7WedSeptember 7, 2016
The Honeydrops have come a long way since guitarist and trumpeter Lech Wierzynkski and drummer Ben Malament started busking in an Oakland BART station, but the band has stayed true to that organic, street-level feel. With the additions of Johnny Bones on tenor sax and clarinet, Lorenzo Loera on keyboards, and Beau Bradbury on bass, they've built a powerful full-band sound to support Wierzynski's vocals.
Listening to Lech sing, it can be a surprise that he was born in Warsaw, Poland, and raised by Polish political refugees. He learned his vocal stylings from contraband American recordings of Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Louis Armstrong, and later at Oberlin College and on the club circuit in Oakland, California. Bringing all those influences together with the rest of the band's diverse experiences into a unified musical vision, the California Honeydrops expect to play parties for a long time.
8ThuSeptember 8, 2016
Defiantly unorthodox, but often playfully so, Modern Art is a stealth album, embedded with half- hidden hooks lurking in its recesses, just out of focus, waiting to be discovered. Nope, this is not a one-listen album, but a progressive deepening has always characterizes the most memorable longplayers, whose authors rarely put all their cards on the table right away. Not that there aren't some instant grabbers here: "She Walks the Night" captures the Byrds of "Eight Miles High," while "Ladyfingers" stomps along with the authority of T.Rex, and the tortured "My Ass Is Grass" could serve as the belated follow-up to "Sick of Myself," the hit single from Sweet's 1995 LP 100% Fun. At the other extreme are provocative, soul-deep, virtually unprecedented tracks like "Oh, Oldendaze!," "Late Nights With the Power Pop," "Modern Art," "Evil by Design, Goodbye Nature," "At the Screen (With the World Flowing In)" and "Nowhere."
For this record, Sweet discarded his normal process of laying down ideas as they came to him and shaping them into songs. Instead, he allowed those spontaneous kernels of music dictate the direction of each piece. Rather than bringing his left brain into the process, he put his right brain in charge and simply let it rip.
"In the past, I'd make deliberate changes of structure and normalize things," says Sweet. "But this time, I wanted to make it abstract but still human and natural. I had a lot of tapes of me coming up with ideas for songs, but I hadn't fleshed them out--just raw melodies, stream-of- consciousness lyrics or me humming along, that sort of thing. So with the first song, which became 'Oh, Oldendaze,' I took the exact structure of me making up the song--I'd do something for a while, and then I'd go to some other section of chords--and I decided have that preordain the structure, keeping that original raw idea exactly the way it was. That approach gave it a super-personal feel that was really melodic and musical but still different, so I ran with it. And in an odd way, this record feels more like me than anything I've done."
Still evident through this musical and sonic shell game are echoes of Sweet's touchstones: the Beatles, Byrds, Beach Boys and Big Star. "Although I really didn't think about other music while making the record, if those things are there, it's just because I love them," he says. "And even the long songs with all that weirdness in them tend to have recognizable parts." Indeed, these exploratory songs exemplify the very quality Sweet finds in his treasured Big Star albums. "When I discovered Big Star at the end of high school, it was the greatest thing ever, and Alex Chilton became one of my heroes," he recalls. "What I loved about Alex's thing was that it was pure emotion--you experienced his feelings through the music. And that's the kind of music I love: when an artist seems like they're really feeling something."
Sweet made the record with just two other musicians. As usual, Velvet Crush founder Ric Menck does all the drumming (except for "Ivory Tower," which is built on a random drum pattern supplied by Matthew's friend Fred Armison, an SNL cast member best known for his Obama impressions). Dennis Taylor's deft and urgent guitar lines serve as a running commentary to Sweet's introspective singing, playing a similar role to those of Robert Quine and Richard Lloyd on Girlfriend. Matthew discovered his new secret weapon working as a guitar tech for his friends the Bangles, and couldn't believe his good fortune. "Dennis was exactly what I'd been looking for," he says.
As for the title, Sweet explains, "I first wrote down the phrase 'modern art' as a possible song title, and it struck a chord with me because of its similarity to 'modern heart'--like a stare-down between the strange newness of time and the living and feeling-filled but surely doomed heart."
Near the end of the recording, Matthew's wife Lisa discovered a quote from Picasso that she felt spoke to the purity of the process that had led to Modern Art: "If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes." Says Matthew, "I love the idea of getting rid of intent and just seeing what happens; finding your world in there."
The album's inventiveness extends to its final stages, which went down at Glenn Schick Mastering in Atlanta. The mastering was done with Schick's unique "triple analog" process: After going through a special chain of analog gear not once but twice, all the masters were then cut to virgin lacquer, and then transferred back to digital. The result is a remarkably immediate and full-bodied listening experience. "It's not too loud, because we wanted to allow the dynamics to breathe," Schick explains.
