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Greensky Bluegrass Offers Free Five Song EP Download from New Album, Handguns

An independent band nationally-recognized for their live show, Greensky Bluegrass defy the boundaries of acoustic music with their self-produced fourth studio effort, Handguns, released on October 4.

This new studio offering is a brave expression of what separates their original music from the rest of the bluegrass genre. For years, while the Kalamazoo, MI band has been gaining recognition for their high energy live show, Handguns proves that they can handle themselves in the studio as well.

Recent internet chatter would have you believe that the entire music industry is lost in a vast and inescapable dust bowl; everything that was once thriving and sustainable has now dried into a mere husk of what it once was. But lest we forget, bands used to make their living on the road, playing in front of new audiences every night. Albums were something that were recorded in between tours and then sold on the road to help keep gas in the tank. It’s the way it was and it looks like the way it might become, but the music never stops.


Handguns was recorded in between tours this winter as the band holed up in a studio in Lansing, committing the songs straight-to-tape on the exact recording console that originally birthed Lynyrd Skynyrd’s infamous track "Free Bird” decades earlier. Matching the warmth of the analog sound, vintage microphones were utilized alongside state-of-the-art studio equipment to create a truly blended and artful sonic experience.

This overlap of traditional and forward-thinking runs throughout most every aspect of Greensky Bluegrass. The opening cut is titled "Don't Lie", and the result of "Handguns" is just that, a collection of songs that speak true. Greensky doesn't boast to know it all, but they don't restrain, letting the listener in on the trials and triumphs of their journey.

"Should have been a farmer and blamed it on the weather, with soiled hands and a tired back to show for my efforts," sings Hoffman on the album's title track.  Modest maybe, but as the listener continues, they are relieved that the band did not trade their instruments for plows or cubicles.

Greensky has continued to gain national momentum since they won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival’s coveted Band Competition in 2006 and have been invited to play at this summer’s Northwest String Summit, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival and NPR’s Mountain Stage, while also playing at Bonnaroo, Bumbershoot and The Hangout Festivals. They’re a bluegrass band but they’re not. Bluegrass doesn’t have distortion, or horns for that matter. Handguns does.

Of course, none of this happened overnight or without sacrifice. Greensky Bluegrass is just as much a grit of the asphalt band as they are a salt of the earth band, having played over 160 shows nationwide, every year, for the last six years. It was by winning over folks on the band’s never-ending tour that got them where they are today – not by a label, syndicated radio play or being on the shelves at big box stores.

As a bonus for all, Greensky Bluegrass is giving away half of Handguns for free. This five-song Handguns EP is available on the Greensky Bluegrass website for anyone who wants to listen.

The motive? To be heard.  For musicians, the model has changed with satellite radio where the F word flies free and name-your-own-price record releases. One thing remains true, however: when the music is great, people will listen.

Boris Garcia: Today We Sail

Dear Music Friend of mine:

As we all know, bands with genuine musicians have a life cycle. No matter their level of chops, they start as beginners with lots of energy and perhaps less of the subtle judgment skills that great musicians have -- the ability to listen to each other, the ability to know when not to play.

And if they don’t fall into the snares of ego and delusion, they grow. They listen more, both to other music and each other, and they hear more (two different things!), and they reach a higher level.

Boris Garcia is the band that just fell together, and now with Today We Sail, three CDs later, they’re playing at a place that’s ever richer, ever more creative. The simple acoustic feel of their first work has become much more varied: a case in point is “Walking Barefoot,” which begins with a hard-edged rock sound that becomes lovely mandolins and then almost sounds like a full orchestra – an effect they get from just a very few strings (Producer Tim Carbone’s fiddle and Bud Burroughs’ mandolin) – amazing. And Bob Stirner’s lyrics are getting deeper, more evocative: “I’m not indifferent much or maybe, surely, I’ll be on my way, I’ll be on my way/You can’t see Santa if you don’t believe, I’ll be on my way…”

Jeff Otto’s whimsicality maintains its strength here, with “Song Dog” and “Deaf Dumb and Blind” – “But why can’t I see, that love’s for fools and I’m a fool so love’s for me” – but the playing is truly impressive, with piano punctuations sliding against the pedal steel – very hip, very deft. In fact, Chip Desnoyers’ pedal steel (with mandolin in “Song Dog”) is all over Today We Sail, and it’s powerful stuff.

