songs

The Del McCoury Band and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band Release Joint Album

American music fans have an unprecedented opportunity to hear two masterful groups explore the common ground where bluegrass and jazz meet when the Del McCoury Band and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band release their collaborative American Legacies project on April 12th via McCoury Music and Preservation Hall Recordings.  Inspired by the success of the Del McCoury’s participation on 2010’s PRESERVATION, a PHJB project made with multiple artists to benefit New Orleans’ unique Preservation Hall venue and its Music Outreach Program, the set offers a dozen songs filled with deep respect and joyful virtuosity.  Complementing the release, the two groups have announced a joint tour that will feature them performing on their own and together in a groundbreaking concert experience.

With common roots in the rich musical gumbo of the American south in the 19th and early 20th centuries, bluegrass and jazz have sat alongside one another with a myriad of common influences and musical vocabularies that have nevertheless remained largely unexplored until now. American Legaciesis a no-holds-barred tour of songs and sounds that sum up the simultaneous (and often intersecting) histories of two distinctively American musical forms—the jazz that has drawn music lovers from around the world to New Orleans for more than a century, and the “hillbilly jazz” of bluegrass, created more than 60 years ago by Del McCoury’s one-time employer, Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys.

Known as one of the premiere ambassadors of bluegrass, the Del McCoury Band is fronted by veteran Del McCoury,  A hero to east coast bluegrass audiences through the 1970s and 1980s, he stepped onto the national stage with a move to Nashville in the early 1990s that started the Del McCoury Band on an unprecedented streak of International Bluegrass Music Association awards and international acclaim.  Today, McCoury, along with a band that includes his sons Ron and Rob, are admired by hard-core bluegrass traditionalists and eclectic music fans and stars alike as they make appearances everywhere from the Bonnaroo Music Festival to late night network TV shows to their own popular Delfest.  For millions of fans across the US and around the world, the Del McCoury Band is simply the face of bluegrass.

Founded just a few years before McCoury joined Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band has been carrying the distinctive sound of New Orleans jazz around the world on behalf of Preservation Hall, a unique venue that embodies the city’s musical legacy.  With a cast of musicians schooled through first-hand experience and apprenticeship into the music’s historic traditions, the PHJB has served as an irreplaceable, vital link to the earliest days of one of America’s most beloved forms of popular music, evoking the spirits of times past in an ever-evolving modern context that has found them traveling around the world.

Hit by a Train -- the Old 97’s in Boulder

I left the Boulder Theater with both ears ringing thoroughly and my head in a satiated state of buzz, and in fact I was bone sober (as far as intoxicants are concerned).

NPR Takes Ladysmith Black Mambazo Back Home

For their new album, 'Songs From a Zulu Farm' (out this week on Listen 2 Entertainment Group/Razor & Tie Entertainment), South Africa's a cappella treasure Ladysmith Black Mambazo went back home.

Original band member Albert Mazibuko and 20-year band manager Mitch Goldstein joined NPR Weekend Edition Sunday’s host Liane Hansen to discuss how Ladysmith Black Mambazo collected songs traditionally sung by Zulu parents to their children for the new album.

"There's such a rich, wonderful history. A personal history that comes from the group that's not always found in their CDs," Goldstein said. Mazibuko added, "When my grandmother told me about the songs, she said that their parents were singing the same songs to them."

Listen to the NPR interview here.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo was featured earlier this month on AOL’s Spinner blog, where Mazibuko, said, "Most of these songs we sing, even the traditional songs and the songs we wrote as a group, are the songs that always have lessons of encouragement, this kind of instruction."

Read more about 'Songs From a Zulu Farm' and listen to "Uthekwane" and "Leliyafu" here.

Read some Grateful Web coverage of Ladysmith Black Mambazo here.

John Prine at the Boulder Theater - 03.25.11

97.3 KBCO & the Daily Camera are proud to present John Prine at the Boulder Theater on Friday, March 25th, 2011.

The first time he got onstage to perform – at a Chicago open mic night – there was absolute silence. Here comes a guy nobody had ever seen, a mailman from nearby Maywood, and the very first songs he ever sings are miracles, songs like “Hello In There” and “Angel from Montgomery.” But this stunned silence spelled disaster to Prine. “They just sat there,” he said. “They didn’t even applaud, they just looked at me. I thought, `Uh oh. This is pretty bad.’ I started shuffling my feet and looking around. And then they started applauding and it was a really great feeling. It was like I found out all of a sudden that I could communicate deep feelings and emotions. And to find that out all at once was amazing.”

