Bluegrass Legend Bobby Osborne Covers Merle Haggard’s ‘White Line Fever’

Bluegrass Legend Bobby Osborne Covers Merle Haggard’s ‘White Line Fever’

American Blues Scene Staff

“With Bobby’s incomparable vocals, and the addition of Jeff Tweedy’s new lyrics about Bobby’s Kentucky roots and Ohio ties, I think this version of ‘White Line Fever’ ticks every box for a bluegrass classic.” – Alison Brown

Bluegrass legend and GRAMMY-nominee Bobby Osborne, known as the voice of “Rocky Top,” has released his grassified version of Merle Haggard’s “White Line Fever.”

Producer Alison Brown explains the track grew out of a recording session she gave Bobby for his 89th birthday in December. She thought the country classic would make a great bluegrass tune and Osborne was excited to bring his soulful bluegrass vocals to the task.  To augment the rearrangement of Haggard’s story of life on the road, Brown and co-producer Garry West asked Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy to craft a new verse reflecting on Osborne’s 60-plus year career and the many white lines under his wheels, both as a member of the iconic Osborne Brothers and as a solo artist.

A crack band of bluegrass players brought the track to life: Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Trey Hensley (guitar, harmony vocals), Sierra Hull (mandolin), Tim O’Brien (harmony vocals), Todd Phillips (bass) and Brown on banjo.

Merle Haggard cut “White Line Fever” in late 1960s with a country feel but it always seemed to me that it would make a great bluegrass song. With Bobby’s incomparable vocals, and the addition of Jeff Tweedy’s new lyrics about Bobby’s Kentucky roots and Ohio ties, I think this version of “White Line Fever” ticks every box for a bluegrass classic. – Alison Brown

Bobby Osborne

*Feature image photo: Jay Blakesburg

Blues-Rock Duo The Cold Stares Release ‘Hard Times,’ Announce Label Signing

Blues-Rock Duo The Cold Stares Release ‘Hard Times,’ Announce Label Signing

Jon Bleicher / Prospect PR

“I had written ‘Hard Times’ in December of 2019 right before the world kind of collapsed,” said Tapp. “The song is about the feeling when you just can’t get on your feet no matter how you try.”

With the release of their blistering new single “Hard Times,” the Indiana based blues-rock duo The Cold Stares offer the first taste of their new set of material, slated for release in late 2021 via new label partner, Mascot Records/Mascot Label Group. Composed of guitarist Chris Tapp and drummer Brian Mullins, the band has toured the country alongside artists like Rival Sons, Spoon, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and Thievery Corp, performed at festivals like The Ride Festival, Copperhead Festival, and Handy Blues Festival, and amassed more than 20 million Spotify streams to-date. “Hard Times” is the band’s first release since their 2019 full-length album, Ways.

Tapp and Mullins have known one another for years, growing up in Western Kentucky, just a stone’s throw from the border of Indiana. They originally started playing together in their early twenties before going their separate ways only to reunite in another outfit a decade down the line. “There’s a lot of great musicians around here, but it’s hard to find someone who really wants to do it,” Mullins explained. “People who want to make records and they’re that much of a glutton for punishment that they’re gonna stick it out.”

“We were playing together in 2009 in another band that was doing really well,” Tapp said. “It didn’t work out, so we both kinda exited that band and contemplated retirement.” It didn’t take long before they were thankfully disabused of that notion. “A buddy of ours asked us to open the show for him. We ended up doing that, but we were so adamant that we weren’t going to be a band that we didn’t hire a bass player or anything else.”

The one-off performance was a huge success, convincing both Tapp and Mullins that maybe they’d try and give it a go together as a duo. The unique reception they received that night helped inspire their name.

Recorded in a single day at Sam Phillips fabled recording studio in Memphis, The Cold Stares upcoming album is their best record yet, an intense amalgam of Blind Willie Johnson meets Son House; Stevie Ray Vaughan meets Black Sabbath; Soundgarden meets Black Crowes; Free meets Led Zeppelin. “I feel like I’m saying what I want to say a little bit more concisely and elegantly, and I think that Brian and I together, from playing this long together and making records, we are pretty clear on the statement we’re trying to make now,” Tapp said. “We’ve never been one of those bands where we said, ‘On the next record, we’re really gonna do something completely different.’ We were happy with the sentiment that we started with. We want to be the band that we are.”

“I had written ‘Hard Times’ in December of 2019 right before the world kind of collapsed,” said Tapp. “The song is about the feeling when you just can’t get on your feet no matter how you try. I had originally recorded the vocals in February, but after listening back to the track in October of 2020 I felt it was right to re-sing it. After a year of covid, elections in the US, seeing friends losing loved ones, small businesses being closed, I had a new empathy for what ‘Hard Times’ can really mean. I re-recorded the vocals with that in mind, and I think the song was directed from even more of a real place of despair. To me it’s always about capturing as honest of a sentiment and vocal as possible.”

“I’ve been a big fan of The Cold Stares for several years now,” said Mascot Label Group US President Ron Burman. “I flew down to see them play a local show in Evansville, Indiana a few years back and was blown away. When Chris sent me the new songs during lockdown, I got chills, and knew the time was right for us to work together. They have such a great focused DIY work ethic and are great collaborators. We’re all extremely excited to be working together!”

“We were very excited about the prospect of signing with Mascot Records,” said Tapp. “I’ve had a relationship with Ron Burman who had been following our career for a while, and obviously been a fan of many artists on the Mascot roster. I think we were looking for a label that would allow us to be who we are, and love that enough to get behind it without changing it. I think Mascot was the perfect choice for that.”

“I think Mascot has become a great home for rock and blues acts that step outside of the normal box that the word ‘genre’ tends to draw you in,” added Mullins. “We have one foot deep in the blues, but we also have a passion for heavy rock and roll.”

The Cold Stares

Joe Strummer Album, ‘Assembly,’ Available Now; Watch Official Video For ‘I Fought The Law’

Joe Strummer Album, ‘Assembly,’ Available Now; Watch Official Video For ‘I Fought The Law’

American Blues Scene Staff

‘Assembly’ is a career-spanning compilation featuring carefully curated remastered singles, fan favorites, archival rarities, and more

Dark Horse Records celebrates the release of ASSEMBLY, the newly remastered collection of solo cuts from Joe Strummer, the former frontman of The Clash, with the world premiere of a video for “I Fought The Law.” The song was famously covered by Joe’s former band, The Clash, and this newly unearthed version was recorded live in London by Joe and his band, The Mescaleros.

“I Fought The Law,” along with the other live track, The Clash favorite, “Rudie Can’t Fail,” were thought to be lost, but were discovered and mixed and mastered by three-time GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer Paul Hicks (The Beatles / John Lennon / The Rolling Stones / David Bowie) especially for the release of ASSEMBLY. The accompanying video for the track was created by Spencer Ramsey.

ASSEMBLY is available now on Limited Edition 2xLP Red vinyl, gatefold 2xLP 180g black vinyl, CD, and digitally for streaming and download HERE.

ASSEMBLY showcases carefully curated remastered singles, fan favorites, and archival rarities from the Joe Strummer solo catalog, including “Coma Girl,” “Johnny Appleseed,” and “Yalla Yalla” (with The Mescaleros) to his iconic rendition of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” and soundtrack contributions like “Love Kills” (from the 1986 film, Sid and Nancy). Remastered by three-time GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer Paul Hicks (The Beatles / John Lennon / The Rolling Stones / David Bowie), the 16-track compilation features three previously unreleased versions of classic tracks by Joe’s former band The Clash, including the never-before-heard home recording of “Junco Partner” and electrifying live performances of “Rudie Can’t Fail” and “I Fought The Law”, recorded by Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros at London’s Brixton Academy on November 24, 2001. In addition, ASSEMBLY includes exclusive liner notes written especially for this collection by musician, Jakob Dylan.

Poet, musician, composer, actor, and style icon, Joe Strummer spent his life smashing musical and cultural boundaries both as the singer of The Clash and as a solo artist. His songs sound as urgent and vital today as when they were written. Calling out social injustices and giving a voice to the struggles of the working class, Strummer’s politically-charged lyrics struck a chord with legions of fans.

George Harrison’s passion for introducing the world to new music expressed itself in May of 1974 when he created his own new label – Dark Horse Records. The label contained a variety of talented artists on its roster, including George himself. ASSEMBLY marks the first new Joe Strummer title released via the newly relaunched Dark Horse Records. For more, visit www.darkhorserecords.com.

 

ASSEMBLY Tracklisting:

Coma Girl

Johnny Appleseed

I Fought The Law (Live at Brixton Academy, London, 24 November 2001) *

Tony Adams

Sleepwalk

Love Kills

Get Down Moses

X-Ray Style

Mondo Bongo

Rudie Can’t Fail (Live at Brixton Academy, London, 24 November 2001) *

At The Border, Guy

Long Shadow

Forbidden City

Yalla Yalla

Redemption Song

Junco Partner (Acoustic) *

 

* PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED

 

AJ Fullerton Album Release Listening Party Today 3/26

AJ Fullerton Album Release Listening Party Today 3/26

American Blues Scene Staff

The premiere will be LIVE on YouTube at 5 pm MT / 6 pm CT. Tune into Instagram and Facebook for a live after-party, Q & A, and maybe a few tunes!

To celebrate his new album dropping on the Vizztone label group today, AJ Fullerton will be hosting a YouTube listening party premiere of The Forgiver and The Runaway followed by a Facebook & Instagram livestream Q&A, performance, and hang.

 

Fullerton hails from the mountains of rural Western Colorado where he has received no fewer that 16 Members Choice Awards from the Colorado Blues Society since 2016, in categories including Young Performer; Guitarist; Solo/Duo; Band; Male Vocals; Slide Guitar; Songwriter; Acoustic Act and Local Recording.

Produced in Toronto, Ontario by Canadian multi-instrumentalist Steve Marriner (Monkeyjunk), the album features an all-star cast of musicians including guest harmonica players Jake Friel and Paul Reddick. Fullerton wrote 10 of the 12 songs on The Forgiver and The Runaway with the other two being written by JD Taylor and Colin Linden.

The premiere will be LIVE on YouTube at 5 pm MT / 6 pm CT. Tune into Instagram and Facebook for a live after-party, Q & A, and maybe a few tunes!

AJ Fullerton

Watch: Valerie June Featured on ‘Gone In 30 Minutes’ Podcast/Video Series

Watch: Valerie June Featured on ‘Gone In 30 Minutes’ Podcast/Video Series

Craft Recordings

Second season of Craft Recordings’ podcast and video series, ‘Gone in 30 Minutes,’ launches today with Valerie June! Episodes premiere every Thursday at 6am PT/9am ET.

Today, Craft Recordings kicked off season two of their weekly podcast and video series, Gone in 30 Minutes, featuring host and GRAMMY®-nominated industry executive Tom DeSavia in conversation with special guest, Fantasy Records’ acclaimed and genre-bending singer-songwriter Valerie June

Other confirmed guests for season two of Gone in 30 Minutes include: Fantasy Records’ Allison Russell and JT Nero, Jimmy LaValle from The Album Leaf, Neal Francis, Kevin Griffin, and Sean and Sara Watkins, with more to be announced.

Each episode from Craft’s Gone in 30 Minutes series features 30-minute remote and unfiltered conversations with your favorite musicians, writers, and tastemakers from the Concord family and beyond, who speak on the current state of the music business, the challenges of creating art during a pandemic, what they’re up to right now, and more. New to season two, each guest will present a multiple-choice trivia question geared toward their most loyal fans, who are encouraged to comment and share their answers on Gone in 30 Minutes’ Instagram (@gonein30mins). After a few days, the correct answer will be revealed via a guest-hosted video post on the series’ Instagram.

Episodes premiere every Thursday at 6:00 am PT / 9:00 am ET on Craft’s YouTube channel and website, plus wherever you enjoy podcasts (including Art19, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher, among others).

On the heels of June’s latest release, titled The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers, which she co-produced with Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, Alicia Keys, John Legend), the multi-instrumentalist from Memphis shares with Gone in 30 the creative methods that drive her artistic vision, the reason she originally kept her desire to be a singer a secret, and she reveals the instrument she’d love to master. With exceptional humility and effervescent vim, June reminds us all, when the heaviness of the world gets you down, never stop dreaming.

In addition to being the series host, Los Angeles-based DeSavia is currently SVP of A&R at Concord Music Publishing and he co-authored two bestselling books with punk legend John Doe from X (2016’s Under the Big Black Sun and 2019’s More Fun in the New World) about Los Angeles’ punk rock scene. “I am absolutely thrilled that we’re doing another season of GITM,” shares Desavia. “Not only do I love that the show is giving a voice to artists and songwriters to speak about their own challenges and victories during this COVID-19 era, but for me personally, being able to stay connected to the creative community around the world has been a real lifeline while in lockdown.”

Regarding the new season, series producer and VP Content Development & Strategy at Craft Recordings, Laura Sáez shares: “Helping to overcome the distance between us, season two of Gone in 30 Minutes brings the audience closer to the artists in the most casual and authentic of settings.” Adding, “In only 30 minutes, artists share with us the moments that define their creative process, ultimately inspiring the music that provides listeners with a much-needed escape to endless possibilities—no matter the state of the world.”

