singer-songwriter


Will Hoge Set To Release NUMBER SEVEN On 9/27!

Critically acclaimed Nashville singer/songwriter Will Hoge’s seventh studio album, aptly titled NUMBER SEVEN, is set to be released on Sept. 27 on Ryko.  Its eleven songs survey the struggles of the heart that are Hoge’s songwriting stock in trade while revealing enticing range and freshness on the sonic front. Acting as his own producer for the first time, Will says this album feels truer to his personal vision than any he’s made.

“We took a lot of time in making this album,” explains Hoge.  “We started laying down tracks in my living room, then stepped away from it for about six months.  We were able to come back, re-record and scrap some other stuff and I believe we came out with a much better record because of it.  It afforded us the ability to take a long hard look at ourselves and what we were doing musically.”

The lead single, “When I Get My Wings,” is set to impact radio on Mon., Aug. 1 and highlights Hoge’s full-throated Otis Redding-style vocal with a heavenly host of Memphis-inspired horns.

NUMBER SEVEN follows up on Hoge’s 2009 release THE WRECKAGE, which was hailed as “welcome and worth the wait” by USA Today,  “triumphant” by the BBC and American Songwriter noted that the “eleven tightly crafted songs retain the artist’s self-assured, Southern swagger.” The long time road warrior is planning a rigorous touring schedule with upcoming headlining dates this fall. Details and ticket information will be announced in the coming weeks.

For updates and more information, visit www.willhoge.com.

Molly Sweeney: Gold Rings and Fur Pelts

One of the most compelling new voices to emerge from the Montreal music scene, singer-songwriter Molly Sweeney's debut album Gold Rings and Fur Pelts features nine songs that conjure up an elemental world of longing, passion, and poetry in a classic concept-album format. From a journey foiled by fate to a poignant French chanson of faithless love, these folk-infused torch songs explore the dark side of rapture, showcasing her sultry, dramatic vocals and enigmatic lyrics.
A regular on the Montreal circuit, Molly has shared the stage with a diverse slate of musicians including White Magic, Elfin Saddle, Josephine Foster, Scout Niblett, MV and EE, Simon Finn, Matana Roberts and Sally Seltmann, and performs with Sam Shalabi's Land of Kush both onstage and on their critically acclaimed 2009 release Against the Day and 2010 release Monogamy.
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Track List:
1. Swollen
2. Not Faithful
3. Florida
4. Gold Rings and Fur Pelts
5. Full Moon
6. Eros and Psyche
7. You Mustn’t Worry
8. Spirit, Will I See You
9. Radiant Sun
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Personnel:
Molly Sweeney: voice, guitars, tiple, autoharp
Jérémi Roy: upright and electric basses
Xarah Dion: keys
Molly McGivern: violin and morin khuur
Patrick Conan: drums
Gavin John Sheehan: electric guitar
Miles Perkin: upright bass
Becky Foon: cello
Gen Heistek: viola
Philippe Lauzier: bass clarinet
Jen Reimer: French horn
Jason Sharp: baritone sax
Sarah Wendt: French horn

KJ Denhert: ALBUM No.9.

"Album No.9 is about freedom,” says KJ Denhert. There also is a numerology connection as the album was recorded, starting Sept. 9, 2009, over the course of nine months with nine musicians, and it has nine songs.  "My life-path number is 9," says KJ.  In less than a year of it's release on Sept. 9, 2010, KJ's music video of ALBUM No.9"s yearnful "Help" is becoming a minor hit on youtube. She interprets the Beatles' standard as a plea to the world, in light of so many tragedies that were complicated due to mans inhumanity and greed, most recently in Haiti, Louisiana, Japan. Other classics on the album are "Alfie," "Pennies From Heaven, "The Shadow of Your Smile," "Chanson Baz Bar," and "Smoke on the Water."

"Choose Your Weapon," which won the Independent Music Award for the Sing Out For Social Action" award for recordings released in 2010, and "Let It Go" are two of ALBUM No.9's originals that have become favorites of KJ's fans.

This November, KJ will be celebrating her 15th Year Anniversary as KJ Denhert fronting her band.  But her career dates back to the '60s when she first started playing guitar at age 10, listening to Sergio Mendes, and John Hartford!

