Nick Cave and Warren Ellis to Stream Conversation About Album ‘Carnage’

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis to Stream Conversation About Album ‘Carnage’

Lauren Leadingham

‘Carnage’ vinyl and CD, out June 18, available now for pre-order

To mark the global CD and vinyl release of Carnage, join Nick Cave and Warren Ellis as they answer questions from fans about their new album in a special streamed conversation. The audio conversation will be broadcast via YouTube Premiere on June 18th at 7pm BST and will be available online following the streaming event.

To submit a question use #talkcarnage on social media, or comment on the official Nick Cave Instagram or Facebook posts by midnight BST on June 5th.

Although Cave and Ellis have composed and recorded many soundtracks together, and Ellis is a longtime member of The Bad Seeds, this is their first offering as a duo — an album that Cave considers to be “a brutal but very beautiful record nested in a communal catastrophe.” According to Ellis, “Making Carnage was an accelerated process of intense creativity; the eight songs were there in one form or another within the first two and a half days.”

The pair began their music-making back in ‘93, when Ellis played violin on multiple songs for the Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds album Let Love In, joining the band as a full-time member soon after. Their creative chemistry and history are reflected on Carnage — an unexpected and alluring product of the pandemic, recorded in a period of weeks. Cave and Ellis have also recorded as Grinderman, and have composed and recorded numerous, film, TV and theatre soundtracks together.

 

Carnage – Choose Preferred Music Service

Leah Shaw’s Debut Full Length Album, ‘Play Beautifully,’ Set for Release July 30

Leah Shaw’s Debut Full Length Album, ‘Play Beautifully,’ Set for Release July 30

Mixtape Media

Following the passing of her mother from Alzheimer’s disease, Shaw explores love, grief, loss and healing in a series of ethereal and personal songs

Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and singer Leah Shaw, will release her debut full length album, Play Beautifully on July 30th. The eight-song LP is a sonic exploration of love, grief, loss, healing and self-exploration dedicated to her mother’s memory. Composed on piano and guitar and recorded with the addition of orchestral and electronic elements, Play Beautifully was co-produced by Shaw and Teo Blake. Released in a moment of global grief towards the end of the coronavirus pandemic, the duo met in a graduate program for audio production, began sessions for the LP in September of 2017 and finished the final touches on the songs on March 12, 2020 – the last day that their college was open before the pandemic hit. The album’s title is a phrase that Shaw’s mother would say to her children when they were dropped off for their music lessons. “Play beautifully,” she would call to them as they left the car. Shaw’s songs and perspective will resonate with a world recovering from a tumultuous moment in time.

“The album, I hope, will be seen as an affirmation of our capacity to transcend loss,” says Shaw. “I also hope it strongly pushes back against the idea that grief’s objective is either acceptance or ‘moving on.’ I want the record to make space for the listener’s right to hold onto the people, alive or no longer living [here], who make us who we are.”

Shaw’s mother lived with early onset Alzheimer’s for almost a decade and passed away when the songwriter was thirty years old. Throughout those years, Shaw returned from Brooklyn to regularly spend time with her mother in North Carolina. The two spent time playing and singing together, a favorite activity that seemed to have magical powers in drawing her mother out the withdrawal, confusion and agitation that her medical condition would often bring. Shaw learned an ever-expanding catalogue of the songs her mother had loved as a teenager: Paul Simon, Carole King, Ray Charles and The Beatles. She also played her own music with her mother, who had memorized it from listening to Shaw’s recordings on repeat, and her mom would lean in close, singing along note for note.

“For much of the time when I was caring for my mom and writing this music, I felt alone,” expresses Shaw. “But after witnessing such an enormous amount of loss because of the pandemic, the widespread protests and calls for equity and justice in response to racial violence, I no longer feel isolated. There’s a connection between everything that is happening, and I feel empowered to add my own voice and story to the litany of artists who are doing work to process grief.”

Play Beautifully opens with “Leaving in the Morning,” an ethereal declaration that sets the stage with its sonic palette for the rest of the album. “It’s the idea that there’s kind of this person–or me–who’s gonna make a change, or leave, go out, make a transition, and things are gonna be different, says Shaw. “And that’s definitely reflected in the lyrics, but even more than that it’s reflected sonically in the way the song is arranged, so the instruments come in gradually and the song opens up.”

The overtly joyful “Love Comes” is an Americana-infused, guitar-based song that deals with Shaw’s anxiety and depression around her mother’s diagnosis and the heaviness of balancing her life in NYC while returning to North Carolina as often as possible to be with her mother.“I remember sitting down and the main lyrics I remember writing was, ‘you try to talk too much, you try to plan too much,’ recalls Shaw. “Because me fighting against depression was just like thrashing around, like trying to make plans and booking airlines tickets. And I was really trying to get to my mom. When I was home, I’d wake up in the morning and feel like I needed to go engage with my mom, I wanted to figure out how to make it good for her and for me. I was telling myself to calm down, you’re trying to control this thing–just wait.”

“Intentions” finds Shaw alone at the piano grappling with the loss of her mother and the unconditional love of her best friend who was with her for the two weeks leading to her mother’s passing. Written during the 2016 presidential election, the singer expresses that “who we are is what we actually do. Not what we say we believe. The kind of person we are is proven by who we actually are and our character. We see your intentions and how you act on them. All you can do is try to do the best thing that you can do. And in this case, that was me receiving unconditional love from my best friend.”

“Where Are You” is a raw, angry declaration — “I don’t need to get over it, I don’t need to feel better,” Shaw sings. “It was written after my mom died,” she says. “Stop with this whole idea that I have to be over this. Ever. I don’t have to accept this. Why would I accept this? This thing that happened, it’s not acceptable.”

Written in New Orleans, the driving “Look at Me,” is Shaw struggling with losing her mother in real time. “This was a very specific point — which everyone who’s been on the Alzheimer’s Journey has been on this point — where the person you’re taking care of transitions into not knowing who you are. I realized my mom wasn’t recognizing me and I couldn’t kind of meet her eyes, she asked me who I was. I told her my name and she was like, ‘I know a Leah. She sings.’”

The title track is a recording of Shaw and her mother playing the piano together shortly before her mother’s passing. “My mom took piano lessons when she was little, and she was having some memory — you could see, she was sitting there and she was focused on the song, and she was like picking out keys. And I was sitting there and trying to [play along to] encourage her to keep going [playing at the moment].”

 The penultimate song on the album, “You Knew Me,” was the first song Shaw recorded at the beginning of the sessions for the album in 2017. The songwriter created the lush orchestration with help from professor and mentor Sonny Kompaneck (orchestrator for many of the Coen Brothers’ films among other big hits) and who has a special credit on the album along with Grammy-nominated recording engineer Angela Piva (Run DMC, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Naughty By Nature) who also advised Shaw and Blake throughout the album’s production process. “This one has a lot of the emotion of the journey in it and I think of it as a celebration, says Shaw. “When I sing, ‘I walked you home,’ that’s sort of speaking to us being with my mom at the end and getting her there safely. And that’s what we tried to do and we did it. It’s a celebration of that journey.”

The album ends with the guitar, harmonica and fiddle-based song, “Pretty Mama.” “It’s a song that I wrote right before mom died, looking at a picture of her, and I was just imagining how I would feel [after she died], says Shaw. “Feeling like I’m a little bit of a mess, of course and hopefully I would be able to make my mother proud. That my life would be worth all of the effort she put into raising us and being there for us.”

Leah Shaw has released two EPs, I’m Just the Same (2013) and Home (2016), and several singles including “Growing” (2013), “One Shot” (2014), “Merry Christmas Darling” (2015), “Same Road” (2018), as well as two singles from Play Beautifully, “Pretty Mama” (2019) and “Love Comes” (2020). From an early age, she studied classical music, memorized old musicals and sang and played in the church. The aspiring musician was encouraged in her pursuits by her mother, who told her, “music is a language for you.” She took up piano at age 5, bassoon at age 12, clarinet at 15, and percussion at 16, and learned arranging, improvisation and songwriting. A graduate of James Madison University, Shaw studied orchestral music in college alongside composition and music technology. She received her MFA from Brooklyn College.

 “By learning not only how to be a more skilled musician but also how to record and produce, I’ve expanded my view of what a song means, what stories I can tell; as audio producers we get to tell our own stories and we get to be there to midwife the stories and songs of others,” says Shaw. “It’s really exciting. I can’t wait to share my album and continue on to the next.”

Leah Shaw will play select shows in support of Play Beautifully including a virtual event on July 1st presented via YouTube Live by Iredell Arts Council in Statesville, NC and in person on September 25th at Carolina Jubilee in Harmony, NC.

 Shaw continues to compose music for a variety of media from film and podcast to virtual reality and interactive digital exhibitions. She currently resides in Brooklyn with her husband and their seven synthesizers.

 

Connect with Leah Shaw: Official | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

Yola Releases Video For New Single ‘Stand For Myself’

Yola Releases Video For New Single ‘Stand For Myself’

American Blues Scene Staff

‘Stand For Myself,’ to be released via Easy Eye Sound on July 30

Yola has released the video for the title track of her anthemic new album, Stand For Myself, which will be released via Easy Eye Sound on July 30, 2021. The single debuted Wednesday with a powerful new video, directed by Allister Ann. The clip features Yola escaping from a world that has entrapped her, on a vintage motorcycle whilst depicting a nuanced definition of Black female strength and drawing on visual references from the music videos from her childhood.

“My school years were during the 90s and 00s, and Missy Elliott’s videos were always aesthetically superior to me.” Yola stated, adding “I feel that the video is set in the antechamber to freedom. The feeling of escaping something truly oppressive and heading towards an unknown with a sense of hope and choice you haven’t felt in a long time. We all have the capacity to go through this process in our own minds, I kinda look like a superhero at times, but I’m not. I’m just a person trying to be free.”

Yola co-wrote the song with Dan Auerbach, Hannah V and Natalie Hemby and it features The McCrary Sisters on background vocals. The track reflects on Yola’s belief in the possibility of paradigm shift beyond the mental programming that creates tokenism and bigotry, which have deeply impacted her personal life and professional career. “The song’s protagonist ‘token,’ has been shrinking themselves to fit into the narrative of another’s making, but it becomes clear that shrinking is pointless.”

Yola added, “This song is about a celebration of being awake from the nightmare supremacist paradigm. Truly alive, awake and eyes finally wide open and trained on your path to self actualization. You are thinking freely and working on undoing the mental programming that has made you live in fear. It is about standing for ourselves throughout our lives and real change coming when we challenge our thinking. This is who I’ve always been in music and in life. There was a little hiatus where I got brainwashed out of my own majesty, but a bitch is back.”

Stand For Myself traces a musical thread to Yola’s most eclectic musical inspirations. From the seminal albums Yola discovered via her Mother’s 70s record collection, to her love of eclectic British radio, which featured a fluid mix of 90s neo soul, R&B and britpop—all which soundtracked her childhood and teenage years in Bristol, England. Yola experienced prejudice throughout her childhood and career and navigated these experiences, as well as homelessness in London and stress-induced voice loss to launch her solo career in 2016. She achieved breakout success with her debut album, Walk Through Fire, which landed her four GRAMMY® nominations including Best New Artist, critical acclaim and fans from Elton John to Mavis Staples.

Yola will be one of few artists to perform at both Newport Folk and Newport Jazz in the same year, when she joins the lineup of both events this summer. She will also be performing dates with Chris Stapleton on his rescheduled tour in 2021 and will headline The Ryman Auditorium in 2022.

Yola
Pre-Order Stand For Myself

*Feature image: Seth Dunlap

Blues Belter Lauren Anderson to Release ‘Love on the Rocks’ August 6

Blues Belter Lauren Anderson to Release ‘Love on the Rocks’ August 6

Devious Planet

Lauren Anderson has announced the release of her new album, ‘Love on the Rocks,’ available for pre-order now!

Lauren Anderson isn’t shy about sharing her influences. Indeed, there have been any number of classic and contemporary artists that have left an indelible impression on the musical mantra she’s pursued over the course of her career — Bonnie Raitt, Etta James, Eva Cassidy, Nina Simone, Whitney Houston, Beyonce, and the Pointer Sisters, among them. Yet, at the same time, Anderson isn’t bound to any particular parameters. Instead she’s managed to incorporate those influences into a pursuit of her own passion. It’s a musical journey that continues to flourish, bringing her growing recognition as a celebrated singer and songwriter with her own contemporary credence. 

That trajectory has accelerated rapidly over the course of the past seven years with the release of three EPs — Do & Hope, The Game and Won’t Stay Down — and her first full-length album, 2015’s Truly Me. In the meantime, the accolades have kept coming. She was named the 2015  Female Vocalist of the Year by the Midwest Music Awards, took a first-place finish in the 2018 Wing Dang Doodle Competition and watched with pride as The Game became entrenched in the Top 50 of the Billboard Blues chart five weeks in a row.  

Meanwhile, Anderson’s expanded her following while continuing to reap that critical acclaim. A determined dynamo of a performer adept at both blues and ballads, she’s ready to add to those accolades with her upcoming album Love On the Rocks, her most fully realized effort to date.

