In The Dog House With Harpdog Brown

In The Dog House With Harpdog Brown

Sarah French

New nine-part Sunday Brunch series with special guests debuts January 24th

Faced with travel restrictions, venue closures and other limitations due to the global pandemic, blues artist Harpdog Brown has been displaced from his touring life and is temporarily riding out the pandemic in Alberta.

Harpdog and his team had planned to film more music videos for the 2019 release For Love & Money. Unfortunately, those plans were thwarted along with all the tour cancellations. Thankfully FACTOR, Canada’s private radio broadcasters, allowed us to rethink our plans and come up with a solution that still met the funding criteria.

Photo courtesy of Sarah French

Through reconnecting with former bandmates from his former band The Bloodhounds (1990s) they were able to safely congregate at DanLyn Studios in Sherwood Park Alberta, just outside of Edmonton. It was a magical reunion that led to some outstanding musical performances.

“Many years ago I had a radio show on CJSR, broadcasting from an old bank vault in the basement of the University of Alberta campus. It was a fun project and a great vehicle to share music and a forum to delve into the blues” said Harpdog Brown. “Then my manager and I got to talking about that TV show Daryl’s House that Daryl Hall used to host. And we thought, hey wouldn’t it be fun and entertaining to do something like that?

“The rest fell into place. The band is fantastic. These guys are top-shelf. Some of the best blues players in Alberta. DanLyn Studios was the perfect location. It’s a beautiful studio and plenty of room to ensure all safety protocols would be followed. We lit it like a stage to give a live performance feel. They even have their own pub so that became the Dog House Pub where we shot all the interview segments. The only thing missing was a live audience.”

To tie it all together, each episode features the new band doing a remake of a song from  For Love & Money.

In The Dog House Episodes

#1 JAN 24, 2021 – Bill Bourne

#2 JAN 31, 2021 – Peter North

#3 FEB 7, 2021 – Jack de Keyser

#4 FEB 14, 2021 – Cam Hayden

#5 FEB 21, 2021 – Aki Kumar

#6 FEB 28, 2021 – Kid Andersen

#7 MAR 7, 2021 – John Nemeth

#8 MAR 14, 2021 – Holger Petersen

#9 MAR 21, 2021 – Tim Williams

Harpdog Brown has grown a reputation as a real-deal purveyor of classic electric blues true to the sound of the old Chess Records and Sun Records of the late ’40s and early ‘50s. Until recently, he’s been touring as Harpdog Brown & the Uptown Blues Band – a vintage New Orleans Blues sound that is piano-driven and at any given show could feature slide trombone, sax, clarinet, trumpet and more. Still a vintage vibe, just a different vintage! They perform mostly originals yet they often include great songs of the masters from that era. Think Louis Jordan, Satchmo, Sonny Boy Williamson, Wynonie Harris, even Duke Ellington.

He’s been called a Blues Evangelist, and that’s a very fitting moniker. “I speak the blues like it’s the truth, and it is”, he was recently quoted. “I do feel like I’m a servant of the people. A missionary if you will. Music can heal people if they pay attention to the messages in these songs.” He delivers those messages with a vintage sound. “Blues is a beautiful celebration of our perfectly flawed lives. We help people forget about their issues of the moment and when they realize that we all have our issues, it’s OK.”

 Listen/Purchase For Love & Money

Not a YouTuber? All episodes can be watched on his website.

*Feature image credit: Mark Maryanovich

Parker Millsap is Back With ‘Be Here Instead’

Parker Millsap is Back With ‘Be Here Instead’

Big Hassle Media

Watch the official video for the first single, “The Real Thing”

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Parker Millsap has announced the release of his new album. Be Here Instead arrives via his own Okrahoma Records and Thirty Tigers on Friday, April 9. Produced by the legendary John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth, Waxahatchee), Be Here Instead is heralded by the premiere of the luminous new single, “The Real Thing.” The song – which features guest vocals from Nashville singer Erin Rae – is joined by an official companion video.

“It’s a song whose meaning has revealed new layers to me over time,” Millsap says. “At first it was about being on the road and missing my wife, then it was about my general distaste for internet communication, and then the pandemic hit, and it became about having to depend on that type of communication and being starved for physical closeness. The thesis of the song is: Facetime ain’t shit.

“For the video, without any prior input from me, Jacq Justice came up with a concept that perfectly framed these new themes the song was revealing to me,” Millsap continues. “What is the “real” connection? How do we find it and foster it these days? Is technology allowing us to stay in touch when we couldn’t otherwise, but hindering the quality of communication? ARE WE TRAPPED IN OUR OWN REFLECTION?!”

Millsap’s fifth studio LP and first new album in close to three years, Be Here Instead marks a stylistic shift from the gritty and high-energy folk of the Oklahoma-bred, Nashville-based artist’s previous output. Mainly recorded live with Millsap’s full band, the album sees a departure from the guitar-and-notebook-based approach to songwriting that shaped his earlier work. Instead, Millsap has followed his curiosity to countless other modes of expression, experimenting with everything from piano to effects pedals to old school drum machines (a fascination partly inspired by the early-’70s innovations of Sly Stone and J.J. Cale).

In another creative breakthrough, Be Here Instead forgoes the character-driven storytelling of his past in favor of a more introspective and endlessly revelatory form of lyricism, an element he traces back to the charmed nature of his songwriting process. “Because the lyrics were appearing seemingly out of nowhere and with no prior intent, some of them started to feel like transmissions from my subconscious, rather than the preconceived linear stories or waking thoughts of my earlier songs,” says Millsap. “They feel like words I needed to hear from myself and not just things I wanted to say to someone else.

“My wife’s grandfather was an artist who did watercolor paintings,” Millsap continues, “and a few years ago I decided I wanted to try it. I very quickly found out that watercolors are really hard to work with – you have to embrace your mistakes, and then let them guide you along. It’s made me think about how when you mess up, you’re basically revealing your humanity, which is what music’s all about. When I listen to records, I love when Ray Charles’s voice cracks, or when you hear the squeaking of the kick-drum pedal on a Led Zeppelin song. Anything that shows the living, breathing quality of the whole thing, that’s always wonderful. That’s what we’re here for. So don’t be afraid to let it happen.”

Though Be Here Instead sees Millsap broadening his already ambitious musical vision, the album remains firmly grounded in the sophisticated musicianship he began honing while growing up in the small town of Purcell, Oklahoma. Inspired by Texas singer-songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Millsap started writing songs on acoustic guitar in his early teens before making his official debut at the age of 19 with 2012’s Palisade.

Millsap has also made his name as a captivating live act, sharing stages with the likes of Jason Isbell, Patty Griffin, and Lucinda Williams and lighting up such major festivals as Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, and Newport Folk. In a particularly memorable turn of events, a 2016 show in Atlanta alongside fellow singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz drew raves from none other than Sir Elton John, who declared the performance to be “one of the best concerts I have ever seen…it restored my faith in music.”

With Be Here Instead, Millsap has created a uniquely powerful piece of work touched with both unbridled imagination and lucid insight into the search for presence in a chaotic world.

Be Here Instead is available for pre-order now.

Ally Venable to Release ‘Heart of Fire’ Feb 26

Ally Venable to Release ‘Heart of Fire’ Feb 26

Devious Planet

The pandemic might have silenced the music scene, shuttered the live circuit, and kept artists from their fans. But with ‘Heart Of Fire,’ Ally Venable is coming off the ropes swinging.

Ally Venable, the 21 year-old guitarist from Kilgore, Texas, is pleased to announce the release of her 4th long player, Heart of Fire via Ruf Records on February 26, 2021.

The pandemic might have silenced the music scene, shuttered the live circuit, and kept artists from their fans. But with Heart Of Fire, Ally Venable, is coming off the ropes swinging. Defying dark times and rolling up the amps, this fourth release from the acclaimed singer-songwriter is a record to rattle your speakers and signpost better times ahead. “My vision was to spread a positive message of love,” says Venable. “The world needs that right now.”

If Heart Of Fire finds Venable giving the globe some much-needed love, then the feeling is entirely mutual. Still, in her early twenties, Ally’s two decades have moved as fast as her fingers, her path winding from childhood church choirs to the teenage influence of local heroes like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Miranda Lambert. Thus far, Ally has released four albums; No Glass Shoes (2016) and Puppet Show (2018) earned her international fans, Top 10 charting, and ETX Awards, but it was 2019’s #2 Billboard-charting Texas Honey and house-rocking sets on that year’s Blues Caravan tour that sent her to the next level. Now, with Venable’s fanbase snaking further around the block every time she blows into town, Texas roots icon Mike Zito has no doubts, “Ally is the future of blues and the crossover music of American roots-rock.”

Not even a global pandemic could derail her momentum. Working at the Bessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, Tennessee last February with world-renowned producer Jim Gaines, Heart of Fire finds Venable laser-focused on her songcraft, challenging herself to write unguarded honesty, even if it hurts. “On this album, I wanted to create a tone of overcoming struggles and persevering,” she explains.

Like any battle, this record gets loud. Anyone who has left an Ally Venable show with ringing ears will come expecting rip-it-up guitar work, and Heart Of Fire is a lovely way to burn. In a world of electronic pop, this old-soul gunslinger riffs up a storm on the Led Zeppelin-worthy sting of “Hard Change” and “Do It In Heels,” revs up the slinky hook of “Sad Situation” and drives the title track’s intro with a heavy-booted wah Leah ick. “That song is about being in a state of sadness,” she explains, “and someone comes along and brings you out of it, and then nobody can snuff out your flame.”

The only player who could follow her fretwork is special guest Kenny Wayne Shepherd, who tears up “Bring On The Pain.” As Venable says: “That song is about loving someone, staying true to yourself during the bad times and saying, ‘No matter what’s going on, my love won’t change’. Kenny is one of my heroes, so I’m very honored he said yes to be a part of the song.”

While nobody is better at squeezing fresh juice from the blues-rock genre, Venable’s songwriting frequently forks into left field. There’s the chain-gang stomp of “Hateful Blues,” its lyric cursing a cruel lover. There’s the pace-changing cover of Bill Withers’ classic “Use Me,” reborn here with congas, rubberband bass, and a groovin’ lick. And don’t miss the impossibly wistful “Road To Nowhere,” featuring Devon Allman dovetailing with Venable on the chorus harmonies. “Devon jumped right into the song, elevated it, and brought it to life,” she remembers. “His vision for the song aligned perfectly with mine, and I’m so happy with how it turned out.”

The same could be said for Heart Of Fire. Defiant, passionate, honest, and raw, this is the record these times demand from an artist who refuses to wait for the storm to pass but prefers to dance in the rain. “My goal for this album was to give an outlet for people,” Venable considers. “That’s really where the core of these songs comes from…”

Ally Venable

Alligator Records 50th Anniversary Online Streaming Concert Premieres March 13

Alligator Records 50th Anniversary Online Streaming Concert Premieres March 13

Alligator Records

“Sweet Home Chicago — An Online Blues Celebration” To Feature Blues Stars Billy Branch & The Sons Of Blues, Shemekia Copeland, Lil’ Ed Williams, Toronzo Cannon In Concert At University’s Center For Performing Arts.

Governors State University (GSU) Center for Performing Arts (the Center) will celebrate Chicago blues and Chicago-based Alligator Records’ 50th anniversary by presenting an online streaming video concert starring four of the label’s most popular artists. “Sweet Home Chicago – An Online Blues Celebration” will feature a performance by legendary harmonica player Billy Branch with his all-star band, The Sons Of Blues, with three special guests — Grammy-nominated vocalist Shemekia Copeland, slide guitar master Lil’ Ed Williams and beloved Chicago blues guitarist and songwriter Toronzo Cannon. Alligator Records founder and president Bruce Iglauer will serve as emcee.

The once-in-a-lifetime event will be recorded on the Center’s stage to its empty 1171 seat house. This concert is part of the Center’s 25th anniversary celebration. The show will debut as a ticketed streaming event at 7:00PM Central time on March 13, 2021, and will be available to watch on demand through April 11. The event will stream on the Center’s YouTube channel.

Alligator Records, founded in 1971 by Bruce Iglauer, is home to some of the world’s foremost blues and roots rock talent and is regarded by fans and the media alike as the top contemporary blues record label in the world. From classic Windy City artists like Hound Dog Taylor and “Queen Of The Blues” Koko Taylor, to next generation legends Lil’ Ed Williams and Billy Branch to contemporary stars including Toronzo Cannon and Shemekia Copeland, Alligator’s discography reads like a who’s who in modern blues history. Legendary artists including Lonnie Brooks, Luther Allison, Johnny Winter, Albert Collins, James Cotton, Rick Estrin, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, Michael “Iron Man” Burks, The Holmes Brothers, Mavis Staples, Marcia Ball and rising stars Selwyn Birchwood and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram are just some of the blues immortals who have recorded groundbreaking music for the label. Now, at 50 years old, Alligator is still committed to discovering great new talent, proving that the passion, soul and redemptive power of blues and roots music is alive and well.

