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SNL's Christine Ohlman's new CD with Marshall Crenshaw

Christine Ohlman, a.k.a. “The Beehive Queen,” whose “day job” is that of the flashy, gritty long-time featured vocalist with the Saturday Night Live Band, has completed her first new album in five years, The Deep End, to be released by the Horizon Music Group through Selct-O-Hits on April 6, 2010.

Having won the respect of many fellow artists over the years, Ohlman recruited a stellar group of them to contribute to the new CD, including Marshall Crenshaw, Dion DiMucci and Ian Hunter as duet partners, as well as an all-star list of accompanists: G.E. Smith, Eric “Roscoe” Ambel from the Del-Lords, NRBQ veteran Big Al Anderson, Catherine Russell, the Asbury Juke Horns (Chris Anderson and Neal Pawley) and more.

Working in a swampy, guitar-driven style of contemporary rock/R&B, Ohlman and The Deep End co-producer Andy York (John Mellencamp) crafted 15 songs of life and love tempered by loss. It is Ohlman’s first album of new work since 2004; her recording hiatus followed the deaths of both long-time producer and mate Doc Cavalier and guitarist and founding member of Ohlman’s Rebel Montez band, Eric Fletcher. (The band presently includes Michael Colbath, bass; Cliff Goodwin, guitar; and Larry Donahue, drums.)

Christine is a musicologist of note of whom SNL bandleader Lenny Pickett, quoted in the New York Times, once said, “She knows the really good, obscure stuff.” The covers on The Deep End were lovingly chosen from her fabled record collection. She duets with Dion on the obscure Southern soul gem “Cry Baby Cry” and with Crenshaw on a Motown classic, Marvin Gaye and Mary Wells’ “What’s the Matter With You Baby.” A third duet with Ian Hunter on Ohlman’s own “There Ain’t No Cure” celebrates her love of the music and language of the Delta behind a punked-out, soul-searing groove. It’s one of a group of eleven new originals that includes “The Gone of You” (a song of loss and longing so central to The Deep End’s theme that it appears twice: in a full-band version and in York’s evocative, loop-driven demo, dubbed “After Hours” both for Ohlman’s late-night vocal and its darkest-before-the-dawn sensibility); the Muscle Shoals-tinged ballad “Like Honey”; flat-out barnburners “Bring It With You When You Come” and “Born To Be Together”; and Ohlman’s post-Katrina lament “The Cradle Did Rock,” which will appear later this year alongside tracks by Irma Thomas, Dr. John and Allen Toussaint as a bonus cut to the reissue of Get You A Healin’, a CD benefitting the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic.  The late Eric Fletcher is memorialized in the album’s third cover, a pristine reading of Link Wray’s “Walkin’ Down the Street Called Love.”

Ohlman and her previous recordings have impressed critics. The late Brownsville Station leader, bluesman and musicologist Cub Koda, writing in Stereo Review, believed, “Musical treasures like this don’t come along very often. Ohlman is the number one secret weapon in America’s gal-singin’ sweepstakes.” Charles M. Young in Playboy observed, “The first thing you notice is her tough, rousing, sexy voice.” Elmore magazine noted: “Few singers today are truly versed like Ohlman in all things soul. Tough and raw around the edges, she belts with a voice steeped in the heritage of this musical tradition.” All Music’s Hal Horowitz raved: “Ohlman never sings a tune halfway . . .she’s the leader of the pack.” And of the new album, critic/broadcaster Dave Marsh said, “There are so many ‘wow’ moments.”

In addition to her years on Saturday Night Live, Ohlman has an impressive resume. She sings on the theme song for 30 Rock; performed at Bob Dylan’s 30th Anniversary bash at Madison Square Garden with George Harrison and Chrissie Hynde; performed at President Obama’s Inaugural Gala in Washington, D.C.; led Big Brother & the Holding Company in a Central Park tribute to Janis Joplin; worked on a musical with Cy Coleman, who compared her sense of timing to that of Peggy Lee; and frequently duets with blues legends Hubert Sumlin and Eddie Kirkland. She also edited Rolling Stones producer Andrew Loog Oldham’s autobiography 2Stoned (Oldham described Ohlman’s Wicked Time as “a deep swamp theme to a movie Burt Reynolds wished he’d made’)  and worked with Bonnie Raitt and Ry Cooder at the Rhythm & Blues Foundation Awards — all while continuing to torch clubs up and down the Eastern Seaboard with Rebel Montez. She counts among her friends Willie Nile, Syd Straw, Charlie Musselwhite, Hal Willner, David Johansen, Paul Thorn and Marshall Chess.

