album

HAALE RELEASES HER NEW ALBUM, NO CEILING, MARCH 18

photo by Matt Kilmer / Madison House- for the Grateful Web

Haale (as in halle-lujah, or jale-peno ), is a downtown New Yorker of Iranian descent. On her breathtaking full-length debut, No Ceiling, she draws on that heritage freely, but filters it through a contemporary prism. That is, she extracts the Persian influence of her bloodline — including the work of the mystical poet Rumi — and the Sufi trance tradition, while weaving in her fondness for Hendrix, Dylan, Radiohead, and psychedelia.  No Ceiling synthesizes the diverse elements of Haale's personality into a single, impressive approach. Haale sounds pretty much like who she is.

The ten songs on No Ceiling encompass a musical journey in the truest sense, while Haale's substance and versatility stand in stark contrast to today's fashion-show mainstream pop. With the release of No Ceiling, at a time when so many bands sound painfully alike and imitative, Haale offers a much needed voice.  No Ceiling will be released March 18, 2008 on Channel A Music.

Made in partnership with percussionist/producer Matt Kilmer, and a number of NYC musicians, No Ceiling is a group effort. Haale and company have earned a secure place in the downtown scene while also generating opportunities for more mainstream exposure. She released two mesmerizing EPs in 2007 — Morning and Paratrooper. Haale has recorded with Sean Lennon (on 'Before the Skies'), has been presented by David Byrne, and has worked with producer Dougie Bowne (Cibo Matto, Chris Whitley, Cassandra Wilson). She has dazzled audiences at SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Mimi Festival in France, and shared the stage with Frank London of the Klezmatics as well as the legendary Hugh Masakela and Odetta on the Songs of Spirit tour. 

Haale is on tour this spring in support of No Ceiling. The current list of confirmed tour dates is as follows:

March 13 SXSW Showcase Austin TX
March 15 Low Key Arts Building Hot Springs AK
March 19 Univ. of North Carolina ~ Memorial Hall Chapel Hill NC
March 20 IOTA Café Arlington VA
March 21 Tin Angel Philadelphia PA
March 22 Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Brooklyn NY
March 23 Drom New York NY
March 26 Brubaker Auditorium – Messiah College Grantham PA
March 28 Beachland Tavern Cleveland OH
March 29 Kinetic Playground Chicago IL
March 30 Highdive Champaign IL
April 01 Shank Hall Milwaukee WI
April 02 Cedar Cultural Center Minneapolis MN
April 03 The Pike Room Detroit MI
April 04 Lula Lounge Toronto ON
April 05 Bellows Falls Opera House Bellows Falls VT
April 06 The Paradise Rock Club Boston MA
April 11 The Tralf Buffalo NY
April 12 Cornell University – Risley Hall Ithaca NY
June 12 Flushing Town Hall Flushing NY

More dates to be announced.

Keller Williams Releases New Album Today!

photos by Brent Fuqua- for the Grateful Web

Keller Williams has been called guitar's mad-scientist, a one-man band for the new millennium, and dozens of other clever sobriquets dreamed up by fans and music journalists trying to get a handle on his uplifting and ever-shifting style of music. Though Keller's music has evolved since he first started playing music over twenty years ago, some things have remained constant: Keller is a prolific artist, an exceptional guitarist, and an accomplished songwriter.  Now, Keller's twelfth album release looks back at a ground-breaking and already remarkable career.  Aptly titled 12 (SCI Fidelity Records), the album features one standout song from each of his previous eleven releases.  Keller himself dubs this his album of "hitless greatest hits." Added to the mix is one new, previously un-recorded song. While the Keller Williams adventure has only just begun, 12 is a fantastic celebration of a musical milestone.

To get the new year started, Keller Williams and The WMD'S are hitting the road for a short run of dates.  The WMD'S debuted at select festival performances this past summer, including an epic and electrifying Bonnaroo show.  Since then, the band has brought the show to theatres in select markets.  The WMD'S features Williams on guitar/vocals, Keith Moseley on bass (The String Cheese Incident), Gibb Droll on guitar (Marc Broussard), and Jeff Sipe on drums (Aquarium Rescue Unit, Trey Anastasio, Susan Tedeschi, Phil Lesh). 

