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Indie Folk-Rock Singer-Songwriter Collin Herring To Release New Album OCHO Today

Fort Worth-born singer-songwriter-guitarist Collin Herring will release today, Tuesday, November 17, his fourth distinctive album of originals that defy easy categorization, the sophisticated and haunting OCHO: eight songs with essences of rock, folk-rock and country in both the lyrics and instrumentation and subtle surprises in each.

Herring and band play a series of shows to introduce the album to longtime fans and new listeners, starting with an in-store performance at Austin’s Waterloo Records & Video on the day of release.

From the first track to the last — including “Young Ones,” “Seemed to Be,” “Little Aches” and “Nothing’s Wrong” — Herring engages audience attention with the twang of his vocals, the mix of contemporary and traditional in electric and steel guitars, lyrics that lament love with modern insight rather than tears, and wry twists that add texture and mystery.

“I wanted it to sound like I’m just sitting in my living room,” says Herring about OCHO. “I wanted something haunting and organic. It’s not country. It’s not rock ’n’ roll. It’s just Collin Herring. It’s music the way I wrote it.”

On the album with Herring, who moved to Austin a year ago, are Centro-matic’s Will Johnson (backup vocals, guitar), Monahans members Roberto Sanchez (percussion) and Britton Beisenherz (bass), and Keith Hanna (bass) — and, as he’s done on his son’s previous three records, Herring’s father, Ben Roi Herring, contributed pedal steel, keyboards and harmony vocals. It was tracked at Beisenherz’s Ramble Creek Studio in Austin and produced by Johnson.

Herring’s first three albums — AVOIDING THE CIRCUS (2002), THE OTHER SIDE OF KINDNESS (2005) and PAST LIFE CRASHING (2008) — earned awards and comparison to a number of other indie genre-benders including Alejandro Escovedo and Drive-By Truckers.

Upcoming shows include:

November 17, Waterloo Records & Video, Austin
November 26, The Moon Bar, Fort Worth
November 28, The Ghost Room, Austin
December 12, Jake’s Back Room, Lubbock
December 16, Mohawk, Austin

Singer-songwriter Bobby Long

Singer-songwriter Bobby Long still doesn’t quite know what hit him.  One minute he’s making the rounds of open mic nights in London testing out his original material in front of generally ambivalent audiences, and the next he’s selling out club dates in far-off America.  Pretty heady stuff for a 24-year-old who only began writing and performing six years ago and whose most recent goal was to graduate from college.

While his meteoric rise to instant recognition can be attributed to the inclusion of a song he co-wrote in the soundtrack of the blockbuster film “Twilight,” Bobby Long’s music has a way of rising above the film frenzy and speaking volumes to a receptive flock.  “There’s something about his humble, apologetic humor that endears him to audiences, and something about the honesty and vulnerability of his music that captivates and moves them as well,” wrote Liz McClendon in Blast Magazine of one of those early club appearances in New York City.  “The contrast in the two makes for an absolutely great performance.”

Bobby Long was born in Wigan, near Manchester in Northern England (“into a red house,” he says) and moved when he was two years old to the town of Calne in the countryside of South West England known as Wessex (think Thomas Hardy country).   His musical parents provided a constant flow of music in the house, from the Beatles to Bob Dylan to the blues.  “I’ve always loved music, but it didn’t start to hit me how much I loved it until I was about 16 and was given a guitar and started writing songs,” he recalls.  Playing along to old blues records, Bobby, who had tried cello at an early age, fell in love with the guitar and quickly joined a local grunge band, playing lead guitar.

A short time later, he began writing his first songs (“they were rubbish,” he says), and after completing his studies at 18, Bobby moved into a friend’s house for a year, working on a construction site to save up for a move to the big city.  He enrolled at London Metropolitan University, settling in a small apartment in east London, where he quickly became a regular on the open mic circuit.  Often playing five shows a week, he learned how to sing while showcasing his finely-crafted, original songs.  At one such appearance, he met his soon-to-be manager Phil Taylor as well as fellow musicians Marcus Foster and soon to become mega-acting star Robert Pattinson.

“I was playing open mic nights in London, and he [Pattinson] was playing at one too,” recalls Long.  “There was a mutual appreciation for our music.”   Long and Foster began to write songs and perform together, and it would be a song they co-wrote—coupled with their friendship with Pattinson—that would create the unforeseen break Bobby was working towards.  Pattinson, who went on to star as Edward Cullen in the film phenomenon “Twilight,” played Long and Foster’s composition “Let Me Sign” for the film’s producers.   It was the perfect fit for a crucial dramatic scene and is sung by Pattinson himself in the movie.

Almost immediately, some of that (twi) light began to shine on the music of the unsigned musicians who had composed the song, and their shows in London began to sell out.  Within two months, Long signed a publishing deal with SGO Music in England and Bug Music, the largest independent publisher in America, and made plans to capitalize on the huge interest coming from America by scheduling a short tour in April, 2009 that took him to New York, Los Angeles and Nashville.