Adds Craft Recordings President and Concord’s Chief Catalog Executive, Sig Sigworth, “Delivering Gone in 30 Minutes across a multi-platform, multi-format strategy allows Craft Recordings to continue to deliver new original content to fans from a diverse lineup of the incredibly talented writers and musicians from throughout the Concord family and beyond.”

Debuting last August, the first season from Gone in 30 Minutes hosted an incredibly diverse and accomplished lineup, featuring Matt Berninger of The National, Mr. William Bell, author Dan Brown, George Thorogood, Tom Kitt, Walshy Fire of Major Lazer, Caroline Spence, Martin Page, Jody Stephens of Big Star, Matt Nathanson, Rhett Miller of the Old 97’s, Fiona Bevan, Mr Hudson, Camilo Lara, Eric Whitacre, and Dan Wilson of Semisonic.

 

Virtual Benefit Concert to Support People Incarcerated at Angola State Prison

Virtual Benefit Concert to Support People Incarcerated at Angola State Prison

Lauren Leadingham

Among the Abolition 2021 participants are Boots Riley, Mike Watt, Old Crow Medicine Show, Peter Holsapple, Nathaniel Rateliff, Kronos Quartet, Samantha Parton, Sam Amidon, The War and Treaty, The Lumineers, Jolie Holland herself, and a great number of others!

On April 9, 16, 23, and 30th, Abolition Apostles national jail and prison ministry will host Abolition 2021, a virtual concert benefit to support families of people incarcerated at Louisiana State Penitentiary — otherwise known as Angola. Produced by musicians Jolie Holland, Johanna Samuels and Peter Bauer, the benefit will launch Abolition Apostles’ fundraising campaign to open a hospitality house to welcome friends and family visiting loved ones incarcerated at Angola.

Abolition 2021, streaming on Noonchorus, will feature over seventy artists. Tickets can be purchased here. Heeding the clarion call for change, many unique and talented artists have donated their time to create this integrative concert.

I’ve been helping create this benefit to found an abolitionist space near Angola prison in Louisiana. One of the 1st people I called was my friend Boots Riley, who is writing 2 movies & a show rn, super busy, but he’s making time to be on the lineup: https://t.co/qxWKqjDOPJ

— Jolie Holland (@JolieHolland) March 21, 2021

As musician and producer Jolie Holland explains, “The idea of creating a place of radical hospitality and welcome amidst the cruelty and injustice of the prison system inspired me to produce Abolition 2021.” Holland also said in a Tweet, “The history of Louisiana State Penitentiary is the history of slavery. If we still have mass incarceration, the work of Abolition is not yet done.”

The Louisiana State Penitentiary has been called the “Alcatraz of the South”  and “The Angola Plantation.” The name Angola refers to the former plantation that occupied the territory — a plantation named after The Republic of Angola, the chief source of slaves who were forced into the Atlantic slave trade.

Angola is the largest maximum security prison in the United States. Abolition Apostles co-founding pastor David Brazil says, “Angola’s history as an antebellum plantation and site for convict leasing post-Civil War demonstrates the roots of mass incarceration in slavery and white supremacy. It is the evil heart of the American carceral system”

Since Angola’s founding as Louisiana’s first penitentiary over one hundred years ago, it’s been called the “bloodiest prison in the South” by the American Bar Association. Notorious for its many human rights abuses, including the use of long-term solitary confinement as punishment, Angola also houses Louisiana’s death row. Seventy-three percent of people incarcerated at Angola are African American, with the majority of inmates serving life sentences or decades-long, virtual life sentences due to Louisiana’s harsh minimum sentencing laws.

Angola is several hours’ drive from any major urban center. Friends and family often spend hours driving to visit their loved ones who are incarcerated there. Due to the lack of affordable accommodations close to the prison, most people are forced to drive to Angola and back home in one day, making for an exhausting trip especially for families with young children or elders.

The Abolition Apostles hospitality house will provide a free place to stay for friends, family, lawyers, and advocates coming to visit incarcerated people at Angola. By making visitation easier and more cost-effective for friends and family, the hospitality house will break the isolation too often experienced by incarcerated people.

Abolition Apostles has identified a property located within fifteen minutes’ drive of Angola with a house, a barn, and fifteen acres of land. In order to secure the property and open the hospitality house, Abolition Apostles will launch an eight-week fundraising campaign to raise $815,000 in conjunction with the Abolition 2021 concert benefit. 

Jolie Holland will herself be performing Abolition 2021. As a founding member of The Be Good Tanyas, Holland has been captivating audiences since the early 2000s. In 2002 Holland self-released Catalpa, its recordings not originally intended for public consumption. But copies were passed along; word got around. It didn’t take long for Catalpa to be put on the shortlist of Anti- labelmates Tom Waits and Nick Cave. Waits persuaded his label to sign her at a time when she didn’t have a distributor and could only sell the homemade demos at shows. 

Holland went on to release five studio albums with AntiRecords before starting her own label, Cinquefoil, in 2017. In 2019 she reissued Escondida on vinyl for its 15th anniversary. She’s been in the studio with Booker T, Boots Riley, Lucinda Williams, and TV On The Radio; and has shared stages with Mavis Staples. Lou Reed once told her, “I could have listened to you all night.”

Also among the Abolition 2021 participants are Boots Riley, Mike Watt, Old Crow Medicine Show, Peter Holsapple, Nathaniel Rateliff, Kronos Quartet, Samantha Parton, Sam Amidon, The War and Treaty, The Lumineers, and a great number of others! Full lineups below.

 

 

*Poster art by bluvvd

 

 

Grammy-Winning Songwriter/Producer Daniel Lanois Releases New Album, ‘Heavy Sun’

Grammy-Winning Songwriter/Producer Daniel Lanois Releases New Album, ‘Heavy Sun’

American Blues Scene Staff

“Our goal was to be a force for good with these songs.”

Grammy-winning songwriter and producer Daniel Lanois has released his new album, Heavy Sun, through eOne — the first release under his new “Maker Series” brand. “We want to lift people’s spirits with this music,” says Lanois. “It’s so easy to feel isolated right now, but we want everyone to feel included in what we’re doing.”

Whether crafting ambient records with Brian Eno, making rock and roll history with U2 and Peter Gabriel, digging into American roots with Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris, scoring Oscar-winning films and blockbuster video games, or composing his own solo music, 11-time Grammy winner Daniel Lanois has always seemed to reinvent himself with a chameleon-like ease. While Lanois may be best known for his production work on era-defining albums like Joshua Tree, Wrecking Ball, and Time Out Of Mind, he actually grew up on organ records and gospel music, and he cut his teeth as a young man in the studio recording vocal quartets touring their way through Ontario. In the decades to come, Lanois would go on to become one of the most acclaimed studio gurus of the modern era as well as a prolific solo artist.

Recorded in Los Angeles and Toronto, Heavy Sun fuses classic gospel and modern electronics, mixing gritty, human textures with crisp, digital accents and lush, swirling atmospherics to create a sound that’s at once warmly familiar and boldly unexpected. The arrangements here are spacious and dreamy, anchored by rich, righteous organ topped with airy falsetto and mesmerizing four-part harmony, and the writing is buoyant and soulful to match, tapping into the shared uncertainty of the human condition to offer hope, comfort, and connection at a time when all three run in desperately short supply.

That communal spirit is on full display here, with Lanois and his bandmates—guitarist/vocalist Rocco DeLuca, organist/vocalist Johnny Shepherd, and bassist/vocalist Jim Wilson—showcasing an undeniable chemistry and boundless appetite for sonic discovery that far surpasses the influence of any individual member.

For Lanois, who sang and played guitar in addition to producing the album, that meant taking full advantage of modern recording techniques, slicing and dicing live, improvised performances into discrete songs that could be fleshed out with experimental effects and sci-fi flourishes. Some tracks began life with Shepherd alone on the organ, taking the rest of the group to church the way he did for years at Zion Baptist in Shreveport, LA; others began with a melody or a simple groove played on a vintage beatbox. While Lanois dug deep into the production work, carving up raw material and extracting samples he could weave back into the arrangements, DeLuca (a revered solo artist in his own right) was often in the rear of the studio with the rest of the band, crafting lyrics around inspiring messages of community and resilience. 

“Our goal was to be a force for good with these songs,” explains Lanois. “We wanted to remind people not to let the world steal their joy, to remind them that even during a global pandemic, it’s our responsibility to protect our spirits and find ways to keep on dancing, keep on singing, keep on teaching, keep on loving.”

Whether crafting ambient records with Brian Eno, making rock and roll history with U2 and Peter Gabriel, digging into American roots with Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris, scoring Oscar-winning films and blockbuster video games, or composing his own solo music, 11-time Grammy winner Daniel Lanois has always seemed to reinvent himself with a chameleon-like ease. While Lanois may be best known for his production work on era-defining albums like Joshua Tree, Wrecking Ball, and Time Out Of Mind, he actually grew up on organ records and gospel music, and he cut his teeth as a young man in the studio recording vocal quartets touring their way through Ontario. In the decades to come, Lanois would go on to become one of the most acclaimed studio gurus of the modern era (Rolling Stone declared that his “unmistakable fingerprints are all over an entire wing of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”), as well as a prolific solo artist. 

Recorded in Los Angeles and Toronto, Heavy Sun fuses classic gospel and modern electronics, mixing gritty, human textures with crisp, digital accents and lush, swirling atmospherics to create a sound that’s at once warmly familiar and boldly unexpected. The arrangements here are spacious and dreamy, anchored by rich, righteous organ topped with airy falsetto and mesmerizing four-part harmony, and the writing is buoyant and soulful to match, tapping into the shared uncertainty of the human condition to offer hope, comfort, and connection at a time when all three run in desperately short supply.

That communal spirit is on full display here, with Lanois and his bandmates—guitarist/vocalist Rocco DeLuca, organist/vocalist Johnny Shepherd, and bassist/vocalist Jim Wilson—showcasing an undeniable chemistry and boundless appetite for sonic discovery that far surpasses the influence of any individual member.

For Lanois, who sang and played guitar in addition to producing the album, that meant taking full advantage of modern recording techniques, slicing and dicing live, improvised performances into discrete songs that could be fleshed out with experimental effects and sci-fi flourishes. Some tracks began life with Shepherd alone on the organ, taking the rest of the group to church the way he did for years at Zion Baptist in Shreveport, LA; others began with a melody or a simple groove played on a vintage beatbox. While Lanois dug deep into the production work, carving up raw material and extracting samples he could weave back into the arrangements, DeLuca (a revered solo artist in his own right) was often in the rear of the studio with the rest of the band, crafting lyrics around inspiring messages of community and resilience. 

“Our goal was to be a force for good with these songs,” explains Lanois. “We wanted to remind people not to let the world steal their joy, to remind them that even during a global pandemic, it’s our responsibility to protect our spirits and find ways to keep on dancing, keep on singing, keep on teaching, keep on loving.”

Lanois was also recently featured on NPR’s World Cafe, and as a guest on WTF with Marc Maron.

Watch the official visualizer video for “Way Down.”

Heavy Sun Track List:

  • Dance On
  • Power
  • Every Nation
  • Way Down
  • Please Don’t Try
  • Tree of Tule
  • Tumbling Stone
  • Angel’s Watching
  • (Under The) Heavy Sun
  • Mother’s Eyes
  • Out Of Sight
  • The members of the Heavy Sun orchestra are:

    Jim Wilson 

    Rocco Deluca 

    Daniel Lanois 

    Johnny Shepherd

     

    Download Heavy Sun

    Indie-Folk Duo Gawain and the Green Knight Release Single, ‘In My Dreams, a Perfect Chair’

    Indie-Folk Duo Gawain and the Green Knight Release Single, ‘In My Dreams, a Perfect Chair’

    American Blues Scene Staff

    Vocalist/guitarist Alexia Antoniou wrote the song as a metaphor for her own writer’s block

    With the release of “In My Dreams, a Perfect Chair,” Gawain and the Green Knight announce their upcoming EP, A Sleeping Place, out June 11, 2021. The new single exemplifies the duo’s “literary folk” stylings, filled with allegory and inspired by mythology, or, as they put it, “folk for people who like to listen to music while pacing mournfully yet poignantly through the streets, pretending they’re the protagonist in a very beautiful film.”

     

    “In My Dreams, a Perfect Chair” offers a deep dive on insecurities, centering around a woodworker’s apprentice who feels inadequate because they can’t make anything good enough. Vocalist/guitarist Alexia Antoniou wrote the song as a metaphor for her own writer’s block, and multi-instrumentalist bandmate Mike O’Malley and the EP’s drummer, Derek Swink, created woodshop inspired sounds to immerse the listener in the story, mimicking sandpaper and hammers. “It’s strange to think of artists in the past being full of doubt, anxiety, self-loathing. Because the art remains but the process is so rarely documented,” Antoniou observes. “But of course, those emotions had to be all tangled in the artistic process, no matter what time we’re talking about… right? I think anyone who has ever sat down to make a thing can relate.”

    Partners in life as well as in music, Antoniou and O’Malley were due to be married in the fall of 2020. Like everyone, their plans were waylaid by the COVID-19 pandemic. Finding themselves isolated, surrounded by insecurity and fear, they felt an urgent need to capture these songs that felt of the moment. “Even before all of last year happened, the fact of our own mortality always felt present, impossible to get away from, really. I think there must be something biologically in human brains that tries to make you forget it so you can function, and the part of you that remembers your mortality and the part that makes you forget are always going at one another,” says Antoniou.

