Van Morrison – Roll With The Punches

Van Morrison‘s 2016 album Keep Me Singing included the hard blues track “Goin’ Down to Bangor,” a tune that directly foreshadowed Roll with the Punches, a set of five originals and ten covers drenched in Chicago-style blues. He also heavily engages in collaboration here with appearances by Jeff Beck, Chris Farlowe, Jason Rebello, Paul Jones, and Georgie Fame.

At 72, Morrison can still belt the blues with passion and swagger. The opening title track is an original that pays homage to Willie Dixon‘s “Hoochie Coochie Man” riff. He elaborates on the wrongs in life and love, but exhorts listeners to get up and move on without self-pity. He follows with the single “Transformation,” a trademark Celtic R&B tune and the set’s outlier; his vocal interaction with Beck‘s tasty slide guitar is irresistible. “I Can Tell,” with Beck and Farlowe, is the first of two Bo Diddley tunes, and offers a fantastic lead-in to the medley of T-Bone Walker‘s “Stormy Monday” and Doc Pomus‘ “Lonely Avenue.” Morrison has cut the former several times dating back to Them, while a version of the latter appeared on 1993’s Too Long in Exile. Beck shines, unfurling his guitar wrangling with fire as Farlowe (who had a hit with “Stormy Monday in the early ’60s) and Morrison exchange verses effortlessly, making these the singer’s definitive versions. Fame vocally opens the original “Goin’ to Chicago” with a jazzman’s swing, accompanied only by double bass. Harmonica, electric guitar, and drums follow his organ on the second verse and Morrison enters on the third in a fingerpopping slow burn. Morrison first recorded “Bring It on Home to Me,” for the live It’s Too Late to Stop Now…. While that version was far more animated, this one offers the soulman’s nuanced best as a vocal stylist and he sings the hell out of it. Beck‘s solo on the tune is his own watermark on the set. Morrison‘s “Ordinary People” is a stomping, textbook case in how to write classic-style blues in the 21st century. A stride piano is the engine for the growling read of Sister Rosetta Tharpe‘s gospel blues “How Far from God,” and Morrison‘s passionate delivery makes every word believable. “Teardrops from My Eyes” was Ruth Brown‘s first number one hit; led by Fame, the band lays down swinging R&B, creating a solid backdrop for Morrison to wail. Little Walter‘s “Mean Old World” was once an oft-covered standard, and Morrison reminds us why by reviving its fiery spirit. A rowdy, raucous take on Bo Diddley‘s “Ride on Josephine” closes out this party on a proper note, with Morrison letting the backing chorus and the tune’s trademark boogie riff guide him. On Roll with the Punches, Morrison revisits his roots without nostalgia or overt reverence. For him, these songs are as vital and important to him as his own songs. The spontaneity on this set is more akin to a live record than a studio effort, making it a most welcome entry in his catalog.

Dan Miraldi – Love Under Fire

Love Under Fire began as an interruption. Singer-songwriter Dan Miraldi was ready to complete his fourth full-length album; the songs were written and demoed and the first single was released. But then November 9th hit, and his plans changed. He wrote his newest EP as a response to what was happening around him in the US. The collection was released on September 22.

“The current political climate compelled me to put my typical type of songs temporarily aside and instead write and record Love Under Fire,” Miraldi said. “I wanted to provide modern fight songs to energize people in positive ways and help them resist complacency. We live in an era where it is too easy to tune out, and let indifference and discouragement numb us.”

Musically, the EP is driven by big bone-rattling rock anthems. Lyrically, the singer digs deep and discusses current social and political issues, providing his listeners with six stellar modern protest songs. Love Under Fire’s first single, “The Sweet Sound of Protest,” focuses on anti-fascism. It’s loud and brash, just as a song about such things should be. “No Words” grapples with shootings that have become all-too-normal throughout the US, and the current state of gun legislation. Miraldi makes his stance loud and clear. “Fear is a Powerful Drug” continues along with a journey, venturing through despair and fear and eventually ending with hope. Fear is a powerful drug, but it’s got nothing on love.

