Guitars and Good Lyrics: The Drive-By Truckers

Why did you fall in love with rock and roll?

I ask that, not particularly sure you love rock and roll at all, in its purest definition, anyway.. It isn’t heard all that often these days.. Music genres in recent years seem to have splintered into multitudes of subgenres, in some ways – diluting the original archetype. We ‘think’ we have the leaded coffee, cause we haven’t tasted it in so long, we’re sure nothing stronger, exists.

Bela Fleck: An African Edification

I first became immersed into African music from the influence of an amazing musician, friend, and teacher Matt Wasowski currently with Mohammed Alidu and the Bizung Family, and Zivanai Masango and Pachedu and formerly with Jaka and Jyemo amongst other groups. Matt who plays mostly guitar, also dabbles and even builds with his students many African instruments such as the Mbira or thumb piano and Marimbas.

Santa Barbara Celebrates Earth Day's 40th Anniversary with Earth Day Festival

On April 17-18, thousands of communities around the world will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. On the California Central Coast, the community of Santa Barbara, together with regional not-for-profit Community Environmental Council, lays claim to sparking the Earth Day movement forty years ago.

This year, 20,000 will gather for Santa Barbara’s Earth Day 40 Festival (www.SBEarthDay.org) on April 17-18. Under the apropos 2010 theme “Bringing It Home,” the celebration recognizes not only Earth Day’s 40th Birthday, but also the community’s own legacy of environmental stewardship.

For four decades, Santa Barbara has harnessed its mindful community members, innovative leaders, and abundant access to renewable energy resources to help lead the environmental movement. Today, with the ongoing support of the Community Environmental Council and its aggressive “Fossil Free by ’33” initiative, the community continues to serve as a model for how to move an entire region away from fossil fuels.

In 1969, the devastating images of a massive oil spill from an oil platform off Santa Barbara’s coast galvanized California into action and caught the attention of the rest of the nation, including Senator Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day. The resulting swell of outrage and concern gave rise to the first Earth Day in 1970, as well as to the creation of the Community Environmental Council – the largest and most established environmental organization in the region, and the host of Santa Barbara’s Earth Day 40 Festival.

Today, the Community Environmental Council (CEC) is leading a campaign to move Santa Barbara County away from fossil fuels in one generation – Fossil Free by ’33. This bold, regionally driven blueprint seeks to head off a nearly perfect storm of energy-related concerns, including rapidly diminishing oil supplies (“peak oil”), growing concern over our national security because of our dependence on foreign oil, volatile fuel prices, and climate change.

The Fossil Free campaign is particularly timely following the climate talks in Copenhagen last December, in which international leaders noted that more than half of the actions needed to address global warming will be led not by national or international policies, but through local initiatives and leadership.

“Copenhagen will likely be a central theme as communities around the world prepare for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day,” says CEC Assistant Director Sigrid Wright, noting that the collective international Earth Day events are expected to touch over a billion people. “We believe that climate change is the responsibility of every community to address and that Santa Barbara and California are out in front on this issue.”

In downtown Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Earth Day 40 Festival will offer real-world solutions, with participation by approximately 250 emerging green businesses, cutting edge technology vendors, and regional and national environmental organizations. Other features will include:

• a two-day amateur Green Shorts Film Festival,
• the largest known private
Green Car Show in the country, and
• a Green Home Pavilion – a re-enactment of a 1,200-square foot home, featuring the latest green construction materials, home décor products, and energy-saving appliances and technologies.

Earth Day brings us together to celebrate, recharge and focus our energies and resources on ending our dependence on fossil fuels,” says Wright.

“This is a pivotal time in history for the environmental movement because for the first time ever, being free of fossil fuels is actually within reach," says Wright. “The CEC and the community of Santa Barbara are committed to reaching this goal by 2033. The region has unique access to renewable energy resources – particularly the sun, wind and ocean. And, as history has shown, the size of the community – small enough change course with relative speed, yet large enough to matter when those changes are made - makes us poised to lead the charge."

Otis Taylor's new album, 'Clovis People,' set for May 11 release

Otis Taylor digs the past. Whether it’s the songs he wrote a decade ago, or ancient civilizations that lived more than 10,000 years ago, he’s drawn to stories from another time, and he’s compelled to retell them in a way that’s relevant in the modern day. On Clovis People, set for release May 11, 2010, on Telarc International, a division of Concord Music Group, Taylor writes his own history.

