Local Natives Announce US Tour

Local Natives make soaring, sky-scraping harmonies, dreamy orchestral melodies, and throbbing tribal beats that bash their way into your soul. Theirs are songs you can dance to almost as well as you can swoon to them. Drawing a line from the vocal stylings of Crosby Stills Nash & Young and the Zombies through the more esoteric edges of post-punk and Afro-beat, this California five piece have communally crafted a brand of indie rock all their own.

For Local Natives everything is a collaboration, from song writing duties to the band’s self produced artwork. The three part harmonies come courtesy of keyboardist Kelcey Ayer, guitarists Ryan Hahn and Taylor Rice. Then there’s Matt Frazier on drums and Andy Hamm on bass, who look after the band’s equally impressive graphics and artwork.

One of SXSW 2009’s biggest success stories, the band drove for two days to get from Los Angeles to Austin in order to play nine spectacular shows that saw them sprinting, instruments in hand, from one gig to the next. Their hectic schedule paid off as Local Natives left Austin with the attention of the UK music Industry.

Based in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles, three of the five-piece originally hail from Orange County. Kelcey, Ryan and Taylor attended neighboring high schools and hooked up with bassist Andy a year after they graduated, later meeting drummer Matt.  They’ve been playing – and evolving - together for three years. Last year, however, the band realized that the new songs they were writing were the sounds of a new project entirely.

It was in December 2008 that the band decamped to Silver Lake, where they all live in the same house.  But the Silver Lake digs isn’t the first house the band have shared. They lived together in Orange County too, in a place affectionately known as Gorilla Manor. “It was insanely messy and there were always friends over knocking around on guitars or our thrift store piano,” says Ryan, “it was an incredible experience and I’ll never forget that time.” The original Gorilla Manor, where the band wrote the majority of their record, had such an impact that the band has paid tribute to the house by naming their debut album in its honor.

The self-funded Gorilla Manor was recorded by Raymond Richards in West Los Angeles. Richards produced the record with Local Natives in his own Red  Rockets Glare Studio.

Featuring twelve sumptuous slices of dappled California sunlight and beguiling percussive rhythms, the album kicks off with the moody, driving, ‘Wide Eyes’. Says Ryan, “It’s about people’s obsession with the miraculous and disastrous…with witnessing extraordinary events”. The effervescent, mandolin boasting ‘Airplanes’ follows, which Kelcey explains is about “longing to have met my grandfather, a great man and pilot, who died before I was born.”  Also included is the glorious ‘Sun Hands’, which was released as a limited edition single on Chess Club back in July.  According to Taylor, the lyrics describe “that all too familiar feeling of wanting what you can’t have –  especially when you once had it.”  There’s a cover version in the mix too, a barely recognizable version of Talking Heads’ ‘Warning Sign’. “We’ve basically flipped the song on its head,” says Matt, explaining how they switched David Byrne’s original yelped vocals into a beautiful three-part harmony.

Local Natives US Tour

4/20 Tucson, AZ – Solar Culture
4/22 Dallas, TX – The Cavern
4/23 Austin, TX – Emo’s Inside
4/24 Houston, TX – Mango’s
4/26 Little Rock, AR – Sticky Fingerz Chicken Shack
4/27 Haittesburg, MS – Thirsty Hippo
4/29 St. Augustine, FL – Cafe 11
4/30 Nashville, TN – The Basement
5/1 Atlanta, GA – Masquerade
5/4 Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506
5/5 Washington, DC – DC 9
5/6 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
5/7 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie
5/8 Allston, MA – Great Scott
5/11 Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom
5/12 Columbus, OH – The Basement
5/14 Chicago, IL – Schubas
5/15 Rock Island, IL - Rock Island Brewing Company
5/17 Minneapolis, MN – 400 Bar
5/18 Iowa City, IA – The Mill
5/19 Columbia, MO – Mojo’s
5/21 Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge
5/22 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
5/25 Spokane, WI – Empyrean
5/26 Boise, ID – Neurolux
5/27 Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
5/28 Vancouver, BC – Media Club
5/30 Seattle, WA – Sasquatch