Album cover courtesy of Pati DeVries

Self-produced and due for independent release this summer, it will be preceded by four singles slated to appear each month prior to the entire album’s appearance in August — “Stand Still” (April), “Back to Chicago” (May), “Keep On” (June), and “Love On the Rocks” (July).  Each offering finds her expounding on the soulful, seductive style that allows her to break down the boundaries between rock, blues and classic R&B. Not surprisingly then, the new album fully reflects her own singular sound, courtesy of a varied set of songs that mostly draw from her own experience. Seven of the nine tracks were written during the pandemic, when Anderson claims she wrote a song a day for three weeks in a row. 

It’s hardly surprising then that music has been a vital part of Anderson’s life since early on. Born in Chicago, her interests were nourished by a family where music played an important part. She first delved into it at the age of eight when she began taking classical piano lessons. That, in turn, led her to sing in a choir and eventually undertake classical voice training while still in high school. After attaining a Bachelors Degree in music, she earned a Masters Degree in Music Therapy from the University of Kansas.  

Following her graduation in 2012, she became a music therapist, working with children and at-risk youth. Yet while she relished the experience, she began to realize that live performance was her true calling. She briefly considered becoming an opera singer, but quickly decided that the world of popular music was more suited to her style. At first she performed solo, but later she shared her talents with a band. Then, after recording a pair of singles at the iconic Ocean Way Studio on Nashville’s famed Music Row, she decided to make a permanent move from Kansas City to Music City in 2017. She now tours full time and continues to make music with an energy and enthusiasm that’s fully invested in the new album.

 

Pre-order Love On The Rocks

 

*Feature image credit: Scott Lukes

Blues-Rock Prodigy Clay Melton Ready to Release Powerful New EP ‘Back to Blue’

Blues-Rock Prodigy Clay Melton Ready to Release Powerful New EP ‘Back to Blue’

American Blues Scene Staff

“I set out to write and arrange tunes that put my favorite styles of rock and blues front and center and possibly turn younger listeners onto the blues.” – Clay Melton

Blues-rock prodigies are a special breed. They live and breathe the fiery swagger of electric guitars and the irresistible allure of rhythm-soaked songs. That’s Clay Melton’s musical calling in a nutshell. At only 26, the Louisiana-born and Texas-based bluesy rocker has already spent 13 years performing live. His powerfully raspy voice and wicked guitar licks leave no doubt he’s grown up in the school of barroom blues-rock.

Back to Blue, a 5-song EP coming July 23, is Melton’s follow-up to 2017’s critically acclaimed, full-length debut Burn the Ships. Back to Blue, which Melton began recording November 2020 in Austin and finished May 2021 in Houston, boasts production and engineering credits by Grammy-winner Danny Jones (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Patti LaBelle, Etta James) as well as Clay himself.

“This is where my heart’s been from the beginning,” says Melton of the songs on Back to Blue. “I want to continue to release music that gives our fans an insight into where I am musically and emotionally. I set out to write and arrange tunes that put my favorite styles of rock and blues front and center and possibly turn younger listeners onto the blues.”

Producer and engineer Jones agrees. In fact, the music industry veteran has nothing but praise for the blues-rock virtuoso. “Clay has been great to work with,” he says. “It’s encouraging and inspiring to see someone so dedicated to their craft of writing and performing. I see a bright future for this young man!”

At the center of Back to Blue is “Say That You Love Me,” a scorching blues-rocker that immediately positions Melton as the future of the genre. The song and its accompanying live gig video are proof positive that Melton is a blues-rock dynamo, an artist with an incendiary soul. Oh, and that video for “Say That You Love Me” already has nearly 17,000 views.

Another standout on Back to Blue is the title track, a modern blues ballad dashed with rock and R&B seasoning. The song is also Melton’s emotional manifesto written during a worldwide pandemic that further validated the potent pull of creating music. Also of note on Back to Blue is Melton’s spirited cover of ZZ Top’s chestnut, “Jesus Just Left Chicago.”

“Music has always been the answer, especially at times when I didn’t even know the right questions to ask myself,” he says. “Through adolescent frustrations, love’s ups and downs, and more recently through this pandemic, my love for music and the massive impact and comfort it can bring really anchored the intention of this record.”

Get ready to hear more from Clay Melton as he takes the stage in a series of upcoming concerts to promote Back to Blue. Details on those shows are forthcoming. No doubt those performances will be red hot, as Melton sharpened every guitar lick and lived every lyric on the road as a headliner and opening act for such superstars as blues guitar legend Robert Cray and multi-million-selling modern rocker Chris Daughtry.

 

Clay Melton

 

*Photos by Miguel Martinez

Ann Wilson Opens The Vault To Pre-Heart Era Recordings, ‘The Daybreaks’ EP

Ann Wilson Opens The Vault To Pre-Heart Era Recordings, ‘The Daybreaks’ EP

American Blues Scene Staff

Rite of June tour starts in Ft. Myers, Florida on June 22!

Legendary vocalist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Ann Wilson has unveiled a collection of unreleased archival songs made with the band that she was in before Heart. The Daybreaks were a short-lived hard rock group fronted by Wilson in the late ’60s.

They performed in various small venues, recorded a handful of songs and released a 7” single in 1969 before she left the band to form Heart with sister Nancy. The Daybreaks EP is out now at all streaming platforms. 

Ann Wilson is jumping right back into live performances with the “Rite of June: An Evening with Ann Wilson” Florida tour set for June. A complete list of tour dates is available below. For more information and ticket availability, please visit www.annwilson.com.

 

RITE OF JUNE: AN EVENING WITH ANN WILSON

TOUR DATES

 

JUNE

22 – Fort Myers FL – Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hal

24 – Orlando, FL – Hard Rock Live Orlando

27 – St. Augustine, FL – St. Augustine Amphitheatre

 

Pre-order limited edition 10″ vinyl 

Willie Nelson, Family & Friends Are Back ‘On The Road Again’ With The Outlaw Music Festival Tour 2021

Willie Nelson, Family & Friends Are Back ‘On The Road Again’ With The Outlaw Music Festival Tour 2021

Big Hassle Media

Featuring Willie Nelson and family, Sturgill Simpson, The Avett Brothers, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Gov’t Mule, Lucinda Williams, Margo Price, Ida Mae, and More!

Willie Nelson, Blackbird Presents, Live Nation, and the Outlaw Music Festival Tour are thrilled to be back on the road again. Willie will once again be live and in concert with his family and friends, including Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, The Avett Brothers, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Gov’t Mule, Lucinda Williams, Ryan Bingham, Margo Price, Yola, Kathleen Edwards, Ida Mae, and more as part of the 14-stop tour starting this summer. 

Tickets for the general public go on sale Thursday, May 27, at 10 AM (local for each venue). VIP packages including great seats and exclusive festival merchandise will be available. Citi is the official presale credit card of the Outlaw Music Festival. As such, Citi cardmembers will have access to purchase presale tickets beginning Tuesday, May 25, at 10AM local until Wednesday, May 26, at 10PM local through Citi Entertainment. For complete presale details visit www.citientertainment.com.

“The Outlaw Music Festival Tour has always been about family and friends coming together for a great day of music and fun, and with the amazing group of artists joining us, this year promises to be our most special Outlaw Tour to date. I just can’t wait to get back on the road again” says Willie Nelson.

The inaugural Outlaw Music Festival made its debut in 2016 in Scranton, PA. The sold-out show was so well received that Blackbird and Nelson have developed it into one of North America’s biggest annual touring franchises. Musicians such as Robert Plant, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Eric Church, Bonnie Raitt, Luke Combs, Sheryl Crow, Sturgill Simpson, The Avett Brothers and many more have been a part of the Outlaw Tour, sharing unforgettable music memories and unique vendor villages with local food, drinks and shopping in Live Nation amphitheaters across the country. 

 

INFORMATION ON INDIVIDUAL OUTLAW MUSIC FESTIVAL TOUR DATES & LINEUPS:

 

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Austin, TX – Germania Insurance Amphitheatre 

Willie Nelson & Family

Chris Stapleton

Ryan Bingham

Yola

 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Gilford, NH – Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion

Willie Nelson & Family

Sturgill Simpson

Gov’t Mule

Margo Price

 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Philadelphia, PA – TD Pavilion at the Mann

Willie Nelson & Family

Sturgill Simpson

Gov’t Mule

Margo Price

 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Saratoga, NY – Saratoga Performing Arts Center

Willie Nelson & Family

Sturgill Simpson

Gov’t Mule

Margo Price

 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Virginia Beach, VA – Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheatre

Willie Nelson & Family

Sturgill Simpson

Gov’t Mule

Margo Price

 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Raleigh, NC – Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek

Willie Nelson & Family

Sturgill Simpson

Gov’t Mule

Margo Price

 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Charlotte, NC – PNC Music Pavilion

Willie Nelson & Family

Sturgill Simpson

Gov’t Mule

Margo Price

 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Alpharetta, GA – Ameris Bank Amphitheatre

Willie Nelson & Family

Sturgill Simpson

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats 

Kathleen Edwards

 

Friday, September 24, 2021

Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion 

Willie Nelson & Family

Sturgill Simpson

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats 

Gov’t Mule

Kathleen Edwards

 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Phoenix, AZ – Ak-Chin Pavilion

Willie Nelson & Family

The Avett Brothers

Gov’t Mule

Lucinda Williams 

Ida Mae

 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Irvine, CA – Five Point Amphitheatre 

Willie Nelson & Family

The Avett Brothers

Gov’t Mule

Lucinda Williams 

Ida Mae

 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

San Diego, CA – Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre

Willie Nelson & Family

The Avett Brothers

Ida Mae

 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre

Willie Nelson & Family

The Avett Brothers

Gov’t Mule

Lucinda Williams 

Ida Mae

 

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Wheatland, CA – Toyota, Amphitheatre

Willie Nelson & Family

The Avett Brothers

Gov’t Mule

Lucinda Williams 

Ida Mae

 

For complete Outlaw Music Festival tour details, please visit:

http://outlawmusicfest.com

#outlawmusicfest

Two Career-Spanning Collections Celebrate Pioneering Funk Band Dyke & The Blazers

Two Career-Spanning Collections Celebrate Pioneering Funk Band Dyke & The Blazers

American Blues Scene Staff

Long coveted by cratediggers and beatmakers, Dyke & The Blazers were one of the earliest funk acts to emerge in the mid-’60s soul scene, alongside artists like James Brown and The Meters

Craft Recordings announces the release of two new collections celebrating the music of pioneering funk band Dyke & The Blazers. Available June 25th on digital platforms and vinyl, the titles include the 20-track Down on Funky Broadway: Phoenix (1966–1967) and the 21-track I Got a Message: Hollywood (1968–1970). Together, they span the group’s short but impactful career with new stereo mixes of old favorites, a trove of previously unreleased material (including demos, radio spots, and unearthed songs), and freshly remastered audio by acclaimed engineer Dave Cooley. Both albums are currently available for pre-order today, while two instant grat tracks (“Funky Broadway (Part 1)” and “Let a Woman Be a Woman – Let a Man Be a Man”) can be streamed or downloaded now (listen here).

Additionally, booklets for both LPs feature rare imagery of the band and ephemera, plus new liner notes from the compilations’ producer, Alec Palao. Accompanying oral histories also provide deep insight, thanks to new and archival interviews with band members and other key players, including manager Art Barrett, and legendary radio personality Art Laboe, who released Dyke & The Blazers’ music on his Original Sounds label.

 Long coveted by cratediggers and beatmakers, Dyke & The Blazers was one of the earliest funk acts to emerge in the mid-’60s soul scene, alongside artists like James Brown and The Meters. Hailing from Phoenix, AZ, the band was known for their tight guitar riffs, grooving jazz organs, upbeat horns, and frontman Arlester DykeChristian’s coarse yet commanding vocals.

 The group was formed in 1965 when Christian and two former bandmates—guitarist Alvester PigJacobs and saxophonist J.V. Hunt—joined forces with a local trio called The Three Blazers (consisting of tenor saxophonist Bernard Williams, organ player Rich Cason, and drummer Rodney Brown). Dyke & The Blazers gained an avid local following and recorded their first single, “Funky Broadway,” in 1966. The tune—in which Christian referenced the Broadway in his native Buffalo, NY, as well as Broadway Road in Phoenix—marked the earliest-known charting single to include the word “funky” in its title. The song also became the title track to Dyke & The Blazers’ sole studio album, released in 1966.

Soon, the single made its way to Los Angeles deejay Art Laboe, who signed the group and reissued “Funky Broadway” on his label, Original Sounds. By early 1967, the song was a national hit, peaking at No.17 on the Billboard R&B chart and at No.65 on the Hot 100. That summer, soul star Wilson Pickett recorded his own version of the song, making it one of the biggest R&B hits of the year. Pickett’s rendition of “Funky Broadway” landed at No.1 on the R&B charts and crossed over to the pop chart’s Top Ten. A multitude of other artists would also cover the song, including Diana Ross with The Supremes and The Temptations, Jackie Wilson and Count Basie, and Steve Cropper.

