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Furtado's New Album 'Thirteen' Available Now!

Tony Furtado- for the Grateful Web

From the very first moments of "Used," which opens Tony Furtado's new album, Thirteen (available now on Funzalo Records), it's clear that the prodigious instrumentalist turned singer/songwriter is a man on a mission. This bracing rocker, with its galloping ZZ Top groove and restless Tom Petty vibe, establishes the album's interlocked themes of "good luck/bad luck/no luck" (as Furtado puts it) on both the personal and political levels, while a phalanx of fretted instruments provides a thrillingly visceral reminder of Furtado's prowess as an ax wielder of the first order.
 
On Thirteen, this rapidly maturing artist fulfills the immense promise of his 2004 breakthrough These Chains, his initial foray into songwriting and singing. While Furtado's 2005 outing, the literally solo Bare Bones, pushed the technical envelope as he recorded his own one-man tour, the expansive Thirteen reveals an artist with a great deal on his mind and a full arsenal of skills with which to express his thoughts and feelings in a captivating way. "These Chains was my first serious attempt at songwriting," says Furtado, "so it was a trial by fire, with a bit of experimentation. This time I had the chance to go deeper."
 
Recorded to 16-track, two-inch analog tape during the summer of 2006 at Tucson's Wavelab Studios (a favorite venue for Calexico, Neko Case, M. Ward, Iron & Wine and other cult heroes), the album features an all-star cast including keyboardists Sean Slade (whose production credits include Uncle Tupelo and Radiohead) and Jim Dickinson (producer of the seminal Ry Cooder albums that inspired Furtado to take up the slide guitar), bassist Dusty Wakeman (whose resume includes three previous Furtado LPs, Dwight Yoakam and Lucinda Williams), drummer Winston Watson (who has played with Dylan and Giant Sand) and Wavelab's own Craig Schumacher (Calexico, Case, Iron & Wine), who produced and engineered.
 
Furtado admits the gathering of heavyweights gave him pause going in. "At first I was worried that it might be a clash of the titans," he admits. "But after we got together and started talking about the material, hanging out and playing, my fears quickly dissipated. Plus, that studio is packed with old instruments, and all the guitars hanging on the walls create a sonic aura. There are some bizarre instruments there that I threw on the tracks."
 
On this project, Furtado's playing and the considerable acumen of his all-star studio band was fully focused on the 10 Furtado originals and three well-chosen covers that comprise Thirteen. The dreamlike "California Flood," which is "wrapped around old memories of weekends on a boat in the Sacramento Delta," deals in vividly metaphorical detail with a child's struggles to understand the mysterious workings of the adult world. For "Another Man," a bitter breakup song he confesses was based on personal experience, Furtado references the blues epic "When the Levee Breaks" (famously rendered by Led Zeppelin), in effect splitting the distance between emotional tumult and self-mocking irony.

Furtado started the faux-confessional "The Alcohol" while living in L.A. and reading a lot of Charles Bukowski. "It's like a love song to drinking, almost," he jokes. "I noticed I was drinking more when I was reading Bukowski. And one night, after I came home from a drinking session on Ventura Blvd., I wrote a couple verses and a chorus. Months late, after I moved to Portland, I hammered out the rest of it with [acclaimed Nashville-based singer/songwriter] Amelia White."
 
The album's title song and centerpiece is far more solemn. "Thirteen Below" recounts the January 2006 Sago mine disaster, which trapped 13 men, only one of whom survived. "I've heard so many mining songs in my folk history, and I've sung so many topical songs in the past, that writing and singing it felt natural to me," Furtado notes. By giving the song the textures, cadence and language of Appalachian traditional music, the artist places the Sago disaster in its proper historical context while also giving it the universal resonance of tragedy. Similarly, "Hurtin' My Right Side" is a modern-day take on another roots idiom with which Furtado is thoroughly familiar – prison work songs and field hollers. He adapted the traditional piece, which he describes as "spellbinding," expanding it with a bridge and chorus.
 
Embracing female harmonies further enrich the overarching humanity in Furtado's understated, quintessentially Californian singing. The blended voices bring an intriguing new dimension to Furtado's renditions of the thematically apt "Won't Get Fooled Again" from the Who and "Fortunate Son" from Creedence Clearwater Revival. Further, given Furtado's thematic focus on luck in both the personal and political realms, these songs, which he'd discovered as a boy while working through his parents' record collection, lock right into place. A third cover, Furtado's whimsical take on Elton John's "Take Me to the Pilot," allows this musically and conceptually dense song cycle to catch its breath before soldiering on.
 
