3ThuApril 3, 2014
When Willy Braun, frontman and principal songwriter for the band began writing songs for Long Night Moon, he quickly found a theme emerging. "About halfway through writing this record, I noticed that almost all of the songs I was writing, whether they were songs about the road, life, or love, had something to do with traveling. It started as an accident and I decided to just go with it. Before we knew it, there was a definite theme." It's honest, original and constantly evolving. The group is known for their explosive live shows and a passion for making albums of substance. Long Night Moon is no exception to this rule.
Jim Hoehn is a Milwaukee-based journalist, author and songwriter who discovered early that putting pen to paper was a legitimate way of avoiding any form of manual labor, leading to a career path that has included newspapers, magazines and wire services. As a songwriter he has performed at numerous festivals and events around the country and has opened for a wide variety of national artists, including the likes of Warren Zevon, Jerry Jeff Walker, Junior Brown, Robert Earl Keen, Don McLean, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and a memorable evening with songwriter-turned-mystery novelist Kinky Friedman.
4FriApril 4, 2014
The band's wildly energetic and seriously soulful new CD Jump Start is jam-packed with Lil' Ed's incendiary slide playing and rough, passionate singing, as the ragged-but-right Blues Imperials cook like mad alongside him. Produced by Williams and Alligator president Bruce Iglauer, it is a tour-de-force of untamed slide guitar, rock solid rhythms, heartrending ballads and authentic deep blues vocals. Williams wrote or co-wrote 13 of the album's 14 songs, ranging from the non-stop boogie blast of 'If You Were Mine' to the heart-on-his-sleeve honesty of 'Life Is A Journey' to the bouncing and jazzy 'Jump Right In' to the swaggering, autobiographical 'Musical Mechanical Electrical Man'. The album overflows with the band's full throttle drive and is fueled by Lil' Ed's love of both serious blues and good time fun. Jump Start reveals a band firing on all cylinders and ready to spread the genuine houserockin' fever to their biggest audience yet. "It's all blues, really," says Lil' Ed. "Some of it will make you dance, some will ease your soul Through my music, I want people to feel what I feel."
Blues history runs deep through Lil' Ed's blood -- his uncle and musical mentor (to both Ed and his younger half-brother Pookie) was the great Chicago slide guitarist, songwriter and recording artist J.B. Hutto (author of the only non-original on Jump Start, If You Change Your Mind). According to The Chicago Tribune, "Williams represents one of the few remaining authentic links to pure Chicago blues." The Associated Press agrees, stating, "Williams fills Chicago's biggest shoes with more life and heat than anyone on stage today."
Born in Chicago on April 8, 1955, Ed grew up surrounded by music. He was playing guitar, then drums and bass, by the time he was 12. Ed and Pookie received lessons and support from Hutto. "J.B. taught me everything I know," says Ed. "I wouldn't be where I am today without him." Ed and Pookie spent their teen years making music together, and in 1975 formed the first incarnation of The Blues Imperials. They played their first gig at a West Side club called Big Duke's Blue Flame, splitting the $6 take four ways. Over the next few years, the group played every club in the neighborhood. On one occasion, Hutto brought Ed and Pookie on the road to accompany him. The two teenagers had to paint fake mustaches on just to get into the club. But once in, they both got an advanced lesson in putting on a show and delivering the goods. As young men they kept gigging, but they still needed day jobs to pay the bills. Ed worked ten hours a day as a buffer at the car wash. Pookie drove a school bus. Night after night they played their roaring brand of blues in tiny clubs, and eventually the word reached Alligator president Bruce Iglauer.
At the time, Iglauer was looking for local talent for The New Bluebloods, an anthology of some of Chicago's younger blues musicians. "Ed and his band had a good reputation," recalls Iglauer. "I had only seen them live once or twice. I knew Ed was a hot slide player, but I had no idea what he and the band were really capable of. I just knew that their music reminded me of Hound Dog Taylor and J.B. Hutto, two of my favorite musicians. It seemed like having a band this rough and ready would be a nice change of pace for the anthology, so I asked them to come down to the studio and cut a couple of songs. I never expected what happened."
The band-never having been in a recording studio before-treated the studio like a club, playing live to Iglauer, the engineer, and all the people on the other side of the control room glass. After Ed recorded just two songs, the Alligator staffers were on their feet begging for more. Two songs later, with Ed doing his toe-walks and backbends, even the engineer was dancing. Iglauer offered the band a full album contract on the spot. The end result of the session was 30 songs cut in three hours with no overdubs and only one second take. Twelve of those songs became the band's debut album, Roughhousin', released in September of 1986.
