1SatAugust 1, 2015Civil Twilight
3MonAugust 3, 2015
Gabrels was born in Staten Island, New York in June 1956. His mother was a typist and his father worked on tugboats in New York Harbor. Gabrels started playing guitar at age 13, and the following year (1971) his father arranged for lessons with the father's friend and contemporary Turk Van Lake, who lived in the neighborhood. Van Lake (1918-2002) was a professional musician who had played with Benny Goodman and others.
After high school, Gabrels attended the Parsons School of Design and the School of Visual Arts in New York City but continued to play guitar. In New York, he met noted jazz guitarist John Scofield, from whom he took a lesson or two. Gabrels moved to Boston to attend the Berklee School of Music, which he left several credits short of a degree in 1980-81.
During the 1980s and early 1990s Gabrels was a member of Boston bands such as The Dark, Life on Earth, Rubber Rodeo, The Bentmen and Modern Farmer. Modern Farmer (Gabrels, Jamie Rubin, David Hull, and Billy Beard) issued a self-titled record on Victory/Universal in 1993.
Gabrels met David Bowie during a Bowie tour in 1987 for which Gabrels' then-wife, Sara Terry, worked as publicist. Gabrels later (1989-1993) joined forces with Bowie and the Sales brothers (drummer Hunt Sales and bass player Tony Sales) in the rock band Tin Machine. Later, Gabrels became an essential part of Bowie's nineties sound, most notably on Outside (1995), Earthling (1997), and 'hours...' (1999), the latter two of which he co-produced. Gabrels and Bowie also created the soundtrack to the computer game Omikron: The Nomad Soul in 1999 for the game's French publisher. Gabrels ended his professional association with Bowie in late 1999.
Gabrels is an accomplished composer/songwriter, musical collaborator, and solo performer/producer with varied credits.
He previously worked with Robert Smith of The Cure during the late 1990s, collaborating on The Cure's track "Wrong Number," and "A Sign From God" (with Jason Cooper and Robert Smith as COGASM), as well as the song "Yesterday's Gone," which Smith sings on Gabrels' album Ulysses (Della Notte).
Gabrels and slide guitarist David Tronzo joined forces on a virtuoso instrumental album, "Night in Amnesia," issued by Rounder in 1995. Gabrels continues to play periodically, as does Tronzo, with Club D'Elf, a jazz-dub-Moroccan group led by Mike Rivard with a diverse roster of musicians and an improvisational approach.
Gabrels has written soundtracks for films including David Sutherland's "The Farmer's Wife" (Frontline, 1997) and for PBS productions, and collaborated with Public Enemy on the song "Go Cat Go" for the Spike Lee film "He Got Game" (soundtrack, Def Jam, 1998). He wrote the "club music" portions of the soundtrack for the video game Deus Ex.
Solo records by Gabrels include The Sacred Squall of Now (Rounder/Upstart, 1995); Ulysses (Della Notte) (Emagine, 2000); Live, Late, Loud (Myth Music, 2003); and Rockonica (Myth Music/Favored Nations/Sony, 2005).
Gabrels can also be heard on "New Universal Order," a Heavy metal album released by German label AFM in June 2008 for X-World/5 with drummer Big Swede, bass player Magnus Rosén, vocalist Nils K. Rue, and guitarist Andy LaRocque.
In Nashville, Gabrels often performs locally, including at the Family Wash, a restaurant/music venue. His lead guitar playing is featured on a 2011 album by The Magnificent Others, a band fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarist James H. (Jamie) Rubin, who owns the Family Wash.
Sonic Mining Company, an eponymous album by an improvisational trio made up of Gabrels, bass player Frank Swart and drummer Adam Abrashoff, was produced by Rob Stennett and issued in 2012 by Ropeadope Records.
5WedAugust 5, 2015
"To bloom implies something beautiful is going to happen, but it's a process---just like our own journeys," says McPherson.
"Casey and I met when we were really young, and have been playing music with each other off and on over the past 13 years," explains guitarist Zak Loy. "That growth comes across in the music the group is creating now," he says. Rooted in lyrical wisdom, the more recent addition of drummer Tabber Millard---trained by master percussionists---is credited for the band's contemporary tribal rhythms. "Tabber means drummer boy in Arabic and his life revolves around this gift he has," says McPherson. Newest Alpha Rev addition Jeff Bryant rounds out the band, playing pedal steel, piano, organ, and bass.
With a glistening rock sound that is at once fragile and tough, Bloom picks up threads from the past while it takes a big bite into the eternal here and now. Drawing from the wellspring of American history, the grandeur of its landscape, and life's sweet and tragic mysteries, McPherson leans into his personal challenges as well as the wages of the 21st Century and emerges with a triumphant statement on the ways in which music can serve as a constant source of strength and inspiration.
