JIM ALLCHIN

 

Fret board aficionados, tone junkies and fans of hot stove blues guitar will be glad to hear the return of Seattle guitarist Jim Allchin, who is preaching to the choir on his third album “Decisions.” The 14 tracks were recorded at the famed Blackbird Studio in Nashville by a production team led by Grammy winning producer, drummer and songwriter Tom Hambridge. The group of A list players involved also includes Michael Rhodes on Bass, Reese Wynans on piano and Hammond B3, Guitarists Pat Buchannan and Rob McNelly and the “Heart Attack Horns,” led by Bill Bergman and Lee Thornburg. If this wasn’t enough fire power Allchin and Hambridge recruited Niki Crawford, Wendy Moten, Seattle soul man Mycle Wastman and international blues super star Keb’ Mo’ to join in on vocals, rounding out the all-star team.
The core quartet opens the album on the rockin’ blues shuffle ‘Artificial Life,’ with Allchin extolling the turmoil and tribulations of the modern-day working man blues. The team then heads south of the border on a rollicking trip to ‘The Mexican End,’ an easy going four-on-the-floor groove with hot horns and lead guitar. Allchin then cranks up the volume for the heavy hitting track ‘Bad Decisions,’ featuring more molten fret work and organ from Wynans on one of several songs co-written by Hambridge. The mood mellows for the introspective ‘Healing Ground,’ with Allchin trading verses with Keb’ Mo’ speaking to the precious gift of life that surrounds us and the power of healing available to all, if we will only listen.

The house rockin’ shuffle ‘Blew Me Away’ features the “Heart Attack Horns,” who bolster Allchin’s guitar chops on a good old-fashioned song about falling in love at first sight. The piano driven ‘She Is It’ continues the theme as he testifies to the virtues of the love of his life during the easy pop ballad. The gang whip out all the Nashville cat tricks on the blazing boogie woogie instrumental ‘Just Plain Sick,’ trading hot licks like old pros. The barn-burning slow blues ‘Friends’ rolls out like a staple from the B.B King songbook, with Allchin delivering a sermon on trust and being wary of fair-weather toadies and sycophants. Allchin dons an acoustic guitar to emphasize his point and our need for peace and understanding delivered via the easy-going country blues of ‘You Might Be Wrong,’ celebrating our differences in a party atmosphere to sell an important life lesson. The second instrumental in this collection centers around soaring guitar melodies and intertwining harmonic lines that ebb and flow with emotion. The edgy ‘Don’t Care’ finds Allchin playing the role of a man done wrong and standing his ground while his guitar does most of the talking. He then digs deeper into the blues for the torch song ‘Stop Hurting Me,’ featuring dulcet piano from Wynans and a solo from Allchin that rips like Garry Moore. The tender tribute ‘My Father’s Eyes,’ will touch the heart of anyone who lost a parent at an early age and longs for them to know how much they are missed and still loved. The album closes with a third guitar-driven instrumental simply titled ‘Destiny,’ with Allchin pouring out the passion he feels for this magical instrument, through his fingertips.

Jim Allchin describes the collection in the album notes as a study in the decisions we make in our life about identity, relationships, and “how to live life authentically.” Themes reflected in the lyrical content and in the choice of every note from his cerebral guitar work and soulful vocals. This is quite an album; the stuff dreams are made of.

 

TITLE
DECISIONS
LABEL
SANDY KEY MUSIC
RELEASE DATE
JUNE 16, 2017
LINKS
Artist Website
Artist Facebook

Pierce Edens’ Gritty Appalachian Roots

Pierce Edens’ new release, Stripped Down Gussied Up, is both haunting and fiery; a concoction of psychedelic-grunge-roots, with Eden’s raw, tortured country bray at the hel

Pierce Edens
Stripped Down Gussied Up
June 2, 2017

Life is the intersection of empty and full, dark and light. This relationship, inherent in all things, is the underpinning of Pierce Edens’ new release, Stripped Down Gussied Up dropping June 2nd.  Over the last ten years, Edens has been drawing on his roots in Appalachian songwriting and blending them with the gritty rock and roll sounds that captivated him in his teenage years. Here again, Edens pulls together light and dark— Stripped Down Gussied Up is both haunting and fiery; a concoction of psychedelic-grunge, with Eden’s raw, tortured country bray at the helm.