The national press reacted with amazement to the blues world's new discovery. Feature stories ran in Spin, Musician, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune and dozens of other publications. The Village Voice declared, "Roughhousin' just may be the blues album of the year." The New York Times raved, "Raw-boned, old-fashioned Chicago blues has a new young master -- Lil' Ed Williams." "They blow down the walls," said Guitar Player. "Dim the lights, turn up the stereo, and let the house party begin."
But it wasn't until 1987, when guitarist Mike Garrett joined the band, and a year later, when Garrett recruited his Detroit hometown friend Kelly Littleton to play drums, that things really began to take off. Garrett's risk-taking rhythm guitar work and Littleton's conversational, old school drumming were the perfect complement to Lil' Ed's and Pookie's rambunctious playing. With their 1989 album Chicken, Gravy & Biscuits, doors opened and audiences poured in. Through relentless touring, the group crystallized, becoming tighter with each performance, more telepathic in their abilities to read each other's musical moves. Their spontaneous and unpredictable live show became legendary among blues fans worldwide. Spurred on by the band's rowdy performances, a legion of fanatical fans, proudly calling themselves "Ed Heads," eagerly spread the word.
Quickly, Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials went from playing local bars to clubs, concert stages and festivals coast to coast, giving national audiences their first taste of the band's propulsive boogie blues and wild stage show. They have played The Long Beach Blues Festival, The San Francisco Blues Festival, The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, The Doheny Blues Festival, The Sacramento Heritage Festival, The Thunder Bay Blues Festival, The Mid-Atlantic Blues Festival, The Pocono Blues Festival, The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, The Rawa Blues Festival in Poland, as well as touring Canada, Australia, Europe and Japan.
Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials released six Alligator albums between 1989 and 2008. With each one, the band's stature grew as their fan base continued to expand. With 2006′s Rattleshake, Ed and company reached a whole new audience. Die-hard "Ed Head" Conan O'Brien brought the band before millions of television viewers on two separate occasions. Then, in June 2008, celebrating the release of Full Tilt, Ed hit the main stage at The Chicago Blues Festival, performing in front of 100,000 screaming fans, as he whipped the overflowing crowd into a blues-induced frenzy. The band won the prestigious Blues Music Award for Band Of The Year in both 2007 and 2009 and also took home the Best Live Band Award in the 2011 Living Blues Critics' Poll. Blues Revue said, "Listen and hear how a great blues player can make a guitar weep...Lil' Ed is a blues master at the top of his game."
Now, with Jump Start, Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials will continue bringing their seriously inspired and wildly fun Chicago blues to "Ed Heads" new and old, wherever they may be. After almost a quarter century together, Lil' Ed, Pookie, Mike and Kelly have played thousands of gigs, logged tens of thousands of miles and have no plans to slow down anytime soon. According to Littleton, "The journey has been amazing. We melded right away and have kept growing." Garrett agrees, saying, "It's a perfect fit. And we keep getting better." Young adds, "We are way stronger now, and we're still having fun. My dreams have all come true."
"Long ago," recalls Lil' Ed, "Uncle J.B. told me, 'When you get the right guys in your band, you'll know.' When Mike and then Kelly joined up with me and Pookie, we just clicked. I knew. We are a family," says Lil' Ed, summing it all up. "And families stay together.
6SunJohn Sieger & Greg Koch CD Release-A Walk In The Park, The Tritonics
6:00pm $10 advance / $12 door
show detailsApril 6, 2014John Sieger & Greg Koch CD Release-A Walk In The Park
Prolific songwriter Sieger has teamed up with many (including Michael Feldman of Whaddya Know?) to cowrite and perform - think the R & B Cadets, Semi-Twang, the Sub-Continentals. "The Why & The What For," Semi-Twang's newest, was released last year and elicited raves from esteemed sites like The Alternate Root (Top 50 Roots Bands Right Now!) and No Depression.
An unsung guitar hero from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he grew up just a few miles from the Waukesha birthplace of the late, great guitarist-inventor Les Paul, Greg Koch has established himself within six-string circles as a masterful technician, accomplished clinician (for Fender) and general bad-ass guitar-picker.
Read more about the new CD at OnMilwaukee.com at http://onmilwaukee.com/music/articles/siegerwalk.html
10ThuApril 10, 2014The Pines
Meeting in a Mexican barrio in Arizona, fellow Iowans David Huckfelt and Benson Ramsey began playing music together, forming The Pines. Committing to a musical career, they returned to their Midwestern roots and settled in Minneapolis, a music haven that has launched the careers of such folk and rock legends as Bob Dylan, The Jayhawks and The Replacements. In the span of two highly acclaimed records, they have shared bills with Mavis Staples, Bon Iver, The Arcade Fire, Iris Dement, Mason Jennings, Greg Brown and many more.