In the 1980s, as a young woman, she played guitar and sang with an all-female ban called Fire in North America and Europe, spent time in Cleveland fronting Cyclone Sisters.  Upon her move band to NY City in 1997, she formed the NY Unit, and the rest is history.

In addition to running her own band and Mother Cyclone label, KJ has been named among the six winners of the Kerrville New Folk Song contest in June 2006 for "Private Angel" and won the Mountain Stage New Song contest in August 05 for "Little Mary." The Album, ANOTHER YEAR GONE BY, LIVE, won the 2006 Independent Music Award for Best Live Performance.

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KJ DENHERT ON THE ROAD

June 24:12 Grapes Music and Wine Bar, Peekskill, NY
June 25: 55 Bar, New York, NY
July 7: Underground Wonderbar, Chicago, IL
July 8: Club La Salle, South Bend, IN
July 18: Woodsongs, Lexington, KY
July 23: 55 Bar, New York, NY
July 29: Belleayre Music Festival - Belleayre Mountain Ski Resort, Highmount, NY
July 30: Rams Head on Stage w/ Gregory Porter, Annapolis, MD
August 9: Cape Cod Jazz, Chatham, MA
August 11: New Paltz, NY (duo: KJ Denhert & Jennifer Vincent)
August 20: 55 Bar, New York, NY
August 21: Special Event @the Falcon, Marlboro, NY
August 23: Cornwall, NY
September 2: Union Chapel Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard, MA
September 3: 55 Bar, New York, NY
September 10: The Falcon,  Marlboro, NY
September 17: 55 Bar, New York, NY
October 8: Uncommon Ground, Dobbs Ferry (solo w/ Vance Gilbert)

Tom Russell Joined By Calexico, Lucinda Williams, Van Dyke Parks On Cinematic 'Mesabi'

The Mesabi iron range juts into Minnesota, a desolate deposit of minerals and the birthplace of Bob Dylan. American composer and storyteller Tom Russell says that Bob Dylan inspired him to become an artist, and his new 'Mesabi' pays moving tribute with compelling tales that connect the iron range to the border town of Juarez, Mexico and the myth of Hollywood celebrity with cinematic, global revelry. 'Mesabi,' out Sept 6 on Shout! Factory, is a vast, interwoven collection of tales set to twangy rock, country and Mexican folk and features Calexico, Van Dyke Parks and Lucinda Williams.

Co-produced by Russell and keyboardist Barry Walsh, and recorded in several different studios in Tucson, Texas, Nashville and Los Angeles, 'Mesabi' is the 26th album from an artist whose songs have been recorded by such icons as Johnny Cash, Dave Van Ronk, Jerry Jeff Walker, Doug Sahm and Ramblin' Jack Elliott, among others.

'Mesabi' is thematically ambitious, drawing inspiration from American icons like Dylan, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and the perilous town of Juarez, Mexico, close to where Tom lives. Says Tom, "The puzzle is that [Juarez is] the most dangerous city in the world and El Paso, just over the bridge, is the safest city in the United States."

Along with the release of 'Mesabi,' 2011 has much in store for Tom. Filmmaker Monte Hellman ('Two-Lane Blacktop') demanded that Tom's new songs be included in his new film 'Road To Nowhere;' a book of 60 of Tom's paintings will be released this fall on Bang Tail Press; a documentary about Tom's life, 'Don't Look Down,' will be released soon; and he will be touring the US in September and October.

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'MESABI' TRACK LISTING:

1. Mesabi
2. When the Legends Die
3. Farewell Never Never Land
4. The Lonesome Death Of Ukulele Ike
5. Sterling Hayden
6. Furious Love (For Liz)
7. A Land Called "Way Out There"
8. Roll The Credits, Johnny
9. Heart Within A Heart
10. And God Created Border Towns
11. Goodnight, Juarez
12. Jai Alai
13. Love Abides

Bonus Tracks:
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
The Road To Nowhere

Tour dates and more info here.