The shimmering, hymn-like "Sing Loud" - created with songwriter/producer Jamie Kenney ("He's cut from the same stone I am," says McPherson) - confronts a failing relationship, "But with the belief that you're going to experience freedom again," McPherson explains.
Love and death informs the heart-wrenching "Lexington," based on actual historical love letters from Civil War soldiers to their wives and families. "The amount of pain they were in to be away from those they loved while their lives were at stake was incredible," says McPherson.
"'Black Sky,' is about dealing with losing everything you have from a fire. 'Lonely Man,' is about losing your family from working too much and 'When You Gonna Run,' is about losing the ability to look good in front of somebody," he says.
"Alpha Rev is a collective of musicians," explains McPherson, "Once you join, you're never really gone." On Bloom, Alex Dunlap holds down the bass, while Brian Batch (violin, viola) and Dave Wiley (cello) serve as the band's string section. The players were joined in the studio by a longtime friend of McPherson's, Dwight Baker (Brandi Carlile, Bob Schneider); he oversaw the project in his Austin studio. Producer Jamie Kenney (Marc Broussard) also worked with the band for two songs on Bloom. "Austin is a great city that takes care of musicians; it helps foster ideas and creativity," says McPherson. Producer Jamie Kenney (Marc Broussard) also worked with the band for two songs on Bloom.
Since his beginnings in Jackson, Texas, where he was classically trained on piano, McPherson has traveled the distance: Working in a recording studio by age 16, at 17 he was touring overseas as a keyboard player; at 19 he formed Endochine, its name translating from its Latin and Greek roots as "to explode from within." Turning once again to ancient alphabets for his band's handle, "Alpha Rev is a combination of the Greek word for the beginning, and the incredible Latin prefix rev, as in revolve, revolt, reveal," he says. The band's Hollywood Records debut, New Morning (produced by David Kahne) rose to #3 on the Triple A chart, reaching an audience 40 million listeners-strong. The title song and "Phoenix Burn" also entered the charts.
Yet while scaling his own dreams, McPherson lost both his father and brother to suicide. Forming in 2005, Alpha Rev, became a vehicle to grapple with the outpouring of grief that results from losses of that magnitude. Today, McPherson helps others who've lost family to depression and suicide as a volunteer spokesperson for the National Institute of Mental Health organization, Mental Health America of Texas [http://mhatexas.org/].
"Music changes people," says McPherson. "We're trying to find happiness in music as opposed to self-destruction," he says. "It's my desire, and has always been to be a part of our group, that we make each other better musicians, we make each other better men, we challenge each other, we fight and we forgive. Everybody in the band has really adopted that ideal," says McPherson. "Alpha Rev is more than a band name---it's a motto."
Howdy, We are Jared & The Mill. All of us were born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, and we still call it home today. When we first got started in the summer of 2011 we just wanted to play some music with our best buds, have a few shows, and have a good time. Jared and Michael had been buddies and playing music together since they were kids, and after they met up with another childhood musical duo, Josh Morin and Larry Gast III, they realized they needed a bass player, so along came Larry's pal Chuck Morris III. Some months later, Jared ran into Gabe Hall Rodrigues, a local accordion and keys player at a coffee shop. Gabe joined, and as it goes we were soon hammering along in the local scene, playing alongside the bands of new friends and old throughout Arizona. The wheels kept turning, and before we knew it we had over two years of touring under our boots; playing in the living rooms, dive bars, venues, theaters, and even arenas of this big ol' country of our's alongside fellow upcoming bands, and with some of the biggest acts we had always looked up to.
Playing for fifty people one night in a smokey bar, and the very next night opening up and playing for eighteen thousand in an arena was inspiring and eye opening to say the least. Opening up for the likes of Zac Brown Band, Barry Gibb, Boy & Bear, Run River North, Della Mae, Cake, Joe Pug, Horse Feathers, Flogging Molly, The Killers, Allen Stone and others while touring alongside bands just getting their start like us was a real honor. We certainly gained invaluable experience from all those shows and all those trials, but something else happened out there on the road for us, something we have a hard time explaining, but anyone who's spent some time out there on the interstate understands; we became not just friends, but family.
Being out there changed our lives, it changed how we thought about things, it changed how we wrote about things. Those miles molded our music and molded our souls and it made our bond even stronger. Life gives to you and it takes from you, and we have written about that give, and that take. We've written about getting older, about those friends and those loved ones and those things that never leave and about those that do; about those sweet things and those bitter things, and that struggle to keep the course as you try your best to carve yourself into a good man. We have written about our desert home we so very often miss. Our music has been called, compared and regarded by a number of different names and genres, and we've been influenced and shaped by many different events and people, but more than anything, we'd like to think that some shred of the Southwest -- of our home -- can be found in the heart of our music.
It ain't blues and it ain't country. It ain't bluegrass and it ain't indie rock. It's something in-between like most things here in the Southwest, and that's just the way we like it. So here we are, with a new EP to record and a busy year ahead. We've got some new tunes and a sound that has grown, and we're eager as hell to share it with all of you. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for listening.