Never has an album's title more accurately described its content. It's fitting that Modern Art will appear on the 20th anniversary of Girlfriend.
DAVID RYAN HARRIS is internationally recognized for playing guitar and singing in John Mayer's band (2004-2012), released his fourth full-length album, Lightyears, in the fall of 2015. The soulful 11-track album includes co-writes with Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and Tyler Lyle, as well as guest appearances by John Mayer, Indie.Arie and Nikka Costa. Elmore Magazine calls Lightyears a look at "Harris doing what he does best... performing alone with his guitar, singing beautiful and all-too-real lyrics." David Ryan Harris began his music career in 1991 when he co-founded band Follow For Now, but in 1997 embarked on his journey as a solo artist when he signed with Columbia Records and released his first self-titled record. He has since had the pleasure of writing with, playing with and/or producing artists from Dave Matthews, Cassandra Wilson, Santana, Marc Broussard, and Guy Sebastian. Harris will release his next album in September of 2016.
GABE DIXON released his sophomore solo album, Turns To Gold, on April 8th, marking his first official collection as an independent artist, put out on his own Rolling Ball Records. Turns To Gold is currently featured in Rolling Stone, The Huffington Post, American Songwriter, Elmore Magazine, All Music, Relix Magazine, Indie Shuffle, and more. Paste Magazine calls it "heart-wrenchingly honest," and No Depression says it's "simply an exceptional album" with "all the makings of a big breakthrough." Gabe's songs have been featured on ABC, CBS, NBC, CW and more, and his song "Find My Way" served as the song for the opening credits for the box office hit The Proposal starring Sandra Bullock. He's appeared twice on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!, as well as The Late Show with Craig Ferguson and Last Call with Carson Daly.
9FriSeptember 9, 20168:00pm $10.00While there is no one way to describe the eclectic artist Jupiter In Velvet and his music, one word does a pretty decent job of summing it all up - 'unique'. For while he has been compared to such legendary artists as Bowie, Prince and McCartney, Jupiter is his own thing. He is the real deal. There is truly no one quite like him in music today. Just give a listen to his latest single Rule Your Day and try to find a band on this earth that sounds so refreshingly different as this. Jupiter swings unabashedly from alt-rock to hard-rock then on to alt-psychedelic before jumping into something more pop-rock with a bit of glam-rock thrown in on the side. His music is all his own, seamlessly blending the past with the present to create a new tangent in rock music.
Perhaps the most famous 'undiscovered' artist out there, he is a huge favorite with the music critics of the underground rock scene. Joe Wawryzniak of Jersey Beat had this to say about Jupiter In Velvet's last album 'The World Didn't Start With U' from 2015:
"One of the most thrilling and inspired pop-rock musical artists of the early 21st century scores himself yet another bull's eye with his terrific latest album."
After the release of his debut album in 2012 'Screaming the Love Behind the Scars', Michael Morrison of Evor Magazine said this about Jupiter In Velvet:
"In close, most famous artists out there have "it", I'm not so sure what that is but Jupiter In Velvet has what ever 'it' is."
Known for his consummate skill as a songwriter, Loren Sperry of GasHouseRadio.com wrote this about Jupiter In Velvet after the release of his second album 'Shut Off Your Mind' in 2013:
"I look at Jupiter In Velvet & I see a modern day version of David Bowie or even Paul McCartney"
Blaine Calhoun of All What's Rock Blog hailed Jupiter In Velvet as the redeemer of Rock & Roll when he wrote this about Jupiter In Velvet and his third album 'Glitter On The Sun':
"Rock and Roll, re-imagined, and reinvigorated"
Jupiter In Velvet will be making his official Milwaukee debut September 9th when he and his band roll into the legendary Shank Hall where he will be celebrating the release of his 5th album 'The ONE In The Many'. Each concert goer will receive a complimentary copy of his new album.
Jupiter In Velvet is a UK/US musician. Born in the US, a journeyman of many shores, he found roots in the UK, the home of his ancestors. His last release 'The World Didn't Start With U' received heavy airplay and fanfare around the globe. His four stunning performances at the recent SXSW in Austin, Texas created a festival buzz. Jupiter followed that up with show stopping performances to standing room only crowds at the International Pop Overthrow Music Concert Series in Chicago and Detroit. A PhD student in Finance, Jupiter became disenchanted with his career path and suddenly quit school to follow his music dreams. Originally from the USA, Jupiter transplanted to the UK for a spell where he put together his sound which he calls Electro Dance Rock. Drawing upon a plethora of influences across generations, his stylistic instincts draw him into Alt-Rock, Punk, Pop, Psychedelic, Glam and Rock & Roll. Presently, his music is heard in over 65 countries across 6 continents and he has been #1 on the ReverbNation rock charts for both the UK and London for most of the past 3 years.
