songs

Crash Test Dummies @ the Boulder Theatre

There is no mistaking Brad Roberts’ voice. He may look like an average guy, now in his mid-40s, but then he opens his mouth and his majestic baritone voice immediately conjures fond memories of such Crash Test Dummies hits at “Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm” and “Superman.” Perhaps best remembered for the acerbic folk rock sound of 1991’s The Ghosts That Haunt Me and 1993’s God Shuffled His Feet, there have nonetheless been enough hits for the band over the years to merit a couple of greatest hits packages. Through it all, the band with Roberts at the helm has touched on funk and soul, folk, electronic music and even Christmas tunes. Yet it is Roberts’ voice and offbeat lyrical sensibility that have been this beloved band’s calling cards since their founding twenty years ago.

Due for release on May 11, Oooh La La (Deep Fried) is again something of a different animal for the Crash Test Dummies. This time Roberts collaborates with producer/engineer Stewart Lerman, whose many credits include such divergent talents as Antony and the Johnsons and The Roches, as well as filmmakers like Wes Anderson and Martin Scorcese. While longtime CTD member Ellen Reid added back-up vocals and a lead on the closing acoustic ballad “Put a Face,” this album is fundamentally the work of these two creative men.

“I met Stewart and he wanted to just write music for the sake of writing music,” Roberts explains, breaking a five-year writing hiatus to work with Lerman. “I think the music is better than it could have ever been because we were writing it for ourselves – we weren’t aiming at a demographic anyhow – but this couldn’t be a clearer case of us being little boys.” “Little boys” is actually an appropriate term to explain how this album came together—Roberts and Lerman became infatuated with ‘70s-era musical toys, particularly one called the Optigan, and used them to compose much of the music for Oooh La La. Manufactured by Mattel, the Optigan (an acronym for optical organ) looks like a small electric organ but it projects the sound of other instruments using celluloid discs. Somewhat like an accordion, there are buttons on the left side that trigger chords and piano keys on the right that trigger single notes. The discs, with names like “Nashville,” “Swing It!” and “Guitar Boogie,” rotate to produce different arrays of sounds. The process is eerily similar to the digital sampling that is so common today, but the antiquated analog system produces quite a different effect.

“Because we wrote using these discs, we were inspired to do things that we wouldn’t have done,” Roberts points out. “I don’t write big band style, but all of a sudden I had this big band [on disc], so I’m writing in a genre that I normally wouldn’t be writing in. I can’t say enough about how great it is to write on these toys.”

With a little help from a few friends, the guys laid down a collection of beautifully crafted instrumental parts on top of the original toy tracks to create a fully realized production. Listening to the completed tracks you probably wouldn’t even realize that these tunes were started on toy instruments, but those unusual origins are still lurking. It won’t only be longtime CTD fans who will get a kick out of such sonic touches as the `50s doo-wop feel of “Paralyzed” (inspired by another toy called the Omnichord), the manic country feel of “What I’m Famous For” and the big band swing of “Now You See Her.”

Even aside from the toys, there is a distinctly different vibe afoot with this record. “Songbird” opens the album with a somewhat haunting but still undeniably beautiful acoustic melody and uplifting arrangement. Then there’s the third song “And It’s Beautiful,” which is a full-blown love song. “Happy songs are hard to write, especially love songs,” Roberts says. “This is territory I couldn’t have touched as a younger man without making myself sick.”

Yet this is still the unique (some might say warped) perspective of Brad Roberts and the Crash Test Dummies, nowhere more in evidence that with a few of the darker songs on this disk. “You Said You’d Meet Me (In California)” can’t help but make you think of a carnival side show. The Tin Pan Alley-inspired “Not Today Baby” is actually a Frank Sinatra reference. Legend has it that one day Sinatra walked into a studio full of engineers, staff and musicians at the ready, turned around and walked right out with a simple, insouciant “Not today, baby.” The reference was irresistible to Roberts and Lerman, as they recorded their tracks in Frank’s hometown of Hoboken.

