Quinn Sullivan Marks A New Chapter With ‘All Around The World’

Quinn Sullivan Marks A New Chapter With ‘All Around The World’

Jon Bleicher / Prospect PR

Quinn Sullivan Releases “All Around The World,” Marking A New Chapter for the 21-Year-Old Singer, Songwriter, and Guitarist

With the release of his new single and music video “All Around The World,” 21-year-old singer, songwriter, and guitarist Quinn Sullivan celebrates a new chapter of his already impressive career, which has seen him tour the world and collaborate with rock’s biggest legends. Now, having developed genuinely jaw-dropping skills as a guitar player, Sullivan’s more recent work has been with pen and paper, as he lets the abundant skills of his youth blossom and steer him into new directions of artistry and creativity. It’s the next step for the ambitious musician with a constant view towards the future, marking Sullivan’s evolution into the singer-songwriter genre while still effectively highlighting his guitar mastery.

“I want to stay true to where I come from, and go from there,” says Sullivan. “The artists that inspire me to do that are always hungry for the new. They never repeat themselves. They just grow and become more unique — and that’s what I aim to do as an artist.”

Recorded in Los Angeles with producer/collaborator Oliver Leiber, “All Around The World” will be included on Sullivan’s next full-length album, slated for release later this year. The new music adds potent new arrows to a quiver already brimming with sure-shots, and it showcases the kind of forward motion that separates the artists from the mere players. “I want people to understand who I am as an artist,” explains Quinn. “I think my audience will appreciate the fact that the guitar is still a huge part of who I am, and I can truthfully say all the songs are coming from a very honest place.”

A rare artist who’s always sounded older than his years, Sullivan has been touring the world since he was 11-years-old, playing storied venues such as Madison Square Garden, the Hollywood Bowl and RFK Stadium in Washington D.C., as well as India’s Mahindra Blues Festival, Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival, and three Montreux Jazz Festivals. Quinn has shared the stage with his hero and mentor Buddy Guy, as well as Carlos Santana on several occasions. Quinn’s performance experience includes appearances on leading national television programs Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and CBS This Morning, to name a few.

But as he moves into this new chapter, Sullivan’s constant credo has been growth and learning. “Obviously, as you get older you learn and experience more,” Sullivan says. “Throughout the years I’ve gotten to learn and be around so many amazing, accomplished musicians and people in the music industry, and that’s shaped me into who I am now. I’ve been at this my whole life. It feels like yesterday I was 12 and on tour with Buddy. Back then I never would have thought I’d be here now, releasing my fourth album. It’s really pretty amazing.”

Quinn Sullivan

*Feature image by Chuck Lanza courtesy of the artist

Daptone Records Imprint Penrose Shares Thee Sacred Souls’ ‘It’s Our Love’

Daptone Records Imprint Penrose Shares Thee Sacred Souls’ ‘It’s Our Love’

American Blues Scene Staff

“We wanted to capture candid moments of our time at the Penrose studio and hangin’ with our crew around SD for the video.”

Thee Sacred Souls have entered 2021 on a bright note with the digital release and new video for their song “It’s Our Love.” The track was originally found as the b-side to their recent “Will I See You Again” which was released January 8th, has sold out three times, and is currently on its 4th pressing. The San Diego, CA-based Sweet Soul mavericks will release the song via Penrose Records, the recently launched imprint from the iconic House of Soul, Daptone Records. As the track title alludes to, the song celebrates the love between two people, simply and sweetly. Filmed on Super 8 at the end of 2020, the David Lampley-directed video shows the band exploring their natural environments–hanging out across San Diego and in the studio.

“We wanted to capture candid moments of our time at the Penrose studio and hangin’ with our crew around SD for the video,” the band notes of the video. “We reached out to our friend David Lampley, who specializes in Super 8 analog film. His experimental shooting style along with the visual quality of Super 8 film fit the laidback and dreamy mood we envisioned.”

The new single follows the band’s quick rise as a must-hear group for soul aficionados, following the release of their June 2020 debut single “Can I Call You Rose?” b/w “Weak for Your Love,” correlating with the launch of Penrose. It quickly became one of Daptone Records’ most sought after 45s and the video for “Can I Call You Rose” has been viewed almost a million times — no small feat for a brand new independent artist! “Give Us Justice” followed, written in response to the murder of George Floyd. The proceeds were donated to organizations promoting the freedoms, rights and well being of black people beginning with the Movement for Black Lives, and multi-Grammy nominated band The Black Pumas recently shouted out the track as “The song that will define 2020 for me” via Rolling Stone.