Pretty Beggar is an indie rock band from Milwaukee founded by songwriter and vocalist Michael Castle and drummer Tim Jurasewicz. After forming in January 2016 they wrote and released 18 self-produced singles in just 20 weeks to claim a place among the City's most exciting young songwriters. Now with additional members John Holzinger (bass) and Jon Cooper (guitar), Pretty Beggar combines elements of Rock, Pop, Blues, Punk and Soul, emphasizing lyrical potency and storytelling within catchy upbeat grooves.
10SatSeptember 10, 2016
13TueNRBQ vs. Los Straitjackets
8:00pm $20 advance / $25 door
show detailsSeptember 13, 2016
The legendary NRBQ -- founder & driving force Terry Adams on keyboards & vocals, Scott Ligon on guitar & vocals, Casey McDonough on bass & vocals, and Conrad Choucroun on drums -- released their latest studio album, the critically-acclaimed Brass Tacks, in the summer of 2014. "NRBQ is still liable to play anything. Roaring rockabilly, transcendent pop-rock, roadhouse blues, avant jazz -- you name it." - Minneapolis Tribune.
Los Straitjackets are the leading practitioners of the lost art of the guitar instrumental. Using the music of Ventures, The Shadows, Link Wray and Dick Dale as a jumping off point, the band has taken their unique, high energy brand of original rock & roll around the world. Clad in their trademark Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling masks, the "Jackets" have delivered their trademark guitar licks to 16 albums, thousands of concerts and dozens of films and TV shows.
Viva Los Straitjackets. Viva El Q.
16FriSeptember 16, 2016
Dana Erlandson has been making his homegrown "Americana" music for more than 30 years. He has opened for and in many cases played with..... America, Brewer and Shipley, Jackson Browne, Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart, Steve Forbert, Richie Furay, Nanci Griffith, John Hartford, John Hiatt, Lucy Kaplansky, Leo Kottke, David Lindley, Pat MacDonald, Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys, Kevin Montgomery, the Nashville Bluegrass Band, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Todd Snider, Al Stewart, Greg Trooper, and Jerry Jeff Walker . Dana celebrates a new decade with a brand new CD release called "Coming Home".
17SatSeptember 17, 2016
Rennie often has trouble with automatic faucets ignoring her waving hands but this unexpected airport invisibility was in 2014, the year the TV show True Detective used her song, "Far From Any Road" as its opening theme. This was the year The Handsome Family (aka husband and wife Brett and Rennie Sparks) became visible to millions. Even as she was getting sat on by strangers, youtube counts for The Handsome Family's 'hit' song climbed from two million to ten million, twenty million and more. The song was in the top 10 in US and UK Spotify charts and spent months in itunes top 100 in countries as far-flung as Vietnam, South Africa, and the Ukraine.
Millions of viewers 'broke the internet' watching the final episode of True Detective S1, but Rennie and Brett watched in their little house in Albuquerque, NM feeling oddly alone. The Handsome Family were now known around the globe for a song they'd written 12 years earlier about fire ants and desert plants, a song now linked forever to a show about cops in a psychic swamp. The Sparks were arguably famous now, but at the same time unknown. They were not their famous song nor was their famous song written for the show that made it famous. All these disconnections, though, are fine when you're a writer of songs.
For almost as long as they've been married (26 years) Brett and Rennie have written songs together (Brett, music; Rennie, words). Their finished work is never fully one or the other's, but lives in unseen space between them. William Burroughs claimed he walked busy streets without being seen simply by seeing everyone else first. This is similar to the Sparks' approach to songwriting and why Rennie embraces her power to vanish. You have to willingly disappear in order to write lyrics for someone else's voice or to write music for someone else's words. Invisible songwriters are happiest when their songs outshine them, leaving their creators unseen in the dust.
The Sparks have released 10 albums since 1995's Odessa. Their songs have been covered by countless youtubers and well-known artists like Jeff Tweedy, Amanda Palmer, Christy Moore, Cerys Matthews and Andrew Bird (who released an entire record of HF covers). Guns 'N Roses used, "Far From Any Road" as stage entrance music for a South American tour and both Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr are fans. Decades into their careers, after winning the TV theme-show jackpot-- the Sparks still find their greatest reward in disappearing into new songs.
And so in the strange light of 2014 they began again to write. 2016 brings the release of Unseen-- 10 songs by a couple both world-famous and happily invisible. Each song on the record has a guiding color--gold, silver, green, red, white. Rennie is also a painter known for her vivid and surprising use of color and she finds herself painting even when her brushes are made of words. The stories of Unseen are mostly inspired by real events-- "Gold" began when a bunch of twenty-dollar bills blew in Brett's face in a parking-lot dust storm. "Gentlemen," is a tribute to William Crookes who built the first vacuum tube in 1875 hoping to detect spirits from unseen dimensions. And "Tiny Tina"-- Rennie still hasn't seen that little horse.