6ThuAugust 6, 2015Billy Joe Shaver
Liar's Trial (solo)8:00pm $20.00Billy Joe Shaver has never been a household name, but his songs became country standards during the '70s and his reputation among musicians and critics hasn't diminished during the ensuing decades.
One of the best synopses of Shaver's upbringing is his own song, "I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train." When he sings, "my grandma's old-age pension is the reason that I'm standing here today," he ain't kidding. The "good Christian raising" and "eighth grade education" -- not to mention being abandoned by his parents shortly after being born, working on his uncles' farms instead of going to high school, and losing part of his fingers during a job at a sawmill -- are all part of his life story. "I got all my country learning," he sings, "picking cotton, raising hell, and bailing hay."
After several trips between Texas andTennessee, he appeared one day in 1968 inBobby Bare's Nashville office, where he convinced Bare to listen to him play. Bareended up giving him a writing job and soon his songs began to see the light thanks toKris Kristofferson ("Good Christian Soldier"),Tom T. Hall ("Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me"), Bare ("Ride Me Down Easy"), and later,the Allman Brothers ("Sweet Mama") and Elvis Presley ("You Asked Me To"). Shaver's real breakthrough, though, came in 1973 whenWaylon Jennings recorded an album composed almost entirely of Shaver's songs, Honky Tonk Heroes -- largely considered the first true "outlaw" album.
Shaver's own debut album, Old Five and Dimers Like Me, was produced by Kristofferson in 1973. Along with the title track, it contained now-classic Shaver songs "Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me" and the aforementioned "Georgia on a Fast Train." In 1978 Johnny Cash recorded "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I'm Gonna Be a Diamond Some Day)," a song Shaver wrote just after he chose to give up drugs and booze and turned to God for help.
All Music Guide lists 23 albums, from 1973's Old Five & Dimers Like Me through 2007's Everybody's Brother. Among his many classic songs are "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I'm Gonna Be a Diamond Some Day)," "Honky Tonk Heroes," "Georgia on a Fast Train," "Live Forever," "Tramp on Your Street," and "Try and Try Again."
In 1999, Shaver was invited to perform at theGrand Ole Opry. In 2005, Billy Joe Shaver performed on CMT Outlaws. In 2006, he was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. He recently served as spiritual advisor to Texas independent gubernatorial candidateKinky Friedman and his 2007 album "Everybody's Brother" was nominated for a GRAMMY. For his efforts, the Americana Music Association awarded him their Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting.
Shaver is truly one of the most respected living figures in American music. Bob Dylan, who rarely covers other writers, has often played Billy Joe's "Old Five And Dimers Like Me" in concert. Johnny Cash called him "my favorite songwriter." TheWashington Post noted, "when the country outlaws were collecting their holy writings, Billy Joe Shaver was carving out Exodus."
7FriBenefit Concert for Friends of MADACC featuring Fat Pig
8:00pm Suggested Donation $10
show detailsAugust 7, 20158:00pm Suggested Donation $10Fat Pig is an acoustic rock band known to Summerfest and the Milwaukee area. Lead singer Lisa Moy and the band are performing this benefit concert with all proceeds going to Friends of MADACC. FOM is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting community awareness and improving the welfare of nearly 13,000 homeless animals MADACC cares for every year. Suggested cover/donation is $10.00 and will go entirely to this local charity. Find out more about Lisa and Friends of MADACC.
8SatAugust 8, 20158:00pm $8.00The area's most gifted vocalist and showman is back in town and on a mission from God. To bring back Classic Rock hits and good-time Rhythm and Blues, lightly seasoned with sophisticated Jazz. He has gathered the original lineup to revive what was one of the most popular acts at festivals and nightclubs throughout the Midwest.
Originally formed in 1982 at a small hall on 22nd Street in Milwaukee, the group has amazed audiences with their superb musicianship and dynamic stage show. They have played to wildly enthusiastic crowds at virtually every major festival, opened for many national acts, and been nominated four times for the Wisconsin Area Music Industry awards.
If you enjoy the music of Blood Sweat and Tears, Chicago, Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen this is one act you will not want to miss.
13ThuAugust 13, 2015
Noah has been steadily building a name for himself in the music business through his live performances and cover videos and currently has over 53 million views on youtube and a growing, almost "army like" following on social media. Touring and writing new music are at the top of Noah's list for the coming year. He loves performing his music for live audiences and can't wait to see what's around the corner.