It’s the ideal project for the architect of a sparse and hypnotic style that has come to be known as “trance blues.” Taylor has spent his career crafting songs that are wide open to interpretation — thematically as well as structurally. “I give people a starting point, and then they can take it where they want to take it,” he explains. “That’s true for the people playing my music as well as the people listening to it. That’s how art should be. A person looking at a painting should be able to interpret it in whatever way he wants. The more words you put into a song, the less freedom the listener has to decide what it means.”

The album title is inspired by a recent scientific discovery very close to Taylor’s home in Boulder, Colorado. Barely 100 yards from the edge of his property, archeologists dug up a cache of tools and other implements belonging to a civilization known as the Clovis people, who walked the earth briefly about 13,000 years ago and then mysteriously disappeared.

“That’s amazing to me,” says Taylor. “There have only been four or five sites like this found all over the country. That means these people probably walked on my property. My music only goes back about ten years, but there’s something about reaching back to an earlier time and revisiting the stories of the past from a new perspective that I find compelling.”

Helping to shape that new perspective is a crew of players who lend a variety of shades and voices to the mix. Among them is guitarist Gary Moore, a guest musician on two of Taylor’s previous recordings (Definition of a Circle in 2007 and Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs in 2009), who moves in and out of the tracks with a hard riff here, a subtle accent there, and just the right atmospherics wherever he appears. Also on hand for nine of the twelve tracks is pedal steel guitarist Chuck Campbell — a member of the Campbell Brothers, the African-American gospel group that has developed a sound commonly known as “sacred steel.” In addition, Clovis People features cornetist Ron Miles and bassist Cassie Taylor (Otis’ 22-year-old daughter).

The set gets under way with the haunting “Rain So Hard,” a bluesy number that employs an intriguing mix of pedal steel, cornet and theremin as the backdrop to Taylor’s unsettling lyrics about a hard rain turning to snow and falling on a scene of betrayal and deceit.

“Little Willy” and “Lee and Arnez” are two previously unreleased songs. The former is a fictional tale of a school shooting — a song Taylor wrote in 1990s, but then shelved in the aftermath of the Columbine shooting of 1999. “Lee and Arnez” tells the story of a couple that Taylor remembers from the neighborhood where he grew up. “They were my parents’ best friends, and they had a boxer dog that I really loved,” says Taylor. “This would have been the 1950s, which were still a difficult time for black people, but I have great memories of this couple and their beautiful dog.”

“It’s Done Happened Again” is built on an urgent rhythm that plays like a frantic heartbeat. “The song is about that moment when someone who got his heart broken hears about someone else who got his heart broken,” says Taylor. “It’s that moment when pain and empathy converge, and you say, ‘Oh yeah, I know where he’s coming from.’”

“Harry Turn the Music Up” recalls Taylor’s memories of the Denver Folklore Center, a place he frequented when he was a boy in the early ’60s. “The song follows a groove that’s deep in the pocket, and it’s really powerful,” says Taylor. “The Denver Folklore Center was a place where nobody cared if you were black or white, skinny or fat. It was a place where everyone was accepted.”

“Babies Don’t Lie” rides on a single chord and speaks to the profound vulnerability of innocents. But somewhere underneath the simple and recurring lyrical line is the question of how and when dark forces take hold and turn some innocents into monsters.

“Think I Won’t” is a showdown-flavored track that captures the moment when a mother confronts a drug dealer in a schoolyard. “There are some badass moms out there,” says Taylor. “Sometimes people don’t realize how tough black women can be. It’s a matriarchal culture, and there are some moms who’ll kick your ass in a half-second if you threaten their children.”

Indeed, some instincts are eternal, whether the frame of reference is 2010, 1950 or some time before recorded history. Clovis People is in some respects a vehicle for Taylor  — an archeologist of a different kind — to re-examine some of the truths he’s uncovered in his own era and preserve them for listeners in some future time.

“I went back to my musical past with these songs — all the way back to my first album,” says Taylor. “I like finding different ways to retell the old stories. They continue to mean something — to me, to the people who hear them, to the musicians who play with me — many years after I first told them.”

Folk, Americana & Alt-Country in Fort Fun

On February 26, 2010, James McMurtry, Great American Taxi, and the Cracker Duo graced Fort Collins with their music and their special blends of Folk, Americana, and Alt-Country. Folk culture is defined as a specific group of people relating to a certain locale.  Fort Collins night of folk music couldn’t have been more appropriate on the anniversary of Johnny Cash’s birthday.

Maceo Parker at Cervante's Ballroom - March 12th

Maceo Parker: his name is synonymous with Funky Music, his pedigree impeccable; his band: the tightest little funk orchestra on earth.

Everyone knows by now that he’s played with each and every leader of funk, his start with James Brown, which Maceo describes as "like being at University"; jumping aboard the Mothership with George Clinton; stretching out with Bootsy’s Rubber Band. He’s the living, breathing pulse which connects the history of Funk in one golden thread. The cipher which unravels dance music down to its core.