Kristy Lee Hits the Peach State this Weekend

Kristy Lee will take a brief break from recording her upcoming album in Atlanta this weekend to rock the ATL. Come watch her at The Atlanta Room @ Smith's Olde Bar.  Doors open at 6PM. Tickets are $10. Kristy goes on at 8PM.
THIS JUST IN...Kristy Lee sets her sights on rocking NYC in August. Kristy will be opening for Dickey Betts, a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, for all 3 of his performances at City Winery.  For more information & to purchase tickets for one or all shows on 8/28, 8/29, & 8/30, click here!
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UPCOMING TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:
6/17 8pm Private Event - Atlanta, GA
6/18 8pm The Atlanta Room @ Smith's Olde Bar - Atlanta, GA
9/29-10/3 Rombello Cruise
10/22 7pm Cedar Cultural Center - Minneapolis, MN

Lindsey Buckingham announces sixth solo album

Legendary guitarist, singer/songwriter, Grammy winner, producer and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Lindsey Buckingham will release his sixth solo album, Seeds We Sow, on September 6, 2011.  This album is Buckingham’s first self-release, in which he took a true DIY approach, not only writing and performing every song on the record but producing and mixing them as well. Buckingham also announced a 31-city North American tour in support of the album which kicks off on September 9 in Nevada and continues through October 25 in Napa, CA (full routing below).  Tickets go on sale in select cities beginning June 16, check your local venue for ticket purchase and on-sale info.

Speaking on Seeds We Sow, Buckingham says, “This might be the best work I’ve ever done. I think it’s an excellent representation of what I do. It shows a certain maturity and musicianship and I just feel like I have a lot of tools in my musical vocabulary from which to draw that are again the product of the choices I’ve made. It’s on my own terms. This is very much from the inside out and I hope I never stop doing that.”

From the album’s first single “In Our Own Time,” to the soft melodic pop/rock tinge of “End of Time” and the album’s most rocking track, “One Take,” to the touching “When She Comes Down” and the almost lullaby-esque hushed tones of the gorgeous closing number, “She Smiles Sweetly,” the album showcases Buckingham’s full arsenal of skills.  Just as his guitar style on Seeds We Sow is more mature and refined, so too are his lyrics, with one of the standout tracks being the hook-laden “Illumination.” “I think the lyrics over the years have actually gotten better because they’ve gotten a little, I don’t want to say obscure, but more poetic in the way they’re created,” he says, adding, “It’s a mysterious process even to me.”

ABOUT LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM
Palo Alto, CA native Lindsey Buckingham is best known for his work as guitarist, male vocalist and songwriter for Fleetwood Mac, a band that has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, won countless awards, sold out venues around the world, and helped define the sound of rock for the last three decades. Buckingham was the predominant musical force behind such Mac albums as Rumours and the innovative Tusk, and has created a critically acclaimed body of solo work that yielded the hits, “Trouble,” “Go Insane,” and “Holiday Road.” After moving to Los Angeles in 1973 with then girlfriend Stevie Nicks, the two were signed to Polydor Records and released the now cult favorite Buckingham Nicks album.  The two joined Fleetwood Mac on New Year’s Eve of 1974 and the band’s self-titled album was released in 1975.  The album was a hit, however, it did not compare to the success of 1977’s Rumors, led by the Buckingham-written single “Go Your Own Way,” which has gone on to become one of the best selling albums of all time (even re-appearing on the Billboard Top 40 in 2011 after the “Glee” episode paid tribute to the album). 1979’s critically acclaimed double-album, Tusk, famously cost the band over a million dollars to record and was followed by 1982’s Mirage and 1987’s Tango in the Night, also huge commercial successes for the band.  Buckingham’s first solo album, 1981’s Law and Order, produced the hit single “Trouble.” Buckingham’s subsequent solo albums, 1984’s Go Insane, 1992’s Out of the Cradle, 2006’s Under the Skin and 2008’s Live at the Bass Performance Hall and Gift of Screws have all earned critical acclaim.  He was recently honored with ASCAP’s Golden Note Award, and has also received The Les Paul Award.  For more information please log on to www.lindseybuckingham.com.
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“SEEDS WE SOW” TOUR DATES:
Fri.-Sat., Sept. 9-10 RENO, NV Nugget Casino
Mon., Sept. 12 BOISE, ID Egyptian Theatre
Tues., Sept. 13   SALT LAKE CITY, UT The Depot
Wed., Sept. 14  DENVER, CO University of Denver  Gates Hall
Fri., Sept. 16  MINNEAPOLIS, MN Pantages Theatre
Sat., Sept. 17  MILWAUKEE, WI The Pabst Theater
Sun., Sept. 18  CHICAGO, IL Vic Theater
Tues., Sept. 20  PITTSBURGH, PA Carnegie Music Hall
Thurs., Sept. 22  PHILADELPHIA, PA Keswick Theatre
Fri., Sept. 23  WESTHAMPTON BEACH, NY Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Ctr.
Sat., Sept. 24  RIDGEFIELD, CT Ridgefield Playhouse
Sun., Sept. 25  BOSTON, MA Wilbur Theatre
Tues., Sept. 27 NEW YORK, NYThe Town Hall
Thurs., Sept. 29  MORRISTOWN, NJ Mayo Performing Arts Center
Fri., Sept. 30  BALTIMORE, MD Goucher College       
Sat., Oct. 1  DURHAM, NC Carolina Theatre of Durham
Mpn., Oct.  3  JACKSONVILLE, FL Florida Theatre
Tues., Oct. 4  FORT PIERCE, FL Sunrise Theatre
Wed., Oct. 5  CLEARWATER, FL Capitol Theatre
Fri., Oct. 7 ATLANTA, GA Symphony Hall
Sun., Oct. 9 HOUSTON, TX Verizon Wireless Theatre
Wed., Oct. 12  PHOENIX, AZ Celebrity Theatre
Thurs., Oct. 13   LOS ANGELES, CA Royce Hall
Fri., Oct. 14  LAS VEGAS, NV Aliente Resort
Sat., Oct. 15  PALM DESERT (PALM SPRINGS), CA McCallum Theater
Mon., Oct. 17 ANAHEIM, CA Grove of Anaheim
Tues., Oct. 18  TURLOCK, CA Turlock Community Theatre
Wed., Oct. 19   SAN FRANCISCO, CA The Regency Center
Sat., Oct. 22  VANCOUVER, BC The Ctr. in Vancouver for Performing Arts
Sun., Oct. 23  SEATTLE, WA Little Creek Casino Resort        
Tues., Oct. 25  NAPA, CA Uptown Theater