The current list of confirmed Keller Williams tour dates is as follows:

January 17 Orange Peel Asheville NC Keller Williams and The WMD'S
January 18 City Hall Nashville TN Keller Williams and The WMD'S
January 19 The Pageant St. Louis MO Keller Williams and The WMD'S
January 20 The Blue Note Colombia MO Keller Williams and the WMD'S
January 22 Liberty Hall Lawrence KS Keller Williams and the WMD'S
January 23 George's Majestic Fayetteville AR Keller Williams and The WMD'S
January 24 Cain's Ballroom Tulsa OK Keller Williams and The WMD'S
January 25 House of Blues Dallas TX Keller Williams and The WMD'S
January 26 La Zona Rosa Austin TX Keller Williams and The WMD'S
January 29 El Rey Theatre Albuquerque NM Keller Williams and the WMD'S
January 30 Solar Room Taos NM Keller Williams and the WMD'S
January 31 – February 01 Belly Up Aspen CO Keller Williams and The WMD'S
February 02 Fillmore Auditorium Denver CO Keller Williams and The WMD'S
February 23 Sugarloaf Ski Resort - Carrabassett Valley ME Keller Williams and The WMD'S
March 09 Langerado Music Festival Big Cypress FL

More dates to be announced.

Keller Williams has been refining his unique kind of performance art for almost 15 years, logging over 100 gigs annually, and he's a productive recording artist as well.  His calling card?  - a creative combination of talent and technology.  Known, of course, for his astonishing one-man show, Keller Williams surrounds himself with instruments and pedals and slides from one to the next. While his songs are rooted in Williams' warm voice and spirited acoustic guitar, Keller gives them depth and breadth via looping and delay.  Keller essentially accompanies himself, looping several instruments, and filling up an entire room with lush layers of sound … just one man and a humongous imagination.

Donna Jean & the Tricksters New Album 'HGR 129' Out 01.28.08

Donna Jean & the Tricksters- for the Grateful Web

Donna Jean Godchaux MacKay was born to sing, and over the course of time she's done so with people like Elvis Presley, Percy Sledge, Boz Scaggs, and Jerry Garcia. Now she has a new band that she's quite certain is on a creative par with anything she's ever done. "This band is a perfect fit for me as a singer/songwriter," she said recently, "and I hope to be doing this for a long time to come. We're having so much fun with this music!" The Grateful Dead alumna has joined up with six members of the next musical generation – Mookie Siegel (David Nelson Band; formerly Phil & Friends, RatDog), Wendy Lanter (Hope in Time), and Jeff Mattson, Tom Circosta, Klyph Black and Dave Diamond (Zen Tricksters) to form Donna Jean and the Tricksters. Look out!

Things have come full circle and anything's possible. Oh, sure, they're gonna jam. But the band has seven vocalists and an incredible array of songwriting talent, and DJ&tT is going to make waves in ways you'd never anticipate. Born in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Donna Jean was a vocalist at both Muscle Shoals Sound Studios and Fame Studios, home of the legendary "Muscle Shoals Sound," on records like Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds," Percy Sledge's "When A Man Loves a Woman," and Boz Scagg's eponymous first solo album. She moved to San Francisco, married Keith Godchaux, and spent the 1970s as a vocalist in the Grateful Dead as well as the Jerry Garcia Band. After life with the Dead, she and Keith created the Heart of Gold Band with drummer Greg Anton.