Inspired by the souldies around which they were reared, Alex Garcia and Sal Samano found chemistry when they began cutting bedroom demos of rhythm tracks together. Multi-instrumentalists both, Alex migrated from the guitar to the drums where he discovered the sensitive touch and unique feel that would be the pillowy pulse of the band’s sound, while Sal learned to carve winding bass lines through the deep spidery grooves of their vamps. Though the jams they created together were scintillating, it wasn’t until they connected with vocalist Josh Lane that the real sound of Thee Sacred Souls came into focus. Josh had recently relocated to San Diego from Sacramento where he had studied singing, honing his voice into a weightless vehicle that could carry the Smokey-esque lyrics and Marvin-ous melodies he had bubbling within him. The connection was electric, Josh’s mellifluous poetry floating weightlessly atop Alex and Sal’s rhythms, and Thee Sacred Souls were born.

Stepping off the stage after their very first club date, Josh, Sal and Alex were tugged aside by Daptone Records’ producer and co-founder, Bosco Mann (Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings) whose seasoned ears had been tickled by their set. Backs were patted, hands were shook, and three days later heads were bobbing in Mann’s Riverside studio, Penrose Recorders, as the Souls laid their first notes to tape. With Mann, they knew they also found a like-minded soul who believes in the power of music in physical form as much as they do. They recently told the San Diego Reader, “Our commitment to analog contrasts the quick-fire nature of many other artists within the increasingly digital industry.”

Look for much more from future soul legends Thee Sacred Souls, including their anticipated debut album coming later this year.

Thee Sacred Souls

*Feature image by Gustav Olivares

Ann Wilson Returns With New Single ‘Tender Heart’

Ann Wilson Returns With New Single ‘Tender Heart’

American Blues Scene Staff

Heart’s Ann Wilson is back with powerful new single

Legendary rock singer and songwriter Ann Wilson has announced today’s release of a dynamic  new single. “Tender Heart” is available now at all DSPs and streaming services.

 

Photo courtesy of Michael Eisele

 “ ‘Tender Heart’ came out of a personal struggle,” says Wilson, “but quickly evolved into a greater, more universal meaning. We as the human race are coming to realize realities we never dreamed we’d have to face – environmentally, culturally, financially, and health-wise. Humanity is coming to terms with uncomfortable, heartbreaking, terrifying truths. This song is for the soul whose heart is blindsided by reality, but is still soft and innocent. I hope people will identify with this song and feel they are not alone.”

 “Tender Heart” was written and originally recorded by Steve Earle, and follows last year’s release of “The Revolution Starts Now” — which features original artwork by renowned American street artist and activist Shepard Fairey.

“The Revolution Starts Now” is also being offered on limited edition signed 7” vinyl, available now for pre-order via AnnWilson.com. The single includes the exclusive B-side, “Rooster,” originally performed by Alice In Chains; a live performance from last year’s “MoPOP Founders Award Honoring Alice In Chains: A Benefit for the Museum of Pop Culture” is streaming now at the official Ann Wilson YouTube channel.

Ann Wilson is a true icon, known far and wide as lead singer and songwriter of the groundbreaking rock band Heart. Led by Wilson’s extraordinary vocal power, Heart has thrilled audiences for more than four decades, earning sales of more than 35 million and well-deserved induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. Wilson’s second solo album, 2018’s Immortal, saw her putting her unique stamp on songs made famous by a number of hugely influential artists, including David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Tom Petty, Amy Winehouse, and more.

Produced by longtime Heart collaborator Mike Flicker, the album earned widespread critical acclaim, with Associated Press declaring it “an exciting, eye-opening look at largely obscure songs by big-name artists” and Goldmine praising Wilson for “her mighty vocal firepower and a far ranging creative spirit.”