Candye Kane's 'Sister Vagabond' album rings triumphant in challenging year

Candye Kane has been called a survivor, a superhero and the toughest girl alive. (All are also titles of her self-penned songs.) Her eleventh CD release, Sister Vagabond, will hit the streets on August 16, 2011 on Delta Groove Records. Produced by Kane and her noted guitarist Laura Chavez, Sister Vagabond is a worthy successor to their 2010 collaboration, Superhero, which was nominated for Best Contemporary Blues CD in the Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Awards.

The jump-blues singer, songwriter and mother of two from East Los Angeles is a five-time nominee for Blues Music Awards, has nabbed ten San Diego Music Awards and starred in a sold-out stage play about her life. She’s beat pancreatic cancer in the last two years. She has performed worldwide for presidents and movie stars.

But her path to success was not always glamorous or easy. Raised in what she calls a dysfunctional blue-collar family, Candye became a mother, a pinup cover girl and a punk-rock, hillbilly blues-belter by the time she was just 21 years old. Ten CDs, six record labels, millions of international road miles and countless awards later, Miss Kane has proven to be a true survivor as she scrambled her way to the top of the roots-music heap, creating a world renowned reputation that has spanned two decades.

A colorful mixture of the traditional and the eclectic, Kane cut her musical teeth in the early ’80s onstage with Hollywood musicians and friends Social Distortion, Dwight Yoakam, Dave Alvin, Los Lobos, The Blasters, X, Fear and the Circle Jerks, to name just a few. While raising two sons, this role model for the disenfranchised championed large-sized women, fought for the equal rights of sex workers and the GLBT community and inspired music lovers everywhere. Her fans are a mixture of true outsiders: bikers, blues fans, punk rockers, drag queens, fat girls, queers, burlesque dancers, porn fans, sex workers, rockabilly and swing dancers, gray-haired hippies, sex-positive feminists and everyday folk of all ages.

In 1986, then married to Thomas Yearsley of the Paladins, she was touched by the music of Big Maybelle, Big Mama Thornton, Ruth Brown and more. Her self-released 1991 Burlesque Swing caught the ear of Texas impresario Clifford Antone, who signed her to a deal with Antone’s Records. Los Lobos’ Cesar Rosas and Paladin/Hacienda Brother/Stone River Boy Dave Gonzalez co-produced the first album of the deal, Home Cookin’. Picked up by Discovery (later Sire) Records, the Dave Alvin/Derek O’Brien-produced Diva La Grande was followed by Swango in the height of the swing craze.