11FriApril 11, 20148:30pm $10.00After releasing the "Madeira" EP on the label in 1994, Musician Magazine called Alex Ballard and Sugarfoot one of America's "Top 10 Best Unsigned Bands."
The group then released some CDs on its own, making a name for itself throughout the upper Midwest as a rock solid, American roots rock and roll band. But front man Ballard broke up the band in 1996, and reunited it two years later, only to split again -- more definitively -- in 2001.
Fast forward to 2012 and Ballard and company played it's first show in a decade.
The Carolinas were formed in Milwaukee in 1993 by singer-songwriter Dan Patscot and quickly became regional Americana favorites. Dan's from-the-heart songs are brought to life by the innate chemistry of the band, which can deliver a lovely two-step twang or Crazy Horse-like thunder as the song demands. The band has won fans all over the Midwest with appearances at the now-defunct Mississippi River Music Fest in St. Louis, North by Northeast in Toronto, and the Roy Orbison Festival in Wink, TX, and have shared the stage with the Smithereens, Veruca Salt, Walter Salas-Humara/The Silos, Bob Wiseman of Blue Rodeo, Sam Llanas, Dolly Varden and Jon Dee Graham of the True Believers. Noted for their glacier-like forward progress, they have nearly 50 original songs in their repertoire, precisely five of which have actually been released on a commercially-available sound delivery medium. Currently in their 20th year, the band is working on not one, but two full-length records.
A wall of sound, built on whiskey soaked rock 'n' roll tale-tellin', entwined with a case of PBR and a box of old records. There's no mistaking RECTIFIER's dual chainsaw guitar attack, vocal reciprocity and thumping rythm section. Mix in a storytelling fervor with offbeat poetry, hangovers and ferocious wit, RECTIFIER delivers a solid performance.
12SatApril 12, 2014
17ThuApril 17, 2014
Rateliff grew up of modest means, the son of devout Southern churchgoers. The family sang together throughout his childhood. At age 7 Rateliff learned the drums. As a teenager, he stumbled across a cassette of Led Zeppelin's IV abandoned in a local barn; he wore the tape out listening to it on headphones, drumming along with "When the Levee Breaks" and "Misty Mountain Hop."
Rateliff's youth in rural Missouri was quiet and rambling. He built skateboard ramps, explored caves, slept outdoors in the heat. "I loved growing up there," he says. "It's beautiful. There's something really nice about there not being much to do; it really helped me be a creative person." After his father passed away, when Rateliff was only 13, he picked up the guitar. His mother taught him three chords, a friend showed him a few more, and there was no need to bother with lessons; he started penning his own songs on an acoustic. He'd later go electric, gaining an appreciation for the freedom of effect pedals: "I was really into making feedback for hours at a time." Both impulses are present on In Memory of Loss, with its shards of raw guitar rising beneath hushed, insistent melodies.
At eighteen Rateliff relocated to Denver. He scored a job with a trucking company, working on the dock and the yard. The money was good, but Rateliff kept falling asleep at the wheel. "I had a little stint of narcolepsy," he says. "My limbs were going numb, the color was all weird in 'em. My thyroid wasn't working. Weird stuff that shouldn't be happening when you're in your 20s, but it was." After a battery of tests Rateliff decided to take time off from the job. It was a period of rest and recovery, but also one of artistic growth and fresh challenges. Rateliff used the break to learn the piano, much as he had other instruments--by teaching himself. The first song he tackled was Leonard Cohen's melancholy classic, "Hallelujah." (That same mixture of the sacred and profane is recognizable on "We Never Win," with its throwbacks to gospel vocal harmonies, Rateliff harkening to "an old time revival.")
Meanwhile, Rateliff developed a dedicated following within the Denver music community and beyond. Spin praised his "massive, alluring" voice. Billboard dubbed the unsigned singer-songwriter a 'must hear.' This wave of acclaim lead to a live set on the popular indie site Daytrotter and a solo tour opening for the Fray. The New York Times praised Rateliff's "stark, eloquent [Johnny] Cash echoes," and he earned enthusiastic mentions from Time Out New York and the tastemaker music blog, Brooklyn Vegan. New York magazine pegged Rateliff as an "artist everyone should be listening to" during the pivotal CMJ Music Festival.
Rateliff began writing a different sort of song than he was used to: quieter, more introspective and patient. A friend turned him on to the bedroom recording potentials of the time-honored 8-track, and a new working method was born. "I just kind of went back to my roots," he says. "It was a different sound, but it was still coming from the same place."