Blues giant Billy Branch is hailed internationally as one of today’s greatest harmonica players. The New York Times says, “Branch has a warm, open vocal style and a full command of the blues harp, from wailing notes to chugging rhythms.” With his inventive, deeply rooted playing and gritty, soulful vocals, Branch carries on the Chicago blues tradition that he learned first-hand from icons including Big Walter Horton, James Cotton, Junior Wells, Carey Bell, Willie Dixon and many others. With his instantly recognizable sound and his band, The Sons of Blues, Branch has traveled the world, delivering his signature brand of Chicago blues for over four decades. Branch’s latest album is 2019’s Roots & Branches: The Songs of Little Walter. The album finds Branch and his band boldly reimagining the renowned songs of Little Walter Jacobs. Jacobs was one of the principal architects of the Chicago blues sound and one of the most influential blues harmonica players who ever lived. Living Blues says, “Billy Branch has cemented his place among the kings. Chugging, incessant blues and R&B…greasy, funky, howlin’ harp attack that really burns. Wonderful, bold and surprising.” This concert marks Branch’s third appearance at the Center.

When Shemekia Copeland first broke on the scene with her groundbreaking Alligator Records debut CD Turn the Heat Up in 1998, she instantly became a blues and R&B force to be reckoned with. The Chicago Tribune says, “Shemekia Copeland is the greatest female blues singer working today.” News outlets from The New York Times to CNN have praised Copeland’s talent, larger-than-life personality, dynamic, authoritative voice and true star power. Shemekia has earned three Grammy Award nominations, 12 Blues Music Awards and a host of Living Blues Awards, including being named the 2020 Female Blues Artist of the Year. With her recent albums, Shemekia broadened her musical vision, melding blues with more rootsy, Americana sounds. Her new album, the soulful and uncompromising Uncivil War, tackles the problems of contemporary American life head on, with nuance, understanding, and a demand for change. It also brings Copeland’s fierce, sultry R&B fire to songs more personal than political. NPR’s All Things Considered says, “Copeland embodies the blues with her powerful vocal chops and fearless look at social issues.” No Depression declares, “Copeland pierces your soul. This is how you do it, and nobody does it better than Shemekia Copeland.”

Slide guitar-playing blues master Lil’ Ed Williams, leader of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, comes to the blues naturally. His uncle, Chicago slide guitar king and master songwriter J.B. Hutto, taught him how to feel, not just play the blues. Living Blues says, “Lil’ Ed plays rough and ready blues with unmitigated intensity…swirling, snarling, riveting slide…scorching and soulful, joyous and stomping.” With nine albums and thousands of performances under his belt, Lil’ Ed is now universally hailed as a giant of the genre. The Associated Press says, “Williams fills Chicago’s biggest shoes with more life and heat than anyone on stage today.” With his latest album, 2016’s The Big Sound Of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, Lil’ Ed continues to bring his blistering Chicago blues to fans new and old. His infectious energy, joyful showmanship and masterful playing have been honed to a razor’s edge. The Chicago Tribune says, “Electrifying, raucous, pure Chicago blues….Lil’ Ed is a guitarist extraordinaire…slashing slide and flamboyant stage persona.”

Upon release of his Alligator Records debut, The Chicago Way in 2016, Toronzo Cannon burst onto the international stage as one of the most electrifying bluesmen to emerge from Chicago in decades. The Chicago Reader said, “Bluesman Toronzo Cannon is one of Chicago’s finest string-bending storytellers.” He has played major cities all over the U.S., Canada, and Europe, including stops in the UK, Germany, Spain, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Poland and Japan, delighting and surprising audiences with one unforgettable gig after another. He has played the Chicago Blues Festival on ten separate occasions. UK tastemaker music magazine MOJO named his latest album, 2019’s The Preacher, The Politician Or The Pimp, the #2 Best Blues Album Of 2019. Chicago’s Newcity and Reader both named Cannon among the city’s greatest musicians. Blues Music Magazine says, “Cannon has all the fire and spontaneity of the Chicago legends. His songwriting is a timely and original look at the world, and his assertive voice is the perfect vehicle to deliver the message.”

Throughout its 25-year history, many blues artists have graced the Center for Performing Arts’ stage: Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Eddie Clearwater, Jimmy Burn, Eddie Shaw, Zora Young, Demetria Taylor, Jamiah Rogers, Tail Dragger, Billy Branch, Howard Levy, Sugar Blue, Corky Sigel, Melody Angel, Lurrie Bell, Chicago Ladies Sing the Blues collective, and more.

The seed of “Sweet Home Chicago – An Online Blues Celebration” sprouted pre-COVID at an Andersonville diner in Chicago, when the Center’s Director Lana Rogachevskaya and Iglauer explored how to celebrate their upcoming institutional birthdays and share their passion for the blues with a larger Chicago community. This conversation reemerged in 2020 with an additional goal of employing Chicago artists, while serving blues fans from all over the globe.

Rogachevskaya says, “Blues is a feeling. A musical genre with origins in American slavery and Jim Crow, its continued popularity is in its universal appeal. Communally held and lived through, blues uplifts, nourishes, and sustains the human soul.  Sweet Home Chicago Blues participants will feel the healing power of blues sounds and stories while being together.”

According to Iglauer, “Chicago Blues is the famous musical signature of the city. This exhilarating music — music that grew up on the city’s South and West Sides — has become Chicago’s most vibrant and honored cultural export, reaching a worldwide audience. This concert will be a celebration of the city’s heritage, featuring some of the most talented and exciting blues artists in the world.”

For tickets and more information, click here.

Jimbo Mathus & Andrew Bird Announce ‘These 13,’ New Album Out March 5 via Thirty Tigers

Jimbo Mathus & Andrew Bird Announce ‘These 13,’ New Album Out March 5 via Thirty Tigers

Shore Fire Media

Watch the video for “Sweet Oblivion,” the lead single

For the first time in decades, Jimbo Mathus and Andrew Bird have come together to announce a brand new album. Out March 5th on Thirty Tigers, These 13 is about the special type of human connection that can survive any distance of time or geography.

As former collaborators in Squirrel Nut Zippers, Mathus and Bird’s friendship dates back 25 years, but at the turn of the century their career paths diverged. Both became highly accomplished, acclaimed and prolific solo artists, and though they remained close friends, they did not return to musical collaboration until 2018, when they started exchanging the fragments that grew into this set of 13 songs.

Photo courtesy of Greg Jakubik

Jimbo Mathus and Andrew Bird co-wrote all of These 13, sharing voice memos, finishing each other’s musical thoughts. Across the album they reveal themselves to one another again, and the conversation that unfolds is personal and profound. Produced by Mike Viola, the first half of the album was recorded in early 2019, and the second half was finished in early 2020. Every song was recorded live to analog tape, with Mathus and Bird singing and playing on opposite sides of a lone RCA 44 microphone.

 On reconnecting with Jimbo for These 13, Andrew Bird says:

 “Up until meeting Jimbo, all my musical heroes were dead. Jimbo was anything but and just oozed musicality of a kind I thought was extinct. Had I not met Jimbo, who knows, but I think my music would have gone on a much more cerebral, complex trajectory. He is an enigma, a walking contradiction: wild yet refined, worldly yet colloquial. He represents his own branch of the American musical tree. It’s been my dream for years now to make this record with Jimbo. Just guitar, fiddle and our very different voices. I wanted to make sure you can really hear him as if for the first time.”

 On the roots of his relationship with Andrew, Jimbo Mathus adds:

“Musically speaking, Andrew challenged me early on. As I had the deep south rural musical upbringing but had yearned to know more of the Chicago and New York scenes of those early days of American popular music. Bird had schooled himself on that, absorbing the European strains of American music and theater, as well as the Chicago-based indigenous albeit transplanted African American musical heritage. It was a true mutual benefit society and we both pursued those goals to a final conclusion. At some point after Andrew had been on the road as ‘Bowl of Fire,’ he began mutating his music and creating an entirely new form. In other words, he started to become the artist he needed to be at that time and so did I.”

 

Photo credit: Reuben Cox

In reflecting on the album, the award-winning author Michael Farris Smith writes:

 “These 13 is a little bit folk, a little bit gospel, a little bit bluesy, a little bit Hank, a little bit hill country, but most emphatically, it is all heart. Andrew Bird and Jimbo Mathus have climbed the height of their creative ladders in this collection of soul-strung songs, both lyrically and musically, a synchronicity between the two that feels joined in some special imaginative place that can only be visited by the best of songwriters.”

Watch Mathus and Bird perform “Sweet Oblivion” outside the mountains of Ojai, CA in the official music video below.

These 13 Track List:

Poor Lost Souls

Sweet Oblivion

Encircle My Love

Beat Still My Heart

Red Velvet Rope

High John

Stonewall (1863)

Bright Sunny South

Bell Witch

Dig Up the Hatchet

Jack O’ Diamonds

Burn the Honky Tonk

Three White Horses and a Golden Chain

Pre-order These 13

*Feature image: Screengrab of video

 

LA Soul Singer Chris Pierce Channels Richie Havens/Bob Dylan With 2021 Protest Album

LA Soul Singer Chris Pierce Channels Richie Havens/Bob Dylan With 2021 Protest Album

American Blues Scene Staff

The self produced album was recorded during a socially distanced session at Boulevard Recording in Los Angeles, California with only Pierce and the studio owner/engineer Clay Blair in attendance

Internationally acclaimed singer/songwriter Chris Pierce stands by the notion that music can cut through the isolated and static feelings for those of us worn down by the chaos of everyday life. He calls out to unite us under one sonic roof to speak up, sing out, rise up and resist with the offering of his new 21st century Americana freedom and justice album titled American Silence to be released on February 26, 2021. On the forthcoming LP, Pierce channels legendary justice and freedom songwriters. With sparse acoustic instrumentation and unmistakable soulfully passionate vocals, Pierce creates an authentic sound all his own removed from time or trend.

The full-length LP American Silence soulfully spins original songs about a wide range of issues including justice, oppression, homelessness, black self-love, racism, mass incarceration, Immigrant Transcontinental Railroad workforce, Native American boarding schools, and a tribute to the American statesman and civil rights leader, John Lewis. The self produced album was recorded during a socially distanced session at Boulevard Recording in Los Angeles, California with only Pierce and the studio owner/engineer Clay Blair in attendance. Lead vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica and background choir parts on the album were performed by Pierce.

Pierce recently gained national prominence with “We Can Always Come Back To This.” His hit co-write aired on multiple episodes of the #1 NBC prime time series This Is Us, then went on to peak at #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart, #12 on iTunes Top 100, and garner nominations for “Best Song/Recording Created for Television” from The Guild of Music Supervisors and The Jerry Goldsmith Awards. In 2020, Pierce’s collaboration with artist Sunny War in Americana duo WAR & PIERCE yielded the hit single “Amen.” “Amen” was featured on NPR’s World Cafe, aired on 250 AAA / NonComm stations and has racked up over 500K spins on Spotify. Look for modern soul man Chris Pierce to impact many of the same strong influencers with American Silence in 2021.

At age 15, Pierce developed a rare hearing disorder called Otosclerosis that led to the loss of hearing in one ear and partial deafness in the other, a setback that would deter many young musicians forever. The reality, however, fueled Chris’ passion and determination all the more, forcing him to re-learn almost everything he had known prior to his condition. To Chris, music was, and still is, an unconditional companion.

Chris has done multiple headlining tours and has also performed on stage with or opened worldwide tours for: Seal, Cold War Kids, B.B. King, Al Green, Sara Bareilles, Rodrigo y Gabriella, Jill Scott, Toots and the Maytals, Colbie Caillat, Buddy Guy, Keb’Mo’, Blind Boys of Alabama, Aaron Neville, Jamie Cullum and others. His voice and music have been heard in film and television shows including: This is Us, True Blood, Soundtrack, Crash, Rosewood, Soul Men, Brothers & Sisters, Single Ladies, Eli Stone, In Plain Sight, Dawson’s Creek, Army Wives, as well as in national ad campaigns for Lexus and Banana Republic. He also guest appears on a wide range of album recordings as a vocalist, harmonicist and guitarist. He’s confirmed for BottleRock Fest in Sept. 2021.

Chris Pierce

Jonny Lang Cancels All Confirmed Appearances

Jonny Lang Cancels All Confirmed Appearances

Steve Karas

Lang is thankful for the support of his fans over the past two plus decades, and hopes to be in the position to return to the stage should he retain the ability to perform at a level his global audience has enjoyed night in and night out

Per doctor’s orders, Jonny Lang will be canceling all confirmed appearances. Over the course of the past year, medical challenges with his voice have not improved. There is hope for a natural recovery at some point in the future, but until progress is witnessed no future plans will be initiated.