Rounder/Bullseye Records signed her in 1995, releasing The Toughest Girl Alive, produced by Scott Billington. Four albums followed on the German RUF label, including the Bob Margolin-produced Guitar’d and Feathered. She then pacted with her current label, Delta Groove, releasing Superhero in 2010 and now Sister Vagabond in 2011.

Her full-time, 250-days-a-year touring schedule started in 1992. And today, Kane’s live shows are the stuff of legend. She honors the bold blues women of the past with both feet firmly planted in the present. She belts, growls, shouts, croons and moans from a lifetime of suffering and overcoming obstacles. She uses music as therapy and often writes and chooses material with positive affirmations that leave the audience feeling healed and exhilarated. In a show that is part humor, part revival meeting and party sexuality celebration, she'll deliver a barrelhouse-tongue-in-cheek blues tune or a gospel ballad, encouraging audiences to leave behind religious intolerance. She’ll slay the crowd with her balls out rendition of “Whole Lotta Love” or glorify the virtues of zaftig women with “200 Pounds of Fun.” She often says she is a ”fat black drag queen trapped in a white woman's body” and she dresses the part.

Kane has been included in countless blues and jazz CD anthologies including Rolling Stone Jazz and Blues Album Guide and Musichound: Blues, The Essential Album Guide and Dan Aykroyd’s 30 Essential Women of the Blues. She appeared on the influential call-to-arms of Southern California roots music, A Town South of Bakersfield on Enigma Records, alongside Lucinda Williams and Dwight Yoakam.

In addition to her musical achievements, Kane has become an activist and philanthropist in recent years. In August 2009, she appeared in Dublin, Ireland for the World Congress for Downs Syndrome with her United by Music charity. The project provides performance opportunities, blues history lessons and songwriting instruction to young people with disabilities, encouraging them to write their own blues songs to help them overcome their daily challenges.

A fighter par excellence, Candye has an authenticity, determination and optimism that keep her shows passionate, honest and irresistible.

“I take things one day at a time and today I am feeling great and very optimistic about my new CD,” Kane says. It’s been awesome to write and co-produce again with my guitarist Laura Chavez. I am grateful for every chance I get to make music live, or in the studio. Most people are given only three months to live after a pancreatic cancer diagnosis and three years later, I am still here. So any opportunity I have to create music makes me humbled and grateful.

“People ask me why I want to work so hard and so much, since I tour 250 days a year. Everyone says I should stay home and relax after my health struggle. But music is my life and neuroendocrine cancer is a mostly manageable disease. I will continue to work as much as I can because I know life is fragile anyway. I would be fine if I died onstage doing what I love like Country Dick Montana or Johnny Guitar Watson. I’m not planning on going anytime soon, but when I do exit this plane, I hope it’s making someone else feel inspired by the powerful words in my songs.”

Grayson Capps: The Lost Cause Minstrels Out Now

Grayson Capps' fifth studio album, The Lost Cause Minstrels, finds the Mobile, Alabama-based singer-songwriter coming of age. That doesn't mean his oft-unholy tales of the Southern Gothic have lost any of their sting. Quite the contrary, Capps' Tao-tinged philosophical musings wrapped inside songs shuddering with spit, stomp and snarl are as potent as ever. Look no further than "Highway 42," "No Definitions" and "Rock N Roll" to hear that Capps cedes no quarter. It's just that this time his bark and bite is more accepting of the unanswered questions mucking up the universe. And yes, occasionally, even a celebratory mood prevails like the horn-fueled romp "Ol' Slac," an ode the rebirth of the Mobile, Alabama Mardi Gras, or "Coconut Moonshine," a character sketch based on Mr. Jim who inhabits the hallowed roadside barbecue joint in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Two rare but classic American roots' numbers are born again here, as well: Taj Mahal's country-blues paen "Annie's Lover" and Richard Rabbit Brown's jaunty "Jane's Alley Blues," (the original recording preserved on Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music).

A collection of songs timeless in their pursuit of truth, yet well aware of how hard the truth is to find in these times, The Lost Cause Minstrels is the highly anticipated next chapter from one of the finest Southern troubadours of the day.