The creation of “Name of Love” spans quite a bit of time, originally started when Miraldi was a teenager in Ohio. His music career began in his teens, playing playing Cleveland rock clubs with bands like the Cherry Flavored Elevator and Exit Suburbia. Realizing the same problems that concerned him as a teenager are still relevant — war, religious and political extremism, environmental concerns and guns — he re-recorded the song for the EP.

Miraldi is an NYC-based and Cleveland-born rocker. He released his acclaimed solo album Sugar & Adrenaline in 2012, working with Grammy nominee Dave Douglas (Relient K). After a pair of EPs and another album, on 2015’s Chaos, Destruction & Dancing, Miraldi added modern indie-pop to the gritty rock and retro-flavored power-pop to the mix. The album’s track “Junkie Friend” earned the singer-songwriter his second recognition from the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, as a finalist in the “Best Folk Song” category, following previous recognition for “The Holy Roller Stone Revival”  as a finalist in the “Best Rock Song” in 2010. In the past 10 years, Miraldi has performed at SXSW multiple times, as well as toured throughout the US and Europe, sharing bills with the likes of J. Roddy Walston & the Business, Nelly, Wiz Khalifa, The Wailers, The Wild Feathers, James McCartney, Welshly Arms, Ari Hest and even Wang Chung.

Love Under Fire continues Miraldi’s evolution in music, offering loud rock and roll with tinges of the indie-pop that’s infiltrated his sound. Though the album found Miraldi branching out beyond his comfort zone, he says: “This is not business as usual. This is not the fun-time power-pop-rock album I set out to make. Love Under Fire is the loud rock and roll record I needed to make.”

Rachel Brooke’s new project, Modern Mal, melds Lou Reed’s misanthropy with Brian Wilson beach vibes

This new project veers away from Brooke’s Americana Gothic roots into more garage and surf

The Misanthrope Family Album grapples with social anxiety, relationship trauma, and expounds on the deep recesses of mortality, with the dichotomy of fear and relief that brings

Like an oasis appearing to the lone, wearied cowboy, rebel-psych Americana group Modern Mal’s The Misanthrope Family Album dropping May 12th 2017, is the meeting of traditional country with a mirage of tropical beach-psych. In the writing process, it seems the band’s northern Michigan songwriting pair of Rachel Brooke and Brooks Robbins, had a specific recluse in mind—a close family friend they recently took care of on his deathbed. A misanthrope with a unique way of looking at life; it’s his eerie polaroid portrait that adorns the cover of The Misanthrope Family Album, and his peaceful passage into the afterlife guides the spirit of the album. Though rife with his quirky melancholia and the grief inherent in loss, this album also celebrates their friend’s magic, and the magic of family. That is Modern Mal’s genius: the dark and the light balance each other out. Rachel’s high, floating vocals and Brooks’ dark, foreboding harmonies make The Misanthrope Family Album some twisted lovechild of Brian Wilson and Lou Reed, and the use of slide, surf guitar, ukulele, and 1950s doo-op influences make the album as sunny and intricately produced as it is dark and gritty.

Rachel and Brooks met playing shows together in Detroit. At the time, Brooks was a loner songwriter writing pretty, dark lullabies, and Rachel had been releasing her own gothic Americana—infused with punked-out murder ballads, rockabilly and early jazz. Hailed as an underground country queen, Rachel found her match with Brooks Robbins—who’s dark baritone voice and preoccupation with the mysterious complemented her artistic vision. In the meeting of their twisted, talented minds, Modern Mal was born.

The Misanthrope Family Album was recorded at Halohorn Studios in Traverse City, Michigan, with some of the people who are closest to Rachel and Brooks. For instance, Rachel’s brother Andy Van Guilder played drums, their best friend Nick Carnes and his first cousin Mike Cullen played played guitar on the album, and Rachel’s childhood friend TJ Rankin (bass, percussion) also made an appearance. Throughout the process of recording, Rachel and Brooks were careful to include the creative perspectives of all involved, which accounts for everyone’s disparate quirks and makes the new release feel authentic and alive.