Lang began canceling performances in December of 2019 when the challenges he faced with his voice would not allow him to continue. From the start of his career he has always aimed to never miss a confirmed show, and personally offered a sincere apology to all fans impacted by doctor’s orders which came in January of 2020 that he needed more time to heal his voice.

Since the release of his debut album, Grammy-winning Lang has built a reputation as one of the best live performers and guitarists of his generation. The path Lang has been on has brought him the opportunity to support or perform with some of the most respected legends in music. He has shared the stage with everyone from The Rolling Stones, B.B. King, Aerosmith and Buddy Guy.

In February of 2020, Lang took part in an all-star tribute to Peter Green at the London Palladium. Put on by Mick Fleetwood, the concert also included Billy Gibbons, David Gilmour, John Mayall, Christine McVie, Steven Tyler, Bill Wyman, Pete Townshend, Kirk Hammett and many more. The concert film of this joyous celebration will be exclusively in cinemas in March 2021.

Lang is thankful for the support of his fans over the past two plus decades, and hopes to be in the position to return to the stage should he retain the ability to perform at a level his global audience has enjoyed night in and night out. As he navigates these challenges, further guidance will be offered at an appropriate time in the future. Until then, all ticket holders will be refunded. Guidance will be forthcoming from individual promoters imminently.

Jonny Lang

Lost Horizons Share New Video ‘In Quiet Moments’ Ft. Ural Thomas

Lost Horizons Share New Video ‘In Quiet Moments’ Ft. Ural Thomas

JD Nash

“When I first heard the song, I thought it was such a wonderful thing, both open and calm, with that steady, insistent groove. The chords go from looming to embracing then back again, like a sad, friendly giant.” – Ural Thomas

Lost Horizons – the project of Cocteau Twins’ Simon Raymonde & Richie Thomas of Dif Juz – released part one of its new album In Quiet Moments at the end of 2020 and is set to release part two, as well as the physical of the double album, on February 26th via Bella Union. Every track on the album features a guest vocalist, and today’s new single “In Quiet Moments” features Ural Thomas, an 82-year old Portland-based singer who learned to sing in church and went on to perform with the likes of Etta James, Otis Redding, James Brown and Stevie Wonder.

Of the track, Simon Raymonde of Lost Horizons says: “Sometimes you just have a clear vision for a song and then try as you might, it doesn’t quite hit the mark and other times, you’re not quite sure where it’s going and then all of sudden it’s like The Matrix and you’re buzzing! I’d been talking to Ural and his team since I heard about him earlier that year, and they were all working on a new Ural Thomas and The Pain album, but just as I finished the bass part on our piece, which Richie had started at a session in London, my inner voice was screaming “ASK URAL TO SING!” Scott and Brent who are his producers and write with Ural and in his band too, responded very positively to my enquiry and said Ural was into it, and it looked like they could do it all at their studio in Portland , AND film him at the same time as they were making a documentary about him! I couldn’t believe my luck. After he was done with the first half of the song I asked if he could make the ending spoken-word in the style of Gil Scott-Heron and he did something ad-libbed which I loved. I then asked Wendi Rose who sings with Spiritualized to add some of her beautiful vocals and I think this took it all to the next level. Paul Gregory and Jonathan Wilson also played some delicious guitar parts which were the fairy dust on top!”

Ural Thomas added: “When I first heard the song, I thought it was such a wonderful thing, both open and calm, with that steady, insistent groove. The chords go from looming to embracing then back again, like a sad, friendly giant. It took a quiet moment to go over it in my mind and then we were off and running with the tune. At times I feel strong and one with the world.  At other times I feel tiny and solitary.  In a way they’re two parts of the same feeling. That sense of being closed in and defined by walls became more real just a short while after we worked on the song.  But we’re all those other things, too—connected, hopeful, with a long arc that will go beyond this time.”

Ural Thomas Photo by Ric Walters

Ural Thomas was born in Louisiana in 1939, learning to sing in church. The seventh of sixteen children, his family relocated to Portland, Oregon when he was a young child. Thomas became a professional singer as a young man in the 1950s, with over forty performances at the Apollo Theatre in Manhattan, New York. He worked with or opened for musicians such as Etta James, Otis Redding, James Brown and Stevie Wonder. Thomas moved back to Portland in 1968. After this not much is known, until the early 2010s when Scott Magee, a Portland-based soul DJ, learned via the owner of Mississippi Records that Thomas – whose early records he spun – still lived in Portland. Despite having weekly jam sessions in his home, a tradition started in the 1970s, Thomas seldom played live shows. Together, Thomas and Magee created Ural Thomas and the Pain, an eight-piece backing band for Thomas’s vocals. The group has released two full length albums: 2016’s self-titled release and 2018’s The Right Time.

In 2017, Simon Raymonde and Richie Thomas had both abstained from making music for 20 years until they united as Lost Horizons and released a stunning debut album, Ojalá – the Spanish word for “hopefully” or “God willing.”

“These days, we need hope more than ever, for a better world.” Thomas said at the time. “And this album has given me a lot of hope. To reconnect with music…. And the hope for another Lost Horizons record!”

Thomas’ hopes had a mixed response. On the plus side, the new Lost Horizons album In Quiet Moments is an even stronger successor to Ojalá with another distinguished cast of guest singers and a handful of supporting instrumentalists embellishing the core duo’s gorgeously free-flowing and loose-limbed blueprint that one writer astutely labelled, “melancholy-delia.”

On the minus side, any hope for a better world, as Earth continues to freefall toward political and social meltdown. Then, to make matters worse, as Raymonde and Thomas buckled down to create the improvised bedrock that Lost Horizons is built on, the former’s mother died. At least Raymonde had a way to channel his grief. “The way improvisation works,” he says, “it’s just what’s going on with your body at the time, to let it out.”

Raymonde (bass, guitar, keyboards, production) and Thomas (drums, occasional keys and guitar) forged ahead, creating 16 instrumental tracks to send to prospective guests. When he did, Raymonde suggested a guiding theme for their lyrics: “Death and rebirth. Of loved ones, of ideals, at an age when many artists that have inspired us are also dead, and the planet isn’t far behind. But I also said, ‘The most important part is to just do your own thing, and have fun.”

And then Covid-19 hit. Half of In Quiet Moments’ lyrics were written after lockdown, but Raymonde saw a silver lining: people were slowing down and taking stock of their lives. Hearing a lyric written by veteran singer Ural Thomas, known as “Portland’s Pillar of Soul”, who fronts the title track, Raymonde singled out the phrase “in quiet moments” and made it the album title. “It just made sense,” he says. “This moment of contemplation in life is really beautiful. The title also went with the album cover, a photograph by Jacques-Henri Lartigue from the 1940s of a woman and dog on a beach, captured as if in flight.”

Lost Horizons’ melancholy-delia also feels buoyed aloft by airy currents, informed in part by Raymonde and Thomas’ former respective bands: the legendary Cocteau Twins and Dif Juz. Their former bands were labelmates on 4AD in the mid-80s, which is how they first met.

In Quiet Moments has its pockets of loss but – aligned to the concept of ‘hope’ – the album is more about rebirth than death. “I think it’s more joyous than Ojalá,” says Thomas. “But both albums have a great energy about them.”

Those energy levels undulate across a dazzling array of moods and voices; as broad as the name Lost Horizons sounds. Take the first three tracks: the melting rapture of “Halcyon” featuring Jack Wolter of Bella Union signings Penelope Isles, the simmering urban-soulful “I Woke Up With An Open Heart” featuring Nubiya Brandon of The Hempolics and the quintessentially melancholy-delic “Grey Tower” featuring a returning Tim Smith.

Also returning from Ojalá are Gemma Dunleavy, Karen Peris (the innocence mission), Cameron Neal (Horse Thief) and Marissa Nadler. The last three are all Bella Union family members; likewise, John Grant (the lush, choral “Cordelia”, etched by David Rothon’s pedal steel and Fiona Brice’s elegant strings) and Ren Harvieu (a sultry “Unravelling In Slow Motion”), and new signing Laura Groves (the jazz-tinged “Blue Soul”), all making their Lost Horizons debuts.

Dana Margolin of the hugely acclaimed Porridge Radio lends the rampant “One For Regret’’ her trademark bristling energy; at the other end of the spectrum, ‘Flutter’ features Rosie Blair (of former Bella Union signing Ballet School) adding exquisite blue notes to a stark palate of Thomas’ piano and Fiona Brice’s strings. Deploying his A&R acumen, Raymonde called on new Swedish discovery Kavi Kwai for the Cocteaus-evoking “Every Beat That Passed” (“You can’t make music for as long as I have and drop all your influences and habits overnight,” says Raymonde). Also present are Lily Wolter (of Penelope Isles) under her solo pseudonym KookieLou, and C Duncan. A richer and more varied cast list would be very hard to find.

“I think In Quiet Moments is more in the direction of where we’re going,” Thomas concludes. “People have retreated into their lives and, in those quiet moments, reflected on the world, how we fit in and who we trust. Maybe the next album will be about rebellion! But the road is long and winding. We just need to express ourselves in how we feel at the time.”

Lost Horizons
Ural Thomas and the Pain

*Feature image courtesy of the artist

Curtis Salgado To Release ‘Damage Control’ On Feb 26

Curtis Salgado To Release ‘Damage Control’ On Feb 26

Alligator Records

With ‘Damage Control,’ Salgado has created what he calls “a rock ’n’ roll record with lyrics that hit.”

Award-winning vocalist, instrumentalist and songwriter Curtis Salgado, the man NPR calls “an icon” with “a huge voice,” will release his new Alligator Records album, Damage Control, on Friday, February 26, 2021. Produced by Salgado, Damage Control is his first full band album in four years, and it’s packed with passionate, insightful, original songs.

With over 40 years of recording, performing, touring and songwriting under his belt, Salgado is revered worldwide for his ability to wring every ounce of soul out of every song he performs. He is famed not only for his powerhouse live shows and ten previous albums, but also for his songwriting. In 2018 he won the Blues Music Award for Song Of The Year for “Walk A Mile In My Blues” from The Beautiful Lowdown. In total, he has won nine Blues Music Awards, including the B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year.

With Damage Control, Salgado has created what he calls “a rock ’n’ roll record with lyrics that hit.” The album was produced by Salgado and recorded in studios in Tennessee and California with three different groups of world-class, road-tested blues and roots musicians. The 13 songs—12 originals and a raucous cover of Larry Williams’ “Slow Down“ (famously covered by The Beatles)—will surprise and delight longtime Salgado fans. Salgado has crafted a soul-searching, street-smart collection of vividly detailed, instantly memorable songs. His vocals weave, bob and soar, at times jabbing with nuance, and then striking with unlimited power. Of the title track, he says, “Life is all about damage control…trouble and then some. It’s about dealing with what gets thrown at you and saying, ‘I ain’t finished yet.’”

The album’s defiant opening song, “The Longer That I Live“ was originally released as a digital-only single in June 2020. Listen to the song and watch Salgado’s captivating music video.

Born in Eugene, Oregon, Salgado found his calling early on. By his 20s he was already making a name for himself in Eugene’s bar scene with his band The Nighthawks, and later as co-leader of The Robert Cray Band, where he found himself sharing stages with many of his heroes, including Muddy Waters, Bobby Bland, Albert Collins and Bonnie Raitt. After Salgado and Cray parted ways in 1982, Curtis fronted Roomful Of Blues, singing and touring with them from 1984 through 1986. In 1995 he spent the summer touring as vocalist for Santana. He released the first of his 11 solo albums in 1991.

Salgado’s Alligator Records debut, Soul Shot, was released in 2012 to widespread critical acclaim. He followed up with The Beautiful Lowdown in 2016 and Rough Cut, the stripped-down acoustic album (with guitarist Alan Hager) in 2018.

Salgado has performed at Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival, The Chicago Blues Festival, The Tampa Bay Blues Festival, The San Francisco Blues Festival, Memphis’ Beale Street Music Festival, Denver’s Mile High Blues Festival as well as on The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. Internationally he’s toured in Saipan, Guam, Canada, England, throughout Europe, Brazil, Chile, Panama, The Philippines, Thailand, and Hong Kong.

Salgado has always lived life to the fullest, but he’s also faced adversity, overcoming multiple health challenges. Both of these things inform Damage Control. He battled back from liver cancer in 2006 and lung cancer in 2008 and 2012. In March 2017 he underwent quadruple bypass surgery. He’s not only come back stronger each time, he’s also become a prolific songwriter, going from writing a few songs per album to writing or co-writing full albums of original songs.

