, The Reverend Shawn Amos, continues his mission to preach joyful blues to the world on his third album The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down, set to release February 16. When asked to write a short reflection describing the album and what he means by calling it a collection of 21st century Freedom Songs, this is his response: “this album was born while on tour through the American south during the spring of 2017. Driving through Tennessee and Alabama, I was reminded of my color, my otherness. I was drawn to how we pull ourselves apart while needing each other so badly. I revisited the freedom songs of The Staples Singers while visiting the ghosts of Birmingham and Memphis. Time stands still and life marches on.”
As listeners know we aleady have our copy and what a great album it is. Full review later.
After spending at week in Memphis appearing in two special showcase performances during the IBC week, being called up to do a spot at the world famous Silky O’Sulivans by Barbara Blue, visiting all the sites that Memphis has to offer, suffering with the coldest weather Memphis had for 20 years,being TME.fm Radio Spotlight Artist, Val Starr & the Blues Rocket ended a special week by reaching NUMBER ONE on the Electric Blues Chart at RMR.
Top 50 Electric Blues Album Chart for the Week of Jan 20 2018 Roots Music Report
Sacramento blues woman, Val Starr, describes her music as “songs written about love and loss, breaking free of bad relationships, and learning to live with the good ones.” All that, and more, can be found on the 12 tracks of her fourth album of all original material “I Always Turn The Blues On.” Starr is backed by the veteran trio The Blues Rocket, which includes her partner in crime, John Ellis on bass, Frankie Soul on lead guitar, and Paul Farman on drums.
The tunes run the gamut from traditional blues shuffles to bold blues ballads. Kicking off the album is a girl-power call out, ‘High Time To Go,’ followed by the easy swing of the title track featuring Todd Morgan of Todd Morgan & The Emblems on keys, while Starr spells out her love of the blues. A bumping groove underpins the life lesson ‘What Happens After Midnight (Nothin’ Good)’ that Starr wrote for her teenage sons. Bay Area guitar slinger Daniel Castro adds gritty lead guitar to the powerful anthem to social consciousness ‘Whether Blues’ and some fine pickin’ to the country ballad ‘Please Don’t Go Away Mad.’ Tim Barron joins in on harmonica for the bump and grinder ‘Bad Luck & the Blues.’ The Rockets show they know how to play authentic Chicago blues on the hot shuffle ‘Out With The Old’ and a touch of Memphis soul on the saucy number ‘The Baby Mama Song.’ Steve ‘Beer Dawg’ Wall adds angular lead guitar to the tale of a women scorned ‘Blind Eye.’ Starr shows off all her feminine wiles during the jazzy slow blues ‘Bye Bye’ and then closes out the set with a rambling blues tune about life’s up and downs ‘It’s Always Something.’
“I Always Turn The Blues On” from Val Starr & The Blues Rocket gives proof to her stature as an acclaimed female blues singer/songwriter and prominent figure in the Northern California blues scene.
For the next four weeks we are proud to have Blues star VAL STARR as our SPOTLIGHT ARTIST. So you will be hearing lots of great blues during all the shows not just the blues show.
We must not forget the BLUES ROCKET’S they help the starr shine so brightly.
So tune in to catch the songs and you will find out that VAL STARR & the BLUES ROCKET have real starr talent and it shows. Hear why Val and the band are no pretenders to chart success they have been there and done that and they will continue to do so.
About Val Starr & the Blues Rocket
I Always Turn The Blues On, Val Starr & The Blues Rocket’s fourth all original blues CD, hit the streets on August 1st, 2017. The songs are written from the heart, and tell tales about love and loss, breaking free of bad relationships, and learning to live with the good ones. “Whether Blues” is a blues cry for people to come together and just get along. “What Happens After Midnight (Nothin Good)” is an blues anthem that every parent should relay to their teenagers!