Most of the songs took shape during an intensive period of reflection and creative outpourings in Furtado's present home in Portland. "The past year has been an interesting time of growth for me," he explains. "When I first moved back, I knew I wasn't going to be hitting the road for a while, so I set up a couple of local weekly gigs to try out new songs and keep my chops up, and I also got some watercolors and taught myself to paint. I used to be a sculptor, so I got a bunch of clay, set up a little shop in my basement and started working that side of my brain. At the same time I was reading poetry and fiction, and I got an iPod and filled it up with music from the Kinks, the Who, Tom Waits, the Band and Elliott Smith, whose music had a big influence on me – the abstract quality of his lyrics but also the catchy, Beatlesque melodies. And every day I'd pick up the guitar to see what would come out. I ended up having a lot of songs to choose from." He chose them wisely.
 
Furtado, who grew up in Pleasanton, Calif., in the East Bay, took up the banjo at 12 and was hailed as a prodigy at age 19. As he was cementing his reputation as a banjoist extraordinaire, Furtado was also developing himself into an equally virtuosic slide guitarist. And now, with Thirteen, this restless artist makes an exponential leap into the wide-open spaces of mythopoetic America, a terrain inhabited by such personal heroes as Cooder, the Band, Creedence, Petty and Waits. No two ways about it – this heartfelt, multileveled work completes Tony Furtado's ascent from the folk circuit to the big leagues.

DAVID OLNEY'S New Album ONE TOUGH TOWN

- for the Grateful Web

Over his four-decade career, David Olney has built a reputation not as a kind-hearted troubadour but rather as a performing songwriter possessed of a sharp literary mind that cuts to the bone of the human condition. Whether the subject matter is heartbreak or armed robbery, Olney's cinematic style and fearless approach to lyric writing have won him renown as kind of a musical outlaw. Listening to his latest CD, One Tough Town, due out on June 5 on Red Parlor, is like watching a Sergio Leone Western: It's gritty, smart and dangerous, and you can't take your eyes off the screen.
 
One Tough Town takes us on a back-roads tour of American music, and while totally entertaining, shows us a side that isn't always pretty. The dark-edged title track, for instance, is the kind of song that can only be written from first-hand experience and years on the road. But as Nietzsche's old saw reminds: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." And on One Tough Town, Olney is stronger than ever.
 
A veteran of the Nashville alternative group The X-Rays, who recorded for Rounder, appeared on "Austin City Limits" and opened for Elvis Costello in the '80s, Olney then made several acclaimed solo albums for such labels as Rounder/Philo, Dead Reckoning and Loud House Records. His songs have been covered by numerous artists, including Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Del McCoury and even Chicago bluesman Lonnie Brooks.
 
One of Olney's biggest admirers was the late, great Townes Van Zandt, who said of him: "Anytime anyone asks me who my favorite music writers are, I say Mozart, Lightnin' Hopkins, Bob Dylan and David Olney. Olney is one of the best songwriters I've ever heard — and that's true. I mean that from my heart."
 
In 2005, Olney teamed with producer Jack Irwin (The Legendary Shack Shakers, Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart) and began recording at Irwin's studio with guitarist Sergio Webb. He enlisted some unconventional instrumentation (tuba, banjo, clarinet, ukulele) and proceeded to let it rip.
 
According to Olney, "I see One Tough Town as a retrospective of a hundred years of American music. Blues, country, rock, swing and all stops in between. No such vision can be complete. There's just too much to cover to achieve that goal. But it has been my life's work, and my life's pleasure, to see how close I can come."

San Fran's Underground DJ Releases New Album, "Underground Communication'

- for the Grateful Web

With "the largest cult following of any DJ in San Francisco" and 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. Playing at nearly one-hundred and fifty shows a year, to thousands of different people a month; from national festivals to sold-out theaters to overcrowded clubs and warehouses to tight and tiny bars and venues, Bassnectar's enormous popularity reflects the current hunger for raw substance in modern music and a desire for social integrity within the music scene. 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.

Ten years into a strong underground career, 2005 saw the debut of Bassnectar's double-disc collection entitled Mesmerizing The Ultra , described as "a kaleidoscopically brilliant funk conception" by All Music Guide [Amazon.com]. For the next 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.

Bassnectar's live shows are a modern day social mosh pit of hippies, ex-ravers, hipsters, dub reggae heads, Dead-heads, Burning Man freaks, artists, fashion experimentalists, social activists, and hip-hop enthusiasts, all packed into one steamy room of grinding, orgiastic expression and musical experimentation.