His fifth fully independent album, Edens has taken his singular voice back home to Western North Carolina. Edens recorded Stripped Down Gussied Up in his childhood home, which he stripped and renovated into a studio a few years back. Even the environment, thus, is an incarnation of the album’s crux. Edens said, “Recording often feels paradoxical; like taking a song and distilling it down, then building it back up from the bare bones.  It’s like pulling your skin off your back and then putting a nice shirt on, maybe a coat too. This is me doing that. Stripping down, gussying up.”

Rev. Sekou’s debut solo album, featuring the North Mississippi Allstars, is out everywhere today!

Rev. Sekou heads out on tour with the North Mississippi Allstars next week, announces UK dates and Paste Live today!

As Rev. Sekou’s album drops this weekend we’re also announcing that he’ll be heading over to the UK with the North Mississippi Allstars for a handful of dates at the end of June. Exclaim! gave Rev. Sekou’s debut solo album a 9/10, ending it by saying “Rev. Sekou, thank you for taking us back to church. Your hope and healing has long been necessary.” Mother Church Pew has called it “one of the most important and relevant albums…of 2017”. Sekou did an in-studio on WNYC earlier this week, which will be live soon, he’s doing a Paste Live session today, taping World Cafe next week and you can hear this interview from yesterday on Sputnik Radio’s By Any Means Necessary with Eugene Puryear where he and Sekou discuss the new album, the importance of music in movement work, and what exactly neo-liberalism is.

His first single, a call to action that begins with an excerpt of a speech Sekou did while on the ground teaching non-violent resistance tactics in Ferguson, “Resist“, premiered on Noisey with Sekou’s reimagining of Bob Marley’s “Burnin’ and Lootin’” coming up on Afropunk, No Depression put out the last single, “Loving You Is Killing Me“, Oxford American and Colorlines featured the full album stream.



To make his debut album, In Times Like These, noted activist, author, documentary filmmaker and theologian Rev. Osagyefo Sekou went back to his Southern home searching for his family’s musical roots in the deep Arkansas blues and gospel traditions. Produced by six-time Grammy nominated Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars, featuring Luther’s brother Cody Dickinson, and supported by Thirty Tigers, Rev. Sekou’s debut solo album is a new vision for what Southern blues and rock can mean today. In Times Like These is drenched with the sweat and tears of the Mississippi River, the great tributary that ties so much of the South together. The album’s sonic landscape captures the toil of Southern field hands, the guttural cry of chain gangs, the vibrancy of contemporary street protest, backwoods juke joints, and shotgun churches—all saturated with Pentecostal sacred steel and soul legacy.   In Times Like These’s opening song, “Resist,” opens with a rousing speech given by Rev. Sekou at a rally in Ferguson, Missouri, protesting the shooting of Michael Brown. Upon hearing about Brown’s death, Sekou immediately returned to his hometown of St. Louis, MO, taking to the streets in a series of protests and interfaith demonstrations that led to his being arrested multiple times. “Resist” surrounds the listener with the spirit of protest.   The images of Ferguson’s protests are burned into Sekou’s mind even today, and led to his moving cover of Bob Marley’s classic, “Burnin’ and Lootin’,” which captures the feeling of the riots. “In Times Like These”—the album’s title track—confronts the sense of helplessness that many feel in this current political moment.  Carried by congas and explosive steel guitar, the song moves around the central line “In times like this, ain’t no one going to save us, we’re the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

Tour with North Mississippi Allstars

5/10 Philadelphia, PA -World Cafe Live
5/11 New York, New York – Bowery Ballroom
5/12 Boston, MA – The Sinclair
5/13 Pawling, NY – Daryl House Club
5/16 Toronto, ON – Mod Club
5/17 Detroit, MI – El Club
5/18 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
5/19 Nashville, TN – Third Man Records
5/20 Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
6/1-3 Austin, TX – Antones
6/4 San Antonio, TX – Sam’s Burger Joint
6/6 Houston, TX – The Heights Theatre
6/7 Dallas, TX – Kessler Theater
6/9 Santa Fe, NM – The Bridge @ Santa Fe Brewing
6/13 Salana Beach, CA – Belly Up
6/15 Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy Theatre
6/16 San Francisco, CA – The Independent
6/17 San Francisco, CA – Slim’s

UK Tour Dates
June 25 @ Oran Mor Glasgow, United Kingdom
June 27 @ Komedia Brighton, United Kingdom
June 28 @ Dingwalls London, United Kingdom
June 29 @ The Ruby Lounge Manchester, United Kingdom