Her ultra talented band is comprised of Sacramento blues professionals, John Ellis on bass, Frankie Soul on lead guitar, and Paul Farman on drums. I Always Turn The Blues On also features several top Sacramento based side musicians including Todd Morgan of Todd Morgan & The Emblems on keys, Daniel Castro and Steve Wall on lead guitar, Guyle Taber on drums and Tim Barron on harmonica.
Sorry but male full frontal’s not allowed on this website.
The band’s prior release, Woman on a Mission received solid radio support, holding the #1 spot on the Airplay Direct Global Radio Blues Charts for 5 straight weeks in March, 2016. The band also debuted on the Roots Music Reportblues charts at #39. Their radio success can be attributed to their talent, hard work and music business background.
For the past 4 years, John and Val have been actively bringing blues acts to Sacramento by way of their own summer concert series, Blues On The Patio. BOTP, along with other blues festivals such as the Blues & Bones Festival, Vacaville Blues Festival, El Dorado Hills Art & Wine Festival, Folsom Rhythm & Brews and Orangevale Pow-Wow-Days, have provided the Blues Rocket with the opportunity to share the stage with top blues artists such as Tommy Castro, Coco Montoya, Rick Estrin, Chris Cain, E.G. Kight, Dennis Jones, Laurie Morvan, E.C. Scott, Albert Cummings and more. The band was also a finalist in the 2012 Sacramento International Blues Competition.
Val Starr has experienced a lifetime of music both as a performer and music industry executive. Raised in southern California, Val started singing and playing guitar at age 12. Her earliest musical influences were female singer/songwriters like Carole King and Joni Mitchell, and bands of the 60’s and 70’s. Her mother also instilled in her a love of musical comedy, which is apparent in the theatrical way she delivers her songs live, her catchy lyrics, and her amusing storytelling.
Val’s music business career began in the late 70’s working for record labels, ABC, Chrysalis and Polygram as an executive assistant. In the early 80’s her focus shifted to radio promotion and from then on into the late 90’s, Val had a successful career as an independent radio promoter. Val worked in the music industry by day, and at night, played the L.A. club scene, in original rock bands “Local Authority” and “Threshold.”
In 1983, Val married bassist, John Ellis, who remains the cornerstone of her band to this day. At the end of the eighties, the family, which now included son James (and later son Sean), relocated to the Bay area. For the next twenty years John and Val continued to write, record and perform with local bands in San Francisco.
At the start of the new millennium, streaming audio caught her eye. She had witnessed firsthand as an indie radio promoter, how hard it was to get records added to the limited airplay slots available at terrestrial radio. As a result, she started one of the first streaming audio networks, Allradio.com, and went on to launch Choiceradio.com and Gotradio.com. GotRadiocontinues to be a popular global radio network and along with its 38 custom channels, features a 24/7 blues station called Bit O Blues.
Now I know where all the TME.FM listeners go.
In 2003, Val and her family moved to Sacramento and continued playing in local cover bands. Around and about 2010, tired of the cover band/ club scene, Val and John started showing up at local blues jams in the area, out of which she found the talent to form her first blues band. “I found the blues and with it I discovered my voice. I had been singing covers for so long, imitating other singers, I forgot what my own voice sounded like. I may not have the ‘typical female blues whiskey voice’, but I know that I was always meant to sing and play the blues.” – Val Starr
Val Starr & The Blues Rocket released their first CD, “Cool Ride,” in 2012 to favorable reviews. “Blues Away,” their second CD which came out in 2014, was well received at blues radio and went to #4 on the Airplay Direct Global Blues chart. In addition, Val had a #1 Airplay Direct holiday hit with “Spending Christmas With The Blues,” in December of 2015
Val Starr is an extraordinary singer and songwriter who writes songs gleaned from everyday life, love, friends, and family. In 2016 Woman On A Mission was submitted for nomination to the 2016 Grammys, and I Always turn The Blues On will be submitted for consideration for the 2017 Grammy Award.
From programming an online international 24/7 blues radio station, to promoting her own blues concerts in Sacramento, to recording and performing with her band, Val Starr is truly a woman that can say “I Always Turn the Blues On.”