Following various side trips, she resumed serious focus on her singing in the '90s, recording a new Heart of Gold Band album, At the Table, and singing with Phil & Friends and her own Donna Jean Band. But it was at a benefit concert for the Dead's Rex Foundation in 2006, The Black Tie-Dyed Ball, that she bonded with the Tricksters and decided that she'd found her future. The Zen Tricksters began on Long Island in the early 1980s. Lead by guitar wizard Jeff Mattson, the ZT have played for more than 20 years, establishing records at the legendary Wetlands Preserve and taking part in every Gathering of the Vibes. With Klyph Black on funky, blues-based bass and vocals (and slide and dobro), Tom Circosta on rhythm guitar and vocals, and Dave Diamond on drums, percussion, and vocals, the ZT rapidly became known as the best Dead-oriented band around – and a great deal more. After a substantial career doing session work, Wendy Lanter joined with Tom Circosta to create the band Hope in Time as a platform for their original music. She is a fabulous vocalist, adding angelic harmonies to Donna Jean's work. Finally, Mookie Siegel (keyboards and vocals) emerged from Baltimore in the '80s to become a member of such bands as the David Nelson (New Riders of the Purple Sage) Band, Bob Weir's RatDog, and Phil Lesh & Friends.

Yet this band – a felicitous combination of experience and youth, with skills that cross all musical genres and defy category – is a great deal more than even the sum of its parts. Something happened when they met – and DJ&tT is now (3/07) going into the studio to show you what that was.

Donna Jean & the Trickters new CD, HGR 129, streets on January 28th. The CD is disributed by DIG Music (part of the Rykodisc network) to your cool local neighborhood record store, so go check it out!

Keller's New Album '12,' Streets December 18, 2007

photo by Brent Fuqua- for the Grateful Web

Keller Williams has been called guitar's mad-scientist, a one-man band for the new millennium, and dozens of other clever sobriquets dreamed up by fans and music journalists trying to get a handle on his uplifting and ever-shifting style of music. Though Keller's music has evolved since he first started playing music over twenty years ago, some things have remained constant: Keller is a prolific artist, an exceptional guitarist, and an accomplished songwriter.  Now, Keller's twelfth album release looks back at a ground-breaking and already remarkable career.  Aptly titled 12, the album features one standout song from each of his previous eleven releases.  Keller himself dubs this his album of "hitless greatest hits." Added to the mix is one new, previously un-recorded song. While the Keller Williams adventure has only just begun, 12 is a fantastic celebration of a musical milestone.  Look for 12 in stores on December 18, 2007 on SCI Fidelity Records.

Also this fall, Keller Williams and The WMD'S will tour the east coast. The WMD'S features Williams on guitar/vocals, Keith Moseley on bass (The String Cheese Incident),  Gibb Droll on guitar (Marc Broussard), and Jeff Sipe on drums (Aquarium Rescue Unit, Trey Anastasio, Susan Tedeschi, Phil Lesh).  The WMD'S debuted at select festival performances this past summer, including an epic and electrifying Bonnaroo show.  Their November run of shows brings them to indoor venues for headlining shows. 

The complete list of Keller Williams confirmed tour dates is as follows:
November 02 Ram's Head Live Baltimore MD Keller Williams and The WMD'S
November 03 Norva Norfolk VA Keller Williams and The WMD'S
November 04 9:30 Club Washington DC Keller Williams and The WMD'S
November 06 Neighborhood Theatre Charlotte NC Keller Williams and The WMD'S
November 07 New Daisy Theater Memphis TN Keller Williams and The WMD'S
November 08 Bijou Knoxville TN Keller Williams and The WMD'S
November 09 Music Farm Charleston SC Keller Williams and The WMD'S
November 10 Talleyrand Jacksonville FL Keller Williams and The WMD'S
November 13 House of Blues Orlando FL Keller Williams and The WMD'S
November 14 Revolution Ft. Lauderdale FL Keller Williams and The WMD'S
November 15 Soul Kitchen Mobile AL Keller Williams and The WMD'S
November 16 Georgia Theatre Athens GA Keller Williams and The WMD'S
November 17 Zydeco Birmingham AL Keller Williams and The WMD'S
November 18 Lincoln Theatre Raleigh NC Keller Williams and The WMD'S
December 01 Aggie Theatre Fort Collins CO
December 13 Breezes Runaway Bay Runaway Bay Jamaica
December 28 Beacon Theatre New York NY w/ moe.
December 31 Tweeter Center Camden NJ w/ The Disco Biscuits