Despite their early achievements, Dyke & The Blazers’ original lineup dissolved by the end of 1967. From then on, Christian would be the sole member of the group, with accompaniment by a variety of touring and session musicians. Under the direction of Laboe, Christian recorded his new material in Hollywood at Original Sounds’ state-of-the-art studios, where he was backed by the tight players of The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.

Christian proved his talents with charting singles like 1967’s “So Sharp” and 1968’s “Funky Walk,” but he scored his biggest hits in 1969 with “We Got More Soul” and “Let a Woman Be a Woman – Let a Man Be a Man,” both of which hit the R&B Top 10 and the pop Top 40. He also found success with the swinging and delightfully titled “Uhh” in 1970, followed by an inspired rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” that was equal parts searing and soulful.

Just as Christian’s career was rising, however, his life was tragically cut short. On March 13, 1971, the 27-year-old artist was fatally shot in Phoenix. At the time, he was prepping for a tour of the UK as well as a recording project with soul star Barry White.

But Christian left behind an indelible mark on musical history, and over the ensuing decades, Dyke & The Blazers’ influence only continued to grow. In his notes for I Got a Message, Palao argues that the group “was responsible for some of the essential building blocks for rap in the late 1980s.”

Indeed, memorable breaks from “Let a Woman Be a Woman – Let a Man Be a Man” were sampled countless times by key figures in hip-hop, including Public Enemy, 2Pac, Cypress Hill, Stetsasonic, and more recently, Tyler, the Creator. Alt-rock fans, meanwhile, will recognize the song’s opening bars in The Heavy’s 2009 hit “How You Like Me Now?” Additionally, tracks like “Funky Broadway,” “We Got More Soul,” and “Runaway People” have also been regularly sampled over the years.

In his notes to Down on Funky Broadway, Palao elaborates on the group’s enduring appeal. “The unique noise that Dyke and the players developed in the relatively isolated—musically speaking—desert environs of Phoenix, Arizona, was unaffected and real. It projected in sound the same sort of statement that their raw-voiced frontman, in his evocative description of the street and its importance to the black community, was making. Dyke’s metaphor of Broadway, and its ‘dirty, filthy’ ennui, was entirely appropriate—this was dirty, filthy music, and soulful to its core.”

He adds, “Dyke was an easy artist to relate to, because he truly was far more of the street. The street didn’t want complex productions or technical expertise, it simply demanded a sound with which it could identify. And Dyke & The Blazers surely provided that for them.”

Click here to pre-order/pre-save both titles.

Down on Funky Broadway: Phoenix (1966–1967) tracklist:

Side A

  •   Funky Broadway (Part 1) [2:41]
  •   Funky Broadway (Part 2) [2:51]
  •   So Sharp [3:09]
  •   Swamp Walk [5:39]
  •   Don’t Bug Me [2:50]
  •   Broadway Combination [3:27]
  •  

    Side B

  •   Triple Funk [3:07]
  •   Extra Funk [2:57]
  •   Uhh (full-length version) [6:05]
  •   Why Am I Treated so Funky Bad (original mix)* [5:40]
  •  

    Side C

  •   City Dump [3:23]
  •   She Knows It [3:49]
  •   Funky Broadway Time (Part 1) [7:17]
  •   Funky Broadway Time (Part 2) [4:25]
  •  

    Side D

  •   The Showmen Inc. – The Tramp (from Funky Broadway) (Part 1) [2:14]
  •   The Showmen Inc. – The Tramp (from Funky Broadway) (Part 2) [2:35]
  •   Extra Funk (alternate take)* [3:01]
  •   Call My Name* [3:45]
  •   Broadway Combination (alternate take)* [3:03]
  •   So Sharp (alternate version)* [2:52]
  •  

    * Previously unreleased

     

    I Got a Message: Hollywood (1968–1970) tracklist:

     

    Side A

  •     We Got More Soul (full-length version) [3:18]**
  •     Funky Walk (full-length version) [6:30]**
  •     The Wobble (full-length version) [3:08]**
  •     Shot Gun Slim [2:23]
  •     Bring It on Back [3:57]**
  •  

    Side B

  •     Let a Woman Be a Woman – Let a Man Be a Man [3:11]**
  •     Funky Bull Pt. 1 (full-length version) [6:48]**
  •     It’s Your Thing [2:33]
  •     My Sisters’ and My Brothers’ Day Is Comin’ [2:22]
  •     Soul Cake [3:03]**
  •     You Are My Sunshine [2:54]
  •  

    Side C

  •     Booga Jivin’ [4:33]**
  •     Black Boy [2:21]
  •     Moon[6:13]**
  •     Stuff (full-length version) [4:07]**
  •     Runaway People (full-length version) [5:18]**
  •  

    Side D

  •     WUFO Radio Spot [0:18]*
  •     Funky Bull Pt. 1 (promo edit) [2:26]
  •     Do It Together (original mix) [2:50]*
  •     Day Is Comin’ (demo) [2:44]*
  •     The Walk (Part One – East) [3:23]*
  •     I’m so All Alone (alternate take) [2:59]*
  •  

    * Previously unreleased

    ** Previously unreleased new stereo mix

     

    Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul Release New Concert Recording From NY’s Beacon Theatre

    Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul Release New Concert Recording From NY’s Beacon Theatre

    Big Hassle Media

    Highlights include special guest appearances from Peter Wolf, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Barnes, Nils Lofgren, Peter Garrett, Nick Gravenites, and more

    Professionally filmed and recorded before a sold-out crowd at New York City’s historic Beacon Theatre on November 6, 2019, the live concert extravaganza Summer Of Sorcery Live! At The Beacon Theatre expertly captures Little Steven, aka Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Stevie Van Zandt, bringing the house down with his band the Disciples of Soul as they showcase their acclaimed 2019 album, Summer Of Sorcery — a 12-track record about the first rush of summer and the electric feeling of unlimited possibilities. 

    With summer just around the corner, Van Zandt is pleased to announce the full two-and-a-half-hour concert – the triumphant hometown culmination of the Summer of Sorcery’s European and U.S. tours – will be released July 9 via Wicked Cool Records/UMe in a variety of formats including Blu-ray video as well as audio-only versions on 3CD and as a limited edition 5LP 180-gram “Psychedelic Psorcery Pswirl” color vinyl box set, which will be exclusively available via uDiscoverMusic and LittleSteven.com. The Blu-ray features the entire concert in HD video with the audio offered in both stereo and 5.1 surround sound to provide the next best possible experience to being at the rock ‘n’ soul revue. The live album, which was mixed by Bob Clearmountain and mastered by Bob Ludwig, both career-long collaborators, includes thrilling performances of every song from Summer of Sorcery alongside tracks from throughout Van Zandt’s solo career, songs he wrote for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and some souped-up covers. 

    Summer of Sorcery Live! At The Beacon Theatre is heralded by an electrifying live video of “Camouflage of Righteousness.” 

    Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul were joined throughout the Summer of Sorcery tour by an array of legendary friends and family. Summer of Sorcery Live! At The Beacon Theatre is highlighted by a surprise appearance by the one and only Peter Wolf, who lends his inimitable vocals to powerhouse versions of J Geils Band’s “Freeze Frame” and Artists United Against Apartheid’s landmark protest anthem, “Sun City.”

    Summer Of Sorcery Live! At The Beacon Theatre is rounded out with nearly an extra hour of live music featuring seven previously unreleased bonus performances recorded throughout 2017-2019, including with such superstar special guests as Australian music legends Jimmy Barnes and Peter Garrett, longtime friend and E Street Band bandmate Nils Lofgren, and the legendary Nick Gravenites, who joins Van Zandt for a spectacular rendition of the Electric Flag’s “Groovin’ Is Easy.” In addition, Peter Wolf returns for an explosive cover of The Showstoppers’ hit, “(Ain’t Nothin’ But A) Houseparty,” recorded during the Soulfire Tour but, according to Van Zandt, “too good to leave on the shelf.” The festivities come to a rousing conclusion with a star-studded version of “Sun City,” which edits together performances with Jimmy Barnes, Jake Clemons, Sam Fender, Peter Garrett, Courtney Hadwin, Garland Jeffreys, and Bruce Springsteen.

     “We were born freaks, misfits, and outcasts,” Van Zandt writes in the album’s liner notes, which also include personal comments about each performance. “We got into this business because no other would have us. While we were here we figured we might as well create a world of our own, because we didn’t fit in the one we were being offered. Being on the road with a band is the ultimate manifestation of that fantasy. Together you travel, you perform, you dispense joy, and you get to see the world while avoiding it at the same time.

    “Such was the case with the troubadour missionaries and part-time exorcists known as the Disciples of Soul as they sprinkled enlightenment to a dark world from May 27, 2017, to November 6, 2019. First, as the Soulfire was lit in the overture and finally as the Summer of Sorcery played out its magical denouement. Herein embodies the still sparkling evidence of the latter, that which began as stranger’s prayers imagined and ended as a family’s promise fulfilled. Enjoy it at as much as we did at whatever volume is required to force your neighbors to call the cops.” 

    Arranged and produced by Van Zandt, with production assistance by GRAMMY® Award-winner Geoff Sanoff (Bruce Springsteen, Stephen Colbert). Summer of Sorcery Live! At The Beacon Theatre kicks off with a very special introduction from counterculture icon Wavy Gravy and from there traverses across Little Steven’s genre-smashing body of work, from Summer of Sorcery and 2017’s acclaimed solo return, Soulfire through classic songs and fan favorites from the songwriter, guitarist and band leader’s illustrious career, including an incendiary three-song salvo celebrating his work with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (“Little Girl So Fine,” “Trapped Again,” and “Love On The Wrong Side Of Town”). Further highlights include spectacular covers of The Youngbloods’ “On Sir Francis Drake,” The Dovells’ “Bristol Stomp,” The Animals’ “Club-A-Go-Go,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Tucson Train.”

     Van Zandt recently announced the publication of his first-ever memoir, Unrequited Infatuations, due September 28 from Hachette Books; pre-orders are available now HERE. An epic tale of self-discovery, Unrequited Infatuations chronicles the twists and turns of Van Zandt’s always surprising life, from a bedroom in suburban New Jersey in the early ‘60s to the world’s largest stages in not only entertainment but activism as well. More than just the testimony of a globe-trotting nomad, more than the story of a groundbreaking activist, more than the odyssey of a spiritual seeker, and more than a master class in rock ‘n’ roll (not to mention a dozen other crafts), Van Zandt’s extraordinary odyssey shows how rock and soul has the power to change the world.

    2021 has already seen the release of another live collection, Macca To Mecca!, a spectacular tribute to the Beatles available now via Wicked Cool/UMe on CD/DVD. The 14-track album/concert film – which includes a riveting performance of “I Saw Her Standing There,” recorded at London’s famed Roundhouse and featuring a special appearance by Paul McCartney – captures Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul’s extraordinary surprise set at Liverpool’s legendary Cavern Club during the band’s sold-out 2017 European tour. The intimate lunchtime gig was a salute to the kind of shows the Beatles used to play in their early days when they would perform for local secretaries, clerks, and shopkeepers during their half-hour lunch break. Van Zandt decided to bring that unique idea back 50 plus years later for a rollicking, jam-packed daytime set filled that honored the band with rocking renditions of “Magical Mystery Tour,” “Good Morning, Good Morning,” “Got To Get You Into My Life,” and “All You Need Is Love,” alongside iconic songs famously performed by the nascent Fab Four, including “Boys” (originally by The Shirelles), “Slow Down” (by Larry Williams) and “Soldier Of Love” (first recorded by Arthur Alexander).

     

    Pre-order Summer of Sorcery

     

    CONNECT WITH LITTLE STEVEN:

    Official | Facebook | TwitterYouTube

    ‘Ten Years To Home: Ken Stringfellow Imagines Puleo’ Set For Release June 18th

    ‘Ten Years To Home: Ken Stringfellow Imagines Puleo’ Set For Release June 18th

    Mixtape Media

    Five original songs written in collaboration by lyricist Joe Puleo and musician Ken Stringfellow

    Lyricist, track and field coach and non-fiction author Joe Puleo has joined forces with singer, multi-instrumentalist and producer Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, Big Star, R.E.M) for a five-song EP, Ten Years To Home: Ken Stringfellow Imagines Puleo to be released June 18th. The collaboration between the two songwriters began during quarantine — they digitally sent music back and forth as they created the smart, melodic, pop songs that would become the EP.  The Posies drummer Frankie Siragusa sent his contributions from his studio in LA, adding percussion to four of the songs. 

    Joe Puleo has been a writer all of his life. While Ten Years To Home is his first sonic release, he’s been working on crafting songs with local Philadelphia musician, Eli Wenger (Los Halos) for the past seven years for their band’s (Bannister Effect) debut release this September. However, none of the songs have come together as quickly and easily as the material he’s written with Ken Stringfellow. Inspired by track and field national champion Gabriele Gruenwald and her battle with and ultimate passing from cancer in 2019, Joe was moved to write about her courageous memory.

