songs

Paul Brady's 'Hooba Dooba' Streets 5/24

The career of Paul Brady — whose 12th solo album, the exuberantly titled Hooba Dooba, gets its U.S. release on May 24, 2011 via Proper American — is not that of your usual singer/songwriter. And the new record is the most wildly eclectic this man for all seasons has yet recorded. “I’m a marketing department’s nightmare,” he jokes, before discussing the confusion that has surrounded him for so long.

“I don’t really fit any of the recognized models for artists,” he acknowledges. “That has to do with my musical background, the variety of my tastes and the fact that I’ve jumped from place to place in my career. But at the same time, I’ve never found a compelling reason to narrow my perspective on the music I love by making a record that is only a small bit of what I am. I love big, romantic ballads, screamin’ blues songs, folk songs, country tunes. All these things have been hard to put into one box and say what it is, and I suppose I’ve suffered from that to a degree. But that’s what I am, and my fans are into me because of that — they’re the kind of people who resist marketing strategies, who like to discover things themselves. They respond to the sound of a voice, which says something to them on a subliminal level emotionally, rather than falling for some image.”
In 1963, five years after picking up his first guitar at age 11 and playing along with Shadows and Ventures records, the young Irishman snagged his first paying gig tinkling the ivories in a Donegal hotel, marking the beginning of 48 uninterrupted years of making music — all kinds of music. Like so many of his contemporaries on that side of the pond, he spent a chunk of the ’60s cranking up the volume in R&B bands before making a radical shift into Irish folk music, working with the Johnstons and Planxty, in collaboration with Andy Irvine and on his own, interpreting traditional songs. In the late ’70s, now married and with two kids on the way, he dedicated himself to writing his own material, inspired in part by the music of Gerry Rafferty, another folk artist who’d remade himself as an eloquent singer/songwriter. Hard Station, Brady’s 1981 solo debut album, containing the first fruit of his labors, returned him to the realm of rock and pop, and he scored his first big cover a year later when Hard Station’s “Night Hunting Time” wound up on Santana’s million-selling Shango, to its author’s surprise and delight.
Brady spent the next two decades leading a double life as a recording artist making a sustained effort to get on the radar and a much-covered songwriter, a number of his songs made famous by singers far better known than himself. These included such high-profile covers as Bonnie Raitt’s memorable, multiple-Grammy-winning rendition of “Luck of the Draw” (1991) and Brooks & Dunn’s chart-topping country single “The Long Goodbye” (2001). Around the turn of the century, the multitalented veteran once again reinvented himself, this time as a self-contained, truly independent artist. Since this latest metamorphosis, he’s been touring constantly in small-group settings on both sides of the Atlantic and making records whenever he felt inspired to do so. Which brings us back full circle to Hooba Dooba, its multiple facets glinting like an uncut diamond nestled in a field of shamrocks.
Brady describes “The Winners’ Ball,” propelled by a springy, soulful groove, as “a tongue-and-cheek look at the excesses of the modern end of music,” while “Rainbow” is a lush, widescreen ballad that begs for a country cover, though Brady insists that it’s closer to Memphis than Nashville. “The Price of Fame” builds to a string-laden crescendo in the grand manner of vintage Elton John, and the following “One More Today” sounds like some just-discovered Tin Pan Alley standard.
The album’s most dramatic segue takes the listener from the earthy, rollicking “Follow That Star” to the heart-wrenching “Mother and Son.” “I do like slapping people in the face, figuratively, with an emotional change,” Brady explains. “‘Follow That Star’ comes out of a genre that I have always loved, raw, acoustic blues — anything from Lead Belly to Mississippi John Hurt to ’60s British blues of Winwood, Beck and Clapton. ‘Mother and Son’ is a song about my relationship with my mother. It’s a song that I was trying to write for many years, but only managed to finish it after she passed on.”
The album also contains his first-ever recording of “Luck of the Draw,” the only song here not of recent vintage — apart, that is, from its lone non-original, a sublime, irresistible rendering of “You Won’t See Me” from Rubber Soul. “I wrote ‘Luck of the Draw’ when I was making the Trick or Treat album in L.A. back in 1990, and that’s when Bonnie Raitt picked up on it. I’d always wanted to record it because I had a very different take from the way Bonnie did it, but I decided to leave it alone for a respectable amount of time after hers was current. That was a long time ago, obviously, and it seemed like the right time to do it.” Good move — Brady’s take is so unlike Raitt’s familiar one as to be virtually unrecognizable, providing the song with an edgy, vital second life.
When asked why he decided to title the album Hooba Dooba, Brady replies, “It’s a phrase I’ve used many times in situations when something takes me by surprise that’s pleasurable. In this case, I was in the art department with the designer who was working on the cover looking through various ideas, and when he showed me the image that eventually became the cover, I looked at it and went, “Hooba dooba.” He said, ‘Is that the album title?’ and when I told him no, he said, ‘Well it should be.’ And I decided he was right. Nothing more profound than that.”
Given Brady’s back story, it’s hard to say whether Hooba Dooba — which features guests Jerry Douglas on lap steel and Sarah Siskind on backing vocals — will clear up the confusion about just who this multifaceted guy is or add to it, but one thing’s for sure: this record is a dead-honest picture of a one-of-a-kind artist who has always been absolutely true to himself.

“I’ve been in this business over 40 years, and I’m a survivor,” says Brady with unconcealed pride. “I’ve been through plenty of ups and downs, and I know what the business is. I have a broad enough base in terms of my activities to have survived for this long and to still be enjoying what I’m doing. Anything above and beyond that is icing on the cake.” He pauses for a moment, his face lighting up in a smile. “And the cake is okay.”

Marianne Faithful to Release Horses and High Heels

Marianne Faithful will release her 23rd album, Horse and High Heels, in the US  on June 28th via Naïve Records.  The collection of songs consists of four originals and eight covers ranging from Carol King’s “Going Back” to Greg Dulli & Mark Lanegan’s “The Stations.”  Four of the tracks feature virtuosic guitarist John Porter (Eric Clapton, The Smiths) while Lou Reed and Dr. John/MC5’s Wayne Kramer each make cameos on multiple songs.

Iconic, influential, and inimitable, Marianne has been an entrancing and creative musical presence for the past 47 years.  Beginning with her debut single, “As Tears Go By” (1964, the first song ever written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards), Marianne has created an enduring legacy with her distinct, emotive, and truly haunting voice.   She has also established herself as a powerful songwriter with a gift for crafting visceral melodies and deeply resonant lyrics.  Her artistic fearlessness has led her to sing with legends like David Bowie and Metallica, and collaborate with a younger generation of musicians she influenced such as Beck, Morrissey, Billy Corgan and Blur.

Horses and High Heels was recorded in New Orleans and features a core of masterful local musicians.  It was produced by Hal Willner (Laurie Anderson, Allen Ginsberg), who also helmed Marianne’s critically-acclaimed 2009 collection of covers and duets: Easy Come, Easy Go. The songs touch on everything from soul, blues, folk, country, jazz-pop perkiness, and beguiling guitar-rock.  Much like the rest of her career, the only consistent theme or style of the album is Marianne herself.  Click HERE to listen to the original new song, “Why Did We Have To Part?”

My Morning Jacket Share Title Track from New Album Circuital

Nearly three years since their last release, My Morning Jacket are now on the cusp of releasing the eagerly awaited new album, Circuital (ATO Records, May 31st).  The band has been gearing it all up by releasing songs from each of their five Terminal 5 shows this past October.  Today, My Morning Jacket are giving us a taste of the new album by sharing the title track and revealing it's enigmatic cover art.

Click HERE to download the song "Circuital" from the band's website.  The site is also now offering pre-orders for the album, and a beautiful limited edition deluxe package that includes an exclusive 30 minute documentary dvd, high quality lithograph portrait taken by Danny Clinch and many other goodies.  Ten deluxe versions will come with a 'Golden Ticket" entitling the bearer to receive an original signed print by the band and Clinch.

Like the album as a whole, "Circuital" was laid down almost entirely live as the honest spirit and human spontaneity are felt throughout the listening experience.  The song Circuital, while a seven minute epic, is but a taste of what to expect – the collection of songs is truly eclectic and entrancing from beginning to end.

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My Morning Jacket Tour Dates:

04/17:  Lexington, KY @ Memorial Coliseum

05/20:  Gulf Shores, AL @ Hangout Festival

06/02-06/05:  Ozark, AR @Wakarusa Festival

06/05:  Hunter, NY @ Mountain Jam

06/09-06/12:  Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo Festival
06/17:  Chicago, IL @ Auditorium Theatre
06/22:  Los Angeles, CA @ Pantages Theatre
06/24: Oakland, CA @ Fox Theatre
06/26:  Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre
06/28:  Portland, OR @ Edgefield
06/29:  Vancouver, BC @ Orpheum
06/30-07/03:  Quincy, CA @ High Sierra Music Festival
07/11:  Toronto, ON @ Kool Haus
07/12:  Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
07/16: Southwold  @ Latitude Festival
07/17: London  @ Somerset House
08/04:  Denver, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Jim Lauderdale to Release Reason & Rhyme

Can there be too much of a good thing?  If the question’s about collaboration between American roots music hero Jim Lauderdale and legendary lyricist Robert Hunter, the answer’s an emphatic “no!”  Marking the former’s debut on the respected Sugar Hill records label, Reason And Rhyme makes a compelling case for the continued vitality of the Lauderdale—Hunter partnership—and for Lauderdale’s unique and deeply satisfying approach to bluegrass.

“This one’s back to total bluegrass,” Lauderdale says of the collaborative follow-up to 2010’s electric Patchwork River, and so it’s no surprise that it features many of the musicians involved in previous bluegrass efforts like Could We Get Any Closer (2009) and 2007’s Grammy-winning The Bluegrass Diaries.  The close-knit crew, headed up by producer and resonator guitarist Randy Kohrs, is perfectly in tune with Lauderdale’s ‘grass-with-a-twist' sensibilities, and whether it’s a return buddy like bassist Jay Weaver or new colleague Mike Compton (mandolin), each player delivers mightily with the genre’s characteristic virtuosity and emotional fire.

“We started on this one last August,” Lauderdale notes, “right after I finished touring with Elvis Costello.  Robert and I have worked just about every way you can think of—writing in the same room, adding lyrics to music and music to lyrics—but whichever way we go, he’s the lyrics guy and I’m the music guy.  This time around, we wanted to keep the momentum from Patchwork River going; I started sending him melodies, and ten days later we had 18 songs to choose from.”
The collaboration began over a decade ago, when Lauderdale was preparing for his first joint project with bluegrass patriarch Ralph Stanley, and quickly bore fruit, with more than 30 songs written before the first all-collaborative album, Headed For The Hills (2004).  “I’m not surprised, but I’m always blown away how creative he is lyrically,” says the singer/songwriter, who’s busy enough that finding time to record has always been among his greatest challenges.
With 11 fresh takes on the bluegrass sound that he’s loved since he was a teenager, this latest effort presents Jim Lauderdale at his most relaxed and rooted—and with the help of one of American music’s greatest lyricists, it’s a set that offers not only deep musicality, but deep meaning and vision.  Reason And Rhyme—it’s just the right name for just the right music.

Patrolled by Radar signs to Knitting Factory Records, readies 'Be Happy'

Patrolled by Radar’s Be Happy is an album of original songs penned by singer-songwriter Jay Souza. The ten tracks on Be Happy tell stories that could have taken place at any point during the last two centuries, as sung by troubadours such as Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Ray Davies or Townes Van Zandt. Be Happy is the band’s debut CD on Knitting Factory Records through RED Distribution, set for worldwide release on June 7, 2011.

Souza has been carrying around these songs inside his heart since he was a kid. His inspiration came from his mom, who sent him three cassettes that he played incessantly as a child — Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond and the Carpenters. Years later, his attention to craft can be heard throughout Be Happy, which will be released under the name Patrolled by Radar because Souza got tired of his band 50 Cent Haircut getting confused with rapper 50 Cent.

Knitting Factory CEO Morgan Margolis was so impressed with the band’s yearlong residency at the Hollywood club that he offered to both manage them and release the album on his label. It’s a story that could have come straight from one of Souza’s own songs, based on real life.

“The whole record was meant to be like that,” says Souza. “I wanted it to be rich in melody, dynamism and nuance. I’ll rewrite the words over and over until the allusion is just right. I try to make it less literal and more poetic. There’s always a better way to say something.”

The Boston-born singer-songwriter — whose great-great-grandfather was first cousin to Irish poet William Butler Yeats — has lived in L.A. since 1990. He continues to exhibit the qualities of his mentors in his music, first in his band 50 Cent Haircut, and now alongside the same musicians in Patrolled by Radar (guitarists Bosco Sheff and Bryan “BC” Coulter and bassist Bryan “Reno” Stone), with a timeless, narrative style that takes its cue from classic Americana roots: equal parts folk, rock, country, blues and soul.

The band’s music is featured as the closing song in two of the three MGM/Sony Walking Tall movies. Two of the tracks on Be Happy can be heard on the TNT show Men of a Certain Age, where they were placed by GO Music Services supervisor Gary Calamar who noted of Be Happy, “Wowza for Jay Souza. [Patrolled by Radar] is a great band with terrific songs. Bang and twang!”

Be Happy is a rather ironic title, given some of the grim stories Souza recounts in “Dressed for the Drought,” “Coat of Disappointment,” and “Fast Life Slow Death.” His honesty and sincerity is self-evident on the album’s “Carried Away,” written from the point of view of a soldier serving in the Middle East:

“I know it’s all the same to you/Everybody’s lookin’ for the thing they were meant to do/I’ll sit and sing a lonesome song.”

Elsewhere, Souza and Patrolled by Radar show themselves equally capable of creating the lush pop choruses of the Beatlesque title track, the slinky sexual double entendre rockabilly blues in “Walking” (“The first verse is about Adolf Hitler and the second, Johnny Cash,” he explains), the whimsical psychedelic folk of the Babar the Elephant-inspired “Pachyderm,” or even full-throttle rock ’n’ roll, which comes across loud and clear in the anthemic (and aptly named) “New Fight Song.”

“I see people having a hard time. It’s a strange time we’re in. The haves and have-nots are being drawn together in a way that’s weird,” Souza clarifies, though he’s finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

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Be Happy track listing

1.    Widow Next Door
2.    New Fight Song
3.    Dressed for the Drought
4.    Pachyderm
5.    Coat of Disappointment
6.    Fast Life, Slow Death
7.    Haywire
8.    Carried Away
9.    Be Happy
10.   Walking

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PATROLLED BY RADAR on tour

Wed., Apr. 13   LOS ANGELES, CA The Mint w/ The Band Of Heathens
Sat., Apr. 23   LOS ANGELES, CA Farmers Market Ranch Party
Sat., Apr. 30   CULVER CITY, CA Cinema Bar
Fri., May 6   BROOKLYN, NY Knitting Factory (Brooklyn) w/ Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs
Sun., May 15   LOS ANGELES, CA Satellite (Silver Lake)
Fri., May 20   LOS ANGELES, CA Villains Tavern
Sun., Jun 12   LOS ANGELES, CA The Echo - Grand Ole Echo

Booker T. & the MGs, Staple Singers & Johnnie Taylor launch Stax Remasters Series

From the early 1960s to the mid-1970s, the Stax label dominated soul, R&B, gospel, and related genres with a stable of artists who have since become iconic figures in the history of American popular music. Now a part of the Concord Music Group, the Stax catalog is a treasure trove of some of the most visceral and influential recordings of the 20th century. On May 10, 2011, Concord reaches back into that deep catalog to launch Stax Remasters, a series of reissues that cast a new light on classic Stax recordings with the help of 24-bit remastering, rare bonus tracks, and new liner notes to frame the recordings in a historical context.

The first three reissues in the series are:

  • Booker T. & the MGs: McLemore Avenue (1970)
  • The Staple Singers: Be Altitude: Respect Yourself (1972)
  • Johnnie Taylor: Taylored in Silk (1973)


“Stax is a very important label, not only in the history of soul music, but in the history of music in general,” says Nick Phillips, Concord’s Vice President of Catalog A&R and co-producer of the series with Chris Clough, Concord’s Manager of Catalog Development. “We have a number of amazing recordings by Stax in the catalog. This is an opportunity to revisit some of the best of these classic recordings, upgrade the sound quality, and put them in the proper historical perspective that they deserve.”

Booker T. & the MGs: McLemore Avenue

Released in January 1970, McLemore Avenue is a tribute to Abbey Road, the landmark recording released by the Beatles the prior summer. McLemore Avenue sets up an interesting cause-and-effect loop by putting an R&B spin on songs by a profoundly innovative British pop-rock band that, ironically, emerged years earlier from the most basic elements of American R&B.

McLemore Avenue was inspired by “my pure fascination and admiration of the work that [the Beatles] had done,” says keyboardist Booker T. Jones in the reissue liner notes by music historian Ashley Kahn. “I didn’t know their inner workings. I found out later. I had a picture of those guys as a perfect unit. I didn’t know that they fought, had arguments, or that they needed referees. When you listen to that music, you think it comes from a perfect union, you know?”

The tribute album “represents a fascinating and musically compelling intersection,” says Phillips. “On one hand, you can look at the strength of the Beatles’ songs, and how they’re such strong songs that they can be successfully adapted — in the right hands — to soulful instrumental versions. At the same time, it is of course a testament to Booker T. & the MGs’ creativity and soulfulness and groove. It’s not only a very interesting musical intersection, but it’s also a very deep and at the same time a very fun listen.”

Clearly, Booker T. & the MGs had had plenty of their own opportunities to flex their creative muscles in the studio, having recorded with artists like Otis Redding and Sam & Dave. “But on a record like this,” says Clough, “where all the songs were already written and it was just a matter of interpretation, it wasn’t work for them. It was an opportunity to put their spin on the songs and just have some fun.”

The bonus tracks include seven additional Beatles covers, recorded in sessions separate from those for the McLemore Avenue album. “We figured it made good sense to expand this edition by adding other tracks that Booker T. & the MGs had recorded of Beatles songs over the years,” says Phillips. “So the Stax Remasters reissue is not only an expanded edition of McLemore Avenue, it’s also a de facto ‘Booker T. & the MGs Play the Beatles’ collection.”

The Staple Singers: Be Altitude: Respect Yourself

Originally released in 1972, Be Altitude: Respect Yourself captures the celebrated family vocal group in what was essentially the third act of their career, according to music historian Rob Bowman. The Staple Singers had initially established themselves as a gospel group in the 1950s, then merged with the folk music closely tied to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and ultimately veered away from protest songs and toward what Mavis Staples termed “message music” in the early and mid-1970s.

“Obviously, there was a lot going on in America — politically and socially — around that time, and the Staple Singers took up the cause,” says Clough. “Stax provided a huge platform for that cause, and it worked. It wasn’t insincere or disingenuous. It was the real deal. The Staples had taken up the banner at that point.”

Be Altitude found a comfortable middle ground between gospel music and secular music. “Some of the messages in their music have that gospel element running through it, but it’s a broader message than what you’d find in traditional gospel,” says Phillips. “The soul, the gospel, the grooves — all those things blended together — really make for a unique sound that is the Staple Singers.”

The two previously unreleased bonus tracks — “Walking in Water Over Our Head” and an alternate version of “Heavy Makes You Happy” — were both recorded at the Muscle Shoals Studios in Alabama in 1970 and 1972, respectively. “We felt that it was appropriate to add these bonus tracks, not only because any undiscovered material by a group as great as the Staple Singers is worthy of a listen,” says Phillips, “but also because they’re such great performances that they fit right in.”

Simply put, says Bowman, “the recording you hold in your hands represents the Staple Singers at the very peak of their career.”

Johnnie Taylor: Taylored in Silk

Released in 1973, Taylored in Silk is an ideal example of Taylor’s newly expanded and embellished sound, crafted with the help of producer Don Davis, who had united with Taylor a few years earlier, according to the liner notes by Bill Dahl. “As far as Davis was concerned, a fundamental change of sound was in order for Johnnie,” says Dahl. “Gone were the savory slow blues in favor of a hard-edged, uptempo attack that energized [Taylor’s] sound like never before.”

The issue could well have been regional marketing as much as musicality. “The story goes that Davis was brought in to forge a sound that would be sort of a combination between Northern and Southern soul, and capture the best of both Stax and Motown,” says Phillips. “He certainly hit a home run in his work with Johnnie Taylor, especially on this album.”

Taylored in Silk underwent “a lot of overdubbing,” Dahl notes, “but the end result was a splendidly conceived soul album boasting three major R&B hits within its eight selections…Blues wailer or soul philosopher, silky or gritty, Johnnie Taylor will always be revered as one of the greatest southern soul singers of ’em all.”

The six bonus tracks were previously released as singles in the early ’70s, “and they’re all outstanding performances,” says Phillips. “They certainly fit the vibe and the performance quality of the rest of the album.”

The Band of Heathens | Oriental Theater | 3/29/11

The Band of Heathens kicked off their West Coast tour on Tuesday at the Oriental Theater in Denver. The show also marked the release of the Americana rock band’s new LP Top Hat Crown & the Clapmaster’s Son.

Kinky Friedman embarks on "Springtime for Kinky Tour 2011"

This spring, starting April 27th in Kansas City, Missouri, Kinky Friedman, author, musician, politician, and self-proclaimed Governor of the Heart of Texas, will be performing dates throughout the Midwest and East Coast as part of his Springtime for Kinky Tour of 2011. Often returning to places he has not visited in two decades, the Kinkster will appear solo (primarily) and promote his most recent books, What Would Kinky Do? and Heroes of a Texas Childhood. There will be a book signing at each venue.

Buoyed by his Go West Young Kinky Tour last spring and his monster appearance on the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in October, Kinky will take his show to many of his favorite American cities. Playing the songs for which he is best known, such as “They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore” and “Sold American,” reading passages from his books, and carrying on his hilarious running commentary on the state of the union, Kinky, the prodigal son of Texas, will, indeed, return to the scenes of his crimes of years gone by.

Though years have passed since the last full-on Texas Jewboys show, Kinky continues to be associated with that infamous band of his early career, partly because of his long friendship with Bob Dylan (Kinky did, of course, travel with the Rolling Thunder Revue), but mostly because of the band’s total outrageousness and those legendary songs. On the projects list for 2011 is a Willie Nelson CD of Kinky's songs, which will be no less than the third tribute album to Kinky and his work. Willie, who has a new Sony record deal, and who has been swapping stories and playing chess with Kinky for decades, will confirm these tunes as American standards.

Meanwhile, Kinky continues to “spit out books like sunflower seeds,” with a brand new deal to co-write one with old pal Billy Bob Thornton. And he is now being immortalized onstage with a play called Becoming Kinky . . . The World According to Kinky Friedman, written by Ted Swindley, who created the long-running hit Always . . . Patsy Cline, and starring up-and-comer Jesse Dayton.

Kinky may be finished with politics, but politics may not be finished with Kinky.  He continues to be a popular guest on cable news channels, appearing with hosts as diverse as John Seigenthaler and Bill O’Reilly, and his regular contributions to Texas Monthly never fail to take proper shots at the insanity of Texas politics.  He also contributes to such national media as The New York Times and Playboy, more often than not skewing deserving politicians wherever they may be.

And that’s not all in 2011: an Australian tour is on the agenda for June. Kinky will be joined by long-time Brian Wilson collaborator Van Dyke Parks, as the two old friends visit Kinky's second favorite continent. But in the meantime . . .

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Springtime for Kinky Tour 2011

Wed., April 27  KANSAS CITY, MO Knuckleheads
Thurs., April 28  LITTLE ROCK, AR Juanita's
Fri., April 29  ST. LOUIS, MO Off Broadway
Sat., April 30  OKLAHOMA CITY, OK The Blue Door
Sun., May 1  NEWPORT, KY (CINCINNATI, OH) Southgate House
Mon., May 2  NASHVILLE, TN 3rd and Lindsley
Tues., May 3  CLEVELAND, OH Wilbert's
Thurs., May 5  MILWAUKEE, WI Shank Hall
Sat., May 7  BERWYN (CHICAGO), IL Fitzgerald's
Sun., May 8  PHILADELPHIA, PA World Cafe Live
Mon., May 9  NEW YORK, NY Highline Theater
Tues., May 10  ROCHESTER, NY Water Street
Fri., May 13  ALEXANDRIA, VA (WASHINGTON, DC) Birchmere
Sat., May 14  WOODSTOCK, NY Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble

Free Download From Ben Harper, "Rock N' Roll Is Free"

Beginning today, Ben Harper will be giving away a free download of “Rock N’ Roll Is Free” at his website for a limited time. The track, which was Starbucks’ “Pick of the Week” last week, is the first single from his upcoming album, Give Till It’s Gone. The commercial single, video and ringtone for “Rock N’ Roll Is Free” will be available at all digital retailers beginning April 5th. Give Till It’s Gone, due out on May 17th on Virgin Records, was recently spotlighted in Rolling Stone’s Spring Music Preview.

The songs on Give Till It’s Gone – Harper’s first solo record since 2006’s Both Sides of the Gun – are nothing less than a revelation, expressing one man's struggle, confusion and, ultimately, redemption. Harper has never been afraid to dig deep into his emotions for his songs, but there's a sense of maturity and experience on Give Till It's Gone that add new weight to his efforts. Most of the album was recorded at the Los Angeles studio of Jackson Browne, who harmonizes with him on the wistful ”Pray That Our Love Sees The Dawn.” The album also features Ringo Starr on two tracks. “Spilling Faith” and “Get There From Here” were co- written in the studio with the legendary drummer. The pre-order for Give Till It’s Gone is underway now at iTunes.
Harper made his debut in 1994 with Welcome to the Cruel World, which was subsequently certified Gold. In 2005, he received GRAMMY awards for “Best Pop Instrumental Performance” for his single “11th Commandment” and for “Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album” for There Will Be A Light, featuring the Blind Boys of Alabama. Harper formed Fistful of Mercy with Dhani Harrison and Joseph Arthur and the trio released the album As I Call You Down in 2010. He will be playing a mixture of headlining shows and festivals this year, including Lollapalooza Chile this Saturday, April 2nd.
See below for itinerary or visit www.BenHarper.com. Additional dates will be announced soon.
Tour Dates
4/2 - Santiago, Chile - Lollapalooza Chile
4/21 - Byron Bay, NSW Australia - Bluesfest
4/22 - Byron Bay, NSW Australia - Bluesfest
6/4 - Ozark, AR - Wakarusa Festival
6/5 - Kansas City, MO - Crossroads
6/6 - Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre  SOLD OUT
6/7 - Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre SOLD OUT
6/12 - Fès, Morocco - Festival de Fès
6/30 - Chicago, IL - Vic
7/2 - Sioux City, OA - Saturday in the Park
7/3 - Milwaukee, WI - Summerfest
7/5 - Toronto, ON - The Sound Academy
7/16 - Aix les Bains, France - Festival Musilac
7/18 - Lucca, Italy - Piazza Napoleone
7/19 - Rome, Italy - Fiesta Ippodromo delle Capannelle
7/20 - Milan, Italy - Arena Civica
7/22 - Nimes, France - Festival de Nimes
7/25 - St. Malo Du Bois - Festival de Poupet
7/28 - Lucerne, Switzerland - Swiss Blues Festival
7/29 - Tarvisio, Italy - Piazza Unita
7/30 - Verona, Italy - Castello Scaligero di Villafranca
8/5 - Avenches, Switzerland - Rock Oz Arènes
8/6 - Colmar, France - Festival Foire aux Vins d’Alsace
8/7 - Dranouter, Belgium - Dranouter Festival          

Marshall Crenshaw celebrates 30th anniversary with special NYC shows

“His intelligence, integrity, and passion for the great song always show up in his music,” wrote Robert Christgau in his Consumer Guide of Marshall Crenshaw. Over a span of 30 years, Crenshaw has released 13 albums, all of which have received the highest marks from critics and have earned him a fiercely local fan base. And now as Crenshaw prepares to transition from releasing physical albums to making his new music available in a subscription series to be announced soon, he will celebrate his first 30 years of recording in a special three-nighter at City Winery, 155 Varick St. in New York on Friday and Saturday, April 29-30, which are already sold out, with Sunday, May 1 just added. For information, click here.

Crenshaw will perform his debut single and his self-titled debut album in sequence, adding as many other hits and favorites as time permits. He will be joined by Yo La Tengo guitarist Ira Kaplan, longtime associate Graham Maby on bass, drummer Josh Dion, and on the 29th by original drummer (and brother) Robert Crenshaw.

According to Crenshaw, “The emphasis in the advertising, etc. has been on my first album but this year actually marks the 30-year anniversary of the release of ‘Something’s Gonna Happen’ on Shake Records, my first record, and a really, really darn good one, produced by the late Alan Betrock and myself.  Therefore, this year marks my 30th year as a recording artist . . . amazing. It’s crazy!! Holy @!*&&^%!!!

“In 1978, by chance, not by design, I landed in New York City (with my wife) and the next few years were something like a whirlwind. We still do and always will look back on those days with great fondness; these anniversary shows will give me and everyone else in the room on those nights a chance to celebrate those times.”

“As it stands now we’re planning on mostly focusing on early repertoire, sprinkling in some middle period stuff, even some brand new stuff,” Crenshaw says. “I’m normally not that big on nostalgia and don’t plan to make a habit of it, but sometimes it can be a sweet feeling, harmless fun, etc.”

Rolling Stone, in its review of Crenshaw’s first long-player, called the album “1982's most gorgeous singer-songwriter debut,” adding, “every song here sounds like a classic.” Said Creem: “Marshall’s songs are perfect unto themselves — melodies, jaunty rhythms, super fine love lyrics and an exactly executed production that gives the songs a final and finished veneer when put on vinyl.”

Indeed, it was 1981 when Detroit-area native Crenshaw released his first single, “Something’s Gonna Happen” b/w “She Can’t Dance,” on New York Rocker founder Alan Betrock’s Shake Records label. The collectors’ site Discog calls it “As truly romantic, energetic and catchy as any early Beatles, British Invasion or Buddy Holly top hit record.” From it came the Warner Brothers contract that produced such classics as “(You’re My) Favorite Waste of Time,” “Someday Someway,” “Whenever You’re On My Mind” and “Cynical Girl.” The great songs continued with the Life’s Too Short album on MCA (“Fantastic Planet of Love”), three albums for Razor & Tie and the 2009 release Jaggedland (“Someone Told Me,” “Passing Through,” “Never Coming Down”). The Onion’s “A.V. Club” cited Jaggedland’s “sophisticated, warm, and carefully crafted melodies,” while SonicBoomers called it, “as good as anything he’s ever done,” adding, “There is a freshness of spirit to all these songs, like the artist is just starting out instead of being 30 years into a career.”

As The New York Times noted, “Mr. Crenshaw’s songs seem to roll off the guitar in a casual blend of pre-1970s styles — folk-rock, surf-rock, country and above all the Beatles — that put melody first. With his winsome tenor, he delves into the ways love goes right and goes wrong, from distant yearning to the aftermath of infidelity, hiding turmoil within the chiming tunes.”

And the Denver Post, reviewing a show from Crenshaw’s most recent tour, stated, “Crenshaw’s best songs, replete with irresistible hooks and perfect for his voice, are what drew critics and listeners from the beginning. Yet, in live performances, as well as on record, Crenshaw’s noted guitar talents shine through.”

As well as celebrating the first 30 years, the City Winery shows will mark the end of the album era for Crenshaw, who will shortly elaborate on plans to offer a subscription series to a quarterly series of vinyl and digital EPs, which will be available from his web site and other locations.

Further reflecting on his 30-year-old debut 45 RPM recording, Crenshaw notes, “I know that on that night I’ll be thinking of Alan Betrock. We already had some momentum on a couple of fronts: Robert Gordon’s version of ‘Someday Someway’ was causing a big sensation on NY radio, our club gigs were creating a lot of excitement, the press was getting on board, etc., but when Alan stepped into the picture it really put the pedal to the metal. We made a great record, my first, and really, I’d wanted to make a record with my name on it since I was a little kid. Alan put us in touch with another mover and shaker, the great Andy Schwartz, who had taken over New York Rocker magazine from Alan. There were others but that magazine was one of my bibles at the time; in fact I’d met Alan by responding to an ad that he’d run in the magazine announcing the launching of Shake Records.

“These guys had clout and credibility, not just with me but with everybody who was cool and involved with rock music in the city. Pretty soon ‘Something’s Gonna Happen’ was on the radio right alongside of Robert Gordon’s ‘Someday Someway’ and we were officially a big deal on the New York rock scene, something I was hugely proud of, and hopefully not too arrogant behind.”

And looking toward the three dates at City Winery, Crenshaw says, “I’m excited to say that joining us on guitar all weekend, all night long, will be the great Ira Kaplan, somebody who really knows how to spice up the proceedings.”