Four-Piece Drink Up Buttercup to Drop First Full-Length

Philadelphia pop quartet Drink Up Buttercup will release their first full-length album, Born and Thrown on a Hook, on March 23rd through Yep Roc Records.
Drink Up Buttercup earned the attention of fans with the release of their debut 7” Sosey & Dosey on Kanine Records, which was described as “Beatle-esque but in a kitchen sink kind of way,” (Brooklyn Vegan) and “60’s psychedelic carnival” (Stereogum). The band – comprised of Jim Harvey (vocals, guitar), Ben Money (bass, organ), Mike Cammarata (drums) and Farzad Houshiarnejad
(keyboards) – furthered their notoriety through their bombastic live shows with The New York Times going so far to say that the band “mesmerizes and clobbers live.”
Drink Up Buttercup’s first full album navigates a surrealistic geography somewhere between the grittiness of a Tom Waits’ song and the fairy tales of Han Christian Anderson. Produced by Philadelphia’s own Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog, Man Man) and mixed by Rusty Santos (Animal Collective, Owen Pallett, Panda Bear), Born and Thrown on a Hook demonstrates a preoccupation with flawed protagonists, drunks and star-crossed lovers.
“We knew we were making something great and we all fought about what added to the greatness and what detracted,” Moriarty said. “We tried every way possible to make recordings: live, one at a time, analog tape, computer... in the end all of them worked and none was the solution.”
“This is an album I'm glad to have been a part of,” Moriarty continued. “It was a powerful experience with all the attractive and repellent parts of being alive rolled up in it.”
In anticipation of Born and Thrown on a Hook, Drink Up Buttercup is releasing a live video document of every song on the upcoming album each week via www.drinkupbuttercup.com, culminating on March 23rd. Each video is stripped of studio trickery & audio comfort zones, embracing the strange surroundings they find themselves in - basements filled with balloons, children’s playgrounds and old folks homes.

Ray Charles' 'Genius + Soul = Jazz'

Ray Charles was best known for his work in the idioms of R&B, rock ’n’ roll and even successful forays into country. But he also recorded influential jazz albums, including the groundbreaking Genius + Soul = Jazz originally released in 1961, and continuing into the ’70s with My Kind of Jazz, Jazz Number II and My Kind of Jazz Part 3. On April 6, 2010, Concord Records will release a deluxe edition two-CD set featuring digitally remastered versions of all four albums including encyclopedic liner notes by Will Friedwald, jazz writer for The Wall Street Journal and author of several books on music and popular culture, along with original liner notes by Dick Katz and Quincy Jones.

Genius + Soul = Jazz was recorded at the Van Gelder Studios in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, in late 1960. The producer was Creed Taylor; arrangers, Quincy Jones and Ralph Burns. Ray Charles played the organ with three vocals (“I’ve Got News for You,” “I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town” and “One Mint Julep”) and band members included members of the Count Basie Orchestra: Thad Jones, Joe Newman, Billy Mitchell, Frank Wess, Freddie Green, and Sonny Payne among others. Issued originally on ABC Records’ legendary Impulse jazz label, the record ascended to the #4 spot on Billboard’s pop album chart, and spawned the very first singles on Impulse, heretofore an album label. “I’ve Got News for You,” rose to #8 R&B and #66 on the Hot 100. In addition, Charles’ version of “One Mint Julep” charted #1 R&B and #8 pop, and his rendition of the blues standard “I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town” reached #25 R&B and #84 pop.

As annotator Friedwald states, “Genius + Soul = Jazz . . . was a bold and innovative album, but, at the same time, a direct step forward from his earlier work.” Although Basie himself does not appear on the album, the Count was a major model as Charles assembled a full-scale, working orchestra. Basie also influenced his use of organ in a jazz context, and Charles was happy to record at the Van Gelder studio, where Jimmy Smith had recorded his classic Blue Note albums. Truly, as Dick Katz wrote in his original January 1961 liner notes, “The combination here of rare talent plus uncommon craftsmanship has produced a record that showcases the timeless quality and innate taste that is uniquely that of Ray Charles.”

Some nine years later, Charles recorded another jazz album, My Kind of Jazz. With sessions in Los Angeles this time, Charles surrounded himself with such players as Bobby Bryant and Blue Mitchell, trumpet; Glen Childress, trombone; Andy Ennis, Albert McQueen and Clifford Scott, saxophone; and Ben Martin, guitar. The album contained Charles’ own “Booty-Butt” (which was issued as a single on his own Tangerine label), Lee Morgan’s “Sidewinder,” and Horace Silver’s “Señor Blues.”

In his original liner notes to My Kind of Jazz, Quincy Jones wrote, “This album is the essence of what Ray used to tell us when we were kids: Be true to the soul of the material you’re dealing with.”

Jazz Number II was recorded roughly two years later at Charles’ Tangerine/RPM Studios and issued on Tangerine Records. Charles enlisted an impressive cast of arrangers: Alf Clausen, Teddy Edwards, Jimmy Heath and Roger Neumann.  The tracks included Ray Charles and Roger Neumann’s “Our Suite,” Teddy Edwards’ “Brazilian Skies” and “Going Home,” Thad Jones’ “Kids Are Pretty People” and Jimmy Heath’s “Togetherness.”