    “Our first and initially the only song I planned to work together with Ken on was the song I wrote in honor of Gabriele Gruenwald, ‘Not Today,” says Joe. I had read a story about her death that included the anecdote regarding when the doctor told her husband that Gabriele’s vitals were poor and she was probably going to die soon, he relayed the message to her. She responded, ‘Not today.’ The voiceover before the song is a quote from Gabriele, ‘I hope people see that you can still make something beautiful and powerful out of a bad situation.”

     “With ‘Not Today’ I just heard the guitar, like it is now, as soon as I opened the text file from Joe for the first time,” remembers Ken. “Same key, same tempo. Kind of a Dylan vibe which was a great way to get those unorthodox and inconsistently sized lines to flow. I swear as soon as I opened Joe’s mail with the lyrics on the day I was scheduled to work on that song for the first time, the music was there… as fast as I could read his words for the first time I heard the melodies, chords… everything. A bolt from the blue. It was all I could do to find the chords on the guitar as fast I could hear them. But it’s like I knew the songs already.”

     “After hearing how well Ken handled ‘Not Today’ (I cried the first time I heard the final chorus), I asked him if he would collaborate on some more songs, Joe recalls. “Maybe we could do an EP using the same working template we did for ‘Not Today’? Ken asked, “more songs like we just did, producing them from the ground up?” My answer was, “Yes. You can create them anywhere the lyrics lead you.”  His reply, “incredible.” Ken was on board and the EP, Ten Years To Home, became a reality.  I sent him six lyrics to review.  He selected four and he had carte blanche to change the song’s lyrics and only made a few small edits.”

     And thus, an official collaboration between the two writers was born. “There’s a lot of freedom in just letting a lyric be what it is,” muses Ken. “I edit myself quite a bit, and there are so many turns and phrases here in Joe’s lyrics I probably would not have been brave enough — especially some of the busier lines — to keep if it were me as the author. The speed with which everything came together is a great example of how to not overthink. And I love the results.”

     The EP opens with the jangle pop “Overcoming Gravity.” “I wrote this song in response to a writing challenge with our house painter/friend/musician,” says Joe.  “I thought it would be cool to write an EP called the House Painting Chronicles, so we agreed to finish a song each by the time he finished painting the kitchen.  Ultimately, I completed the song (he didn’t.)  At the time the song was finished, I wasn’t sure what it was about or where the idea came from.  Ultimately, it’s about owning your own shit and maturing.  I still have little understanding of why I wrote the lyrics at the time I did.”

     “To actually overcome gravity you need velocity, so it seemed like an up-tempo song, and it’s easier for me to write up-tempo songs on the guitar rather than piano,” enthuses Ken.

     Piano-driven “The Strongest Man in Town,” “came after ruminating on the future of the relationship I was in at the time (and still am),” Joe recollected. “I met my current fiancée and we started dating.  She was recently separated and struggling through a divorce.  I respected her deeply and really cared for her and her children’s well-being once I got to know her.  She was reticent to jump into a relationship with someone who wasn’t necessarily her type.  Her friends asked, ‘how did your type work out the first time?’  This song is my rebuttal to her ‘type-casting.’  By the way, I have lots of tattoos, just not barbed-wire ones.”

    “Measured in Threes’ read like a ballad, for which piano is well suited; I heard the melody for the first line in my head before I even started playing… so it was a matter of trying to keep my fingers up with my head,” enthuses Ken.

    “It’s about my divorce and choosing my kids (three) over my marriage, says Joe. “Definitely the correct choice, my kids’ love saved me from slipping into depression. I think Ken got it perfect with the piano and the soaring chorus.”

    “My Odyssey’ could be the title track and references the ten-year trek Odysseus took home from war,” recalls Joe.  “It’s been ten years since the end of my marriage.  What I realized is that the Odyssey is actually a story about father and son, so I kept that in the back of my mind until I was ready to write the song.  I used some direct bits from Homer’s Odyssey.”

    The EP closes with the first track written and recorded for the project, “Not Today,” Puleo’s moving tribute to Gabriele Gruenwald.

    “To create the music,” Ken says, “I sent basic demos to Frankie, and when the drums were finished, I could build on top of that. Just making things as full as possible. It has a kind of band/classic feel, once I heard that Dylan thing for ‘Not Today’ I was kind of set in an organic, as opposed to electronic, world. And I think the traditional instruments give everything a warmth that suits the emotional intimacy of the lyrics quite well.”

    “I think Joe’s freshness and openness made it a very easy project to work on. It was brave of him to put these deeply personal words in the hands of essentially a stranger, so I will say I felt that responsibility, and raised the bar as high as possible for the results. I think the lyrics have an unorthodoxy about them that really works — it makes them a bit more mysterious than the average lyric I’ve been sent. And it was just that moment – I truly believe the ‘high anxiety’ of 2020 when I made this music was definitely feeding the intensity level of what came out.”

    “Once Ken agreed to do an EP, and selected the songs that resonated with him, the direction of the project was obvious to me,” recalls Joe.  “Like Odysseus took ten years to return to home from the Trojan war, it’s been ten years since I was divorced.  A wise friend told me it would take ten years to fully regain my equilibrium.  I would agree.  I’m getting remarried a week after the EP is released (the first day of the US Olympic Track and Field Trials.)  Also, like Gabriele Gruenwald, my son, Gabriel, is nick-named Gabe.  This project seems to be destined.”

    Joe Puleo is an athlete. He grew up wrestling, running, swimming, cycling, and competing in triathlons. After his competition career, he opened the Haddonfield Running Company, a running specialty store in Haddonfield, NJ and later, the Philadelphia Running Co., which offers coaching services to clients ranging from the United States Marine Corps’ All-Marine Running Team to the El Salvadoran national record-holder in the marathon. He is the co-author of Running Anatomy books (Human Kinetics 2010 and 2018) and is currently working on a book of fiction. He resides in Spring City, PA following forty years in Phoenixville, PA – both suburbs of Philadelphia.

    A fixture on the music landscape, indie and otherwise, since the debut of his band The Posies in 1988, Ken Stringfellow has over a quarter century of experience as a performer, composer, producer, arranger, programmer and more. In addition to his 8 albums with the Posies and four solo albums, Ken spent a decade touring and recording with R.E.M.; he was also involved in the rebirth of Memphis cult band Big Star, playing with Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens from the band’s first reunion shows in 1993 until Chilton’s death in 2010. Ken has played onstage or in studio with such artists as Neil Young, Neuman, the Afghan Whigs, Mercury Rev, Thom Yorke, John Paul Jones, Patti Smith, Robyn Hitchcock, Ringo Starr, Damien Jurado, Nada Surf, Brendan Benson, Mudhoney, the Long Winters…a very long list indeed. In fact, Ken has appeared on over 300 albums (totaling 9 million sales) and performed in 95 countries.  He currently splits time between France and Seattle.

    “My number one goal is to help the Brave Like Gabe foundation and to honor Gabriele Gruenwald’s memory, says Joe.  “She embodied what’s so great about track and field and the competitive spirit.  The project was done with integrity.” 

     

    Connect with Puleo Music and Ken Stringfellow:

    Puleo Official | Puleo Facebook | Ken Stringfellow Official | Ken Stringfellow | Ken Stringfellow Twitter

     

    New Track & Video From Quinn Sullivan – ‘In a World Without You’

    New Track & Video From Quinn Sullivan – ‘In a World Without You’

    American Blues Scene Staff

    “’In a World without You’ is one of my favorite songs off of the new album,” Sullivan says. “We shot it (the video) at Building Records, a recording studio in Marlboro, New York. I had an absolute blast making it.”

    Quinn Sullivan is revealing a new side of his musical identity on “In A World Without You.” Now 22 years old, the singer, songwriter, and guitarist has already toured the world, collaborated with rock’s biggest legends, and developed genuinely jaw-dropping skills as a guitar player. But now, 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. “In A World Without You” will be featured on Sullivan’s upcoming full-length album, Wide Awake, out June 4th via Mascot Label Group.

    “’In a World without You’ is one of my favorite songs off of the new album,” Sullivan says. “We shot it (the video) at Building Records, a recording studio in Marlboro, New York. I had an absolute blast making it. I had the opportunity to bring in some friends of mine to do this with me, which I think really added to the concept. Playing drums is Lee Falco, playing keyboards is Will Bryant, and playing bass is Brandon Morrison.”

    Recorded in Los Angeles with producer/collaborator Oliver Leiber, Wide Awake 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.

    As he moves into this new chapter, Sullivan’s constant credo has been growth and learning. “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.”

     

    Quinn Sullivan
    Pre-Order Wide Awake

     

    *Feature image courtesy of Prospect PR

    Robben Ford to Release New Album August 27th

    Robben Ford to Release New Album August 27th

    American Blues Scene Staff

    ‘Pure’ is Robben Ford’s first wholly instrumental studio album since 1997’s ‘Tiger Walk.’

    Robben Ford is pleased to announce the upcoming release of Pure on August 27, 2021 via earMUSIC (distributed by BFD / The Orchard in North America.) This will be the first wholly instrumental studio album since 1997’s Tiger Walk.

    With nine unique tracks, Pure features the guitar virtuoso’s tremendous music vocabulary of jazz, blues and rock. Pure seamlessly blends a soulful west coast vibe with bluesy hard rock stylings. Some of the exceptional guest musicians featured are Nate Smith, Toss Panos, and Shannon Forest.

    About the album, Robben says “Pure is unlike any recording I’ve ever done. I’ve always been a traditionalist in the way I’ve worked in the studio, bring a great band into a great room with a great engineer, track songs for three to five days, do any overdubbing necessary, then, mix and master. I started Pure in that same way. But, somehow the influence of other musicians on the music, which is inevitable, always felt a little off. It became clear to me that I had to shape this new music myself from the ground up. My engineer and co-producer, Casey Wasner, proved invaluable in making that happen and most of the music you’ll hear in this recording was accomplished by the two of us working together in his studio, Purple House, getting the right shape and feel to the music, then adding bass and drums after the fact. Having worked in this way, I feel that Pure is perhaps the most complete representation of my personal musical vision. Previous recordings having been products of a period of development that lead to the music presented here. It’s been very satisfying to have shaped my own compositions so thoroughly and to deliver something so completely my own.”

    The five-time Grammy nominee has played with artists as diverse as Joni Mitchell, Jimmy Witherspoon, Miles Davis, George Harrison, Phil Lesh, Bonnie Raitt, Michael McDonald, Bob Dylan, John Mayall, Greg Allman, John Scofield, Susan Tedeschi, Keb Mo, Larry Carlton, Davis Staples, Brad Paisley, and many others.

    Ford’s last album, Purple House (2018), featured a remarkable collection of songs that utilized his enlightened approach to composition and production. Exploring the range of the studio with a fresh perspective, he weaves in and out of surprising musical moments, ear-wormy hooks, and thoughtful lyrical themes. His sophisticated approach to the blues is evident throughout, yet the record is far more diverse regarding song structure and style.

    In 2015, Ford released Into The Sun, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard Blues Chart and was also nominated for a Grammy in the Contemporary Blues category. It featured guests on that release were Warren Haynes, Keb’Mo, Robert Randolph, ZZ Ward, Sonny Landreth and Tyler Bryant.

    An important and essential component of Robben’s career is his commitment to teaching and passing on what he’s learned over the past 40 years to current and future musicians. His instructional videos and clinics over this time have culminated in a collaboration with TrueFire and the birth of the Robben Ford Guitar Dojo. The wealth of his expertise and creativity is generously presented in these state-of-the-art productions, and will be, for years to come.

    Robben Ford
    Pre-Order Pure

    Pre-Order Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Reimagined Reissue ‘Angel Dream (Songs and Music from the Motion Picture ‘She’s The One’)

    Pre-Order Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Reimagined Reissue ‘Angel Dream (Songs and Music from the Motion Picture ‘She’s The One’)

    Lauren Leadingham

    Designed as a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers album rather than a film soundtrack, ‘Angel Dream’ will include four previously unreleased tracks

    To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ album Songs and Music from the Motion Picture ‘She’s The One,’ the Petty family and Warner Records are announcing a remixed, remastered, and reimagined version of the album titled Angel Dream (Songs and Music from the Motion Picture ‘She’s The One’).

    “It seemed like we approached the whole thing with a very spontaneous mood. I like things that way, I don’t—I don’t like to over-plan too much. It was terrific fun, we had a great time doing it,” Tom said during the making of the original album.

    The song selection on the reissued album will include four previously unreleased tracks: “One of Life’s Little Mysteries” (written by Tom), “Thirteen Days” (JJ Cale cover), “105 Degrees” (another Tom original), and “French Disconnection” (an instrumental in the same vein as the instrumentals on the original album). An extended version of “Supernatural Radio”will also be featured.

    The reissue will be released on limited-edition cobalt blue vinyl for Record Store Day June 12 with the CD, with the digital and black vinyl following on July 2.

     

    Pre-order Angel Dream

    Smithsonian Folkways Announces New Album From Bahamian Guitar Legend Joseph Spence

    Smithsonian Folkways Announces New Album From Bahamian Guitar Legend Joseph Spence

    American Blues Scene Staff

    A brilliant, virtuoso guitarist who influenced everyone from Richard Thompson to The Grateful Dead, Ry Cooder, and Taj Mahal, Joseph Spence was infused with the spirit of improvisation

    Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is proud to release new, never-before-heard recordings from the great Bahamian guitar legend and otherworldly talent Joseph Spence (1910-1984) coming July 16, 2021.