Keller Williams has been refining his unique kind of performance art for almost 15 years, logging over 100 gigs annually, and he's a productive recording artist as well.  His calling card?  - a creative combination of talent and technology.  Known, of course, for his astonishing one-man show, Keller Williams surrounds himself with instruments and pedals and slides from one to the next. While his songs are rooted in Williams' warm voice and spirited acoustic guitar, Keller gives them depth and breadth via looping and delay. Keller essentially accompanies himself, looping several instruments, and filling up an entire room with lush layers of sound … just one man and a humongous imagination. 

Lotus Tours in Support of Live Album Escaping Sargasso Sea

photo(s) by P. Emma - Grateful Web ©2007- for the Grateful Web

For those waiting for a concert experience with the dynamics of a rock band (read: no laptops), the dance inducing rhythms of club music, and the sophistication of modern electronica, an unlikely musical alternative has arrived in the form of the band Lotus.  Formed at a Mennonite college that had banned on-campus dancing as late as the 1980's, Lotus brings their club-worthy beats and rocking instrumental anthems to theaters throughout the country this fall.  No glow-stick bracelets, pretentious Can trivia, or expensive distressed fashion required.

Lotus's new release, Escaping Sargasso Sea (May 2007), is a double-disc live album that draws from two previous studio albums, Nomad and The Strength of Weak Ties, along with never before released material.  From the post/math-rock of "When H Binds to O" to the slippery dance beats of "Wax," this collection shows Lotus's ability to deconstruct, stretch, and rebuild their compositions spontaneously on stage.  Restraining from flaunting their individual chops, Lotus builds compositions on catchy melodies and heavy grooves.

The five-piece band has creatively fused electronic dance music with instrumental post-rock for eight years. The result is an explosive live show that has made crowds get down across the US, Canada, and Japan. Armed with a massive light rig and one of the most energetic shows on the circuit, Lotus proves why they have become a go-to act for late night festival slots.  This tour takes the band into renowned theatres nationwide including the Ogden Theatre in Denver, the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, Park West in Chicago, and the Bowery Ballroom in New York.

Lotus' complete list of confirmed Fall Tour dates is as follows:
09/28 Paradise Rock Club Boston, MA
09/29 Red Square Albany, NY
10/04 Black Sheep Colorado Springs, CO
10/05 Aggie Theatre Ft. Collins, CO
10/06 Ogden Theatre Denver, CO
10/08 Rhythm Room Phoenix, AZ
10/09 Winston's San Diego, CA
10/10 Knitting Factory West - Main Room Hollywood, CA
10/11 Great American Music Hall San Francisco, CA
10/12 Moe's Alley Santa Cruz, CA
10/13 Crown Room Crystal Bay, NV
10/18 WOW Hall Eugene, OR
10/19 Hawthorne Theatre Portland, OR
10/20 Tractor Tavern Seattle, WA
10/23 Club Roxbury Omaha, NE
10/24 The Cabooze Minneapolis, MN
10/25 Majestic Theatre Madison, WI
10/26 Park West Chicago, IL
10/31 Higher Ground Burlington, VT
11/01 Pearl Street Northampton, MA
11/02 Music Hall of Williamsburg Brooklyn, NY
11/03 Bowery Ballroom New York, NY
11/23–11/24 World Cafe Live - Downstairs Philadelphia, PA
12/31 Mr. Smalls Theatre Pittsburgh, PA

For more information please visit www.lotusvibes.com.

Later this year, look for a Lotus remix project with LCD Soundsystem label-mate Juan Maclean.