Finally, My Kind of Jazz Part 3, which concludes the Genius + Soul = Jazz deluxe package, was recorded in Los Angeles circa 1975, featured the Ray Charles Orchestra including Clifford Solomon, alto sax; Glen Childress, trombone; Johnny Coles, trumpet; Leroy Cooper, baritone sax; and James Clay, tenor sax. Included are compositions by Duke Ellington, Horace Silver, Jimmy Heath and Benny Golson. Issued on Charles’ own Crossover Records, the album reached #55 on the R&B chart in 1976.

The reissue of Genius + Soul = Jazz continues Concord Music Group’s long-term reissuing of the Ray Charles catalog in cooperation with the Ray Charles Foundation. Among the other albums repackaged in the past year are Genius Hits the Road, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Message From the People, plus the career compilation titled Genius.

Javelin Announce US Tour

“George was pretty damn eclectic as a kid,” says Tom Van Buskirk, referring to his cousin/Javelin collaborator, George Langford. “I was more of a snob, growing up on the Beatles and classical music. Like I didn’t get into Nirvana until after MTV Unplugged came out. I’m always late to the party.”

Maybe that’s why Javelin formed in 2005—to throw a party of their own, one that sees nothing wrong with dropping crooked disco (“On It On It”), schoolyard funk (“Intervales Theme”), abstract R&B (“Dep”) and pitch-perfect pop (“Mossy Woodland”) in the same set. At least that’s the way things unfold on Javelin’s debut album, No Más, the eagerly-awaited follow-up to a self-released collection of demos (Jamz n Jemz) and a pair of limited Thrill Jockey 12-inches (Javelin, Number Two).

It’s as if Javelin were programmed to reproduce the golden age of every genre known to man, bouncing between samplers and strings, drum machines and drum sets, and a growing collection of guitars, horns and homemade thumb pianos. You read that right: Most of No Más’ dusty 45 moments aren’t lifted from actual recordcrates. They’re painstakingly recreated, note by note, from the jukebox in Javelin’s collective mind.

“I love making music that has flaws and human fingerprints all over it,” adds Langford. “There’s also that grey area where you can’t tell what’s a sample, although it leaves you wanting to say, ‘Hey, I did that!’”

There’s no denying who’s doing what at Javelin shows, ever-evolving pieces of performance art that leave the laptops at home and have more in common with the multi-tracked madness of an old Jamaican sound system than the standard guitar/bass/drums setup of a ‘band’.

“The worst thing in the world would be to have a wall of dudes staring at your gear, watching your every move,” says Langford, “So we try to inject as much life and energy into our performances as possible.”

When they first started playing around Providence, this meant an overwhelming array of “turntables, glockenspiels and percussion.” Now that they’ve settled in Brooklyn and stripped their restless sound down to its bare essentials, Javelin’s become known as the guys with the boom boxes, a Flaming Lips-like technique that’s allowed them to break down the artist/audience wall at such tour stops as New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

“A lot of people think they’re ornaments, but they play sound,” says Van Buskirk. “It’s like, ‘You really thought we dragged all of this here for nothing?”

Never. You see, everything has its place in a Javelin song, from the shimmering keys and brassy strut of “Shadow Heart” to the loony tune loops of “Oh! Centra.” So if you’re trying to ‘figure Javelin out’, don’t bother. These musical omnivores work their music like a rabid radio dial, leaving a tricky trail of sonic breadcrumbs in their wake. Or as Langford puts it, “The minute I start working in one style, I get distracted and want to work on another one. We kinda gave up on finding our ’sound’ years ago.”