    Recorded by renowned recording engineer, documentarian, and producer Peter Siegel in 1965 in New York City and the Bahamas, Encore: Unheard Recordings of Bahamian Guitar and Singing offers a look at a grand-master at work, at the height of his powers and recorded with expert equipment. The album also includes two entirely new songs that Spence had never recorded before and new settings of Spence classics!

    A brilliant, virtuoso guitarist who influenced everyone from Richard Thompson to The Grateful Dead, Ry Cooder, and Taj Mahal, Joseph Spence was infused with the spirit of improvisation. As he sang, lyrics tumbled over exclamations, swaying between guttural interjections and fast-rhyming patter. Though he came up among the fishermen of the Bahamas, singing briny vocal harmonies with them late into the night, his music was wholly his own, and so original that it has inspired multiple generations ever since he was first discovered in the late 1950s. And yet despite the dazzling craft in his music, Spence was an artist who also loved to play. “There’s a playfulness to his music, that’s who he was!” Siegel explains. “Having met him and known him, he was like that. He’d get fascinated by something and have a unique thing to say about it.”

    Spence’s roving curiosity is on fine display in this album, as he moves between the hymns he grew up with on the islands, the fishermen’s songs he came to love on the sea, and songs from further afield, like the African-influenced “The Crow” or the country gospel variant of “O Death.” These songs are anchored by Spence’s inimitable guitar work, grounded, as Siegel explains, not in the guitar work of country blues artists like Mississippi John Hurt, but in the rare vocal traditions of the Bahamas. “You have to listen to the original Bahamian rhyming groups that Spence was part of, but you’ll start to hear how he’s taken the three parts and made them part of his playing.” Bahamian rhyming groups were a particularly beautiful tradition of call-and-response vocal harmonies from the island fishermen, characterized by “improvised fast-paced, syncopated verses.” “That’s one of the reasons he has his own sound.” Siegel says. “Instead of reproducing an alternating bass pattern, he’s reproducing what a bass singer would have done in a rhyming group. It’s more like bass runs.”

    Spence’s guitar work was a revelation in the 1960s, following on the heels of his recordings for Folkways and other record labels. He directly influenced key guitarists in the 1960s like Richard Thompson, John Renbourn, Taj Mahal, and Martin Carthy, and his songs were covered by The Grateful Dead, The Incredible String Band, and more at the time. Even today, his influence is as strong as ever following a feature in The New Yorker in 2018 that called Spence’s 1958 recordings for Folkways a “miraculous field recording.” Experimental roots guitarist Nathan Salsburg agrees, saying “The music of Joseph Spence inspires astonishment and delight in equal measure: ‘How did he do it? And thank God he did.”

    Years before he’d go on to found the Explorer Series for Nonesuch Records, and before his recording of Japanese shakuhachi was included on the Voyager spacecraft, Peter Siegel was a teenager in New York City who learned the craft of recording at local Friends of Old Time Music concerts. Siegel was the recording engineer for these legendary concerts which introduced hugely seminal artists to the East Coast’s folk revival crowds. Siegel’s recordings of Doc Watson in 1962, the first time anyone outside of Appalachia had heard him, were recently released by Smithsonian Folkways.

    In 1965, Joseph Spence was presented, along with other Bahamian artists, in New York City and Siegel was there to record it on his trusty Nagra tape recorder. A few days before, he’d taken Spence around the city, up to the top of the Empire State Building, and had recorded Spence in Siegel’s parent’s Manhattan apartment. Following the concert, Siegel and fellow enthusiast Jody Stecher found themselves so inspired by Bahamian music that they set out for the Bahamas for a whirlwind tour of field recordings that also recorded Spence in Nassau in his hand-built home. The recordings on Encore come from these three meetings between Siegel and Spence, and feature music from Spence that has never been heard before.

    In addition to classic songs of Spence like “Out on the Rolling Sea,” “Bimini Gal,” and “Give Me That Old-Time Religion,” the recordings also feature new music from Spence like the haunting hymn “Death and the Woman” (a variant of “O Death”) or “Won’t That Be A Happy Time,” a shape note song that Spence had never recorded solo and a hymn that was played at his own funeral in Nassau in 1984. One of the most powerful songs on the album, “Run Come See Jerusalem,” recounts the harrowing story of the sinking of the Pretoria in 1929 in the Bahamas. Though written by Bahamian singer John Roberts, Spence was actually there during the sinking of the ship, pulling bodies from the water. The haunting memory still fresh in his mind even all those years later, his first and only recording of this Bahamian ballad, made famous in the 60s by Pete Seeger and The Weavers and Odetta, brings shivers to the spine.

    A resoundingly brilliant guitarist and a clever interpreter of tradition, Joseph Spence has cast a long shadow over the 20th century folk revival, with his sparkling wit and creativity shining strong even today. He was one of the last of the Bahamian rhymers, heir to a working class tradition, but his music rang across the world long after his death in the 1980s. Today we have a chance to look back at him at the height of his musical craft, a grand-master full of curiosity and life.

    Pre-Order Encore: Unheard Recordings of Bahamian Guitar and Singing

    My Morning Jacket Unveil First U.S. Headline Tour in Five Years

    My Morning Jacket Unveil First U.S. Headline Tour in Five Years

    American Blues Scene Staff

    Wide-ranging run begins August 27 in Charlotte, NC

    My Morning Jacket have unveiled plans for their first US headline tour in five years. The dates begin August 27 at Charlotte, NC’s Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre, and then travel through a three-night-stand at Chicago, IL’s Auditorium Theater on November 4, 5, and 6. Additional highlights include multi-night-stands at Queens, NY’s Forest Hills Stadium (September 10-11) and Seattle, WA’s Paramount Theater (October 1-2). Special guests throughout the tour will include Flock Of Dimes (August 27), Brittany Howard (September 3-11), Durand Jones & The Indications (September 23-October 3), and Bedouine (October 29-November 6).

    Fan presales and VIP presales begin tomorrow, May 19 at 10:00 AM (local) and continue through Thursday, May 20 at 10:00 PM (local). All remaining tickets will be released to the general public on Friday, May 21 at 10:00 AM (local) except for Chicago shows, which go on sale on Friday, May 21 at 12:00 PM (local). For complete details and ticket availability, please see www.mymorningjacket.com/events.

    My Morning Jacket will present a wide-ranging live set encompassing new music alongside fan favorites and classic greatest hits from their epic catalog. In addition to the just-announced headline dates, the band will also make a number of festival appearances, including Lexington, KY’s Railbird Festival (August 28), Manchester, TN’s Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival (September 4), Dana Point, CA’s Ohana Festival (September 24), and Live Oak, FL’s Suwannee Hulaween (October 30).

    In partnership with PLUS1, $1/ticket will go to support non-profits working for environmental justice, racial equity, and securing access to mental health care for all. 

    My Morning Jacket has released eight studio albums, with 2008’s Evil Urges, 2011’s Circuital, and 2015’s The Waterfall — each receiving GRAMMY® Award nominations for “Best Alternative Album.” In summer 2020, the band surprise-released The Waterfall II, and the album was met by worldwide critical acclaim. My Morning Jacket made band history at radio with The Waterfall II single “Feel You,” reaching #1 on the Billboard, Mediabase, and Triple-A charts.

    My Morning Jacket: Jim James (vocals, guitar), Tom Blankenship (bass), Patrick Hallahan (drums), Carl Broemel (guitar), and Bo Koster (keyboards).

     

    MY MORNING JACKET US TOUR 2021

     

    AUGUST

    27 – Charlotte, NC – Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre ”

    28 – Lexington, KY – Railbird Festival

     

    SEPTEMBER

    3 – Alpharetta, GA – Ameris Bank Amphitheatre ^

    4 – Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival

    7 – Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion ^

    8 – Philadelphia, PA – The Mann – TD Pavillion ^

    10 – Queens, NY – Forest Hills Stadium ^

    11 – Queens, NY – Forest Hills Stadium ^

    23 – Santa Barbara, CA – Santa Barbara Bowl *

    24 – Dana Point, CA – Ohana Festival 

    25 – Berkeley, CA – Greek Theatre at UC Berkeley *

    28 – Troutdale, OR – McMenamins Edgefield Concerts *

    29 – Spokane, WA – Riverfront Park Pavilion *

     

    OCTOBER

    1 – Seattle, WA – Paramount Theatre *

    2– Seattle, WA – Paramount Theatre *

    3 – Bend, OR – Les Schwab Amphitheater *

    29 – Birmingham, AL – Alabama Theatre #

    30 – Live Oak, FL – Suwannee Hulaween

    31 – New Orleans, LA – Orpheum Theater #

     

    NOVEMBER

    2 – St. Louis, MO – Stifel Theater #

    4 – Chicago, IL – Auditorium Theatre #

    5 – Chicago, IL – Auditorium Theatre #

    6 – Chicago, IL – Auditorium Theatre #

     

    ^ And Brittany Howard

    * Special Guests Durand Jones & The Indications

    # Special Guest Bedouine 

    “ Special Guest Flock of Dimes

    Connect with My Morning Jacket:
    Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

     

    Jason Lee McKinney Band Release ‘Intentions and Interpretations’

    Jason Lee McKinney Band Release ‘Intentions and Interpretations’

    American Blues Scene Staff

    “I had always wanted to do an album of covers and when 2020 sort of derailed life it seemed like a good time to get creative in a new way.  The tracks for this record reflect songs I have always loved regardless of how they ‘fit’ with what we do as a band.” – Jason McKinney

    Award-winning songwriter. College music professor. Road warrior. One of the most active front men in modern-day roots music, Jason Lee McKinney has spent the past decade in an absolute whirl of activity, earning an international following along the way. A rock & roll intellectual who holds a Doctorate, an MBA, and a BA in Management, McKinney’s sharp songwriting has earned his group a Top 10 radio hit in Texas (2016’s “Lisha’s Leaving”), an ever-growing number of national and international tours, and multiple industry awards- including a Josie Music Award for Male R&B Vocalist of the Year in 2019 and an Independent Country Music Association award for Artist of the Year in 2014.

    2020 pushed Jason’s unflagging trio into uncharted waters.  Sidelined by the pandemic the three members found themselves separated by hundreds of miles, navigating uncertainties on all fronts.  But as creative forces are prone to do, they forged ahead.  According to Jason, “I had always wanted to do an album of covers and when 2020 sort of derailed life it seemed like a good time to get creative in a new way.  The tracks for this record reflect songs I have always loved regardless of how they “fit” with what we do as a band. We took each song in its original form and imagined if an artist that hovers around the same lexicon of styles as us covered that song.  For example, we thought what would it sound like if P-Funk covered Bob Dylan, or what if Earth Wind and Fire covered Sister Hazel.  In that same vein we took these songs and did not just ‘cover’ them in the traditional sense note for note, but rather tried to walk around the songs and see them from another angle.  We are aiming for this album to sound like JLMB covering another artist’s cover of the original hit.”

    Intentions And Interpretations strikes true on that aim- by bringing together a diverse group of songs and melding with contributions from longtime bandmates Barry Strauser and Billy Wright.  Together the seasoned trio showcases their musical dexterity on offerings from artists such as Prince, The Cure, Bob Dylan, Sly & The Family Stone, The Staples Singers and others.

    “That is something that really made this project fun”, recalls McKinney.  “Taking songs we love, combining them with unique perspectives and adding our own musical insight, thus making them ours.  The pandemic forced us to record remotely- one part and one instrument at a time. It was a fresh challenge that made us work in a way we never have before.  The most interesting thing about this project was given the complexity of what we were trying to pull off sound wise, ideas flowed really easily and quickly.  It came together with a synergy that I did not expect despite everyone being hundreds of miles apart.”

    Intentions And Interpretations is available everywhere courtesy of Bonfire Music Group.

    Jason Lee McKinney Band

    *Feature image courtesy of the artist

    Newport Folk Tickets On Sale Now

    Newport Folk Tickets On Sale Now

    Grandstand Media

    All available tickets are on sale via eventbrite now!

    This summer, Newport will stage a once-in-a-lifetime event for its audience – bringing intimate and up-close experiences for fans and artists alike. As always, Newport Folk will bring surprise guests and never before seen collaborations all set to the backdrop of Narragansett Bay. Newport Folk may not look the same, but it will feel the same. This year’s event will have a 50% reduction in capacity and take place across two main stages, and thus it will be configured as two 3-Day events (instead of one) taking place July 23-25 and July 26-28. We will only be offering 3-Day passes for each event at $230 plus fees. Children are welcome, but we will not be selling children tickets this year. Children 2 and under are free. Tickets are for sale via eventbrite now.

    At the moment, it’s too early to publish our safety protocols in full detail. The conditions of the pandemic are evolving daily and trending in a positive direction. The safety of our fans, artists, staff, vendors and volunteers remains our top priority. We will communicate and publish detailed protocols as the event date gets closer so you know exactly what to expect. For now, please note that you will most likely be subject to certain health protocols required at the time of the event that include proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, temperature checks, social distancing and mask-wearing.