A Connecticut native and resident, Ohlman played with G.E. Smith in the Scratch Band in the 1970s, leading to her long association with Saturday Night Live. Her stint in fabled Studio 8H of Rockefeller Center includes the Sinead O’Connor and Ashley Simpson meltdowns (she was present for both) and the current season’s hilarious “Swine Fever” commercial parody, featuring a magnificently beehived Ohlman in full Dolly Parton regalia. She fondly recalls waltzing around 8-H with the late Chris Farley to Paul McCartney’s impromptu rehearsal performance of “Hey Jude.” With her long-time mate, the late Doc Cavalier producing, Ohlman released four records with Rebel Montez: The Hard Way (1995), the live Radio Queen (1997), Wicked Time (1999) and Strip (2003). In 2008 with current business partners Alex DeFelice and Vic Steffens at Horizon Music Group, she released a career compilation called Re-Hive. Yet she has remained under the radar — a best-kept secret. Until now.

Reflecting on The Deep End’s central theme of love both lost and found, Ohlman says, “Rosanne Cash and I were talking and she asked me if I’d written sad songs. It wasn’t until then that I realized I hadn’t. Ultimately, this album is about love and the courage to fall into it. Loss just informs you; it opens emotional doors that couldn’t possibly have opened before, no matter how much you thought you knew about it. I wrote about love — the newness of it, the glory of it, the loss of it, the sadness that can come from it, the wonder of it . . . the sweet bitterness of it.”

Record Industry Vet Named to Lead Eco Group Rock the Earth

Rock the Earth- for the Grateful Web

Denver non-profit, Rock the Earth, has announced that they have selected music industry veteran Shawn Kilmurray to serve as its new Executive Director. Together with the support of Rock the Earth's Board of Directors, he will be responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the organization as well as raising brand profile, diversifying sources of funding and developing strategic alliances. Mr. Kilmurray joins Rock the Earth after nearly two-decades in the recording industry. He has held senior Marketing, Production and Operations roles at Sony BMG, Universal and Warner Music, and is a voting member of numerous industry professional organizations. Active in the music community, Mr. Kilmurray will seek to expand RtE partnerships with artists and other music-related entities. Kilmurray shared "While the record business is currently undergoing tremendous change, a new day has dawned in this country and people recognize what can be accomplished when we work together. My challenge is to create synergistic opportunities to involve artists and the music industry at-large to increase environmental awareness that educates and inspires fans and artists alike to take action and produce quantifiable results on important values-driven environmental issues that directly impact our lives, our children's lives and their children's lives." On the selection of Mr. Kilmurray as Executive Director, John Fleckenstein, Senior Vice President at BMG Label Group notes, "I've had the pleasure of working with Shawn frequently over the years; he's a passionate music guy with deep contacts in the industry. I cannot think of a better fit for Rock the Earth. I have no doubt he'll prove to be a tremendous asset to them." Having crossed paths with each other last summer while actively involved with the Obama campaign, founder Marc Ross looks forward to the future of the organization with Kilmurray as Executive Director. "All of us in Rock the Earth are very excited about the addition of Shawn Kilmurray as our new Executive Director. It is our belief that given his passion for the environment as well as his management experience and deep connections within the music industry, Shawn will be able to elevate Rock the Earth to the next level in our goal to become the pre-eminent environmental advocacy organization working with the music community." Enthusiastic about the opportunity, Kilmurray explains, "I am delighted to be asked to lead the organization at what is a critical time for the global environment. Whether it's climate change, chemicals in our food, water issues, deforestation, air pollution, extinction of species or the lack of government action, few of us truly take ownership and act on these issues, foolishly believing others will do it for us. Music has the power to open the heart and touch the soul. Artists have always been at the forefront of social change so they understand the importance of taking action. My objective is to develop collaborative alliances with those members of the music community dedicated to the pursuit of environmental solutions."  Supporting renewable energy, reducing dependency on fossil fuels, sustainability, widespread recycling and increased responsiveness, Shawn Kilmurray and Rock the Earth will continue to promote activism that produces clear-cut results. Bill Sondheim, President of Entertainment and Worldwide Distribution at Gaiam, Inc. reflects on his professional relationship with Kilmurray, "I have known Shawn in various music positions over the last fifteen years. During that time he has consistently demonstrated an ability to balance creative integrity with strong fiscal results. At this critical time when our planet is in peril, I rest easier knowing that he will bring that same passion and intelligence to this worthy cause."

ABOUT ROCK THE EARTH Rock the Earth is a Colorado-based, national public interest environmental organization dedicated to protecting and defending America's natural resources through partnerships with the music industry and the worldwide environmental community. The organization has most recently worked with coalitions to oppose increased drilling on the Roan Plateau and to limit motorized boating through the Grand Canyon. Rock the Earth has also received support from the Educational Foundation of America, musicians Jack Johnson and Incubus' Make Yourself Foundation and the Rex Foundation, allowing it to pursue the defense of important natural areas. For more information, go to www.RockTheEarth.org

STAX RECORDS/CONCORD MUSIC GROUP TO ISSUE STAX 50

Deluxe 2-CD set, out March 13, 2007- for the Grateful Web

The 50th anniversary of the legendary soul label Stax Records will kick off with the release of a deluxe edition 50-song, 2-CD box set titled Stax 50: A 50th Anniversary Celebration. The most comprehensive Stax hits collection ever — featuring for the first time all major Stax hit singles — Stax 50 will formally inaugurate Concord Music's re-launch of Stax. The set is packaged in a hardcover box with lenticular cover art of the famous snapping finger logo. Street date is set for March 13, 2007.