What critics have been saying about Lotus:

"…intent on creating a new genre (few try that these days)...it is rock, and smart disco, funk and soul, piano pop, world music, and modern alienation stuff and jazz fusion you can dance to all wrapped up in cellophane."  -Big Takeover 

"In this new terrain in which lie endless creative possibilities, Lotus continue to expand upon its post-everything rock/electronic/jazz/free-form pastiche."  -Big Shot Magazine

"If you were listening to the music of Philadelphia five-piece Lotus right now, you would be dancing. There's no doubt about that. Their grooves are tight, and fast, and fun, and one would be hard-pressed not to shake it hard at a Lotus show." -Jambands.com

Bonerama's New Album "Bringing It Home"

photo copyright of Bonerama- for the Grateful Web

When Bonerama struts onstage with its four-trombone frontline, you can guess it's not quite like any rock 'n' roll band you've seen.  When they tear into some vintage New Orleans funk, there's no questioning from which city these guys hail. And when those 'bones start ripping into Hendrix and Led Zeppelin licks, all stylistic bets are off.

Bonerama carries the brass-band concept to places unknown.  Hailed by Rolling Stone's David Fricke as "The ultimate in brass balls," last Fall the band served as the House Band for the live all-star comedy event COMIC RELIEF.  The 2006 event, which featured a long list of A-talent including hosts Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams, was recorded live from Ceasar's Palace last November. Recently, Bonerama snagged the coveted "Best Rock Band" honor from the 2007 Big Easy Awards.

Since live performance is what Bonerama is all about, it's no coincidence that their third album, Bringing It Home, is also their third consecutive live disc.  It also testifies to the amount of tightening-up the band's done in recent years. Joining another stack of Bonerama originals are covers ranging from the Meters and George Porter Jr. to the Beatles (two from the White Album, no less) to Thelonious Monk. And when they take on Led Zeppelin's "The Ocean" – with trombones doing the familiar backing vocals along with the big guitar riff – you can practically hear the audience's jaws dropping.

The current list of confirmed Bonerama tour dates is as follows:

July 13 Martyr's Chicago IL

July 14 Bastille Days Festival Milwaukee WI

July 18-19 Broadway Oyster Bar St. Louis MO

July 20 Iowa City Yacht Club Iowa City IA

July 21 Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues Festival Sioux Falls SD

July 22 Vaudeville Mews Des Moines IA

July 25 The Blue Gator Athens OH

July 26 Peaches Grill Yellow Springs OH

July 27 The Livery Benton Harbor MI

July 28 Beaches International Festival Toronto Ontario

August 02 Panama City Beach Concert Series Panama City Beach FL

August 03 MOJO Kitchen Jacksonville Beach FL

August 04 The Bamboo Room Lake Worth FL

August 05 The Green Parrot Key West FL

August 09 Gottrocks Greenville SC

August 10 Visulite Theatre Charlotte NC

August 11 Paetec Jazz Festival Baltimore Baltimore NY

August 25 Mid City Lanes New Orleans LA

September 08 Hot Springs Jazz Festival Hot Springs AR

September 16 Telluride Blues & Brews Festival Telluride CO

September 21 Monterey Jazz Festival Monterey CA

September 22 The Crystal Bay Club Crystal Bay NV

October 06 Private Party New Orleans LA

October 07 Gretna Heritage Festival Gretna LA

October 27 Voodoo Music Experience New Orleans LA

More dates will be announced.

Even in a city that doesn't play by the rules, New Orleans' Bonerama is something different.  They're not a traditional brass band, but they've got brass to spare—even with no trumpets or saxes in sight. Bonerama features a dizzying display of trombone talent; four trombones, to be exact. Band leaders Mark Mullins and Craig Klein (of Harry Connick's band) shelf any jazz subtlety for Bonerama, opting instead for heavy funk, rock 'n' roll, and pure horn muscle.  Mullins and Klein are joined by fellow boners Steve Suter and Rick Trolsen, imaginative and dynamic sousaphone player Matt Perrine and edgy experimental guitarist Bert Cotton.  The band also features a rotating cast of New Orleans ' finest drummers, including Russell Batiste, Stanton Moore, Eric Bolivar, and Terence Higgins.