Bobby Messano’s new album “Bad Movie” set for release on April 14, 2017

Legendary guitarist and contemporary blues artist Bobby Messano has been around the block a time or two having been the music director for Steve Winwood, Lou Gramm and Country artists Jimmy Wayne, Rodney Atkins and Steve Holy. He also released seven of his own albums and between 2012 and 2016, Bobby played over 400 shows in 32 states to over a ½ million people.For his newest album “Bad Movie” set for a release on April 14, 2017, he combines his wealth of experience as a well-traveled musician to deliver some straight talk on the state of the world. The collection of fifteen incredible songs written with major co-writers Jon Tiven, Larry Weiss and Steve Kalinich runs the gamut from down and dirty blues to soaring Americana, straight ahead roots rock, a touch of country with slices of reggae, funk and soul; all styles Bobby has mastered in his diverse career that earned him a place in the NJ Blues Hall of Fame.

The trill of one of his custom guitars at the opening of the title track ‘Bad Movie’ simmers for a moment before igniting into the fiery tirade of a man who’s been done wrong, delivered via raucous Texas blues. The groove then shifts into the slinky soul blues of ‘Come To Your Senses,’ written by Queen founder Brian May and Jon Tiven, an unearthed gem that allows Bobby to plead his case for a lover’s return over a groove reminiscent of ‘The Thrill Is Gone.’ He then uses his Strat and vocal skills to dig deeper on the brooding ballad ‘Why Water A Dead Rose,’ laying his heart on the table. Trading out for an acoustic dobro Bobby takes us on a trip thru’ some Hill Country Blues he calls the ‘Road to Oblivion,’ traveling light and taking his sweet time. Bobby takes clever liberties with current political catch phrases and adds some heavy-duty horns and full-tilt blues rock guitar for the bombastic call-out of folks on both sides of the aisle ‘Unconventional Wisdom.’ The veteran bluesman then imparts a bit of wisdom on the funky Memphis soul-styled ‘Too Good To Be True,’ and updates the familiar Bo Diddley beat chant adding spaced out sonics to the mix of “If The Phone Ain’t Ringing, It’s Me Not Callin’.” Then lays out his plan for self- preservation on the rockin’ ‘Never Too Late To Break A Bad Habit.’ The subtle swing and sardonic double-entendre lyrics of ‘I Thought We Had This’ has the feel of a Randy Newman tune.

The album highlight sure to hit the airwaves is when the genuine country girl from Muscle Shoals, Alecia Elliott, joins Bobby for the acoustic-driven duet ‘Water Under The Bridge,’ questioning what are we all willing to do to save the world. The smooth island sounds buffer the heartache and deep blues of ‘You Left Me No Choice,’ while ‘The Girl That Got Away’ is dripping with bourbon-soaked despair and tasty guitar leads. Bobby boldly jumps into the immigration debate and declares we are all Americans and created equal on ‘We Need A Blessing’ and continues his call to action on ‘Is It Too Much To Hope For A Miracle.’ Bobby finishes out the set with the optimistic rock ‘n’ roll anthem ‘American Spring,’ pledging that “this boy is going to stick around and sing.”

“Bad Movie” will surely open new conversations between the artist and those who’ll listen, giving him more opportunity to share what he believes.

Rick J Bowen

BIOGRAPHY

Bobby Messano is a legendary guitarist and Contemporary Blues Artist who has released seven solo albums, placed songs in many TV network and cable shows and played on over 50 major label and Indie albums. His playing has been heard on everything from MTV jingles to Benny Mardones’ smash hit ‘Into The Night.’ The celebrated guitarist has played on records by Clarence Clemmons, Franke & The Knockouts, Joe Lynn Turner and STARZ, and produced the 60’s hit act, “The Shadows of Night.”

Live he has played guitar and been the music director for Steve Winwood, Lou Gramm and Country artists Jimmy Wayne, Rodney Atkins and Steve Holy. Bobby has played BAMFEST, The Charleston Blues Festival, Smokin’ In Steel, Summerfest, Charlotte Speed Street, Blues Brews & BBQ, Blues At The Beach, Bayfront Blues Festival, Deltaville Seafood Festival, Willow River Blues Fest, Ambassador Blues Fest, Colonial Beach Blues Festival, and Southern Maryland Blues Festival. Between 2012 and 2016, Bobby played over 400 shows in 32 states to over a ½ million people.