    Inspired by the etymology of the Greek word for cemetery, which simply means “a sleeping place,” the duo created a collection of songs that sits comfortably in the deep, sometimes dark, parts of the subconscious, arranged in such a way that you remember why life can be so joyful in the first place, its tempo anything but sad. “I think of this EP as a love letter, full of desperate affection, to anyone who has ever been alive and been scared to die,” Antoniou continues. “Death is loud, but it doesn’t mean you were never heard.”

    A SLEEPING PLACE TRACKLISTING:

    The Dressmaker

    Dionysus

    Bridget

    In My Dreams, a Perfect Chair

    Birds & Wine

    Fingers

     

    Gawain and the Green Knight Music

     

    *Feature image credit: Molly Tellekson

    Declan O’Rourke Confirms ‘Arrivals’ Album Launch Livestream from Dublin’s Abbey Theatre

    Declan O’Rourke Confirms ‘Arrivals’ Album Launch Livestream from Dublin’s Abbey Theatre

    Chart Room Media

    Paul Weller-produced album, ‘Arrivals,’ due April 9

    In celebration of the release of his brand new, Paul Weller-produced album Arrivals, award-winning Irish singer-songwriter Declan O’Rourke has teamed up with Irish Arts Center New York and Moment House to bring you his first live concert since 2019, in a global live-streamed event from Ireland’s National Abbey Theatre on Wednesday 14 April at 8pm BST.

     

    Declan will be joined by very special guests, and will play a collection of songs from his new Arrivals album, out on April 9.

    Buy tickets here: momenthouse.com/declanorourke

     There will also be the option to purchase tickets to the Afterparty for exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and in-depth conversations with Declan and his guests.

    In late January, Declan once again enhanced his reputation as a formidable live performer with a showcase as part of the prestigious UK AmericanaFest: “The breakthrough act who took it to another level was Declan O’Rourke” – Holler.

    This special album launch show will be a treat for fans around the world, and a chance to hear unique live versions of the much-praised new songs on Arrivals.

    Recorded over six days at Black Barn studios in Surrey, with Paul Weller producing, Arrivals sees Declan O’Rourke present the most emotionally raw and affecting album of his career.

    O’Rourke’s last album Chronicles Of The Great Irish Famine, documented rare first-hand accounts from that devastating period of Irish history and garnered numerous awards. His writing is much admired and covered by fellow artists, most notably his classic 2004 song “Galileo” which has been recorded by Eddi Reader and Josh Groban amongst others.

    Declan O’Rourke with very Special Guests – Arrivals Album Launch

    Livestream from the Abbey Theatre Dublin

     IE/UK/EU – 8pm BST/9pm CEST (14 April)

    Americas – 9pm EDT/6pm PDT (14 April)

    Australia/NZ/Asia – 8pm AEST (15 April)

     

    Pre-order Arrivals

    GRAMMY® Winning ‘Sam Cooke: Legend’ Documentary Returns to DVD w/ Extra Content on April 30

    GRAMMY® Winning ‘Sam Cooke: Legend’ Documentary Returns to DVD w/ Extra Content on April 30

    American Blues Scene Staff

    ‘Sam Cooke: Legend’ is a comprehensive look at a figure who is, arguably, one of the most influential musical forces of the twentieth century and whose legacy resonates to the present day

    The life and music of Sam Cooke, soul’s first superstar, are examined in the critically lauded Sam Cooke: Legend, the Grammy® Award winning feature documentary from ABKCO Films. The 66-minute film examines the extraordinary career and tells the real story of his life through first-person accounts from family, childhood friends, musical collaborators and business associates along with Sam Cooke himself. Originally released in 2003, it has long been out of print; it will be reissued on DVD April 30 and can be pre-ordered now.

    With the success of the film One Night In Miami…, directed by Regina King, focus on the life of Cooke, portrayed in the film by Leslie Odom Jr., has grown exponentially. Sam Cooke: Legend traces both Cooke’s professional and personal life – from his gospel-singing roots in the early 1950’s through his R&B and pop music career to his untimely death in 1964. It was available for streaming through Amazon Prime earlier this year in celebration of the soul icon’s 90th birthday. The forthcoming DVD re-release includes extra content providing additional insight into the life and legacy of Sam Cooke.

    The film recounts his commitment to the struggle for civil rights, underscored by his last and most enduring hit song, “A Change Is Gonna Come,” as well as his transcendent and consummate popular appeal.  Sam Cooke:  Legend was awarded a Grammy in 2004 in the Best Long Form Video (since renamed Best Music Film) category. One of the highlights includes archival newsreel footage of Cassius Clay, the jubilant newly-crowned heavy weight champion, spotting Sam Cooke in the crowd and inviting him into the ring exclaiming, “Let that man up! This is Sam Cooke! This is the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll singer!” That same frantic and scenario is depicted, almost scene for scene, in One Night In Miami… .

    Sam Cooke: Legend was written by best-selling author Peter Guralnick whose Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke, is widely recognized as the definitive biography of the musical giant.  It is narrated by Tony Award winning actor Jeffrey Wright (“Basquiat,” “Angels In America,” “Ali”) and was directed by Mary Wharton and produced by Robin Klein and Mick Gochanour.

    The documentary features rare and never-before-seen performance clips, TV footage and family photos, plus exclusive original interviews. These include conversations with the late Aretha Franklin, TV host Dick Clark, singer Lou Rawls who was a childhood friend of Cooke’s and R&B great Lloyd Price. Also seen is Bobby Womack who, early in his career, enjoyed a rewarding musical association with Cooke who produced his hit “It’s All Over Now,” later covered by The Rolling Stones as referenced in One Night In Miami… .  Cooke’s gospel roots are discussed by LeRoy Crume of the Soul Stirrers, the seminal group that Cooke joined as a teen, Cooke’s siblings as well as daughter Zeriiya (Linda Cooke Womack). Another participant is recording mogul Lou Adler (Mamas and Papas, Carole King), who co-wrote “Wonderful World” with Cooke and Herb Alpert. 

    The DVD re-release includes a 3,000-word biography of Cooke and a comprehensive discography of his recordings, highlighting ABKCO’s Sam Cooke Remastered Series.  Beyond that the DVD’s extra content, running in  excess of 4 ½ hours and not seen in the streaming version, is highlighted by additional interview footage with numerous of Cooke’s contemporaries including the aforementioned Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls, Lloyd Price, Lou   Adler, Bobby Womack and music producer Luigi Creatore.  Family members seen in the extra footage include Linda Cooke-Womack (Zeriiya), L. C. Cooke, Charles Cook and Agnes Cook-Hoskins plus “Burn Baby Burn” radio personality Magnificent Montague.

    The film chronicles Cooke’s struggle to make it in the world of popular mainstream music culminating in his triumphant engagement at New York’s Copacabana in the summer of 1964.  From his birth in the Mississippi Delta through his family’s move to Chicago and the realization of his gift as expressed in his early gospel work, continuing through his change to secular music, his life can be viewed as a microcosm of the struggle for recognition and opportunity by African Americans in the mid-20th century. 

    Born in Clarksdale, Mississippi and raised on Chicago’s South Side, Sam Cooke was the son of a Baptist minister. He started singing in the church choir as a child and encouraged by his father, joined with his siblings to form a gospel group, the Singing Children. By the time he was a teenager, he had achieved significant success within the gospel community on the strength of his distinctive vocal style. In 1950 he was asked to replace legendary  singer R.H. Harris as lead vocalist of The Soul Stirrers. 

    Cooke crossed over into the world of popular music in 1957 and shot to the top of the R&B and Pop charts with his self-penned “You Send Me.” From that time on, he was never out of the Top 40, with smash hits like  “Wonderful World,” “Chain Gang,” “Cupid,” “Twistin’ the Night Away,” “Another Saturday Night” and “Shake.” His success didn’t surprise Aretha Franklin, who had earlier seen him perform at her father’s church. She  commented, “Sam was a prince of a man. He just had everything going for him. Sam had the looks, he had the voice, he had the manner, he had the charm, he had the savoir faire.”  A triumphant early-‘60s tour of the U.K. left a generation of young musicians like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Van Morrison and Rod Stewart enthralled as well.

    A champion of creative rights who wrote much of his own material, Cooke was among the first artists to recognize the importance of owning the publishing rights to his own compositions. He later established his own record  label and business empire to better realize his far-reaching musical ambitions.  

    Refusing to perform for segregated audiences in the South, Cooke utilized his stature as a performer to help break down the color lines separating blacks from whites, and in the process became, along with his friend Muhammad Ali, a symbol of the new Black American. Further inspired by Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” Cooke wrote “A Change Is Gonna Come,” a song that would become an anthem of the civil rights movement after Cooke’s senseless shooting death in December of 1964. Sam Cooke was 33 years old at the time and more than 34 years have passed since then but interest in his life and work is stronger today than ever before. 

    Sam Cooke: Legend is a comprehensive look at a figure who is, arguably, one of the most influential musical forces of the twentieth century and whose legacy resonates to the present day. 

    David Bowie’s Guitarist Earl Slick to Release New 2xLP Set, ‘Fist Full of Devils’

    David Bowie’s Guitarist Earl Slick to Release New 2xLP Set, ‘Fist Full of Devils’

    Howlin’ Wuelf Media

    ‘Fist Full of Devils’ represents Slick’s return home to his blues roots

    Iconic guitarist Earl Slick‘s new 11-track instrumental album Fist Full of Devils is no retread retrospective of Slick’s run of 40 years as a professional guitarist; it’s an audible demonstration of a virtuoso still pushing deep into rock and roll’s blues roots. The album is being released as a 2 x 12” vinyl LPs plus CD set, digital download and via streaming platforms by Schnitzel Records July 2.

    The inspiration for Fist Full of Devils came from an extraordinary event. “I was in Chicago and Edgar Winter was playing at Legends (Blues guitarist Buddy Guy’s club). I sat in with Edgar. Buddy wasn’t supposed to be there, and I was a little disappointed. Then Buddy walks in while I was playing. And he invited me to play.”

    Earl Slick courtesy of Howard Wuelfing

    For Slick, that instant became of the biggest moments of an already remarkable, 40-year career. “That first night with Buddy Guy. Wow. Buddy’s where it comes from. Someone like him thinking I was good enough to get on stage with him (long pause) was a trip.”

    That evening with Guy pointed Slick’s compass toward his early career roots. Some of the tracks on Fist Full were ideas that had been rattling around in his heart for decades. Some were wholly new. The sinister “Black,” for example, seemed to flow up from the ground when they entered studio, he said. It was written, “in maybe 10 minutes,” he said. “It’s dark.”

    Contrast that with the soaring, diving number “Vanishing Point.” That was born in a lick he’d saved nearly 30 years ago and only recently rediscovered in a sound file. He didn’t know what do with it when he wrote it, so he tucked it away. But now, “all of these years later I came at it with a different head than I had then.”

    And this is what people are going hear in Fist Full Of Devils he said: That lifelong journey from Brooklyn didn’t leave him empty handed; he brought back the prizes, the tricks, the scars, the influences and the tools from a road that never presented a detour. Or an end.

    Slick’s musical odyssey began in earnest when he was 20 and the creator of the New York Rock ‘n Roll Ensemble, composer Michael Kamen, recognized his talent and brought him into the studio for collaborations with established pros such as David Sanborn, and Hank DeVito and Paul Butterfield.

    “Michael took me under his wing,” Slick said. “And eventually he put me in his band. One day, Kamen said he’d arranged an audition for Slick with a “really big artist” for a new gig. He declined to say who. “(Kamen) said, ‘Keep your shit together. They are going to be calling you.’”

    A few days later David Bowie’s assistant called and asked Slick down to a Manhattan studio for an audition. “I thought there was going to be a whole band there.” Slick was handed an amp and some headphones. The producer asked him to play along to unmixed and unreleased Diamond Dog songs such as “Rebel Rebel.” He played for about 20 minutes. “Then David walked in. I didn’t know he was there. He’d been listening from another room. He picked up a guitar and we noodled around for about an hour and we talked.” Twenty-four hours later, he was offered the gig to go on the Diamond Dogs tour. Slick was 22 years old.

    For the next two years, through the Diamond Dogs tour and the two studio releases, Young Americans and Station to Station, Slick’s playing expanded well beyond 12-bar blues. He left Bowie after Station and formed the Earl Slick Band. He began a series of collaborations with Ian Hunter, John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

    Then after the release of Let’s Dance in 1983, Bowie came calling again. Stevie Ray Vaughn, who played guitar on the album, quit the band after a dispute with Bowie. Slick was called as a last-minute replacement for the upcoming Serious Moonlight Tour.

    A cascade of gigs and projects followed: He founded Phantom, Rocker & Slick which charted two top 10 singles and reached number seven on the Billboard rankings. As an added bonus: Slick’s idol, Keith Richards, contributed to one of the album’s singles “My Mistake.”

    Then in the early 2000s, Bowie came calling again. Slick played in on the next three studio albums, Toy, Heathen and Reality. He performed as the touring guitarist for the albums as well. Never accused of resting on his laurels, Slick then released another solo album Zig Zag and joined Slinky Vagabonds with original Sex Pistols bassist and songwriter Glen Matlock – a musician he will tour with later this year to support the album.