BASSNECTAR Tours In Support of New Album, Underground Communication

photo by: Shauna Regan - for the Grateful Web

Underground heavyweight Bassnectar released his new album, Underground Communication, on OM Records Tuesday, May 8.  Fresh off a recent appearance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, look for Bassnectar live at clubs and festivals throughout the U.S. this spring and summer. Voted San Francisco's "number one DJ" three years in a row and currently the eighth most downloaded electronic artist on iTunes, Bassnectar is stirring up quite the buzz. Look for Bassnectar in current/upcoming issues of ALARM, BMP, DJ MAGAZINE, DJ TIMES, HARP, REMIX, URB, XLR8R and many others.

Voted "Best DJ" by Nitevibe.com and SF Bay Guardian, Bassnectar's music is forging new paths in the electronic music world, the Burning Man scene, underground hip hop circles, and beyond. The brainchild of Lorin Ashton, Bassnectar is an experimentally collaborative music project, but it's also a platform for social change and political awareness. It's stylistically specific, yet it's an eclectic, full spectrum adventure.

For Bassnectar's new release, Underground Communication (Om Records/May 8, 2007), Bassnectar takes another step forward in his genre-bending blend of musical styles and emotions, combining the visceral melodic presence of modern listening music, with the force and volume of sound system dancefloor devastation. The new record is an exploration of hip-hop culture, featuring scores of MCs and rhythmic poetics mashed atop a heavy, driving  range of tempo and, of course, those signature throbbing bass lines. Rooted firmly in political conviction and philosophical intention, and backed by a rabid fan base and dedicated following, Underground Communication sets a new standard for the possibilities of merging music, art, new media and social activism.

The list of current Bassnectar appearances is as follows:

July 06-07 High Sierra Festival Quincy CA 

July 21 USC (United State of Conciousness) 10 Year Anniversary - Exhibition Hall Seattle WA

July 27 Sol Y Lago Taho City CA

July 28 Club Underground Reno NV

August 03 Axis Boston MA

August 04 Big Summer Classic - Camp Zoe Salem MO

August 10 Santa Fe Muzik Festival – The Downs Santa Fe NM

August 17-18 Camp Bisco 6 Indian Lookout Country Club Mariaville NY

September 21 Symbiosis Gathering Northern CA

October 26 The Spider Ball –Bentley Reserve San Francisco CA

More dates to be confirmed...

SOUL SKA PIONEERS THE PIETASTERS New Album, 'All Day'

photo courtesy of Madison House- for the Grateful Web

Soul-ska pioneers The Pietasters release their new studio album, All Day, on August 21, 2007 (Indication Records / RedEye USA).  The release marks the band's first release in five years.  Produced by Todd Harris (James Brown), All Day displays an impeccably refined Pietasters: soul-drenched and in fine songwriting form. Expect The Pietasters' signature sound of skankin' punk rhythms and raucous vocal rumblings slowed down and sticky thick with the sounds of early Motown and Jamaican soul. The result is subtly nostalgic and enticingly fresh, offering plenty for both longtime listeners and younger underground music fans who missed the ska scene on the first (or second and third) go 'round. Indeed, there is something truly timeless about ska music; and who better to remind us of that than The Pietasters?

"This record is a version of what a van ride with us would be like," says The Pietasters' bassist and songwriter Jorge Pezzimenti of their soul roots, rock and reggae-inspired new album. All Day captures the high energy, brotherly camaraderie and attention to detail on which they've built their rock-steady name as an explosive live attraction.

The Pietasters bring their high energy live show, and their new material, to venues coast to coast this summer.  The current list of confirmed show dates is as follows:

June 28 River Street Jazz Café Wilkes-Barre PA

June 29 Grog Shop Cleveland OH

June 30 Mr. Small's Theatre Pittsburgh PA

July 04 Asbury Lanes Asbury Park NJ

July 13 All Good Festival Masontown WV

July 20 The Whiskey Annapolis MD

July 21 The State Theatre Falls Church, VA

August 10 Royal Lake Park Fairfax VA

August 11 Martin's Downtown Roanoke VA

August 16 Rock and Blues Concert Cruise Boston MA

August 17 Valentines Albany NY

August 18 The Chance Loft Poughkeepsie NY

August 22 Peppermint Beach Club Virginia Beach VA

August 24 Cat's Cradle Carborro NC

August 25 Ska Weekend-Old City Knoxville TN

September 5 TBA Albuquerque NM

September 6 The Clubhouse Tempe AZ

September 8 Clark County Amphitheatre Las Vegas NV

More dates to be announced.