“Brooks and I are the songwriters, and the orchestrators, but we believe in hearing out other people’s ideas and interpretations,” said Rachel. “What really stands out to us is that most of the people on the record are all really close to us. Either family, or very close friends who all just happen to be brilliant people, and introverts… “Most of the songs are about feelings of sadness, inadequacy in love, exploration, introspection and self-reflection,” said Rachel.

The heavy subject matter is mesh ed with jangly harmonies and washed-out psychedelia—both Rachel and Brooks cite The Beach Boys as a major early influence—but with an eerie sci-fi element that underscores their collective fascination with the unknown. As Brooks so aptly said, “If we are the product of purposeful design, hopefully death will be a celebration,” and with The Misanthrope Family Album Modern Mal have indulged all the magical, quirky mystery inherent in death, and life.

Greg Graffin – Millport


ANTI- Release: 31 March 2017

Featuring members of Social Distortion and Bad Religion

Greg Graffin, frontman of the iconic Los Angeles punk band Bad Religion as well as a renowned author, will be releasing a brand new solo album entitled Millport this March 31st via ANTI- .

Millport delivers a stirring though perhaps unexpected reinterpretation of the classic Laurel Canyon country-rock sound alongside Graffin’s insightful lyricism, all propelled by some esteemed colleagues from the LA punk scene including Social Distortion members Jonny ‘Two Bags’ Wickersham, Brent Harding and David Hidalgo Jr., with Bad Religion co-founder Brett Gurewitz producing.  The resulting record is less a reinvention then a creative liberation – a group of Los Angeles musicians at the peak of their game, playing a brand of music they genuinely love.
As Graffin explains, “This feels as exciting to me as when we made the Bad Religion record Suffer. Like everything had been leading up to the songs and they just happened totally organically in this short intense burst. I’m really just doing what I did back then, which is write songs that mean something to me and deliver them in a way that is completely honest.”
Album producer and Graffin’s longtime Bad Religion collaborator, Brett Gurewitz, adds, “It’s the two songwriters from Bad Religion and the rhythm section of Social Distortion, two influential LA punk bands, getting together to do an authentic country rock album, a genre most would think is the absolute antithesis of punk rock. But I think it sounds great. Both are iconic Southern California genres. It’s like the Laurel Canyon sound played by the kids who were smashing up the clubs a few years later.”
From Greg about the album:
My musical roots go back decades. It’s interesting when I take a long view of them. Like a huge tree with broad limbs, you can never predict what the crown will look like from the time that the roots are embedded in the soil. Music takes unpredictable paths — like the many directions that Southern California punk has taken over the years — but the roots are always there, providing nourishment and foundation to the ever spreading branches.
This album represents three distinct historical trends that came together in the span of only 10 days during recording at Studios 606 and Big Bad Sound in April of 2016. The most obvious one is the musicians themselves. The rhythm section is composed of players from Social Distortion. 36 years ago, Bad Religion and Social Distortion shared a stage in Santa Ana, California. Well, it wasn’t really a stage, it was an abandoned warehouse made into a punk concert/party place. That was my first concert, as the singer/songwriter in Bad Religion.  Our styles over the years diverged, but one consistent element remained – our love of American folk-rock and old-time music continued to grow.
The second root apparent on this album is that of the sound and musicianship itself. No mere hacks, these musicians are masters. Vintage wood, having been crafted into musical instruments, produces the sound of history when played by virtuosos such as those collected here. An old guitar, a vintage fiddle, drums and bass, clawhammer banjo, and a combo of electric guitar and tubed amplifier, create a sound that can only be described as classic. When you add the beautiful harmonies of these most excellent background singers, there is no doubt that this music comes from a deep-rooted expression of American experience.
The final historical root is a personal one. The people who introduced me to Old-Time music are now old-timers themselves. My family roots go back to Indiana and Wisconsin. The Indiana folks sang a-Capella in the old country chapel at my Grandma’s funeral. Her children taught me to sing and the songs they chose came from the 30s, 40s, 50s, and of course the folk revival tunes of the 1960s. This was the sound I brought forth to my own band starting in the 1980s. It’s the only kind of lyrical style I know. And hopefully this album will add another strong branch to my music. Thank you all for continuing to water the tree.
For more information please contact James at Prescription PR on james@prescriptionpr.co.uk