That one night changed his life. The club-owner offered him a gig, and from that moment on he quickly became one of Chicago’s most beloved local heroes, a guy who would honor the Windy City with as much love and grace as Studs Terkel and Carl Sandburg. Prine soon befriended another local hero, Steve Goodman, and with Goodman he met the world. Kris Kristofferson heard his songs, helped him land a record deal, and soon everyone knew what Chicago already did, that Prine was the real deal. From that first album on, he came known as a genuine “songwriter’s songwriter,” one of the rare ones who writes the songs other songwriters would sell their souls for.  Evidence of this is the long list of songwriters who have recorded his songs, including Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, the Everly Brothers, John Denver, Kris Kristofferson, Carly Simon, Ben Harper, Joan Baez, and many others. Even Bob Dylan was stunned. “His stuff is pure Proustian existentialism,” said Bob Dylan.  . “He’s so good,” said Kristofferson, “we’re gonna have to break his fingers.”

Dylan and the rest were simply recognizing that which we have all come to know, that Prine’s songs are so hauntingly evocative of the laughter and tears inherent in the human condition, so purely precise and finely etched, that lines from them linger in our hearts and minds like dreams, separate from the songs. There’s the rodeo poster from “Angel from Montgomery,” the hole in daddy’s arm and the broken radio (from “Sam Stone”), the old trees that just grow stronger (from “Hello In There.”) The kinds of lines you carry around in your pocket, knowing they’re in there when you need them. With a staggering penchant for detail, a proclivity to be both hilarious and deeply serious (and often in the same song), and a visceral embrace  of roots music, he’s  made the kinds of songs nobody ever dreamed of before, or since.

Born on October 10th, 1946 in Maywood, he grew up spinning Roy Acuff and Hank Williams 78s in his dad’s collection, as well as tuning into WJJD to hear Webb Pierce, Lefty Frizell and others “back to back, all night long.” And then a new kind of music arrived: “I was coming of age just as rock and roll was invented,” he said, and along with his country heroes he added Elvis, Little Richard, Fats Domino, and the one he loved the most, Chuck Berry: “Because he told a story in less than three minutes.”

At 14 he started playing guitar and never stopped, starting with old folk tunes taught to him by his brother Dave. After high school he enlisted in the army, and was happy to be stationed in Germany, far from Viet Nam. He spent most of his time in the barracks playing guitar and singing Lefty Frizzell and Hank Williams songs with a friend.After the army, he became a mailman, which he loved because he could write songs while walking his familiar route. “It was like a library with no books,” he said.

He haunted the fringes of Chicago open mic nights, mostly at the old Fifth Peg on Armitage in Old Town. Once he summoned up the courage to perform, although terrified, he knew he was home. The rest is singer-songwriter history. It was 1971, the dream of the Sixties was over and Goodman and Prine emerged with a new kind of song, eschewing abstractions to write story songs about real people:  “Midwestern mindtrips to the nth degree,” as Dylan put it. Songs with the concrete details and imagery of a novel, but compounded, like Prine’s hero Chuck Berry’s songs, into mini-masterpieces.

After landing his first gig, he went home and wrote more masterpieces that made up his first self-titled debut, released in 1971. It was received with near-unanimous raves: “… absolutely one of the greatest albums ever made,” wrote a hometown paper, “by one of the most creative and evocative songwriters of our time.” There was the recognition then, which has been confirmed by the passage of time, that even among the best, he stood out. “Good songwriters are on the rise,” wrote Rolling Stone, “but John is differently good.”

Fans hungry for meaningful new music discovered him, unconcerned if he was the “new Dylan” or not, as he was often labeled, but drawn to the complex simplicity of his songs, the heady amalgam of sorrow and whimsy. Always seeking to strike a balance in his work, Prine said he wrote funny songs so as to get back to the tragic ones.

He made eight albums on two major labels, including Sweet Revenge, Common Sense, and Bruised Orange. In 1980 he moved to Nashville, and with longtime manager Al Bunetta, formed his own label, Oh Boy Records in 1981. They’ve since released a chain of great records, including 1991’s Grammy-winning The Missing Years, which featured cameos by Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. In 2000 he recaptured his own legacy by recording Souvenirs, new recordings of many of his classic songs.

In 1998 he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer centered in his neck. The removal of a tumor and subsequent radiation seems to have eradicated it completely. Although his singing voice was lowered significantly, he faced his illness with the same blend of wistful humor he instills in his songs. In a post-surgery letter to his fans, he wrote, “Hopefully my neck is looking forward to its job of holding my head up above my shoulders.”

Now he’s back with a brand new live album, John Prine: In Person & On Stage, which contains both solo and duet renditions of some of early songs such as “Angel From Montgomery” (here in a breathtaking duet with Emmylou Harris) as well as later classics such as “Unwed Fathers” (with Iris DeMent) and one of the most poignant songs ever from a husband to a wife, “She Is My Everything.”

“If he’s this good this young,” wrote Rolling Stone in 1971, “time should be on his side.” Truer words have rarely been written. Some four decades since his remarkable debut, Prine has stayed at the top of his game, both as a performer and songwriter. Recently honored at the Library of Congress, he has been elevated from the annals of songwriters into the realm of bonafide American treasures.  Poet Laureate Ted Kooser introduced him at the Library of Congress by likening him to Raymond Carver for making “monuments of ordinary lives.” But the greatest testaments to his lasting legacy are the songs themselves. Unlike so many which belong only to the time in which they emerged, his, like the old trees in “Hello In There,” seem to just grow stronger with the passing years.

--

Tickets are on sale at Boulder Theater Box Office. Call (303) 786-7030 for tickets by phone.

Tickets are also available through our website @ www.bouldertheater.com.

Tickets are On Sale Saturday, February 5th!

$40 GA / $48.50 Res / $65 Gold Circle

Beat Kaestli & Elizabeth Lohninger @ The Zinc

On January 24th, NYC witnessed its coldest day in six years with high forecasts for the day in low teens. While the city's wiser residents spent their night coddled in sweaters and blankets, a select few decided to brave their way into Greenwich Village and attend Zinc Bar for a night of blood-tempering jazz and booze.

Sugar Hill To Release Brian Wright's House On Fire

Sugar Hill Records is proud to continue its legacy of incredible songwriters with the release of Brian Wright’s House on Fire – due out March 29th. While this is the first label release from the Waco, TX native, he has built a firm base of fans within and beyond the music industry with two previous releases and tireless touring in the US and Europe. Unlike previous releases, which were both recorded in the studio with a band, House on Fire approaches the recording process in a much more relaxed and reflective manner, with Wright playing every instrument himself and handpicking his prolifically written songs into a mindful, well-curated collection.

And make no mistake, this album truly is about the songs. Gems like “Mean ol’ Wind” and “Live Again” convey the tenderness of the soul which very few songwriters can capture.  “Striking Matches” and “The Good Dr.” bring the driving sound of a cross-country bound train, bound for heartache or redemption. “Maria Sugarcane” paints with a Southern Gothic brush that would make Flannery O’Connor proud.

“When people ask what I sound like, I usually say I’m somewhere between Woody Guthrie and Velvet Underground,” says Wright. “This album finally allowed me to make the music the exact way it was in my head.”

After spending his early twenties on the Austin/Waco/Dallas bar circuit, playing everything from punk to covers, Wright flipped a coin to decide his future home, either New York City or Los Angeles.  Going West won the day.  Today, when not touring, he resides in Los Angeles where he is a fixture in the LA music scene.  For the last six years he has been the front man and lyricist for his band Brian Wright and the Waco Tragedies, a band that has gathered a devoted audience across the country.

Wright has plans to launch the record with a full showcase schedule at SXSW in Austin plus a string of nation-wide tour dates.

John Brown's Body & Katchafire @ the Fox

In 2006, John Brown's Body found itself at a crossroads, when the death of bassist Scott Palmer broke the band’s heart. After the tragedy, several longtime members left the group. But, a strange thing happened to the band staring at its own mortality: somehow, JBB emerged transformed and inspired.

A vital, creative energy sprang from the band’s new dynamic and new members. JBB found itself pushing more at the edges of reggae. New songs incorporated slinkier bass lines, denser instrumentation, less predictable rhythms. Beats became funkier, more drum-and-bass inflected.

JBB realized it was at a turning point: keep playing the same style of music, or follow the new sound and see where it leads. It was the same way the band members felt about reggae: how do you break rules and create something unique while still honoring the music that came before?

The answer is that it’s possible (and ultimately necessary) to push forward.  “Future Roots,” which the band began using to describe its sound as far back as its 2005 Pressure Points release, took another step forward. The current evolution builds on a reggae foundation, incorporating elements from different genres. The new songs are timeless and futuristic all at once, anchored and exploring simultaneously.

These explorations are instantly evident on Amplify, which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Reggae Chart in October 2008, and its remix follow-up EP, Re-Amplify, released in March 2009 also debuting on the Billboard’s Reggae Top 10 Chart.

"Amplify is the sound of a band recreated, retooled and refreshed,” writes Canada’s Exclaim Magazine, and other reviewers agree: “Amplify has a forward thinking, fearless approach to tempos, beats and feel that expands the genre of reggae as a whole.” [Amazon].

While Amplify showed the world the fearless new directions JBB’s music is headed in, Re-Amplify took it even further by putting the band’s songs into the hands of outside remixers for the first time. Working with Gym Class Heroes’ Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo, Juno-Award-nominated producer Dubmatix, dance floor pioneer Tommie Sunshine, Australia’s urban roots powerhouse Blue King Brown and others, the band’s songs were stretched every which way, resulting in an EP that pleased fans and opened the band up to even further possibilities in their musical approach. How open? The band liked Dubmatix’s remix of “The Gold” so much, they switched to playing that version in their live sets.

JBB’s live show has the kind of organic, body-rocking sound that’s only possible with an 8-piece band where air tight drum and bass, a three piece horn section, and “the most gorgeous melodies in all of modern reggae music” [All Music Guide] meet a dubbed-out sound engineer. Where will JBB head next? The near future includes first ever tours of the UK and New Zealand, as well as initial work on the follow up to Amplify. What direction will the music take? Who knows, but whatever it is, it is sure to push boundaries.

--

Tickets are on sale at Fox Theatre Box Office. Call (303) 443-3399 for tickets by phone.

Tickets are also available through our website @ www.foxtheatre.com.

$18 adv / $22 dos

Tickets On Sale – Friday January 21st!

Amy Speace's new CD 'Land Like a Bird' announced

Amy Speace wrote her new album, Land Like a Bird, with her life in a state of transition. Having spent many years in Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey, surrounded by concrete, taxi horns and rushing trains, Speace suddenly found herself in the South. She’d done quite well as a New Yorker: she was signed by Judy Collins — who called Speace “one of the best young songwriters” — to Wildflower Records; she was awarded an NPR “Song of the Day”; and she toured with Collins, Nanci Griffith and Shawn Colvin. The city’s WFUV-FM named her song “Weight of the World” the #4 Folk Song of the Decade in its 2010 year-end Top 10 list.

“But life takes its twists and turns and as much as I loved Manhattan, I felt the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another. Relief and anticipation went hand in hand with the grieving,” she says of the change.

Space began writing Land Like a Bird as she bade farewell her Jersey City apartment with the view of the Statute of Liberty and lower Manhattan (inspiration for the song “Manila Street”). Many of the songs were goodbyes to people and places (“Had to Lose,” “Ghost,” Ron Sexsmith’s beautiful “Galbraith Street”). She brought these songs and unpacked them in her new East Nashville home.

Land Like a Bird follows Speace’s 2006 Songs for Bright Street on Collins’ Wildflower Records and 2009’s The Killer in Me. The latter, her “breakup album” which featured guest vocals by Ian Hunter, earned much critical praise. “Amy Speace is a rising star,” opined USA Today. NPR said, “Her velvety, achy voice recalls an early Lucinda Williams. Sounding grounded but wounded, Speace exudes the vulnerability of someone who’s loved and lost.” The Washington Post advised, “If you bemoan the lack of solid singer-songwriters in the world who can bridge inner turmoil with universal experience, Speace is just what you need to hear.”

The new album was produced by Neilson Hubbard (Kim Richey, Matthew Ryan, Glen Phillips, Garrison Starr) at Mr. Lemons studio in Nashville. Hubbard played bass, keyboards and vibes. Speace and Hubbard first met seven years ago while performing on an Arizona TV show and discovered their simpatico musical directions. However, they did not remain in touch. When Speace moved to Nashville last year, they were reintroduced, immediately co-wrote a song, and decided to collaborate on what would become Land Like a Bird. Kim Richey sang background vocals on “Land Like A Bird,” “Half Asleep & Wide Awake” and “Real Love Song.”

“As the fall became winter and the winter became spring, Neilson Hubbard and I would meet and write or record and snippets became songs became demos became a sound we both were chasing,” Speace says of the making of the album. “And by early fall 2010 we were inside the record we both knew we wanted to make together, a full turn of the seasons from my arrival.”

In other news, Speace will be seen on the forthcoming Big Star documentary Nothing Can Hurt Me: The Big Star Story http://vimeo.com/11881695 which includes her performance of “Try Again” with the surviving Big Star members, the Posies and Evan Dando at the Alex Chilton tribute at SXSW in March 2010. Speace and charter Big Star member Jody Stephens had met at the Folk Alliance a few years back in the band’s home of Memphis. Speace was a huge fan of Big Star and was pleasantly surprised that Stephens, in turn, as a fan of hers.

North Mississippi Allstars @ the Boulder Theater | 02.25

In the beginning, a father passed away and a child was born. Luther and Cody Dickinson lost their father, Memphis music legend Jim Dickinson, only months before Luther became one. Jim had always told them, “You need to be playing music together. You are better together than you will ever be apart.” Coincidentally, the Dickinson brothers were not together when Jim passed. At that moment, they were both off on their own, Luther with The Black Crowes and Cody with the Hill Country Revue.

Jon Hardy & the Public to release 'A Hard Year'

Acclaimed purveyors of resonating Americana, Jon Hardy & the Public prepare for the January 25 release of a new stand-out EPA Hard Year - continuing their tradition of being St. Louis' "best kept secret" and announce a very special hometown show to celebrate!

Jon Hardy’s voice is deep and true, expressing yearning, pain, and triumph all at the same time. The St. Louis singer/songwriter and his band, The Public, make music that has bowled over critics at outlets like NPR, No Depression and hometown weekly Riverfront Times. “I asked fellow music writer Roy Kasten to name a better song than Hardy’s ‘Cassius Clay’ to come out of St. Louis since Uncle Tupelo’s ‘Gun,’” wrote that paper’s Christian Schaefer. “He couldn’t.”

Indeed, the group’s Americana-rooted sound often draws comparisons to Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar’s early work, though it also incorporates horn-driven soul and stomping, anthemic rock a la Bruce Springsteen. Also featuring Glenn Labarre on lead guitar, Johnny Kidd on keyboards, Greg Shadwick on bass and Mike Schurk on drums, The Public are also influenced by Randy Newman, and released a four song cover EP of his tracks called Little Criminals. “There’s something in his voice that gives me the impression that he’s on the outside looking in, that he’s not invited to the party,” says Hardy. “His songs are comforting and troubling all at the same time.”

This uneasy combination was recently featured as NPR’s Song of the Day with the single “Worst I Ever Had”. “Brilliantly capturing that desperate feeling lying somewhere between lust and fear,” wrote NPR’s Ben Westhoff, “the group shows why they probably won’t be simply regional favorites for much longer.”

The two EPs followed the group’s 2005 debut Make Me Like Gold, which No Depression writer Ed Ward said was “about as original as any grass-roots recording by a guitar-based band is going to get at this late date” and their 2007 disc Working In Love. That album featured the show-stopping “Cassius Clay” and songs concerning Hardy’s recent divorce; in many ways the album was a letter to his ex-wife. “That was the best way I knew to tell her what I was thinking and feeling,” he says.
In recent years, Jon Hardy & The Public have performed with acclaimed acts including Okkervil River, The Avett Brothers, White Denim, John Vanderslice, Pernice Brothers and White Rabbits and drawn comparisons to Spoon. Their music has been played on college and community radio stations from coast to coast.
Hardy was raised in Webster Groves, just outside of St. Louis, by a Presbyterian preacher father and a mother whose work included substitute teaching. “It was a strange mix of liberal and conservative,” Hardy says. “My dad would always spend time reading to us about the civil rights movement. At the same time, TV was not smiled upon and music was carefully reviewed.” Having grown up on his parents’ classic rock and pop records, he taught himself guitar largely from listening to blues players like Lightnin’ Hopkins and B.B. King on local radio.
His first band was a power pop outfit called Shelby. “I remember I was very afraid of being in front of people and performing,” he says. “I don’t know that I’ve completely gotten over it.” An odd thing to say, as Jon Hardy & The Public’s shows have the inspirational quality of a revival meeting worthy of his father. Often featuring a full horns section and a faithful cover of Springsteen’s “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),” they are largely responsible for the band’s considerable grassroots following in the Midwest.
Shadwick joined the group not long before he and Hardy were laid off from their jobs. He joined Labarre (a former fan of the band who came aboard shortly after Make Me Like Gold), Kidd (who brought a soul and pop aesthetic to the group) and Schurk, who answered a craigslist ad and bested other potential stickmen in a try-out. All five members collaborate on their albums’ stunning production, which highlights each member’s considerable musicianship without sacrificing their raw power.
Hardy makes it clear that he and The Public are dedicated to making quality tracks that stand the test of time. “We all still have to work other jobs to pay the bills, and in the meantime we’re trying to create good music,” he says. He’s also firmly rooted in his community, penning songs largely for himself and his friends. It just so happens that these tunes -- in all their rumbling power -- resonate with folks he’s never met. A sound as big as theirs, it turns out, has a hard time being contained.