Unseen is about the light that emanates from things we can't see-- behind "The Red Door," in the empty hands of blackjack losers ("The Silver Light"), and amidst desert bones bleaching in the sun ("King of Dust").
Since 2001 Brett has made their albums in a converted garage at the back of their house. He recorded Unseen on a Mac and played most of the parts at night with only hawk moths listening. There were guest musicians-- David Gutierrez: mandolin on "Tiny Tina" and dobro on "The Silver Light." Alex MacMahon: guitar on "The Silver Light," baritone guitar and pedal steel on "Gold." Jason Toth: drums throughout (except "Green Willow Valley"). Rennie wrote all the lyrics. She sang and played banjo and autoharp, but didn't bother to write down on which songs.
The Sparks' music is steeped in the western gothic of New Mexico life. The unseen is powerful here. Nothing rusts, but entire oceans have disappeared. Ski masks mean robberies, but in the slow dive of the sun enormous bugs awaken in thorny yards and unseen sirens and coyotes cry out to the purple sky. Just about anywhere you stand there's been some blood drawn.
In 2016 The Handsome Family continue to sell out venues worldwide that they couldn't have filled before TV fame. Live, Brett (guitar/vocals) and Rennie (banjo/bass/ vocals) are joined by drummer Jason Toth (worldwide) and multi-instrumentalist Alex MacMahon (USA). Their shows are full of humor and chit-chat. The Sparks aren't afraid to reveal their ordinary humanness. The invisible couple is also very happy to be seen.
7 Secrets of Snow is the 4th record by songwriter, composer, multi‐instrumetalist Paul Fonfara. This album drifts from his previous songwriting ventures and ups the scale wih a fully fledged 12 piece Balkans styled Brass Band and Chamber Orchestra, playing a surreal cinematic score. 7 Secrets of Snow is the raucaus, yet delicate Pet Sounds of Spaghetti Western, Heroin Klezmer meeting with Psychedlia Shoegaze, Sci‐Fi, and Contempory 20th Century Minimalism.
Fonfara began his career in Denver playing Clarinet, Cello and Guitar with Devotchka, Woven Hand/16 Horsepower, and as accompanist to alt county stalward Jim White. He then later moved to Minneapolis to join local favorites The Spaghetti Western String Co., and the Brass Messengers. All the while he has recorded a number of albums leading his own band Painted Saints, also touring often as a soloist, and noted for his virtuosic whistling, clarinet and looping.
In September of 2013, Fonfara was touring in the UK opening for Jim White where he met with the film makers behind the BBC cult classic 'Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus'. They were working on a new documentary following the famous/notorious Russian clown Slava Polunin as he makes a homeward trek through Siberia in the middle of Winter. Fonfara was asked to score the film, but they began to run into serious post production delays. In the meantime, Paul won a Minnesota Artists Initiative grant using the score's sketches to record his own record, create his own films and illustrate the collection. The result was 7 Secrets of Snow owing it's title to the original London based film and a Russian proverb. To realize the compositions, Paul assembled The Ipsifendus Collective , which takes it's name from an Edward Gorey story. Ipsifendus is the sound a rather charming devil makes as it descends from the sky. The orchestra is made up of some of Minneapolis' most prolific and notable composers/ film score players with Saw, Accordion, Cello, Clarinet, Cornet, Piano, Bass, Drums and Honk Festival favorites the Brass Messengers.
While the record's inspiration began in composing for Siberian winterscapes, it soon took on its own life and each piece it's own world. The Grass(DeGrasse) is Always Greener is a nod to physicst Neil Degrasse Tyson. Tar Sands, the lone vocal song, is a serene take on the desolate beauty of the waste that is the Alberta oil pits. Housitania comes from a short story written on the sinking of the Housitonic, the first vessel to be sunk by a submarine during the civil war. The record also includes a book of illustrations by Whittney Streeter, and the group performs with the accompanying films live.
The release of this record corresponds with a busy schedule as Fonfara will be touring solo supporting a West Coast tour with Cloud Cult, dates in the deep south with Jim White, opening for Romania's legendary Fanfare Ciocarlia and headlining the Square Lake Film Festival.
20TueSeptember 20, 2016Shawn Mullins
That oh-so-fallible, yet essential part of our being is, it turns out, the guiding force behind just about every song on the album -- the theme of which, he says, is summed up most succinctly by another song title: "It All Comes Down to Love."
In that respect, Mullins says, it's not all that different from most of his discography -- which includes 1998's Soul's Core, the album that shot him to fame on the strength of its Grammy- nominated No. 1 hit, "Lullaby," and 2006's 9th Ward Pickin' Parlor, which contained his AAA/Americana No. 1, "Beautiful Wreck." (He also co-wrote the Zac Brown Band's No. 1 country tune, "Toes.") But in the years since his last release, 2010's Light You Up, Mullins has experienced more ups and downs on his romantic roller-coaster -- a ride he's decided to step off for a while. He's also stayed busy co-parenting his son, Murphy, with his second wife.