Roberts has come a long way from 2004’s dark Songs of the Unforgiven, as a listener will pretty easily hear in “Now You See Her,” a song that Roberts proudly calls “Light and cheeky.” A happily married man who blogs at www.crashtestdummies.com about, among other things, the wonders of his wife, Roberts just seems happier and more balanced than he has been in the past. The image of a happy artist may be antithetical to the “great art demands suffering” mentality, but in the case of Brad Roberts it’s a welcome change of pace that has left him invigorated. Roberts has been so revitalized by the making of the new record that the band will tour this summer for the first time since 2004. Crash Test Dummies will perform as an acoustic trio with Ellen and Brad singing and old friend and tour partner Stuart Cameron playing acoustic guitar, much in the spirit of album closer “Put a Face.” Rather than try to recreate music that was created with some rather cranky toy instruments never meant for the rigors of a tour, Roberts has opted to present these songs in a straightforward, stripped-down manner. It’s a curveball, but the test of a great song is its ability to work in different formats, and these songs, along with classic CTD hits, undoubtedly pass this test.

“I think that when you are dealing with popular music, unless you have a strong melody, sympathetic chords, and a good set of lyrics you ain’t got nothing,” Roberts points out. Foreshadowing the highly entertaining shows for which he is so well known, Roberts adds “I want to have a little room to digress into an anecdote while Stuart strums the guitar, if that’s what I feel like doing.”

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97.3 KBCO Presents
CRASH TEST DUMMIES | June 13th
The Boulder Theater |  Boulder, Colorado
www.bouldetheater.com | ON SALE NOW

Bobby Long News & Tour Dates

Bobby Long, the young British singer-songwriter who has built an expansive worldwide fan base through constant touring over the last year, will be featured on National Public Radio's popular World Café program going out to its affiliate stations on Tuesday, April 27.  Carried nationally on over 200 radio stations through out the U.S., the show will be culled from Long's recent appearance on WXPN's weekly Free at Noon broadcast along with an interview with World Café host David Dye.

Long, who is unsigned and whose demanding tour schedule will continue into the summer, appeared live on Free at Noon on March 12 from Philadelphia's World Café Live venue, where he also played to an SRO audience in their upstairs room the following evening.  The prolific singer-songwriter-guitarist's set list included a selection of his better-known songs-"The Bounty of Mary Jane," "In the Frost," "Penance Fire Blues," "Dead and Done," "Two Years Old" and "Who Have You Been Loving," the song that first brought him to the attention of WXPN's music staff.  He also performed two of his newer compositions, "A Happy Winter" and "A Stranger Song."

A new Bobby Long single entitled "My Darling Bell" will be available for download from all digital outlets, including iTunes and amazon, beginning today (April 13, 2010). "My Darling Bell" appears on the new live collection of highlights from his DANGEROUS SUMMER 2009 tour, which is available exclusively at his live appearances.  Long has previously released two songs digitally from DIRTY POND SONGS, the first CD he recorded to make available at his live shows.  The first-"Left to Lie"-reached #1 on iTunes' Unsigned and #8 on its Folk charts. "The Bounty of Mary Jane" was released at the start of last summer's tour, followed by a live version of "Being A Mockingbird" recorded at Arlene's Grocery in New York during one of Long's very first U.S. appearances.  "My Darling Bell" is his first new digital release in almost a year.

Though still unsigned, Long is nearing completion of his much-anticipated studio debut recording, produced by Grammy®-winning producer Liam Watson (The White Stripes).  The CD was recorded at Watson's analog Toe Rag Studios in London with studio musicians backing him up on most of the tracks, but several songs will receive the spare, acoustic guitar accompaniment his fan base has come to know and love.  A review in Jambase of his recent SRO show at New York's Mercury Lounge comments on his finger-style guitar playing:  "The majority of [Long's] catalog builds off relatively simplistic chord progressions, but he shows a remarkable knack for adding color via accent notes with his unorthodox two-fingered picking attack and construction of fuller, brighter chords than the standard singer-songwriter fare. Notably, he walks the line between country blues and the more uplifting traditional I-IV-V type structures, while taking the crowd energy through high peaks of heavy strumming howls and low valleys of quiet, whispered picking."