Torgeir Waldemar

Torgeir Waldemar: «No Offending Borders»

Jansen Plateproduksjon, 2017

Torgeir Waldemar took the Norwegian people and music press by surprise with his eponymous debut album in 2014. Who had thought that the black-clad, longhaired and bearded man would deliver an album that captivated and moved us as much as it did. An acoustic masterpiece that sounded like it came straight from the rehearsal room of a young troubadour from Laurel Canyon in the seventies.

 

While his previous album cultivated a pure, acoustic sound, we get more rock music this time, and for Torgeir Waldemar nothing is more natural. With his background as a guitar hero in various rock bands, it was only a question of time before distorted tones would assert themselves in his solo career. «No Offending Borders» is a gloriously composite work with both dead honest acoustic laments and grandiose rock songs.

But the record is so much more than that, and for Torgeir this is a document that shows the seriousness we meet in our everyday lives. Both on the personal level, with relationships that falls apart and the loss of loved ones, but also on a national and global level, with refugee crises, suicide statistics and the weakest members of our society. You may have guessed it already, but this is a solemn record.

If you’re afraid that Torgeir Waldemar has turned away from what he presented on his debut album, you can relax. Here we get acoustic folk songs like «Falling Rain (Link Wray)», «Island Bliss» and «Souls on a String», but the album also contains more intense rock songs like «Summer In Toulouse», «Sylvia (Southern People)» and «Among the Low». A complete album, you might say … and we’re saying it.

 

Aesthetically, it’s also consistent from beginning to end – nothing at all is done by chance here. The historical lines that are drawn in the cover design, are also meant to point back to ourselves and to make us conscious of our past, so that we won’t make the same mistakes again. The cover of the single «Souls on a String» featured a photo of the decorated carrier pigeon from World War I, Cher Ami. It saved a whole British company during the war, when the British were caught in a battle, without any food or ammunition. Cher Ami was sent away, and taken under fire by the enemy, but finally delivered the message that saved the British troops.

The chair on the cover of «No Offending Borders» is from Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand. This is the chair that Wilhelm II, the King of Prussia and Emperor of Germany, was sitting in when he was told that World War I had started. Wilhelm II was a friend of Norway and spent much time on the west coast in the early 1900s. What would you have done if you were sitting in that chair and received that message? Sit down, think thoroughly about it, while you’re listening to «No Offending Borders».

It’s hard not to love an album that blows away your expectations, and the latest release from this award winning Norwegian singer/songwriter does just that. His acclaimed eponymous debut was an introspective and wistful acoustic affair, whereas No Offending Borders sees him treading new ground. Often the changes are subtle; the dark lament of ‘The Bottom Of The Well’ wouldn’t sound amiss in a classic western movie and the gorgeous gentle melody of ‘Island Bliss’ really lives up to its name. ‘Among The Low’, the album’s most experimental offering, mixes celtic folk with subtle eastern tinges, interspersed with feedback fuelled southern rock riffs.  With these tracks we find a diverse and interesting folk record, and a worthy successor to his debut.

The big talking point of this album however is not in those subtle changes, but in the two big powerhouse tracks. ‘Summer in Toulouse’ and ‘Sylvia (Southern People)’ are both sprawling Americana epics that could have come straight from the golden age of Neil Young. They just don’t make them like this anymore! Both tracks are the perfect template of how it should be done and I’m sure at least one of them will find its way into my list of top ten songs at the end of the year. These hulking behemoths of southern rock splendour would be enough to make this an excellent album just from their own merit. When I factor in the fantastic folk alongside them it seems clear that this is the first truly great album I have heard in 2017.

Stephen Fearing releases new album.