Bassnectar is on tour this spring in support of Underground Communication , including select shows with percussive groovers Zilla and visionary puppeteers the Funginears.  Bassnectar's current list of confirmed shows is as follows:

February 23 1015 Folsom San Francisco CA
Feburary 24 The Cal Neva Crystal Bay NV w/ Heavyweight Dub Champion
March 02 Mangy Moose Saloon Teton Village WY
March 03 Abe and Jake's Landing Lawrence KS
March 15 Mercury Hall Church Austin TX
March 17 SXSW Showcase Austin TX
March 27 Dobson Ice Arena Vail CO w/ The String Cheese Incident
March 30 Vet's Hall Santa Cruz CA w/ Zilla, Funginears, Souleye
March 31 DNA Lounge San Francisco CA  w/ Zilla, Funginears, Souleye
April 03 The Armory Ashland OR w/ Zilla, Funginears, Souleye
April 04 The Grove Bend OR w/ Funginears, Souleye
April 05 Wow Hall Eugene OR w/ Zilla, Funginears, Souleye
April 06 City Repair Warehouse Portland OR w/ Zilla, Funginears, Souleye
April 07 Felix Showdown Seattle WA w/ Zilla, Funginears, Souleye
April 10 The Nightlight Bellingham WA Funginears, Souleye

STAX REISSUES JOHNNIE TAYLOR'S LIVE ALBUM, ' LIVE AT THE SUMMIT CLUB'

Johnnie Taylor- for the Grateful Web

Johnnie Taylor, one of the greatest soul singers who ever lived, was at the peak of his game on September 23, 1972, when he sang to an effusive crowd at the now-defunct Summit Club in South Los Angeles. The show was captured on tape and will be reissued February 20 by Stax Records as Johnnie Taylor: Live at the Summit Club.

 
The live album, produced by Al Bell, the then-president of Stax Records, was recorded at the time of the historic two-day Wattstax concert at nearby Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.  The Wattstax bill was filled, so Stax put many of its artists into nearby clubs where they were taped and filmed.

 
As well as including his biggest hits ("Who's Making Love," "Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone"), the album contains six previously unreleased tracks that emphasize the blues side of Taylor's repertoire. Label-mate Rufus Thomas said of Taylor in his introduction: "When you speak of blues, this is a man who knows 'em from the letter A to the letter Z."

 
Taylor recorded eight straight Top 10 R&B hits, though by 1971 he had been eclipsed by Isaac Hayes and the Staple Singers as the label's top hitmakers. Eventually he moved from Stax to Columbia, where he enjoyed one more big hit, "Disco Lady," before winding down his recording career at Malaco with steady work on the Chitlin' Circuit.

 
staxWhile this recording found Taylor was at the peak of his faculties, his band unfortunately was not in such top form. The musicians messed up again and again — not so much that the audience really noticed, though Taylor did chastise them from time to time. The flaws and the way Taylor handled them without interrupting the flow make for fascinating — and ultimately satisfying — listening. The Arkansas-born vocalist considered himself "a salesman of songs," and he wasn't about to allow adverse circumstances to prevent him from driving home the messages of six of his biggest hits (including two very different versions of "Steal Away") and extended treatments of the blues songs "Little Bluebird" and "Hello Sundown." Six of the nine performances on the reissue, which was produced by Stuart Kremsky, are entirely new to disc.

 
Concord Music Group, which acquired the legendary Memphis label as part of its purchase of Fantasy Records in 2004, will also honor Stax's 50th year by releasing definitive collections, rare performances, unreleased tracks and more from the Memphis R&B imprint in deluxe new packages. Plans for digital releases, remixes and other projects are also in the works; the anniversary year's releases are slated to include more than 20 CDs and DVDs.

 
In addition, Concord Music Group will reactivate Stax this year as a dynamic new force in contemporary R&B music committed to the continuing the legacy of the original legendary label. The first new Stax signings are Isaac Hayes, Angie Stone and Soulive.

Railroad Earth Tours To Support New Live Album, Elko

Tim Carbone- for the Grateful Web

Using bluegrass tradition as a starting point, then exploring various musical idioms ranging from Celtic to Rock and Country to Folk, all infused with enduring lyrical storytelling and innate pop sensibilities, Railroad Earth has unearthed and delivered a truly original Americana sound.

Right from their first shows in May 2001, word-of-mouth on Railroad Earth was instant and superlative, as evidenced by their rapidly growing and highly loyal fan base. Driven by the remarkable songs of front-man, Todd Sheaffer, and delivered with seamless arrangements and superb musicianship courtesy of all six band members, Railroad Earth's powerful live experience has finally been captured on their first ever live release, Elko (SCI Fidelity Records).  Recorded during their 2005 spring tour, the double disc set captures all the timeless qualities without compromising the unpredictable nature that is at the core of a Railroad Earth concert.