Upcoming Bobby Long shows include: 

April 28-Jammin' Java, Vienna, VA

May 1-The Bamboozle Festival, Meadowlands Sports Complex, East Rutherford, N.J.

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Bobby will support matt pond PA on the following shows in May: 

May 5-Chameleon Club, Lancaster, PA

6-Allen Street Stage, Penn State University, State College, PA

7-Mac's Bar, Lansing, MI

9-The House Café, DeKalb, IL

10-Mad Planet, Milwaukee, WI

11-Slowdown, Omaha

12-Fox Theater, Boulder, CO

14-Bottleneck, Lawrence, KS

15-Mojo's, Columbia, MO

17-Hi Tone Café, Memphis

18-Square Room, Knoxville

20-40 Watt, Athens, GA

21-Village Tavern, Mt. Pleasant, SC

22-Local 506, Chapel Hill, NC

24-The Southern, Charlottesville, VA

25-Otto Bar, Baltimore, MD

Africa in the Americas Through a Southern Band

"Boulder, CO, Fox Theatre. Giant Panda at 9. JBB at 10. TK at 11:30. Bring your dancing attire, dr." Not the most clear posting on Twitter, perhaps, but for fans of Toubab Krewe--the "TK" in the tweet--the message was rather plain. Thursday's show was going to be one with jams so moving, you had better come ready to dance. And they were right.

Catherine Russell CD Release Party Monday April 12 at Dizzy's Club

World Village/harmonia mundi proudly announces the release of vocalist Catherine Russell’s Inside This Heart Of Mine on April 13, 2010. Her third album for the label, Inside This Heart Of Mine is a collection of 13 songs -- tied together by the special place these songs hold inside the heart of Catherine Russell.

It's a heart that's warm and effusive, bluesy and erudite, bold yet vulnerable, passionate yet ethereal. Just listen to Cat's masterful reading of “Troubled Waters”, a seldom heard tune scored by the Duke Ellington Orchestra for both Ivey Anderson and Mae West, performed here as a sultry meditation. Then there's “We The People”, a never before covered Fats Waller tune from an originally unreleased recording, a tongue-in-cheek populist manifesto from the previous Great Depression, which implores legislators to provide “syncopation” as the surest way to “please the people.” The Spencer Williams languid blues melody, "Slow As Molasses", was originally recorded as an instrumental by Luis Russell in 1929 with his band The Jungle Town Stompers. Wordsmith Rachelle Garniez added lyrics just for these sessions, allowing Cat’s evocative vocal spin on the new creation, some 80 years following her Dad’s original version.

This decades spanning collection of songs, originally performed by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Peggy Lee, Maxine Sullivan, Howlin’ Wolf, Wynonie Harris, Fats Waller, and Catherine’s father, Luis Russell, draws from Vaudeville wit, Tin Pan Alley tune craft, New Orleans swagger, Swing Era sock, the European Cafe, Jump Blues jive, modal Delta Blues, and Django-esque swing, with an immediacy and a timeless quality that’s refreshingly oblivious to current “trends”. Here in you’ll find works by Hall of Fame Songwriters, like Andy Razaf, Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler, Alec Wilder, and Willie Dixon, as well as being introduced to newer Contemporary songs with an old-time vibe by Rachelle Garniez and producer, Paul Kahn.

For the sessions, Musical Director/Arranger/Guitarist/Banjoist, Matt Munisteri (Holly Cole, Little Jimmy Scott, Brock Mumford), assembled the cream of New York City based players, including trumpet great Jon-Erik Kellso, who contributes arrangements, trombonist John Allred, and saxophone/clarinetist Dan Block. The rhythm section includes players from Catherine Russell’s road tested band, including stride and swing connoisseur Mark Shane on piano, Lee Hudson on bass, and Brian Grice on drums (Count Basie Orchestra, Eartha Kitt). Additional players on the album include legendary hipster Howard Johnson on tuba, Rachelle Garniez on accordion, Sara Caswell on violin, Neal Miner on bass, and Rob Garcia on drums.