Boris’ songs range from the power rock chords of “Mighty High,” which comes across as almost Springsteenish to me, to “Long Black Hair,” which takes me to “Long Black Veil,” to “Good Home,” which is a sweet love song that opens into a grand psychedelic guitar jam. And lots more.

They’re all over the musical map, but in this case it’s a good thing.

My, how the kids have grown.

Press: D. McNally, dennismcnally@mac.com

Today We Sail is available from www.borisgarcia.com or www.amazon.com

Damon & Naomi Announce Coast-to-Coast Tour

Damon & Naomi embark on a coast-to-coast US tour behind their new album, False Beats and True Hearts (out May 17th on 20/20/20), with a live show featuring lead guitarist Michio Kurihara (Boris, Ghost) on the East Coast and Midwest, and saxophonist/arranger Bhob Rainey (nmperign) on the West Coast. The tour is a co-headline with Amor de Dias, the duo of Alasdair MacLean (The Clientele) and Lupe Núñez-Fernández (Pipas) -- although these shows mark Amor De Dias's US debut, the two duos have already played together several times in the UK, so expect collaborations between these friends throughout.

Damon Krukowski says of their live show:

"When we play live, we prefer to strip most everything away but the emotional core for us of the lyrics, and our voices. It's a more folky approach, trying to communicate the emotions in the songs as fully as we can in a live setting. For that reason we also love to bring lead players with us who respond and add to that kind of direct emotional approach."

To celebrate this tour of duos, Damon & Naomi are releasing a new track off their forthcoming record. Listen to “Shadow Boxing,” a song Damon describes as their “Richard and Linda Thompson-inspired number, a duet/conversation/argument in song."

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Listen to/download “Shadow Boxing” here.

Listen to/download “Walking Backwards” here.

Check out Chris Marker's "video" for Damon & Naomi's "And You Are There" here.

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DAMON & NAOMI TOUR DATES:

Mon. May 9 - Glasgow, UK @ Captain's Rest @*

Wed. May 11 - London, UK @ Cafe Oto @*

Fri. May 13 - Cornwall, UK @ The Kings Arms Penryn @*

Sat. May 14 - Bristol, UK @ Cube Cinema @*

Wed. May 18 - Washington, DC @ Red Palace @%

Thu. May 19 - Carrboro, NC @ The ArtCenter @%

Fri. May 20 - Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery @%

Sat. May 21 - Philadelphia, PA @ 1st Unitarian Church Chapel @%

Sun. May 22 - Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory @%

Mon. May 23 - Boston, MA @ Great Scott @%

Wed. May 25 - Toronto, ONT @ Horseshoe @%

Thu. May 26 - Pontiac, MI @ Pike Room @%

Fri. May 27 - Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall @%

Sat. May 28 - Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock @%

Tue. May 31 - Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern #%

Wed. June 1 - Portland, OR @ Bunk Bar #%

Fri. June 3 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill #%

Sat. June 4 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Satellite #%

Sun. June 5 - San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar#%

* w/ Richard Youngs

% w/ Amor de Dias

@ performing w/ Michio Kurihara (guitar)

# performing w/ Bhob Rainey (saxophone)

Kimock's NYC Residency, New Videos, Wavy Gravy's 75th

Come and listen to the stellar collaborations at Kimock's Spring residency at Sullivan Hall in NYC. Last week featured the legendary pairing of Kimock & NOLA great Henry Butler, along with John Morgan Kimock, Andy Hess and special guests Donna Jean Godchaux and Mark Muller.

DOWNLOAD SHOW

This Wednesday, March 30th, come and listen to Kimock throw down with Marco Benevento, Adam Deitch and Marc Friedman. On April 6th, old friends Pete Sears and John Molo will join Kimock & Andy Hess. Win Tickets HERE. Cool.

Visit kimock.com for more info.

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Kimock will play in a coast-to-coast celebration for Seva co-founder Wavy Gravy's 75th Birthday, as an all-star cast of musicians comes together to honor this beloved humanitarian activist.

Wavy Gravy's 75th Birthday Boogie!
a benefit for Seva Foundation
Saturday, May 14th
Craneway Pavilion, Richmond, CA
Friday, May 27th
Beacon Theater, New York, NY

BUY TICKETS

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On April 8th,,Everyone Orchestra collaborates with Steve Kimock, Kirtan artist Dave Stringer and visual artist Alex Grey for a cross-genre musical celebration of Love, Unity and Expressions of the Sacred. Musicians joining this special EO will be Asher Fulero, Jans Ingber, Steve Berlin, Robin Jackson, Damian Erskine, Julian Fritz and more.

