blue

Town Mountain Releases 'Steady Operator' Today

Town Mountain release their third studio project Steady Operator today on Pinecastle Records. Produced by GRAMMY Award winner Mike Bub (formerly of the Del McCoury Band), the album was tracked live in the studio and features bluegrass originals written by band members Jesse Langlais and two-time International Bluegrass Music Association Songwriter Showcase selection Phil Barker. This is the first release on Pinecastle since it was purchased under new ownership.

Town Mountain brings a unique energy with their mix of original bluegrass material mixed with slow country crooning and a honky-tonk edge. Born out of the all night jam sessions and fertile picking scene of western North Carolina, Town Mountain has emerged as one of the premier young American bluegrass bands. With superb original material about topics ranging from love lost and heartache, to the weariness of a midnight drive across America's heartland, to environmental commentary on mountainside development, Town Mountain's music is sincere, honest, and heartfelt. They've played national festival stages like Merlefest (where the shared the stage with Jim Lauderdale during his bluegrass set this year), Rockygrass, and Pickathon. Full schedule of summer tour dates below.

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ON TOUR:

May 13-14 - Aiken Bluegrass Festival - Aiken, SC

May 21 - Birdfest - Panola, SC

May 29 - White Squirrel Festival - Brevard, NC

June 2 - Avogadro's Number - Fort Collins, CO

June 3 - Gold Hill Inn - Gold Hill, CO

June 4-5 - Pagosa Folk 'N Bluegrass Festival - Pagosa Springs, CO

June 8 - Music City Roots - Nashville, TN

June 9-10 - Festival of the Bluegrass - Lexington, KY

June 15 - The Mast Farm Inn - Banner Elk, NC

June 18 - Mo Daddys - Asheville, NC

June 30 - WDVX Blue Plate Special - Knoxville, TN

July 1- The Station Inn - Nashville, TN

July 2 - Music on the Square - Jonesborough, TN

July 7 - Ulrich Museum at Wichita State University - Wichita, KS

July 8 - Salida Cafe - Salida, CO

July 9 - Crested Butte Music Festival - Crested Butte, CO

July 13 - Bunning Park Concert Series - Rock Springs, WY

July 15 - Bluegrass on the Bay - Great Falls, MT

July 16 - The Summer Music Festival at Roseberry - McCall, ID

July 18 - St. Maries Council for the Arts Concert Series - St. Maries, ID

July 19-21 - McMenamin's Old St. Francis School - Bend, OR

July 22-23 - Columbia Gorge Bluegrass Festival - Stevenson, WA

July 28 - Top of the Rockies Ralley - Paonia, CO

July 29 - Oskar Blues - Lyons, CO

July 31 - Fiddles, Vittles, and Vino Festival - Colorado Springs, CO

August 11 - River Jam Concert Series - Charlotte, NC

September 16 - Downtown After 5 - Asheville, NC

September 22-23 - Jammin' at Hippie Jacks - Crawford, TN

October 8 - Blue Ridge Big Sky - Moravian Falls, NC

First Aid Kit Head Into The Studio With Producer Mike Mogis

First Aid Kid - the Swedish duo of sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg - are currently recording with acclaimed producer Mike Mogis at his ARC Studios in Omaha, NE.They'll spend the next month working on the follow-up to their highly praised debut album, The Big Black & The Blue, released last year on Wichita Recordings. In addition to being known as a member of Bright Eyes and Monsters Of Folk, Mogis is a renowned producer who has worked with artists including The Concretes, Cursive, Lightspeed Champion, Rilo Kiley, Sea Wolf, and Pete Yorn, among many others.

"We met Mike at Austin City Limits last year. He saw our show there and we got talking about recording an album together," said Klara and Johanna. "Bright Eyes was the band that got us inspired to start making music, so working with Mike is quite surreal for us. We feel honored. So far things are going really well and we believe we're in the process of creating something very special. This truly is a dream come true."

First Aid Kit broke out last year with the release of The Big Black & The Blue, garnering praise from AOL Music's Spinner blog, NPR's All Songs Considered, Nylon, and SPIN ('Breaking Out' artist), among others, and earning spots on HearYa, Nylon, and PasteMagazine.com's 'Best of 2010' lists. The year proved to be one of 'firsts' for the young band, who were only 17 (Klara) and 19-years old (Johanna) at the time of the album's release.