Gabe Dixon's selftitled album was named as one of the "Best Of The Year" by Paste, Village Voice (year end critics poll) & others. His songs have been featured on ABC, CBS, NBC, CW and more. His song "Find My Way," was the title theme for the #1 Sandra Bullock Film, "The Proposal." The Lefsetz Letter, recently said of Gabe Dixon: "This man is excellent. Stunningly so. Because of his talent." Dixon's latest album "ONE SPARK" sees the liberated artist rocketing past his previous work. The album features collaborators ranging from members of UK rock stalwarts Snow Patrol and Starsailor to bluegrasscountry icon Alison Krauss. Dixon is also recognized as the "goto" pianist in the music industry, having handled keyboard duties for artists as varied as Paul McCartney, O.A.R. and Supertramp. In June and July 2014, Gabe hit the road for six weeks in direct support of Delta Rae. Gabe is currently working on his next album in Nashville and getting geared up for his next tour.
14FriAugust 14, 2015Great Peacock
"To us, it's just pop music with organic acoustic instruments," says Andrew Nelson, who shares lead vocals and guitar duties with co-founder Blount Floyd. "The album has some fiddle, some pedal steel and a whole lot of acoustic guitar, which sounds like the traditional setup for a country band. But this isn't a country record. It's not really a folk record, either. It's a pop/record... with folk tendencies."
Nelson and Floyd first crossed paths in their early 20s, bonding instantly over a shared love of cheap beer and good Southern music. After logging several years together in a loud, Tennessee-based rock band, they split off to form their own project, swapping out the amplified swagger of their previous group for a straightforward sound anchored by acoustic guitars, anthemic melodies and two intertwined voices. Like an old-school harmony duo retuned for a new generation, they started off with a handful of classic influences -- the country croon of George Jones, the working class rock & roll of Bruce Springsteen, the heartland hum of Tom Petty -- and expanded their sound from there, turning Great Peacock into the sort of band that's simultaneously rooted in tradition and headed toward new territory.
The music on Making Ghosts reflects Great Peacock's ambition. Songs like "Tennessee" are swooning, sweeping tributes to the band's homeland, while "Take Me To The Mountain" pushes the band toward anthemic territory, fueled by super-sized drums and a radio-ready melody. On "Arms," the guys jump between haunting verses and big, Technicolor choruses, capping everything off with a screeching guitar solo. These peacocks know how to strut their stuff.
What's in a name, by the way? In Great Peacock's case, quite a bit.
"We initially thought it was just a funny name for a band," Nelson admits, "but through the evolution of everything we've done, we've always been big and colorful. That's why Blount jumps around onstage. That's why I wear a suit jacket embroidered with feathers, which is basically a poor man's nudie suit. We've embraced the image of the big peacock feathers, and we want to entertain you. We look that way, we think that way, and we sound that way, too."
19WedAugust 19, 2015
That fearlessness is manifested in spades on Traveler, the artist's 14th solo release and his first in three years. The 11-song album finds the world-renowned Dobro master--described as "the Muhammad Ali of the Dobro" by James Taylor and "my favorite musician" by John Fogerty--defying expectations and ignoring genre restrictions to deliver his most stylistically expansive, personally-charged effort to date.
Recorded in New Orleans, New York, Montreal and Banbury, England as well as in Douglas' homebase of Nashville, Traveler finds the 13-time Grammy winner and three-time Country Music Association Musician of the Year delivering an audaciously eclectic set that teams him with such world-class talents (and avowed Douglas admirers) as Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, Mumford & Sons, Keb' Mo', Marc Cohn, Dr. John, Del McCoury, Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, Jon Cleary, Viktor Krauss and Omar Hakim, as well as Alison Krauss & Union Station, of which Douglas has been a member since 1998.
Traveler's title reflects the broad range of musical ground that it traverses, and the many miles that Douglas and producer Russ Titelman covered in order to capture the album's diverse array of performances. Their visit to New Orleans, for instance, yielded four memorable tracks, including horn-laden readings of the R&B standards "Something You Got" (featuring Clapton on vocals and guitar and Dr. John on piano) and "High Blood Pressure" (with vocals by Keb' Mo'). Douglas' acoustic roots are showcased on his Nashville-recorded instrumental originals "Duke and Cookie" and "King Silkie," and on the haunting "Frozen Fields," featuring the vocal and instrumental talents of Alison Krauss & Union Station.
Traveler's numerous highlights also include Douglas' heartfelt reworkings of a pair of Paul Simon classics: "American Tune," included here in an affecting solo Dobro medley with Chick Corea's "Spain"; and an epic yet intimate reinterpretation of "The Boxer," recorded in England with U.K. folk-rockers Mumford & Sons providing backup, and in New York with Simon (with whom Douglas has worked extensively, both on tour as an opening act and as a collaborator in the studio) adding an exotic assortment of electric and acoustic guitar parts, Tibetan percussion and high harmony vocals.
"Every song on this record was like an adventure," Douglas notes, adding, "The idea was to take myself out of my comfort zone, and to keep putting myself in unfamiliar situations. I wasn't worried about failing, and I wasn't trying to prove anything. It just felt right to just go for it and try everything."