The guitarist’s last five albums (“Holdin’ Ground,” “Bobby Messano Live In Madison,” “That’s Why I Don’t Sing The Blues,” “Welcome To Deltaville” and “Love & Money”) have garnered airplay on over 275 blues radio shows and his music is heard daily on SiriusXM’s “Bluesville.” “That’s Why I Don’t Sing The Blues” was on the American Blues Scene’s Top 5 Chart for 24 weeks and was named 2012 Top Blues Rock Album (USA) by Blues Underground Network. On December 22, 2012, Bobby was inducted into the NJ Blues Hall of Fame.

“Love & Money,” released in April 2015, was nominated for a Blues Blast Music Award for “Best Rock Blues Album.” It debuted on the Billboard Blues Chart at #7, peaked at #1 and spent a total of nine weeks in the Top 10. It was also #7 on the Billboard Heat Seekers Chart and Top 40 on both the Billboard Rock and Indie Charts.

Bad Movie_CoverArt

TITLE
BAD MOVIE
LABEL
THE PRINCE FROG RECORD COMPANY
RELEASE DATE
APRIL 14, 2017
DISTRIBUTION
CD BABY
LINKS
Artist Website
Artist Facebook

BobbyMessano_COL01

BobbyMessano_COL02

BobbyMessano_COL03

The Hooten Hallers Spend Time With a Hippy River Queen on ‘Charla’

No Depression’s Cameron Matthews has premiered the final single from The Hooten Hallers upcoming, eponymous, album saying “for a band from the Show Me State, the Hallers are quite good at distilling the sounds of St. Louis, the tweaker rhythms of Missouri lake dwellers, and the anti-establishment sentiments of Chuck Berry’s river blues into a definitive sound” noting “Blues Brothers-style hot brass blasts over the speakers like a souped-up Crown Victoria at the beginning of “Charla””.
4-8  Kingston, NY @ The Anchor
4-13 St Louis, MO @ Off Broadway
4-14 Columbia, MO @ Rose Music Hall
4-20 Paducah, KY @ Maiden Alley Cinema
4-21 Fayetteville, WV @ Cantrell Ultimate Rafting/ 35th Star
4-22 Wilmington, NC @ Reggie’s
4-23 Pittsboro NC, @ The City Tap
4-26 Newport, KY @ Southgate House
4-27 Bloomington, IN @ The Blackhouse
4-28 Steeleville, MO @ MoRoots Music Festival
4-29 Nashville, TN @ The Basement
5-2 Milwaukee WI @ Boone & Crockett
5-3 Green bay, WI @ Lyric Room w/ Scott Biram
5-4 Hancock, MI @ Orpheum Theater
5-5 Chicago, IL @ Moonrunners (Reggie’s Rock Club)
5-6 Springstead, WI @ Chico’s North of The Border
5-9 Viroqua, WI @ Drfistless Books
5-11Minneapolis, MN @ The Viking Bar
More Info on The Hooten Hallers
—–
In the olden days of American music, before radios, television, highways, and the internet homogenized everything, regional styles and traditions reigned. And yet, the rich regionalism of America continues today, fighting against the Walmart-ization of American culture. Columbia, MO trio The Hooten Hallers are out front of this charge, reclaiming the heritage of their Missouri roots. With their new self-titled album (to be released April 21, 2017 on Big Muddy Records), they continue their decade-long search for these roots, drawing from the surrounding agricultural lifestyles, the river communities, the college kids and the tweakers that roam Columbia, Missouri, all in the looming foothills of the Ozark Mountains. Other bands would have jumped ship for a metropolitan city long ago, but there’s a sense of pride in these stubborn personalities that tie The Hooten Hallers inextricably to their place. Their regional foundation inspires their music, from pre-war blues to New York Dolls-inspired punk rock to Legendary Shack Shakers-esque Americana Gothic, all of it tying them to the Missouri river and the new regional traditions being made every day. As they say in Missouri, it’s not quite the Midwest and it’s not quite the South. In the same vein, the Hooten Hallers’ music isn’t quite Americana and it’s not quite punk, but a bit of both, fused together in a drunken tangle.

NPR & CBC Premiere Sera Cahoone’s New Album

NPR Music in the United States and CBC in Canada, two of the largest music media outlets in both countries are premiering the new album from Sera Cahoone in full! You can hear Sera’s return to her Americana roots with From Where I Started, and let these lovely songs and melodies sweep you away! The new album drops March 24, with a March 20 radio add date.