Last month, Concord Music Group announced a year of activity that will include deluxe reissues, special events and the reactivation of the legendary label with a slate of new artist signings.

Stax 50 features hits from the Memphis label's heyday of the 1960s and '70s, including the many legendary artists who jointly created the "Stax sound," among them Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Booker T & the MGs, Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, The Dramatics, Little Milton, The Mar-Keys, Mel & Tim, Jean Knight, and The Emotions.

 
Stax Records holds a critical place in American music history as one of the most popular soul music record labels of all time — second only to Motown in sales and influence, but first in gritty, raw, Southern-steeped soul music. Stax placed more than 167 hit songs in Billboard's Hot 100 pop charts as well as a staggering 243 hits on the R&B charts. In addition to the "core" artists who appear on Stax 50, the label was also home to recordings by Albert King, Big Star, Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, Moms Mabley and even the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

 
As noted in Stax historian Rob Bowman's extensive liner notes for the box, "The story of Stax Records is about as improbable and unforeseeable as any tale could possibly be." The label was launched in Memphis by a white country fiddler named Jim Stewart and his sister, Estelle Axton. The name came from combining the first two letters of each of their last names. Originally known as Satellite Records, with a roster that spanned pop to blues to rockabilly, the label's 1960 name change to Stax cemented the label's commitment to R&B and soul, commencing with Rufus & Carla Thomas' "'Cause I Love You." Within a short time, Stax, based in a former movie theater on Memphis' McLemore Avenue, grew into a self-contained indie powerhouse with its own studio, A&R staff, writers, producers and house band.

 
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 power and legacy of their forbearers. The first new Stax signings are Isaac Hayes and Angie Stone.

 
TRACK LIST

DISC ONE

1.  CARLA THOMAS – "Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes)"
2.  THE MAR-KEYS – "Last Night"
3.  WILLIAM BELL – "You Don't Miss Your Water"         
4.  BOOKER T. & THE MGs – "Green Onions"                  
5.  RUFUS THOMAS – "Walking the Dog"         
6.  OTIS REDDING – "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)"
7.  THE ASTORS – "Candy"
8.  OTIS REDDING – "Respect"
9.  SAM & DAVE – "You Don't Know Like I Know"
10. THE MAD LADS – "I Want Someone"
11. SAM & DAVE – "Hold On I'm Comin'"
12. CARLA THOMAS – "Let Me Be Good To You"         
13. MABLE JOHN – "Your Good Thing (Is About To End)"
14. EDDIE FLOYD – "Knock on Wood"         
15. CARLA THOMAS – "B-A-B-Y"
16. OTIS & CARLA – "Tramp"         
17. THE BAR-KEYS – "Soul Finger"
18. ALBERT KING – "Born Under a Bad Sign"
19. SAM & DAVE – "Soul Man"
20. OTIS REDDING – "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay"
21. OLLIE & THE NIGHTINGALES – "I Got a Sure Thing"
22. BOOKER T. & THE MGs – "Soul Limbo"
23. EDDIE FLOYD – "I've Never Found a Girl (To Love Me Like You Do)"
24. LINDA LYNDELL – "What a Man"
25. WILLIAM BELL & JUDY CLAY – "Private Number"
26. JOHNNIE TAYLOR – "Who's Making Love"
27. WILLIAM BELL – "I Forgot To Be Your Lover"
28. CARLA THOMAS – "I Like What You're Doing (To Me)"
 
DISC TWO

1.  BOOKER T. & THE MGS – "Time Is Tight"
2.  THE EMOTIONS – "So I Can Love You"
3.  ISAAC HAYES – "Walk on By"
4.  RUFUS THOMAS – "Do the Funky Chicken"
5.  JOHNNIE TAYLOR – "Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone"
6.  JEAN KNIGHT – "Mr. Big Stuff"
7.  ISAAC HAYES – "Never Can Say Goodbye"
8.  THE DRAMATICS – "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get"
9.  THE STAPLE SINGERS  – "Respect Yourself"
10. ISAAC HAYES – "Theme From Shaft"
11. THE BAR-KAYS – "Son of Shaft"
12. LITTLE MILTON – "That's What Love Will Make You Do"
13. FREDERICK KNIGHT – "I've Been Lonely for So Long"
14. SOUL CHILDREN – "Hearsay"
15. THE DRAMATICS – "In the Rain"
16. THE STAPLE SINGERS – "I'll Take You There"
17. MEL & TIM STARTING – "All Over Again"
18. THE TEMPREES – "Dedicated to the One I Love"
19. THE STAPLE SINGERS – "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)"         
20. JOHNNIE TAYLOR – "Cheaper To Keep Her"
21. SOUL CHILDREN – "I'll Be the Other Woman"
22. SHIRLEY BROWN – "Woman to Woman"