Tour Dates
2/9 - Music Hall of Williamsburg - Brooklyn, NY*
2/16 - Academy 2 - Birmingham, UK*
2/17 - Oran Mor - Glasgow, UK*
2/19 - The Academy - Dublin, IE*
2/20 - Speakeasy - Belfast, NI*
2/21 - Academy 3 - Manchester, UK*
2/22 - The Faversham - Leeds, UK*
2/23 - Heaven - London, UK*
2/24 Windmill Brixton  LONDON, UK (headlining)
2/25 - Thekia - Bristol, UK*
2/26 - Digital - Brighton, UK*
-
3/4 - E & L Auditorium - New York, NY
3/5 Trocodero Theatre w/ Man Man -PHILADELPHIA, PA
3/23 - The Jackpot Saloon - Lawrence, KS#
3/24 - Bourbon Theatre - Lincoln, NE#
3/25 - Public Space One - Iowa City, IA#
3/26 - The Bishop - Bloomington, IN
SAT 3/27 BIG EARS FESTIVAL - KNOXVILLE, TN
3/28 - Cafe Bourbon St - Columbus, OH
3/29 - The Cafe - Detroit, MI#
3/30 - And And And (Artspace) - Toronto, ON#
3/31 - The Friendship Cove - Montreal, QC#
-
Yeasayer US Tour
SAT 4/3 WASHINGTON, DC 9:30 CLUB*
SUN 4/4 CARRBORO, NC Cat's Cradle*
MON 4/5 ASHEVILLE, NC Orange Peel*
TUE 4/6 ATLANTA, GA Masquerade*
WED 4/7 MEMPHIS, TN Hi Tone Café*
THU 4/8 DALLAS, TX Granada Theatre*
FRI 4/9 HOUSTON, TX House of Blues*
SAT 4/10 AUSTIN, TX The Parish*
SUN 4/11 AUSTIN, TX  The Parish*
TUE 4/13 MARFA, TX Crowley Theatre*
WED 4/14 TUCSON, AZ Club Congress*
THU 4/15 PHOENIX, AZ Rhythm Room*
FRI 4/16 - La Casa Encendida - Madrid, ES

* Yeasayer

Collectors' Choice introduces CCM Live label: J. WInter, Hot Tuna, Poco. J. Denver

Collectors’ Choice Music, the label that’s come to be known for compelling and often unexpected CD reissues, has announced the launch of Collectors’ Choice Music Live, a new label devoted to releasing great live performances, most of which have never previously been commercially available.

The series will launch April 20 with the release of four CDs: Johnny Winter And’s Live at the Fillmore East 10/3/70; Poco’s Live at Columbia Studios, Hollywood 9/30/71; Hot Tuna’s Live at the New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA September 1969; and John Denver’s Live at Cedar Rapids, 12/10/87.

According to Collectors’ Choice Music GM Gordon Anderson, “After some 15 years of reissuing albums and compiling artists, we’re convinced that some of the biggest remaining veins of gold in the vaults are the live shows that a lot of labels recorded of their artists in their prime, particularly those who made their reputation with improvisational prowess and/or ever-changing set lists. These first four releases on our new Collectors’ Choice Music Live label certainly fit that description.”

Johnny Winter And — Live at the Fillmore East 10/3/70: To commemorate the release of his Johnny Winter And album, Texas blues guitarist/singer Johnny Winter played some shows at New York’s Fillmore East, some of which were compiled on 1971’s Live Johnny Winter And, a classic live album of the era to which this release makes a nice bookend. He had just formed a new band consisting of former member of the McCoys (“Hang on Sloopy”) including Rick Derringer on guitar, bassist Randy Jo Hobbs, and drummer Randy Zehringer. Although the McCoys were none too familiar with Winter’s work, they proved quick studies and entered the studio to make the album Johnny Winter And within three weeks. The New York Times reviewed the Fillmore show, citing “a considerable improvement over Winter’s previous band. Winter and [Derringer] played solos back at each other, simultaneously and in alternation.” The live album contains the Winter hit “Rock and Roll Hoochie Coo” and his take on Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61” alongside  blues classics “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” “It’s My Own Fault” and “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl.”

•Poco —Live at Columbia Studios, Hollywood, 9/30/71: In the fall of ’71, Poco was arguably the most popular of the first generation country-rock bands. By then, their album Deliverin’ had cracked the Top 30 and Poco thanked its label, Epic Records, with a private showcase at the CBS Records’ Hollywood studio.  “We just set up as we would have for a small club,” recalls frontman Richie Furay, whose bandmates included guitarist/singer Paul Cotton (from the Illinois Speed Press), bassist Tim Schmidt (later of the Eagles), pedal steel player Rusty Young and drummer/vocalist George Grantham. By this time, Poco was evolving from country-rock towards an edgier rock sound. Says Furay, “Though we were innovators of the L.A. ‘country-rock’ sound, we weren’t going top be pigeonholed into being a one-sound band.” The 14 songs they performed for label employees that day were a solid cross-section of tunes that had appeared on its first four albums including the medley “Hard Luck Child/Child’s Claim to Fame/Pickin’ Up the Pieces,” plus “I Guess You Made It,” “A Man Like Me,” “Ol’ Forgiver,” “Heart That Music,” “Hurry Up,” “You Are the One” and more — an hour of music in all.