    In 2015, he again worked with Bowie on his second-to last album, The Next Day, before Bowie’s death in 2016. It isn’t lost on Slick that NASA broadcast Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” when the Perseverance rover touched down on Feb. 18 in what amounts to a multi-billion-dollar effort to answer Bowie’s simple question. That’s Slick playing the guitar millions of people listened to. Again.

    Through the decades and of the performances, the studio sessions and the many bands, Slick kept feeling the tug of the blues, the music that first opened his mind and then every door thereafter. Fist Full of Devils represents that return home.

     “I am,” Slick said. “Exactly where I should be.”

     *Feature image credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

    Paula Cole Announces New Album, Shares New Song

    Paula Cole Announces New Album, Shares New Song

    Missing Piece Group

    An 18th-century mountain ballad, “Wayfaring Stranger,” came to Cole via Emmylou Harris, whose own version of the song appeared on 1980’s ‘Roses in the Snow,’ and was “a profound influence” on Cole.

    Grammy-winning songwriter and producer Paula Cole has announced her upcoming album American Quilt. “I wanted this album to reflect a patchwork of music from the cities and the mountains, the fields and the rivers,” writes Cole. “From movies, to melodies that traversed oceans, centuries, cultures, and continents – sewn together with our collective heartstrings.” American 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.

    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). Today, 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.”

    An 18th-century mountain ballad, “Wayfaring Stranger,” came to Cole via Emmylou Harris, whose own version of the song appeared on 1980’s Roses in the Snow, and was “a profound influence” on Cole. “It’s a nod to Emmylou because I love her so dearly and she’s so important in my life,” says Cole. Featuring recent Berklee grad Kathleen Parks on fiddle and Ross Gallagher on upright bass, “Wayfaring Stranger” is “a song of hope for world-weary travelers who endure suffering and heartache and fantasize about the great beyond over Jordan and reuniting with loved ones.”

    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, deemed by PopMatters as “an exceptional piece of work, a timely reminder of how soulful and perceptive a writer and singer Cole is and has always been.”

    Paula Cole

    *Feature image photo by Ebru Yildiz

    Allison Russell Announces Debut Solo Album ‘Outside Child’

    Allison Russell Announces Debut Solo Album ‘Outside Child’

    Grandstand Media

    “We all come from long lines of survivors. I believe my Ancestors must have been protecting me all along. And now my daughter carries their strength…” – Allison Russell

    On May 21st, Allison Russell will release her first ever solo project, Outside Child (produced by Dan Knobler) on Fantasy Records. Russell, a poet, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and co-founder of Our Native Daughters and Birds of Chicago, unpacks her youth in searing detail throughout the album. She has shared the first single, “Nightflyer” and its accompanying music video directed by Silvia Grav.

    Born and raised in Montreal, Russell imbues her music with the colors of her city – the light, the landscape, the language – but also the trauma that she suffered there. It is a heartbreaking reflection on a childhood no one should have to endure, and at the same time a powerful reclamation – asserted from a place of healing, of motherhood, of partnership – and from a new home made in Nashville. The record features contributions from many of the artistic family members she has found there including Yola, Erin Rae, The McCrary Sisters, Ruth Moody, producer Dan Knobler, Jamie Dick, Joe Pisapia, and her partner JT Nero.“It was just about making these songs live and breathe in the most honest way,” Russell says. “We were laughing, we were crying. And the communion between musicians, I hope people can hear that on the record. It felt like magic.”

    Outside Child, says Russell “is about resilience, survival, transcendence, the redemptive power of art, community, connection, and chosen family.” Singing about this on “Nightflyer,” Russell ponders the healing power of motherhood, using the track’s wide open expanse to convey the strength she didn’t know she had. Here, the line “I am the mother of the evening star / I am the love that conquers all” is “the most defiantly triumphant, hopeful line I’ve ever written ..that’s about the birth of my daughter and how that transformed me.” Though they had a fraught relationship, Russell remembers how she’d crawl underneath the piano and listen to her own mother play. “I would hum along with her,” Russell recalls. “She said I was humming before I could talk. I was able to feel some kind of comfort or love or connection in a way that she couldn’t verbally or physically express – but I could feel in her music that there was love in her.

    “When I was sixteen I read The Thunder: Perfect Mind for the first time – it’s an exhortatory poem discovered among the Gnostic manuscripts in the Nag Hammadi library in the 1940’s. It has never left me. I’ve been meditating on the nature of resilience, endurance, and grace more deeply since becoming a mother to Ida, seven years ago. I was trying to bridge the divide and embrace shame and my inner divinity equally with this piece. The burden and the balm of our lineages and our history that we all carry. We all come from long lines of survivors. I believe my Ancestors must have been protecting me all along. And now my daughter carries their strength…”

    In the end, Outside Child is not only a radical reclamation of a traumatic childhood and lost home, it is a lantern light for survivors of all stripes – a fervent reminder of the eleventh hour, resuscitative power of art. “Allison’s new album, Outside Child, draws water from the dark well of a violent  past,” says poet and songwriter Joe Henry. “The songs themselves ––though iron-hard in their concerns–– are exultant: exercising haunted dream-like clean bedsheets snapped and hung out into broad daylight, and with the romantic poet’s lust for living and audacity of endurance.”

    Allison Russell

    *Feature image photo: Marc Baptiste

    Maria Muldaur with Tuba Skinny Proclaim ‘Let’s Get Happy Together’ on New Album

    Maria Muldaur with Tuba Skinny Proclaim ‘Let’s Get Happy Together’ on New Album

    Mark Pucci

    “It is my hope that by sharing the origins of these tunes, you will be inspired to look up these wonderful artists yourself on YouTube and start exploring and enjoying the endless abundance of incredible music they left us!” – Maria Muldaur

    Six-time Grammy nominee Maria Muldaur, who’s been dubbed “The First Lady of Roots Music” for previous albums touching on her wide-ranging influences from blues, country, folk, jazz and even jug band music, continues her exploration of the great American roots music songbook. On her latest excursion, this time into the vintage jazz and blues sounds of the 1920s/’30s, Maria teams up with acclaimed New Orleans street band Tuba Skinny for Let’s Get Happy Together, releasing May 7th on Stony Plain Records.

    Muldaur recorded Let’s Get Happy Together at Marigny Studios in New Orleans along with the members of Tuba Skinny: Shaye Cohn – cornet; Todd Burdick – tuba; Barnabus Jones – trombone; Jason Lawrence – banjo; Craig Flory – clarinet; Greg Sherman – guitar; Max Bien-Kahn – guitar; and Robin Rapuzzi – washboard. This is Maria’s 43rd album release in a long and storied career, (her ninth on Stony Plain).

    The Crescent City has always been a favorite destination and inspiration for Muldaur and that New Orleans feel permeates throughout the album’s 12 tracks. When Maria discovered the music of Tuba Skinny, she learned that just like her, these musicians study, play and immerse themselves in the early blues, jazz and jug-band music of the ‘20s and ‘30s. “They were not just playing a marvelous repertoire of cool tunes with great skill and authenticity, but somehow channeling the very atmosphere and vibration of that bygone era,” she says.

    “A couple of years ago, while shopping in my favorite Woodstock, NY,  clothing store, I heard the most wonderful vintage jazz joyously floating through the air! ‘How cool that the local radio station is playing this kind of music,’ I remarked to the shop owner, who informed me that we were not listening to the radio, but some CDs of a band called Tuba Skinny. She told me they were a band of young musicians, some originally from the Woodstock area, which now lived in New Orleans and performed on the streets and at many clubs and festivals there.

    “Having studied, enjoyed and immersed myself in early blues, jazz, and jug band music of the ‘20s and ‘30s all of my musical life, I found it almost impossible to believe we were not listening to some classic old 78s from the era, but instead to a band of young street musicians! She had to show me the CD covers before I would believe her! I was gratified to learn that there was a current crop of young musicians coming up dedicated to rediscovering and preserving the treasure trove of our rich musical past, much as my Jugband mates and I and so many others had done in the Folk Revival of the ‘60s. I immediately asked how I could get ahold of their CDs and when I returned to Woodstock a month later, she had five Tuba Skinny CDs for me, which have been in heavy rotation in my life ever since!”

    Just prior to the COVID Pandemic in January, 2020, Muldaur asked Tuba Skinny to collaborate for a showcase performance at the International Folk Alliance Conference in New Orleans. It was so well-received that an album was immediately conceived and recorded later that year, with the title track summing it all up: “Let’s Get Happy Together!” Performing 12 songs as closely as possible in feeling to the original recordings, Maria and Tuba Skinny breathed new life into rarely heard gems from this incredible era.

    “It was an amazing show,” recalls Holger Petersen, Stony Plain Records founder and executive producer of the new disc, about the Folk Alliance concert. “‘A match made in heaven’ as they say. We talked about a possible album and I am delighted that it worked out and to now hear the results. I’ve had the honor of working with Maria on many of her passion projects. There is no one who digs deeper with more respect, enthusiasm, and love for the music.  She spends months researching material and preparing. This is a unique historic project that pays reverence to the early New Orleans women of blues and jazz. You can almost see the grin on Maria’s face when you hear her singing with this truly inspiring band.  The music and performances are infectious.”

    Maria Muldaur’s 57-plus year career is a long and adventurous odyssey through the forms of American Roots Music: blues, jug band, bluegrass, jazz and Appalachian “Old Timey” music. Besides her six Grammy nominations, as well as other blues, folk and roots awards, Maria was the 2019 recipient of the “Lifetime Achievement Americana Trailblazer Award” from the Americana Music Association.

    It is my hope that by sharing the origins of these tunes, you will be inspired to look up these wonderful artists yourself on YouTube and start exploring and enjoying the endless abundance of incredible music they left us! – Maria Muldaur

    A Few Notes from Maria about the Songs and Where They Came From

  • 1. I Like You Best of All. – originally done by the Goofus Five,  a popular band in the ‘20s~The minute I heard it I knew it would be a perfect vehicle for Tuba Skinny!
  • 2. Let’s Get Happy Together – originally written & recorded by Lil Hardin Armstrong, a perky happy song with hip lyrics.
  • Be Your Natural Self – originally sung by a vocalist named Frankie “Half Pint” Jaxon, who sometimes sang and entertained as a man and sometimes as a woman, one of the first openly “gender benders” of the era! I’m sure this song had special significance for him!
  • Delta Bound – originally recorded by Ivy Anderson & the Duke Ellington Orchestra, it’s always been one of my favorites and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to finally record this song with the right band!
  • Swing You Sinners – recorded in 1935 by one of the most delightful discoveries of my research…an amazingly talented woman named Valaida Snowa virtuoso American jazz musician and entertainer who became an internationally celebrated talent. She was known as “Little Louis,” “Queen of the Trumpet,” and was referred to by Louis Armstrong as “the second best trumpet player in the world.” How could I have studied this music for so long and never heard of her??….That’s the beauty of our rich musical legacy….the more you delve into it, the more there is to discover and enjoy!
  • He Ain’t Got Rhythm – I just love Irving Berlin’s droll, clever lyrics! Recorded by many artists in the 1930s…Billie Holiday’s rendition with Teddy Wilson, Lester Young, Benny Goodman, et al, is the one that informs our version.
  • Got the South in My Soul – originally recorded by New Orleans natives, The Boswell Sistersfabulous singers with incredible musicianship who sang and swung with all the best big bands of the day. Connie Boswellwho so soulfully sang lead, is one of my favorite singers.
  • I Go for That – Dorothy Lamour, another New Orleans native, was married to a big bandleader and sang with his band before she became the exotic sultry Hollywood movie star we all remember. I was delighted to discover what a cool singer she was and to find this droll, witty song – “You play the ‘uke, you’re from Dubuque”… hilarious lyrics!
  • Patience & Fortitude – another song originally done by the incomparable Valaida Snow…An uplifting little sermonette with a useful, positive message.
  • Some Sweet Day- a sweet, wistful song originally done by Frankie “Half Pint” Jaxon.
  • Big City Blues – an all-too-true tale of loneliness, originally recorded by a wonderful singer I greatly admire, Annette Henshaw, who recorded over 250 sides and was one of the most popular radio stars of the 1930s.
  • Road of Stone – This raw, soulful, plaintive blues was recorded in the 1920s by Sweet Pea Spivey…. sister of famous classic blues queen, Victoria Spivey, who actually “discovered” me and mentored me in my youth.
  • Maria Muldaur
    Tuba Skinny
    Pre-Order Let’s Get Happy Together

    *Feature image photo by Josef Crosby

    Virtual ‘Happy Birthday, Mister Rogers’ Celebration Streams This Saturday, March 20th

    Virtual ‘Happy Birthday, Mister Rogers’ Celebration Streams This Saturday, March 20th

    American Blues Scene Staff

    “Happy Birthday, Mister Rogers” streams at YouTube, Facebook @ThankYouMisterRogers, and ThankYouMisterRogers.com on Saturday, Mar. 20 at 10am CT

    Premiering on Saturday, March 20th at 10am CT, Tom Bergeron(America’s Funniest Videos, Dancing with the Stars) will host a special virtual presentation of Happy Birthday, Mister Rogers, to commemorate America’s favorite neighbor, Fred Rogers’ 93rd birthday. The virtual show will stream at ThankYouMisterRogers.com, Facebook (@ThankYouMisterRogers) and on YouTube.