While recording In Memory of Loss, Rateliff lived in Chicago, working with producer Brian Deck to craft the nuances: mournful harmonica on "You Should've Seen the Other Guy," the ominous organ of "Longing and Losing," propulsive bass drum on "Early Spring Till." Rateliff's Rounder debut is rooted in a bygone era. It's both fresh and classic, imbued with a melancholy nostalgia, the rough candor of rock'n'roll's past and the warmth and earnestness of folk storytellers. Rateliff has a personal connection to the sounds of the 60s and 70s. "It was more about songs, and not about an industry," he says. "It was about a movement, not about making money. I think we're moving back into that again. There's still an importance in actually writing songs again. People are interested in hearing things that make sense."
These thirteen tracks, with their soulful minimalism, certainly make sense. Hints of the music he grew up on -- Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, the Beatles--shine through. (Album closer "Happy Just To Be," with its pounding piano chords, is a close cousin to the Lennon-penned "Across the Universe.") Yet Rateliff is also at home in what may be called, for lack of a better term, the neo-folk revival. His voice is so confident that you can occasionally imagine the music dropping out entirely, a song propelled solely by Rateliff's a capella strengths--equal parts church spiritual and TV on the Radio riffing on the Pixies' "Mr. Grieves."
"The one thing that made me want to write and play music was trying to get the same feeling that it gave me when I listened to it," Rateliff says. "Like having an anxiety attack--where you almost start to weep, at the same time feel a strange pressure in your chest." This persistent troubadour has struggled and persevered to this point; now, the wider world is ready for Nathaniel Rateliff. "In Memory of Loss," he says, "is for everyone who's willing to listen."
America Religious is a 12-track collection of stories and poetry set against a gritty landscape of Roots-inspired Rock, Americana, Folk, Gospel, and Rhythm & Blues. Caroline Rose and partner Jer Coons cover all elements from production and recording to mixing and engineering, as well as playing nearly all the instruments themselves (lap steel, cello, organ, mandolin, and drums to name a few). The duo arranged and recorded America Religious at Coons' Park Hill Studio in Burlington, Vermont.
Rose's songwriting stands on its own in the ground covered by the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Joni Mitchell, and John Prine. America Religious covers an array of topics ranging from current political issues to honest, sometimes heartbreaking self-realizations. The songs of America Religious reflect years of travel, happenstance meetings with strangers, and conversations with old friends and distant relatives. More than simply words set to music, they evoke feelings of familiar stories and long-forgotten memories.
18FriApril 18, 2014Drivin' N Cryin'
The Ghost Wolves
--That's a quote from me in one of the first articles ever written about drivin' n' cryin' back in the Eighties.
We released our first album Scarred But Smarter in 1986 on 688 Records. 688 was the center of the underground Atlanta rock scene in the 1980′s. Bands as diverse as Hüsker Dü, Rank and File, Lords of the New Church, The Residents and a week-long stint by Iggy Pop graced the hallowed walls of that now-defunct night club. If you drive down Spring Street today, there's just a doc-in-a-box where the punk rock used to be.
I met Tim Nielsen just after I moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee. One night I was playing in a pickup band with Die Kreuzen, my good friends from back home.(Check out their Touch and Go records produced by Butch Vig.) They were staying on my floor, just passing through on tour. We played a lot of shows together a couple of years back when I was in a punk band called The Prosecutors, so we figured what the fuck? Let's see what happens.
Tim was there that night. He played in the big 688 band The Nightporters and was a rock star in Atlanta. He pulled me aside after the show and asked me if I lived down here. I told him that I had just moved to town and was working at the sewage plant, retired from the music world for good at age 24.
Tim stopped by my apartment one afternoon a couple of weeks later and TOLD me he was gonna find me a band to be in. My music was on the folk side of Dylan at the time but I decided I was up to playing just for the fun of it. He got me practicing with a few guys but it wasn't really happening, so eventually he decided we'd just start our own damn band.
Tim quit The Nightporters and stole their drummer and we played our first drivin' n' cryin' show at 688 in October 1985. A little over a year later, I'm sitting in my living room with an album, a real, freakin' 12-inch vinyl LP record called Scarred But Smarter.
I wanted to be in a band that would be unafraid of changing genres, mostly because I'm easily distracted and change subjects mid-sentence. "Needs help with self control," read every report card after fifth grade....smartass...underground comic-readin' journalistic wannabe...too lazy to write a complete story....I settled on the song format...it's perfect...a short poem...with its own soundtrack. At 24, I wrote:
"Nobody said it would be fair
They warned you before you went out there
There's always a chance to get restarted
To a new world, new life
Scarred but smarter"
At that time, I had restarted myself. I come from an industrial land of things that used to be: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, class of 79...a town, back then, that encouraged you to leave high school, get a job in a factory, get injured and then get workers compensation while picking up a side job at a liquor store or record shop where you got paid under the table.