In addition to confidently exploring a broad range of material from across the stylistic spectrum, Traveler marks some notable firsts for Douglas. For instance, it's the first time he's recorded an album with an outside producer.
"It was different letting someone else wear the big hat, but it worked out great," Douglas says of studio vet Titelman, whose resume includes classic releases by the likes of Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, Rickie Lee Jones and Little Feat, as well as Traveler participants Clapton and Simon. "Russ is wide open to all kinds of things, and because he was there, I didn't have to worry about things like booking the studio or keeping track of the budget. I just had to show up and play my best. That was quite a luxury, and it made this a better record."
Traveler also showcases his soulful, wailing lap steel guitar work alongside his Dobro skills. His lap steel is featured on seven tracks, including the original instrumentals "So Here We Are" and "Gone to Fortingall," both of which are products of Douglas' budding collaboration with the stellar rhythm section of bassist Viktor Krauss and drummer Omar Hakim, who also provide the foundation of his current touring band.
"Playing lap steel is very liberating to me, especially after working in the acoustic world for most of my life," Douglas says. "It's a very different instrument, and it takes me to a different part of my brain. With lap steel, I have access to sustain and distortion, which is something you just don't get with Dobro. Distortion isn't big in bluegrass, but it can be your friend."
Traveler is also notable for featuring Douglas' first recorded lead vocal, i.e. his persuasive take on the Leadbelly number "On A Monday," which opens the album (and which Douglas recently performed on "The Late Show With David Letterman"). He actually made his public lead-singing debut in 2011 in no less auspicious a venue than Carnegie Hall, singing "Hey Joe" as part of the "Roots" themed show in James Taylor's "Perspectives" series.
"I originally wanted to call this record Firsts, but I didn't because the word's too hard to say," Douglas confides. "I even drew up a cover concept, with this little scrawny kid standing on a high-dive board about to jump into a pool, and there's a shark in the water. That's what this whole record felt like to me. That's kind of what I've been doing for the last couple of years: drawing up the list of things that I'm afraid to do and then doing them."
The fact that Douglas' multiple talents command the respect of the A-list singers and players who populate Traveler won't come as a surprise to anyone who's familiar with his history. As a solo artist, band member, collaborator and session musician, his distinctive playing graces over 2000 albums by artists as varied as Garth Brooks, Ray Charles, Elvis Costello, John Fogerty, Bill Frisell, Charlie Haden, Emmylou Harris, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Earl Scruggs, Phish and the Chieftains, as well as the eight-million-plus selling soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? and its spinoff live disc Down from the Mountain. As a producer, he's helmed albums by such notable acts as the Del McCoury Band, Maura O'Connell, Jesse Winchester and the Nashville Bluegrass Band.
The Ohio-born Douglas began playing Dobro at the age of eight, after his father--a steelworker who played bluegrass in his spare time--brought him to a Flatt and Scruggs concert, where he was entranced by the sound of Dobro player Josh Graves. After playing with his dad's group the West Virginia Travelers for several years, a 17-year-old Douglas joined the pioneering progressive-bluegrass band the Country Gentlemen in 1973. Two years later, he became a member of the seminal J.D. Crowe and the New South, which also included future solo stars Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice. In 1976, Douglas and Skaggs co-founded the now-legendary bluegrass combo Boone Creek.
In 1979, Douglas launched his solo career with his LP Fluxology, and also became a full-time member of the beloved family country group the Whites. By the time he left the Whites in 1985, Douglas was Nashville's most in-demand session Dobro player, while continuing to develop his blossoming solo career with a series of acclaimed and influential albums. In the late '80s, he formed the acoustic supergroup Strength in Numbers with Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer and Mark O'Connor. He also continued to collaborate on such forward-looking recording projects, e.g. 1994's Grammy-winning all-star The Great Dobro Sessions and 1996's genre-bending experiment Bourbon and Rosewater, with bassist Edgar Meyer and Indian musician Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.
In the late 1990s, Douglas chose to abandon his lucrative Nashville session career, in order to concentrate on more creatively satisfying musical pursuits. At around the same time, Alison Krauss asked him to fill in on a Union Station tour. Those shows went so well that the association became a permanent one. Since then, Douglas has balanced his work with Union Station with his ongoing solo career, while continuing to find time for a variety of collaborative projects, including the tribute album Southern Filibuster: The Songs of Tut Taylor and his ongoing work as co-Music Director of the popular BBC TV series Transatlantic Sessions, which teams American roots musicians and singers with their Celtic counterparts.
Douglas also scored the film "Get Low" (starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek) with Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, and wrote additional music for the film.
In 2011, Douglas received the Annual Americana Honors and Awards coveted Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist, a top honor shared in previous years by such luminaries such as Ry Coder, Sam Bush, Larry Campbell, Greg Leisz.
Now, at a point in his life where most other musicians have settled into a routine or are resting on their laurels, Jerry Douglas remains eager to embrace new creative challenges.