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Upcoming Grayson Capps Tour Dates...

June 10 | The Shed | Destin, FL
June 11 | The Shed | Ocean Springs, MS
June 14 | The Shed | Mobile, AL
June 16 | Myers Park | Gulf Shores, AL
June 17 | DBA | New Orleans, LA
June 18 | The Porch | Lake Charles, LA
June 19 | Callaghan's | Mobile, AL
June 24 | The Basement | Nashville, TN
June 25 | Phoenix Hill Tavern | Louisville, KY
July 16 | Chrome Horse | Silver Hill, AL
July 17 | Callaghan's | Mobile, AL
July 20 | The Grey Eagle | Asheville, NC (*solo acoustic)
July 21 | Duck Pond | Brevard, NC (*solo acoustic)
July 22 | Shenanigan's | Dahlonega, AL (*solo acoustic)
August 4 | Woodwalk Gallery & Events Barn | Egg Harbor, WI (*solo acoustic)
August 6 | Lumberjam Festival | Hayward, WI (*solo acoustic)
August 7 | Farmer's Inn | Kirkland, IL (*solo acoustic)
August 13 | Eddie's Attic | Atlanta, GA (*solo acoustic)
August 19 | Fret's Live Music & Eatery | Pascagoula, MS
September 18 | Pirate's Festival | Orange Beach, AL
September 23 | Purple Fiddle | Thomas, WV
September 24 | PJ Kelly's | Clarksburg, WV
September 30 | Nightown | Easton, MD
October 6 | Hungry Tiger | Manchester, CT
October 8 | Nectar's | Burlington, VT
October 9 | Kortwright Arts | East Meredith, NY
October 16 | Callaghan's | Mobile, AL
October 22 | Bennie's Boom Boom Room | Hattiesburg, MS

Tommy Keene's 'Behind the Parade' coming on August 30

When you’ve been pursuing your craft for the better part of 30 years and approximately a dozen albums without the benefit of universal adulation, you’re either wholly obsessed or doggedly determined. In Tommy Keene’s case, it’s likely a mixture of both. Hailed by some as power pop’s most fervent champion, he has been obsessed with making music for nearly three decades, toiling away with impressive results while winning the respect of a small but loyal group of listeners who hold everything he’s ever offered in the highest esteem. Long before now, Keene should have been welcomed into the pop pantheon, alongside McCartney, Rundgren, Wilson and all the other meticulous musicians long acknowledged for their creativity and consistency. Ask his devotees and they’ll tell you Tommy Keene is the equal of them all.

Behind the Parade, Keene’s latest album and his third release on Second Motion (including last year’s career spanning retrospective You Hear Me), schduled for August 30, 2011 release in three formats (CD, mp3 and limited-edition 180-gram vinyl), provides the latest body of proof. Like its predecessors, the disc affirms his pop proficiency, mastery of his craft and his ability to ensure instant accessibility given the benefit of emphatic hooks, irresistible refrains and the kind of vibrant, jangly melodies that bring to mind a distinctly ’60s sensibility. Keene may once have worshiped at the altar of the Beatles, Byrds and Beach Boys, but his synthesis of sounds transcends these retro references and stirs it into something that’s wholly fresh and exhilarating.

Ranging from the proto-Keene jangle of “Already Made Up Your Mind” and the edgy, power pop (no, he doesn’t mind that description — much) storytelling of “Running For Your Life” and “His Mother’s Son” to the moody, ambient instrumental “La Castana” and the horn-infused opener “Deep Six Saturday,” Behind the Parade finds Tommy ably taking a few risks while managing to play to his considerable strengths. Behind the Parade, along with his recent output, shows Keene is akin to an athlete rediscovering his prime, only in this artist’s case, he never left it.

Back in 1984, a six-song platter of pop perfection titled Places That Are Gone (Dolphin) put Tommy Keene onto the CMJ charts and atop the Village Voice EP of the Year poll. Blatantly romantic, unapologetically melodic, bittersweet but absolutely invigorating, it still stands as a powerful statement, not only establishing Keene as a unique singer-songwriter, but also as a guitarist with a sound as distinctive as Pete Townshend or Johnny Marr.