2009′s "(Whatever Happened To The) Great American Bubble Factory was the perfect crescendo to a long twenty-plus year career of drivin' n' cryin'. I think we found the true essence of what we started to build back in 1985. It's the truth as we see it set to a soundtrack fueled by music we love, everyone from The Ramones, The Clash, The Seeds, Iggy, Dylan, Patti Smith Group, R.E.M., Thin Lizzy, The Rolling Stones. You get the point.
The song title for "(Whatever Happened to the) Great American Bubble Factory?" hit me one afternoon when I was at the dollar store getting some bubbles for the neighborhood kids. As I was standing in line, I looked down at the "made in" label and noticed that those bubbles were made in China.....China!! That's a long way for a bottle of freakin' soap to travel. Come on, maybe we can't make TVs or refrigerators or cars here anymore, but bubbles?
In my world, the first step to a renewed America and our deliverance from an unspeakable disrespect of the American workforce would be the opening of THE GREAT AMERICAN BUBBLE FACTORY. They would come from miles around to see the Willie Wonka of the New Deal....There's hope again!!! If you can make it here, why don't you make it here.....
We started demos for this record back in 2001 on September 10th. The next day the world was upside down and traitors were everywhere, underneath every coffee cup. Joe McCarthy was back and I just didn't feel like I was ready to tell the story of the blue-collared optimist...
"She said, 'Son, you're dreamin'
Well, ma, if I'm dreamin'
Just don't you wake me"
That record weaves in and out of the "Midwestern Blues" to the Flannery O'Connor South of "This Town" to the industrial grind of "Detroit City" to the optimistic anthem (and Dictators cover!!) "I Stand Tall" to the genuine pining for home in "I See Georgia."
I wanted you settled in, riled up, loaded for bear and somewhere out there on the road in search of the great American dream.....
Cut to 2011/12, Sadler Vaden joins the band (replacing Mac Carter on lead guitar), we cut a deal with Redeye Distributors to keep our records out there in the public eye, we sign on with the William Morris Agency to book our shows, and a new record release concept comes to mind...!
A couple months ago I was writing in the morning and my wife was listening to a record. She said I should record that song and I said 'well, I did.' It was the last song on the last record ! It dawned on me then that most people that listen to records don't usually listen past five or six songs, so I'm going to make a record with only five or six songs on it. In fact, I'm going to do four... Or five... Or maybe the rest of them this way!!!! This solves a lot of problems for drivin n cryin. I love the fact that we have never shied away from the fact we are influenced by so many different sounds. But sometimes combining them on one record can be somewhat disconcerting to a particular group of fans. I love that. I love the psychedelic element of challenging the listener. I mean it's all based on a library of music from our past... THE KINKS and THE WHO meet the RAMONES and THE COUNT FIVE at a little bar owned by BOB DYLAN and JOHNNY CASH... But the opportunity to focus on a specific genre or subject is exciting to me.... Also an opportunity to record with all the people we have been looking forward to working with is almost limitless... We would love to work all over the country with our friends and the five song format means we only need a few days of their time... I think people will be excited when they own a few and can contrast the different sounds and producers... We've completed number one, "SONGS FROM THE LAUNDROMAT" (release date: June 12, 2012). PAUL EBERSOLD is producing number two: "SONG ABOUT CARS,SPACE AND THE RAMONES"... I don't have the patience anymore for a two year recording project, a big build up as if you're JD SALINGER, a tour and then reality again... I dont like hype... I just want to offer up my art for the fans or soon-to-be-fans. A five or six song recording every three months like a magazine subscription... I want it now!!! And I want it NEW!
19SatApril 19, 2014The Lovin' Kind, Failure To Launch8:00pm $8.00The Lovin' Kind is a Milwaukee group who have re-emerged as a 60's rock band with Beatle and Rolling Stones roots. This group of seven musicians has dedicated themselves to entertaining those folks who truly love a song with a hook and a beat. The music is designed to produce songs that never leave your head.
We play all of our songs with the crowd in mind! We are a "fun" band playing songs that have a great beat for a full night of dancing. The songs are popular classic rock played with great musical talent. The Lovin Kind has been playing together for 7 years and the songs are really "tight". Great lead singing, great harmonies and full sound will make for the best night of music in years! The band consists of lead, rythm and bass guitars, keyboard, drums, degembe, and percussion. Band members sing with great lead and harmonies. The Lovin Kind is truly a classic rock icon in Milwaukee and will be for years to come!