Still, nothing inspires songwriters quite like a breakup, and Mullins confirms, "This record came out of all that; all the feelings, all the heartache."
He remembers sitting on his porch one afternoon, thinking, "'I know this is all in my head, but it'd be a lot easier just to blame it on my heart.' And then I thought, 'Yeah, it's my stupid heart.'" Next thing he knew, lines like "my stupid heart it plays for keeps/through hoops of fire it bounds and leaps" just started tumbling out. In the studio, the song took on a classic vibe, with impeccable instrumentation and production that sounds as if George Martin supervised.
In other words, it's gorgeous. And it carries a momentum that shifts it away from feeling like a woe-is-me wallow in self-pity. Throughout the album, Mullins deftly balances songs of suffering -- from the title tune and "Go and Fall," to the powerful, yet subtle social commentary of "Ferguson" (which contains no mention of guns or police officers) -- with songs such as "Roll on By," co-written with Max Gomez, which strikes an upbeat note of hope.
There's humor, too. Sure, much of it is wrapped in sardonic cynicism; "It all Comes Down to Love" targets TV preachers, politicians, the NRA, Wall Street and street dealers, and "Pre- Apocalyptic Blues" hilariously lampoons the doom-mongers arming themselves against Armageddon. But the Levon Helm-influenced "Never Gonna Let Her Go" reveals the thrills of riding that afore-mentioned roller-coaster, and even the sigh of resignation that is "The Great Unknown" contains lines so striking, you can't help but smile at their brilliance and depth. (Example: "They got a mirror back behind the whiskey shelves/Where we don't dare look back at ourselves.")
That song is one of several Mullins penned with his main songwriting collaborator, Chuck Cannon, who happens to be married to the album's producer, Lari White. They not only introduced him to the song's third author, Christina Aldendifer, but many of the album's players as well. (More about them later.) Cannon also co-wrote the title track, "Ferguson" and the deceptively shimmering "Go and Fall." Gomez is co-credited on the dramatic "Gambler's Heart"; Patrick Blanchard shares authorship of another character-based song, "Sunshine."
Whether composing alone or with others -- including Matthew Sweet and Pete Droge, his bandmates in the early-2000s trio the Thorns -- Atlanta native Mullins has always been a dynamic songsmith. Forging influences from folk and R&B to traditional country and even Broadway musicals (the funky ones, like Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell) with pop-leaning melodic sensibilities, he crafts memorable, affecting tunes best defined as Americana.
Mullins' maternal grandfather was a big-band bass player who also played Dixieland jazz and polka; his paternal grandfather, a railroad man, loved listening to Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams. When Mullins was in the womb, his mom serenaded him with "House of the Rising Sun" and "Ode to Billie Joe," accompanying herself on ukulele. (To this day, he has a thing for Bobbie Gentry.) His dad's record and reel-to-reel collection ranged from Kris Kristofferson and Leonard Cohen to Little Richard, Ray Charles and Isaac Hayes, plus plenty of rock 'n' roll. It all made an impact.
With a supple baritone that still allows him to channel Prince, as well as wail the blues and growl with grit -- not to mention rock those talkin' rhythms -- Mullins has been engaging audiences since he won his first high-school talent contest with his own composition. That $100 check lodged a little lightbulb in his brain. It clicked on when he heard a career-class talk by Amy Ray, then an Emory University freshman but already performing with Emily Saliers (just before they became Indigo Girls).
"She played a few songs and talked about being a performing songwriter," he recalls. "It helped me focus, because she was so engaging and intense and punk, yet able to perform just with a guitar and her voice. I wanted to be just like her."
Mullins majored in music education at North Georgia College, where he began performing in earnest and released his first album (cassette, actually) of originals. After graduating, he served in the U.S. Army Reserves at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he jumped out of a few airplanes before jumping full-time into music in 1992. Eventually, he formed his own label, and in 1998, he released Soul's Core. Steve Craig, a DJ at Atlanta's modern-rockish WNNX-FM, picked up on "Lullaby," spinning it on his "Locals Only" music show. He took it to program director Leslie Fram, who not only put it heavy rotation, but sent copies to a few dozen fellow PDs. Soon, Mullins was getting regular airplay on at least 15 stations. He went from modestly hoping sales might reach 20,000 units, far beyond his four-digit average, to moving 30,000 copies per week, on his way to platinum status.
Labels that had ignored his earlier efforts to get their attention suddenly clamored to sign him; at least 25 came knocking. Columbia won the bidding war; Mullins spent six years there before moving to Vanguard, which recently joined forces with Rounder/Sugar Hill under the Concord Music Group umbrella.