“Everything’s coming up Maceo,” concluded DownBeat Magazine in a 1991 article at the beginning of Maceo Parker’s solo career. At the time Maceo was a remembered by aficionados of funk music as sideman; appreciated mainly by those in the know. More than a decade and a half later Maceo Parker has been enjoying a blistering solo career. For the past sixteen years Maceo has been building a new funk empire, fresh and stylistically diverse. He navigates deftly between James Brown’s 1960’s soul and George Clinton’s 1970’s freaky funk while exploring mellower jazz and the grooves of hip-hop.

His collaborations over the years performing or recording or both have included Ray Charles, Ani Difranco, James Taylor, De La Soul, Dave Matthews Band and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. His timeless sound has garnered him a fresh young fan base. It is almost impossible to separate which came first, Maceo or the funk. The amazing P-funk Parker has been at it with his legendary alto horn for some time dating back to the 1960’s. That’s when Maceo and his drummer brother Melvin climbed on board the James Brown funky soul funk train. It wasn’t long before James coined the solo summoning signature, “ Maceo, I want you to Blow!” . To most musicologists it’s the muscially fertile group of men from this period of James Brown’s band who are recognized as the early pioneers of the modern funk and hip-hop we still jump to today.

Tickets are $20.00 Advance / $25.00 Day of show
Doors are at 8pm, show begins at approx. 9PM
Tickets are available at the Cervantes’ box office or online at Cervante's Ticketing

The Contribution: The Supergroup Releases Debut Album

Which Way World – the new release recorded by supergroup collective The Contribution - is the kind of debut album that only seasoned musicians can produce. Featuring the stellar contributions of Tim Carbone - violin, vocals (Railroad Earth), Jeff Miller - guitar, mandolin, vocals (New Monsoon), Phil Ferlino - keyboards (New Monsoon), Keith Moseley - bassist (The String Cheese Incident) and Jason Hann - percussion (The String Cheese Incident), the americana-tinged music on Which Way World is full and free-wheeling, offering exceptional chops that never overshadow the stand-out songwriting.

The Contribution releases Which Way World on March 30th, 2010 (SCI Fidelity Records); the album will be available digitally everywhere and on CD (the disc includes bonus video footage shot during the recording process) at www.thecontribution.net.

The idea for The Contribution was first hatched by Carbone, Miller, and Ferlino at a festival in the Pacific Northwest in 2005. According to Carbone, “[After] many days lost in creativity beneath the mighty redwoods, [we] emerged into the California sunshine with ten songs.” The contributions of Moseley and Hann from The String Cheese Incident were welcomed on board shortly thereafter, and the full studio line-up for the supergroup was solidified.

The Contribution plays only two shows in support of the album’s release – April 1st at the Bluebird Theatre in Denver, Colorado and April 3 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, California. Show details are as follows:

Thursday, April 1st @ 9PM
Bluebird Theatre
w/ White Water Ramble
3317 East Colfax Avenue, Denver
Tickets: $20.00/ Ages 16+ Welcome
For more information contact 303-830-8497
or visit: bluebirdtheater.net

Saturday, April 3rd @ 9PM
Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco
Tickets: $20.00, $44.95 with dinner/All ages Welcome
For more information contact 415-885-0750 or visit:
gamhtickets.com


About the Players

Tim Carbone - New Jersey’s Tim Carbone is best known as a member of Railroad Earth. For The Contribution, Carbone lends his mood-altering violin work, as evident on the upbeat country-ish song “Steady Rise,” and his voice blends perfectly with Miller’s on such songs as “Samsara.”

Jeff Miller - As a member of the San Francisco-based New Monsoon, Miller has issued five studio albums since 2001. Miller’s penchant for alternating between guitar and mandolin, and his smooth vocals, are highlighted throughout Which Way World’, including the album’s first track, “The Closer.”

Phil Ferlino – Phil Ferlino is also a member of San Francisco’s New Monsoon. Handling all things keyboard-related, Ferlino’s playing in The Contribution reflects whatever the song calls for - as evidenced by such standouts as “Time Was Only Yesterday” (which contains organ (which contains organ playing reminiscent of the Band’s classic material) and “Wind Me Up” (which puts Ferlino’s stately piano lines up-front).

Keith Moseley – Moseley’s two-decade music career has been spent largely as bassist with The String Cheese Incident. In addition to his work with SCI and now, The Contribution, Moseley has played and recorded with multi-instrumentalist Keller Williams, including the 2006 live tribute to the Grateful Dead, Rex (Live at the Fillmore).