Hot Tuna: Live at the New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA September 1969: Hot Tuna was, of course, the blues band-within-a-band side project of Jefferson Airplane’s Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady that outlasted the parent band and continues to this day. Interestingly, the duo’s first commercial album, which made it to #30 on the Billboard pop album chart, was recorded live at Berkeley’s New Orleans House, but a lot more material was taped than was released. Much of it is issued for the first time on this 68-minute CD, which consists entirely of previously unreleased recordings. Explaining why they recorded their debut album was recorded live, Kaukoken says, “We tend to go places . . . and you lose a bit of that when you work in the studio. And it was cheaper too!” Of the 13 songs on this CD, six — “Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” “Winin’ Boy Blues,” “Uncle Sam Blues,” “I Know You Rider,” “Don’t You Leave Me Here” and “How Long Blues” — were included on the first Hot Tuna album, though the versions here are selected from different performances than the ones used on that LP.  Other songs include Blind Boy Fuller’s “Keep On Truckin’,” Rev. Gary Davis’ “Keep Our Lamps Trimmed and Burning” and “Candy Man,” and Blind Blake’s “That’ll Never Happen No More.”

John Denver: Live at Cedar Rapids, December 10, 1987: What is the sound of an audience eating out of the palm of a performer’s hand? Utter silence. And that’s what was heard during the two-hour-plus Iowa concert that comprises this two-CD set.  By 1987, Denver’s days as a Top 40 hitmaker were a decade in the past, but he remained a solid concert draw as a beloved, thoroughly American artist with a permanent place in the history of pop. It says much about Denver’s songwriting that, with the exception of half a dozen songs on which he’s accompanied by string quartet, he delivers two hours of solo music just his voice and 12-string guitar. The hits are here but so are new songs, some early-repertoire nuggets and a well-chosen cover or two.  Included are “Farewell Andromeda (Welcome to My Morning,” ”Take Me Home Country Roads,” “Rocky Mountain High,” “Annie’s Song,” “Love Is the Master,” “Mother Nature’s Son,” “Blow Up Your TV (Spanish Pipe Dream),” “Shanghai Breezes,” “Ohio” and more.

Is Jazz Dead? No!

Writer/Filmmaker Bret Primack's latest video offers his thoughts on a question, which like indigestion, seems to surface occasionally, Is Jazz Dead?  Not surprisingly, with his four hundred and forty posted videos garnering nearly ten million views on his Jazz Video Guy YouTube Channel, Mr. Primack is optimistic about the future of America’s home grown art form.

“This is the first video I’ve done where I offer commentary, not unlike what I did as the Pariah,” Primack reports.  “I know people have to write about something, but all this chit-chat about the demise of Jazz is preposterous. So I made this video in response to the tabloid mentality of some arts correspondents.”

The first Jazz blogger with his site Bird Lives, in 1997, Bret, aka the Pariah, was a crusader for truth and justice in the music industry.  He made a lot of friends and broke new ground on the web, but also alienated powerful people who resisted any change to the status quo.

“I’ve paid some dues because I spoke the truth, but it wasn’t as bad as Dalton Trumbo and the Hollywood 10,” Primack believes, referring to the screenwriters who were jailed during the 50s Blacklisting scare.  “In fact, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  Given the response to my first video commentary, I suspect I’ll be doing more on my YouTube channel, which now has 10,000 subscribers.  But the Jazz business has changed dramatically in the past ten years.  Most of the old guard is largely gone, unable to make the transition to the new media landscape.”

Primack continues his work with Sonny Rollins, Billy Taylor and Joe Lovano, posting ten new videos a month that he produces himself, in addition to gems from Billy Taylor’s video archives.

His latest production, “Joe Lovano’s Surprise,” features an interview with the saxman discussing how he broke both arms in 2009, the recovery process, and his exciting new group, Us Five which includes Lovano on saxophones, James Weidman on piano, Esperanza Spalding on bass, Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela, on drums.  “Joe Lovano is one of the people keeping Jazz alive and healthy,” Primack explains, "so I’m happy to report that Joe himself is back on the road.  Nothing short of a nuclear attack is going to stop that Jazz Warrior.”

Bret is currently editing video he shot at a December trio session led by saxman Bob Mintzer, featuring organist Larry Goldings, and drummer Peter Erskine for the Japanese label, Pony Canyon.  “Some really amazing music from those cats,” Bret believes. 

View “Is Jazz Dead?  No!”

http://www.youtube.com/jazzvideoguy

View “Joe Lovano’s Surprise”

http://www.jazzvideoguy.tv

Visit Planet Bret

http://www.planetbret.com

Sleepy Sun Announce US Tour | Play South By Southwest

Whether droning madly, spiralling into cascades of infinitely echoing vocals or kicking back with their blissed-out take on classic Americana rock, Sleepy Sun are a band that demand your attention. Formed in Santa Cruz and now based in San Francisco, this intense sextet are set to release their latest single, Sleepy Son (sic), taken from their breathtaking debut album, Embrace, in August.