Catherine Russell is a New Yorker, born into musical royalty. Her father, the late Luis Russell, was a native of Panama who moved to New Orleans and then New York City, becoming a pioneering pianist/composer/bandleader, and Louis Armstrong's long-time musical director. Her mother, Carline Ray, an outstanding bassist and vocalist, has performed with Mary Lou Williams and International Sweethearts of Rhythm. Considering her roots and family pedigree, it’s no surprise that Catherine Russell is a one-of-a-kind singer and musician. Cat is in demand as a backing singer and multi- instrumentalist, having performed and recorded with artists including Steely Dan, Levon Helm, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein, Carrie Smith, and Rosanne Cash.

Of her debut album "Cat", (World Village/Harmonia Mundi), she made critic and Sinatra biographer, Will Friedwald's top 10 list who stated "She is a fresh and original voice. The most exciting debut album I've heard in a long time."    "It's a delight to hear the real thing in Catherine Russell", wrote the dean of jazz writers, Nat Hentoff, in The Wall Street Journal.


Catherine Russell's second album on World Village, "Sentimental Streak", was released in 2008 to universal acclaim, hitting the Billboard and I-Tunes Jazz Charts, and JazzWeek and Living Blues Radio Charts. Cat was a guest on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and NPR's "Fresh Air". She won the prestigious German Record Critics' Award in the Jazz category and Living Blues magazine's 2008 critics' poll as "Artist Deserving More Attention." L'Acadamie du Jazz in France chose "Sentimental Streak" as finaliste for Prix du Jazz Vocal 2008, while Grammy Award winning writer and jazz critic Francis Davis picked "Sentimental Streak" as Vocal Album of the Year in the 2008 Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll.

Since the release of her albums, Catherine Russell has performed on three continents. She's been the surprise hit at major events including the Chicago Blues Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Bern Jazz Festival, Rochester International Jazz Festival, Tanglewood Jazz Festival, Lotus World Music Festival, I Love Jazz Festival in Brazil, Panama Jazz Festival, and at premier venues like The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, The Dakota in Minneapolis, and Yoshi's in San Francisco. All Music Guide says, "Russell emerged as a retro old school vocalist for the ages."

Catherine Russell's "Inside This Heart of Mine" is a personal selection of gems from the 1920s through the Present; vital interpretations, bursting with soul and humor. Deepening the approach of her previous recordings -- an off-the-beaten-path song selection, sparkling small group acoustic swing, and a stunning vocal approach -- with "Inside This Heart Of Mine", vocalist Catherine Russell joins the ranks of the greatest interpreters and performers of American Popular Song.

Catherine Russell CD Release Party
Monday April 12
at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola
at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Broadway at 60th Street,
(33 West 60th Street)
NY, NY 10023
(212)258-9595

Umphrey's McGee's "1348" Launches in Rock Band

Umphrey's McGee will be launching their song "1348" on the Rock Band Network this week. This marks the first release by the band in any video game, and the progressive-rock influenced music proves to be a great fit.

Umphrey's McGee has been working with former Harmonix Music Systems employee and current Rock Band Network freelancer Andrew Buch. Buch is working on several songs for the program, including 1348 and Miss Tinkles Overture." "1348" is the first of these songs to be made available, with plans for others to follow shortly.

Buch, whose mind-numbingly difficult "Trippolette" is one the top-five best-selling launch songs on the Rock Band Network, has worked on several games in the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises and was a likely choice to prepare the music of Umphrey's McGee for the game. Samples of his work can be found on his website www.andrewbuch.com, including video footage of both Umphrey's McGee's music and "Trippolette" running in-game.