Jason Hann – Jason Hann joined The String Cheese Incident in 2004 as the band’s percussionist. Hann is extremely well-versed at his craft, having studied music in such exotic countries as Ghana, Haiti, and Korea. In addition to SCI, Hann has played with a slew of renowned musicians (such as R&B legend Isaac Hayes), has released his own solo album (2005’s ‘Rhythmsphere Vol. 1 - Djembe Furia’), and is a member of the electronic/experimental project, EOTO, with SCI band mate Michael Travis.

Harry Houdini, A musical anointing, and the Ghosts of Jim Crow: The North Mississippi AllStars

Leslie Jenkins believes in the power of the blues. She believes in its’ power to lift the souls of those who truly are listening. If The Blues were to be a religion, I suspect she’d be in the front pew, ready for a anointing thru music each and every Saturday night. Or – better yet, she might heed a calling and lead the congregation, preferably with a historically accurate homemade instrument. Music - for the farmer and local television personality, is a religious expression to be made with careful consideration.

Anne McCue's new CD, 'Broken Promise Land,' returns to raw sound

Anne McCue describes her new album, Broken Promise Land, due out on May 18, 2010 on Flying Machine Records Records, as “a bit dirty, a bit rockin’, a bit swampy and a bit bluesy, with a touch of mysteriousness to it.”

What isn’t mysterious is McCue’s musical talent and range. She was voted the Roots Music Association’s Folk Artist of the Year in 2008, performed in a Jimi Hendrix tribute at the 2007 International Guitar Festival and was included in the Four Decades of Folk Rock box set alongside the likes of Bob Dylan and Wilco. Heart’s Nancy Wilson has described her as “my Aussie clone,” while Americana icon Lucinda Williams had this to say: “Initially, her stunning voice hooked me in. Then I got inside the songs. The first chance I got, I went to see her perform . . . I was floored! The combination of her tomboyish beauty mixed with the precision and assertiveness with which she approached the guitar, her surrounding languid and earthy vocals created an intoxicating blend.”

The new, self-produced album is one that she has long wanted to make. Combining heartfelt songwriting with gritty guitar playing, the record harkens back to McCue’s breakout Roll release, although she says that the new disc’s sound is even more raw than its predecessor. While earlier albums covered a range of roots-rock styles, Broken Promise Land focuses on McCue’s hard-charging “cosmic biker rock” sound.

The new disc lets McCue showcase her rockin’ ways and six-string virtuosity. The title track cuts loose with a blistering Hendrix-like bluesy guitar solo. The first single, “Don’t Go To Texas (Without Me),” boasts the dirty guitar sound of late ’60s English bands like the Yardbirds and the Rolling Stones, while “The Old Man Talkin’” exudes a slinky J.J. Cale vibe.

The music’s strong, visceral energy results from a strategy to record as much as possible live. “I didn’t want to have a lot of layers. I wanted it to be pretty much what I can do on stage,” McCue asserts. She sought to capture the vibe of the old Albert King albums that she loves, which were recorded in only a few days, and she included a brass section in the sessions. By recording to tape, McCue also created the textures and dimension that she admires in T-Bone Burnett’s work.

On Broken Promise Land, McCue utilized the veteran rhythm section of Bones Hillman (Midnight Oil) and drummer Ken Coomer (Uncle Tupelo/Wilco). “Bones and Ken are very developed as musicians,” she says. “It’s great to have that type of depth to the musicianship.” This powerful trio demonstrates their musical breadth throughout this disc, whether it’s building “The Lonely One” into a surging rock ballad, conjuring a spooky atmosphere in Amelia White’s “Motorcycle Dream” or roaring through a cover of Rose Tattoo’s “Rock ’n’ Roll Outlaw.”

McCue’s love for music was nurtured in Sydney, Australia, where she grew up in a house filled with music. Her father, while not a professional musician, played a variety of instruments and her mother sang in the church choir. All of her seven older siblings were heavily into music too, and sounds ranging from Billie Holiday to Led Zeppelin filled the McCue home. “Every type of music except hardcore blues,” the blues-loving McCue admits, “so I definitely didn’t get burned out on it as a child.”

Although McCue played guitar growing up, she wasn’t encouraged to be a musician. A longtime film buff, she got a degree in film studies at Sydney’s University of Technology. Her cinema studies are an influence. “To me, my songs are like short films,” she reveals, “I try to be very visual and cinematic with my music and now I am making videos for the songs too.”