Failure To Launch is a hot Milwaukee cover band will keep you on your feet dancing and singing along the entire show. You'll hear hits ranging form the 70s all the way to the current top 40. Classic Rock, Pop, and even a little Hip Hop are blended seamlessly. Keep an eye out for them in the Milwaukee bar scene as they've played venues such as the BBC, Whiskey Bar, and other Milwaukee area hot spots.
22TueApril 22, 2014
Sold-out tours and standing ovations give testimony to the electricity and excitement generated by the group. Along with acclaimed guitarist Nicolas Quemener from Brittany, the quartet combines their talents, musical traditions, and spontaneous humor for an evening of dazzling energy and subtle grace. These traditional masters showcase their regional repertoires and together conjure an experience of breathtaking performances.
In concert each artist plays a solo set, showcasing their individual musical styles and traditions, followed by a collaborative set featuring all three fiddlers. Together, they play with such relentless precision and fire that the tunes transcend all cultural and geographical barriers, leaving the audience with a memorable musical experience.
Kevin Burke is a world-renowned Irish fiddler whose formidable career includes the seminal Irish groups The Bothy Band and Patrick Street. Playing the fluid, highly-ornamented style of County Sligo, Kevin is a recipient of the NEA's National Heritage Award. Christian Lemaître honed his remarkable skills playing the hypnotic Breton melodies at festou-noz (night dances) throughout Brittany, the Celtic region of France. He is a founding member of the group Kornog. André Brunet, the newest member, is a wonderful young French-Canadian fiddler playing the infectiously rhythmic tunes of Quebec. He is a member of the group Les Temps Antan, and was featured in the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Nicolas Quemener is a master open-tuning guitarist, who grew up in Angers, France and studied percussion in the National School of Music. He has been a part of many superb Celtic bands, including Arcady, and Kornog, and continues to play and record with a number of acclaimed Breton and Irish artists.
23WedApril 23, 20148:00pm $6.00Pundamonium is a slam-style pun contest. One by one, 15 contestants make puns based on prompts. Then they do it again.
Each contestant is immediately judged by five members of the audience, who have been selected before the show to be judges. They rank each punner on a scale of 1 to 10, often with hilariously long decimals and other commentary.
The top four contestants go head to head in a final pun-off.
Want to compete? Just show up! It's first come, first served.
24ThuApril 24, 2014
Kansas City-based Samantha Fish has been on a major roll ever since she teamed up with Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde on Ruf's 2011 release, Girls with Guitars, and fueled by the trio's Blues Caravan tour of Europe and the U.S., created an international buzz in the blues world. Later that same year she recorded Runaway, her solo debut on Ruf, which mixed gutsy riff-blues rockers like "Down In The Swamp" with the mellow small-hours jazz of "Feelin' Alright," while marinating her songwriting in the groove of the Rolling Stones and even tipping a hat to Heart. "It's all the sounds I grew up with," she explained at the time, "with my own spin." Earlier this year Samantha joined labelmate Devon Allman for a sultry duet of the Tom Petty classic, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," that appeared on Devon's Turquoise CD and accompanying video.
Hitting a receptive international blues and rock press, Runaway was hailed as a thrilling opening statement, earning a string of rave reviews and radio airplay, climaxed by her winning the Blues Music Award (BMA) for "Best New Artist Debut" in 2012. "I'm truly humbled by the recognition," Samantha said afterward. "I can barely wait to make record number two..."
Now, the wait is over, as Samantha Fish unleashes a major storm of her trademark guitar work and soulful vocals on Black Wind Howlin'. "It has a rebellious streak," says the bandleader of her game-changing new album, "and a prevalent theme is, 'I'm not gonna take your sh*t anymore...'"
No "sophomore slump" here, as Black Wind Howlin' leaps from the speakers with 12 smoking tracks that chart Samantha's evolution as songwriter, gunslinger and lyricist. "Since completing Runaway back in 2011, I've been on tour pretty much non-stop," she proclaims. "I've spent a lot of time writing, playing and listening to music. I feel like the themes and the sound of my music have matured. To me, it's about the human experience from my perspective, as well as people I've come into contact with over the last few years."
Rather than trying to duplicate what she accomplished on her first success, Samantha re-defines her sound throughout the tracks on Black Wind Howlin'. She can be brutally rocking on cuts like the tour bus snapshot of "Miles To Go" ("Twelve hours to Reno/ten hours til the next show"), the swaggering "Sucker Born" ("Vegas left me weary, LA bled me dry/skating on fumes as I crossed the Nevada line...") and the venomous "Go To Hell" ("Oh, this ain't my first rodeo/You hit yourself a dead end/Your voodoo eyes, ain't gonna cast a spell/So you can go to hell!"). "I've become tougher," she notes of these head-banging moments, "and I think that was reflected in the sound we went for."