“You can dance to them,” Salgado says of his songs, “but the words have to carry the weight.”

Curtis Salgado

*Feature image by Jessica Keaveny

Blues/Roots Musician Randy McAllister Offers Up ‘Paperbag Salvation’

Blues/Roots Musician Randy McAllister Offers Up ‘Paperbag Salvation’

Mark Pucci

Randy McAllister has been flying in the face of convention his whole career; no smoke, no mirrors, no choreography, no industry machines.

“Roustabout, maverick, spiritual, gritty, amazing, genius, wild, bad-ass, soulful:” these are some of the words used to describe East Texas-born bona fide blue blood, Randy McAllister, who will release his new CD, Paperbag Salvation, April 23rd on Reaction Records.

Now based in Hermosa, South Dakota, McAllister is revered and critically-acclaimed true blues/roots original. An award-winning artist who plays driving drums and a world-class harmonica, he writes incredible songs and sings in a powerfully soul-drenched voice.

Paperbag Salvation showcases all of McAllister’s singing, songwriting and performing skills on ten original songs that also highlight his stellar band: Brandon Hudspeth – guitar on all tracks; Howard Mahan- guitar on track 2; Paul Greenlease- bass; Adam Hagerman- drums; and Heather Newman- background vocals.

McAllister has a knack for keen wordplay in both his songs and their titles, and he shared his thoughts on several of them from the new album. “ ‘You’re Like Mashed Potatoes’ was based on building around that line with the sentiment of how a kid might say how much he loves something. Like a lot of 50s and 60s soul numbers where many songs were sung by kids coming from a kids perspective. ‘Ain’t no need to make this complicated, some things are so good they can’t be overstated,’ says a line from the song.

“ ‘Most Irritating Person in the World’ was also originally just based on a line that I thought would be funny to do something with. Then I had a day where someone was asking me questions and then talking over me when I would answer, all the while I was backing up because they were so close they were spitting on me. The more I backed up the closer they got. I also had someone park their car so close to my driver’s side door that I had to get through the passenger side. Seemed like a good day to start writing. ‘I take one step back, you take two steps up, I ‘m trying to make some space but you won’t let me get enough,’ I sing in that song.

“ ‘No Conductor’ was originally recorded as an aggressive soul rocker. I eventually decided to frame the lyrics in a ballad form. I like the contrast of lyrics that seem to say something different than the music.

“In ‘Personal Piñata,’ I thought it would be fun to write a song where all the rejection and heartache someone felt while pursuing someone was equal to being a piñata being whacked with a stick. But all the while keeping a positive attitude knowing that if you can keep hanging in there they’ll eventually see how good the insides are. ‘Take a few whacks until I crack, spill my insides but I keep coming back.’ ”

Randy McAllister has been flying in the face of convention his whole career; no smoke, no mirrors, no choreography, no industry machines. Just a much deserved reputation built on hard work, years of developing his craft and bringing his one-of-a kind show to every corner of the map.

Raised in the small Texas town of Novice, McAllister is a sixth generation Texan. Following in his father’s footsteps, Randy started on drums at age nine. He discovered the harmonica in his early 20s while stationed in Massachusetts as a member of the USAF, taking cues from blues legend “Earring George” Mayweather, a Boston resident and harmonica master. McAllister moved to Alaska in 1989, where he spent the next three years playing in various bands. By the time he returned to Texas in 1992, he had developed into a strong, talented harp player who was also establishing a reputation as a skilled vocalist and songwriter. In 1997, McAllister signed with JSP Records, releasing three highly acclaimed CDs before going on to issue recordings on Severn Records (with Mike Morgan) and on Reaction Records.

Randy McCallister

*Feature image by Misty McAllister

Dumpstaphunk Announce New Album, ‘Where Do We Go From Here,’ To Be Released April 23

Dumpstaphunk Announce New Album, ‘Where Do We Go From Here,’ To Be Released April 23

Jon Bleicher / Prospect PR

“We hope people can hear the new songs and are inclined to dance, and inspired to think at the same time.” – Ivan Neville

New Orleans funk powerhouse Dumpstaphunk announce their new album Where Do We Go From Here, set to release on April 23, 2021 (via Mascot Label Group / The Funk Garage). The release marks the band’s first full-length album in seven years, and undeniably the most powerful and politically pointed of their career. Previously released singles include “Justice 2020,” recently called one of the “Best Songs of 2020” by the New York Times, and the contemplative title-track “Where Do We Go From Here.” The record is a sharply relevant statement, even more-so than the group anticipated during writing and recording sessions just prior to the unprecedented events of the last year.

In celebration of the announcement, Dumpstaphunk will perform songs from the upcoming album on NPR’s World Café today, along with an exclusive interview with band leader Ivan Neville. Fans can tune in worldwide on their local NPR station or on-line.

The band’s arsenal of classic and modern influences can be heard throughout the new album, a distinctive mix of genuine New Orleans funk, old school R&B and guitar fueled modern rock; from the slap-bass rave “Make It After All” to the band’s contemporary renderings of NOLA R&B rarities  (the 1975 Blackmail gem “Let’s Get At It”) and early Seventies classics (Sly and the Family Stone’s “In Time”). One song with an unexpected genesis is the band’s urgent cover of Buddy Miles’ 1973 Hendrix inspired “United Nations Stomp,” which features searing guitar solos from special guest, rising blues guitar phenom Marcus King.

“We hope people can hear the new songs and are inclined to dance, and inspired to think at the same time,” says Ivan, speaking to the new album’s delicate balance between topic material and dance-floor rockers.

Over the past 17 years, Dumpstaphunk has earned its reputation as a highly respected next-generation New Orleans musical institution, the type of band whose live performances have attracted sit-ins from legends like Carlos Santana, Bob Weir, George Clinton and members of Phish. Alongside original core members Tony Hall and Nick Daniels, and the new additions of Alex Wasily, Ryan Nyther and drummer Devin Trusclair, Ivan and Ian Neville (the sons of Aaron Neville and Art “Poppa Funk” Neville respectively) have built upon their family’s iconic NOLA legacy as they’ve transformed Dumpstaphunk into the city’s pre-eminent 21st-century funk-fusion export, resulting in recent career highlights like their July 2019 opening gig for the Rolling Stones on their home turf at the New Orleans Mercedes Benz Superdome.

Modernizing and reinvigorating the Neville/Meters family groove has been one of the driving forces of Dumpstaphunk since the band spontaneously formed during New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 2003. Where Do We Go From Here is perhaps the best evidence yet of Dumpstaphunk’s ability to strengthen and transform their singular Crescent City roots in combination with the deeper outside musical and philosophical influences on which the band is founded.

“Obviously, the New Orleans history is just embedded in us, but we manage to incorporate all the other stuff we’ve listened to over the years,” says Ivan. “We’re representing a legacy, but we’re reimagining a lot of it, too.”

Pre-order Where Do We Go From Here

Nalani Rothrock Reveals ‘The Rock House Sessions’

Nalani Rothrock Reveals ‘The Rock House Sessions’

American Blues Scene Staff

Featuring powerhouse country soul singer/songwriter Nalani Rothrock and her partner in life and music, guitarist/songwriter Josh Lamkin, the EP was produced, recorded and mixed by Grammy-winner Kevin McKendree

Jolani Music Group is proud to announce the release of Nalani Rothrock The Rock House Sessions on February 5, 2021.

Featuring powerhouse country soul singer/songwriter Nalani Rothrock and her partner in life and music, guitarist/songwriter Josh Lamkin, the EP was produced, recorded and mixed by Grammy-winner Kevin McKendree (Delbert McClinton, George Benson, John Hiatt, Buddy Guy, Devon Allman….) at his Rock House Studio in Franklin, TN. “Nalani’s voice is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard,” McKendree said. “Timeless, elegant, soulful and warm. And the symbiotic way Josh accompanies Nalani complements and reinforces her lyrics. Like he’s hanging on every word.”

Recording with McKendree in March 2020, Rothrock and Lamkin originally intended to make a full album. But production was put on hold after the coronavirus pandemic brought things to a sudden halt. The duo ultimately decided to release the three completed songs, preparing the way for the full album to come.

Rothrock and Lamkin co-wrote the 3 songs on The Rock House Sessions. McKendree played keyboards for the EP, which also features Lamkin’s guitar and veteran Nashville session players Steve Mackey (bass) and Kenneth Blevins (drums). “How Long,” track one on The Rock House Sessions, showcases Rothrock’s striking, soulful voice. Performed with a good-natured roll despite lyrics about a love that may be fading, it’s a tasty hybrid of country, soul and pop, plus a New Orleans piano twist from McKendree. Born out of the couple’s early struggles in Nashville, “Try,” is about perseverance. Rothrock’s Southern-accented singing and Lamkin’s slide guitar earn comparisons to one of her musical heroines, Bonnie Raitt. “We might not win the game, but will test our luck,” she sings. “It would be a crying shame, just to quit and give it all up.” A song in which in which Rothrock grasps for hard-to-find answers, “Every Time I Close My Eyes,” rises on its carry-on determination. It also showcases Lamkin’s gospel roots and his and Rothrock’s mutual love for classic blues and rhythm-and-blues.

Although Rothrock is top-billed for The Rock House Sessions, she and Lamkin are very much in this music thing together. “Because our connection is so deep,” Lamkin said of their songwriting, “we can really get down to it and skip all the hyperbole.” “Sometimes Josh will come up with an idea, sometimes I will,” Rothrock adds. “But it always stems from a feeling. We can be our complete selves with each other during the writing process. These songs wouldn’t be there without him or without me.”

Florida natives Nalani Rothrock and Josh Lamkin both got an early start in music. At 8, Rothrock sang and danced with a professional children’s group. By age 12, she was performing with her father’s band. Lamkin’s father began teaching him to play guitar when he was 6. He performed at his family’s church from early childhood and was playing professional secular gigs by 15.

Rothrock and Lamkin met nearly a decade ago when their respective bands shared a bill. She was performing with her father in the blues and funk band Next of Kin. He was leading his blues band Automatic Heat. About a week later, they saw each other again, this time in the audience for a band featuring a mutual friend. They were soon making music together. “It was like, ooh, wow,” Lamkin remembered. “The spirit moved us. It was no use fighting it.”

Rothrock and Lamkin performed for three years with the Tampa band Mama’s Batch. In 2017, the band released the EP, Till the Sunrise, and the duo issued an EP, Goodbye, credited to Nalani and Josh.

Blues and country music are touchstones for the couple. Ray Charles, the soul and rhythm-and-blues star who ingeniously melded the two genres for his landmark 1962 album, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, is a major influence. “Ray Charles is at the top for both of us,” Rothrock said. “Aretha Franklin is my top female artist. I remember singing ‘Respect’ at Disney World when I was 9.” Etta James and the aforementioned Bonnie Raitt are some of her many other inspirations. Roots music slide master Ry Cooder is among Josh’s guitar heroes. He also admires the otherworldly singer-songwriter Tom Waits.“There’s magic going on with Ry Cooder,” Lamkin said. “And I hear Tom Waits as a version of Howlin’ Wolf. He’s another version of that blues thing that I love. Maybe I’m looking for the blues in every artist.”

The duo’s dedication to the craft of songwriting has bloomed since moving to Nashville 2 years ago. “Coming here made us better and more fluent,” Lamkin said. “And moving here helped us realize more of what we’re trying to say.”

Nalani Rothrock

*Feature image from the artist’s Facebook

Shemekia Copeland Performs Live Streaming Concert From Lincoln Center On Jan 14

Shemekia Copeland Performs Live Streaming Concert From Lincoln Center On Jan 14

Alligator Records

‘Uncivil War’ Debut Concert Marks Copeland’s First Full Band Performance Since March 2020

Multiple Grammy Award nominee Shemekia Copeland and her band will perform a live streaming video concert from New York’s Jazz At Lincoln Center on Thursday, January 14 at 7:30pm Eastern time, with only a few rebroadcast times to follow. This performance is Copeland’s first full band concert since March 2020, and the first time she will be performing her new songs live.

According to Copeland, “With this new album, I’m trying to put the ‘united’ back in the United States. Like many people, I miss the days when we treated each other better. For me, this country’s all about people with differences coming together to be part of something we all love. That’s what really makes America beautiful.”

The soulful and uncompromising Uncivil War tackles the problems of contemporary American life head on, with nuance, understanding, and a demand for change. It also brings Copeland’s fiercely independent, sultry R&B fire to songs more personal than political.

When Copeland first broke on the scene with her groundbreaking Alligator Records debut CD Turn the Heat Up in 1998, she instantly became a blues and R&B force to be reckoned with.