"Making Traveler has really been an eye-opening experience," Douglas asserts. "After doing this, I'm not interested in going back to making records the way I was, going into the studio with 12 songs and recording them with the same group of people. This one taught me about what options are out there, what other ways there are to do things, and what other kinds of music I can play. That's important when you've been doing this as long as I have. Now I've got all kinds of records that I want to make."
Two brothers are reunited after years of geographical separation by a resonant collaboration in music. Since the formation of the group in march of 2013, the Burlington, VT based indiefolk duo has been living on the road while developing a large palette of material. Their versatile songwriting modes, blood harmonies and fingerstyle guitar arrangements have lead them to be paired up with a wide variety of national acts including Grace Potter, Sturgill Simpson, Langhorne Slim, Chris Thomas King, Howie Day, The Lone Bellow, Ben Sollee, Horse Feathers and Chris Eldridge and Julian Lage.
21FriAugust 21, 2015Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers
With Loved Wild Lost, Little Sur recording group Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers fully affirm a current place in the long winding continuum of the California Sound, born of folk, rock, country, psychedelia, blues, and pop, as ageless, adventurous, and ever-adaptive as the Golden State itself. The album -- which follows the Bay Area-based band's eponymous 2013 debut -- sees Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers teaming with producer Brian Deck (Iron & Wine, Modest Mouse, Josh Ritter), their first time working with an outside collaborator. The result is the critically acclaimed band's most compelling collection thus far. The richly layered sound forms the ideal foundation for Bluhm's remarkable voice and resonant lyrical gifts. Added color is provided by San Francisco's Magik*Magik Orchestra (Death Cab for Cutie, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Walkmen), whose multifarious string arrangements amplify the album's sound.
Three years of new experiences and nearly non-stop roadwork has had a powerful effect on The Gramblers, spurring creative growth and personal reflection. Songs like "Love Your Loved Ones"explore life's seismic shifts, what Nicki describes as "the struggle to retain the energy and optimism of youth as life becomes more complex."
Multi-instrumentalist, co-songwriter, and Nicki's husband, Tim Bluhm is the quintessential Golden State musician. Tim has been known for two decades as singer/guitarist/primary songwriter in beloved SF rock 'n' rollers The Mother Hips and as an in-demand producer, session player and collaborator. Tim & Nicki first assembled The Gramblers in 2008 to serve as Nicki's road band in support of her two Tim-produced solo outings. The line-up soon gelled into its current state, comprising Nicki's childhood friend, guitarist/songwriter Deren Ney, bassist -- and ALO co-founder -- Steve Adams, rhythm guitarist Dave Mulligan, and drummer Mike Curry.
It quickly became clear that Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers was more than a talented singer/ songwriter and her backing musicians -- they were a band. As such, what was initially planned as Nicki's third solo record became Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers' self-titled debut album. Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers propelled the band to national attention, earning praise from American Songwriter as "a modest, melodic gem (that) neatly combines the rustic vibe of The Band with the more polished approach of Buckingham/Nicks-era Fleetwood Mac."
The Gramblers toured hard, logging over 200 shows in 2012 alone, including headline tours and festival appearances at Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Hangout, Newport Folk, Telluride Bluegrass and Warren Haynes' Mountain Jam. National notice rolled in, with Bluhm being featured in The Gap's worldwide "Shine" campaign in support of their "Icons Redefined" collection and widely viewed TV appearances on CBS This Morning and TBS' Conan.
When time came to record a follow-up, The Gramblers decided it would behoove them to work with an outside collaborator. A phone conversation with Brian Deck -- a veteran studio hand and founding member of Chicago's Red Red Meat -- affirmed him as a producer that could be trusted to help forward the band's overall goals.
In spring 2014 The Gramblers held 10 days of pre-production sessions at a friend's ranch in coastal Pescadero, allowing them uninterrupted time to woodshed and collaborate, to share songs and experiences. More importantly, the band needed to settle back into a studio dynamic, to pull back from the inevitable sonic "leaning forward" that comes from three solid years playing clubs and theatres.
"You have to reset," says Tim, "make sure you're playing songs that are going to sound good on a stereo in someone's house or in their car, not just on the stage."
"We just really wanted to work out the kinks without wasting Brian's time later," Nicki says. "We wanted to come prepared."
In August, Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers convened at Panoramic Studios in Stinson Beach for two weeks of serious recording. Deck "really kicked our ass," says Nicki. "The vision was ours, but Brian helped our musicianship, our communication. There was a kind of professionalism in the studio that we needed to push us to the next level. Brian's a drummer and I think its great to have a musician as a producer -- they get it. They understand because they've lived it."
Together Deck and the band made a conscious effort to hone The Gramblers' sound, fusing a framework of archetypal musical idioms into something unique and universal, its individual elements complementing and counterpointing the songs' deeper themes. "On the last record there's a little bit of soul, a little bit of country, a little bit of rock," Nicki says. "This record, we were trying to make it much more cohesive."