After college, McCue joined an all-female band, Girl Monstar, which was very popular in the Australian indie rock scene. She later became a part of the folk-rock trio Eden AKA that performed on the Lilith Fair tour and recorded a never-released album for Columbia Records. Her ill-fated Columbia experience landed her in America, where she set up shop in Los Angeles and became a vital part of the city’s roots music scene. During her time in Southern California, she recorded two attention-grabbing albums — 2004’s Roll and 2006’s Koala Motel.
Both releases accumulated a bevy of critical accolades. Entertainment Weekly exclaimed that McCue “represents a new generation of hard-bitten, country-inflected singer-songsmiths,” while Billboard heralded her as  “the virtual definition of ‘triple threat.’ A potent singer, thoughtful songwriter and tough guitarist.” Austin Chronicle critic Jim Caligiuri noted that “these days, there are very few women working the same territory as McCue, who can combine tough and vulnerable. That she does it with poise and a self-deprecating sense of humor makes her an artist worth seeing again.”
A few years ago, McCue moved to Nashville, a place she finds quite fertile for making music. “There’s more room to think, more creative space,” she explains, “but there are so many great musicians that it really raises the bar and makes you want to get better.” Last year, she self-produced a limited-distribution acoustic album, East of Electric, on which she played a variety of instruments. A terrific example of her folkier side, it stands as a quiet side-trip to the full-bodied rock ferocity that Broken Promise Land delivers.
“This is the kind of music I love playing,” says McCue talking enthusiastically about her Broken Promise Land songs. “There’s nothing I could look more forward to than playing a whole set of bluesy, rocky, swampy music.”
See the video for McCue’s “Don’t Go to Texas (Without Me)” right here.

AM Taxi Announces Debut Album & Spring Tour Dates

AM Taxi— so-called because they’re all about moving across the U.S. towards their destination—gets ready to hit the road…hard. The guys will be touring in support of Spill Canvas late Spring with
additional dates for this Summer’s Warped Tour, starting June 24 through August 15. AM Taxi are one of the few groups booked for the entire prestigious concert series prior to releasing an album. They’ve already been out on the road with the likes of Sum 41 and The Ataris, while opening for The Offspring at Summerfest in Milwaukee, so they’re more than up for the task.
“Our goal is to take that 45 or 60 minutes and let people get away for a little bit,” says lead singer and guitarist Adam Krier, “maybe even convert some of ‘em to AM Taxi fans. And, if they dig what we’re doing, maybe they’ll check out some of the stuff that influenced us.”
Take one listen to AM Taxi’s Virgin records debut, We Don’t Stand A Chance to be released June 8, 2010 and you can hear reverence for the past and hope for the future, a band that can cut across any age or genre demographics. The band just wrapped their video for the single ‘The Mistake.' With a blend of old-school punk, world beat and modern pop influences, the Chicago-based band combines experience with exuberance.
“I try to write songs about things people can relate to,” nods Adam. “For me, the best music, at the end of the day, is therapeutic. That’s always in the back of my mind a little when I’m sitting down to write.”
Recorded in Austin, TX, with renowned producer Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Patty Griffin,...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead), AM Taxi’s major label bow, offers a variety of different styles, from old-school punk to world beat and modern pop. “The Mistake” is a heart-on-the-sleeve confessional that recalls the Replacements, while “Fed Up” is a Springsteen-by-way-of-The Hold Steady classic rock raver, “Dead Street” sports a Police-styled world beat and “Charissa” a Clash-esque reggae rhythm.

TOUR DATES
April 21 - The Hub Cedar - Falls, IA
April 23 - Bluebird Theater - Denver, CO
April 24 - Murray Theater - Salt Lake City, UT
April 25 - The Venue - Boise, ID
April 26 - El Corazon - Seattle, WA
April 27 - Hawthorne Theatre - Portland, OR
April 29 - Slim’s - San Francisco, CA
April 30 - The Roxy Theatre - West Hollywood, CA
May 1 - The Boardwalk - Orangevale, CA
May 3 - The Rock - Tucson, AZ
May 5 - The Loft - Dallas, TX
May 6 - Meridian - Houston, TX
May 7 - The White Rabbit - San Antonio, TX
May 8 - Emo’s - Austin, TX
May 10 - The State Theatre - St. Petersburg, FL
May 11 - The Social - Orlando, FL
May 12 - Masquerade - Atlanta, GA
May 14 - The Recher Theatre - Towson, MD
May 15 - Stone Pony - Asbury, NJ
May 17 - First Unitarian Church - Philadelphia, PA
May 18  - The Middle East- Downstairs - Cambridge, MA
May 20 - The Basement - Columbus, OH
May 21 - St. Andrews Hall - Detroit, MI
May 22 - Metro - Chicago, IL