Fueled by the support from “Twilight” fan sites, the nine scheduled shows quickly sold out and spawned interest in his two-month Dangerous Summer tour of North America.   He issued DIRTY POND SONGS, a collection of 10 songs recorded in his bedroom that he calls “a big EP,” (“You can even hear traffic sounds from outside my bedroom window on some of the tracks”) to be available at shows and via the internet.  Bobby’s debut single from the collection, “Left To Lie, reached #1 on the iTunes “Unsigned” chart and #8 on the Folk chart.  Other songs on Dirty Pond Songs include the plaintive “Who Have You Been Loving” (“When the world holds out its flag/the sun will fall across the plain/I will hold out my hands and take the blame”) and the anthemic “Dead and Done,” while the haunting imagery of songs like “Being a Mockingbird,”  “The Old Shamed Face” and “The Bounty of Mary Jane” showcase Long’s talent for telling a good story in song.  “A Passing Tale” evokes images of early Bob Dylan, while “Penance Fire Blues” is performed with near defiance.  Rounding out the set are “The Rattle and the Roll” and “So Tear Me Up.”

The tall (6’2”), shaggy-haired Bobby, who cites his influences as ranging “from Dylan to Elliott Smith to chopping wood in the night with a rusty spoon,” graduated from university before the summer tour and will continue touring until the end of the year.  “I would be happy to play every night and try out new songs,” he says.  “It will help me start thinking about what I want my first album to sound like.”   He plans to begin work on that project very soon.

That demand has spawned a fall tour beginning next week in New York to continue until the end of the year.  Bobby Long will play the B-Side Lounge in Boulder for the first time on Tuesday, November 17 and return to the Hi-Dive in Denver on Wednesday, November 18.

Todd Rittman of U.S. Maple & Singer Forms D. Rider

Todd Albert Rittmann- for the Grateful Web

D. Rider is a new rock band founded and fronted by guitarist/singer Todd Albert Rittmann.  Founding member of U.S. Maple, Singer (both Drag City), and Robert Johnson and the Browns, T. Rittmann is also an occasional member of Cheer-Accident and has played with many other avant-music notables including cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and Rhys Chatham.  In March of 2008 Todd recruited a 5-piece band to perform some songs he was working on.  The lineup included keyboardist/cornet player Andrea Faught, who also works with Cheer-Accident, and saxophonist/singer Noah Tabakin, who is a member of punk marching band, Mucca Pazza.  This early show the group performed was enough to convince Rittmann, Faught and Tabakin that they should continue to make music together and collaborate on some recorded material. These songs have become the album Mother of Curses, which will be released on February 17th on Tizona Records.

The album's narrative begins with a mash of rhythmic sound.  Stick clicks, tambourine, bass drum, and the sound of magic marker writing on cardboard all congeal into a coherent boogie only to be suddenly eclipsed by the driving stomp of "Arranged Marriage To No Toms".  The title is an allusion to the minimal drum set-up used throughout the album. Kick, snare, hi-hat, and crash cymbal were the foundation of every song on the record, and every song began with an improvisation on this stripped-down trap set.

The approach to the drums is reflected by the method in the studio.   All the songs were deliberately recorded using 16 tracks or less, making on-the-spot judgment an integral part of the composition process.  This strategy doesn't rule out excess, instead it forces a commitment to a sound or gesture before the end result is completely understood. Imperfection becomes advantage, and the writing of a song becomes an evolution where the last step is a direct result of the journey.

In contrast to the constraints maintained in writing and recording, the kitchen sink approach was used in every other aspect of generating and manipulating the sounds.   While modern technology is employed to a degree in the capturing of the music, much more primitive means were used in the processing.  Much of the equipment used on Mother Of Curses is at least 20 year-old technology. Cassette tape, cell phone, reel to reel, and stockpile of obsolete outboard gear were employed to capture and mutilate a variety of instrumentation from harmonica to spray paint.  But don't be mislead, this is not experimental art noise. This is rock music.

D. Rider plans to play some shows in and around their native Chicago before the release of Mother of Curses, and embark on a North American tour in the early months of 2009.  Although T. Rittmann plays drums on the album, D. Rider has enlisted the help of Theo Katsounis (A Tundra, Locks) to drum for their upcoming shows.

MOUNTAIN HEART STRUTS 'LIVE' CHOPS, NEW SINGER

- for the Grateful Web

Mountain Heart, one of the most talented, versatile and explosive sextets in the acoustic firmament, will offer a special treat to fans new and old this October 23rd with the release of Road That Never Ends (The Live Album) on Rural Rhythm Records.  Building on the group's already recognized strengths, Road That Never Ends ups the ante by bringing new elements of rock, blues and even jazz to its signature blend of bluegrass, gospel and jamgrass, underlining the sextet's unique role in the world of acoustic music.