Kimock looks forward to returning to Eugene for another special EO show the following night, Saturday, April 9th at the WOW Hall.

For more information visit www.seva.org/wavygravy

The Dead Kenny Gs Announce 'Operation Long Leash'

Combustible punk jazz trio, The Dead Kenny Gs, featuring saxophonist Skerik, bassist Brad Houser and drummer/percussionist/vibraphonist Mike Dillon, have announced the release of Operation Long Leash due March 15 on Royal Potato Family. Recorded in December at Stone Gossard's Studio Litho in Seattle with engineer Randall Dunn (Cave Singers, Black Mountain, Boris), the band conceived the majority of the material while on the road last summer with Primus, Gogol Bordello and Garage A Trois. The release of Operation Long Leash is surrounded by a 15-date tour that begins in New Orleans and heads north up the East Coast.

If the moniker Dead Kenny Gs doesn’t say it all at first glance, an initial listen to the latest album quickly makes their intentions clear. The trio is committed to musical subversion of the highest order. Exploring a muso obsession of musical styles and sonic colors, The Dead Kenny Gs have both the courage and the chops to realize their wildest aural fantasies. One moment they draw inspiration from punk legends The Minutemen, while the next finds them embracing the spirit of jazz giant Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and still another the influence of indie rock progenitors Deerhoof; yet always remaining purely DKGs. It’s not just music informing the band’s voice either, but an obsession with political conspiracy in American history. The album’s title, Operation Long Leash, comes from the clandestine CIA operation in the late ‘40s to fund Abstract Expressionism as a means for Western culture to undermine the conformist ideals of the Soviet Union during the early years of the Cold War.

Operation Long Leash opens with the sprawling instrumental art rock "Devil's Playground" followed by the skewed go-go funk of "Black Truman (Harry The Hottentot)," featuring special guest Charlie Hunter on guitar. Over the course of the album's ten tracks, they'll blast through avant instrumental punk rockers spiked with Balkan and Klezmer music like "Melvin Jones" and "Sweatbox." The experimental doom metal dirge "Black Death" includes a cathartic lyrical onslaught from Mike D. that turns his past struggles with heroin into a metaphor for the Gulf Coast oil spill and the United States' addiction to oil. In the hands of these three musicians, the disparate  elements coalesce into a complete vision, fearless in its creation and explosive upon arrival. In the words of Skerik: "Dead Kenny Gs is what happens when people listen to Bad Brains and Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sunn O))) and Milt Jackson, Dead Kennedys and John Coltrane, Melt Banana and Fela Kuti."

Listen to "Devil's Playground"

Listen to "Black Truman (Harry The Hottentot)"

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Tour Dates:

March 4 | D.B.A. | New Orleans, LA
March 5 | Donna's | New Orleans, LA
March 7 | Engine Room | Tallahassee, FL
March 8 | Pour House | Charleston, SC
March 9 | Five Spot | Atlanta, GA
March 10 | Mo Daddy’s | Asheville, NC
March 11 | Cosmic Charlie's | Lexington, KY
March 12 | Rex Theater | Pittsburgh, PA
March 13 | Beachland Tavern | Cleveland, OH
March 14 | Bullfrog Brewery | Williamsport, PA
March 16 | The Dover Brick House | Dover, NH
March 17 | Brooklyn Bowl | New York, NY
March 18 | North Star | Philadelphia, PA
March 19 | The Jewish Mother | Norfolk, VA
March 20 | Martin's Downtown | Roanoke, VA

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.

Sidi Touré Releases New Song, "Bon Koum," Off Sahel Folk

It looks like 2011 will be a busy year for Malian singer and guitarist Sidi Touré! His debut album for Thrill Jockey, Sahel Folk, is being released on January 25th, he’s just premiered a new song off the record, “Bon Koum” for all to hear, and, perhaps the most exciting news for U.S. residents, he’s signed on with world-class booking agency Mondo Mundo. Past and present clients include Gal Costa, Femi Kuti, Gilberto Gil, Seu Jorge, Maria Bethania, King Sunny Ade, and many more. U.S. festival and club dates are already in the works, so audiences stateside will soon see what all the fuss is about! In the meantime, listen to “Bon Koum” (translation: “He regrets”), premiered on Pitchfork earlier today!