March 2010 saw First Aid Kit perform in the US for the first time at SXSW, which they followed with their first stateside headlining tour in June that included a sold-out stop at New York's Mercury Lounge. In September, they toured Australia and released a 7-inch single for album standout "Ghost Town," which featured a spectral cover of Fever Ray's "When I Grow Up" as a B-side in tribute to mentor Karin Dreijer Andersson (Fever Ray, The Knife), whose label Rabid released their debut EP Drunken Trees in 2008. First Aid Kit returned to tour the US again in October, with stops at the Austin City Limits festival and the CMJ Music Marathon (featuring a second sold-out NYC show at Joe's Pub).

The band rang in 2011 with the January release of a Third Man Records Blue Series 7-inch that featured covers of Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier" (made famous in 1965 by Donovan) and the classic blues standard "It Hurts Me Too" (a song much loved by fans of Karen Dalton's 1969 folk-blues version), recorded with Jack White at his own Third Man Studios in Nashville, TN.

2011 Backbeat Jazzfest Series

The Backbeat Jazzfest Series will present its sixth annual consecutive series of evening concerts from April 29 - May 8, 2011 coinciding with the weeks of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. This series celebrates the music and spirit of New Orleans and showcases internationally renowned bands and the best in local New Orleans music in a manner that encourages collaboration to create those magical musical moments for the audience and performers alike. As in past years, the 2011 Backbeat Jazzfest Series is an evening destination for music lovers across the country craving late night entertainment after a day filled with musical celebration at Jazzfest.

This year the Backbeat Jazzfest Series will feature shows at its usual spots, Blue Nile and Tipitina's French Quarter, plus venues new to the series Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré, 12 Bar, The Temple (also known as the Scottish Rite Temple.) and Tipitina's Uptown.

Astronauts Enjoy First Ever "Wake-Up" Song Performed Live - Big Head Todd and The Monsters

Big Head Todd and The Monsters will be at Houston's NASA Mission Control Center early tomorrow morning to become the first band ever to wake-up U.S. astronauts with a live performance. The band will play their original song "Blue Sky" at 3:23 am CST, and the live performance will be beamed up to Commander Steve Lindsey and the other five crew members to wake them for Shuttle Discovery's second to last day in space.

"Blue Sky" - which was originally written by the band as a tribute for the first post-Columbia flight, STS-114 - was the top vote-getter in NASA's "Top 40 Song Contest," where the voting for shuttle wake-up songs was opened to the public for the first time in history. "Blue Sky" recieved 722,662 votes, or 29 percent of the 2,463,774 total.

Anyone can tune in to NASA TV http://www.nasa.gov/ntv today at 3:23 CST to watch the performance live. It will also be documented and replayed several times on NASA TV throughout the day and available on the web (www.nasa.gov/shuttle).

Brian Setzer Gives Bluegrass a Rockabilly Spin

With its forays into bluegrass and traditional jazz, Brian Setzer's new album 'Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL!' (out April 19 on Surfdog Records) has the guitar legend testing new waters and putting his signature Stray Cat stamp on a few instrumental favorites. Setzer didn't set out to create an all-instrumental affair but couldn't resist temptation when the music started heading in that direction.

"I didn’t start writing an instrumental record, per se," says Setzer. "I wrote 7 songs with lyrics, and then all of a sudden I just took a turn and started fooling around with 'Blue Moon of Kentucky,' except without any vocals. I started playing melody chords and thought, 'Wow, this is pretty cool!'  So the direction turned about halfway through my writing. I had never done an instrumental record, but I thought, well, now’s the time."

Setzer wrote six originals and revitalizes five jazz-bluegrass classics – “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” "Earl's Breakdown," "Cherokee," "Be-Bop-A-Lula," and "Lonesome Road." Recording each gave Setzer the chance to revisit old techniques and try new tricks, such as playing banjo on the Earl Scruggs' classic “Earl’s Breakdown,” or substituting jazz chords into traditional bluegrass on the Bluegrass Boys’ “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”

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'Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL!' Tracklist

(all songs written by Brian Setzer, unless otherwise noted)

1. "Blue Moon of Kentucky" (written by Bill Monroe)

2. "Cherokee" (written by Ray Noble)

3. "Be-Bop-A-Lula" (written by Tex Davis and Gene Vincent)

4. "Earl's Breakdown" (written by Earl Scruggs)

5. "Far Noir East"

6. "Intermission"

7. "Go-Go Godzilla"

8. "Lonesome Road" (written by Gene Austin, Nathaniel Shilkret)

9. "Hillbilly Jazz Meltdown"

10. "Hot Love"

11. "Pickpocket"

Brian Setzer Remakes Bluegrass Classic Blue Moon of Kentucky

"Blue Moon of Kentucky," the opening track on Brian Setzer's 'Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL!" (out April 19 on Surfdog Records), has withstood over 65 years of remakes and covers, but it's never been put to the test quite like it is by Setzer.