When Chuck Cannon heard "Lullaby" on a Nashville station, he actually did a U-turn and beelined toward a record store. Cannon, who co-wrote John Michael Montgomery's Academy of Country Music Song of the Year, "I Love the Way You Love Me," and several hits for Toby Keith, among other country stars, loved Mullins' work. But when Mullins heard Cannon was slated to open for him at a Nashville club, he thought the pairing was a total mismatch. Until Cannon played.
"Chuck's got a lot more edge than a lot of other Nashville songwriters, and a lot more rock 'n' roll and R&B," Mullins says. "There's a lot more sex in his writing, there's a lot more devil and God, and he just brings some real basic elements of the human existence more into the forefront. A lot of people don't have the guts to do it, and I love that about him."
Cannon wrote "It all Comes Down to Love," the album's only cover. It was his attempt to write in Mullins' style --16 years ago, after he'd heard "Lullaby." He'd also engineered that opening slot so he could meet Mullins -- who didn't know any of the song's back-story till he asked about using it for the album. Once he heard it, he was even more determined to include it.
"I usually do one song per record I didn't write; just a song I like a lot that someone else wrote," Mullins says. "It motivates me to write more, because it's something that I wish I'd written." (That's Mullins' kid -- and his beagle --on the intro.)
Cannon had even demoed it with many of the same players who perform it on the album. (They include bassist Michael Rhodes, drummer Gerry Hansen, electric guitarists Jerry McPherson and Tom Bukovac, pianist/accordionist Radoslav Lorkovic, pianist Matt Rollings, steel guitarist Dan Dugmore, bouzouki/mandolin player Guthrie Trapp, cellist Austin Hoke, and backing vocalists Tom Ryan, Max Gomez and Cannon, who also plays bouzouki and guitar. Ryan, who co-wrote "Pre-Apocalyptic Blues" while performing with Mullins at the 30A Songwriters Festival, also plays sax on the rousing New Orleans/Dixieland rave-up, next to trombonist Roy Agee.)
In addition to his collaborations for this album, Mullins spent some of his time since Light You Up writing with other Nashville hitmakers; he also contributed to the striking 2012 album, Mercyland: Songs for the Rest of Us. But he admits he's eager to hit the road again.
"I'm in a new place in my life, a place of freedom, artistically -- and a real grounded place of bein' a dad," he says. "I'm really excited about the possibilities."
Though he may be wearing a little more emotional armor this time, he's also armed with new insights, so many of which are relayed in these songs. And when he steps onstage each night, he sings them with all the passion he's got in his anything-but-stupid heart.
22ThuSeptember 22, 2016Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers
After landing in the top ten of Billboard's Internet Sales Chart for six consecutive albums--all on independent labels and twice at number one--RCPM is poised to lead the charge for a Spanish-infused, roots rock revolution. The band's annual music festival in Rocky Point, Mexico, known as Circus Mexicus, is a testament to their growing fan base. What began as a rooftop show thrown together with extension cords and wooden pallets has blossomed into a pilgrimage that draws thousands of "Peacemakers" to the beach town every June. "There's something about our music that celebrates what's uniting versus what's dividing," says Clyne.
Irony played an integral role in the creation of The Independent, whose first track emerged from a stifling case of writers block. Armed with his guitar and battling creative blockades, Clyne unleashed the phrase "I ain't got the words for this" and as a result the first lyrics for the album were realized. "Ain't Got The Words" leads The Independent, exposing hearty vocal grit and liberating honesty.
The album features guitarist Jim Dalton, bassist Nick Scropos, drummer P.H. Naffah, and Clyne on vocals and rhythm guitar. While Clyne pens the bulk of the Peacemaker's tunes, a long stretch of Northern California highway set the stage for Dalton's lyrical debut. Traveling along the Causeway between Sacramento and San Francisco, RCPM's tour bus came to a screeching halt. "The bus driver screamed back at us and said, 'Guys I got nothing!'" recalls Dalton. "I grabbed my guitar and started strumming. The words 'Just another California breakdown' came tumbling out."
The inspiration behind Dalton's guitar-laden, hard luck tune "California Breakdown" remains one of the band's favorite memories to date. After alerting fans via Facebook to their sidelined 40 ft tour bus, The Peacemakers received more offers for a ride than they could accept. Devout fans piled RCPM's gear onto a landscape trailer, loaded the musicians into their cars, and headed into the sunset for the San Francisco show.
The title track off The Independent is a representation of the group's Southwest influences, delivering an instrumental collaboration that evokes desperado imagery and draws inspiration from old west greats like Sons of The Pioneers. Inversely, the track "Geronimo" is a radio-ready anthem that begins with dark undertones and mariachi roots before building into an uplifting call to arms that chides, "Time to sing a new battle cry, get up out of limbo, step into the blue sky, geronimo!"