Veteran roots songsmith Stephen Fearing has achieved real prominence over the past 20 years as a member of super-trio Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, but he’d already made a mark as an eloquent solo folk artist prior to BaRK. He has continued to regularly release solo albums, as well as a couple of fine duo collaborations with Andy White.

Every Soul’s a Sailor is his first solo effort since 2013’s Between Hurricanes, and it’s a strong and varied collection. Working with Blackie seems to have widened Fearing’s stylistic range, while his skills as a lyricist, fluent guitarist and warm-voiced singer remain sharp. The rock-solid BaRK rhythm section of Gary Craig and John Dymond is on hand, co-producer David Travers Smith contributes horns and Rose Cousins adds effective harmony vocals to “Gone But Not Forgotten” and “Red Lights in the Rain.”

Their subtle musical touches keep things interesting, though the focus remains clearly on Fearing. He gets overtly political on “Blowhard Nation,” a scathing condemnation of Trump’s America written prior to the U.S. election (“The fat cats are gaining ground”). That’s something of an outlier, with the other material returning to more familiar reflections on love and life. Fearing saves the best for late, with the title cut being a lovely meditative piece (“Every soul’s a sailor, rolling out to sea”) that glides as smoothly as a yacht under sail in a light breeze.

 

“Fearing (is) a king amongst minstrels.” 

Halifax Chronicle Herald

Stephen Fearing was born in 1963 in Vancouver, British Columbia and grew up in Dublin, Ireland where his schoolmates included future members of U2. In 1981, he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota and immersed himself in the music scene, learning the fundamentals of song writing and performing, while washing dishes to stay alive.

By 1984 he was back in Vancouver, determined to become a professional musician. In the years since, he’s been named as one of the finest songwriters in Canada and has built a national – and international – audience for his music, doing it old school through countless performances at intimate venues and on the concert stages of festivals and theatres across Canada, the US, the UK, and Europe, with appearances at major events like the Reading Festival and WOMAD, to name just a few.

“Fearing’s music crackles with ideas and collaborative energy… masterful guitar work from acoustic rock rhythm to elegant finger style.”

Acoustic Guitar Magazine

In 1996, Fearing, Colin Linden, and Tom Wilson formed a new band called Blackie and the Rodeo Kings to record a tribute album of songs by Willie P. Bennett. Nine albums and one JUNO Award later, the band has become one of the most respected names in North American roots-rock-Americana music.

“The best roots-rock band in Canada, period.” 

Hamilton Spectator

Their musical collaborators are many, but to name a few – Emmy Lou Harris, City and Colour, Keb Mo, Exene Cervenka, Holy Cole, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Sam Phillips, Pam Tillis, Vince Gill, Cassandra Wilson, and Serena Ryder.

In 1998, Stephen Fearing met Andy White backstage at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and a fast friendship was formed. In addition to his own work, White is known for his collaborations with Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel, and Sinead O’Connor. As the duo Fearing & White they have released two critically-acclaimed albums and toured throughout Canada and the UK.

Fearing moved from his home in Guelph, ON in 2008, and headed to Halifax, NS. He completed work on Blackie and The Rodeo Kings’ Polaris Prize-nominated Kings and Queens (which featured duets with 14 iconic female singers including Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris, and Roseanne Cash). He also got remarried, became a father, and still managed to tour relentlessly.

Fearing has released ten albums as a solo artist, featuring musical guests including: Bruce Cockburn, Margo Timmons, Richard Thompson, Shawn Colvin, and Sarah McLachlan. When not working behind the microphone, Fearing spends time producing records including Suzie Vinnick’s JUNO Award-nominated album Happy Here. “With producing, I really enjoy collaborating with other artists. It’s a blast and, as a bonus, gives me a chance to learn and expand my skill set.”

Like the guests on his albums, the many awards and nominations that have come his way over the years speak to the respect he has earned among his peers, presenters, and critics.

“Blackie and The Rodeo Kings’ ‘Black Sheep’ (penned by Stephen Fearing) is one of my favorite songs from 2011.  Meticulously crafted with deep, resonant writing and featuring vocalist Serena Ryder.  Kind of like The Band recording with Joni Mitchell back in 1970.”