Setzer goes jazzy, muscled and completely instrumental on the bluegrass standard -- enshrined in 1989 as the official bluegrass song of Kentucky – turning what Bill Monroe wrote as a "country waltz" into a western swing anthem that finds the rockabilly legend picking his way through a series of lightning quick riffs.

Originally written in 1946 for Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Bluegrass Boys, "Blue Moon of Kentucky" has been covered countless times by a number of esteemed artists. Setzer joins a list that includes John Fogerty, Patsy Cline, Ronnie Hawkins, LeAnn Rhimes, Paul McCartney, Ray Charles, Jerry Reed, Jimmy Martin, and Elvis Presley.

Read more about this release on Brian's website.

Al Di Meola Brings Impassioned Live Show Nationwide

Al Di Meola, one of guitar's legendary greats, embarks on his 2011 national tour with the renowned World Sinfonia this February making stops in over 20 U.S. cities, including a four-night residency at NYC's Blue Note.

Whether it's your first World Sinfonia experience or you've seen the group 20 times before, each show will impress with "impassioned, intricate tunes that [wed] jazz, rock and folk traditions" (Hartford Courant). Audiences will be awestruck by the Di Meola's "energetic, emotional roller coasters brimming with fiery passion, delicate arrangements and his inspiring technique" (Arizona Daily Star).

Watch a live performance of "Gumbiero" (from 'Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody')

A pioneer of melding world music and jazz, Al Di Meola dazzles guitar aficionados with his unparalleled technique on both acoustic and electric guitars, as well as his soulful lyricism and sophisticated musicality.  On stage, Di Meola will perform songs from his forthcoming album "Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody," out March 15th on Telarc International, a division of Concord Music Group.

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AL DI MEOLA TOUR DATES 2011

2/17 - Agoura, CA @ Canyon Club
2/18 - Las Vegas @ Green Valley Ranch
2/19 - San Diego, CA @ Anthology       
2/20 - San Juan Capistrano, CA @ Coach House
2/21 - Exeter, CA  @ Orange Blossom Junction
2/23 - Portland, OR @ Orange Blossom Junction
2/24 - Seattle, WA  @  Dimitriou's Jazz Alley
2/25 - Seattle, WA @  Dimitriou's Jazz Alley
2/26 - Seattle, WA @ Dimitriou's Jazz Alley
2/27 - Seattle, WA  @   Dimitriou's Jazz Alley
3/2 - Grants Pass, OR @ Rouge Theater
3/3 - Arcata, CA @ Arcata Theatre Lounge
3/4 - Oakland, CA @ Yoshi's
3/5 - Oakland, CA @ Yoshi's
3/6 - Oakland, CA @ Yoshi's
3/10 - New York, NY @ Blue Note
3/11 - New York, NY @ Blue Note
3/12 - New York, NY @ Blue Note
3/13 - New York, NY @ Blue Note
3/15 - Vienna, VA  @ The Barns- Wolftrap
3/16 - Vienna, VA @The Barns- Wolftrap
3/18 - Nashville, TN @  Schermerhorn Symphony Center
3/19 - Atlanta, GA @  Variety Playhouse
3/20 - Newberry, SC @ Newberry Opera House
3/22 – Fall River, MA – Narrows Center for the Arts
3/23 - Boston, MA  @  Scullers Jazz Club
3/24 - Boston, MA @ Scullers Jazz Club
3/25 - Albany, NY @ The Egg Theatre
3/26 - Buffalo, NY  @ Buffalo State Performing Arts Center
3/27 - Reading, Pa @ Miller Center for the Arts
3/28 - New Hope, PA@ Havana
3/29 - Fairfield, CT @  Stage One
3/30 - Norfolk, CT @ Infinity Hall
4/1 - Miami, FL @  Adrienne Arsht Center for the Arts
4/3 - Austin, TX @  One World Theater

Martin Sexton in Boulder for Valentines Day

On the heels of his critically-acclaimed release Sugarcoating, blue-eyed soul singer Martin Sexton has announced dates for his 2011 winter tour.