Keene made enough noise in the early ’80s to get the majors involved, and in 1986 he released Songs From the Film on Geffen. Produced by Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick, the album featured two MTV videos, “Listen to Me” and a re-recording of Places That Are Gone’s title track, and spent 12 weeks on Billboard’s Top 200. The 1998 CD reissue of Songs also includes one of the all-time great Keene rockers, “Run Now,” with inspired rhythm section work from drummer Doug Tull and bassist Ted Niceley, plus a terrific extended guitar solo. The singer as well as the song appeared in the Anthony Michael Hall movie Out of Bounds.


After releasing the Run Now EP in 1986, the original Tommy Keene group, which also included guitarist Billy Connelly, disbanded. Keene headed down to Ardent Studios in Memphis to record with producers John Hampton and Joe Hardy. The result was Based on Happy Times (Geffen, 1989). The ironically titled disc is the darkest album in the Keene catalog. Although his best material has always been infused with melancholia, Happy Times’ tracks like “The Biggest Conflict” and “A Way Out” reveal a more fatalistic outlook. The guitars are heavier, there is less jangle, and there aren’t as many hooky vocal harmonies. It is a beautifully crafted, sometimes brooding, arty rock record.

In 1996, Keene released Ten Years After (Matador), his first full-length album of all-new material in seven years. Produced by Keene and recorded by pop music wunderkind Adam Schmitt, the album contains classic pop hooks and the loudest guitars to date. For his next effort, Isolation Party (Matador), Keene recruited an all-star cast, getting some fine instrumental and vocal performances from former Gin Blossom Jesse Valenzuela and Wilco’s Jay Bennett and Jeff Tweedy. A live disc called Showtunes (Parasol), released in 2000, was followed up in 2001 with The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down for the SpinArt label. Tommy used his next effort, Drowning: A Tommy Keene Miscellany (Not Lame), to clean out his closets of 20 years’ worth of rarities, demos and unreleased sessions. One of the best hodgepodge records you’ll ever hear, more than one critic felt Tommy’s spring-cleaning LP bested many greatest hits packages.

Back on the road in 2004, Keene and band joined Guided By Voices on the East and West Coast legs of their farewell tour. Apart from some great gigs, the shows also led to Keene joining Pollard as a member of his post GBV band, The Ascended Masters, for their 2006 U.S. tour and a limited-edition live LP, Moon (Merge). The year also saw the release of Crashing the Ether (Eleven Thirty), which was performed and recorded primarily by Tommy himself at home with drums by John Richardson and contributions from regular Keene band members and friends. Sonically, the album is dazzling, with big drums and open, ringing guitars, and lyrically it was arguably a great leap forward.

Tommy quickly followed up Crashing the Ether with Blues and Boogie Shoes, an LP with Robert Pollard under the Keene Brothers moniker. Although side projects can sometimes be less than wholehearted efforts, tracks such as “The Naked Wall” or “Death of the Party” — as good a song as Keene or Pollard have written together or separately — show that neither artist held anything back.

2009’s In the Late Bright (Second Motion) displayed the full range of Keene’s songcraft over 11 tracks. The album kicked into high gear with “Late Bright,” a minor-key rocker that gets its tense and dramatic work done in two minutes flat. From there on out, the album delivered a fan-friendly collection of melodic hooks, vocal harmonies, inventive chord progressions and great guitar playing.

Keene summed up his solo output to-date with Tommy Keene You Hear Me: A Retrospective 1983-2009 (Second Motion), a two-CD collection holding over 40 of his best tunes (including an unreleased acoustic take of Crashing the Ether’s “Black and White New York”). Even then, fans debated what he included vs. what he left off — further proof of the man’s enduring songwriting prowess.