    The impact of last year’s festival cancellations has been felt deeply throughout the community as Newport Festivals Foundation relies on the revenue it makes each year at the festivals in order to carry out its work. Thanks to the support of the Newport Folk and Jazz fans and donors, NFF has been able to continue to support music programs in our own backyard of Newport, Rhode Island and all across America. Since 2018, the Artist Gives initiative has provided over 100 grants to music education programs in over 30 states, including instruments for public schools, funding for music instruction workshops for Veterans, Girls Rock Summer camps, after school music lessons for children with learning disabilities, and more.

    Folk On! Tickets
    In addition to its year round work and in response to the pandemic, the foundation established the Newport Festivals Musician Relief Fund (MRF) to provide financial relief to musicians in our Folk & Jazz communities experiencing a loss of income as a result of COVID-19. Resources from NFF and donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations have allowed the MRF to help over 450 musicians since April 1, 2020. To learn more about NFF’s programs and work, visit newportfestivals.org.

    Tedeschi Trucks Band To Release ‘Layla Revisited (Live At LOCKN’)’

    Tedeschi Trucks Band To Release ‘Layla Revisited (Live At LOCKN’)’

    American Blues Scene Staff

    “By the time that I started playing guitar, the sound of Duane Allman’s slide was almost an obsession, His playing on ‘Layla’ is still one of the high-water marks for me. The spirit, the joy, the recklessness, and the inevitability of it. My dad would play that record for me and my brother to fall asleep to and further sear it into my DNA.” – Derek Trucks

    On July 16, Fantasy Records will release Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Layla Revisited (Live At LOCKN’), a one-off live recording of the seminal Derek & The Dominos album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, performed in its entirety with special guest Trey Anastasio. Recorded on August 24, 2019 at the LOCKN’ Festival in Arrington, VA, Layla Revisited captures Tedeschi Trucks Band at their incendiary best, with Anastasio proving the perfect foil to the transcendent musical union of guitarist Derek Trucks and guitarist/vocalist Susan Tedeschi, and frequent TTB collaborator Doyle Bramhall II, further supporting a live experience that, in the words of Uproxx’s Steven Hyden, provides “life-affirming shelter from the soul-destroying storm.”

    The performance of Layla came as a complete surprise to fans lucky enough to be in attendance at LOCKN’ that evening. Initially billed only as “Tedeschi Trucks Band featuring Trey Anastasio,” the artists made no mention of the set of music they diligently rehearsed and planned ahead of time. But the links between the band and the album are deeply woven into the fabric of their existence. Propelled by two of the twentieth century’s greatest guitarists, Eric Clapton and Duane Allman, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs was serendipitously released on November 9, 1970, the very day of Susan Tedeschi’s birth. Later, Chris and Debbie Trucks were such fans of the album that they were inspired to name their firstborn son Derek. Decades later, Trucks would enjoy a fifteen-year tenure as a member of The Allman Brothers Band, and tour extensively with Clapton. Such is the depth of connection between the music and the performers that this album feels almost preordained.

    “By the time that I started playing guitar, the sound of Duane Allman’s slide was almost an obsession,” says Derek Trucks about Layla. “His playing on Layla is still one of the high-water marks for me. The spirit, the joy, the recklessness, and the inevitability of it. My dad would play that record for me and my brother to fall asleep to and further sear it into my DNA.”

    These cosmic coincidences all align on Layla Revisited as Tedeschi Trucks Band give fans an invigorated, inventive take on beloved classics from “I Looked Away” and “Bell Bottom Blues,” to the album’s iconic title track. For the live festival concert the band ended with “Layla” and decided to play the original version of the album closer over the PA system as walk-out music. To complete this release Layla Revisited concludes with a history-making moment of its own, as Derek and Susan deliver a studio version of “Thorn Tree In The Garden,” for the first time ever as a duo with no additional accompaniment.

    Inspired by the creative chemistry of The Fireside Sessions, the intimate at-home performance series on nugs.net, Tedeschi Trucks are gearing up to hit the road for some limited capacity shows as part of their Fireside LIVE tour. The shows will be the first fully live public performances for the ensemble since February 2020, and come on the heels of the recent postponement of their annual summer Wheels of Soul Tour to next year (2022). As circumstances currently prevent the 12-piece ensemble from touring safely, the group returns in a new form, billed as Tedeschi Trucks as a nod to their band members back at home. With 4-8 band members slated to appear at socially-distant, limited-capacity venues, these special shows are long-awaited by band and fans alike. Venues will include a mix of small or reduced-capacity outdoor amphitheaters, drive-ins, and pod set-ups, all of which are COVID-19 compliant and will take precautions to ensure the safety of fans, staff, band and crew.

    Tedeschi Trucks Band
    Pre-Order Layla Revisited

    *Feature image credit Stuart Levine

    Steve Marriner Makes the Move to Solo Artist With New Album ‘Hope Dies Last’

    Steve Marriner Makes the Move to Solo Artist With New Album ‘Hope Dies Last’

    Mark Pucci

    “Stylistically, I’m exploring some territory closer to Americana that I haven’t visited yet. There’s lots of rocking on this release, but there are some pretty tender moments as well; it felt good to get low.” – Steve Marriner

    Ottawa, ON-based bluesman Steve Marriner is ushering a decidedly more roots-rock Americana sound to the forefront with the release of his new solo album, Hope Dies Last, on July 2nd.

    Crafted through COVID — and inspired by years on the road, and back — the 10-track full-length is available this July 2 via Stony Plain Records. It explores not only an evolving sound for the ever-busy artist, but an ever-expanding skill set as well.

    “I like to be on the move,” Marriner shares, who took on engineering the project. “To me, standing still feels the same as walking backwards; not only is it a survival mechanism, but it truly is my passion to have my hands in so many different projects. There’s just so much to learn, and it’s that learning that sustains me as an artist.

    “I had decided a couple of weeks into the pandemic that I would use my new-found downtime to learn how to engineer and mix recordings,” he continues. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to know how to do; I’d been producing records and doing session work for a bunch of artists, and I’ve sat beside some incredible engineers in my career… Turns out, I absorbed a ton of what I was witnessing.”

    A multi-award winning and esteemed solo artist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer in his own right, Hope Dies Last is Marriner’s second solo release; Going Up was released in 2007.

    In addition, he has performed extensively with the likes of Colin James, Paul Reddick, Samantha Martin, Delta Sugar, Lee Holmes, and more, is one-half of Manx Marriner Mainline with Harry Manx, and one-third of the JUNO and Maple Blues Award-winning trio MonkeyJunk.

    Hope Dies Last is different from a MonkeyJunk record in a multitude of ways,” Marriner reveals. “On MonkeyJunk records, the sounds are created largely by Matt Sobb, Tony D., and myself. On Hope Dies Last, there are 15 other musicians who have lent their extraordinary talents to the creation of this project.

    “Throughout the summer, Jimmy Bowskill and I did a ton of sonic experimenting; tinkering; listening,” he continues, noting the multi-awarded blues-rocker, lead guitarist for The Sheepdogs, and recording engineer at Ganaraska Recording Company. “Stylistically, I’m exploring some territory closer to Americana that I haven’t visited yet.

    “There’s lots of rocking on this release, but there are some pretty tender moments as well; it felt good to get low.”

    Steve Marriner Facebook
    Pre-Order Hope Dies Last

    *Feature image credit: Scott Doubt

    Christone “Kingfish” Ingram Releases New Single ‘662’

    Christone “Kingfish” Ingram Releases New Single ‘662’

    Alligator Records

    “‘662’ is an ode to my roots, a nod to the area where I was born and raised. This is a track that encompasses how a small corner of the earth influenced my view of life and music.” – Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

    On May 11, Alligator Records recording artist Christone “Kingfish” Ingram released his new digital single, “662.” The hard-driving original song finds Ingram celebrating his Clarksdale, Mississippi roots. The song, co-written by Ingram and producer Tom Hambridge, is available on all major streaming and download platforms. The number 662 references Ingram’s hometown telephone area code, and is also the title of his forthcoming album, set for July 2021 release.

    According to the 22-year-old guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, “‘662’ is an ode to my roots, a nod to the area where I was born and raised. This is a track that encompasses how a small corner of the earth influenced my view of life and music. This song also points to the growth I have had since my debut album. As much as I have been fortunate to get ‘Outside Of This Town’ (the title of his breakout single from his 2019 Grammy-nominated debut album, Kingfish), I do want people to know that the ‘662’ will always be a major part of who I am.”

    Since the release of Kingfish, Ingram has quickly become the defining blues voice of his generation. From his hometown of Clarksdale, Mississippi to stages around the world, the young musician has already headlined two national tours (Fish Grease I & II) and performed with friends including Vampire Weekend, Jason Isbell and Buddy Guy (with whom he appeared on Austin City Limits). He was interviewed by Sir Elton John on his Apple Music podcast Rocket Hour, and recently released a duet with Bootsy Collins. In January 2021, Ingram was simultaneously on the covers of both Guitar World and DownBeat magazines, and graced the cover of Living Blues in late 2020. Rolling Stone declared, “Kingfish is one of the most exciting young guitarists in years, with a sound that encompasses B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix and Prince.”

    Ingram’s journey began in the 662 in the city of Clarksdale, in Coahoma County, Mississippi, just ten miles from the legendary crossroads of Highways 61 and 49. Born to a musical family, he fell in love with music as a small child, initially playing drums and then bass. At a young age, he got his first guitar and quickly soaked up music from Robert Johnson to Lightnin’ Hopkins, from B.B. King to Muddy Waters, from Jimi Hendrix to Prince, but all the while developing his own sound and style. He progressed quickly, making his stage debut a few months later at Clarksdale’s famous Ground Zero Blues Club, playing behind one of his mentors, Mississippi blues icon Bill “Howl-N-Madd” Perry. Perry gifted the young musician with a new stage name, “Kingfish.” He performed at the White House for Michelle Obama in 2014 as part of a delegation of student musicians from the Delta Blues Museum. By age 16 he was turning heads and winning awards, including the 2015 Rising Star Award, presented by The Rhythm & Blues Foundation.

    In 2020, Ingram won five Blues Music Awards, including Album Of The Year, Contemporary Blues Album Of The Year, Best Emerging Artist Album, Contemporary Blues Male Artist Of The Year and the coveted Best Guitarist award. He also won four Living Blues Awards, including Album Of The Year and Artist Of The Year. In February 2021, Ingram guest hosted Spotify’s popular In The Name Of The Blues playlist, which featured him talking about and sharing some of his favorite songs.

    Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

    *Feature image credit: Laura Carbone

    Paula Cole Shares New Johnny Cash Cover ‘God’s Gonna Cut You Down’

    Paula Cole Shares New Johnny Cash Cover ‘God’s Gonna Cut You Down’

    American Blues Scene Staff

    “I hope the listener will step inside the canoe and float down the Missouri River of their mind.  I hope they will hear the gospel of the country, and taste the liquor in the speakeasies.  I hope they will feel the freedom in the jazz of the cities, heed the call to morality in the spirituality of a day’s hard work, and the call to the Great Beyond from the Appalachians.” – Paula Cole

    Grammy-winning songwriter and producer Paula Cole shares her new song “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” from her upcoming album American QuiltAmerican Quilt will be released on May 21st through Renew Records / BMG.

    With a musical catalog defined by honest and deeply personal lyrics carried by her powerful, radiant voice, Cole has always had a gift for discerning the underlying humanity in stories from her own life as well as those around her, and channeling those emotional elements into captivating music. On American Quilt, Cole applies this natural insight to American history and musical roots traditions by interpreting a selection of classic songs – each of which provide an entry point for rediscovering the overlooked stories and figures that populate America’s interwoven cultural lineage, such as “God’s Gonna Cut You Down,” which she first learned via Johnny Cash.

    The album was produced by Cole, who was the first woman nominated (without collaborators) as Producer of the Year at the 1997 Grammy awards. She garnered a total of seven Grammy nominations that year and won “Best New Artist” for her second album and major-label debut, This Fire, with its timeless hits, “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” and “I Don’t Want to Wait” (later the theme song for hit TV series Dawson’s Creek). As a visiting scholar at Berklee College of Music, Cole tells “all my female students, ‘Start thinking like a producer, think about how you want the whole track to sound, be a voice.’”

    “Together these songs make an American Quilt,” says Cole, “a patchwork of heritage, a stitched-together-history of culture both painful and beautiful. I hope the listener will step inside the canoe and float down the Missouri River of their mind.  I hope they will hear the gospel of the country, and taste the liquor in the speakeasies.  I hope they will feel the freedom in the jazz of the cities, heed the call to morality in the spirituality of a day’s hard work, and the call to the Great Beyond from the Appalachians.”

    As on previous albums, Cole was joined by a longtime “family” of musicians, including esteemed drummer Jay Bellerose and guitarist Kevin Barry, collaborators since the trio’s days at Berklee. American Quilt follows 2019’s acclaimed album of originals, Revolution.