Sugarcoating is an album that doesn’t necessarily protest, but questions. “The last couple of years have been an awakening for me about how the world seems to work and not work,” reflects Sexton. “You can’t rely on mainstream media for the truth, I’ve discovered that you’ve gotta dig if you want a real answer about what’s going on.”  He explains, “My music has always been more about inspiration and entertainment, but this time I felt the need to toss some awareness into the mix.”

Martin continues this message in his live performances.  His songs are intricate and spirited inspired by the American musical landscape of soul, gospel, R&B, country and blues.  "Martin Sexton's extraordinary voice howls, growls and purrs in the best tradition of blue-eyed soul," says the Chicago Sun Times.  "It is raw and expressive and can move in an instant from a glorious falsetto to an edgy rock plea or a simple folk lament."

A Martin Sexton show is truly unlike any other concert experience.  His performances are dynamic and bursting with depth earning him a devoted following among fans, peers and critics alike.  "A high vocal range and a sense of normal-dude humility usually don't go together, but they are the two most convincing things about … Sexton," said The Onion's A.V. Club in a recent review.

On November 12th, Martin performed at the 30th Annual John Lennon Tribute Concert at the Beacon Theater alongside Jackson Browne, Cyndi Lauper, Patti Smith, Taj Mahal and other musical icons. Martin's riveting interpretation of "Working Class Hero" received one of the only standing ovations of the evening.

Recently, Martin sat down with Brian Williams of the NBC Nightly News, to record a feature session for BriTunes. The session will be available later this month on the MSNBC website.

You can catch Martin Sexton at the Boulder Theater on Valentine's Day.

Melissa Nadel @ The Blue Note | 12/25

An angelic voice and impressive talent, singer/songwriter Melissa Nadel, will be returning to the Blue Note stage to perform on Saturday night, December 25th at midnight.  Bring your family and friends after your holiday festivities to top off the night.  She will be debuting some new material of hers, and there will be a few Christmas surprises for you as well.. it's a show not to miss!

Melissa is a young, exciting artist who infuses Jazz and Pop to create a genuinely refreshing and original sound.  Her style is versatile and tasteful.  Whether she's behind the piano accompanying herself or center stage fronting her band, her live performances are engaging and filled with emotion.  Her debut CD, WHAT MATTERS, co-produced by Charles Fambrough and herself, is available on iTunes, CDBaby, and Amazon, etc.  It is also being distributed in Japan through Vivid Sound Corporation and receiving great reviews.  Melissa is currently preparing to get back into the studio to begin working on her highly-anticipated second album.

TURDAY NIGHT, DECEMBER 25 @ MIDNIGHT
LATE NIGHT GROOVE SERIES
BLUE NOTE JAZZ CLUB
131 W. 3rd Street
New York, NY 10012
Reservations Recommended
212.475.8592
$12

Melissa Nadel - vocals/piano
Patrick Firth - piano
Brian Killeen - bass
Adam Stoler - guitar
Jordan Perlson - drums

First Aid Kit: Jack White-Produced Third Man Records Blue Series

Rising Swedish folk-pop duo First Aid Kit are among the latest artists to take part in Third Man Records' Blue Series of releases. The special series of 7-inch records, produced by Jack White and recorded at his own Third Man Studios in Nashville, has featured releases from Wanda Jackson, Laura Marling and Secret Sisters, among others.

For their Blue Series 7-inch, First Aid Kit recorded spine-tingling covers of Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier" (made famous in 1965 by Donovan) and classic blues standard "It Hurts Me Too", a song much loved by fans of Karen Dalton's 1969 folk-blues version. First Aid Kit, comprised of 17 and 20-year old sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg, recorded the tracks with White during the Nashville stop on their US headlining tour in October. Joshua Hedley joins the duo on fiddle for both tracks, while touring drummer Mattias Bergqvist, their father Benkt Söderberg, and Jack Lawrence (The Greenhornes, The Raconteurs), also contribute additional instrumentation on "It Hurts Me Too." First Aid Kit won international acclaim this year for their stunning debut full-length album The Big Black And The Blue (Wichita Recordings).

Check out some coverage on The Raconteurs on the Grateful Web.