Brew Michaels, OM KRVO, Kalispell, MT

The JUNO Award-winner also shares his knowledge and experience with fellow musicians through songwriting workshops. “The classes dovetail nicely with performing,” he said. “My students are from all walks of life and I enjoy helping to coax them out of their comfort zones to create songs they might not have otherwise found.”

“A master of the finely-turned phrase and the perfectly-pitched line.”

Maverick Magazine

Through a life of many relocations and countless months on the road performing, Fearing has become a gifted storyteller and true musical nomad with the ability to enthrall audiences of all sizes and attitudes. “Getting on stage is the fun part, especially when the adrenaline kicks in,” he says, with a broad smile. “People want to escape and be taken on a journey. I build my shows so they do just that.”

The Iron Bridge Band – Against The Grain

Maybe it’s being from Jersey that inflames the passion, deep dedication and profound introspection of home grown musicians. The Iron Bridge Band from the Garden State give every ounce of themselves while playing off the full range of emotions and even making informed topical observations without sacrificing the energy, spirit and healing power of rock.

The explosive quintet with the addition of singer Amy Anderson and guest artists including Jessie Wagner (lead and background vocals) and Jeff Levine (piano and Hammond B-3 organ), is led by guitarist and songwriter Stephen “Jude” Walsh, a firebrand with taste, tone and technique. Golden-throated lead singer Chandler Mogel lays bare his soul in every lyric as does Anderson on her star turn, while the solid granite husband and wife rhythm section of drummer Scott Suky and bassist Lanie groove effortlessly. Following their critically acclaimed debut Road Not Taken (2013), the band returns triumphantly with 12 original tracks showing stunning artistic evolution. The opening crunching, strutting anthem “A Little Too High” rocks hard with Mogel revealing his rock ‘n’ roll life while defiantly proclaiming “I got a little too high for heaven and a little too close to hell” in the chorus as Walsh breaks the figurative bounds of musical gravity with his soaring guitar. The riff-rocking “Black Sheep’s Son” is a spurned lover’s furious lament with “You tease me and please me, you take me round the back. But it’s out in the open, you call the kettle black.” The elegiac “The Fall” changes direction with a bittersweet romantic plea, a memorably melodic guitar hook and the unforgettable, gorgeously harmonized chorus “Because I’m waiting, for the fall. With some luck by then we’ll stand on common ground” in what should become a future classic.

“American Boss” offers a bold, scathing commentary on contemporary divisive politics by questioning “Do your actions bother you, blinded by red, white and blue? Or does the truth not matter much to you? Does your ignorance betray what we need to say, we just wanna find our way to the USA” as the unaccompanied snare drum cadence by Nick Suky creates a haunting coda. The Southern rocking “Raleigh” underscores the story of a special survivor with “Face the wind ‘cause you were born against the grain, and for sure there’s someone out there who’s the same” containing a sweet coda with Mogel and Walsh opening their hearts wide to the promise of love. The Allman-esque “Every” is a piquant declaration to an object of affection with poetic lines like “Every time I see your face, every dream falls into place, I’m never lonely” as Walsh unfurls sensuously melodic guitar lines.

With the Suky bass/drums tandem churning like a Harley-Davidson rhythm machine, “Mark Twain” blasts killer blues-rock riffs and classic Americana lyrics worthy of the Band with Mogel imprinting “She remembers mama’s words that got her by, ‘Love don’t pay the bills, but it lights a flame’” Walsh tossing off slithery slide licks with aplomb. Racing forward, “Backwoods Charm (A Southern Gothic)” weaves a cautionary tale about a mythical scammer traveling the highways and causeways described as “His mama always told him he was born with backwoods charm and someday he’d make daddy buy the farm” with Lanie Suky virtually carrying the song with her propulsive bass. The authentic Muscle Shoals/Stax vibe on the ballad “Day Gets Me Down” features Mogel sharing lead chores with guest belter Jessie Wagner slyly answering his “It’s always the moon that brings out the best in me, yeah, it’s never the sun that finds me found” with “Oh, if I’m ever lonely baby, I’m gonna reach out to you. And if you ever need me, honey, just let your train roll right on through.”