    It includes cameos and birthday shout-outs by celebrity recording artists Kellie Pickler, Vanessa Williams, Lee Greenwood, The Cowsills, Jaci Velasquez, Jim Brickman, Jon Secada, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr, Micky Dolenz, and Sandi Patty. The virtual celebration is also dedicated to the late Joanne Rogers, wife of Fred, who passed away earlier this year.

    Courtesy of JWA Media

    The virtual birthday bash is the brainchild of two-time Grammy and Emmy winning producer, Dennis Scott, who has produced two albums of Fred Rogers’ music: Songs From The Neighborhood – The Music of Mister Rogers (2005) & Thank You, Mister Rogers – Music & Memories (2019). Scott also interviewed numerous fans and supporters of Mister Rogers and was surprised by how many people received personal letters from him over the years. One compelling story is that of a young Connecticut girl who was visited by Fred while she was in a coma recovering from brain surgery.

    “I wanted to give folks a chance to tell their stories and express their gratitude to Fred on what would have been his 93rd birthday,” said Scott.

    Coincidently, producer Dennis Scott is simultaneously spearheading a grassroots campaign to get Fred Rogers nominated to the Songwriters Hall of Fame. A petition in support of that is viewable at ThankYouMisterRogers.com

    “Fred loved writing songs and becoming a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, alongside other great American composers, is the best birthday present we could give him,” said Scott. “Happy Birthday, Mister Rogers!” 

    Two-time Grammy Award winning songwriter/producer/writer Dennis Scott has left no corner of the children’s music industry unexplored. His songs have been performed by such diverse artists as Faith Hill, Ray Charles, Sugarland, Alison Krauss, The Muppets, Amy Grant, CeCe Winans, Trisha Yearwood, Elmo, Charlie Daniels Band, Shari Lewis, Crystal Gayle, Roberta Flack, Ricky Skaggs, and many others. Dennis is also the recipient of two Emmys, a Parent’s Choice Award, and a Telly. You can hear his work on television, radio, audio books, home videos, and stage productions such as “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” “Sesame Street Live” and “The Magic School Bus.”

    Dennis began his entertainment career at the age of 7 as an actor on Broadway. As an adult, he toured with the New Christy Minstrels (playing upright bass and singing). His novelty tune “Captain Kirk’s Disco Trek” led to his first serious foray into children’s music and a Grammy for “Sesame Country.” He has had nonstop assignments since then. Dennis has served as Music Director for several children’s TV shows including the PBS series “Noddy” and, most recently, “BJ’s Teddy Bear Club” which airs on TBN and just earned him his second Emmy award. His album, Songs From The Neighborhood – The Music of Mister Rogers won a Grammy award as Best Musical Recording for Children in 2005. His latest produced album, Thank You, Mister Rogers – Music & Memories is available on CD, and wherever digital music is sold and streamed at orcd.co/ThankYouMisterRogers.

    The Blues Foundation Rescinds Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s 2021 Blues Music Award Nomination

    The Blues Foundation Rescinds Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s 2021 Blues Music Award Nomination

    American Blues Scene Staff

    The decision to rescind the nomination was based upon continuing revelations of representations of the Confederate flag on Shepherd’s “General Lee” car, guitars and elsewhere

    The Blues Foundation (the Foundation) has rescinded Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s 2021 Blues Music Awards (BMA) nomination for Best Blues/Rock Artist. The BMAs will be presented virtually on June 6, 2021. The decision to rescind the nomination is in keeping with the Foundation’s statement Against Racism (March 15, 2021) Against Racism which asserts “The Blues Foundation unequivocally condemns all forms and expressions of racism, including all symbols associated with white supremacy and the degradation of people of color.  We will hold ourselves as well as all blues musicians, fans, organizations, and members of the music industry accountable for racist actions and encourage concrete commitments to acknowledge and redress the resulting pain.” 

    The decision to rescind the nomination was based upon continuing revelations of representations of the Confederate flag on Shepherd’s “General Lee” car, guitars and elsewhere. The Blues Foundation has also asked Ken Shepherd, father of Kenny Wayne Shepherd, to step down as a member of its Board of Directors.  The Blues Foundation states that it is resolute in its commitment to purposefully address racism and contribute to a more equitable blues community.

    The Blues Foundation is widely acknowledged as the foremost non-profit blues organization with more than 4,000 members and nearly 200 affiliated blues societies across the globe.  The Foundation preserves blues heritage, celebrates blues recording and performance, expands worldwide awareness of the blues, and ensures the future of the uniquely American art form. The BMAs are generally recognized as the highest honor given to blues musicians.

    The Best Blues/Rock Artist is one of 25 BMA categories that are awarded by vote of Blues Foundation members.  In addition to the BMAs, the Foundation also presents the International Blues Challenge, as well as Blues in the Schools, the HART Fund which provides grants to cover the medical needs of blues artists and, most recently, the COVID-19 Blues Musician Emergency Relief Fund which has distributed more than $250,000 to address the urgent needs of blues musicians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Dumpstaphunk Releases Urgent Rendition Of Buddy Miles’ ‘United Nations Stomp’

    Dumpstaphunk Releases Urgent Rendition Of Buddy Miles’ ‘United Nations Stomp’

    Jon Bleicher / Prospect PR

    “First, I’m a big fan of Buddy Miles. I like the groove and the line you can dance to the rhythm of a funky beat! With a strong message, it talks about peace, love and harmony – something we all need today. This song was originally released 47 years ago by Buddy Miles in 1973 on his album ‘Boogie Bear.’ ” – Tony Hall

    New Orleans funk powerhouse Dumpstaphunk has just unleashed a rendition of Buddy Miles’ 1973 acid-fueled blues anthem “United Nations Stomp,” the third single from Where Do We Go From Here, their first full-length album in seven years.

    Ignited by the exploding lead guitar of special guest Marcus King, the epic jam invokes the vintage spirit of Jimi Hendrix and Cream coupled with a touch of urgent musical angst that could be easily playlist alongside modern contemporaries Rage Against The Machine or Red Hot Chili Peppers.  The track, mixed by Beastie Boys producer, Mario Caldato Jr., also features guitar legend Waddy Wachtel (Keith Richards, Rolling Stones, Stevie Nicks) in a crescendoing super-jam that further cements Dumpstaphunk’s status as the heaviest funk-rock band in the land, as they gear up to release what is undeniably the most powerful and politically pointed album of their career.

    First, I’m a big fan of Buddy Miles. I like the groove and the line you can dance to the rhythm of a funky beat! With a strong message, it talks about peace, love and harmony – something we all need today. This song was originally released 47 years ago by Buddy Miles in 1973 on his album ‘Boogie Bear.’ – Tony Hall

    The band’s arsenal of classic and modern influences can be heard throughout the new album, a distinctive mix of genuine New Orleans funk, old school R&B and guitar fueled modern rock; from the slap-bass rave “Make It After All” to the band’s contemporary renderings of New Orleans R&B rarities (the 1975 Blackmail gem “Let’s Get At It”) and early Seventies classics (Sly and the Family Stone’s “In Time”). “We hope people can hear the new songs and are inclined to dance, and inspired to think at the same time,” says Ivan, speaking to the new album’s delicate balance between topic material and dance-floor rockers.

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

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

    Pre-Order Where Do We Go From Here

    The Lumineers Announce Limited Theatrical Premiere of ‘The Lumineers: Live From The Artists Den’ and Short Film ‘III’

    The Lumineers Announce Limited Theatrical Premiere of ‘The Lumineers: Live From The Artists Den’ and Short Film ‘III’

    Big Hassle Media

    Limited screenings begin in theatres nationwide on April 1; all dates subject to change depending on local reopening conditions

    The Lumineers – in collaboration with Artists Den Entertainment and CineLife Entertainment®, a division of Spotlight Cinema Networks – are proud to announce the eagerly awaited theatrical premiere of The Lumineers: Live from the Artists Den. The full-length concert film will be presented in an exclusive double feature alongside III, the acclaimed motion picture companion to the 2x GRAMMY® Award-nominated band’s landmark album, III. Limited screenings of The Lumineers: Live from the Artists Den begin nationwide on April 1, 2021. Dates will vary by region and are subject to change depending on local cinema reopening conditions. For updates and additional information, please visit https://www.cinelifeentertainment.com/event/the-lumineers/

    Photo courtesy of Jim Merlis

    In 2016, The Lumineers returned to their former home of Brooklyn, NY for an unforgettable taping of Live from the Artists Den at the majestic Kings Theatre. The upcoming cinema release of The Lumineers: Live from the Artists Den is the first-ever screening of the complete performance and includes three unreleased songs and never-before-seen interview footage. Fans will be delighted to hear that the live concert film will be joined by the band’s celebrated short film III, marking the first time it is being released wide to audiences on the big screen. III made its world premiere in the special events category at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The long-awaited cinema release of The Lumineers: Live from the Artists Den offers fans an extraordinary opportunity to witness the band’s most intimate creative work to date, while also supporting movie theatres and independent cinemas across the country.

    The Lumineers’ Wesley Schultz says about the theatrical release, “Pairing our Artists Den show from the Kings Theatre with the film III, the motion picture companion to our album of the same name, is truly special. We are excited to partner with CineLife to bring our film to the world, providing a unique night of both a live show and a visual album.”

    In order to provide an experience that is as safe as possible in these current unprecedented times, CineLife will be welcoming fans to theatres that are adhering to new guidelines for safe viewing, utilizing CinemaSafe: a program promoting protocols and guidelines developed and supported by leading epidemiologists to support a safe return to movie theatres. 

    “The Artists Den’s mission has always been to offer fans an intimate musical experience with extraordinary artists. After a difficult year for both music fans and artists, we’re excited to partner with Spotlight and CineLife to bring the magic of live performance to the big screen. The Lumineers: Live from the Artists Den is the perfect example of synergy between artist, venue, and audience, and we can’t wait to share this once-in-a-lifetime performance with fans across the country. – Mark Lieberman

    “At CineLife and Spotlight, we’re dedicated to providing our viewers with content that is not only entertaining, but an immersive experience,” said Bernadette McCabe, Executive Vice President, CineLife Entertainment. “The Lumineers: Live from the Artists Den is exactly that, allowing audiences to see and hear every visual and musical intricacy of a live performance up close. Especially as we now have more comprehensive measures in place for safe viewing than ever before, we’re excited to welcome audiences to experience this imaginative convergence of music and film in their local cinemas.”

     

    The Lumineers

     

    *Feature image credit: Danny Clinch

     

    Bobby Rush 2nd Grammy 2021: The Grammys’ “Rush” to Blues Victory

    Bobby Rush 2nd Grammy 2021: The Grammys’ “Rush” to Blues Victory

    Don Wilcock

    Blues may be “America’s music,” and Bobby Rush certainly is our best ambassador since the death of B.B. King. Why then is this award never shown on TV? 

    No single event in the music calendar brings into sharper focus the dance between roots music as an art and “popular” music as a commodity than the Grammy Awards. Roots music needs popular music to build a large enough fan base for the artists creating this music to give up their day job and follow their muse. Popular music needs the cultural roots of blues, soul, R&B, country and Americana to inspire them to rise above the pablum that often dominates the top 100 charts.  

    The 63rd annual Grammy Awards Show, often painful to watch, showcased the biggest – and occasionally best – artists who engage in that dance. That the dancers often have “partners” grooving to a completely different tune is part of what makes this awards show a four-and-a-half-hour circus. 

    Bobby Rush took home his second traditional blues Grammy for his album Rawer Than Raw. It was the obvious choice, by the Recording Academy that more often than not fails to make the right decisions. Rawer Than Raw on Deep Rush/Thirsty Records was recorded in Jackson, Mississippi over several years, it features five originals and six covers by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonnyboy Williamson II, Skip James, and Elmore James.  

    The award and its presentation never made it onto the four and a half hour show on CBS.  

    In my review of the album in American Blues Scene I said, “Perhaps what’s most telling about this collection is that if you gave a blindfold test to someone unfamiliar with the classic cuts, they would be unable to distinguish the Bobby Rush originals from the covers. That’s because he was THERE when all these cuts first went down. And there’s no smoke or mirrors on this LP. It’s just Bobby, his guitar and his harmonica having a Saturday rent party in rural Mississippi.” 

    If a cat has nine lives, 85-year-old Bobby Rush has had a lucky 13. He was never diagnosed with Covid 19, but in April he was “out of my head” with a temperature of 105, but he’s back in fighting condition now. He has hope for society’s future and intends to be around to help make that future happen.” 

    Blues may be “America’s music,” and Bobby Rush certainly is our best ambassador since the death of B.B. King. Why then is this award never shown on TV? 

    There were many high points, however.  

    Host Trevor Noah did a fabulous job of fitting a thousand-pound bag of entertainment into a four-hour television extravaganza with jokes and quips delivered without the usual studio audience feedback because of pandemic restrictions. 

    Mickey Guyton sang her country hit “Black Like Me” with its lyric “If your think we live in the land of the free/you should try to be black like me.” She has broken a couple of important ceilings as the first female African American singer to be nominated in the category of Country Solo Performance. That said, she lost to a giant multi-Grammy winner Vince Gill. Guyton will co-host Academy of Country Music Awards in April. 