Comprising Brian Tice (drums), Jack Allen (bass), Rachael Williams (vocals, haberdashery & interpretive dancing) Bret Constantino (vocals & harmonica), Evan Reiss (guitars) and Matt Holliman (guitars) – all 22 and 23, the band met in the counter-cultural hub city of Santa Cruz, California, citing “pizza, horticulture, Neil Percival Young,” as common interests. “With the forest and ocean as our back drop, we were drawn to each other as fellow musicians, friends, and lovers” they say.

Drawing musical inspiration from Black Sabbath, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Can and Creation Records, they forged their sound in intense jams, “free flowing, heady, ‘where am I?’ type jamming.”

Though they’re in the one-time home of psychedelia, it’s not San Francisco per se that influences their sound. “It comes more from Northern California itself more than any scene or city,” they say. “There truly is nowhere on Earth like our little corner of the country where the redwoods smother the ocean.”

What are you waiting for? Let’s Get Weird!


North American Tour Dates

2/7 - East End Club - Portland, OR
2/8 - Neumos - Seattle (FREE)** with Mudhoney
2/26 - The New Parish - Oakland, CA
3/9 - Catalyst Atrium - Santa Cruz, CA
3/12 - Echo - Los Angeles, CA
3/13 - Bar Pink - San Diego, CA
3/14 - JDee’s Landing - Palm Springs, CA
3/17 - Emo’s Annex (IODA SXSW Day Party) - Austin, TX
3/18 - Beauty Bar (Bay Bridged SXSW Day Party) - Austin, TX
3/20 - Peckerheads (Rollingstone.com / Rhapsody SXSW Day Party) - Austin, TX
3/21 - Double Wide (Bro Fest) - Dallas, TX
3/23 - Hi Dive Club - Denver, CO
3/24 - Corazon - Sante Fe, NM
3/25 - Mia’s Lounge - Flagstaff, AZ
3/26 - Bunkhouse Saloon - Las Vegas, NV
3/27 - The Cellar Door - Visalia, CA

Marton Sexton readies new album 'Sugarcoating'

Sugarcoating, Martin Sexton’s new album due out April 6, 2010, finds the one-of-a-kind artist doing what he does best: locating larger truths within specific details of the life he’s living. “I write from personal experience — my own hang-ups and quirks, good times and bad times. That keeps it real.”

The Syracuse-born artist tracked Sugarcoating live off the floor in seven days with a remarkably cohesive studio band composed of what Sexton describes as “amazing players, the best you could find.”

“Each song is so stylistically different from the next,” adds Sexton, “I’ve always preferred records that range, sort of like the White Album, from ‘Black Bird’ to ‘Helter Skelter.’ At one time, industry types tried to convince me to stick with one genre, but it was like wearing a suit that didn’t fit.”

“I recorded this album with no rehearsals, no pre-production, using all vintage gear from what went into the mics to what came out on the analog tape . . . I like making records like the old jazz guys did — they just showed up and worked it out.”

The title track, disturbing in its theme and audacious in its presentation, takes “keeping it real” to another level. An unsettling look at post-9/11 reality, the song encapsulates in the lines “I wonder why nobody wonders why/with all the sweet sweet sweet sugarcoating/the nightly news gone entertainment biz/and politicians out showboatin’/One day somebody tell it like it is.” Which is exactly what Sexton accomplishes here. The fact that this urgent message is embedded in a danceable, happy-go-lucky arrangement complete with backing vocals by what Sexton calls his “cowboy trio” only serves to deepen the song’s impact.

Other songs on Sugarcoating include “Long Haul,” a Bakersfield-rooted, bluesy, earth-toned shuffle that celebrates the unparalleled richness of a long-term relationship; “Shane,” in which Sexton imagines the experiences awaiting his infant son; “Found,” which asserts that our wired existence drowns out our ability to see others clearly; and “Always Get Away,” a lament about missed opportunities and unforeseen circumstances. Sexton says, “It’s about forgiveness — forgiving oneself the mistakes you’ve made in the past. It’s about knowing who I am and who I’m not, and about having a conscious contact with my inner voice and my higher power.”

Not every song is heavy. The first single, “Livin’ the Life,” is a buoyant joy-of-existence piece with a churning clavinet burrowing a deep soul groove right through it.  “Stick Around” is a piano-driven Beatlesque bouncer complete with an Abbey Road reference in the lyric; and “Easy on the Eyes” is a finger-snapping, ragtime mating call with a voice trumpet solo from Sexton.

It’s Sexton’s uncanny ability to connect the personal to the universal via songs like these that has earned him such a devoted following among fans and critics alike. The New York Times’ Jon Pareles wrote that the artist “jumps beyond standard fare on the strength of his voice, a blue-eyed soul man’s supple instrument . . . his unpretentious heartiness helps him focus on every soul singer’s goal: to amplify the sound of an ordinary heart.” He’s also renowned among his peers. John Mayer calls him “one of the greatest singers of our generation.”

With Sugarcoating, Sexton may well have made his defining record. It’s an unquestionable high point for the modern troubadour who headlines venues from the Fillmore Auditorium to Nokia Theater Times Square, oversees his KTR label and derives great satisfaction from the life he’s made for himself. These are the fruits of a combination of rarefied talent, fierce determination, “and work — showin’ up,” he adds, sounding like Jeff Bridges’ Bad Blake character in Crazy Heart: “I sing for free man. I get paid to travel.”

Sexton will tour North America with a new band April through June in support of the release.

Track listing
1. Found
2. Boom Sh-Boom
3. Always Got Away
4. Livin the Life
5. Sugarcoating
6. Stick Around
7.  Long Haul
8.  Shane
9.  Wants Out
10. Friends Again
11. Easy on the Eyes
12. Alone 13. Just To Be Alive

SNL's Christine Ohlman's new CD with Marshall Crenshaw

Christine Ohlman, a.k.a. “The Beehive Queen,” whose “day job” is that of the flashy, gritty long-time featured vocalist with the Saturday Night Live Band, has completed her first new album in five years, The Deep End, to be released by the Horizon Music Group through Selct-O-Hits on April 6, 2010.

Having won the respect of many fellow artists over the years, Ohlman recruited a stellar group of them to contribute to the new CD, including Marshall Crenshaw, Dion DiMucci and Ian Hunter as duet partners, as well as an all-star list of accompanists: G.E. Smith, Eric “Roscoe” Ambel from the Del-Lords, NRBQ veteran Big Al Anderson, Catherine Russell, the Asbury Juke Horns (Chris Anderson and Neal Pawley) and more.

Working in a swampy, guitar-driven style of contemporary rock/R&B, Ohlman and The Deep End co-producer Andy York (John Mellencamp) crafted 15 songs of life and love tempered by loss. It is Ohlman’s first album of new work since 2004; her recording hiatus followed the deaths of both long-time producer and mate Doc Cavalier and guitarist and founding member of Ohlman’s Rebel Montez band, Eric Fletcher. (The band presently includes Michael Colbath, bass; Cliff Goodwin, guitar; and Larry Donahue, drums.)

Christine is a musicologist of note of whom SNL bandleader Lenny Pickett, quoted in the New York Times, once said, “She knows the really good, obscure stuff.” The covers on The Deep End were lovingly chosen from her fabled record collection. She duets with Dion on the obscure Southern soul gem “Cry Baby Cry” and with Crenshaw on a Motown classic, Marvin Gaye and Mary Wells’ “What’s the Matter With You Baby.” A third duet with Ian Hunter on Ohlman’s own “There Ain’t No Cure” celebrates her love of the music and language of the Delta behind a punked-out, soul-searing groove. It’s one of a group of eleven new originals that includes “The Gone of You” (a song of loss and longing so central to The Deep End’s theme that it appears twice: in a full-band version and in York’s evocative, loop-driven demo, dubbed “After Hours” both for Ohlman’s late-night vocal and its darkest-before-the-dawn sensibility); the Muscle Shoals-tinged ballad “Like Honey”; flat-out barnburners “Bring It With You When You Come” and “Born To Be Together”; and Ohlman’s post-Katrina lament “The Cradle Did Rock,” which will appear later this year alongside tracks by Irma Thomas, Dr. John and Allen Toussaint as a bonus cut to the reissue of Get You A Healin’, a CD benefitting the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic.  The late Eric Fletcher is memorialized in the album’s third cover, a pristine reading of Link Wray’s “Walkin’ Down the Street Called Love.”