CONNECT WITH ANN WILSON:

OFFICIAL

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

*Feature image courtesy of the artist’s site

Valerie June Previews New LP with Video for ‘Call Me A Fool’ ft. Carla Thomas

Valerie June Previews New LP with Video for ‘Call Me A Fool’ ft. Carla Thomas

Lauren Leadingham

“Only a fool tests the water with both feet.”

Today, roots singer-songwriter Valerie June announces her first new album in four years. Produced by Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, Alicia Keys, John Legend) and Valerie June, The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers will be released March 12th, 2021 via Fantasy Records. 

Alongside the album announcement, June is sharing new single and music video “Call Me A Fool,” both R&B throwback and Memphis country-soul, featuring horns and a striking performance from Stax legend Carla Thomas.

Photo courtesy of Shore Fire Media

Working at Fresh Young Minds in L.A. and Hit Factory Criteria in Miami June found an ideal collaborator in Splash, who shares her sense of adventure. “For this album I wanted to see how we could bring some modern elements into that band-in-the-room approach I’ve taken with my records in the past,” says June.  

 “With this record, it finally became clear why I have this dream of making music,” says June. “It’s not for earthly reasons of wanting to be awarded or to win anybody’s love—it’s because dreaming keeps me inquisitive and keeps me on that path of learning what I have to share with the world. When we allow ourselves to dream like we did when we were kids, it ignites the light that we all have within us and helps us to have a sort of magic about the way we live.”

 Have you ever been a fool for a dream? It might have been a little dream like a kiss from a lover or a big one like the dream of peace that Dr. King, John Lennon, and so many others have had for humanity. No matter how big or how small your dream may be, keep believing, and let the world call you a fool!

In case you missed it, late last year Valerie released “Stay” / “Meditation” / “You and I,” a riveting three-song suite.

June is set to take part (virtually) in the 34th Annual Tibet House US Benefit Concert, on February 17th performing alongside artists such as Eddie Vedder, Phoebe Bridgers, Brittany Howard, Angelique Kidjo and many more. See details HERE.

The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers

“Stay”

“Stay Meditation”

“You And I”

“Colors”

“Stardust Scattering”

“African Proverb Read By Carla Thomas”

“Call Me A Fool” Featuring Carla Thomas

“Fallin”

“Smile”

“Within You”

“Two Roads”

“Why The Bright Stars Glow”

“Home Inside”

“Starlight Ethereal Silence”

Pre-order The Moon and Stars: Prescription for Dreamers

*Feature image credit: Renata Raksha

Second Volume of Ann Savoy’s ‘Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People’ Out Next Month

Second Volume of Ann Savoy’s ‘Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People’ Out Next Month

Bob Merlis

Bluebird Press will publish Cajun Music A Reflection of a People Volume II on February 17

In 1985 Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People Volume I, a sumptuous 444-page book which had been published the previous year, was described in the Washington Post as “perhaps the most comprehensive stunning portrait of this music ever written.” Now, more than thirty-six years later, author Ann Savoy is set to publish Cajun Music A Reflection of a People Volume II, the 456-page companion to her earlier effort. The two books document the music and music makers that are central to a rich cultural tradition that dates back more than 350 years.  

While she had intended to publish a second volume of Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People, the planning for which preceded publication of the first, things did not work out quite as she had envisioned. As Cajun Music A Reflection of a People Volume 1 went on to become the standard reference for Cajun, Creole and Zydeco music and win the American Folklore Society’s Botkin Book Award, Savoy got busy and couldn’t find the time to complete the follow-up she always had in mind.

In the intervening decades she, along with husband and master musician and accordion maker Marc Savoy, raised four children and toured the world. Later they included their musically minded offspring in The Savoy Family Band and collaborated with Beausoleil’s Michael Doucet in the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band. Ann would also form The Magnolia Sisters, an all-female Cajun band and join forces with Linda Ronstadt as the Zozo Sisters whose album Adieu False Heart was Grammy-nominated, one of four such nominations she’s received to date, Along the way, she performed and recorded with her gypsy jazz ensemble Ann Savoy and Her Sleepless Nights.  