    Legacy soul artist Lionel Richie re-cast “Lady” in a touching tribute to Kenny Rogers. His was one of those performances that make you feel like you’re hearing an old chestnut for the first time. Kenny was Lionel’s friend, and his version not only did honor to Kenny but reminded me of Kenny’s whole repertoire of songs that touch the heart. 

    The Black Pumas’ performance early in the show cemented their position as up and comers in the blues/R&B crossover category: impassioned singing, spot-on big band sound and good material. They didn’t win Band of The Year, but that they were even up for the award signals a strong future. 

    Bruno Mars captured all the urgency of Little Richard in his musical homage to the “Good Golly Miss Molly” shouter. And his singing with his new group Silk Sonic was a shoutout to the kind of Motown R&B crooners of the 1970s who still have a place in today’s music. 

    Brandi Carlile hit John Prine’s “I Remember Everything” out of the ball park. 

    And Taylor Swift who took home record of the year for “Folklore” illustrating just why she touches all of humanity’s love for pop confections. 

    Lil Baby brought home the nightmare of racial bigotry and the horrors of police brutality in a visual re-enactment. It’s not new, and it hasn’t gone away. I will never forget interviewing Bobby Rush for the University of Arkansas Pryor Film Archives a few years ago , and after the cameras shut down, he got tears in his eyes, reminding me of a terrible car crash he’d been in. Lying prostrate on the ground, he overheard a cop walk by his body telling another officer, “that (n-word) is dead.” 

    One of the songs on Rawer Than Raw is Skip James’ “Hard Times” which Bobby finds apropos of society’s current situation. I asked him if he knew what happened to Skip in those 30 years when he didn’t tour. “He was like most of those guys farming and planting cotton, picking cotton and trying to survive. You know. He was like Bobby Rush.” 

    Fantastic Negrito, a perennial favorite with the Academy, took home Contemporary Blues Album of The Year over strong competition including my pick Bettye LaVette’s Blackbirds, Ruthie Foster’s Live at The Paramount, Up and Rolling by The North Mississippi Allstars, and G. Love’s The Juice

     

    2021 GRAMMYs Awards Show: Complete Winners & Nominees List

     

    Blue Water Highway Release New Album ‘Paper Airplanes’ Today, Share Video for Title Track

    Blue Water Highway Release New Album ‘Paper Airplanes’ Today, Share Video for Title Track

    American Blues Scene Staff

    ‘Paper Airplanes’ is out today! Watch the video for the title track!

    Today the Lone Star state-based Americana/indie-folk quartet Blue Water Highway (Zack Kibodeaux, lead singer/guitar; Catherine Clarke, vocals/keyboards; Greg Essington, vocals/guitar; and Kyle Smith, bass) release their third album, Paper Airplanes. Their 2015 debut, Things We Carry, and its 2018 follow-up, Heartbreak City, were both met with rave reviews from critics. But as the group began recording demos for this latest project, they faced an unsettling reality: They realized that they didn’t know what they wanted to say.

    “Our inspiration just dried up,” says Kibodeaux. “It was the most difficult thing we’ve experienced as a band. For our first albums, songs came relatively easy for us. But we had gone through some live and career changes, and I guess they had an impact on us. All at once we were in a creative rut. What was our identity? What did we want to write about and sound like? We had a lot of serious questions, but no answers.”

    Adds Clarke, “We had always been so confident, and suddenly we kind of lost our direction. But how do you get back on track and move forward? You can’t just will it to happen. Sometimes the answer has to find you.”

    Oddly enough, the way forward began to reveal itself by looking back, when Kibodeaux found lyrics to an earlier song he written called “Paper Airplanes.” Lines jumped out at him – “Here I go again tonight, floating back in time to steer my life… Folding all the corners down, find a way to fly, feet on the ground.” Right away, the words summarized the growing pains the band had been struggling with, but they also highlighted a course of action.

    “Instead of looking at things just one way, we realized that we could examine them from different angles,” Kibodeaux says. “We wanted to explore the contrasts of childhood and adulthood. What is it like for you to stand in your childhood room as an adult, or look up at the stars, and how do you have dreams as a realistic, maybe jaded grown-up?” He laughs and adds, “To quote C.S. Lewis, we had to become ‘re-enchanted.’ “

    “Paper Airplanes” opened things up for the band, setting the tone for a succession of songs that quickly followed, and the vision for their new album, indeed titled Paper Airplanes, became clear. “It wasn’t just going to be the album we wanted to make,” says Kibodeaux. “It would be the record we needed to make.”

    The exquisitely realized title track conjures a world of stunning vistas while its narrator contemplates the relationship between childhood dreams and adult realities.

    Paper Airplanes

    Producer/Musician Alec Fraser Jr. to Release Debut Solo Album, ‘On The Wings of the Wind’

    Producer/Musician Alec Fraser Jr. to Release Debut Solo Album, ‘On The Wings of the Wind’

    Sarah French

    On The Wings of the Wind is set for digital-only release on March 15th

    Multi-award-winning producer/musician Alec Fraser Jr. has, at long last, released his first solo recording, On The Wings of the Wind. As a bassist he has toured internationally and worked with many world-class artists like Jeff Healey and Bo Diddley. As a producer and bassist, his work has garnered 23 awards to date including three Juno awarded records, two WC Handy awards, and multiple Maple Blues awards for bass playing and production. 

    Though primarily known as a blues musician, Fraser’s new release showcases his stunning lyrics and vocal ability, in addition to his accomplished bass playing. Fans of folk, singer/songwriter, and roots music will enjoy On The Wings of the Wind, a record with depth and brave musical directions. 14 years ago Alec started developing the Circus Bass, an upright bass with seven drum sounds attached, played with his hands and a brush. Tracks 5, 6, and 11 are demonstrations of this invention.  

    “This first solo release is a result of the global pandemic and having the time to write my own songs with the influences I’ve had from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean”, says Alec. “It’s also exciting for me to have musicians I’ve recorded play on my record.”

    On The Wings Of The Wind Track List:

     Let Me Be Your Break In The Clouds – Alec Fraser Jr – 3:27

    Ocean Of Emotion – Alec Fraser Jr – 4:12

    My Father’s Ashes – Alec Fraser Jr – 2:50

    Terlingua Night – Alec Fraser Jr – 3:27

    Don’t Cry For Me – Alec Fraser Jr/Chris Bartos – 3:56

    On The Wings Of The Wind – Alec Fraser Jr – 4:55

    All In A Day – Alec Fraser Jr – 3:32

    Will Ye Go Lassie Go – Traditional – 3:36

    You Cannae Take It With You – Alec Fraser Jr/Maggie Fraser – 3:06

    Red Haired Girl – Traditional/Alec Fraser Jr lyrics – 2:42

    Flying In Dreams – Alec Fraser Jr – 2:20

    Grandma’s House – Alec Fraser Jr – 4:13

     

    Download On the Wings of the Wind

     

    Allman Brothers Band ‘Live at Great Woods’ DVD To Be Reissued

    Allman Brothers Band ‘Live at Great Woods’ DVD To Be Reissued

    American Blues Scene Staff

    The outdoor show featured the powerful lineup of founding members Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Jaimoe and Butch Trucks plus Warren Haynes, Allen Woody and Marc Quinones

    The Allman Brothers Band are excited to announce the reissue of their acclaimed and platinum-selling Live at Great Woods DVD on March 26, their 61st birthday. Filmed for a Japanese TV special on September 6, 1991, the original DVD release incorporated interview segments into the songs, but this re-mastered version—with the rights recently being returned to the Allman Brothers Band Recording Company, with distribution by The Orchard–keeps the songs in full. It will be available on DVD and digitally, and individual audio and video tracks will be available digitally.

    The outdoor show featured the powerful lineup of founding members Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Jaimoe and Butch Trucks plus Warren Haynes, Allen Woody and Marc Quinones.

    The band was touring in support of their newly-released Shades Of Two Worlds album, and its “End Of The Line” gets a spirited welcome here. “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad” starts with all four guitarists on acoustics before going electric, and the band’s tight harmonies and interaction are heard throughout.

     

    Live at Great Woods track listing:

    Statesboro Blues
    End Of The Line
    Blue Sky
    Midnight Rider
    Going Down The Road
    Hoochie Coochie Man
    Get On With Your Life
    In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed
    Revival
    Jessica
    Whipping Post

    The Allman Brothers Band

    Osiris Announces New Artist Spotlight Podcast: ‘Wheels Off With Rhett Miller’

    Osiris Announces New Artist Spotlight Podcast: ‘Wheels Off With Rhett Miller’

    Lauren Leadingham

    New slate of podcasts gives platform for artists to connect with fans

    Osiris Media has announced that Wheels Off with Rhett Miller is the newest Artist Spotlight podcast to join the music podcast network. These podcasts give artists a platform to discuss, interview and share their experiences, thoughts and passions with listeners. 

     

    Hosted by Rhett Miller, musician and frontman for the Old 97’s, Wheels Off draws attention to the life of the artist. Musicians, authors, actors, comedians, and media personalities discuss the joys and challenges of creating in the digital age — as well as moments that helped to define their respective careers. 

    Drive-By Truckers co-founder Patterson Hood is featured in the latest episode, in which he discusses his decision to make the new record, The New OK, during the pandemic. Hood also explains what life in Portland was like during the George Floyd protests and how he was able to process those perturbing moments by writing songs.

    Other guests include Rosanne Cash, Rob Thomas, Fred Armisen, Jeff Tweedy, Wyatt Cenac, Maggie Smith, Silvia Barban, Rainn Wilson, Alison Moorer, Julia Cameron, and more. This week’s episode features musician Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers. Upcoming guests include novelist Lauren Groff, singer-songwriter Robert Ellis, writer/director Jenny Turner Hall, artist Ashley Longshore, David Wax (David Wax Museum), drummer John Densmore (The Doors), and more. 

    “Rhett brings an entirely new level of storytelling to Osiris,” said Kirsten Cluthe, COO of Osiris Media. “His conversations are enlightening, enjoyable journeys into the lives of his guests and listeners will learn something new in each conversation. And Rhett chooses incredible guests, which makes Wheels Off a great tool for discovery.”

    Other Artist Spotlight shows include Salute the Songbird with Maggie Rose, Comes A Time, with Oteil Burbridge and Mike Finoia; Eric Krasno Plus One; Inside the Musicians Brain, with Chris Pandolfi; and Moods & Modes with Alex Skolnick.

    Feature image credit: Ebru Yildiz

     

    Irish Blues-Rock Master Guitarist Eamonn McCormack Is a Pure ‘Storyteller’

    Irish Blues-Rock Master Guitarist Eamonn McCormack Is a Pure ‘Storyteller’

    Mark Pucci

    ‘Storyteller’ is a roller-coaster ride of feelings, as Eamonn takes listeners through his stories and a glimpse deep into his inner soul, gripping your emotions in all the right places.

    BEM Records/Amplified Distribution proudly announces the North American May 21st release of Storyteller, the new album from Irish blues-rock guitar sensation Eamonn (pronounced “A-min”) McCormack. Maybe it’s something in the water over there, because music seems to be embedded into Irish people’s DNA; and international blues-rock singer/songwriter/ guitarist Eamonn McCormack is no exception.

    McCormack is the latest emerging Irish star and is already well-known throughout Europe. Storyteller is his seventh album and is jam-packed with 11 original tracks, the core of which were recorded live in the studio to capture the true essence of Eamonn and his young energetic band: Eamonn McCormack (guitars, all vocals and harmonica); Edgar Karg (bass guitar): and Max Jung-Poppe (drums and percussion); with additional contributions from producer Arne Wiegand (piano and organ). Going into the studio, the band was still on fire after an ecstatic live performance at Germany’s renowned “Rockpalast” TV show just days before.

    Storyteller is my most personal album to date and I believe it captures snapshots of my life and travels,” McCormack says about the new disc. “For Storyteller, my approach was a little different, too. For starters, I wrote the complete 11 songs sitting on a couch with an acoustic guitar and the record button pressed on my phone, as opposed to electric strapped on my back and putting ideas down track my track in my home studio.

    “That different approach seemed to have me focus more on the storyline, the vibe and the melody instead of the guitar riff-based approach. Oddly enough, although written with an acoustic, a couple of tracks end up pretty heavy rock-wise.”

    Producer Arne Wigand knows what energy in music is all about, and that’s exactly what he achieved in capturing the “hairs on-the-back-of-your-neck” vibe of the tracks. From the slow, emotional songs to the fast-rocking tracks, Storyteller is a full-throttle musical thrill ride. It offers just the right blend of thoughtful ballads and light-hearted lyrics into the whole mix, too.

    “Guitar soloing came to mind after the songs were finished, and I just followed my gut feeling and played them for the song,” McCormack admits about the recording. “For the most part, first takes live in the studio were used. The more I record, the more I realize first takes tend to have a spontaneity emotion to them, sort of a direct link to your inner soul. Maybe even a primal scream flavor, rather than using your head to figure out what licks might work here and there.”

    Storyteller is a roller-coaster ride of feelings, as Eamonn takes listeners through his stories and a glimpse deep into his inner soul, gripping your emotions in all the right places. Before the end of the first song, it’s apparent that this is no ordinary guitar player fresh from the University of YouTube lessons; this is as real as it gets, performed from someone who has lived it!