Shemekia Copeland concert info and tickets
Shemekia Copeland

*Feature image courtesy of Alligator Records

David Bowie Single Album Released in Honor of his Birthday

David Bowie Single Album Released in Honor of his Birthday

American Blues Scene Staff

Happy Birthday, Bowie (January 8, 1947 – January 10, 2016)

A new David Bowie single album has been released in honor of what would have been the late singer’s 74th birthday.

DAVID BOWIE BIRTHDAY SINGLE OUT NOW – “Trying to get to heaven before they close the door…” – As promised, here’s the link you’ve been waiting for: https://t.co/bFcxcbozlZ

— David Bowie Official (@DavidBowieReal) January 8, 2021

Bowie’s previously unreleased covers of John Lennon’s “Mother” and Bob Dylan’s “Tryin’ to Get to Heaven” are available now on vinyl and in digital format. The 7” single is limited to 8147 numbered copies, 1000 of which will be on cream-colored vinyl, purchasable from the official David Bowie store and Warner Music’s Dig! Store only. The remainder will be black.

To further celebrate, a recording of Bowie’s musical Lazarus, starring Michael C. Hall, will be available to stream Jan. 8 to 10. We lost the Thin White Duke Jan. 10, 2016 at the age of 69 following a battle with liver cancer.

*Feature image courtesy of the artist’s Facebook

Jesse Brewster Forges Ahead With ‘The Lonely Pines’

Jesse Brewster Forges Ahead With ‘The Lonely Pines’

American Blues Scene Staff

“One of the basic principles of songwriting is ‘Write what you know.’ In the beginning, I was inspired by my own experiences. Over time, I branched out into telling other people’s stories, too.”

Jesse Brewster is a roots-music Renaissance man — a singer/songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist who’s spent the better part of two decades sharpening his personal brand of West Coast Americana.

It’s a sound that’s every bit as diverse as his background. Raised by hippie parents in the mountains of northern California, the Big Island of Hawaii, and the San Francisco Bay Area, Jesse grew up on the move, attending 10 different schools by the time he turned 12 years old. Music by Willie Nelson, Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Marley and The Eagles filled his early childhood, deepening his appreciation of sharply written songs and diverse arrangements. Years later, when he first hit the road as a traveling musician, he immediately felt at home on tour, having already spent much of his life in constant motion.

“One of the basic principles of songwriting is ‘Write what you know,’” says Jesse, who launched his solo career with 2005’s Confessional. “In the beginning, I was inspired by my own experiences. Over time, I branched out into telling other people’s stories, too.”

Brewster’s experience involves the loss of his brother, Jim, who passed away from Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) while both siblings were in their 20s. The loss prompted Jesse to write his first lyrics, kickstarting a songwriting habit that would draw upon the guitar skills he’d been developing since his teenage years, as well as the hook-heavy craft he’d absorbed from his heroes. Later, while battling the same disease, Jesse received a life-saving kidney transplant from his wife. As a storyteller, he chronicles it all in his music, releasing records that mix gentle folk songs, heartland country-rockers, guitar-slinging barn burners, autobiographical lyrics, and character-driven storytelling into the same track list. With support from everyone from CNN (who utilized his song “My Great Escape” for the network’s coverage of the 2012 U.S. Presidential campaign) to San Francisco’s iconic radio station KFOG, he continues to tell his story as it unfolds — song after song, album after album.

“A record is a timestamp in your life as a songwriter,” he explains. “Like a court record, it catalogs where you were that year, what you were doing as an artist, and how you were feeling.”

The Lonely Pines, Brewster’s fifth LP, finds the songwriter focusing on a different sort of transit: the process of moving on, either toward acceptance of past mistakes or in the direction of better opportunities. Occupying the middle ground between folk music and rock & roll, it’s an album that mixes amplified anthems like “Let’s Run Away” with the warm, western wooziness of “Woman in My Mind,” the gold rush-era barroom bounce of “Bitter Pill,” and the Celtic folk of “Amber Kinney.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Jesse was forced to finish the album’s final three tracks in his home studio, playing nearly every instrument himself and rounding up the strongest tracks of his career. Among them is the song “Close to Home” — a roadhouse roots-rocker filled with vocal harmonies and jangling guitar riffs — in which Brewster turns the isolation of the COVID era into an opportunity to count his blessings, rather than focus on his obstacles. He learned that lesson years ago, when his brother lost his battle with PKD. These days, Brewster still has a lot to be thankful for.

A prolific creator, Jesse Brewster balances his solo career with side projects that explore the wider orbits of his musical tastes, including an R&B-influenced record, a hard rock trio, and a rock opera that is being developed for Broadway. He’s a music instructor, a producer, a road warrior, and a multi-instrumentalist. Above all, though, Jesse is a songwriter, turning his vocal abilities, writing chops, and instrumental skills into a signature mix of folk and Americana-rock.

Jesse grew up on the go. Years later, he’s creating the kind of music that makes an audience pause in its tracks. So turn on, tune in, and drop the needle on the first track — because The Lonely Pines are a lovely place to visit.

The Lonely Pines is set for release on all major outlets March 5th, 2021.

Jesse Brewster

*Feature image provided by Michael J Media Group

Celebrated Folk Supergroup Cry Cry Cry’s ‘Live @ The Freight’ Proceeds To Live Music Society

Celebrated Folk Supergroup Cry Cry Cry’s ‘Live @ The Freight’ Proceeds To Live Music Society

American Blues Scene Staff

Net proceeds will be donated to non-profit group Live Music Society, benefitting small music venues

Celebrated singer-songwriters Lucy Kaplansky, Richard Shindell, and Dar Williams, who together make up the acclaimed folk-pop collaboration Cry Cry Cry, are thrilled to announce the digital release of Live @ the Freight, available now, recorded at the last show of their sold-out 20-year reunion tour in 2018.

The band’s first full-length release in decades includes selections from their eponymous debut, favorites by each of the individual songsmiths, and some choice new-to-the-band tunes. The group made its mark uncovering hidden gems, bringing attention to fellow songwriters, and continued that process with these new arrangements of songs composed since 2000.

Photo courtesy of Maggie Poulos/Mixtape Media

Net proceeds from the release will benefit Live Music Society, a non-profit organization providing grants to small, independent music venues that have been impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Live Music Society opened their second round of grant applications January 5, 2021.

Live Music Society seeks to “help venues survive through this crisis and to thrive once again when they are able to open their doors.” Lucy, Richard, and Dar have individually performed for decades at a network of small venues, including most of those that have received grants in the first round of grant relief. With this new release, Cry Cry Cry seeks to support these vital musical and cultural institutions; a reunion of three, building reunions of communities of music fans. 

Live @ The Freight was recorded live at The Freight & Salvage venue (Berkeley, CA) on April 15, 2018 and is the band’s only album release since their successful eponymous debut in 1998. It was engineered by Bob Whitfield and Heidi Trefethen, except for track 16, which was engineered by Jim Frogameni and recorded live at The Calvin Theater, Northampton, Mass., on March 31, 2018. The album was mixed by Greg Anderson and Sara Milonovich, mastered by Mark Dann, and produced by Greg Anderson.

The band was a mainstay on radio during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Their debut album ranked fourth among AAA radio stations’ most played records in 1999 and continued in high rotation well into the 2000s. The album’s release was followed by a sold-out nationwide tour the following year, including New York’s Town Hall.

LIVE @ THE FREIGHT TRACKLIST: 

  • The Kid – Buddy Mondlock
  • Reunion – Lucy Kaplansky & Rick Litvin
  • Memphis – Cliff Eberhardt
  • Something To Get Through – Dar Williams
  • I Know Why The River Runs – Julie Miller
  • The Ghost In You – Richard Butler
  • The Ballad of Mary Magdalen – Richard Shindell
  • Are You Happy Now? – Richard Shindell
  • Go – Michele Gedney
  • Never Cry Again – John Fullbright
  • Satellites – Richard Shindell
  • Ten Year Night – Lucy Kaplansky & Rick Litvin
  • Cathedrals – Jay Clifford
  • Cold Missouri Waters – James Keeleghan
  • Iowa – Dar Williams
  • By Way Of Sorrow – Julie Miller
  • Auld Lang Syne – words Robert Burns / music traditional
  • Addressing the needs of small U.S. music venues that were forced to shut their doors with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the newly instituted non-profit organization Live Music Society (LMS) launched its relief efforts last fall with a first phase of monetary grants to 20 small clubs across the country. The organization is committed to giving $2 million in grants, ranging from $10,000 to $50,000, in its first two years of operation to support small music venues around the United States. LMS is now accepting grant applications for phase two and encourages small clubs to apply.

     Further information and grant applications can be found at www.livemusicsociety.org.

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    Rock-Soul Singer Maggie Rose to Host New Podcast Highlighting Women in Music

    Rock-Soul Singer Maggie Rose to Host New Podcast Highlighting Women in Music

    American Blues Scene Staff

    Listen to the first episode ‘Salute the Songbird’ with Maggie Rose, featuring Ruby Amanfu

    Osiris Media announces the premiere of Salute the Songbird, a new podcast hosted by rock and soul singer Maggie Rose. The first episode drops today, with Grammy-nominated songwriter Ruby Amanfu. Salute the Songbird is the latest addition to Osiris Artist Spotlight podcasts, and was developed in partnership with Rose and her manager, Austin Marshall of Starstruck Entertainment.

    Photo courtesy of Ken Weinstein

    Salute the Songbird features candid conversations with Rose’s female musical heroes about their lives in and out of music, challenging the status quo, and with a desire to offer guidance for young artists starting their careers. The podcast will feature guests such as Grammy nominee Mickey Guyton, singer-songwriter Nicki Bluhm, Heart’s Nancy Wilson, Martina McBride, Chrissy Metz from This Is Us and other female musicians, songwriters, producers, and industry mavens who detail their triumphs, struggles and how they continue to succeed as women in the music industry.

    “We are thrilled to start 2021 by welcoming our first Artist Spotlight show led by a female artist,” said RJ Bee, CEO of Osiris Media. “Maggie hosts real, raw conversations with some of the leading female musicians of our time. We’re grateful to be able to provide a platform for Maggie to talk about the obstacles and opportunities associated with being a great female artist.”

    Grammy-nominated songwriter Ruby Amanfu joins Rose on the first episode of Salute the Songbird to talk about her career, the wide spectrum of musical influences that thread through her work, writing through the difficulty of the pandemic and the issues that arose in 2020. Amanfu tells Rose about allowing herself to take a creative break until she finally felt compelled to write about what was going on, how being an immigrant has contributed to her fearlessness, and learning to be her true self no matter what.

    At the end of the episode, you’ll hear Amanfu’s track “When We Were Kids.”

    Amanfu is a Ghana-born, Nashville-based vocalist and songwriter. Her accolades include co-writing the Top 40 radio single, “Hard Place” by multi-Grammy-winning artist H.E.R. Ruby garnered an Associated Press #1 Album of the Year with her former duo Sam & Ruby as well as Grammy recognition for her song, “Heaven’s My Home” co-written with Katie Herzig. Ruby has released 9 critically acclaimed solo albums including “Smoke & Honey” released via Polydor UK and “Standing Still” released via Thirty Tigers and Rival & Co. which featured the single, “Shadow on the Wall”, written by Brandi Carlile and Tim Hanseroth.

     

    Listen & Subscribe to ‘Salute the Songbird’

    Joyann Parker Leads Us ‘Out of the Dark’ February 12th

    Joyann Parker Leads Us ‘Out of the Dark’ February 12th

    American Blues Scene Staff

    “I always use that Winston Churchill quote,” Parker said of her ability to carry on. “If you’re going through hell, keep going.’ And that’s where we are now, right? Pick yourself up. Keep walking.”

    Joyann Parker believes music helps people carry on through troubled times. With that in mind, the Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter is releasing Out of the Dark (Hopeless Romantic Records) on February 12th, 2021.

    Out of the Dark is the rootsy, genre-blending sequel to her acclaimed debut release, Hard to Love. “It’s a great time to release the album,” Parker says. “People need music right now.”

    Stylistically diverse and roots-connected, Out of the Dark expands on Hard to Love’s success with 11 new songs composed by Parker and guitarist Mark Lamoine. Parker co-produced the album with Lamoine and Kevin Bowe, the Minneapolis-based producer, songwriter and guitarist whose myriad credits include Etta James, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, the Replacements, Joe Cocker, John Mayall, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lucinda Williams and Bruce Springsteen.

    Production for the album began in January 2020. The coronavirus pandemic stopped the project in March, when just the basic tracks for five songs completed. Sessions restarted in June, but only a small number of musicians entered the studio at one time, a pandemic precaution that pushed production into August.

    On the positive side of a tough situation, the four-month break from the studio helped Parker clear her mind and reaffirm her purpose. “When you’re so busy, you get caught up in the competitiveness of things,” she said. “So, it was good to stop and examine why I’m doing this and where I’m going.”

    During her contemplative downtime, Parker wrote the inspiring title track, “Out of the Dark.” She says, “I love that song. It’s about the way I’ve been feeling and changing over the past year, figuring out who I am. I was coming out of my own darkness.”

    “Carry On,” the first single from Out of the Dark, charts a blues-rock-gospel course. A song of perseverance, it borrows some of its lyrics from the Book of Isaiah. “When dark clouds gather round you, and the night is dark and long,” Parker sings. “When the devil is coming for you, carry on, child, carry on.”

    Parker has been tagged as a blues and rhythm-and-blues singer, but her music is so much more. Although she reveres the latter genres, the broader Americana label is a better fit for her versatility and expansive range and influences. “Gone So Long,” has a Southern rock feel. “Bad Version of Myself” moves into funk and rhythm-and-blues. The upbeat “What Did You Expect” follows the pop path of Jackson Browne.

    On Parker’s performance of her ballad “Either Way,” she summons the vocal prowess of one of rock’s great female vocalists, Ann Wilson of Heart. Parker adds Latin flavor to “Predator,” a song inspired by the late Amy Winehouse and featuring the surprising melody and harmony that Parker calls “my Elton John bridge.” “Dirty Rotten Guy,” a raucous ode to pleasure, has a New Orleans flavor. Pianist Tim Wick, a Professor Longhair devotee, executes the song’s standout keyboard work. Wick’s piano also drives the Chuck Berry-esque “Hit Me Like a Train.” And “Come on Baby” summons the feel-good spirit of original rhythm and blues-pop stars Lloyd Price and Sam Cooke.

    Parker recorded most of Out of the Dark at Bowe’s studio, the Kill Room. A classically trained pianist with a degree in music from the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, Parker scored the project’s basic arrangements while Bowe put the sugar on top. His inspirations included adding Rory Hoffman’s Stevie Wonder-like harmonica to the funk and rhythm-and-blues-styled “Bad Version of Myself.”

    Bowe loved working with Parker. “Joyann knows exactly what she wants,” the producer said. “But at the same time, she’s totally open-minded about how to get there. Making music with her and Mark Lamoine was effortless.”

    Parker credits Bowe for showcasing her conviction-driven voice throughout Out of the Dark. He gives her soulful singing resonant space, never crowding or obscuring her dynamic performances. Bowe appreciates Parker’s from-the-heart and musically astute songwriting.

    Hard to Love, Parker’s 2018 debut release, inspired enthusiastic reviews. In addition, Parker and Lamoine’s live show, “The Music of Patsy Cline” is now in its 3rd year with over 200 sold out performances. (Parker had long been featuring songs by the classic country artist in her band’s performances.) “Old-school country and blues are very close,” Parker says. “But when I listen to Patsy Cline, I hear a blues singer. She’s singing from her soul. Patsy said, ‘Hoss, if you can’t do it with feeling — don’t.’ That’s how I feel.”

    Parker’s new album, Out of the Dark, shows how much she’s grown, personally and artistically.

    Envisioning the post-pandemic world, Parker is determined to overcome 2020’s challenges. “I’m an artist who shares everything with my audiences,” Parker said. “Because I think they can help people, I want them to know the meaning of these songs. I have this message in a song about how we’re all coming out of the dark. Let’s look at how we can better, how we can heal. Let’s look to the light.”

    “I always use that Winston Churchill quote,” Parker said of her ability to carry on. “If you’re going through hell, keep going.’ And that’s where we are now, right? Pick yourself up. Keep walking. There’s always something to be grateful for, always a reason to get up in the morning.”

    Joyann Parker

    *Feature image ©Jeannine Marie Photography used by permission

    BB King’s Bluesville Announces 2020 Year End Rack List

    BB King’s Bluesville Announces 2020 Year End Rack List

    American Blues Scene Staff

    Bluesville chooses fifteen songs to match the number of pool balls in a “rack.” It all has to do with Low-Fi’s Bar and Pool Hall in the imaginary community of Bluesville, of which BB King is the perpetual mayor, and the Blues Foundation is the new power-generating station

    BB King’s Bluesville on SiriusXM is counting down the best Blues of 2020. It’s the year end Rack List countdown.

    The Rack List is the station’s weekly top 15 songs as chosen by fans, staff and the record buying public. The year end Rack List, as its title infers, is a list of  the fifteen finest Blues songs from a less than stellar year. Bluesville chooses fifteen songs to match the number of pool balls in a “rack.” It all has to do with Low-Fi’s Bar and Pool Hall in the imaginary community of Bluesville, of which BB King is the perpetual mayor, and the Blues Foundation is the new power generating station.

    The original broadcast was on Saturday, however rebroadcasts are scheduled for Tues 12/29/20 3am EST, Weds 12/30/20 3pm EST, Friday 01/01/20 12:01am EST.

    Year End Rack List:

  • This Man – Robert Cray
  • A Conversation with Alice – Joe Bonamassa
  • Clotilda’s On Fire – Shemekia Copeland
  • He May Be Your Man – Rory Block
  • She’s About to Lose Her Mind – Early Times w Popa Chubby
  • Shake It For Me – Bobby Rush
  • Blues Coming On – Joe Louis Walker w Eric Gales
  • All Out of Tears – Walter Trout
  • I Believe (Everything Gonna Be Alright) – Thornetta Davis
  • Blues for the Weepers – Bettye Lavette
  • What the Devil Loves – King Solomon Hicks
  • Ice Cream in Hell – Tinsley Ellis
  • What the Hell? – Elvin Bishop w/ Charlie Musselwhite
  • Boy, Sit Down – Whitney Shay
  • Living in a Burning House – Selwyn Birchwood
  •  

    BB King’s Bluesville on SiriusXM

    Mountain Guitarist Leslie West Has Passed Away At Age 75

    Mountain Guitarist Leslie West Has Passed Away At Age 75

    Steve Karas

    Guitarists across the globe together will unite in sadness as the world says goodbye to a true original

    Leslie West, born Leslie Weinstein, has passed away at the age of 75 from cardiac arrest. The iconic guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and storyteller has left a legacy that to this day is celebrated by peers and fans across the world.

    Weinstein was born in New York City, and first emerged in the scene as a member of The Vagrants. A few years later he and Felix Pappalardi formed Mountain, a band that was amongst the first to pioneer the genre later to become known as Heavy Metal. Hits that include “Mississippi Queen,” “Theme From An Imaginary Western,” and others established an indelible voice and guitar tone that remains legendary to this day. In 1969, West brought his presence to the stage at Woodstock.

    As the decade turned, he formed West, Bruce and Laing with his band-mate from Mountain drummer Corky Laing and Cream’s Jack Bruce. In, 1971 West contributed to The Who’s Who’s Next sessions in the city; performances which can be heard on the 1995 and 2003 reissues of that cornerstone album.

    Alongside his significant contribution to pop culture as the face of Mountain, West appeared in films that include Family Honor (1973) and The Money Pit (1986).  He was a regular guest on the Howard Stern Show, and over the course of decades remained a periodic visitor alongside enjoying a decades-long friendship with the talk show host.

    West was inducted in to the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006, and appeared on dozens of other recordings from a vast universe of artists. Samples of his performances lived a secondary life on the masters of a who’s who of hip-hop and rap stars.

    The guitarist is renowned for helping popularize the Gibson Les Paul Jr. model with P-90 pick-ups to create a tone that is undisputedly his own. More recently, he enjoyed a long relationship with Dean Guitars, releasing several signature models.

    Leslie West is survived by his wife Jenni, whom he married on stage after Mountain’s performance at the Woodstock 40th Anniversary concert in Bethel, NY on August 15, 2009. And, brother Larry and nephew Max.

    From 1964 through today, few artists have left a more significant mark on music as we know it. Guitarists across the globe together will unite in sadness as the world says goodbye to a true original.

    Listen: Al Green Shares First Recording in 10 Years with Freddy Fender’s ‘Before The Next Teardrop Falls’

    Listen: Al Green Shares First Recording in 10 Years with Freddy Fender’s ‘Before The Next Teardrop Falls’

    Lauren Leadingham

    Recorded in 2018, Reverend Al Green’s version of the Freddy Fender classic is now available on other music platforms

    Singer-songwriter and record producer Al Green has released a cover of “Before The Next Teardrop Falls,” most famously recorded by Freddy Fender.

    Reverend Green first recorded the song with Matt Ross-Spang in 2018, ten years after 2008’s Lay It Down. With his signature soul, he reshapes the original (sung bilingually by Mexican-American country singer Fender). Organ player Charles Hodges returns for this track — his first time playing with Al Green since the ’80s.

    “As a lifelong Memphian, I’ve always been a massive fan of Al Green and his producer Willie Mitchell,” Ross-Spang said in 2018. Continuing, “Together they created some of the most enduring soul music. Sonically speaking, Willie and Al also really invented a distinct sound that separated them from Stax or Motown.

    “When Al arrived at the studio he was already incredibly warm and gracious, but he really became animated and enthusiastic when we all started recording the song live in the room,” Ross-Spang said. “His passion and voice are just as strong as when he first found them as a young man.”

    *Feature image credit: Philippe Merle/Getty Images

    Ghalia Volt to Release ‘One Woman Band’ on Jan 29th

    Ghalia Volt to Release ‘One Woman Band’ on Jan 29th

    Devious Planet

    Recorded in November at Memphis’s legendary Royal Sound Studios, on the same board where Al Green and Willie Mitchell made history, One Woman Band saw Volt take an equally old-school approach

    Never underestimate the power of a woman with her back against the wall. In March 2020, as Covid blew across the planet, the shutters came down on live venues and recording studios, and the music scene fell suddenly silent, Ghalia Volt faced the same dilemma as every other artist. What now? The answer was One Woman Band.

    For Volt, the rebirth as a solo performer wasn’t a decision made lightly. Since the beginning, she’s been a musician who thrives on the buzz of the hook-up, surrounding herself with the best players and soaking up their vibe. In 2017, the Belgium-born songwriter’s taste for collaboration led her to New Orleans for the meeting with local blues legends Mama’s Boys that became her debut album, Let The Demons Out.

    Two years later, the same spirit lured Volt to the fabled hill country of Coldwater, Mississippi, to hold her own at sessions with musicians like Cody Dickinson, Cedric Burnside, Lightnin’ Malcolm, and Watermelon Slim.

    With the breakout success of 2019’s Mississippi Blend. a record that made the Top 3 in the Billboard Blues Chart on three separate occasions, it seemed the world was Volt’s for the taking — her seven-year transformation from Brussels busker to the adopted daughter of American roots scene. Now, with One Woman Band, the journey takes a thrilling left-turn. and last March, she reconnected with that one-woman philosophy. “I started playing on a real drum kit,” she recalls. “Playing a kick, snare, and hi-hat plus a tambourine with my feet, while playing slide/guitar and singing at the same time.”

    After road-testing the new format at shows across Mississippi, Volt realized that one was the magic number. In August, she committed to the project, embarking on a month-long Amtrak train trip that became an intensive writing session, the shifting landscapes beyond the window, inspiring her to write. “I crossed Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi,” she reflects. “The goal? To write the entire album through my travel. Most of the songs are inspired by the journey and real experiences. Others are from imagination.”

    Recorded in November at Memphis’s legendary Royal Sound Studios, on the same board where Al Green and Willie Mitchell made history, One Woman Band saw Volt take an equally old-school approach. Rejecting the soft option of multi-tracking, she chose to record all the instruments live in real-time, flying solo except for two cameos on bass from Dean Zucchero, and a pair of guest guitar solos from ‘Monster’ Mike Welch. Co-producing the record with Boo Mitchell (Al Green, Buddy Guy), Volt made the bold decision to let the rough edges stay on, prizing atmosphere over perfection and delivering her most groove-driven material to date.

    One Woman Band will be released via Ruf Records on January 29, 2021.

    Ghalia Volt

    *Feature image courtesy of Devious Planet

    “North Star of WFUV’s Sound,” Rita Houston, Dies Aged 59

    “North Star of WFUV’s Sound,” Rita Houston, Dies Aged 59

    Lauren Leadingham

    Rita Houston (September 28, 1961 — December 15, 2020)

    Rita Houston, WFUV program director and iconic DJ to generations of listeners, passed away this morning, December 15. Houston had been battling cancer for six years. “Her courage and resolve were an inspiration,” WFUV General Manager Chuck Singleton said in a statement. “Cancer or no cancer, she gave her all every day — to her dear Laura and their family, to her friends and colleagues, to WFUV and our listeners, and to artists and music lovers everywhere.”

    Rita Houston hosting Billy Bragg/City Winery’s Mother’s Day Special – Screengrab by ABS’s Phil Solomonson

    Continuing, “Rita was the north star of WFUV’s sound and its public service, guiding the station’s musical direction for decades. She was a New York original, a trailblazing woman of exceptional talent who shaped a unique style behind the microphone — informed and informal, intimate, warm, genuine. But also, one of tremendous joy.”

    Houston was recognized by Mayor Bill de Blasio last year when she celebrated her 25th year at WFUV, congratulating her for the “indelible mark” she made on New York as the nexus of creative expression: “bringing joy to listeners throughout the five boroughs, providing a platform for new talent that deserves to be heard, and enriching the cultural vitality of our city.”

    Singleton concluded, “Together, we will remember and celebrate her in the weeks ahead. But right now, Rita, we see you on that stage with Sharon Jones, Bowie, Prince, and especially your beloved John Prine, emceeing the most heavenly edition of Holiday Cheer for FUV.”

    Houston leaves behind wife and WFUV’s Laura Fedele, and her family. Rest in peace, Rita.

    *Feature image credit: Lynda Shenkman for WFUV

    Burt Bacharach and Melody Federer Present New Track ‘The Sun Also Rises’

    Burt Bacharach and Melody Federer Present New Track ‘The Sun Also Rises’

    Big Hassle Media

    The two have teamed up with photographer and filmographer Roger Fishman and Conservation International to help bring awareness to #ClimateChange through their spectacular song

    The songwriting duo of Melody Federer and Burt Bacharach released their new track, The Sun Also Rises,” today. The song, whose title is taken from the Ernest Hemingway novel, is a tale of light and looking toward a new dawn that’s arriving just at the right time to support a great cause.

    “This is a song about hope. Even in the darkest of times, there’s hope,” Federer says of the track. “I thought the book’s title, one of Burt’s favorites, would be a good theme for a lyric especially in these harrowing times. My dad would always say, ‘It’s always darkest before the dawn.’ In these dark winter months at the end of this insane year, it’s a nice quote to hold onto.”

    Photo courtesy of Emily Ginsberg

    In this spirit, they have teamed up with famed photographer and filmographer Roger Fishman and Conservation International to help bring further awareness to global climate change. Fishman filmed and directed the music video, which includes breathtaking visuals of nature captured during his travels in Iceland, Greenland and Antarctica.

    “I photograph and film the most remote places on Earth so that each of us can connect to the ephemeral and eternal beauty of our planet, the importance of our ecosystem, and to share what is at risk and what is worth fighting to protect for ourselves, for future generations and for all life,” Fishman said of the project. “I want to thank Melody and Burt for allowing me to bring their magical song to life through the sublime and eternal beauty of Mother Nature. I also want to thank Ian Imhof for bringing us all together. What a true joy this project has been.”

    All donations, and a portion of the proceeds from the song, will go to directly supporting Conservation International’s work. When asked about using the song and video to support causes fighting climate change Bacharach said, “My kids, Oliver and Raleigh, are in their 20s. Looking at what their future holds in store for them, with this radical change in climate, the effects that we’re seeing now and what we will see in the future, we must do something now to make it better and change things.” 

    “Climate change requires dramatic action — action that is only possible if the world comes together with a sense of optimism and shared purpose,” said Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International. “I want to thank Melody and Burt for using their legendary talents to so beautifully articulate that purpose. I also want to thank Roger Fishman for underscoring its urgency with such powerful images. We’re proud to partner with all of them on such a hopeful and inspiring message.”

     The video premiered on Conservation International’s YouTube Channel today, and you can stream and download the song now from your preferred service HERE.

    “The Sun Also Rises” is the second collaborative release from Melody Federer & Burt Bacharach, following their single “Bridges” that was released in January 2020. 

    Conservation International works to protect the critical benefits that nature provides to people. Through science, partnerships and fieldwork, Conservation International is driving innovation and investments in nature-based solutions to the climate crisis, supporting protections for critical habitats, and fostering economic development that is grounded in the conservation of nature. Conservation International works in 30 countries around the world, empowering societies at all levels to create a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet. Follow Conservation International’s work on  Conservation News, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube

    *Feature image: GMS Awards

    Joseph ‘Mojo’ Morganfield, Youngest Son of Muddy Waters Dead at 56

    Joseph ‘Mojo’ Morganfield, Youngest Son of Muddy Waters Dead at 56

    JD Nash

    Born in Chicago, Morganfield began his career at a young age, traveling and preforming with his father and growing up in the blues.

    The youngest son of Chicago blues legend Muddy Waters, Joseph “Mojo” Morganfield died Thursday after collapsing in his home in Waukegan, Illinois. He was 56. The announcement came via Morganfield’s publicist Lynn Orman Weiss, and a statement from his producer and longtime supporter Michael Freeman:

    It is with the deepest sadness that we have to announce that our beloved Joseph “Mojo” Morganfield passed away at home this morning after suffering a sudden heart attack. The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this tragic and very difficult time. More details will follow.

    Joseph ‘Mojo’ Morganfield. Publicity photo courtesy of Delmark Records.

     

    Born in Chicago, Morganfield began his career at a young age, traveling and preforming with his father and growing up in the blues. He was taught guitar by his father, and his father’s guitarist Bob Margolin. Raised with the same Mississippi country values to which Muddy held firm, even after decades in Chicago, Mojo’s talent took a backseat while he worked to provide for his own children.

    As a young man, Morganfield played basketball at Westmont High School and then at the University of Northern Iowa after winning a full scholarship. His prowess on the court brought him a great deal of local attention and many accolades. He also had a powerful voice, and in 2018 released the 4-song EP Mojo Risin‘.

    He worked closely with collaborator Terry Abrahamson, and was planning on releasing his first full album this year via the Delmark Records label. COVID had other plans, but Mojo was able to recently release the single, “It’s Good to Be King,” with his band The Mannish Boyz and special guests Ronnie Baker Brooks, Billy Branch, and Brother John Kattke. The Mannish Boyz are made up of Paul Handover, Chris Alexander, Mike Flynn, and his father’s last guitarist, Rick Kreher. The full album was still in the works for a 2021 release.

    In a 2019 interview with American Blues Scene, Morganfield said, “My siblings and I are trying to keep my father’s legacy alive. Big Bill and Mud Morganfield are keeping his legacy alive. We don’t want his legacy to die. We are doing our part.” He also added, “Being Muddy’s son doesn’t mean anything. I am trying to fine tune my craft and work on my vocals. I take vocal lessons and rehearse with my band. I know it’s not going to happen overnight.”

    Mojo has performed with Grammy Award Winners Don Was, Jamey Johnson, and Warren Haynes at The Chicago Theater in The Last Waltz, with his brother Big Bill Morganfield at the Chicago Blues Fest, and in 2019 he opened for Bad Company featuring Paul Rogers. He is an Ambassador, Supporter, and Promoter Inductee in the prestigious Chicago Blues Hall of Fame. Mojo also attended many public events on behalf of his father, keeping the name and the blues legacy alive.

    On September 4th, Morganfield married his wife Deborah. She; his children Joshua, Matthew, Gabrielle, Jordan, Jade, Julissa and Bella; his stepchildren Annaliese and Amelia; brothers Larry and William; sisters Mercy and Rosalind; stepmother Marva Morganfield; grandson Joshuan; nieces, nephews and great-niece survive him.

    Arrangements are pending.

    Joseph “Mojo” Morganfield

    *Feature image Lynn Orman Weiss – Orman Music & Media

    Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Pendulum’ and ‘Mardi Gras’ Set for Half-Speed Mastered 180-Gram Vinyl Reissues

    Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Pendulum’ and ‘Mardi Gras’ Set for Half-Speed Mastered 180-Gram Vinyl Reissues

    American Blues Scene Staff

    CCR’s sixth and seventh studio albums include classic hits “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” “Hey Tonight,” and “Sweet Hitch-Hiker”

    Craft Recordings continues their salute to the enduring musical legacy of Creedence Clearwater Revival with the release of half-speed mastered editions of the band’s two final albums: Pendulum, their closing studio album released 50 years ago, and 1972’s Mardi Gras.

    Pressed on 180-gram vinyl and set for release February 12th, both records were mastered by the award-winning engineer Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios. Available for pre-order now, these audiophile-quality LPs come housed in beautifully crafted jackets (tip-on gatefold for Pendulum and embossed for Mardi Gras), replicating the albums’ original packaging.

    Photo courtesy of Aaron Feterl/Chummy Press

    Pendulum, which marked CCR’s second release of 1970—following Cosmo’s Factory—was a unique title in the band’s catalog for several reasons. First, the album was the group’s sole LP to feature all original material. Typically, CCR sprinkled covers of blues songs, traditional material, and rock ‘n’ roll standards into each of their albums, putting their own spin on classic favorites. Pendulum also found the guitar-heavy group expanding their sonic palate—experimenting with new sounds (including the use of saxophones, vocal choirs, and keyboards) and even venturing into psychedelia.

    The quartet’s musical explorations paid off. Not only was Pendulum a critical success, but it also spawned two global Top Ten hits: the reflective “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and the upbeat “Hey Tonight.” The singles, released as a double A-side in 1971, peaked at No.8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Other highlights included the stomper “Molina,” the bluesy “Pagan’s Groove” and the twangy “Sailor’s Lament.”

    Recently, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” gained renewed popularity with the 2018 launch of a new official music video featuring Sasha Frolova, Jack Quaid, and Erin Moriarty (the latter two also featuring in Amazon’s smash hit series, The Boys), introducing the song to a new generation. To date, the video—available on the official CCR YouTube channel—has received over 61 million plays.

    Creedence Clearwater Revival’s seventh and final studio album, 1972’s Mardi Gras, followed the departure of founding member and rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty. The album, however, found the remaining trio of musicians taking a more collaborative approach to songwriting. Prior to Mardi Gras, frontman John Fogerty was the band’s creative leader—writing, arranging, and producing the majority of every album.

    For Mardi Gras, bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford not only penned many of the tracks (including Cook’s hard-driving “Door to Door,” and Clifford’s rollicking “Tearin’ Up the Country”) but also sang on them. Other highlights off the album include a cover of the rockabilly classic “Hello Mary Lou,” as well as the Fogerty-penned rocker “Sweet Hitch-Hiker”—a Top Ten hit in the US, Australia, Canada, and across Europe. The poignant “Someday Never Comes,” meanwhile, marked the group’s final single.

    While the band members went their separate ways after Mardi Gras, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s legacy only continued to grow. Today, CCR remains one of the best-selling groups of all time, thanks to their trove of generation-defining hits and their singular, roots-rock sound.

    Roughly half a century later, CCR fans can enjoy a new vibrancy when they revisit Pendulum and Mardi Gras, thanks to the exacting process of half-speed mastering. Using high-res transfers from the original analog tapes, the process involves playing back the audio at half its recorded speed while the cutting lathe is also turned to half the desired playback speed. The technique allows more time to cut a micro-precise groove, resulting in more accuracy with frequency extremes and dynamic contrasts. The result on the turntables is an exceptional level of sonic clarity and punch.

     Both of these special pressings were previously released only as part of Creedence’s collectible, seven-LP The Studio Albums Collection box set, and follow standalone reissues of the band’s first five albums—available here.

     Earlier this year, the three surviving members of CCR spoke with Uncut and reflected on their time in the band. “We didn’t get to where we got just falling off a log,” said John Fogerty, as he spoke of the band’s tireless work ethic. “It’s a wonderful thing to have a goal and then to attain it, more or less.”

     Stu Cook compared the band’s rise to “a rocket ride, we went up so fast. We burned until we burned out, in three-and-a-half years from start to finish.” But, while brief, those years together brought the group unparalleled creative achievement and global success. “We had a magic band,” recalled Doug Clifford. “We got high playing the music.” Fogerty added that he was “humbly pleased” knowing that, 50 years later, CCR’s music “is still relevant, that people still care about it. That’s just so satisfying.”

     Pre-order Pendulum or Mardi Gras half-speed masters, with special bundles offered via the Craft Recordings store. A limited gold vinyl edition of Pendulum is also available exclusively via Vinyl, Me Please.

     

    Tracklist – Pendulum:

     Side A:

  • Pagan Baby
  • Sailor’s Lament
  • Chameleon
  • Have You Ever Seen the Rain
  • (Wish I Could) Hideaway
  • Side B:

  • Born to Move
  • Hey Tonight
  • It’s Just a Thought
  • Molina
  • Rude Awakening #2
  • Tracklist – Mardi Gras:

    Side A:

  • Lookin’ for a Reason
  • Take It Like a Friend
  • Need Someone to Hold
  • Tearin’ Up the Country
  • Someday Never Comes
  • Side B:

  • What Are You Going to Do
  • Sail Away
  • Hello Mary Lou
  • Door to Door
  • Sweet Hitch-Hiker
  • The Wood Brothers to Reissue ‘The Muse’ on 2-LP Vinyl

    The Wood Brothers to Reissue ‘The Muse’ on 2-LP Vinyl

    American Blues Scene Staff

    A Webcast Featuring A Recently Filmed Performance Of ‘The Muse’ In Its Entirety + Archival Footage From Album Recording Sessions To Premiere December 18, On The Wood Brothers’ YouTube Channel

    The Wood Brothers have announced a double-LP vinyl reissue of their modern classic, The Muse, will be released on March 5, 2021 through the band’s own Honey Jar Records. Originally issued October 1, 2013 via Zac Brown’s Southern Ground label, the 11-track collection was produced by Nashville music legend Buddy Miller and contains many of The Wood Brothers most celebrated songs that remain staples of their live performances to this day, including “Wastin’ My Mind,” “Sing About It,” “Neon Tombstone,” “Keep Me Around” and “I Got Loaded.” An initial vinyl pressing of The Muse sold out years ago and has been in high demand by The Wood Brothers’ fanbase ever since.

    The Muse was remastered for vinyl by the album’s original mixing engineer Mike Poole at High Quality Recording in Nashville. Along with gatefold packaging and complete lyrics, this latest edition includes a set of musical interludes and studio outtakes that were only featured on the initial LP format. Recorded at Southern Ground Studios in Nashville, The Muse showcases The Wood Brothers’ high-lonesome harmonies, Chris’ virtuosic standup bass and Oliver’s gritty acoustic guitars and warrior poet lyrics. It also marks the official debut of new “brother” Jano Rix to the fold on drums, shuitar, percussion, melodica, piano and background vocals.

    ‘The Muse’ is the first album we recorded with our amazingly talented drummer/vocalist/keyboard player Jano Rix. It was the birth of The Wood Brothers as a trio and the great Nashville producer/musician Buddy Miller was the midwife. It includes some of our most popular songs and Buddy made sure they were beautifully recorded. – Chris Wood

    We’re excited to reissue our album, ‘The Muse,’ on double-LP remastered vinyl! This was a real breakthrough record for us, and we’ve had a lot of folks requesting it since it went out of print last year. The vinyl version is special because it includes lyrics, extra songs, outtakes, and interludes that you can’t find on the CD and digital formats. – Oliver Wood

    At the time of the album’s release in 2013, Relix Magazine wrote, “you’d be hard-pressed to find any other trio working in roots music right now that could match their limber, musical wit,” while No Depression declared, “‘The Muse’ is beautifully intimate and authentic, an amalgamation of the brothers’ diverse influences.”

    To celebrate the reissue of The Muse, the band has filmed a performance of the album in its entirety, which will premiere December 18 on their YouTube channel. In addition to fresh interpretations of the album’s 11 songs, the webcast will feature archival footage from the original recording sessions. The performance of The Muse marks only the second time The Wood Brothers have performed publicly since the pandemic began in March, following their October livestream presentation, Musical Squares.

    Pre-order The Muse today at: https://www.hellomerch.com/collections/the-wood-brothers

    The Wood Brothers

    ‘BILLIE’ – A New Documentary Film About the Life and Genius of Billie Holiday

    ‘BILLIE’ – A New Documentary Film About the Life and Genius of Billie Holiday

    Shore Fire Media

    ‘BILLIE’ is an arresting and powerful tale of one of the greatest singers who ever lived, and of the journalist who would sacrifice her life in trying to tell it

    In the late 1960’s, journalist Linda Lipnack Kuehl set out to write the definitive biography of Billie Holiday. Over the next decade, she tracked down and tape-recorded hundreds of hours of interviews with the extraordinary characters that populated the iconic singer’s short, tumultuous life. These incredible testimonies reveal Holiday’s life in intimate fashion, but Lipnack Kuehl suspiciously died in 1978 and the tapes remained unplayed – until now.

    BILLIE – a “fascinating” new documentary film about the life and genius of Holiday – is out now and has been met with tremendous raves in the US and the UK with a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Billie Holiday’s story has been told, but never quite like this. The film – directed by James Erskine and distributed by Greenwich Entertainment, in conjunction with the Estate of Billie Holiday – features rare performance footage painstakingly restored and exquisitely colorized, plus extraordinary, unheard interviews with musical greats like Charles Mingus, Tony Bennett, Count Basie, Sylvia Syms, along with Holiday’s family and childhood friends, pimps, club owners, even the FBI agents who trailed and arrested her. BILLIE is in select theaters and available to stream on all major TVOD platforms now (including Apple TV and Amazon). A DVD release will follow on February 9.

    Known as one of the greatest voices of all time, Billie Holiday was a woman of breath-taking talent and global popularity. Her well known love songs were matched with eye opening subject matters such as the notable “Strange Fruit,” which exposed the realities of Black life in America and earned her powerful enemies. The film looks at the duality of the late singer and unveils the raw, emotional and brutally honest aspects of her life.

    With unprecedented and exclusive access to an astonishing 200 hours of never-before-heard interviews, BILLIE showcases an American legend, capturing her depths and complexity through those who knew her best. It’s an arresting and powerful tale of one of the greatest singers who ever lived, and of the journalist who would sacrifice her life in trying to tell it.

    The soundtrack is available via Verve on Digital and vinyl.

    BILLIE
    Billie Holiday

    Musicians Unite to Energize Georgia Electorate Ahead of January Runoff

    Musicians Unite to Energize Georgia Electorate Ahead of January Runoff

    Jon Bleicher Publicity

    Watch the video for “Georgia on my Mind”

    With the voter registration deadline for the Georgia runoff election approaching this Monday, December 7th, a diverse group of musicians have joined forces to energize the voting public that turned Georgia “Blue” for the first time since 1992, releasing a powerful reinterpretation of “Georgia On My Mind,” made famous by Ray Charles.

    Enlisted by volunteers with the DNC, who worked closely with Stacey Abrams during the 2020 General Election, the group includes Spin Doctors’ drummer Aaron Comess, keyboardist Ben Stivers, rock/soul singer Danielia Cotton, and up-and-coming rapper Mickey Factz, performing new lyrics that touch on systemic racism, voter suppression, and the importance of the black vote. The accompanying music video incorporates archival news footage from the past few 60 years to illustrate the importance of the black vote in US political history.

    “I refuse to be inactive in this moment or any other moment like this,” said Danielia. “To be able to use my voice to educate and make others aware of what’s at stake seems natural and the right thing to do.”

    “All my career, I have been involved in politically using my voice,” added Mickey. “My platform is meant to encourage people and this record is no different. Plus I just moved to Atlanta, which gives me more credence to speak out.”

    The outcome of Georgia’s runoff election will determine control of the United States Senate, impacting President-Elect Joe Biden’s ability to carry out his policy agenda. With key legislative initiatives like health care, stimulus, and Supreme Court nominees on the line, the results will impact everyone in the United States, and even around the world.

    To register to vote in Georgia’s January 5th runoff election, click here.

    *Feature image: Screengrab of “Georgia on my Mind” 

    Andy Timmons Presents ‘A.T. Plays Sgt. Pepper’ in Two-Part Livestream Event This Saturday, December 5

    Andy Timmons Presents ‘A.T. Plays Sgt. Pepper’ in Two-Part Livestream Event This Saturday, December 5

    Steve Karas

    Andy Timmons presents ‘A.T. Plays Sgt. Pepper’ livestream event via StageIt on December 5 at noon and 6pm Pacific

    Andy Timmons has staged 65 Livestream performance via StageIt since the global pandemic began earlier this year. This coming Saturday on December 5, he looks back on his 2011 album release Andy Timmons Band Plays Sgt. Pepper, revisiting the repertoire and presenting the programming with Side 1 airing at Noon Pacific, followed by Side 2 at 6:00 P.M. Pacific.

    Timmons will intersperse stories abut the arranging and recording process of his release a decade ago with new performances.  To attend click here. The top supporter of each broadcast will receive a one hour Skype lesson with Timmons, while the next five top supporters will be provided with a signed CD of their choice from his catalog.

    Photo: Andy Timmons’ Facebook

    Amongst the StageIt livestream events, Timmons continually looks back and forward when isolating the repertoire for these two shows every Saturday.  None carry a deeper connection to him personally than his love of The Beatles. A decade or so ago, he began recording instrumental renditions of these songs, inevitably recording an album, to which a global love for the performances followed. He shares, “Well, this goes pretty deep. I have a literally lifelong love of the Beatles from the cradle onward. I was born in ’63 and my oldest brother bought every single Beatles record along the way. Most of my earliest musical memories are Beatles related and to this day their body of work is like a security blanket in my life. Still comforting, still beautiful, still inspiring!”

    Timmons has become an attraction over the course of the sixty-five StageIt shows performed. He offers, “The StageIt shows have been a blast for me as well as a tremendous challenge! I’ve essentially been producing two shows every Saturday, with many folks attending both shows. I feel a responsibility to make each show different with as little repetition as possible. In addition to revisiting my entire catalog as well as new, unreleased material, I’ve also done some “covers’ or tribute acoustic/vocal shows honoring the Beatles, Tom Petty and John Lennon.

    “I suppose I consider my interpretation of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper record as a high point in my career.  It embodies everything I’ve learned about the guitar and how it can express great melody and structure in a linear performance. I’m very proud of how I was able to combine my love, reverence and understanding of the Beatles’ music with my passion for the guitar. It seems to transcend beyond the normal instrumental guitar-centric listener base to a broader music loving audience.”

    On a tour in Italy in the late 2000’s, Timmons was playing an instrumental version of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and it went over like gangbusters every night. The promoter took notice of this and suggested, “next tour, you should do a whole night of Beatles!” After an initial negative instinctual reply thinking there’s no way anyone could pull that off, it did get the wheels turning in his head.  He reflects, “I started experimenting with various tunes like ‘In My Life,’ ‘Help,’ and it became a hobby. My previous record Resolution was a landmark for me in that the record was recorded without overdubs. Just ONE guitar performance, bass and drums. I literally re-invented how I approached recording and playing the guitar (all this based on a comment from Vai…but that’s another story).

    “So, now with this experience (and new-found inspiration) I was writing and arranging more in this style. Almost like a solo jazz guitarist like Joe Pass would play the melody supported by the harmony simultaneously. A bit more challenging in the rock guitar idiom as distortion is limiting with the amount of chord extensions you can include…but the sound is amazing when properly presented. The next track that fell under my fingers was ‘Lucy In The Sky’ where the keyboard intro laid beautifully on the guitar.

    “Then the fleeting thought in my mind, ‘What if I could play the whole Sgt. Pepper record top to bottom on solo guitar?’ Over the next couple of years, Timmons would add slowly to the repertoire, painting from memory. His approach was to make the arrangements as personal and representative as possible of the original work, with arrangements emanating from memory. His mind would lead the direction, driven by a keen sense of the most noticeable and important element at any given point in the song whether guitar, a vocal, strings or simply a sound effect.  It became a really fun game for the guitarist as he approached attempting to capture the essence of the song in one linear performance.”

    He goes on to share, “I should also point out that I wasn’t thinking of any commercial opportunities or even considering making a record…it was just the sheer joy of working on the arrangements. In 2009, the ATB went into the studio to record what would be the follow-up to 2006’s Resolution. Towards the end of the sessions, our engineer mentioned that due to a schedule change he had two extra days available, asking if we had any more songs to record. We had recorded everything, but drummer Mitch Marine suggested, ‘What about those Beatles arrangements you’ve been working on?’ And so, over the course of 2 1/2 days we knocked out the entire Pepper record!

    “I kept about half of my live takes, and re-recorded the other half over the course of the next year. I nearly bailed on the project multiple times along way thinking it was not really working, and that it was an impossibility to capture what was in my mind.  I mean, this is freaking Hallowed Ground! And as a Beatles fanatic, I don’t always like Beatle covers. I didn’t take any of it lightly. Fortunately, I hung in there. And again, I wasn’t really concerned about any potential commercial success, I just really wanted the people to hear it…my fellow Beatles fans, especially my peers and heroes, because I just knew they would hear and appreciate every little nuance and detail I was able to capture.

    “This music is in our DNA! The response was overwhelmingly gratifying. (Particularly Steve Lukather a.k.a. Luke’s response…he IS my biggest influence!) An odd response where comments I would get like “I’m not really a Beatles fan, but I dig this record!  It took a while to realize…” oh shit, not everybody is a Beatles fan!!” The bottom line, I could never have approached making a record like this in my earlier career. It took a lifetime of growth and maturity on the instrument to be able to capture these songs in the way that I did. I’m really proud of it.”

     

    Andy Timmons

     

    *Feature image courtesy of SKH Music