"1348" is scheduled to release on Wednesday or Thursday of this week, and will be available to be purchased in Rock Band 2 on the XBOX 360 via the newly implemented Rock Band Network Store. It will additionally be available to purchase via the XBOX Live Marketplace.

Frank Sinatra/Antonio Carlos Jobim reissue coming on Concord

In 1967, Frank Sinatra teamed up with Brazilian singer, pianist, guitarist, composer and songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim to record an album that married the Chairman’s signature vocals with rhythms from the master of bossa nova. The resulting album, Francis Albert Sinatra/Antonio Carlos Jobim, reached #19, remaining on Billboard’s rock-dominated album chart for 28 weeks.

Forty-four years later, on May 4, 2010, Concord Music Group, on license from Frank Sinatra Enterprises (FSE), will release a deluxe reissue of the Sinatra/Jobim classic including all ten songs from the original album plus seven songs from a subsequent collaboration between the two, and three songs from that session that were not released until decades later, when they were included in a box set. Sinatra/Jobim: The Complete Reprise Recordings features digital remastering and expanded liner notes by Stan Cornyn, longtime head of creative services at Warner/Reprise and author of the book about the Warner Music Group, Exploding.

Sinatra and Jobim gathered at Hollywood’s Western Recorders for three nights, January 30 through February 1, 1967. Jobim brought the beat in the form of bossa nova percussionists and arrangers. Sinatra supplied the producer (Sonny Burke), the string arranger/conductor (Claus Ogerman) and the rest of the orchestra. The resulting session produced ten songs including the classic “The Girl From Impanema” plus “Dindi,” “How Insensitive [Insensatez],” “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” and six others. (After bidding até a vista to Jobim, Sinatra, on the high of making one of his finest albums ever, stayed at the studio to record a duet with daughter Nancy that would reach #1 on the charts, “Something Stupid.”)

Two years later, Sinatra and Jobim returned to Western Recorders to record ten more bossa novas for a shorter-titled follow-up: Sinatra-Jobim. Replacing Ogerman was a 26-year-old long-haired arranger named Eumir Deodato (later to be known for his 1973 jazz version of Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra [2001]”). The songs were all written or co-written by Jobim, many with unusual melodic twists.  Producer Burke enlisted conductor Morris Stoloff to ensure a pop feel to the session.

After three nights, the album was wrapped, and was readied for release in the fall of 1969. The eight-track version of the album had shipped when the call was placed to Warner/Reprise’s Burbank, Calif. offices. It was Sinatra, demanding that the label “kill the album,” so Warner recalled most of the recordings. A 2005 Goldmine story reported that the rare eight-track would command $5000.

Sinatra later agreed to permit Reprise to release seven of the Sinatra-Jobim vocal tracks on the album Sinatra & Company. It reached #73 and remained on the album chart for 15 weeks in 1971.

More than 40 years later, the airport in Rio has been named Antonio Carlos Jobim International. And an American postage stamp honored Frank Sinatra. And the Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim and Sinatra-Jobim albums have been combined to form Concord’s Sinatra/Jobim: The Complete Reprise Recordings set.

Steve Cropper & Felix Cavaliere reunite for new album, 'Midnight Flyer'

Steve Cropper, guitarist for Booker T. and the MGs and one of the primary architects of the unmistakable Stax sound of the 1960s, and vocalist/keyboardist Felix Cavaliere, the voice of the Rascals and the pivotal figure in the blue-eyed soul movement of that same era, have reconvened for their second collaborative recording. Sparks fly at the crossroads of Memphis soul and East Coast R&B when Stax Records releases Midnight Flyer on June 15, 2010.

Midnight Flyer, recorded in Nashville and mixed by the legendary David Z, is the followup to Nudge It Up a Notch, the 2008 maiden voyage by Cropper and Cavaliere that scored critical acclaim from the music and mainstream press. The San Francisco Chronicle called Nudge It Up a Notch “an unexpected delight,” while Blues Wax heralded the project as “one of the great surprises of 2008, and further evidence of Concord’s genuine commitment to the revamped Stax imprint.”

