song

Sam Llanas of the BoDeans readies solo album '4 a.m.'

Sam Llanas (pronounced yanas), lead singer-guitarist for the acclaimed Milwaukee band the BoDeans, takes listeners deep into the night on his new release, 4 A.M., arriving Oct. 25 on Inner Knot Records. The intimate, mostly acoustic collection, produced by longtime collaborator Gary Tanin, features 10 new Llanas originals and a dazzling cover of Cyndi Lauper’s hit “All Through the Night.”

Llanas says of his latest work, “I do a lot of work late at night. It’s a night record, a nocturnal record, thematically about things that happen in the night. That covers a lot of ground. It could be the simple things — being in love, being with somebody — or about the loneliness that the night can bring.”

The album, an understated complement to the BoDeans’ just-released 10th studio album Indigo Dreams, is markedly different from Llanas’ 1998 solo bow A Good Day to Die, which was a powerful eulogy for Llanas’s brother recorded under the group rubric Absinthe.

“The Absinthe record was kind of bombastic and very intense,” Llanas says. “I wanted to do something that was lighter, as light as I can get. I wanted it to be completely different. That’s why 4 A.M. is pretty much an acoustic record.”

Work on 4 A.M. began nearly four years ago, when Llanas’ band the BoDeans, which he has led since 1983, was between projects.

He recalls, “I had time on my hands, and I had some songs I wanted to record. I started working with Terry Vittone — I just said, ‘Hey, let’s make some recordings.’ There was no real thought that it was going to be an album or anything like that. It just sort of escalated from there.”

Sessions for the embryonic project commenced at guitarist Vittone’s house. “I would record the songs in the afternoon,” Llanas says, “and get them to a point where I liked them. Then the next day I’d go back, and Terry would say, ‘Sam, I want you to hear some ideas I threw down on the track.’ And Terry was willing to take really strong direction from me, because I didn’t want a guitar player who was playing all over the song. Terry was really good at putting in the nuances that were needed. He played very little, and that seemed to work very well.”

With the majority of the material in the can, a protracted layoff from recording ensued. After almost two years, Llanas began completing 4 A.M. at Daystorm Music in Milwaukee with producer-musician Tanin, who had also worked on A Good Day To Die and supplied the strings on the new recording.

Llanas decided to preserve the original recording’s spare quality, and added a couple of new tracks that were left untouched. “I wanted to keep it simple. ‘The Way Home’ and ‘Janey’ seemed to work really well just the way they were.”

However, he adds, “I thought the other songs needed a bit more dressing up. Some I thought would work better if we put a little bit more on them.” Thus, BoDeans keyboardist Bukka Allen was called in to play accordion, while Milwaukee musicians Matt Turner and Ryan Schiedermayer contributed bass and percussion, respectively.

Some of the compositions on 4 A.M. began life as prospective material for the BoDeans, Llanas says: “‘Nobody Luvs Me’ was actually recorded with the BoDeans, but it’s quite a different version — you wouldn’t really know it’s the same song. ‘Shyne’ was on our album Mr. Sad Clown. I thought that would work really well there, so I brought it into that project. The first song on 4 A.M., ‘Oh, Celia,’ was demoed with the BoDeans years and years ago. That’s quite an old song.”

Nestling seamlessly with Llanas’ own cycle of before-dawn melodies is his hushed cover of Lauper’s 1983 perennial “All Through the Night,” penned by Jules Shear. “It’s a beautiful song,” Llanas says, “but when they recorded it, in the early ’80s, the sound that they got on it was so harsh . The keyboards always ruined the song for me. I really wanted a version of that song that was just beautiful. That’s what I tried to do — honor that song, and give it what it deserved.”

Llanas’ new solo opus offers a new dimension to his music — one that actually dates back to the sunrise of his professional career.

“Before I ever had the BoDeans, I was a solo performer in Waukesha,” he remembers. “I would go and play at these open mic shows, and I learned my craft and honed my stage skills that way. I think this record really reflects that part of my career, that part of my personality. It goes back to before I ever performed with the BoDeans. It was just me — one man and one guitar.”

Esteemed rock critic and author Dave Marsh calls 4 A.M. “A great record. Really the best thing that has come out of their music in a long, long time — closer to classic BoDeans. Sammy’s voice is so much what I love about BoDeans and it has never been showcased any better.”

ANR Get Remixed by Memory Tapes, Release Stay Kids Deluxe Edition

Miami duo ANR will release the deluxe edition of their post-apocalyptic pop album Stay Kids on September 13th through 10K Islands. In the meantime the prolific group will be releasing videos, remixes, and other goodies. Most recently, they enlisted Memory Tapes to remix “Stay Kids,” their blissed-out, nostalgic anthem about growing older. Click HERE to stream/download Memory Tapes’ take on the track, and click HERE to watch the video for ANR’s original version of the song.

ANR consists of merely two members – Brian Robertson (Keys, Vocals) and Michael-John Hanock (Vocals, Drums) – but they create a powerful sound filled with layered melodies and bountiful hooks. It has already earned the duo praise from RCRD LBL, The Fader, and Nylon, among others, and have landed them shows with bands like Animal Collective, Neon Indian, No Age, and Fucked Up.

Stay Kids is a rhythmically propulsive, psychedelic trip that was inspired largely by recent floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other environmental disasters. Much of the album’s lyrics meditate on how such ‘natural’ disasters affect individuals and humanity at large. However, sonically-speaking the album is by no means morose. Instead, the synth-heavy and often danceable material feels triumphant. Each song is a journey through carefully sculpted, dream-pop soundscapes with frequent, unexpected and exciting detours

ANR’s live show highlights a different aspect of the band, bringing out their punk influences as well as their penchant for German progressive acts of the 70’s. The group will tour throughout the US this Fall, with dates to be announced soon.

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Click HERE to Watch the Video for “Stay Kids”

Click HERE for Memory Tapes’ Remix of “Stay Kids”

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Tour Dates:

8/29: Philadelphia, PA Kung-Fu Necktie
8/30: New York, NY Milk Studios
8/31: New York, NY Mercury Lounge
9/1: Boston, MA Brighton Music Hall
9/2: Montreal, QC Casa Del Popolo
9/3: Toronto, ONT The Drake
9/5: Detroit, MI Lager House
9/6: Grand Rapids, MI Pyramid Scheme
9/7: Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
9/9: Urbana, IL Canopy Club
9/10: Minneapolis, MN 7th Street Entry
9/12: Seattle, WA Crocodile Lounge
9/13: Portland, OR Doug Fir
9/15: San Francisco, CA Bottom Of The Hill
9/16: Fresno, CA Audie’s Olympic
9/17: Los Angeles, CA The Satellite
9/20: San Diego, CA Soda Bar

AgesandAges | Bluebird Theater | 7/20/11

AgesandAges have been described as “big tent revivalists.” Some lump them into the cult category, alongside Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, as they have a sev

Mason Jennings at Boulder Theater | 10.27.11

Z2 Entertainment is proud to present Mason Jennings with The Pines at the Boulder Theater on Thursday, October 27th, 2011.  Tickets go on sale Tuesday, July 19h for $22.50 in advance and $25.00 the day of the show.

As one grows into adulthood, remaining focused on one’s pursuits gets increasingly difficult. The musician becomes a band mate navigating the creative energies of those around them. He becomes a boyfriend, a husband, a businessman. Life becomes multifarious, and the pressure to not let the threads of a chaotic life unravel can cause strain on any relationship. With his new album Minnesota, Mason Jennings crafts a collage of love trying to survive the transition into being a grown-up in a complex world.

For instance, “Bitter Heart,” which manages to be simultaneously plaintive and hopeful. The protagonist recognizes the breach of faith and the sense of estrangement in the relationship, but sings tenderly of rapprochement. To Mason, the central line in this song and the album is “Our world is filled with only what we see/Can we see love now.” Mason says, “I have come to the understanding that the way that we feel inside is the most important thing, and that we have a say in that.” “Clutch” looks back wistfully at a love before the demands of adulthood came knocking. At the end of the song, Mason sings that “Maybe we could work it out, we could live in a dream, live in a dream.”  The song ends in an instrumental break that leads directly into “Witches’ Dream,” a fabulist romp that juxtaposes raw lust with fairy tale imagery.

Musically, Mason paints from a more varied palette than ever.  The piano is featured more prominently than his previous albums. “The piano seemed to fit the emotional core of the album,” he explains. “I felt that it was important to begin and end the album with piano.” Mason played almost all of the instruments on the album, the one exception being “Well Of Love,” a Perez Prado-esque number that features his friends in The Living Room, the side project of Jack Johnson drummer/percussionist Adam Topol. Friend Jason Schwartzman adds additional piano and background vocals on “Raindrops.”

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Mason Jennings

with The Pines

Boulder Theater

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Doors: 7:00 pm

Show Time: 8:00 pm

Mountain Man | Larimer Lounge | 7.16.2011

I am a sucker for old-time music, the older the better. Slices of history that echo the times and evoke images of gone eras. The three young ladies of Mountain Man sing some amazing covers of old-school songs mixed in with their originals, which are at least as good.

Singer-Songwriter Justin Hines Triumphs With US Debut

Optimism permeates throughout Days to Recall, Justin Hines U.S. debut album to be released August 2nd on Decca. The Canadian singer/songwriter’s collection of heartfelt songs about life and love showcase his considerable talents, and his will to overcome insurmountable obstacles.  The CD coincides with a PBS special of Hines in concert -- taped at Toronto’s Royal Cinema with special guests Ron Sexsmith, Natalie MacMaster, Donnell Leahy, Sierra Noble and The Canadian Tenors -- slated to air multiple times across the U.S. during Public Television’s August pledge drive.

Justin Hines has thrived all his life against odds that would daunt someone with a less indomitable spirit.  Hines has Larsen Syndrome, a joint dislocation condition that confines him to a wheelchair.   He admits his condition has provided challenges, but primarily sees the good it has brought him and the inspiration he can provide others.  “There have been so many blessings. It’s afforded me so many other opportunities. It’s a bit of an attention grabber,” he says. “But then my job is to keep people interested, and keep their attention with my music.”

Highlights on Days To Recall include the first single, the instantly catchy “Tell Me I’m Wrong,” a duet with fellow Canadian/actress Jill Hennessy on the plaintive, “Why Not Love Me” and the uplifting “Say What You Will.”  The latter track took on a life of its own after a South African video featuring the Most Rev. Dr. Desmond Tutu was used as part of a campaign to build 20 schools in 11 days.  Hines performed in South Africa this spring and saw the schools that will educate more than 22,000 students.

To hear “Tell Me I’m Wrong,” click here.

Music was integral throughout Justin’s young life.  He doesn’t remember it, but his mom tells him he wrote his first song when he was seven. In his late teens, he decided to teach himself how to play piano as a way to better express himself.  “I’d done a lot of writing with other people. The most frustrating thing was I could hear the song in my head, but I was relying on other people to write chords since I didn’t play anything,” he says.

Even though Justin grew up singing in church, the realization of pursuing his musical dreams happened at the most unlikely of places— at a Toronto Raptors’ basketball game in his hometown 15 years ago.  A then 14-year-old Justin won a vocal competition to sing the National Anthem at the game — both the Canadian and American -- and his world opened up before him. “In that moment, it all seemed possible,” he recalls. Thrown in the deep end, Hines has performed professionally ever since and realized he could not only survive, but succeed.

To watch the Justin Hines EPK click here.

Jason Aldean Scores 3rd Consecutive #1 with "Dirt Road Anthem!"

Country rocker Jason Aldean scores his seventh No. one song as “Dirt Road Anthem” drives into the top slot on the Billboard Country Songs chart this week.  The third consecutive PLATINUM release off Country’s best-selling album of 2011, MY KINDA PARTY, the track also tops the Country Digital Singles Chart again this week with over 1.3 million singles sold to date.

"We definitely knew when we recorded this song, we'd turn some heads.  Thankfully, when they turned, they also started nodding along," laughs Aldean.  "It's been a great song to play live and also to be able to do some experimenting with for tv performances and things like that.  I love being able to put out a big ballad like our duet with Kelly and come back with something a little different the next time.   I don't want anyone to ever think they've got me figured out exactly!"

Simultaneously, Aldean's duet with pop powerhouse Kelly Clarkson "Don't You Wanna Stay" continues to climb the AC, Hot AC and Top 40 charts.  Both songs follow the success of the lead single "My Kinda Party," making this the third consecutive No. one hit from Aldean's fourth studio effort.

Aldean spent this last week in Phoenix at the Major League Baseball's All Star Week, where he played in the Celebrity and Legends softball game and performed on ESPN's broadcast of the 2011 Homerun Derby.  He is also featured this month in ESPN magazine's celebrity series "Fans Like Us" with Justin Timberlake, John Legend and more.  Click here to see behind the scenes of the photo shoot with Aldean and Kenny Mayne:

Aldean's MY KINDA PARTY TOUR continues to crisscross the country selling out the nation's biggest amphitheaters with openers Chris Young and Thompson Square.  For more information and a full list of tour dates, visit www.jasonaldean.com.

Steep Canyon Rangers Join Steve Martin At America’s Biggest 4th of July Party

The Steep Canyon Rangers brought America's music to America's Day, teaming with entertainment icon Steve Martin to bring serious bluegrass with a comedic twist to the Fourth of July Celebration at The National Mall in Washington DC. Their high-energy performance, part of a star-studded Independence Day event, marks the year's highest profile and most-watched bluegrass concert, the latest milestone for The Steep Canyon Rangers in a year that has included two Presidential concerts!

Performing for almost half a million people gathered on The Mall, as well as millions more at home tuned onto PBS' annual presentation of A Capitol Fourth, Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers debuted their new MP3 single, "Me and Paul Revere." The original song, based on Martin's historical research, sets the record straight amid all the recent confusion and controversy. Sung by Steep Canyon Ranger guitarist Woody Platt, "Me and Paul Revere" tells the story of that famous ride from the point of view of Revere's horse, Brown Beauty. The song has become the official show closer of Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers' 50-plus date national tour in support of their recent celebrated CD, Rare Bird Alert (Rounder), featuring guest appearances by Paul McCartney and The Dixie Chicks.

Part of a patriotic evening that ranged from first-generation rock 'n' roll legend Little Richard to Glee star Matthew Morrison, Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers turned Independence Day into Jubilation Day. Their hard-driving set had folks dancing all over mall, all captured by PBS' cameras. Along with his trademark comical emcee work, Martin displayed his versatility on the banjo, performing both Scruggs style and clawhammer pieces. The Steep Canyon Rangers took the spotlight for the finale, showcasing Nicky Sanders' explosive improvisations on the fiddlers' national anthem, "The Orange Blossom Special."

The Steep Canyon Rangers' appearance on A Capitol Fourth is the latest episode in a remarkable year of working with Martin to bring bluegrass to new audiences at such high-profile, non-traditional venues as Carnegie Hall and headlining Bonnaroo, New Orleans Jazzfest, The Newport Folk Festival and Merlefest. SCR also just signed with Rounder Records, the premier bluegrass record label. Their partnership further establishes Steep Canyon Rangers as an extraordinary presence on the bluegrass and roots music scene, joining the likes of other Rounder artists such as Alison Krauss, Bela Fleck, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Robert Plant. SCR will release a new album with Rounder in 2012.

Sept. 9-10, The Steep Canyon Rangers will present their annual Mountain Song Festival at the world-renowned Brevard Music Center in Brevard, NC. With previous headliners like Doc Watson, Sam Bush, Del McCoury, David Holt, David Grisman Quintet and Steve Martin, the festival has raised over $190,000 for the Transylvania County Boys & Girls Club.

"Me and Paul Revere" is available at www.steepcanyon.com, where you can also find Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers' "Jubilation Day" video and a complete SCR tour schedule. For Mountain Song Festival tickets and information: www.mountainsongfestival.com. The archive of the PBS broadcast is located here: http://video.pbs.org/video/2042635078.

British Singer-Songwriter Lee MacDougall Set for 2nd U.S. Tour This Year

Capitalizing on the success of his debut tour of the U.S. earlier this year, which included a performance at the SxSW Festival in Austin in March, British singer-songwriter-guitarist Lee MacDougall, returns for his second tour of the U.S. beginning in August. Dubbed the All The Right Places tour, the schedule kicks off in New York City on August 4 and will cover multiple cities over a two-month period.

Since his initial appearances in the U.S., MacDougall has successfully toured in Germany, Austria and Italy as well as playing in his hometown of London, where, in addition to an intimate club date, he opened for headliner Bon Jovi at the massive Hard Rock Calling Festival in London's Hyde Park on June 25th. He will also be supporting Atlantic Records recording artist Rumer on her UK tour in November.

MacDougall has become known for mesmerizing audiences with emotionally-driven melodies and resonating vocals. Louisville's Backseat Sandbar says of MacDougall:  "He has the type of voice that can fill every crevice of a room and every fiber in your body.  Its clear perfection can play your heart strings as easily as his fingers strum his guitar."

Earlier this year, MacDougall released an self-produced 11-song CD called IF WALLS COULD TALK that is available from his website (www.leemacdougallmusic.com) and at his live shows. The CD includes the standout tracks "The Star Hotel," "She" and "Joanna," among others. Additionally, noted producer Jim Lowe (who has worked with the Stereophonics, Taylor Swift and the Charlatans) produced several tracks with him, including the version of "She" that is part of a three-song EP he released via iTunes last year. An acoustic rendition of the song produced by Lee appears on IF WALLS COULD TALK.

With the expansion of his live repertoire, MacDougall is releasing a new self-produced CD (recorded in his bedroom) called FOR A FEW TALES MORE to coincide with the upcoming U.S. dates. This 10-song release includes a number of new songs, among them the affecting "Smile" and "Hindsight," which have become highlights of his live performances.

Originally from the fishing town of Grimsby in the north of England, MacDougall emerged from the open mic night circuit in London that has spawned new acoustic English artists in the last two years. His ability to couple a strong lyrical narrative with a memorable melody has enabled him to establish an international fan base that expanded when his music was embraced by the community of fans of the Twilight films.

But it is the strength of his songwriting that has earned him recognition on both sides of the Atlantic and support slots with artists such as Train, Starsailor, Paolo Nutini, The Feeling, Bob Dylan and Van Morrison. The Independent Music Scene wrote:  "This is an artist that allows his voice to be heard clearly without masking the pure talent of the song. The music is great for having a lonely listen, to a couple's dance, to a drive through the country side with nothing to care about. The songwriting is straight forward without being simplistic."

Following his U.S. tour dates, he will make a return visit to Germany, Austria, Italy and England.  The U.K. leg will include shows supporting Rumer on her multi-city tour.

Dates on Lee MacDougall's All the Right Places summer tour are as follows:

August 4-The Bitter End, New York City

5-World Café Live, Philadelphia
7-VFW, Jacksonville, FL

9-Athens, GA

11-5 Spot, Atlanta (benefit for Alabama tornado victims)

12-The Nick, Birmingham, AL

13-3rd & Lindsley, Nashville

15-Buccaneer Lounge, Memphis

18-Southgate House, Cincinnati

19-Uncle Slayton's, Louisville

20-Cicero's, St. Louis

24-Continental Club, Houston

26-Cedar Creek Courtyard, Austin

27-Poor David's Pub, Dallas

29-The Blue Door, Oklahoma City

31-Joe Momma's, Tulsa

September 7-Humphrey's, San Diego

8-Hotel Café, Los Angeles

12-Elbo Room, San Francisco

14-El Corazon, Seattle

16-Poppy Café, Vancouver

18-Denver

20-Record Bar, Kansas City

22-Mario's Keller Bar, Minneapolis

23-House Café, DeKalb, IL

24-Double Door, Chicago

27-Radio Bean, Burlington, VT

29-Market, Boston

30-Listening Room, Boston (industry event)

October 1-The Bitter End, New York Cit


Young Deadhead Composes "The World As It Could Be" & More Good News

Henry Sidle, a 12-year old self-proclaimed avid Deadhead and musician, learned about the Rex Foundation when he read a review of The Wheel - A Musical Celebration of Jerry Garcia.  He contacted us, seeking to include Rex as the community service element of his upcoming Bar Mitzvah.  When I asked if he would consider learning more about The World As It Could Be project and help raise awareness about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, perhaps applying his musical talents along the way, Henry enthusiastically said, "Yes!"  Henry composed an original song "The World As It Could Be" and created a video to help get the word out about furthering human rights. Click here to read more about Henry's project, see the video and the song lyrics, and learn more about my unexpected, yet very special personal connection to Henry. Henry will be performing this song at the Gathering of the Vibes Festival, interviewed by David Gans.

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Here are upcoming Rex Musical Caravan events that reflect the wonderful support of the musical community and beyond.  Enjoy some fun, great music and kindred connection, while supporting the Rex Foundation at the same time:

July 8-10 in Tipton, PA - Pennsylvania's Mysterytrain once again supports the Rex Foundation, this time at the multi-day JesterFest at the PPG Pavilion.  Click here for details.

July 14-17 - The All Good Festival once again supports the Rex Foundation, including a Rex Jam on Saturday with Matt Butler and The Everyone Orchestra to support the Preston High School Music Program.

Saturday, August 6 - Sonoma County's own Tribal Hippie UnderGround Zone (THUGZ) are doing another show for Rex - outdoors under the stars at the rustic Rio Nido Roadhouse.  Here are the details.

Tuesday, August 9 - The SF Giants will pay tribute to the Grateful Dead with another special event package that includes support for the Rex Foundation as they face off against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Here is information on how to get your tickets now.