And yet, elsewhere, backed by the versatile production of longtime collaborator Mike Zito, you'll find Samantha shifting gears to the aching slide-guitar balladry of "Over You" ("Echoing words, said I'd never make it on my own...") and the redemptive country song, "Last September" ("Don't remember the curves of my face/Can't feel the warmth in my embrace/Well I'm here to remind you...").
She might stop off for a gritty cover of Howlin' Wolf's "Who's Been Talking," and co-wrote "Go to Hell" with Zito, but all other tracks are Samantha's self-penned originals, and it's a mix that will keep listeners on their toes. "I wanted this record to have a modern rocking sound," she explains of the album's vibe. "I also wanted it to have elements of Americana, country and roots."
For Samantha, the recording sessions proved just as rewarding as the writing "I had a dream team of musicians and special guests," she recalls. "And Dockside Studios quickly became one of my favorite places on earth."
It hasn't been that long since a teenaged Samantha Fish first started showing up at her local Kansas City blues club, Knuckleheads Saloon, and began soaking up the sounds of visiting modern blues guitar masters like Mike Zito and Tab Benoit, then going back to '80s heroes like Stevie Ray Vaughan and following the lineage to the pre-war Delta masters. "I fell in love with it," she told Premier Guitar of her growing passion for the form, "and started doing my homework by listening to the old guys like Son House and Skip James."
With those influences as her template, Samantha incorporated the sounds of the classic rock of The Rolling Stones and Tom Petty, alongside contemporary artists like Sheryl Crow and The Black Crowes, in putting together a sound that would become her own.
By the age of 18, Samantha had settled on a searing lead guitar style that expressed her own voice rather than mimicking clichéd blues licks note-for-note. She quickly broke into a dues-paying period on the Kansas City jam circuit: an apprenticeship at the sharp end that tightened her musical chops, polished her stagecraft and gave her the grit to overcome occasional skepticism about her age, hair tone and gender. "I always hated the idea of the gimmick," she told Premier Guitar. "People come out just because you are a girl, but then you have so much more to prove once you get them in the door." And Samantha has delivered on that promise, as evidenced by one listen to the new recording. "I really got to do exactly what I wanted to do on Black Wind Howlin'," she says, "and I'm incredibly proud of it."
25FriApril 25, 2014
Eleven miles out the road in the seaside village of Spiddal on the shores of Galway Bay, The Waterboys, who were creating a gigantic buzz having moved to Ireland from London after their huge hit album, 'This Is The Sea' and its chart-topping single, 'The Whole Of The Moon', were in the middle of recording their new record, 'Fisherman's Blues' in Spiddal House, an old estate residence temporarily converted into a state-of-the-art rock and roll studio.
Somewhere in the middle of The Saw Doctor's four-hour set in the front lounge of The Warwick Hotel, the man with the sax, Anthony Thistlethwaite, arrived in the door and got up and started blowing along with the band; the main gig finished and the musicians moved to the dining room to continue with the powerful wave of music they were surfing. On that evening in The Warwick Hotel in Salthill was born a musical friendship that continues to this day.
A few months later Waterboys' singer, Mike Scott, asked The Saw Doctors to support the band on the Irish tour the following December; this led to their supporting The Waterboys all over Britain in the Spring of 1989. Mike produced The Saw Doctors' first single, N17, and Anthony arrived into Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin late in the evening, after awaiting a call in the pub next door for a number of hours, and valiantly put down a driving sax riff on the outro of what has become a classic Irish single.
Through much of the 90s Anthony toured Ireland, Britain, the US, Europe and Australia with The Saw Doctors and at the beginning of the new millennium when original bassist, Pearse Doherty, left the practice, Anthony took over up until the present time on the bass, an instrument he had originally played with The Waterboys way back.
With The Saw Doctors on sabbatical, and with Anthony's and Leo's troubadour feet becoming itchy, the two friends have put together a show to bring around that will include different takes on well-known Saw Doctors' songs, versions of lesser-known and less-played songs, a few from Anthony's solo-albums and other songs written recently with Padraig Stevens. It's all new and fresh and challenging and scary and exciting at the same time so let's see what happens....
26SatApril 26, 2014
The band's infectious energy is equally evident in their live performances, as critics and fans hail their shows as forceful and intoxicating. It is their humble devotion to music, and a commitment to achieving their musical goals without compromising the integrity of their musical vision that make The Steepwater Band such a refreshing find. In 2010, the band released the highly lauded live record entitled "Live at the Double Door" which contained tracks from their previous two LPs, "Revelation Sunday (2006)" and "Grace and Melody (2008)."