"The sound is becoming more unique," Tim says. "An entity unto itself."
Loved Wild Lost has the sprawling energy of lives in constant transition, manifested in both its contemplative lyricism and expansive sonic palette. Time spent in the van moves slowly and yet passes in an instant, newlyweds become old married couples, strangers become friends become family, wide-eyed innocents become grizzled veterans of the road.
"I think you can clearly hear all that happening in these songs," Tim says. "Idealism and optimism losing control to the forces of inertia and a life of constant traveling. Happiness becomes an intention and love becomes a long term study of oneself and of one another."
The band's approach is both wide-ranging and ambitious, yet always united by a devotion to clear committed songcraft. The band's three songwriting members all brought in material, with Nicki and Tim contributing the majority. In some ways, Loved Wild Lost can be like listening in on a private conversation between the Bluhms, with all the secrets and truths of their marriage hidden in plain sight.
"Your songs are like a diary in code," Nicki says.
"Of course there's subtext to all of these songs," Tim says. "I probably shouldn't admit that, because then it's not really subtext."
"It's so comforting," Nicki says, "when you feel all these emotions that you can't even put your finger on, but then somebody says it in a song and it encapsulates that feeling that you had, it helps you navigate your life. It puts words to it. Tim's songs have always done that for me. He's able to lasso these huge concepts and put them into these perfect phrases. He's inspired by so many things which is inspiring to me." Tim-penned songs like "High Neck Lace" allow Nicki to articulate herself on a vast array of subjects, spanning aging, personal politics, intense psychological observation, the search for meaning, and the very mysteries of life itself.
Meanwhile, songs like "Mr. Saturday Night" see Nicki's own songwriting prowess growing in melodic strength and lyrical candor, "really getting my insides on the outside in an uninhibited way." Inspired by a photo of a cowgirl in rose covered regalia, her "Queen of the Rodeo" might well be the album's emotional heart, a singular and slightly subconscious expression of her own amazing journey.
"In my head I was writing a character," she says. "But listening back during pre-production I realized it was much more autobiographical than I had ever intended it to be. I got hit with, wow, I am totally talking about myself and I didn't even know it. It's all very metaphoric of course; it's about working really hard and moving through obstacles and still maintaining your inner strength. Because it's really hard -- it's hard to be a woman in this industry, it's hard to be a woman on the road, it's hard to be married to a band mate. I think that song was a way for me to release whatever I'd been holding because it came out a lot more personal than I thought."
"There's a blind spot that every songwriter has," Tim says. "That's one of the things I love about Nicki's songs, there's an innocence to her voice, her lyrical voice, that I definitely don't have anymore."
Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers are now ready to kick start the cycle once more, with all the infinite roadwork and new experiences that entails. Loved Wild Lost reverberates with invention, passion, and spontaneity, but it is but a milestone on a band's endless highway.
"As the story of The Gramblers unfolds I get new ideas about the directions it could go," Tim says. "Every time you go around a corner there's a new view that shows you something that you haven't seen. It's always changing and you have to respond to the feedback the world is giving you."
"I can't tell the future," Nicki Bluhm says. "I just want us to stay open to whatever feels best."
22SatAugust 22, 2015
23SunAugust 23, 2015Rasputina
Born and raised in Kansas, Melora Creager -- Rasputina directress for the past 20 years -- comes from a musical family and received classical training. At 18 she moved to New York City to attend Parsons School of Design. While majoring in photography, she began playing her cello in rock bands and became involved with drag performers. She formed "The Fingerlakes Trio," a falsely geeky classical group that performed covers of disco hits, before joining NYC's Ultra Vivid Scene. Melora was Nirvana's cellist for their final tour in Europe.
The concept for the group came to her fully formed; the idea was written as a manifesto. Her intention was to create an electric cello choir - no boys or guitars allowed. Through want ads she recruited like-minded cellists. Rasputina evolved, employing elaborate costuming, as they were unable to move about while forcibly stationary in their chairs. What began as strictly "Victorian Whites"- bloomers, corsets and hoopskirts - has evolved into an amalgam of historical feminine icons - Indian princesses, Hawaiian handmaidens and fallen medieval queens.
When a certain roll of industrial-grade Saran Wrap runs out, Melora will disband the band.
25TueAugust 25, 2015
27ThuAugust 27, 2015
HGWT's music has been featured in a national Chevy TV commercial; multiple episodes of the PBS series Roadtrip Nation; a GTE Federal Credit Union TV and radio ad campaign; and an episode of CBS's The Good Wife. Their albums have spent months on the CMJ Radio Top 200 chart and ranked as high as No. 3 on WMNF 88.5 Tampa's list of most-played albums.