She also produced Evangeline Made: A Tribute to Cajun Music that featured performances of classic Cajun repertoire by Ronstadt, Linda Thompson, John Fogerty, Richard Thompson, Nick Lowe, Patty Griffin, Maria McKee, David Johansen and Rodney Crowell.  She went on to produce Creole Bred: A Tribute To Creole & Zydeco that included tracks by Cyndi Lauper, Taj Mahal, Tom Tom Club, David Hidalgo, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Zydeco & Zydeco Cha-Chas, Michelle Shocked, Keith Frank, Ed Poullard, Darick Cambell, Keith Frank and Ed Poullard.  Albums on which she appeared were released by the Rounder, Vanguard, Arhoolie, Valcourt and Memphis International labels.  She worked with T Bone Burnett on two films — appearing as a musician in “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” and on the soundtrack for All The King’s Men. 

Ann Savoy recalls, “Before I finished ‘Book One,’ I had already started on ‘Book Two.’ The book was already massive and there was no way I could fit everything I had into it but I ultimately I put it all in a big box and thought, ‘Maybe my children will complete this.’ “

As it happened, the stay-at-home constraints of the pandemic kept Ann off the road last year and she was finally able to realize the vision herself.

Bluebird Press will publish Cajun Music A Reflection of a People Volume II on February 17.  Like its predecessor, the new book is lushly illustrated with historic and recent photographs, transcriptions of thirty-five English and Cajun French interviews and biographies and more than 100 songs with French translations and phonetics and musical notation.

The book is not only a reference resource but also is, itself, a repository of cultural artifacts that document an idiosyncratic music and way of life focusing on such artists as Boozoo Chavis, Happy Fats, Harry Choates, Nathan Abshire, Octa Clark, Chester “Pee Wee” Broussard, Wilfred Latour, and many others from the entire spectrum of Cajun and Zydeco music.  As an adjunct to the books, the Arhoolie Foundation’s website will host the Ann Savoy Collection, an aggregation of audio assets, almost 200 interviews that are part of the books, as well as interviews with Cajun, Creole and zydeco artists that were conducted over the past 60 years by Arhoolie Records founder Chris Strachwitz.

Over the course of her performing career, Savoy found that audiences wanted to know more about the music —  what the songs were about, what Cajun music is, what Zydeco is —  so she decided to compile a songbook of the repertoire of her favorite musicians. This simple idea of a songbook was quickly pushed aside when she began talking to and exploring the Cajun and Creole artists who made the music. During her interviews with them, their spouses would bring out boxes of beautiful old photographs that told their stories better than any words could express.

Ann borrowed those photographic gems, taking her own photos as she went from house to house. She developed the negatives in her darkroom, printed her own photos, even pasted up the book on story boards in those pre-computer times.  In a way, she was doing what folklorist Alan Lomax had done decades before when he travelled the south collecting song and producing field recordings that would serve to document a people and their culture.  It was the same for Ann though she broke new ground as a woman who wasn’t backed by the Library of Congress and did what she did with babies in tow.

Writing in Country Roads Magazine, Jourdan Lahaye Fontenot shared the experience of Cajun Music A Reflection of a People Volume II: “Holding so very much, these pages use the power of oral and written histories to engage their readers in memories both quiet and monumental, building our culture’s musical icons into know-able people. And though so many of them are gone now, we can still know their music.”

Order Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People Vol. II

Dumpstaphunk, Cut Chemist Release ‘Justice 2020’ Remix

Dumpstaphunk, Cut Chemist Release ‘Justice 2020’ Remix

Jon Bleicher / Prospect PR

“Justice 2020” will be featured on Dumpstaphunk’s new album, ‘Where Do We Go From Here,’ out April 23 via Mascot Label Group/Funk Garage.

New Orleans’ Dumpstaphunk have just released a Cut Chemist remix of their latest single “Justice 2020,” featuring Chali 2na and Trombone Shorty, available now on all digital platforms. “Justice 2020” will be featured on the band’s upcoming album, Where Do We Go from Here.

Remixed by legendary DJ turntablist Cut Chemist (Jurassic 5/Ozomatli), along with Grammy nominated mixer Andy Kravitz and Fishbone bass player Norwood Fisher, the track takes on new life and continued relevance during an unprecedented political climate in America. The song’s lyrics boast a mantra that recognizes that as humans, even with our differences and all of the injustices, “we can change it together if we all stand tall” and that “we are all beautiful.”