The Stax legacy — and Concord’s commitment to it — are very much alive in Midnight Flyer, an album that once again showcases the songwriting prowess of two towering figures from one of the most seminal periods in the history of American pop music. Assisting with the songwriting throughout most of the album’s 12 tracks is drummer/percussionist/vocalist Tom Hambridge, who also lent a hand with the crafting of the previous album.

“Felix and I come from pretty much the same musical school — but from different geographical locations,” says Cropper. “He’s a Jersey boy at heart, and I grew up in Memphis, but when soul meets soul, what can you say? There are no borders. There are no boundaries.”

But geography does play a role in the making of great songs, says Cavaliere. “Steve has that Southern vernacular, which is something I really like,” he says. “It’s almost like another language to those of us from the East Coast. It has a certain folky quality to it. Some of those idioms are part of the hit songs that Steve has written and recorded over the years, and they’re part of this record as well.”

The impact of both of these musicians and songwriters on pop music is nearly impossible to quantify. As part of Booker T. & the MGs — the house band for the Stax label in its original incarnation during the 1960s — Cropper co-wrote and produced classics by artists like Eddie Floyd (“Knock On Wood”), Wilson Pickett (“In the Midnight Hour”) and Otis Redding (“Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay”). In subsequent decades, he lent his instrumental and production skills to a range of artists including Jeff Beck, the Blues Brothers, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and many others.

Cavaliere came to prominence in the mid-’60s as vocalist/keyboardist/songwriter for the Rascals (initially known as the Young Rascals). Cavaliere wrote and/or sang several of the band’s biggest hits, including “Good Lovin’” (1966), “Groovin’” (1967), “It’s a Beautiful Morning” (1968) and “People Got To Be Free” (1968). The phrase “blue-eyed soul” was coined during the Rascals’ heyday, due in large part to the group’s highly successful forays into R&B and soul — styles that had been developed and previously dominated by African-American artists.

Co-produced by Cropper, Cavaliere and Hambridge, Midnight Flyer captures the synergy and brilliance that can only emerge when two powerful forces of nature come together. The result is a range of styles and shades, from heartfelt ballads like “When You’re With Me” to the soul-charged “I Can’t Stand It,” a churning vocal duet featuring Cavaliere and his daughter Aria. “Sexy Lady” harkens back to the soul stylings of the ’70s, while the funky instrumental “Do It Like This” digs into a tight groove and makes plenty of room for Cropper’s tasty riff work to close out the set.

“The main thing we both take away from this record is how much fun we had making it,” says Cavaliere. “We may have used a lot of new technology that didn’t even exist when Steve and I were recording back in the day, but the songs themselves are still the most important part of the process, and we just had a blast writing and recording them. I think that spirit comes through on the record.”

Cropper notes a timelessness about Cavaliere that serves as a metaphor for the music itself. “Felix is ageless,” he says. “Sure, you can look at him and see that he’s gotten older since those early days, just like we all have. But if you close your eyes, he sounds as young and energetic as he did when he was making records back in the ’60s . . . Working together on records like this reminds us of the kinds of things that go into the making of a good song. We’re still doing that, and we’re still having fun doing it.”

Twistable, Turnable Man: Tribute to the Songs of Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein, as a writer, poet, and illustrator, has influenced generations upon generations of kids (and kids at heart) with his brilliant, witty, and touching turns of phrase.  In Twistable, Turnable Man: A Musical Tribute to the Songs of Shel Silverstein (June 8, 2010), Sugar Hill Records shines a light on the lyrical genius’s oft-overlooked catalog of classic country songs.