Traveling the miles along a star-kissed path, the first break came early for D.C.'s ska darlings, when The Pietasters landed a 1992 tour opening for ska originals, Bad Manners. In 1997, Rancid's Tim Armstrong signed them to Hellcat/Epitaph where they recorded two albums with producer Brett Gurewitz (Bad Religion): the genre-defining Willis (SPIN Magazine called it "An equal opportunity dancehall crasher — part '60s keg rock, part 2Tone and part Motown") and Awesome Mix Tape #6 (CMJ noted it for "lacing a Stax shout-out feel with Caribbean rhythms"). The soul-charged Turbo was released in 2002 by Fueled by Ramen. The Pietasters shared bills with NOFX and Less Than Jake on the epic '98 and '99 Warped Tours, and followed with a stateside run with punk legend Joe Strummer. Hundreds of shows and three years later, they worked as James Brown's back-up band for one surreal evening. And their story is still unfolding. Not bad for a bunch of guys who started out as a teenaged underground band from D.C.

Michelle Shocked's New Album, ToHEAVENuRIDE

- for the Grateful Web

Live set pays tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The Staple Singers and Billie Holiday; set includes traditional spirituals as well as and original several new original songs.

"Ask me about my religion," writes Michelle Shocked in her "womanifesto" for her forthcoming album. "Of course, no one ever does." But it's all part of her long musical journey: "I was moved by the power of rock 'n' roll. And if you follow the trail from rock 'n' roll, it always leads you back to the blues, sweet soul music and finally to the churches and gospel music." In Shocked's case, it led to the West Angeles COGIC mass choir in the heart of South Central Los Angeles, where she now tries "living by the Good Book, and putting out a gospel record."
  
The resulting album, titled (and spelled) ToHeavenURide, is scheduled for August 21, 2007 release on Mighty Sound through Megaforce/RED.
  
For this set, recorded live at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June 2003, Grammy Award winner Shocked enlisted her Bay Area rhythm section, shanghaied Nick Forster (Hot Rize, etown) to play pedal steel and recruited the singing Dancys from New Greater Circle Mission Church in South L.A. for backing vocals and keyboards.
  
The marriage between the spirit of gospel music and the crisp Rocky Mountain air resulted in a rollicking performance. Shocked presents two songs by one of her greatest influences — Sister Rosetta Tharpe ("Strange Things Happening Every Day," "Ain't Gonna Study War No More.") Tharpe is called the "father — well, mother — of rockabilly" in the notes, and the songs are dedicated to her spirit. Also featured are "The Weight" by The Band and "Uncloudy Day" and "Wade in the Water" by the Staple Singers. Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child" is given the Shocked treatment. Finally, "We're Blessed" by Fred Hammond of the Detroit gospel group Commissioned, a modern gospel standard, is brought out of the churches.
  
Shocked also introduces includes four originals here (one is previously unreleased): "The Quality of Mercy" (originally written for the soundtrack of the film Dead Man Walking), "Good News" (commissioned by Greenpeace for the documentary Cancer Alley), "Psalm" (which prove the Psalms are a fertile source of the folk tradition) and "Can't Take My Joy" (combining gospel and reggae traditions with a nod to Bob Marley).
  
Although the songs were recorded at the 2003 Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Shocked's contract plainly stipulated "no recording." However, for a festival DVD project recorded that year, her set happened to be digitally stored on a ProTools file. It never occurred to Shocked to ask of the existence of such a recording, but it did occur to her new manager. So, in keeping in the tradition of inadvertent "field recordings" which — in the case of her debut album Texas Campfire Tapes — was made on the sneak, ToHeavenURide is another great Michelle Shocked field recording that almost never saw the light of day.
  