    “The first track on the album, ‘The Great Famine,’ is rather personal to me,” he says, “because it’s a dark part of our Irish history and one my great-grand-parents lived through. We had studied it in high school, and for decades I wanted to write a song about this sad event that happened. My manager visited an exhibition about the Great Famine in Dublin, and when I picked him up at the door, there was a large black and white picture from that period, so I took a photo of it and said to him, ‘OK, now I have the photo to remind me, it’s time now to write that song.’”

    Many musical influences creep into Storyteller, as listeners hear how unique and diverse he really is, which separates him from most; and the one interesting personal achievement is the fact that Eamonn actually got to play, tour and record with most of his childhood idols, including everyone from Rory Gallagher to ZZ Top and Johnny Winter to Walter Trout.

    As a live performer, he is as exciting as it gets; no gimmicks, just pure energy and emotion. Eamonn’s a true road warrior who performs mostly original songs, but when he does play a cover puts his very own stamp on it. He’s also a festival favorite that has got to rock some of the biggest and best-known festivals in the world.

    Eamonn McCormack was born in the center of Dublin, and raised in a north side suburb. He started playing guitar at six, and by 12 had already decided he would dedicate his life to being a musician and becoming the best he could be. Soon, the young teenager acquired his first electric guitar (a Guild Starfire), progressed to lead guitar and joined a local garage cover band prior to playing his first paid gig. At 16, Eamonn performed live on a national Irish radio show soon won a major high school competition performing his own material. By then, his personal musical favorites included Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Thin Lizzy and Dutch group Focus.

    After a short stint playing in various bands throughout Ireland, Eamonn headed off to the USA, where he performed extensively. He later joined a band in California that was an offshoot from Canned Heat and JJ Cale once showed up to jam with them. There, he broadened his musical horizons, gained vital stage experience and absorbed fresh American music and cultural influences. This blended together nicely with his earlier influences.

    Returning to Ireland after four years traveling and performing in the States, Eamonn was by then developing a very unique style and sound all of his own. This style was solidified while Eamonn performed live extensively under the stage name, “Samuel Eddy, establishing himself across Europe the hard way through a grueling tour schedule. Samuel Eddy and his band were rewarded for their efforts and garnered the reputation as major European music festival favorites.

    Throughout the last decade or so, a young Eamonn played, toured and recorded with many of his earliest guitar influences, such as Rory Gallagher, Johnny Winter, Jan Akkerman, Pat Travers, Walter Trout, Brian “Robbo” Robertson (Thin Lizzy) and Nils Lofgren. Another highlight of this period was Eamonn and his band’s unforgettable performance at the Parkpop Festival in Holland to an audience of half a million people, sharing the bill with Robert Plant among others. Eamonn also got to play the prestigious “Rockpalastin Germany on a bill with Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Band that was televised and broadcast across Europe.

    Storyteller is the product of all the musical, spiritual and physical journeys Eamonn McCormack has traveled over the last 10 years, and he invites the listener to sit back and enjoy the ride with him. And never, ever, ever think of missing him live when he’s in your area!

    Eamonn McCormack

    Travis Tritt Gets Back To ‘No-Frills Classic Outlaw-Country Sound’ With New Album

    Travis Tritt Gets Back To ‘No-Frills Classic Outlaw-Country Sound’ With New Album

    American Blues Scene Staff

    New single and IG Track, “Smoke In a Bar,” out now!

    Multi-Platinum selling and award-winning artist Travis Tritt will release a new album, Set In Stone, on May 7 and has released a new single.

    Released through Big Noise Music Group and produced by Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, The Highwomen, Sturgill Simson), the new album features 11 new songs, 8 of which were co-written by Tritt. Set In Stone marks Tritt’s first original full-length studio album in over a decade.

    On Set in Stone, the Grammy winner delivers the quintessential Travis Tritt album with a touch of Americana and Roots. He pays homage to all sides of his musical personality along with the trademarks of his originality.  Opening with the rowdy “Stand Your Ground” and mixing powerful love songs like “Leave This World” with searing country rockers like the first single “Ghost Town Nation,” the new album is described by Tritt as “getting back to a no-frills classic outlaw-country sound.”

    Tritt revisits his traditional country roots on “Smoke In A Bar,” pining for humbler times when the world was not so fast-moving and simple things weren’t overlooked or taken for granted.

    Tritt’s albums, seven of which are certified platinum or higher, have led him to amass more than 30 million in career album sales, two GRAMMY® Awards, four CMA Awards, including the CMA Horizon Award (now known as the New Artist Award); a Billboard Music Award for Top New Artist, an invitation to become a member of the world-famous Grand Ole Opry and a devoted fan base that has filled venues coast-to-coast. He is also dubbed one of “The Class of ‘89,” which includes Country music superstars Garth Brooks, Clint Black, and Alan Jackson, all of whom dominated the charts in the ‘90s.

    Among his eleven studio albums and numerous charted singles are five number ones and 20 Top 10 hits, including “Help Me Hold On,” “Anymore,” “Can I Trust You with My Heart,” “Foolish Pride,” “Best of Intentions,” “I’m Gonna Be Somebody,” “Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde,” “Here’s A Quarter,” “It’s A Great Day To Be Alive,” and more.

    Additionally, throughout his extraordinary career, his talents have crossed over into film and TV, where he appeared in Rio Diablo (1993), The Cowboy Way (1994), Tales from the Crypt (1995), Sgt. Bilko (1996), Fire Down Below (1997), Outlaw Justice (1999), Touched By An Angel (1999), Blues Brothers (2000), Yes, Dear (2004), Brother’s Keeper (2013), Forever My Girl (2018), and more.

    Travis Tritt

    *Feature image photo credit Ed Rode

    Storyteller Supreme Bob Bradshaw Illuminates New Tales with ‘The Ghost Light’

    Storyteller Supreme Bob Bradshaw Illuminates New Tales with ‘The Ghost Light’

    Mark Pucci

    “I’ve never been the kind of writer who picks up a pen to process his personal life or purge his emotions,” says Bradshaw. “I write to create, to imagine, and every track on this album is its own little world.”

    Singer/songwriter Bob Bradshaw announces an April 30 release date for his new CD, The Ghost Light, coming from Fluke Records, which blends influences from folk, rock, country, Americana and blues into one cohesive package of spell-binding music.

    Bradshaw is a storyteller. And like any good storyteller, he possesses the ability to transform himself right before your very eyes, to not only craft a compelling cast of characters, but to inhabit them with complete and utter conviction. One listen to The Ghost Light reveals a true chameleon at work. One moment he’s an impulsive daredevil plunging over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel; the next, a sea-weary pirate lured to his death by a choir of sirens. More often than not, though, he’s simply one of us, just an ordinary, everyday soul searching for meaning, hope, and redemption wherever he can find it.

    “I’ve never been the kind of writer who picks up a pen to process his personal life or purge his emotions,” says Bradshaw. “I write to create, to imagine, and every track on this album is its own little world.”

    Recorded over the past year, The Ghost Light is the product of time spent in quarantine, but it’s by no means a pandemic record. The songs here are timeless, drawing on the kind of fundamental humanity that binds us all as they grapple with heartbreak and regret, memory and nostalgia, loneliness and liberation. Bradshaw writes with a vivid eye for detail on the album, offering up a cinematic series of character-driven vignettes that often slip their most profound revelations between the lines, and his performances are subtle and understated to match, fleshed out with lush, evocative arrangements full of color and nuance. The result is a record as open as it is empathetic, a sharp, transportive collection that calls to mind everything from John Hiatt and Guy Clark to Bruce Cockburn and Nick Lowe in its potent mix of folk erudition and rock and roll urgency.

    “When I write, I never want the scaffolding of the songs to be visible,” Bradshaw explains. “I want to tell stories with room for exploration and interpretation. I want people to bring themselves into the songs as much as possible.”

    Born and raised in Cork, Ireland, Bradshaw apprenticed as a journalist as a teenager, but after spending much of his twenties writing a mix of news and short stories (including two stories in the prestigious Irish Press New Irish Writing series), his restless spirit eventually got the better of him, and he struck out on his own to see the world with little more than a backpack and guitar to his name. For the next several years, he drifted across Europe, surviving off his earnings from busking on street corners and performing in bars until 1989, when he landed a green card.

    Bradshaw found himself in New York City, where he picked up a series of odd jobs (house painter, Liza Minnelli’s doorman, among others) to make ends meet. Like many an immigrant before him, he eventually moved west, settling down in San Francisco for a decade during which he met his wife and formed his first true band, Resident Aliens.

    “That group started out as a cover band,” says Bradshaw, “but when we got offered studio time, we realized pretty quickly that we’d better come up with some original material. That’s how I got tricked into becoming a songwriter.”

    Unsurprisingly, given his history with prose, Bradshaw found he had a knack for writing songs. His was a raw talent, though, instinctual and impulsive, and his desire to harness and hone his skills eventually led him back to the East Coast, where he enrolled at the Berklee College of Music, eventually graduating in 2009. It was there in Boston that Bradshaw launched his prolific solo career, earning widespread praise on both sides of the Atlantic over the course of eight critically acclaimed studio albums. Bradshaw became a live fixture in New England, as well, performing at clubs in and around Boston most nights of the week until the COVID-19 pandemic brought things to a grinding halt in the spring of 2020.

    “That’s where I got the idea to call this album The Ghost Light,” explains Bradshaw. “In the theater world, the ghost light is a single bulb that’s left burning to appease the spirits of the absent performers whenever the hall goes dark.”

    With every hall in town dark, Bradshaw found himself writing in a more adventurous, ambitious fashion than before. While his 2019 Queen Of The West was a concept album built around a single, overarching storyline, the songs Bradshaw penned for The Ghost Light were wide-ranging and eclectic, each one its own self-contained universe. When it came time to record, he worked both in-person with his core electric band (guitarists Andrew Stern and Andy Santospago, bassist Ed Lucie, and drummer Mike Connors), and remotely with hired guns like drummer/producer Dave Brophy (Patty Larkin, Eli “Paperboy” Reed), bassist/engineer Dave Westner (Tim Gearan, Peter Wolf) and bassist Zachariah Hickman (Josh Ritter, Ray LaMontagne), letting the music guide his decisions at every turn.

    Bradshaw penned the songs here with a variety of collaborators, including his old Resident Aliens bandmate Scoop McGuire and Boston stalwarts Andy Santospago and John Sheeran. “Each track had its own character and demanded its own approach,” he says.

    The tango-inflected “Sideways,” for instance, features Argentinean bandoneon player Francisco Martinez Herrera, while the melancholy “Blue” draws rich emotional depth from (another ex-Resident Alien) Chad Manning’s extraordinary fiddle work, and the shuffling “Gone” gets a lift from James Rohr’s soulful B3. Despite the broad array of sounds and influences at play, the album remains cohesive throughout, thanks in part to Bradshaw’s trademark mix of humor and heart, as well as his warm, full-bodied voice, which sits front and center whether he’s singing of heartache (like the waltzing “Come Back Baby” or the bittersweet “She’s Gone For Good”), uncertainty (like the searing “21st Century Blues” or the gritty “In The Dark”), or hope (like the breezy “Songs On The Radio” or the 60’s-countrypolitan-style of “Dream”).

    Ultimately, the album plays like a collection of short works of fiction, each song unique in its form and function yet inextricably linked by a common emotional thread. Every track is an invitation, a doorway to another time and place. The world may have gone dark this past year, but with The Ghost Light, Bob Bradshaw is determined to keep the bulb burning. That’s what good storytellers do.

    Bob Bradshaw

    *Feature image photo credit: Rafi Sofer

    Robert Finley to Release Dan Auerbach-Produced Album, ‘Sharecropper’s Son,’ On May 21st

    Robert Finley to Release Dan Auerbach-Produced Album, ‘Sharecropper’s Son,’ On May 21st

    American Blues Scene Staff

    Watch the official video for “Souled Out On You” and pre-order new album!

    Today, Robert Finley announced Sharecropper’s Son, the career-defining new album from “the greatest living soul singer,” released on Easy Eye Sound/Concord, on May 21 2021. A soulful masterpiece written by Finley and co-written and produced by Dan Auerbach, Sharecropper’s Son features blues veterans and studio legends who have worked with everyone from Elvis to Wilson Pickett. 

    Photo courtesy of Steve Karas

    The announcement was accompanied by “Souled Out On You,” the album’s debut track, which was released today, along with a striking video directed by Tim Hardiman, which featured Dan Auerbach on guitar.

    “Souled Out On You,” is “the story of a relationship that’s ending,” Finley explained, adding, “It’s about someone who takes on everything in the relationship. All the good and the bad and even after all of that, they notice that it just isn’t going to work out and the relationship has run its course. I took all I could take and I’m starting my life over.” 

     Finley has always been a consummate entertainer and sensational soul singer, but when he lost his sight, he became an overnight success after 67 years of hard work. Finley has a voice that has stood the test of time and can glide from a gut-deep growl to a transcendent falsetto, all in a single phrase. Rooted in the vintage sounds of southern soul, country, rhythm and blues, Sharecropper’s Son showcases Finley’s formidable vocals, which take centre stage and encapsulate his remarkable life story and reflect on his childhood during the Jim Crow era south. Finley’s stories of pain and joy will uplift as he shares his belief that you are never too young to dream and never too old to live. 