As a songwriter, Silverstein penned indelible songs made famous by artists such as Johnny Cash, Dr. Hook, Loretta Lynn, and others.  No country singer ever made Shel’s work as large a part of his repertoire, though, as Bobby Bare Sr., who first partnered with Silverstein on the seminal Outlaw Country album, Lullabys, Legends and Lies, entirely penned by ShelBare Sr. and then-five-year-old son Bobby Bare Jr. received a Grammy nod for the country radio hit “Daddy What If” (a win, incidentally, would have made Bare Jr. the youngest Grammy holder ever, until they were usurped by those mavens of country music: The Pointer Sisters). The song is revisited on the tribute by the now-grown son with his own four-year-old daughter Isabella, making her the third generation to pay homage to Shel on this heart wrenching tune.

On this collection, lovingly co-produced by Bare Sr. and Bare Jr., the wide range of Silverstein’s work – from humorous to poignant to edgy – is interpreted by two distinct generations influenced by Silverstein’s work. From Dr. Dog, My Morning Jacket and Andrew Bird, to Ray Price, Kris Kristofferson, and John Prine, the album is full of surprises and hidden gems. Bare Sr. says in his liners: “Shel would have loved every part of this album. This is the kind of thing he loved to do in the studio— having fun with friends, independent from all, doing it our way!”

Of the participating artists, Bobby Bare Jr., who grew up greatly influenced by Shel and went on to write with him as an adult, says “The lineup is a mix of people I have on speed dial, and people my dad has on speed dial” – fortunately they all just happened to be fans of Shel’s songwriting. Bare Jr. explains that Jim James of My Morning Jacket was already a huge fan of the song “Lullabys, Legends, and Lies,” which he would play as the house music between sets at MMJ shows. Bare Jr.’s friend and colleague Andrew Bird was the only artist permitted to put a poem to music, and his version of “The Twistable, Turnable Man Returns” is just as genuinely Bird as it is Silverstein, showing a striking similarity in their lyrical styles. Of John Prine, Bobby Bare Sr. insisted “This Guitar is for Sale” was perfectly suited to his wry and poignant style.

As a whole, the collection presents a variety of takes on a collection of material that lends itself to creative interpretation, making Twistable, Turnable Man: A Tribute to the Songs of Shel Silverstein an eclectic, endearing valentine to this giant of American song.

The Voice Project - Singing Ugandan Child Soldiers Back Home

The Voice Project launches to support Ugandan women’s groups who are using music to bring the child soldiers home - Featuring Andrew Bird, Mike Mills, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Joseph Arthur, Joe Purdy, Dawes, SoKo & many more to come...

The Voice Project a US based non-profit supporting the women of Northern Uganda who have been using music effectively to bring soldiers home from Africa’s longest running war, the 24 year old conflict that has devastated the region of Northern Uganda, Congo, Southern Sudan and CAR.

Many soldiers fighting with Joseph Kony's LRA were abducted as children and forced to fight. Many were made to kill their own friends and family, and while many do eventually escape, they often hide in the bush ashamed and afraid to come home because of what they were made to do.

Women in the region, widows and rape survivors, have been banding together into groups to care for each other and the orphans left by the war. Often without the right to even own land, these women have been taking a lead role in the Peace and Reconciliation efforts, one of their main tools: using messages carried in songs spread on the radio and by word of mouth into the bush to let the soldiers know that they are forgiven and that they should come home. And it's working. Soldiers have been hearing the songs and coming home.

Considering the atrocities the women have been subjected to, this is clearly not only one of the greatest uses of music, but also one of the greatest acts of compassion, love, and forgiveness one can find. Co-Founder Hunter Heaney first heard of the women’s efforts and how they were using music to call the soldiers home while working at an IDP camp (Internally Displaced Persons) in the tiny village of Agoro on the Uganda/Sudan border in 2008. He learned the women’s songs from different groups in the region and when they asked him to teach them some, the first one to come to mind was Joe Purdy’s “Suitcase.” Heaney brought the story of how the women were using music home with him, telling friends like music producer Chris Holmes and filmmaker Anna Gabriel. Together they assembled a team of friends like Internet entrepreneurs Kelleigh Faldi and CC Lagator, Web Developer Jason Young, Nicole Grable from the NGO world, and music industry veterans like Jay Sweet, Andrea von Foerster and Ana Calderon, and together started The Voice Project to support the women.