Walsh additionally shows he is a guitar talent to be reckoned with via his solo instrumental ballad “Faded” where he accompanies his beautiful, rich lead lines with alternating well-placed chords. The group returns with the wistful folk rock of “Wilderness” as Mogel reaches his silken higher register while using “wilderness” and the search for a brother as a chillingly poetic metaphor for the terror of 9/11 with lyrics like “In the midst I can swallow the guilt, but I can’t let it out, that’s not how I’m built.” Amy Anderson takes the spotlight for the closing, haunting, minor key “Light in August” in a duet with Walsh who sensitively surrounds her with perfect accompaniment as she uses her satin-smooth, mellifluous pipes to lament “In the light of the painted pictures fall from my face. Fear of time, what once was mine and every love that came to stay.”

The Iron Bridge Band is a talented, ambitious band of brothers and sisters whose reach matches their grasp in creating timeless music, and the listener is the lucky beneficiary. By turns rollicking, rambunctious, thoughtful and soothing, they provide a soundtrack for life and love. In these turbulent times, it is a rare and welcome, spiritually nourishing refuge on which to depend.

BIOGRAPHY

Uniquely distinctive and instantly recognizable, Iron Bridge Band has a sound that is both familiar and fresh. Influenced by vinyl and cassette-era rock, they bring together classic rock n’ roll, fused with roots-rock and hints of southern soul by way of thoughtfully crafted songs, four-part vocal harmonies and reflective lyrics. The music is an up-beat collaboration of edgy melodic guitar riffs, laden with fist pumping, sing-along hooks.

Iron Bridge Band is a true band in every sense and their music is a collaboration of authentic musicians who feel, groove and vibe. They bring intimacy and that intangible musical connection you can’t quantify with just pure musicianship alone. Their music has depth, realism, tells a story and is felt before it is heard. The band has been writing, recording and performing together since 2010 and has opened for national touring acts such as The Outlaws, Blackhawk and John Eddie.

John Evans releases Polyester

Standing at six-foot five, adorned in polyester, with a smile on his face and sparkle in his eyes, Texas-born musician John Evans is hard to miss when he takes the stage. Big hair, horn-rimmed glasses, bellbottoms and vintage cowboy boots may be part of his iconic look, but its his contagious energy and memorable sound that captures the audience. As a performer, if Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and Elvis Costello were to have a love child, John Evans might just be it. But it is also his songwriting that has built his legacy over the past twenty years as a troubadour in the great state of Texas.  Music runs deep in this man’s blood, and with just a tiny bit of whiskey to make it flow even better, Evans is embarking on a new album and a new chapter that will go down easy, with or without a shot.

Evan’s life journey has revolved around performing, whether that be on the football fields of Texas in his younger years, or on stage at venues scattered across America. His journey began by earning his keep and his education through athletics, and later entering the realm of Texas roots rock music as he took to the road. When he isn’t songwriting or touring with the John Evans Band or El Rio Grande, Evans is an award-winning producer who creates albums with an untouchable southern elegance, ranging from bluesy rock-n-roll to rootsy country music. He has produced albums for Jason James, folk pop singer Ashley Monical, Jesse Daytons and Emily Bell in the past year alone. (CAN WE TALK ABOUT HIS WORK WITH CORB LUND OR HAYES CARLL HERE?) He is a true virtuoso whose sound and musical style cannot be defined by one genre or one project.

His latest endeavor is his new album Polyester, which tells the story of the journey he has led ever since the day he decided the life of a song-writer was the only path for him. He hasn’t looked back since. John has written over XX original songs that can touch the soul of music fans from all genres, across all spectrums. His songs are delivered as an outpour of emotion rather than merely singing; songs that make you want to get up and dance, or rock out in your convertible in the heat of a Texas summer. But he also offers the listener lyrics that can be transparent and vulnerable, reflecting what is moving him in his everyday life. Each song speaks to his life experiences, every one having a unique sound and revealing the most important aspect of his music – staying true to his artistry.  Whether it be a punk song that comes from a place of anger, a tear bending country song that stems from sadness, or a song that was just inspired by Lone Star beer, John’s music has the ability to connect with his fans and cut to their heart.