Sarabeth Tucek Streams New Album On AOL

Sarabeth Tucek is set to release her sophomore LP, Get Well Soon, on May 24th on Ungawa Records. It’s a stunning record that, although not a concept album as such, forms a narrative based around the death of Sarabeth’s father, or as she beautifully describes it “an impressionistic rendering of a time ruled by grief”. The 12 tracks were “sequenced and resequenced for weeks” in order for the story to emerge and the end result sees not one wasted word or unnecessary note; all we’re left with is “just pure feeling”.
Sarabeth was born to a psychiatrist and a psychologist in Miami, but grew up in New York. She was a latecomer to music, her first calling being acting. However, after a few years in Hollywood, her singing and songwriting was encouraged by people on the music scene she fell in with. She first made an impression singing backing vocals on Smog’s 2003 album Supper and then in the film ‘Dig!’, where she sings a song she had just written called "Something For You". The Brian Jonestown Massacre went on to cover the song (retitled "Seer"), but Sarabeth’s own version became her debut single, on Sonic Cathedral, back in February 2007.
This stark and simple song won her legions of fans and her self-titled debut album followed a few months later (on the Echo label) to rapturous reviews. Produced by Ethan Johns and Luther Russell, its understated style was an inspiration to a number of singer-songwriters who followed in Sarabeth’s wake, including Laura Marling, who approached Johns to produce I Speak Because I Can after hearing it.
However, despite everything seemingly going so right, at home everything was going wrong. “Some very bad things happened during the first record and after,” recalls Sarabeth. “It was as if all that had ever troubled me, hurt me, came back just as I was embarking on what should’ve been the happiest time of my life. It all came back and said, ‘Not so fast...’
“I don’t think my mind could handle all the good coming its way. It was unfamiliar terrain and I didn’t know how to traverse It. Predictably, my drinking got out of control and that led to a couple car accidents, jail and legal troubles.I wanted to leave LA anyway, but now I felt I sort of had to. I hoped that by coming back home to New York I would be able to forge some kind of redemptive break from the past. To forgive myself.”
The move has informed much of the music on Get Well Soon. The warmth of the West Coast has gone, replaced by a much rawer sound, all recorded over an intensive 15-day period in a basement in Southampton, Pennsylvania. “We recorded this record in a house where we also lived,” Sarabeth explains. “My friends Robert and Peter from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club recorded ‘Howl’ there. It’s owned by the Nicgorski family who are all very musical: Billy, who offered me the basement, and his brother have played in lots of bands, their sister Maria sings on ‘State I Am In’ and their father Wally spent his mornings on the front porch singing in his rocking chair. Making a record where I am singing to and about my father and seeing and hearing their dad out there every morning served up a pretty strong and bittersweet feeling for me.”
“I think we managed to capture a unique mood down in that basement,” adds producer Luther Russell. “As guests in someone’s home we got a feeling that might not have happened in a regular studio. Sarabeth wanted to be somewhere totally unfamiliar; the material was incredibly personal to her, so she had to feel right about where she did it. My job was to capture that feeling, and fast. The plan was to mix it in LA, but it turned out that all the magic was there in the rough mixes I did as we went along – so that is what you hear. I think that’s why it’s such an immediate record, because it really was completed in those two weeks... but with a lifetime of preparation, of course.”
The rawness of the recording reflects the subject matter and provides the perfect accompaniment to Sarabeth’s voice, which seems stronger, more confident and more crystalline than ever, like Karen Dalton or a less histrionic Cat Power, as she deftly conveys her grief with an eloquent, understated majesty. The musical reference points of the first album – Neil Young, Dylan, The Velvet Underground, Big Star – are still there, but somehow amplified, and Sarabeth is definitely not looking towards the current music scene for inspiration. “It’s odd how placid a lot of music seems now; so washed out in sound and feeling,” she says. “It’s like antidepressant music to take antidepressants to. I don’t really give a shit. I am more likely to buy a new book now than a new record.”
This would explain the number of literary references on Get Well Soon. The opening track "The Wound And The Bow" is named after a book of essays by Edmund Wilson, in which Sarabeth discovered and subsequently became obsessed with the myth of Philoctetes, a play by Sophocles in which the protagonist suffers a wound so grotesque that he is left alone on an island to live in a cave and tend to his injuries. The title of "Exit Ghost" was taken from the Philip Roth novel, but he appropriated it from ‘Hamlet’, where it is written as a stage direction. “The scene when Hamlet sees his father’s ghost became lodged in my head,” explains Sarabeth. “And his subsequent madness I understood in a more personal way.”
The narrative ends with the title track and a resolution of sorts. “I feel like I’m either the patient or the doctor, somebody always has an ache,” she says. “When I wrote the title track I had a friend of mine on my mind. She was so sad... just inconsolable and it was painful to see her like that. The title is a reminder to keep myself well. It’s hard to explain the ferocity of the grief I experienced when my father died. I really felt like it was going to kill me, so to be here... well, I just wanted to remind myself of what I survived.”