Where Do We Go From Here, the band’s upcoming album, is set to be released on April 23, 2021 (via Mascot Label Group / The Funk Garage). Where Do We Go From Here 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,” 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, writing and recording the album just prior to the unprecedented events of the past year.

When New Orleans roots-funk Dumpstaphunk first released their single “Justice” in January 2017, the group viewed the song as an important, if delicate, funk-blues anthem that spoke to their country’s turbulent times.

Over its past 17 years, Dumpstaphunk have earned their reputation as the most well-regarded next-generation New Orleans live powerhouse, the type of band whose live shows attract sit-ins from legends like Carlos Santana, Bob Weir and Trombone Shorty. Alongside Tony Hall, Nick Daniels, Alex Wasily, Ryan Nyther and drummer Devin Trusclair, cousins Ivan and Ian Neville 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 Superdome.

The album is now available to pre-order on double vinyl, CD and digital platforms HERE.

Dumpstaphunk

Alligator Records Joins Forces With Exceleration Music

Alligator Records Joins Forces With Exceleration Music

Alligator Records

Partnership Between Legendary Blues/Roots Label Alligator Records And Exceleration Music To Create Global Growth Opportunities

Alligator Records, the acclaimed independent blues and roots label currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, has announced it is joining forces with Exceleration Music. Exceleration Music is a newly established company founded by Glen Barros (former CEO of Concord Music Group) along with four other world-renowned industry veterans, dedicated to enhancing the future of independent labels and artists.

Bruce Iglauer (Alligator Records) Glen Barros (Exceleration Music)

 

Alligator founder Bruce Iglauer‘s partnership with Exceleration will strengthen the label by creating opportunities for expanded promotion and marketing along with providing resources enabling Alligator to sign more established blues and roots artists. Iglauer remains at Alligator’s helm, just as he has been for the last 50 years. He and his Chicago-based team will continue to handle artist signings, A&R, new release production, project marketing, publicity, and promotion for an aggressive lineup of new recordings by the label’s existing roster as well as by newly-signed artists. Alligator will also continue to market and promote its catalog of over 350 releases. Exceleration will handle financial, operational, and administrative functions for the label. Both partners will also collaborate on marketing initiatives designed to build on Alligator’s great legacy.

According to Iglauer, “I’m very excited to ally Alligator with Exceleration. I have tremendous respect for the vision, intelligence, industry expertise and professional ethics of the Exceleration team. I’m confident that this partnership will grow the worldwide audience for Alligator’s records and artists. It’s a win-win for all of us.”

In addition to its partnership with Alligator, Exceleration has also entered into an alliance with The Ray Charles Foundation, by which they will jointly issue special releases from the Ray Charles vaults, most of which have not been widely available on digital music services for the past decade. In January 2020, Exceleration acquired the venerable but mostly dormant jazz label Candid Records, with plans to relaunch the label later in 2021.

Exceleration Music was formed by five of the independent music industry’s most influential executives. Started by Glen Barros (former CEO of Concord Music Group), Exceleration Music has developed into a partnership of global music industry leaders who will be investing in the future of independent labels from a wide range of culturally important genres. In addition to Barros, Exceleration is led by Dave Hansen (Executive Chairman of Merlin, the digital licensing partner for independents, and previous GM of Epitaph Records), Charles Caldas (CEO of Merlin for 12 years, during which time the organization grew to over 20,000 independent label and distributor members), Amy Dietz (previously GM of independent music distribution leader Ingrooves) and John Burk (Grammy-winning producer and former President of Concord Records).

Backed by substantial investment capital and based on core founding values of integrity, fairness, openness, humility and excellence, Exceleration plans to leverage its partners’ extensive expertise and deep understanding of the independent music culture to make tailored investments in independent music rights and the individuals that create them.

According to Barros, “When I started the company, I decided to go with a ‘first who, then what’ strategy. With our industry becoming more and more commoditized, I wanted to put people first – people who care about independent music and share similar values. Quite frankly, I am completely amazed and truly blessed by how this strategy has developed. To have partners like John, Amy, Charles and Dave is truly a dream come true. But it goes beyond this, to the great investors we’re working with, the team we’re assembling, our professional advisors, and now the opportunity to work with Bruce Iglauer at Alligator Records. With a dedicated group like this, I know we’re going to do great things for the indie community and have a lot of fun along the way.”

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