    Paula Cole

    *Feature image credit: Ebru Yildiz

    No Slowing Down For Bobby Rush – 2 Live Shows, a New Book and an Honorary Doctorate

    No Slowing Down For Bobby Rush – 2 Live Shows, a New Book and an Honorary Doctorate

    American Blues Scene Staff

    Working his way from the cotton fields to “King of the Chitlin’ Circuit,” to Grammy winning Hall of fame inductee, Bobby Rush is the American success story. Hail to the King!

    At 87 years old, most folks would be enjoying a well deserved retirement. Blues Hall of Famer Bobby Rush ain’t most folks.

    In the next week alone, Rush will be performing two Intimate Nights of Stories and Song via Mandolin. The first show will take place on Sunday, May 16th. It is also a live, ticketed show from The City Winery in Nashville, and a few tickets remain at the time of this posting. The second show takes place on Sunday, May 23rd. Both shows are at 8PM Eastern/7PM Central/5PM Pacific. These are two unique, intimate, full-concert shows from the Grammy winning blues legend. Tickets and merch bundles are available here.

    Rush traces the evolution of blues throughout his life and illustrious career in his new book, I Ain’t Studdin’ Ya: My American Blues Story.

    Bobby Rush will tell you that it took him over 50 years to become an overnight sensation. He spent decades establishing himself as a juke joint hero with a unique funky blues sound and a captivating stage presence before even landing his first hit. Now at age 87, Rush spends around 200 days on the road each year, headlining music festivals, clubs, and theaters around the world. As of the 63rd GRAMMY Awards in 2021, Rush has won two GRAMMYs in the Best Traditional Blues category and earned six total nominations. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, won 13 Blues Music Awards, and was affectionately dubbed “The King of the Chitlin’ Circuit” by Rolling Stone. For many, Bobby Rush is the heart and soul of modern blues.

    In I Ain’t Studdin’ Ya: My American Blues Story (Hachette Books; 06/22/21; $29; ISBN: 9780306874802), Rush gives readers intimate access into his life and career like never before. Born Emmett Ellis, Jr., in Louisiana to a Black father and a mother who passed as white, Rush spent his childhood days picking cotton with his family and making
    music with syrup cans, broomsticks and hay wire. Rush transports readers into the Deep South of the 1930s and 1940s, reflecting on family values, racial tensions, and the significant contributions Black Americans made to music culture.

    Rush’s early experiences, particularly the unshakable bond he shared with his father, would go on to influence his long and noteworthy career that rose out of the Chicago blues scene. Throughout the years, Rush befriended and performed alongside fellow music legends, including Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Little Walter. While opening for the likes of Tina Turner and Ray Charles, he bought a hot dog stand and ran his own barbeque joint to make ends meet. When faced with personal tragedy, multiple near-death experiences, and incarceration, Rush relied on his music and steadfast Baptist faith, never losing his sense of determination, passion for bringing others joy, and love of the music.

    Pre-Order I Ain’t Studdin’ Ya from Hachette Books.

    Oh, and by the way, it’s now Doctor Bobby Rush.

    Since 2014, Bobby has partnered with the Mike Curb Institute for Music at Rhodes College as the inaugural Curb Visiting Scholar in the Arts. He continues his relationship with the college to this day through immersive student experiences and historically significant public programs. Over this time, the relationship between Rush and the college has been a part of the educational experience of well over one hundred Rhodes students.

    Rush has taught a course on Music and Community in Memphis, and offered lectures and performances with Rhodes students in local venues. This semester, Rush partnered with the Curb Institute on a project involving dozens of students that culminated in a recording of an original blues version of “America the Beautiful,” which will be released in recognition of Memorial Day.

    On May 11th, the Rhodes Board of Trustees announced that Rush will be this year’s recipient of the Honorary Doctorate of Humanities. His degree will be presented at the Commencement Exercises of the Rhodes College Class of 2021, to be held this Saturday, May 15th, at 8:30 a.m., in the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee.

    From humble beginnings in Louisiana and later Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he started his first band with Boyd Gilmore (cousin of slide guitar legend Elmore James), Johnny “Big Moose” Walker, Pinetop Perkins and Robert Plunkett, to the clubs of Chicago where Little Walter and Jimmy Reed introduced him to the Windy City, Bobby Rush has worked his way from the cotton fields to “King of the Chitlin’ Circuit,” to Grammy winning Hall of fame inductee. Bobby Rush is the American success story. Hail to the King!

    Bobby Rush

    ‘Rock’s Backpages’ Podcast Releases 100th Episode in Advance of Site’s 20th Anniversary

    ‘Rock’s Backpages’ Podcast Releases 100th Episode in Advance of Site’s 20th Anniversary

    American Blues Scene Staff

    ‘Rock’s Backpages,’ an ever-expanding collection of primary-source full-text articles from the music and mainstream press from the 1940s to the present day — along with a collection of exclusive audio interviews — celebrates 100 episodes and 20 years!

    Founded in the fall of 2001 as a way to archive music journalism, the subscription-based rocksbackpages.com has become the largest online database of its kind, with almost 45,000 articles from publications like Creem, Trouser Press, Rolling Stone, New Musical Express, Melody Maker and MOJO, and dozens being added to the site each week. The site also contains more than 700 audio clips from interviews with musicians and music industry people that had never been previously available to the public. In advance of crossing the two-decade mark, its accompanying podcast, also named Rock’s Backpages, has reached a milestone of its own with the release of its 100th episode this week. It is available to listen for free on all major podcast platforms.  

    Rock’s Backpages podcast started as a way to shed light on the articles and audio clips added to the site every few weeks in a 10-20 minute conversation between editorial director Barney Hoskyns and chief archivist/production director Mark Pringle. With the addition of marketing/communications manager Jasper Murison-Bowie, the podcast quickly expanded into a one hour plus format that includes guests (usually, but not limited to journalists) on every episode telling personal anecdotes about their lives in music.

    Guests have included former music writer-turned-rockstar Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys (episode 63) telling the story of how he was so nervous when he interviewed Marc Bolan of T. Rex in 1975 that he didn’t turn on his tape recorder (Bolan did it for him), and Disc and Music Echo reporter Caroline Boucher (episode 94) recounting Richard Branson’s attempt at signing Captain Beefheart to Virgin, and botching it by mentioning his intention of also signing Beefheart’s nemesis Frank Zappa. One of the more notable stories to come out of Rock’s Backpages podcast early on was NME journalist Keith Altham (episode 21) describing the time he spent traveling from the UK to the Monterey Pop Festival with Jimi Hendrix and how he convinced the soon-to-be legend to set his guitar on fire, arguably altering the course of popular music.

    “From the beginning we wanted it to be personal,” says Jasper Murison-Bowie. “We wanted it to be a conversation addressed to an individual listener on friendly terms with an eavesdropping style. It’s great to see how far we’ve come. We started getting guests on and that’s been super. A hundred episodes later, here we are having a good laugh.”

    Listen to the 100th episode, in which the podcast’s power trio wish a happy 80th birthday to contributor Keith Altham, express their deep appreciation for his support over the past 20 years, and discuss three of his 450 pieces on RBP. They also talk a bit about the Black Keys, R.L Burnside & the North Mississippi hill country blues sound that inspired the Keys’ new Delta Kream album. Clips from a 1991 audio interview with Donald Fagen prompt conversation about The Nightfly, the Rock & Soul Revue, and the all-round greatness of Steely Dan.

    ABOUT THE HOSTS OF ROCK’S BACKPAGES PODCAST:

    Barney Hoskyns Editorial Director

    A writer and editor for over 30 years, RBP co-founder Hoskyns is also the author of many books, including Hotel California: Singer-Songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the LA Canyons, the Tom Waits biography Lowside of the Road, Trampled Under Foot, an oral history of Led Zeppelin, and Small Town Talk, a history of the music scene in Woodstock and Bearsville. A former U.S. correspondent for MOJO, Hoskyns has contributed to Vogue, GQ, Rolling Stone, Spin, Harper’s Bazaar, Uncut and many other titles. Thoughts of Chairman Barney can be found (and books bought) at barneyhoskyns.com

    Mark Pringle Chief Archivist and Production Director

    RBP co-founder Pringle has a chequered past including a stint as a musician with mid-’80s retro soul outfit Hot House; graphic designer; portrait photographer. In 2003 he curated Yes Yes Y’all, an exhibition about the first decade of hip hop (’72-’83) and, these days, when he’s not covered in 50-year-old newsprint (it never dries) he now plays Free Rock™ with drummer pal Tom Fenner.

    Jasper Murison-Bowie Marketing and Communications Manager

    Jasper has written about jazz, funk and electronic music for Under City Lights and The Playground. While studying philosophy at University College London, Jasper hosted a radio show, Making Waves, about the genre future bass, which ran for three years. As a saxophonist and pianist, Jasper has played in venues including the Adelphi Theatre, the Bishopsgate Institute and Camden People’s Theatre. In 2015, he held a residency at Tredwell’s restaurant in Covent Garden, playing jazz and freely improvised music. He has also spent some time behind the decks at clubs in Oxford. His photography, writing and music can be found at jasperbowie.com.

    Help Roots Artist Fantastic Negrito Launch Storefront Records!

    Help Roots Artist Fantastic Negrito Launch Storefront Records!

    Lauren Leadingham

    “Uplifting this community is at the heart of our mission as a record label.”

    By the time Xavier Dphrepaulezz, more famously known as Fantastic Negrito, was 20 he had taught himself to play every instrument within his grasp. He remembers the life and struggles of a busking musician. He remembers being told he didn’t fit into a genre box, he was too old, too something for anyone — that whatever it was he was doing simply would not work. 

    ‘Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?’ wins Negrito 3rd GRAMMY for ‘Best Contemporary Blues Album’

    Fortunately for him, and the world, Negrito wasn’t hearing any of it. The inner fire and inner voice that drove him to a fruitful musical career is now inspiring him to create his own label. “I remember not caring what anyone said & deciding to be true to myself,” he said in a statement on his Facebook. Continuing, “This is my story. Always. This is the story of Storefront Records. BE you, do you, all the time.”

    The decision to launch the Storefront Records label came on the heels of winning his third GRAMMY. Negrito wanted an Oakland-based label owned and operated by artists and musicians, in an area greatly in need of resources and opportunities. He believes in reinvesting his great success back into the local community in which he grew up. “I want to run a record label from an artist’s perspective. Storefront Records will be about collaborative works. There is so so much untapped talent in the Bay Area. I want to walk in the footsteps of the unique excellence of my Bay Area predecessors,” he said on the GoFundMe page. 

    Fantastic Negrito himself will be releasing his next album on this label. He will also be taking on more artists and eventually starting an internship program, providing opportunities for students and producing free events in West Oakland. This will generate revenue for small local businesses and bring a community together.

    To donate to the GoFundMe campaign, click here.

    Delmark Records Founder/Owner Bob Koester Dies Aged 88

    Delmark Records Founder/Owner Bob Koester Dies Aged 88

    Lauren Leadingham

    “The fact is that he opened the door for a lot of people, and I don’t think he has ever got the recognition he deserves for being such a seminal figure.” – Bruce Iglauer

    Bob Koester, founder and owner of the jazz/blues indie label Delmark Records and longtime owner of the iconic Jazz Record Mart, has passed away on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. He was 88 years old. According to son Bob, he died from a stroke while in hospice care.

    Koester’s label started in 1953 when he released a recording of the Windy City Six, a traditional jazz group, under the Delmar imprint. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Delmark recorded the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sonny Stitt, Junior Wells, Otis Rush Luther Allison, Arthur Crudup, Jimmy Dawkins, Sleepy John Estes, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Johnson, Magic Sam, Robert Nighthawk, among others. Koester also operated a record store which specialized in jazz and blues in the Chicago neighborhood of Irving Park called Bob’s Blues & Jazz Mart.

    Koester inside Bob’s Blues & Jazz Mart, courtesy of Facebook

    Born in Wichita, Kansas, Koester grew up at a high point in big band jazz, collecting and trading records in high school. He subsequently moved to Saint Louis University to sell records by mail order from his dorm, and eventually became a founding member of the St. Louis Jazz Club, where he met fellow audiophile Ron Fister. The two opened a record store called K&F Sales, which later became Blue Note Record Shop. Koester and Fister split their business after not even a year together, and Koester founded Delmar from there, on Delmar Blvd. 

    Koester moved to Chicago in 1958 and purchased Seymour’s Jazz Mart from Seymour Schwartz in 1959. In 1963 he relocated the Jazz Record Mart and Delmark Records to 7 West Grand Avenue. And in 1971, he purchased property located at 4243 N. Lincoln Avenue where he moved Delmark.

    In 1996, Koester was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. In May 2018, Koester retired and sold Delmark Records to Julia A. Miller and Elbio Barilari, two musicians from Chicago. The sale included Delmark’s subsidiary labels, CD and LP inventory, the catalog of masters, and Riverside Studio.

    Founder of Chicago’s Alligator Records label Bruce Iglauer, who began his career as a shipping clerk at Delmark in 1970, once said, “The fact is that he opened the door for a lot of people, and I don’t think he has ever got the recognition he deserves for being such a seminal figure.” 