The reoccurring themes of independence and chance arguably stem from RCPM's decision to record the album in Naffah's Somos Studios, which also found the drummer in the role of producer. Clyne is no stranger to Naffah's talents, as the pair originally began playing together in the celebrated 90's alt-rock act The Refreshments. Clyne credits Naffah for being a solid component in his 100+ song repertoire.
Riding into the music industry on their own terms has been a longstanding philosophy for the band, and in this case created a sense of freedom that allowed Clyne & company to make an unapologetic album that's pleasingly rough around the edges. Rich with commanding vocals, melodic bass lines, tambourine, and a hint of keys, The Independent embodies the spirit of RCPM.
"The Independent is a double entendre," says Clyne. "It represents the solo sojourner, but it also frames the idea of moving forward as a collective group in the name of independence."
Traveling off the beaten path works to the advantage of Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers. Clyne has successfully spearheaded the production of his own ultra-premium sipping tequila called Mexican Moonshine Tequila, orchestrated an out of country music festival, and guided a band whose fan base has grown exponentially over the last decade. Clyne notes that the lyrics off the track "Right Where We Want 'Em" sums up the sentiment of The Independent. The song speaks of encouragement and unlikely victory, stating, "Out numbered, out flanked, out muscled, out ranked and out gunned." Clyne sings, "Take another long trip off a short plank, at a dead run. We got 'em."
Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers "got 'em right where we want 'em now."
23FriSeptember 23, 2016Aoife O'Donovan
For a decade, O'Donovan wielded her instrument with tensile strength as the captivating lead singer of the Boston-based progressive string band Crooked Still. She was a featured vocalist on "The Goat Rodeo Sessions," the Grammy-winning album by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile, has made regular appearances on A Prairie Home Companion and collaborated with some of the most eminent names in music across a wide variety of genres from Alison Krauss to Dave Douglas
In 2013 O'Donovan released her debut solo album, "Fossils," a moody collection of original songs with a country lilt. The album garnered praise from The New York Times and Rolling Stone, while The Guardian deemed O'Donovan the "next Americana celebrity." Most recently O'Donovan has lent her voice to the folk trio I'm With Her with singers Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek) and Sarah Jarosz.
24SatSeptember 24, 2016
So much more than just a blues act, DATV's shows are filled with New Orleans charm, Memphis soul swagger, dark theatrical moments that evoke Kurt Weill, and tender gospel passages. Davina's voice and stage presence defy category in a different way. Davina has been compared to Etta James, Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday and Betty Boop, but comparisons don't suffice: Sowers is a true original.
Something unique to this "blues" project is the instrumentation. This rollicking quintet is held together by Sowers' keyboard playing, with acoustic bass, drums, and a spicy trumpet and trombone horn section. The group's focused, clean sound and emphasis on acoustic instruments is novel to both blues and jazz worlds, and sets the show closer to New Orleans than to Chicago. This has set the Vagabonds apart at blues festivals in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Sighisoara, Romania, Sierre, Switzerland, Kemi, Finland, and 2012's New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Davina and band made their debut at the Monterey Jazz Festival this September. Catch this one-of-a-kind live show while they are in town!
26MonSeptember 26, 2016Mike Peters of The Alarm
Following on from the hugely popular 'Declaration Tour 2014', Mike Peters one man band 'Alarm' concept will present 'Strength' in a similar contemporary style featuring performance, stories and images to honor the legacy the album left on the decade it helped define and the continuing significance it holds for listeners who can still relate to it's timeless themes of love, hope and strength.
The Alarm's debut album 'Declaration' was powered by unique electro-acoustic guitars that by the time of the follow up 'Strength', had evolved into a much fuller arena rock sound that paralleled U2 and Springsteen's E Street Band in its scope and ambition. A sound that would see The Alarm break North America on a grand scale and peak with a live appearance before an audience of 26,000 fans at a concert in Los Angeles watched by millions around the world via MTV's first ever live satellite broadcast.
Packed with powerful yet personal songs like the autobiographical 'Spirit Of '76' and 'Walk Forever By My Side', 'Strength' went on to become The Alarm's best selling album of the 1980's charting in the Top 40 on both sides of the Atlantic. This is The Alarm record that brings together for the first time, the aforementioned themes of love, hope and strength now so synonymous with Mike Peters and his long running battle against cancer.
Two times cancer survivor Mike Peters is fast emerging as one of the most visible advocates and activists for those living with and beating cancer around the world. Over the last four years, his Love Hope Strength Foundation has found over 1500 potentially life saving bone marrow donor matches; built the first ever children's cancer center in Tanzania; supported the Bhaktapur Cancer Center in Nepal with life saving equipment and registered over 90,000 donors through it's 'Get On the List' program. By turning rock concerts into lifesaving events, more than 10,000 international recording artists including Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, Frank Turner and The Drop Kick Murphys now support the charity by allowing bone marrow registries at their concerts.