"Fifteen years ago, I was moved by a quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King: "It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o'clock on Sunday morning." One white girl attending a black church wasn't going to change the world or anything, right?" writes Shocked in her ToHeavenURide manifesto, but she decided to "take the mountain to Mohammad." "I was just going to check out a gospel choir, ya know? . . . Years later, on top of another mountain, the holy spirit erupted. And now here I am bringing it home to you."
  
"The Lord works in mysterious ways. Or at least that's been my experience."
 
Shocked embarks on a national tour in support of ToHeavenURide this Fall.

COLLECTORS' CHOICE REISSUES THE MUGWUMPS' ONLY ALBUM

- for the Grateful Web

The Mugwumps are best known as the band immortalized in autobiographical song by the Mamas & the Papas. Many know of them, but few have heard their one 1967 album for Warner Bros. Records. Until now, that is, as Collectors' Choice Music prepares its June 5 reissue of The Mugwumps' self-titled album.

"This was the first folk-rock group ever," Cass Elliot boasted to Johnny Carson about The Mugwumps. In a sense it's true. Born of the late Greenwich Village folk scene just as many of its proponents prepared to colonize Laurel Canyon, the band consisted of Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty (later of the Mamas & the Papas), Zalman Yanovsky (future guitarist for the Lovin' Spoonful) and Jim Hendricks. A small amount of cross-pollination occurred in the group's formation: Cass and her erstwhile husband Jim had been in Cass Elliot & the Big Three, a progressive folk outfit. Canadians Denny and Zal hailed from The Haliax Three, a more traditional folk trio. In early '64, Zal and Denny launched a rock alter ego called The Noise. Also in '64, Cass introduced Zal to John Sebastian by claiming Ringo Starr was with her. A historic connection was made as Zal and John went off to form the Lovin' Spoonful, while Cass and Denny joined John & Michelle Phillips to form the Mamas & the Papas, who pioneered rock's "California Dreamin'" era.

The Mugwumps' name was given to them by producer Erik Jacobsen, who heard them at the skid row flophouse known as the Hotel Albert in Greenwich Village, where the members made their home. A mugwump is a fence-sitter who can't make up his mind – mug on one side, wump on the other side.

The Washington Post noted the group was "attempting a new sound."  Another review described Cass as a "large young gal dressed in a leopard-skin muu muu."  The description continued of the guys: "One wore his hair combed forward over his brow à la a Beatle. Another looked like you or me except for sideburns which grew at least half way to his chin.  Another looked like Paul of Peter, Paul & Mary fame."  As they played, the critic noted, "the men plucked glistening electric guitars with great vehemence and the one with the Beatle mop moved his head back and forth like a Dupont Circle pigeon spying a crust of bread."

Cited in the reissue's liner notes by Richard Barton Campbell, Denny Doherty was quoted as saying: "Picture this group: Zalman Yanovksy, free lance Jew; me from Halifax, the weird Irishman playing bass; this 300 pound Cass; we've got Art Stokes, black kid on drums; Jim Hendricks on guitar, John Sebastian sometimes sitting on a stool playing harmonica, and we called ourselves The Mugwumps! We went electric a year before Dylan. Everybody went, 'What!? Get out of here!'"

Unfortunately, the Mugwumps era lasted only from July through November 1964, their one album recorded August 13 & 14, 1964, produced by Alan Lorber, who'd gone to see them at the behest of managers Roy Silver and Bob Covello.

In November 1964, they played their swan song performance at the Peppermint Lounge in New York.

Recalled Cass: "We were doing very sophisticated folksy stuff, but obviously 1964 wasn't the year for it. . . It was in a time warp. Just too much before its time."

Perhaps we can better understand the Mugwumps muse 43 years later, in 2007. At any rate, thanks to Collectors' Choice, we'll have the opportunity to try.