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Listen to/Download here.

Watch Sidi Touré perform “Artiatanat” here.

Watch Sidi Touré perform “Taray Kongo” here.

Fleck, Harrison, Wooten Adore Jake Shimabukuro

Critics have raved about the artistry Jake Shimabukuro displays on 'Peace Love Ukulele' (out January 4th from Hitchhike Records). The New Yorker said that "in his hands... the ukulele becomes a source of beauty, power, and inspiration."

Jake's fellow musicians agree. Here's what some of them had to say:

"The way Jake plays the 'ukulele is amazing and beautiful... he's a special musician." - Bela Fleck

"To say that Jake is incredible is not enough. He is much more than that. His music takes you on a journey. He plays with so much expression, feeling, and soul; it's like he's an old man in a young man's body. It only takes one listen to understand exactly what I'm saying." - Victor Wooten

"George felt liberated playing the uke and loved it because it made everyone smile. I especially love Jake's versions of George's songs." - Olivia Harrison

"It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to know that I was able to contribute in some way to the rest of the world hearing Jake play. From the moment I first heard his amazing style and watched the audience reaction in a club on the waterfront in Honolulu, I knew he was a unique and universal talent. We all at Mailboat Records are proud and excited to be distributing his latest release, and it gives me another good excuse to get back to Hawaii for 'business' - work, work, work..." - Jimmy Buffett

“Instrumentalists with a truly unique voice on their instrument come around very rarely. It was such a welcome gift to the world when Jake came on the scene... someone whose mastery of the ukulele is eclipsed only by the sheer joy he spreads in playing it. Jake Shimabukuro is without a doubt, one of a kind!” - Dave Koz

Listen to the hard driving "Bring Your Adz" from 'Peace Love Ukulele' here.

Give The Gift Of The Dead

Dead.net is offering free shipping on all merchandise just in time for the Holiday season.   Check out all the goodies they're offering, including the 2011 Dead Calendar, Grateful Dead-opoly, Space Your Face Wool Blanket, Dead Set Skeletons Hoodie, and a lot more.

Also, dead.net is introducing 2011 Road Trips subscriptions. Just think of it as summer love in the spring, fall and winter. It's true - you can now order all four of the upcoming 2011 Road Trips releases in one fell swoop. Sign up for a Road Trips 2011 Subscription and you'll get an exclusive 30-song bonus disc, available only by subscribing, plus free shipping on all four sets. All you'll have to do is sit back and listen to the music!  Click here to learn more.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo Keep the Music of their Childhood Alive

The centuries-old story of their country and culture has been the foundation of the a cappella singing group Ladysmith Black Mambazo since its beginnings, almost fifty years ago. On 'Songs From A Zulu Farm,' out January 25, 2011 (Listen 2 Entertainment Group), the nine-man group returns to their origins in the open fields of Zulu country to recreate the idyllic world in which they once lived by singing traditional folk tunes sung by mothers and fathers to children throughout the generations.

"These are songs from the earliest time in our lives," says Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder and frontman Joseph Shabalala. "When we sing these songs, we're singing from our personal history. It is such a joy for us to put these stories and songs together for our fans to enjoy too."

'Songs From A Zulu Farm' speaks to the universal joys of childhood. "Whether you are in Ladysmith, Virginia, or Ladysmith, South Africa, children are hearing songs they will carry with them for the rest of their lives and share with their own children," Shabalala says. "We hope that these songs sung to South African children can be enjoyed by families in many other places in the world."

Among the 16 tracks on 'Songs From A Zulu Farm' is "Old McDonald… Zulu Style," the classic children's song reworked in ways never before imagined as it's piped through the language and culture of the Zulu people.

Listen to "Old MacDonald" here.

Shabalala professes his love and longing for the times and places of his youth in “Thalaza,” a song he composed to encourage Zulus – and people of every nation and culture – to reconnect to the innocence of their younger years. “Your roots are who you are,” says Shabalala, who revisits the farmland of his youth every month. “I go home to see the sights I’ve known since I was a baby. When I see a field there, I see my father and mother standing with me as a little boy. I love going home because it is just that…home.”

Check out some Grateful Web coverage of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.