    *Feature image credit: William Ellis

    Chrissie Hynde Unveils New Collection of Bob Dylan Songs

    Chrissie Hynde Unveils New Collection of Bob Dylan Songs

    Big Hassle Media

    Chrissie Hynde has announced a brand new album of original Bob Dylan covers. Standing In The Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan arrives via BMG at all DSPs and streaming services on Friday, May 21. A CD and vinyl LP release will follow on Friday, August 20.

    Standing In The Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan includes stunning new interpretations of such Dylan songs as “You’re a Big Girl Now,” “Love Minus Zero / No Limit,” “Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight,” and “Every Grain of Sand,” recorded last year during lockdown by Hynde and her Pretenders bandmate, James Walbourne. The nine-track collection was made almost exclusively via text message, with Walbourne recording an initial musical idea on his phone and then sending it off to Hynde to add her vocal. The new versions were then mixed by multiple GRAMMY® Award-winning producer/engineer/mixer Tchad Blake (The Black Keys, Fiona Apple) before originally premiering via The Pretenders’ official YouTube channel.

    “A few weeks into lockdown last year,  James sent me the new Dylan track, ‘Murder Most Foul.’” Hynde says. “Listening to that song completely changed everything for me. I was lifted out of this morose mood that I’d been in. I remember where I was sitting the day that Kennedy was shot – every reference in the song. Whatever Bob does, he still manages somewhere in there to make you laugh because as much as anything, he’s a comedian. He’s always funny and always has something to say. I called James and said, ‘Let’s do some Dylan covers,’ and that’s what started this whole thing.”

    The intimate process behind Standing In The Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan will be featured in Tomorrow Is A Long Time, a new documentary by International Emmy® Award-winning filmmakers Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt (Romeo & Juliet: Beyond Words, BalletBoyz) premiering exclusively via the UK’s Sky Arts channel on Monday, May 24 in celebration of Dylan’s 80th birthday; a U.S. broadcast premiere will be announced soon.

    STANDING IN THE DOORWAY: CHRISSIE HYNDE SINGS BOB DYLAN Tracklist:

    In The Summertime

    You’re a Big Girl Now

    Standing In The Doorway

    Sweetheart Like You

    Blind Willie McTell

    Love Minus Zero / No Limit

    Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight

    Tomorrow Is a Long Time

    Every Grain of Sand

     

    Pre-order Standing In The Doorway

     

    CONNECT WITH CHRISSIE HYNDE:

    Official | TwitterFacebook | Instagram | YouTube

     

    *Feature image credit: Chrissie and Pretenders’ James Walbourne – Ole Hagen/Redferns/Getty Images

     

    Charlie Parr Announces ‘Last of the Better Days Ahead’

    Charlie Parr Announces ‘Last of the Better Days Ahead’

    Grandstand Media

    “’Last of the Better Days Ahead’ is a way for me to refer to the times I’m living in. I’m getting on in years, experiencing a shift in perspective that was once described by my mom as ‘a time when we turn from gazing into the future to gazing back at the past, as if we’re adrift in the current, slowly turning around.’” – Charlie Parr

    Charlie Parr has announced Last of the Better Days Ahead, out on July 30th. To mark the occasion, Parr has released the title track from the album and its companion video directed by Charlie himself and filmed at Salton Sea, Bombay Beach and Slab City, CA. Last of the Better Days Ahead was written and produced by Parr and co-producer Brad Cook (Bon Iver, Waxahatchee, Kevin Morby).

    This release marks the first for Parr on the Smithsonian Folkways label. Smithsonian Folkways, the non-profit record label of the Smithsonian Institute, is home to a diverse roster of contemporary artists such as Our Native Daughters and Kronos Quartet and also preserves and releases historical recordings from artists like Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Elizabeth Cotten and more. Last of the Better Days Ahead will be available digitally on CD and double LP.

    Parr’s new album is a collection of powerful songs about how one looks back on a life lived, as well as forward on what’s still to come. Its spare production foregrounds Parr’s poetic lyricism, his expressive, gritty voice ringing clear over deft acoustic guitar playing what references folk and blues motifs in Parr’s own exploratory, idiosyncratic style. “Last of the Better Days Ahead is a way for me to refer to the times I’m living in,” says Parr.

    “I’m getting on in years, experiencing a shift in perspective that was once described by my mom as ‘a time when we turn from gazing into the future to gazing back at the past, as if we’re adrift in the current, slowly turning around.’ Some songs came from meditations on the fact that the portion of our brain devoted to memory is also the portion responsible for imagination, and what that entails for the collected experiences that we refer to as our lives. Other songs are cultivated primarily from the imagination, but also contain memories of what may be a real landscape, or at least one inspired by vivid dreaming.”

    On his Smithsonian Folkways debut, there’s something resoundingly new. The faithful will find an even more intense focus upon the word, and folks new to this titan of international folk blues will discover poetry so clear and pure it feels like he wrote it with an icicle on a window. Over the course of a prolific career spanning 13 full-length albums, the Duluth virtuoso has earned a passionate following for his strikingly candid songwriting and raw stage presence. Parr’s work digs deeply into his personal experiences with depression and the existential questions that weight it.

    Born and raised in Minnesota, Charlie Parr first grabbed a guitar at age 8. To date, he has never had a formal lesson, but wows crowds with his incredible finger-picking on his 12 string baritone resonator, guitar and banjo. All that locomotive melodic work is simply the scenery in the tales he’s spinning lyrically. Early in his career, Parr was employed by the Salvation Army as an outreach worker. He spent his days tracking the homeless in Minneapolis, providing blankets and resources. But they offered him something greater in return. The experience completely rewired him and left him with a newfound respect for human resilience. And along the way, he collected stories from the folks he would meet. These characters continue to show up in Parr’s songs even today.

    Throughout Charlie’s music you can hear his sense of place. These are songs from the iron country. They are tales from the paper mill. You can hear the fisheries and the Boundary Waters. In Last of the Better Days you are met by someone who prizes quiet reflection over hustle and who shuns distraction for a long walk in the woods. “It’s one thing to be able to say that I’m not what I own or what I do,” says Parr, “but it still leaves behind the original question of what am I unanswered.”

    Charlie Parr
    Pre-Order Last of the Better Days Ahead

    *Feature image credit: Shelly Mosman

    Shemekia Copeland Wins UK Blues Award For International Blues Artist Of The Year

    Shemekia Copeland Wins UK Blues Award For International Blues Artist Of The Year

    American Blues Scene Staff

    Award presented in online ceremony hosted by Paul Jones.

    On Sunday, May 9, award-winning vocalist Shemekia Copeland received the coveted UK Blues Award for International Blues Artist Of The Year. The award was presented in a virtual ceremony hosted by BBC radio personality, actor and musician Paul Jones. The UK Blues Awards were created by the UK Blues Federation to give the blues community in the UK the opportunity to recognize and applaud those actively involved with the music.

    Copeland was in the running for International Blues Artist of the Year along with Larkin Poe, Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar, Savoy Brown, and Southern Avenue.

    Copeland’s latest 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 fiercely independent, sultry R&B fire to songs more personal than political. NPR Music calls Shemekia “authoritative” and “confrontational” with “punchy defiance and potent conviction. It’s hard to imagine anyone staking a more convincing claim to the territory she’s staked out—a true hybrid of simmering, real-talking spirit and emphatic, folkie- and soul-style statement-making.”

    When Shemekia 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 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. 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.”

    Shemekia Copeland
    UK Blues Federation
    Alligator Records

    *Feature image courtesy of Alligator Records

    Blue Heart Records Signs Memphis Legacy Vaneese Thomas

    Blue Heart Records Signs Memphis Legacy Vaneese Thomas

    American Blues Scene Staff

    “I am thrilled to be signing with Blue Heart Records for my next album, and look forward to sharing the new music,” – Vaneese Thomas.

    Blue Heart Records has announced the signing of singer, songwriter and producer Vaneese Thomas. Daughter of the legendary Rufus Thomas and younger sibling of “Memphis Queen” Carla Thomas and the late Marvell Thomas, Vaneese both embraces her family’s remarkable legacy and advances it in her own unique way. Her vocal career has already taken her all over the world.

    Now, thirty-five years after her first major recording, Thomas is planning her eighth career album; a dynamic new release which showcases the musical diversity of her roots combined with decades of musical experience and influence. A seven-time Blues Music Award nominee, in addition to her own creative output, Thomas has produced, created vocal arrangements and written songs for artists including Patti Austin, Freddie Jackson, Bob James, Larry Coryell and Melba Moore. Diana Ross had a top-ten hit in the UK with “One Shining Moment,” written by Thomas.

    The new album will be the fourth to be worked by Memphis-based publicity and promotional powerhouse Blind Raccoon. “It is always a thrill to work with Vaneese,” says owner Betsie Brown. “To be able to promote artists with such distinguished lineage and talent is an honor.”

    “I am thrilled to be signing with Blue Heart Records for my next album, and look forward to sharing the new music,” said Thomas.

    Vaneese Thomas Facebook
    Blue Heart Records

    Bluesman Brant Buckley Announces Album, Shares Title Track for Video ‘Times Strange’

    Bluesman Brant Buckley Announces Album, Shares Title Track for Video ‘Times Strange’

    American Blues Scene Staff

    “The ‘Times Strange’ song is an ode to the Delta Blues Masters — in particular, Skip James.”

    Brant Buckley, a contributing author at American Blues Scene, is a Berklee College of Music graduate with a Bachelors of Music in songwriting. Born outside of Chicago (Hinsdale), he lived in Costa Rica and spent most of his life in Philadelphia. East coast folk music and the coffeehouse scene inspired his early sound: James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Kenn Kweder, and Nick Drake. In 2012, Buckley independently released his first album, My Life, which was featured in The Times of India (India’s CNN).

    In 2013, Brant met Bluesman Jesse Graves. Graves was Philadelphia’s premier bluesman during the 1970s and played with Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, Hound Dog Taylor, Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, and Tom Waits. Jesse learned from Reverend Gary Davis and passed on the Blues and Native American Spirituality to Brant. In 2014, inspired by Jesse, Brant moved to Chicago to learn more about the Blues. Working as a tennis pro, Brant experienced the Blues for himself after having a career ending tennis injury. The pain taught him what Blues are all about.

    Buckley’s Chicago Blues sound is melodic, rhythmic, and haunting. He pulls heavily from his folk and spiritual background and there are hints of Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and Son House. He is all about the power of song. In addition, Brant is a certified USPTA tennis professional and has been practicing meditation (Kriya Yoga) and energetic healing for over 10 years.

    Buckley has announced that his latest album, Times Strange, will be released Tuesday, May 11.

    Album cover courtesy of BB

    Of the new album, he tells ABS:

    The ‘Times Strange’ album revolves around my song “Nerve Damage Blues,” a tennis song. Tennis has always been a huge part of my life and I began playing at the age of six in Costa Rica. Upon coming back to the states, I started taking lessons and playing tournaments. High-school tennis was amazing and I always did very well. I gave up a division one tennis playing career to go to The Berklee College of Music in Boston to study Songwriting. After graduating, I spent a few years in Philly playing music out nightly and teaching music and tennis. I realized I was going nowhere fast and needed something full-time so I decided to get USPTA certified in Long Island, N.Y. at The Port Washington Academy which was the tennis club John McEnroe used to play at.

    I found work at a prestigious club in Chicago and I made the move. I figured it would be great to teach tennis, really dive deep into the Blues, and be in a new city. After a year of teaching, my right foot gave way and snapped during an on court hitting lesson. I then went through 8-10 doctors who couldn’t diagnose me. The last doctor I saw on workers compensation was a hired gun and said I was lying in his final report and said I was ready to go back to work. I even brought my parents in his examination room, because I knew something was off. After this, I found a great foot/pain doctor who finally gave me a diagnosis, Neurapraxia of the calcaneus foot branch. Also, there were some other nerves injured. He said from the year of teaching it was like a hammer had repetitively hit the nerves and then the injury happened. He was the first doctor who really knew and explained the seven main nerves going through the foot and what was going on. He said it was a three year fix. It took me about four years to heal correctly. A lawsuit later, I wrote Nerve Damage Blues about the whole experience. During the process: I lost my job, money, and sold my car. It gave me some real bad deep blues. I can relate in a small way (but not fully) as to why a lot of the old Blues originators had tears in their eyes and would wear sunglasses. In hindsight, the injury had to happen to really learn the Blues. I came to Chicago to learn the Blues, and that’s exactly what I got. 

    The “Times Strange” song is an ode to the Delta Blues Masters — in particular Skip James. I have gone to all of the old Blues Graves in the Chicago area: Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy, Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf, and Willie Dixon. Their ghosts and shadows are my teachers. I wanted to create something very haunting and ghostly in a Bluesy kind of way. The only two Blues guys that I am aware of who have done this are Skip James and Robert Johnson; there is another non human entity on their Blues recordings. If you really are aware and open you can hear it. There is such an eerie beyond spooky haunting sound that takes part with the recording. That is the ghostly energy I tried channeling and had to really put myself into a very deep trance state to get there. I am not sure if Skip James or Robert Johnson consciously did this when recording. It is up to the listener to hear if I achieved what I was going after. I tried my best. 

     

    Pre-order Times Strange

     

    *All images courtesy of Brant Buckley