    Finley is an army veteran and was a skilled carpenter before losing his sight in his 60s to finally pursue his musical dream. Finley has overcome divorce, house fires, an automobile accident and is legally blind following losing his sight due to the medical condition, glaucoma, which forced him to retire from carpentry and finally pursue his long delayed music career. Finley believes his sight was improved by the power of prayer and Finley’s faith has also helped him focus on launching his music career in his 60’s. According to Finley, “losing my sight gave me the perspective to see my true destiny.” 

    His ascent has been swift. His Auerbach produced previous album, Goin’ Platinum, received widespread critical acclaim. Auerbach saw Finley’s potential straight away, proclaiming him “the greatest living soul singer.” “He walked in like he was straight out of the swamp.” Auerbach recalled, adding, “He had leather pants, snakeskin boots, a big country & Western belt buckle, a leather cowboy hat and a three-quarter-length leather duster. The final touch was the folding cane the legally blind Finley wore on his hip, in a holster. Basically, he was dressed for national television.”  

    Currently living in Bernice, in North-Central Louisiana, Finley is one of eight children, and was born in Winnsboro, Louisiana in 1953. Song’s including Sharecropper’s Son’s title track, were inspired by Finley’s childhood. His family were Sharecroppers and he was unable to regularly attend school and often worked with his family in the field picking cotton. He later attended a segregated school but dropped out in the 10th grade to go into employment.

     “I was ready to tell my story, and Dan and his guys knew me so well by then that they knew it almost like I do, so they had my back all the way.”  Finley stated, reflecting back on his childhood stories that inspired the record, “Working in the cotton fields wasn’t a pleasant place to be, but it was part of my life. I went from the cotton fields to Beverly Hills. We stayed in the neighbourhood most of our childhood. It wasn’t really all that safe to be out by yourself. One of the things I love about music is that, when I was a boy growing up in the South, nobody wanted to hear what I had to say or what I thought about anything. But when I started putting it in songs, people listened.” 

     

    With songwriting by Finley, Auerbach, Bobby Wood, and contributions from respected country songwriter Pat McLaughlin, Sharecropper’s Son also features an all star band including guitar expertise from Auerbach himself, Mississippi hill country’s Kenny Brown – a blues veteran of R.L. Burnside’s band, and studio legends Russ Pahl, Billy Sanford and Louisiana guitarist Billy Sanford. They are joined by other notables: keyboardist and songwriter Bobby Wood and drum legend Gene Chrisman, who both played a historic role in Memphis and Nashville music. The line-up was completed by bass contributions from dap king Nick Movshon, blues legend Eric Deaton and former Johnny Cash bandmate Dave Roe, as well as a full horn section, and percussion from Sam Bacco. 

    The fire behind the conflagrant performances on Sharecropper’s Son is ignited by 67-year-old Finley, who has cited a range of vocal influences, including Al Green, Jimmi Hendrix, Ray Charles, Elvis, James Brown and The Beatles, all inspiring his genre diverse approach. Finley stated, “I want people to understand that I can’t be kept in a box. I like to do all kinds of music—everything that means anything to me, from gospel to blues to soul to country to rock ‘n’ roll.”

    Sharecropper’s Son will be released on May 21 on Easy Eye Sound. There will be an exclusive sunrise yellow vinyl, available from the Easy Eye Sound store only.

    Tracklist:

     1 Souled Out On You 

    2 Make Me Feel Alright 

    3 Sharecropper’s Son 

    4 Better Than I Treat Myself

    5 Country Child 

    6 Starting To See 

    7 I Can Feel Your Pain

    8 My Story 

    9 Country Boy 

    10 All My Hope

     

    Pre-order Sharecropper’s Son

     

    *Feature image courtesy of Steve Karas 

    Interview: Corky Siegel Previews Chamber Blues Extravaganza/Chicago City Winery

    Interview: Corky Siegel Previews Chamber Blues Extravaganza/Chicago City Winery

    Lisa Torem

    Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues EXTRAVAGANZA – “Closer than in-person” is a virtual event that will debut on Mandolin on Saturday, 3/6 at 7 PM CT

    Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 6 when Corky Siegel — one of Chicago’s most renowned blues harpists, keyboardists and composers — invites you to participate in the streaming of his Chamber Blues Extravaganza, where he and a unique community of musicians unearth their signature songs and stories. 

    The featured acts are names you’ve heard before, but perhaps never in one expressive and explosive night: blues artist Toronzo Cannon, City Winery super star Lynne Jordan, Poi Dog Pondering’s poetic Frank Orrall, jazz saxophonist Ernie Watts, vocalist/songwriter Marcella Detroit, Cantor Pavel Roytman and soulful Grammy nominee Tracy Nelson.

    Corky Siegel and Toronzo Cannon (Credit: © Phil Solomonson)

    Corky and his wife, Holly Siegel, exceeded expectations by mastering this technological feat during the height of the pandemic. So, what happened behind the scenes? And what can we expect during this one-off performance? We caught up with Corky prior to the show to find out.   

    Lisa Torem for ABS:

    Holly said, “Culturally, this is probably the most important thing we’ve ever done.” Can you elaborate? 

    CS:

    Well, this didn’t happen on purpose but our group is probably as diverse as you can imagine. We have African-American, someone from Taiwan, someone from India and someone from Wheaton College (laughs). They are diverse, both culturally and artistically. 

    The concept of bringing blues and classic together was Seiji Ozawa’s in 1966. 

    He felt it was important because it brought two very seemingly opposing cultural forces  together and that for me, was experienced most acutely when I was performing with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center in 1969. The audience, of what we would have called “the establishment,” saw these hippies onstage and started booing and hissing. 

    And then, when the concert was over, the president of the symphony association reported that it was the longest and most intense standing ovation he had ever seen in all his time at Lincoln Center. And he said the only thing that reminded him remotely of it was Enrique Caruso’s last performance. That’s what he told me, so, as a young twenty-year-old, I’m thinking, a few of these people were really angry, and in the end music brought everyone together. 

    ABS:

    Lynne Jordan shares a story about her ancestor’s resilience during the era of Jim Crow. Instrumentally, she combines forces with Kalyan Pathak’s tabla, as well as the chamber quartet. You heighten the suspense by sweetening her vocal part with your blues harp. These are just a few of the incredible moments that people will witness during the live stream, but how did you work out the technology? 

    CS:

    First, each solo artist that we chose, we had done one, if not many shows with them individually. So, every time we were going to do a show, for instance, with Tracy Nelson, I would have to write three or four or five or six special arrangements of their tunes, or tunes that they could sing so we could do a show with them. 

    So, I chose my favorite artists and my favorite pieces of theirs and I just did a composition around their song that was still a chamber blues classical style composition but that included their genre. 

    And so, I had all of these pieces—the first thing I had to do was get the string quartet to record them, and I used the electronic score and had audio pumped out of the score. Then, I sent an audio of the score to each individual musician. And we played along with the score as if they were playing along with each other. And none of the people involved thought it was going to work, but I was pretty sure it was going to work and it did. 

    Usually when you get together to rehearse and perform, there’s a leader of the band who takes responsibility for everything that’s happening and each musician has the responsibility for getting their part right, but in a situation like this, each individual becomes 100 percent responsible for the whole production that they’re sending to Corky and Holly Central. So each individual is a choreographer, a cinematographer, a staging director, a lighting director; they’re doing everything, They’re taking full part in the production; therefore they get a sense of collaboration like never before. 

    ABS:

    I was struck by the beautiful melody of “Hine Ma Tov” that cantor Pavel Roytman sang in Hebrew. Can you share with us the meaning behind the song? 

    CS:

    “How beautiful it is when brothers can sit together in peace.” And because of that song, when I was writing the arrangement for it, which, by the way, is based on Muddy Water’s ‘Hoochie Coochie Man,’ and then going into some classical wanderings, I was trying to understand the words. I was writing the introduction to it, to make it more acute. So, the introduction was: “The universe just weeps with joy when every mother’s girl and every father’s boy lives in this world as one.” 

    And then I decided, hey, that’s a song. So, my wife and I sat down and wrote a song called: “One” which is on the last Chamber Blues album. 

    ABS:

    When listening to saxophonist Ernie Watts, I feel the presence—the spirits of Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis…  

    CS:

    That’s how we feel about Ernie because he’s played with everybody. His whole life is an amazing story. Having him is an added depth. And that’s true, too, of the other artists. We did a live stream on Marcy Detroit and people were just blown away by her musical history. Elton John chose her to do a duet with him; there’s a video of it, and the same thing with the Bee Gees. Bob Dylan wanted her to be in the band; she turned him down. It’s a funny story. “Bob, who?” she said. 

    I played a solo and I sent it to her. I left space in it for her to play and that’s what she did. That’s what she does. She’s amazing. 

    ABS:

    You studied saxophone at Roosevelt University but performed live using keyboards and blues harp. In retrospect, did your saxophone experience inform your arranging skills?  

    Credit: © Phil Solomonson

    CS:

    I got a lot of my first harmonica licks from what I was doing on the saxophone but the saxophone didn’t fit in my pocket. My studies at Roosevelt did give me an advantage because I did learn basic music theory but I never got beyond that because it didn’t make sense to me and now I understand some of the things I could have learned, but back then, nothing fit into my world of how I approached music. 

    I remember, I was actually in a composition class. I failed. I failed all my classes. But I also took this composition class because I started composing starting from measure one and then going ahead. The professor, who was a jazz person, told me that I couldn’t compose that way. So, I didn’t really get anything out of the class. Like I said, I failed it, but I have not stopped composing in the same way, which is starting from measure one and moving on. It’s not the traditional way, but mostly I would just take it one measure at a time.  So, I did have a leg up. A basic understanding of music theory is really all anyone really needs to be able to compose symphonic music and a good book on orchestration.

    ABS:

    Thank you, Corky. We’ll see you at the Chamber Blues Show! 

    Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues EXTRAVAGANZA – “Closer than in-person” is a virtual event that will debut on Mandolin on Saturday, 3/6 at 7 PM CT. It features Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues with a slew of featured artists who also happen to be City Winery favorites. This is a 100% donation-based virtual performance where people can RSVP for free to watch on Mandolin and they can donate via Paypal. 

    *All images: © Phil Solomonson / Philamonjaro Studio

    Tom Petty’s ‘Finding Wildflowers (Alternate Versions)’ Announced

    Tom Petty’s ‘Finding Wildflowers (Alternate Versions)’ Announced

    American Blues Scene Staff

    Available everywhere May 7!

    Tom Petty’s Finding Wildflowers (Alternate Versions) — curated with help from his family, bandmates and collaborators — features 16 studio recordings of alternate takes, long cuts and jam versions of Wildflowers songs as Tom, band members and co-producer Rick Rubin worked to finalize the album in 1994.

    The release offers fans further deep access into the writing and recording of Wildflowers, as well as realizing the full vision of the project as Tom had always intended.

    Today sees the release of “You Saw Me Comin’.” The previously unreleased song and recording from 1992 and the final track on the collection premieres alongside a video directed by Joel Kazuo Knoernschild and Katie Malia.

    Reflecting on the recording, Benmont Tench notes, “There’s this kind of longing in the song, in the way that he wrote the chord structure, the melody and the lyrics. It’s wistful, and it would have been the perfect way to end the disc.”

    Finding Wildflowers (Alternate Versions) Limited Edition gold vinyl is available now.

     

    *Feature image courtesy of the artist’s site

    Album Premiere: Grandaddy Short Leg ‘Firewater Sessions: Vol. II’

    Album Premiere: Grandaddy Short Leg ‘Firewater Sessions: Vol. II’

    American Blues Scene Staff

    These former moonshiners come from a tradition of music that spans five generations, creating both a classic and eclectic blend of blues, rock and country

    Firewater Sessions: Vol. II, the new EP from Grandaddy Short Leg, is almost like the missing link between John Lee Hooker and ZZ Top. The songs strike a balance between refried boogie and pure blues, with a southern rock tint that respects their musical heritage but places it in a modern context. Born in blood, bottled in bond, and hardened by the crucible of mountain life, all three band members are the latest scions of a five-generation tradition of music and spirits.

    Combining their love of distilling with their passion for playing, you’re as likely to see these gentlemen cooking the corn in a 21st century digitally controlled still, as you are to find them cooking on stage with vintage guitars and Marshall amps.

    “Let’s just say we were forcefully encouraged to find an alternate line of work after a number of brushes with government types… T-men and whatnot,” says guitarist and singer Lester Tugnut, explaining how the band came together. “We had to abandon alcohol, professionally, but, growing up together, me, Cletus (Massengil – drums, vocals) and Smoke-Eye (Kielbasa – bass, vocals) always played music. So that’s what we went back to. We named the band after Cletus’ great-great-grandpappy’s first still; it had one leg a bit shorter than the other and sat kinda crooked so he called it Grandaddy Short Leg. That man made some legendary shine, kept three divisions in fighting form for at least two years after the war ended. But I digress.”

    Though their approach may seem tongue-in-cheek to the casual observer, when it comes to playing music this band is all business. Firewater Sessions: Vol. II not only musically nods to blues and rock, there are subtle and not-so-subtle tips of the hat to everything from Link Wray to Flatt & Scruggs woven into their framework. The deeper you dig, the more nuggets you find – and this record is chock full. 

    Editor’s note: If you are having difficulty accessing the player or are getting error messages, please click here.

     

    Grandaddy Short Leg