NPR MUSIC FIRST LISTEN:

“Sera Cahoone has specialized in shy folk music, but ‘From Where I Started’ marks a shift toward putting more of herself into her warm storytelling.” -NPR Music
CBC MUSIC FIRST PLAY
(geo-locked to Canada)

“There is a gentle, dusty sway to the album — it’s hard not to just lean back and daydream while listening.”
-CBC Music

Sera Cahoone Spring Tour
* – with Gregory Alan Isakov
# – with Son Volt

4/19 – Lawrence, KS / Liberty Hall *
4/20 – Tulsa, OK / The Shrine *
4/22 – Sante Fe, NM / Meow Wolf *
4/23 – Flagstaff, AZ / The Orpheum Theatre *
4/24 – Tucson, AZ / Rialto Theatre *
4/26 – Santa Barbara, CA / Lobero Theatre *
4/27 – Santa Cruz, CA / The Catalyst *
4/28 – Petaluma, CA / McNear’s Mystic Theatre *
4/29 – Sacramento, CA / Crest Theatre *
4/30 – Arcata, CA / Humboldt Brews *
5/1 – Eugene, OR / HiFi Music Hall *
5/3 – Vancouver, BC / The Imperial SOLD OUT *
5/4 – Vancouver, BC / The Imperial *
5/5 – Calgary, AB / Commonwealth Bar & Stage *
5/6 – Billings, MT / Pub Station Ballroom *
5/7 – Laramie, WY / Gryphon Theatre *
5/9 –  Boise, ID / The Olympic #
5/10 – SLC, UT / State Theatre #
5/11 – Fort Collins, CO / The Armory #
5/12 – Denver, CO / Bluebird #
5/13 – Boulder, CO / Fox Theatre #

MORE INFO ABOUT THE ALBUM
The world of American roots music is no stranger to Seattle songwriter Sera Cahoone. Even though her last three albums were on Sub Pop Records and she spent years at the top of the indie charts, she’s always had a streak of Americana that ran through her music, a love of the humble folk song that bolstered her art. She’s returning now to these earliest influences with her new album, From Where I Started (to be released March 24, 2017). Growing up, Cahoone first found her voice in Colorado dive bars, backing up old blues musicians at age 12 on the drums. Her father, a Rocky Mountain dynamite salesman, took the family along to mining conferences and old honky-tonks in the state. The sounds she heard there—the twang of country crooners, cowboy boots on peanut shells—have stayed with her all the way to Seattle, where she lives now, and the seminal indie rock bands she’s been a part of in the city (Carissa’s Weird, Band of Horses).

To make From Where I Started, her first new album since 2012’s Dear Creek Canyon, Cahoone traveled south to Portland to work with producer John Askew (Neko Case, Laura Gibson, Alela Diane). Askew brought together key Portland musicians like Rob Berger (Iron and Wine, Lucinda Williams), Dave Depper (Death Cab For Cutie) and Annalisa Tornfelt (Black Prairie) with Cahoone’s Seattle bandmates – Jeff Fielder (Mark Lanegan, Amy Ray) and Jason Kardong (Son Volt, Jay Farrar). The band lays a deep bedrock beneath Cahoone’s songs, supporting her arcing vocals and innovative guitar and banjo playing. The album is driven by a strong rhythmic sensibility, owed to Cahoone’s background as a drummer for indie rock bands. “A lot of my songs start as a beat, I add guitar, then lyrics at the end,” she says. “When I write songs I usually sit at my drum kit playing both drums and guitar at the same time.”

From Where I Started plays on the rougher, darker edges of the traditional love song. Like any good country album, the songs here deal with love and loss, but Cahoone also knows how to surround loss with hope, to temper a sad song with a turn in the major key. The optimism of the love song “Up To Me,” buoyed by fingerpicked guitar and banjo, gives way to the weary resignation of “Taken Its Toll,” with its plaintive pedal steel and echoing vocal harmonies. “Ladybug,” is a poignant song that followed the tragic death of Cahoone’s cousin Tawnee.

From Where I Started represents a refocusing for Sera Cahoone. It positions her as a songwriter beholden to the old country sounds she grew up with, a songwriter who’s always been able to deftly translate a personal perspective into a universal view. It’s an album about falling in and out of love, finding new hope, and learning that the best way to move forward is to remember where you began.