The story was passed to Alex Ebert from Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros who offered to combine the record release party for his new band’s debut album Up From Below with the project to raise money for the ladies. The money was used to start a small farm in Gulu. The women celebrated and sent their thanks in song, a phone call to Heaney singing the Joe Purdy tune he had taught them nine months before, and a short video of them singing the chorus to Edward Sharpe’s “Home” which has been making its way around the Internet.

From there, the idea for the “cover chain” was born. Taking the lead from the women in Uganda, the friends decided to keep the chain going and have artists pass on the story of the women to other musicians by each covering another’s song, with The Voice Project team filming each link as a series of episodes that would eventually circle back around to the women in Uganda, posting each online and raising money along the way from sponsors, advertisers and donors to support the women, the peace movement, and rehabilitation programs for former child soldiers.

Episodes featuring Andrew Bird, Mike Mills, Dawes, Joseph Arthur, Tom Freund, Joe Purdy and SoKo have already been shot and posted, with upcoming links from Peter Gabriel, Devendra Banhart, The Submarines, Bedouin Clash and many more on the way. A number of non-profits have also been getting behind the project in hopes of raising awareness and support for the war-torn region, including Oxfam International, Witness, HOPE and others.

The Inimitable Baby Dee Tours in Support of Upcoming Release

After the overwhelming response to Safe Inside the Day in February 2008, the unique Baby Dee returns with A Book of Songs for Anne Marie, out in North America on 4/20 via Drag City. What was telling about the response to Safe Inside the Day was the purity of reaction. The back story, (let’s face it, Baby Dee is the epitome of the phrase) never overshadowed the fact that she gives everything and that is what connects with critics and audience alike. Harkening to the song cycles and lieder of Schubert and Schumann, the tracks of A Book of Songs for Anne Marie are part of a greater whole, a series of poems set to music. Joined by a talented group of musicians, including Matthew Robinson (cello), Sarah Alden (violin), John Nowel (violin) and John Contreras (cello), Dee will cross the continent, performing these minimally orchestrated, tender songs on piano as only she can: with humor, warmth, and gravity.

Check out the song “Lilacs” off of A Book of Songs for Anne Marie here.

Baby Dee Tour Dates:

Thursday, April 8 - Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe

Friday, April 9 - Baltimore, MD @ Floristree

Saturday, April 10 - New York, NY @ Santos Party House

Monday, April 12 - Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rossa

Tuesday, April 13 - Toronto, ON @ The Music Gallery

Wednesday, April 14 - Cleveland, OH @ Opening Nights Festival

Thursday, April 15 - Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom

Friday, April 16 - Chicago, IL @ The Hideout

Saturday, April 17 - Cedar Rapids, OH @ CSPS

Sunday, April 18 - Dubuque, IA @ Monks Kaffee Pub

Monday, April 19 - Minneapolis, MN @ Cedar Cultural Center

Tuesday, April 20 - Winnipeg, ON @ West End Cultural Centre

Friday, April 23 - Calgary, AB @ The Big Secret Theatre

Saturday, April 24 - Calgary, AB @ The Big Secret Theatre

Tuesday, April 27 - Vancouver, AB @ Gallery Gachet

Wednesday, April 28 - Seattle, WA @ The Triple Door

Thursday, April 29 - Portland, OR @ The Woods

Friday, April 30 - San Francisco, CA @ Amnesia

Saturday, May 1 - Santa Monica, CA @ McCabes

Sunday, May 2 - Phoenix, AX @ Trunk Space

Monday, May 3 - Albuquerque, NM @ Outpost Performance Space

Wednesday, May 5 - Columbia, MO @ Mojos

Thursday, May 6 - Lexington, KY @ Niles Gallery (UK Campus)

Friday, May 7 - Detroit, MI @ Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit