luther

Luther Russell Announces New Double LP

Luther Russell is set to release his fifth LP, a double-length entitled The Invisible Audience, on July 12th on Ungawa Records. It's a wildly ambitious record from the multi-talented singer-songwriter/producer, which he calls "a glimpse into the jukebox of my psyche." The twenty-five tracks on this epic record were culled from months and months of recording "whenever I could get into my eight-track studio or on a four-track cassette to get an idea down." The album's narrative flow seems to run the gamut of emotions from regret, betrayal and loss to humor, nostalgia and hope. His last release, 2007's Repair (produced by Ethan Johns) was a ragged, rootsy pop record full of rich, sometimes bouncy melodies which belied their darker subject matter, namely that of his then-fresh divorce. The album won him quite a bit of acclaim but nonetheless failed to break him to a wider audience. Since then he concentrated on the production side of things, working with a wide array of artists, including Noah & The Whale, Laura Marling, Sarabeth Tucek, Holly Miranda, Richmond Fontaine, Sean Lennon and Fernando, to name a few.

It was during this industrious period that Luther would hit the recording studio on his own whenever time permitted "to capture some kind of feeling before it slipped away" or for other projects like "the odd failed soundtrack that never was." Being a multi-instrumentalist (Luther has lent his talents to many other artists on drums, guitar, bass, keys, etc.) helped to get many songs recorded with no time to waste. For instance, "Traces," a track evoking Slim Chance-era Ronnie Lane, was done "pretty much in one day", recalls Russell. Still, he did enlist help from a few close musical allies to help flesh out harmony-laden blasts like "Everything You Do" and "Tomorrow's Papers", as well as the psychedelic trance-rock of "Motorbike". In fact, on the elegiac "In This Time," members of his old band The Freewheelers popped by to help with the feel of the track. "I just had so many different types of songs coming out of me over the past few years that for once I wanted to intertwine as many as I could, regardless of style or genre, to try and paint a more complete picture of who I am as an artist. This would be my chance because I could take my time and do it until it was done--whenever the hell that would be".

Turns out it wouldn't be for roughly five years, as Luther wouldn't finally compile the songs until he was able to listen to many different sequences on the often snail-paced subway rides between Manhattan and Brooklyn where he had relocated after several years in Los Angeles. "I just began to hit upon the fact that all of the instrumental tracks that I had accrued could provide little 'smoke breaks' for the listener, so to speak". Inspired by the sprawling double-albums of his youth, such as Husker Du's Zen Arcade, Game Theory's Lolita Nation and Fleetwood Mac's Tusk, he began to see the songs woven together in a longer, more colorful tapestry. "I wanted to make a record that someone could literally get lost in...every time you'd drop the needle you'd be somewhere new. It would be like a friend that was always around, but each time you get together something has changed a little, just like in life". Invariably the album would wind up consisting of some darker pathways, to which Luther attributes more than a few harrowing experiences, such as the sudden passing of two of his "very best friends" and a horrible accident where he nearly lost use of his right hand. "A period of intense darkness seemed to settle over me after the recording of my last record. Moving to New York was definitely an 'escape' of sorts, but the kind of loss I experienced over the past few years one can never quite shake, I think".

It's these more contemplative stretches of musical highway that are found in songs such as "A World Unknown," a stripped-down blues lament concerning "various frightened glimpses into one's own mortality" and "1st & Main," a spidery concoction regarding a certain sojourn through downtown L.A. "which I'd rather not discuss", Russell broods. Livelier tracks include the uproarious "Long Lost Friend," something of a sonic shotgun-wedding between the Faces and Nilsson, juxtaposed with lyrics about "literally having fuck-all", and "Ain't Frightening Me," a dervish of acid words and zig-zag melody influenced by the proto-power-pop of Nick Lowe and Dwight Twilley. The font of mix-and-match songcraft throughout the record can also be attributed to Luther's background, which includes a grandfather and great-uncle, each of whom wrote several Tin Pan Alley standards. It's this family history which he pays tribute to on instrumentals such as the ragtime-y "109th & Madison" (named for the intersection in Harlem where his grandmother grew up) and "Still Life Radio," the old Broadway-style opener which evokes an instant nostalgia even before the expansive record has begun to rev-up (with the grinding Sidekick Reverb).

As to the inevitable head-scratching regarding the sheer length of the record, Luther takes it in stride. "I fully get and understand that many people will ask 'why so long' and generally not have the patience to sit through such an 'endless' listen", he laughs, "but I just had to do it. It just felt right and I thought it would be a true musical experience--that is if you even like what I do in the first place!" This time around, not only has Luther Russell made a record that has many of the hallmarks he is known for (ear-catching melodies, lyrics layered with multiple meanings and adventurous musicianship), but he's managed to make one that contains all of them: the dark folk-blues territory he has covered in past records such as Lowdown World, the bold experimentation found in out-of-nowhere u-turns like Down At Kit's and the melancholy pop of the aforementioned Repair. The Invisible Audience aims to tie up the many loose ends of Luther's recorded output and twist it into something new, yet strangely recognizable. "It's an album made for music fans. People like me. Folks who want to disappear for a while, take a vacation from all the bullshit. All you need is a pair of headphones and an open mind".

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.

Jack Grace Band & Luther Wright and the Wrongs

With a new CD titled Drinking Songs for Lovers, one might be forgiven for believing that Jack Grace should ease up a little. A singer, songwriter and guitarist who has made a career out of following no one’s rules but his own is probably going to keep doing his thing until his liver lays down the law.

He’s earned praise from press and peers, and even a couple of legends. Opening for Jerry Lee Lewis afforded him a quotable anecdote after Lewis, listening to the band’s set backstage at BB Kings in NYC, quipped, “he sounds like that Cash kid, only good.” After Lewis’ set, Jack shook his hand and told him it had been an honor to share the stage with him. Lewis leaned in and said, "I really enjoyed your set."

A consummate live performer, lyricist, singer and guitarist, Jack is at the helm of a powerhouse band that plays kick the can with any musical genre that it stumbles across. Intelligence, humor and unpredictable cross-pollinations of musical categories await. But don’t take our word for it. "If you don't laugh and cry at the same time as Grace and his gracefully loose band navigate their way through such gems as ‘If You're Gonna Raise a Drunk’ and ‘Morning Margaritas,’ you better check your pulse. You might be disgracefully dead." – James Reaney, London Free Press (London, ON)

Luther Wright has been writing, recording and performing music for over 16 years now. In 1994 he joined up with Sarah Harmer to play lead guitar in the Canadian, pop-rock band, "Weeping Tile" (WEA/Atlantic). During the next 5 years of full-on touring and recording Luther and his roots compadres formed the now-renowned, country/punkgrass road daemons, "Luther Wright & The Wrongs".

Known on one hand for their brilliantly executed, country/bluegrass reworking of Pink Floyd’s classic The Wall, Luther and the band have also recorded and released three all-original albums, Hurtin' For Certain (1997), Rogers Waltz (1999), the valentine gone awry, Guitar Pickin' Martyrs (2003), and the recently released, Instrumentality. Also to boot, they made two cds of original childrens music under the guise of Butterfingers.

Wednesday June 9, 8:30pm

JACK GRACE BAND & LUTHER WRIGHT + THE WRONGS
w/A Steak Show & Dave Houghton
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Tickets are on sale through the Boulder Theater box office | Internet 24-7 at www.bouldertheater.com | Phone: During box office hours 303-786-7030

Luther Dickinson, Alvin Youngblood Hart & Jimbo Mathus tour as South Memphis String Band

south-memphis-string-bandThe South Memphis String Band, a trio composed of Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), Alvin “Youngblood” Hart (Grammy-winning bluesman) and Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers), launches its first tour on April 23, 2009 in Dallas, Texas, targeting the East and South. The three friends, bound by Memphis and North Mississippi roots, will tour ahead of recording their debut album later this year. So far only two songs have been unveiled, both at the trio’s MySpace page myspace.com/southmemphisstringband. So the April and May dates will be an opportunity for fans to get in on the ground floor.

Although they’d known each other for years, the trio’s musical spirit gelled last year when they recorded a yet-unreleased album with Luther’s father, legendary producer Jim Dickinson, called New Moon Jellyroll Freedom Rockers.

The South Memphis String Band was greatly influenced by the Mississippi Sheiks, Gus Cannon & the Memphis Jug Band and other string bands and jug bands of their ilk, as well as Mississippi Delta and Hill Country blues. They will travel with a passel of guitars, mandolins, banjos, lap steel guitars and harmonicas.

Luther Dickinson is lead guitarist and vocalist for the North Mississippi Allstars as well as lead guitarist for the Black Crowes. The son of producer Jim Dickinson was born and raised in West Tennessee, where he played concerts and gained recording experience with his father and brother, Cody. The family moved to the hills of North Mississippi in 1985. Luther befriended the musical families of Otha Turner, R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. They were the inspiration for Luther and Cody to form the North Mississippi Allstars in ‘96. The Allstars have been nominated for three Grammy Awards in the Best Contemporary Blues category. Luther produced two Otha Turner albums: Everybody Hollerin' Goat and From Senegal To Senatobia. Luther was recently featured in Rolling Stone as one of the “New Guitar Gods.” He has recorded with the Replacements, Mojo Nixon, Toy Caldwell, Billy Lee Riley, John Medeski and Robert Randolph (as The Word), John Hiatt and Jon Spencer, in addition to Turner, Burnside and the elder Dickinson.

Though born in Oakland, California, Alvin “Youngblood” Hart had family connections in Carroll County, Miss., and spent time there in his childhood, hearing his relatives’ stories of Charlie Patton. Influenced by the country blues, Hart is known as one of the world's foremost practitioners of that genre. He’s also a faithful torchbearer for the ‘60s and ‘70s guitar rock of his youth, as well as Western Swing and vintage country. His music has been compared to that of artists ranging from Leadbelly and Spade Cooley to Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy. Hart plays acoustic and electric guitar as well as banjo and sometimes the mandolin. Bluesman Taj Mahal once said of him, “The boy has got thunder in his hands.” In 2003, Hart's album Down in the Alley was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. In ‘05, Hart received a Grammy Award for his contribution to Beautiful Dreamer — The Songs of Stephen Foster. He was featured in the Wim Wenders film The Soul of a Man, which was part of Martin Scorsese’s 2003 PBS series “The Blues,” and also appeared in the documentary Last of the Mississippi Jukes.

Guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and producer Jimbo Mathus grew up in Clarksdale, Miss. He first caught the public’s ear in the 1990s with the hyper-ragtime vaudeville act the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Since then, he has released many recordings of his own in a style he describes as Mississippi Music. “Basically,” Mathus says, “I combine the myriad styles of deep roots music in a type of alchemy. Blues, country, gospel and soul all go into the equation equally.” His last outing, Knockdown South, was released on his own label and received much critical acclaim, including the No. 2 spot on Honest Tune magazine’s Best of 2005 list. He runs the Delta Recording Service, a studio based in Clarksdale, and is sought out by many artists seeking the old-school style of recording. One such artist was Elvis Costello, who recorded his Grammy nominated “Monkey to Man” single in Mathus’ studio in 2005. He has produced two blues CDs that were nominated for Blues Music Awards in 2006, Duwane Burnside’s Under Pressure and Big George Brock’s Club Caravan. Additionally, he contributed vocals on the North Mississippi Allstars’ 2006 Grammy-nominated Electric Blues Watermelon. Mathus sums it up: “I break down walls and stereotypes with my music. I confuse people. I use Mississippi music, which is renegade music at heart, as my inspiration and motivation. I use it as a tool to reach people, to express my own feelings and continue to express those that came before me. I keep the old stories alive while they help keep me alive.”

Mathus says, “Luther, Youngblood Hart and myself have been musical co-conspirators for over a decade. It is only fitting that we should come together with acoustic instruments and perform Mississippi music.”
 

Tour dates:
April 23 – DALLAS, TX Sons of Hermann Hall
April 24 – AUSTIN, TX Antones
April 25 – HOUSTON, TX  Continental Club
April 26 – NEW ORLEANS, LA House of Blues Parish Room
April 27 – BIRMINGHAM, AL  Work Play Theatre
April 28 – MACON, GA  Hummingbird
April 29 – ATLANTA, GA  Eddie's Attic
April 30 – CHARLOTTE, NC  Evening Muse
May 1 – CARRBORO, NC  Carrboro Arts Center
May 2 – RICHMOND, VA  Capital Ale House
May 3 – ANNAPOLIS, MD  Rams Head On Stage
May 5 – NEW YORK, N.Y.  Joe's Pub (9:30pm slot)
May 7 – SELLERSVILLE/PHILADELPHIA, PA - Sellersville Theatre
May 8 – ALEXANDRIA, VA  Birchmere (supporting Dr. John)
May 9 – MEMPHIS, TN  Otherlands

JJ Grey & Mofro in Denver w/ Special Guest Luther Dickinson

photos by Amanda Bell- for the Grateful Web

Known for southern, funky soul music, JJ Grey & Mofro have set out on an ambitious national fall tour in support of their just released studio album, ORANGE BLOSSOMS.  Supporting a number of shows on the tour are southern rockers Hill Country Revue, who hail from the fertile soil of North Mississippi and include two of the three musicians in North Mississippi Allstars.  JJ Grey & Mofro are pleased to announce that good friend and guitar player Luther Dickinson (also NMA's third member) will join them at The Ogden Theatre on September 27.  As if a night of music by JJ Grey & Mofro and Hill Country Revue weren't enough, fans will also be treated to a special mini-set by the blues-rock trio North Mississippi Allstars.  For more information and to buy tickets to the show, please visit www.mofro.net.

ORANGE BLOSSOMS, the new studio album from Jacksonville, Florida-based guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist/songwriter JJ Grey and his band Mofro, is a masterpiece of down-home, soul-shaking music. From raw, swampy funk to deep soul, blues and rock, JJ Grey and Mofro deliver devastating live and recorded performances. JJ comes from a long tradition of Southern storytellers, and his songs often use the loss of his natural surroundings and the marginalization of Southern culture as a metaphor for universal truths. His multi-textured music overflows with dynamic rhythms and thought-provoking lyrics. Debuting in 2001 with BLACKWATER, following up in 2004 with LOCHLOOSA (both albums reissued by Alligator in 2007), Grey steadily built an intensely loyal following through constant touring. In 2007, with his first Alligator release, COUNTRY GHETTO, Grey reached an even larger audience, doubling both his album sales and his concert attendance. Now, with his new album, ORANGE BLOSSOMS, JJ Grey takes another giant step forward (August 26 on Alligator Records).

Saturday, September 27th @ 9:00pm
The Ogden Theatre
With Hill Country Revue supporting
935 East Colfax Avenue, Denver
Tickets $20.00 adv $25.00 dos / Ages 16+ Welcome
For more information, please contact 303-830-8421