Railroad Earth is currently on tour in support of Elko.  Current confirmed tour dates include:

March 30 The State Theatre State College PA
March 31 Irving Plaza New York NY
April 06 Fox Theatre Boulder CO
April 07 Gothic Theater Englewood CO
April 09 The Depot Salt Lake City UT
April 10 Big Easy Concert House Boise ID
April 12 The Showbox Seattle WA
April 13 Crystal Ballroom Portland OR
April 14 McDonald Theatre Eugene OR
April 17 Ashland Armory Ashland OR
April 18 Senator Theatre Chico CA
April 19 McNear's Mystic Theatre Petaluma CA
April 20-21 Great American Music Hall San Francisco CA
April 24 Aruba Hotel Las Vegas NV
April 25 Knitting Factory Hollywood CA
April 26 Belly Up Tavern Solana Beach CA
April 28 McDowell Mountain Music Festival Scottsdale AZ
April 29 El Rey Theatre Albuquerque AZ
June 08-09 Wakarusa Festival Lawrence KS
June 16 Bonnaroo Music Festival Manchester TN

Keller Williams New Album 'Dream,' Coming Soon

Keller Williams- for the Grateful Web

When singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Keller Williams scratched out a long and ambitious wish list of artists he'd like to collaborate with in the studio, he told himself "It can't hurt to dream." Today, with the release of his ninth studio album, Keller's dream comes true. For the release the usually one-man-band is backed by a dream team of musicians including Béla Fleck, Bobby Read, Bob Weir, Charlie Hunter, Derrek Phillips, Fareed Haque, Fleming McWilliams, Jeff Sipe, John Molo, John Scofield, Martin Sexton, Michael Franti, Modereko, Samir Chatterjee, Sanjay Mishra, Steve Kimock, The String Cheese Incident, and Victor Wooten. dream features 16 tracks of unblemished material: a cataract of electrifying musical alliances, and endless entertainment thanks to Keller's rapturous innovations and his earthy, barefoot-in-the-park presentation. Look for dream to be released February 6. 2007 on SCI Fidelity Records.

Keller Williams is a one-man band for the digital age. Using innovative looping technology and innate musical genius, Keller's live solo performances pack more music on one stage than a full fledge rock ensemble might. His inspired live shows sell out from coast to coast.

The Keller's winter 2007 tour is as follows:
December 16 2006 9:30 Club Washington DC
December 26 2006 Fredericksburg Fair Grounds Fredericksburg VA SPCA Benefit Concert 
December 29 2006 Fillmore Denver CO w/ YMSB 
December 31 2006 Tweeter Center Camden NJ w/ TDB
January 11 2007 Galaxy Theatre San Juan Capsitrano CA 
January 12 2007 Henry Fonda Theater Los Angeles CA
January 13 2007 House of Blues San Diego CA 
January 24 2007 Midtown Ballroom Bend OR 
January 25 2007 McDonald Theatre Eugene OR 
January 26 2007 Roseland Ballrooom Portland OR 
January 27 2007 Showbox Seattle WA 
January 28 2007 Nightlight Bellingham WA
February 02 2007 Norva Norfolk VA one set with The Keels 
February 03 2007 Rams Head Live Baltimore MD 
February 16 Warfield Theatre San Francisco CA w/ Michael Franti and Spearhead
February 18 Montbleu Resort Showroom Lake Tahoe NV w/ Michael Franti and Spearhead

Then, in early spring, Keller returns to Europe for a run of headlining dates:
March 13 2007 King Tuts Glasgow UK
March 14 2007 Night and Day Manchester UK
March 15 2007 Lock 17 London UK
March 16 2007 Engine Rooms Brighton UK
March 17 2007 Handelsbeurs Gent BEL
March 18-20 2007 Jam in the Dam Amsterdam Neth w/ YMSB, DSO, Galactic 
March 22 2007 Roubaiux - La Cndition Lille FRA
March 23 2007 Point Emphemere Paris FRA

More dates to be announced. Visit www.kellerwilliams.net for updated information and details.

Devendra Banhart's New Album 'Cripple Crow'

Devendra''s ''Rejoicing in the Hands''- for the Grateful Web

Having released his debut album in October 2002, 'Oh My Oh My', Devendra quickly followed it up with the acclaimed full-length 'Rejoicing In The Hands' and companion piece, 'Nino Rojo.' Often sketches that weren't recorded in a proper studio environment, Devendra's magic started to work its way in to many hearts. Be it live or on record, he was fast proving to be something of a special talent.

Cripple Crow, his fourth album and his third for XL Recordings, was released in September 2005 and is his most formed record yet. Recorded at Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, NY with the aid of regular sidekick Andy Cabic, Noah Georgeson and Thom Monahan joining Devendra in the studio, it found him continuing his extraordinary growth as a writer, vocalist and musician. Warmly received by an ever-increasing audience of critics and fans alike, Cripple Crow showed them that he's still very capable of surprising and delighting them.

Few can contest Devendra's position as one of the most fascinating, unpredictable and inspiring artists of his generation. He is currently on his largest tour to date, this time performing his music with the newly-formed Hairy Fairy band.