How The City Sings by Sam Carter

Sam Carter’s third album ‘How The City Sings’ captures this fervently admired singer, songwriter and guitarist at his most passionate and moving. Recorded live to tape in the studio, the album was produced by Dom Monks (who worked with Ethan Johns on records by Laura Marling, Paolo Nutini and The Staves) and keyboardist Neil Cowley (Neil Cowley Trio, best known for his contributions to Adele’s 19 and 21 albums).

In addition to Neil, whose emotive piano lines were often improvised, the band includes fiddler Sam Sweeney (Bellowhead, Leveret and BBC Folk Musician of the Year) drummer Evan Jenkins (Neil Cowley Trio) and Sam’s longstanding bassist Matt Ridley.

‘How The City Sings’ features twelve songs that are at times affectingly intimate and at others brimming with righteous rage. As the album formed, Sam began to notice these songs were shot through with images and aspects of London. After ten years living in the capital it had become not only the backdrop but a central player in the parts of his life these lyrics detailed. Unconsciously How The City Sings became a way of processing where he was, in every sense.

‘How The City Sings’ is the most personal album of Sam Carter’s career, and when songs are this heartfelt and true they connect with us all.

Aaron Burdett

     Aaron Burdett serves up the finest song driven Americana the North Carolina mountains has ever produced. Based in Saluda, a small town near Asheville, Aaron shares a singular perspective on the world around us, connections to places and people, and the simple pleasures of life through his heartfelt, thoughtfully crafted songs. Building on the traditions of the finest performing songwriters, Aaron’s original Americana music blends folk-rock, bluegrass, and blues into a sound that’s at once totally original but also comfortingly familiar. His honest songwriting pours in between hammer-on chord changes and rolling crosspicking rhythms, all the while keeping at the forefront his own unique sound and authentic voice.

     His sixth full length project, Tinderbox, was released in June of 2015, recorded with his fantastic road band at Crossroads Studios for Organic Records. Produced by Tim Surrett from the award winning bluegrass group Balsam Range, it’s Aaron’s best work yet. Filled with songs of hope and heartache, it swells and swings from anger to resolute calm and back again as the album progresses. Amanda Platt of The Honeycutters adds just the right touch of harmony vocals on several songs.
     Aaron’s 5th studio album, Fruits of My Labor (also on Organic Records) was released in early 2014, and was voted the #12 release of the year by WNCW listeners. The song “Little by Little” was also ranked the #12 Americana song of 2014 in KRVM Radio’s annual list for the Eugene, Oregon area.

     Aaron has released four albums prior to 2014’s Fruits of My Labor: Breathing Underwater in 2012, Stand Up Eight in 2010, Resolve in 2008, and The Weight of Words in 2005.
     In October of 2012 Aaron’s song “Going Home to Carolina” won Our State Magazine’s “Carolina Songs” songwriting contest, outshining over 250 other entries in this competition judged by industry professionals including members of The Carolina Chocolate Drops and Chatham County Line. And in May 2013 Aaron’s song “Magpie” won 3rd place bluegrass song in the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest, one of the largest and most highly regarded music festivals in the US for traditional, bluegrass, Americana, and singer-songwriter artists. Over the years Aaron has been a finalist in numerous other songwriting competitions including The Mountain Stage Songwriting Contest, The NC Songwriter’s Cooperative Songwriting Contest, and the Hank Williams Songwriting Contest (from the old Flat Rock Music Festival).

     Whether solo or with his band, Aaron Burdett is an artist not to miss. His songs will take you on a journey every time, and his voice will always lead you through those backroads and bring you home again.

“A lot of great male voices have come from North Carolina including Eric Church, James Taylor, Randy Travis and Don Williams. With the release of “Tinderbox,” Aaron Burdett has proven this his name needs to added to that list.” –Rick Amburgey, No Depression