The Steepwater Band has maintained a grueling schedule throughout the last 10 years, averaging about 125 shows per year. They have toured and shared the stage with acts such as Gov't Mule, Buddy Guy, Wilco, Taj Mahal, Marc Ford, ZZ Top, T-Model Ford, North Mississippi All Stars, Leon Russell, Drive-By Truckers, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Cheap Trick, Bad Company and Heart. In 2005, the band made its European debut, performing at the Azkena Rock Festival in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. In the following years, the band has returned to the United Kingdom and Europe for multiple club and festival tours, increasing their loyal overseas fan-base.
29TueApril 29, 2014
An NYU film school graduate, and northern California native, Church has always taken the auteur's approach to Sea Wolf, infusing his lyrics and imagery with his experiences from the romantic grandeur of the West to the old school classicism of the East. But while the scenes he paints in his songs reflect his dual penchants for dramatic natural landscapes and the headiness of urban life, under the surface they are most often about periods of change.
It was one of those periods that brought Church back to California to write and record Old World Romance, the third Sea Wolf album. While not confined to the concept of "home", it is in many respects a homecoming album, its creation coming after the songwriter returned to his artistic base after three momentous years away.
"Some significant things happened for me while I was living in Montreal, but life happens all the time to all of us," Church says. "A lot of the album is about facing realities, reconnecting with who you are. And a lot of that came from this complete sense of rediscovery of where I'm from -- not so much L.A., but the West Coast in general. I felt a resurgence. I felt like this is where I belong."
Ensconced in his home studio for the first time since he worked on his first Sea Wolf album, Leaves in the River, which was completed in Seattle with producer Phil Ek, Church was able to refine his craft, and readdress his old way of writing and recording. Mostly on his own, on his own time, with his live bandmates contributing here and there over the course of a year and a half.
"I spent a lot more time tinkering and writing more of the instrumentation myself again," Church says, noting the change in dynamic from his sophomore album, 2009's White Water, White Bloom, which was written in Montreal but recorded with the full band in Omaha with producer Mike Mogis. "I felt like I'd learned enough to be able to self-produce,"
"I wanted this album to be more straightforward, more melodic, with simpler song structures. Much of it came down to my getting out of my own way," he explains. "I wanted it to feel uncalculated."
Those qualities are evident in the beautiful simplicity of the single "Old Friend," the wistful optimism of "Changing Seasons" and the brisk missives "Dear Fellow Traveller" and "In Nothing." Church's DIY approach to Old World Romance even allowed him to push his own boundaries, leaning away from the indie-folk instrumentation of his previous releases toward a new rhythmic electronic underpinning, perhaps most exemplified in the shimmering song "Kasper."
The ethos that created Old World Romance was fostered in Church's childhood. As part of an non-traditional family of builders with a profound appreciation of travel, adventure and the arts, Church spent his early years in the woodsy environs of Columbia, Calif., then lived in a tent in the French countryside for a year -- taking time out to travel Europe -- before his family finally settled in Berkeley.
In the Bay Area, Church's passion for music gravitated toward hip-hop and indie-rock, while his enthusiasm for writing and film grew. His artistic discipline solidified, however, during his time in New York -- his NYU film studies and the influence and ambition of the city itself would profoundly inform Church as a musician.
His interests in film and music brought him to Los Angeles, where he soon befriended Brian Canning and Steven Scott, who would become his bandmates in the indie-rock outfit Irving. By the time Irving released its second album in 2006, though, Church was restless. He turned his attention to the music project he'd been working on in the background -- Sea Wolf, named for the Jack London epic.
Not long after, he bowed out of Irving and Sea Wolf was signed to Dangerbird Records, which introduced its new artist by releasing the EP Get to the River Before it Runs Too Low in 2007. The single "You're a Wolf" ushered Sea Wolf into the world with aplomb, quickly capturing the attention of radio and the blogosphere,.
Besides his three albums, Sea Wolf contributed the tune "Song of the Magpie" to the audio book for author Augusten Burroughs' A Wolf at the Table. Burroughs had asked Church to read the book and respond with an original song.
It's all part of a remarkable run that has seen Church carve out a niche as a distinctive voice whose orchestrated allegories provide an antidote to the over-thought and overwrought. On Old World Romance the songwriter's meditations are as unvarnished as ever, exuding the kind of melancholy that begets clarity that begets hope.
"We're at a weird place in popular music where people are just recycling things, so I think it really just comes down to individual voices. Being back in Los Angeles, surrounded by other artists and friends and in the comfort zone of my own studio, has let me work toward being as clear as possible with my own voice. I felt inspired and rejuvenated, and I hope the album evokes that too."