Recorded on May 26th of this year in the intimacy of Ann Arbor, Michigan's 400-seat venue, The Ark, The Road... represents Mountain Heart's first live recording, and as their faithful listeners (from cozy clubs to such fabled festivals as Telluride, MerleFest and RockyGrass) well know, it is in front of a live audience that this award-winning combo is truly in its exuberant, celebratory element.

Presenting nearly an hour's worth of tried-and-true fan favorites along with some choice new additions destined to lock-in even upon first hearing, the recording also showcases the band's newest addition, guitarist and primary lead singer Josh Shilling.

Just 23 years old but with a wealth of pan-genre experience (and already a gifted songwriter), Shilling's elastic, expressive tenor handles the traditional high lonesome sound with uncanny flair even as his way with ballads (as on his own seductive, heartbreaking "Who's the Fool Now?") and soulful, gut-bucket blues (the low-down original "It Works Both Ways" and a scintillating interpretation of the Allman Brothers' eternal "Whipping Post") further expand Mountain Heart's already-enviable stylistic range and command.

Of course, to hold his own in this vaunted company, he HAS to be good. Formed in 1998 with a core group of veterans from Alison Krauss's multi-platinum and highly-awarded, Union Station, and Doyle Lawson's hallowed Quicksilver juggernaut, Mountain Heart cadged its first annual International Bluegrass Music Association award ('Emerging Artist of the Year') in 1999, and they've been racking up group and individual awards and nominations ever since.

Mandolinist Adam Steffy has garnered six consecutive IBMA nominations as best in his field (winning FIVE!), fiddler, founding member and Road... producer Jim Van Cleve earned a 2006 GRAMMY nomination for 'Best Country Instrumental' with his solo disc No Apologies, (on Rural Rhythm Records) and the rest of the gang (co-founder/banjo wizard Barry Abernathy, bassist Jason Moore and guitarist Clay Jones) routinely dazzle crowds with their individual prowess, intuitive, extra-sensory group interplay and - always - an uncommon knack for crowd-pleasing showmanship.

The disc features scintillating live versions of fan favorites such as Steve Gulley's "I'm Just Here to Ride the Train," a showboating workout on the beloved "Heart Like a Road Sign," Barry Abernathy's stellar reading of Pat McLaughlin's soaring "God and Everybody," and rollicking, kinetic instrumentals "Devil's Courthouse" (from Van Cleve's solo disc) and the lights-out closer "#6 Barn Dance" (which somehow falls just short of setting the Michigan woodlands ablaze).

An extra-special treat is the welcome return of "The Gospel Train." Mountain Heart's awe-inspiring rendition of the well-traveled traditional roof-raiser helped them earn an IBMA award for 'Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year' in 2002 with the album The Journey, but their then-label has since folded, leaving this inspirational evergreen out-of-print until now.

Change - as we all know - can be taxing, particularly when it involves the personnel of a much-loved touring band. But with Road That Never Ends, Mountain Heart memorably meets the challenge, keeping the home fires burning even as it strikes out for - and conquers - new musical territory.  Their hearts may lie in the mountains, but wherever the road that never ends takes them, these acoustic music masters will always make it feel like a natural home

WILLIAM MYLAR...Singer, Songwriter, & Musician

- for the Grateful Web

William Mylar is a singer, songwriter, and musician, currently living in Galt, CA.  Mylar has played music nearly all of his life, beginning with piano at age 7. He acquired vocal training while working as a child actor in professional and community theatrical productions. Mylar taught himself guitar at age 18 and, along with his booming singing voice, the guitar became his primary instrument.

Mylar invented Folk Wave music to describe his unique approach to performing his original music. Folk Wave was unusual in the late 70s and early 80s, because solo Mylar performances were more like rock and roll shows instead of the typical entertainment provided by folk artists of the time. Mylar often performed 4 to 5 hour solo shows that included leaping on tables and chairs. It was not uncommon to see people get up and dance. His legendary performances and pioneering approach to Folk music has been copied by many other folk artists.

Mylar also played in a number of rock bands in the 80s and 90s, mostly as a rhythm guitarist and lead singer. He has performed all over the world and has recorded on a number of albums, radio, and television. "I Like It That Way", One World, One People", and "Randy's Fence" have all been aired on radio around the world. "Don't Ever Go" and "Sweet Alibi" became two of the first mp3s to be featured on MP3.com.

Mylar's first album, Folk Wave Music, was acclaimed for both the muscial compositions and also the way the album was recorded, using a simple one track technique and engineered acoustics. His second solo album, Real Mylar, was rated #17 in the top 25 Folk albums in America. His new album, Listen, was recorded with some of the Sacramento area's finest musicians and arranged to propel Mylar's music into the pop and rock genres. "The best album to come out of Sacramento in a long time." - Matt Erich, owner of EME Recording Studios.

Mylar has performed with some of the top names and at some of the top venues in the music business. Mylar performs as a solo artist and with his jam band, WMB. There is nothing like a William Mylar show.