alvin

Rick Alvin Shaier streets solo debut “Mantis Preying”

While stationed in Phoenix, AZ during the recording of Miniature Tiger’s “Tell It To The Volcano”, (Rick is also a member of Modern Art act Miniature Tigers) Rick holed up in a friend’s bathroom with a microphone and a Powerbook and went to town.  The end result is the 9 song “vocal composition” coined “Mantis Preying”. By limiting the recording to body parts and vocal gymnastics, Rick began his first journey working with unlimited multi-track arrangements via Digidesign’s Pro Tools.  Bjork’s “Medulla” served as the predominant inspiration behind Rick writing and layering vocals without the use of instruments.

 

rick-alvinThe songs on “Mantis Preying” feature dense, layered, complicated arrangements that somehow weave a central melody and structure throughout the cacophony of ideas.  This complex blend of rhythms and harmonies cannot seemingly come from one voice and one microphone. Though recorded under the constraints of “vocals only”, it projects a sum much larger than it’s parts, making use of the full sonic spectrum.  The record is completed with the song “Mystery of the Yellow Room” paying tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber by combining a medley of themes from the “Phantom of the Opera”.

 

Rick spent his formative music years studying piano in steamy, sun drenched, Phoenix, AZ, and graduated to drumming in a few different high school punk bands.  He learned quickly on instruments both stringed and skinned, and began tinkering with 4 tracks and microphones early on in the process.  Driven from an internal realization that he had to get the madness out of his head, vomiting the ideas out on tape became a cathartic endeavor for him.  As these bedroom demo samurai sessions wore on, Rick eventually started labeling these recordings with the moniker “Alvin Band”.  The bonus EP “Lady Portrait”, included in the package, is a latter example of these bedroom sessions.

 

Lately,  Rick has been rambling around the United States playing drums in Minature Tigers and opening for bands such as Ben Folds, Kevin Devine, and Guster. The Miniature Tigers crew has been performing material from the repertoire of Alvin Band as well.  There is a lot of music to come from young Mr. Schaier, and the combination release of “Mantis Preying”, coupled with the bonus EP “Lady Portrait” serves as a solid introduction into his sorcery. More lunacy on the way…

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