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

Delta Moon – “Cabbagetown” is the new music project from the Atlanta-based blues and roots rock quartet,

“Cabbagetown” is the new music project from the Atlanta-based blues and roots rock quartet,

After
a long and successful European tour in spring 2016, the band reconvened
in Marlon Patton’s studio in Tucker, Georgia, to strike while still red
hot from playing six nights a week for the past several months. The
atmosphere was relaxed and fun, in a rural setting surrounded by great
gear, a Pyrenees pup named Leo, woods, chickens, vegetarian food and
lots of session ales.

Award-winning songwriter Tom Gray had several new Delta Moon classics ready to go – ‘Rock And Roll Girl,’ ‘The Day Before Tomorrow,’ ‘Just Lucky I Guess,’ and ‘Coolest Fools.’ Full-band renditions quickly followed with a few twists, Mark Johnson playing lap steel on ‘Rock And Roll Girl’ and Gray playing Spanish-style guitar on several songs. The rest of the original songs were written by the band in the studio, including ‘Refugee,’ ‘21st Century Man,’ ‘Cabbagetown Shuffle,’ ‘Sing Together’ and ‘Mad About You.’ This method of writing led to some interesting results with new emphasis on Franher Joseph’s rich bass voice, some non-slide lead playing by Johnson and Gray’s piano playing. In Johnson’s home studio Susannah Masarie and Kyshona Armstrong added backing vocals. Jon Liebman played harmonica on ‘Death Letter.’ Finally, the band headed to Bakos Amp Works to finish overdubs and mix the album in their old studio, now inhabited by the talented Jeff Bakos.

The opening track, ‘Rock and Roll Girl,’ is an autobiography of roots-rock dreams with a Springsteen like appeal. The free-flowing acoustic-driven groove of ‘The Day Before Tomorrow’ has an ultra-optimistic sensibility and alt-country flair. Franher Joseph moves to upright bass for the mostly acoustic introspective tome ‘Just Lucky I Guess’ and Gray picks some sublime lap steel guitar on the happy-go-lucky love song ‘Coolest Fools.’ Delta Moon are not ones to shy away from hot topics, taking on the viewpoint of the silent victims of the world’s problems on the provocative track ‘Refugee’ recounting their plight in multi-voiced narratives over a soulful groove. Gray switches to electric piano for the driving ‘Mad About You’ and drummer Patton lays down a phat hip hop beat to open the ultra-modern reading of ‘Death Letter’ with Jon Liebman adding greasy blues harmonica, sparing with Gray’s lap Steel. Another deep groove is at the center of Gray’s satirical look at our gadget-obsessed world on ‘21st Century Man,’ while the back-porch blues that inspired the album title ‘Cabbagetown Shuffle’ is a lively duel between Gray on Hawaiian guitar and Johnson on bottleneck slide. Gray leaves us with a lesson about our shared humanity on the gently rocking ‘Sing Together’ with Johnson preaching to the choir with more of his glistening slide guitar.

Rick J Bowen

BIOGRAPHY

Tom Gray and Mark Johnson met many years ago now in an Atlanta music store when Tom tried to sell Mark a Dobro out of the back of his van. Mark didn’t buy the guitar, but the two soon got together to swap slide guitar licks. That summer, on a pilgrimage to Clarksdale, Mississippi, Mark saw a huge yellow moon rise over Muddy Waters’ cabin and said, “That’s the name of my next band — Delta Moon.”

The idea of two slide guitarists in the same band is an unusual approach, but it works phenomenally well for Delta Moon. Tom and Mark started playing regularly in coffee shops and barbecue joints around Atlanta. In the early 2000s Delta Moon added a rhythm section and quickly gathered a wall-full of local “best” awards. After winning the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in 2003, the band widened its travels to include concerts and festivals in the US, Canada, and Europe. They have been touring ever since. Delta Moon’s music has been featured in television shows on Showtime, Lifetime, the Food Network and more.

The American Roots Music Association named Tom Gray 2008 Blues Songwriter of the Year. His songs have been recorded by Cyndi Lauper (including the hit “Money Changes Everything”), Manfred Mann, Carlene Carter, Bonnie Bramlett and many others.

Tom Gray: vocals, lap steel, guitar, keyboards, harmonica

Mark Johnson: guitar, banjo, backing vocals

Franher Joseph: bass, backing vocals

Marlon Patton: drums

Delta Moon. It’s the band’s 8th studio album and the follow-up to the award-winning 2015 release, Low Down, named one of the best blues records of the year by both Downbeat and Blues Music Magazine. The new album consists of nine original compositions and one cover of Son House’s timeless classic, ‘Death Letter.’

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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.”