In 1996 Texas is the Reason released their only full length record Do You Know Who You Are? (Revelation Records) combining a structured balance of powerful and melodic guitars, equally measured drums, and an earnest vocal delivery closer to that found on the other side of the Atlantic. As pioneers of emocore, the band's implosion a year later on the brink of major label success is the stuff of rock lore. Texas is the Reason has since become embedded in the history of emo, if not indie rock as a whole. It's a legacy Garrett Travis Klahn (front man/guitarist) embraces without the constraints of definition. For Klahn, the eighteen year spread between then and now has been wide, wonderful and packed with wanderlust. Through a journey of various projects--the hook-laden Solea; the shoe-gazing Atlantic/Pacific; and most recently, his first proper solo release - Klahn's musicianship has flourished. Where at the start of Texas is the Reason he could hardly play guitar, he has since evolved into a polished singer/songwriter. His simple desire for melody and a story remains an inspirational thread throughout. With the coming winter Klahn will release the much anticipated debut single and head abroad with a full band; it's a follow-up to a number of recent solo tours wherein he road-tested new songs and stripped down old favorites in venues varying from open-air festivals in Belgium to beautifully decaying former dance halls in Scotland. Continuing an adventure equally propelled by the past and fueled by the future.
Klahn will soon release "I Don't Care At All" taken from the forthcoming debut solo album, "Motion For Action" via Rise Records.
28FriAugust 28, 20158:00pm $12.00Straight out of the Midwest from a little town in WI, only miles away from where Stevie Ray Vaughan lost his life, comes a blues/rock guitarist named Tallan Noble Latz.
Tallan first picked up the guitar at age 4 and hasn't put it down since. Tallan founded his first band at age 7 and at age 15, he has no intention of stopping anytime soon.
Tallan has been blessed to have the opportunities to perform at festivals and venues all over the US. Tallan has performed over 600 shows and is always working on making his performances a magical event for all those in attendance. Tallan gives 110% at every performance and that's what has people talking and driving miles to see him perform.
Steve Duchrow, the Director of Performing Arts at Elgin Community College talks about Tallan this way:
"If I were you, I'd see Tallan Noble Latz perform now. Off-stage he's a nice, humble young man, but on-stage he transforms into an emergent, potent musical force. He's that growing storm front that is picking up hurricane strength every time he climbs onto the stage. He's in rare company too, not many musicians open up or share the stage with B.B King, Buddy Guy, Joe Bonamassa and Les Paul this early in their career. By the way, that sound you hear, is Tallan carving out a potential future place among the giants in the blues and rock world. He has the dedication, work ethic and ability to make it happen. Go see him, I think you'll love him; our audience certainly did!"
The Katz Sass is a high energy Blues/Rock Band in the style of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Bonamassa, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
29SatAugust 29, 20159:00pm $10.00Testa Rosa returns from a brief recording/performing hiatus to celebrate the release of their 3rd full length album - simply titled, Testa Rosa III. The record's 10 tracks showcase TR's knack for gorgeous, powerful pop goodness. Singer/guitarist Betty Blexrud-Strigens's beautiful and unique vocals cast a hypnotic glow over textured & timeless songs. The band's newly released 7" single will also be available at the show. A cover of Shocking Blue's 'Never Marry A Railroad Man' on the A side and a cover of Aphrodite's Child's 'End Of The World' on the flip.
Testa Rosa's self-titled 2007 debut was a breath a fresh air, boasting a series of well-crafted and unassuming pop-rock songs anchored by chiming guitars, crisp rhythms, and the knockout vocals of Betty Blexrud-Strigens. It was the rare local album with the courage to be pretty, a quality that many bands in Milwaukee's male-dominated and punk and metal-weaned music scene cross the street to get away from. In many ways, Testa Rosa was a nod to the city's college-rock past, though the band never veered into full-blown '80s revivalism. It was a record steeped into mood and melody, and those attributes also form the foundation of Testa Rosa's long-awaited follow-up, II.
Testa Rosa once again applies the amped-up drama of classic girl-group records to dreamy ballads that brazenly pull at the heartstrings, only this time with some extra muscle, courtesy of producers Beau Sorenson and Shane Hochstettler. Blexrud-Strigens' vocals remain the focal point, reaching new heights of sweeping majesty on the "you done me wrong" weepie "My Sin" and the epic "The White Cobra." Where II improves on Testa Rosa is in the added lushness of the instrumentation, which captivates even on lightly breezy pop tunes, like "If Only I Had Run" and the charmingly wordless "Carpet Cube." Testa Rosa isn't Milwaukee's flashiest or edgiest rock band, but on II it might be the most gorgeous.
The Tense Experts were a fantastic Milwaukee-based punk/new wave band in the early 1980s. They recently reunited for the Lest We Forget concert in 2013 and have played a few select shows since then. Fronted by vocalist Bobby Steele & guitarist Michael Ciaccio, they recently released a vinyl collection of material spanning back to 1982.