Although Peters, is constantly fighting the illness himself (he may ultimately need a bone marrow transplant), he refuses to stop performing. Continually mixing his role as cancer advocate and musician by leading fundraising treks around the Globe and addressing delegates at the World Cancer Congress in Melbourne, Australia in December. "Thousands of people from around the world die every year simply because they can't find a match. The match is out there for everyone; they just have not been found. That is our life mission - seeing that everyone that needs a donor has one. It's that simple! Equally simple is the process - a simple cotton swab of the cheek - to get on the registry and then, if you are lucky enough to become a donor for someone suffering from blood cancer, the next step is a simple out patient procedure. Most people don't know this and it is our job to get the message out to as many as possible," says Peters.
Peters inspirational story and musical exploits to perform awareness raising concerts at altitude on mountains such as Everest and Kilimanjaro (all while undergoing bi-monthly chemotherapy sessions), will be the focus of a new documentary film 'One Guitar', being produced in the USA by Kaleidoscope Pictures that will be released in 2015.
The idea to climb mountains and perform concerts came when Mike was in hospital in Wales going through his second battle with cancer. Peters said, "I could see Mt. Snowdon from my hospital window and thought to myself, 'When I recover, I'm going to hike up that mountain as my symbolic climb back from cancer and raise money with my fans to support the cancer center that helped save my life.'"
30 years on from the original release of 'Strength', Mike Peters still has so much to live for, After twenty years living with cancer his songs of love hope and strength have taken on greater meaning and the defiance of his words from the 'Spirit Of '76' ring truer than ever. "I will never give in until the day that I die. I'll get myself some independence, carve out a future with my two bare hands".
29ThuSeptember 29, 2016People's Blues Band of Richmond
"The reason we pursued Mark--we already had a pretty firm grasp on our frenetic live sound but making a song sound beautiful in the studio is a whole other animal," says singer-guitarist Tim Beavers II. "Mark's sound doesn't come from a million digital studio tricks on his computer, but from a diligent set up, an intimate understanding of sound, and a belief in himself, his gear and in the bands he's recording. Working with him, we learned how to push ourselves harder than ever before."
With the anticipated new album on the way, word is starting to spread about the manic intensity of PBR's live performances as they burn up the road, sharing bills with an impressive collection of artists from Tom Petty, ZZ Top, and The Allman Brothers to J Roddy Walston & the Business and festival favorites Modest Mouse & Gogol Bordello.
People's Blues of Richmond co-founders and lifelong friends Beavers and Matt Volkes (bass, backing vox) began playing music together in college as a way to grieve the loss of a mutual friend. Those bleak, drug-fueled days pushed the two into an artistic bender of rock and blues that led to their 2011 debut LP, Hard-On Blues. They followed with the self-released Good Time Suicide in 2013, the album recorded on the exact same handmade '68 Flickinger board used to record T. Rex's Futuristic Dragon. Immediately following this album, People's Blues of Richmond's lineup finally solidified with the addition of friend and powerhouse drummer Neko Williams (son of Drummie Zeb of legendary reggae band The Wailers).
After years together, on the road and off, the three are more than just bandmates, they're brothers. It's a camaraderie that show in their music and beyond. "No matter what, we look out for each other," Volkes says. "If I have a sandwich, Tim and Neko get a bite, too. We're all in this together."
"The whole concept behind People's Blues of Richmond," Beavers says, "is that we all struggle, we all experience pain. Life is full of highs and lows, and we all work hard to survive. So we do the only thing we know how--we get out on the road, and we keep moving forward. We become a part of something bigger than ourselves."
30FriSeptember 30, 2016
Lost in the Ozone The group originally formed in 1967 in Ann Arbor, MI. The original lineup included Commander Cody himself (born George Frayne IV; piano), John Tichy (lead guitar), Steve Schwartz (guitar), Steve Davis (aka the West Virginia Creeper; bass), and Ralph Mallory (drums). When the group relocated to San Francisco the following year, only Frayne, Bolton, and Tichy made the move; the group's membership had been bolstered to include Billy C. Farlow (vocals, harp), Andy Stein (fiddle, saxophone), guitarist Billy Kirchen, bassist "Buffalo" Bruce Barlow, and drummer Lance Dickerson for their 1971 debut album, Lost in the Ozone.
Dopers, Drunks and Everyday Losers The following year the group scored a fluke Top Ten hit with "Hot Rod Lincoln," taken from their first album, Lost in the Ozone. Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen were never able to capitalize on the single's success, partially because their albums never completely captured their live energy. They continued to release albums until Tichy left the band in 1976. Commander Cody released his first solo album, Midnight Man, in 1977, then he re-formed the group as the Commander Cody Band. The group recorded three albums between 1977 and 1980. In 2009, after a 23-year hiatus, Commander Cody returned to the studio for Dopers, Drunks and Everyday Losers, a collection of new songs and classics from the Cody catalog.