Ohlman and her previous recordings have impressed critics. The late Brownsville Station leader, bluesman and musicologist Cub Koda, writing in Stereo Review, believed, “Musical treasures like this don’t come along very often. Ohlman is the number one secret weapon in America’s gal-singin’ sweepstakes.” Charles M. Young in Playboy observed, “The first thing you notice is her tough, rousing, sexy voice.” Elmore magazine noted: “Few singers today are truly versed like Ohlman in all things soul. Tough and raw around the edges, she belts with a voice steeped in the heritage of this musical tradition.” All Music’s Hal Horowitz raved: “Ohlman never sings a tune halfway . . .she’s the leader of the pack.” And of the new album, critic/broadcaster Dave Marsh said, “There are so many ‘wow’ moments.”

In addition to her years on Saturday Night Live, Ohlman has an impressive resume. She sings on the theme song for 30 Rock; performed at Bob Dylan’s 30th Anniversary bash at Madison Square Garden with George Harrison and Chrissie Hynde; performed at President Obama’s Inaugural Gala in Washington, D.C.; led Big Brother & the Holding Company in a Central Park tribute to Janis Joplin; worked on a musical with Cy Coleman, who compared her sense of timing to that of Peggy Lee; and frequently duets with blues legends Hubert Sumlin and Eddie Kirkland. She also edited Rolling Stones producer Andrew Loog Oldham’s autobiography 2Stoned (Oldham described Ohlman’s Wicked Time as “a deep swamp theme to a movie Burt Reynolds wished he’d made’)  and worked with Bonnie Raitt and Ry Cooder at the Rhythm & Blues Foundation Awards — all while continuing to torch clubs up and down the Eastern Seaboard with Rebel Montez. She counts among her friends Willie Nile, Syd Straw, Charlie Musselwhite, Hal Willner, David Johansen, Paul Thorn and Marshall Chess.

A Connecticut native and resident, Ohlman played with G.E. Smith in the Scratch Band in the 1970s, leading to her long association with Saturday Night Live. Her stint in fabled Studio 8H of Rockefeller Center includes the Sinead O’Connor and Ashley Simpson meltdowns (she was present for both) and the current season’s hilarious “Swine Fever” commercial parody, featuring a magnificently beehived Ohlman in full Dolly Parton regalia. She fondly recalls waltzing around 8-H with the late Chris Farley to Paul McCartney’s impromptu rehearsal performance of “Hey Jude.” With her long-time mate, the late Doc Cavalier producing, Ohlman released four records with Rebel Montez: The Hard Way (1995), the live Radio Queen (1997), Wicked Time (1999) and Strip (2003). In 2008 with current business partners Alex DeFelice and Vic Steffens at Horizon Music Group, she released a career compilation called Re-Hive. Yet she has remained under the radar — a best-kept secret. Until now.

Reflecting on The Deep End’s central theme of love both lost and found, Ohlman says, “Rosanne Cash and I were talking and she asked me if I’d written sad songs. It wasn’t until then that I realized I hadn’t. Ultimately, this album is about love and the courage to fall into it. Loss just informs you; it opens emotional doors that couldn’t possibly have opened before, no matter how much you thought you knew about it. I wrote about love — the newness of it, the glory of it, the loss of it, the sadness that can come from it, the wonder of it . . . the sweet bitterness of it.”

Har Mar Superstar Plows Through The West Coast

The golden-piped sexy beast known as Har Mar Superstar is getting ready to charm the pants off the ladies and gentlemen of the west coast when he hits the road this month.  Har Mar recently released his latest album, Dark Touches, and has been on a hot streak ever since.  The album’s addictive lead single, “Tall Boy,” was co-written/co-produced by Greg Kurstin (Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Lily Allen), and made waves when it was revealed that it was originally submitted for Britney Spears.  The dance floor jam took on a new life when Har Mar performed it on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, and as MTV.com noted, he “tore down the house with a performance of his body quaking new single.”   The song’s video brought another tidal wave of Har Mar fever.  The futuristic looking clip features Eva Mendes, Eric Wareheim (“Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”) and Alia Shawkat (“Arrested Development,” Whip It!).  Check out the “Tall Boy” video by clicking HERE.

Other musical collaborators on Dark Touches include John Fields (Andrew WK, Jonas Brothers, Rooney), The Faint’s beatmakers Clark Baechle and Jacob Thiele, singer-songwriter Adam Green, P.O.S. of the Rhymesayers collective, Neon Neon’s Boom Bip, Flowers of Doom, and Samaire Armstrong. In addition to his fertile musical career, Har Mar also appeared in the Drew Barrymore film Whip It! last year and will team up again with the its leading ladies Alia Shawkat and Ellen Page (Juno, Whip It!) to produce a new HBO pilot titled “Stitch N’ Bitch.”

Har Mar Superstar 2010 Tour Dates

01/20: Los Angeles, CA @ Spaceland

01/21: San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop

01/22: Sacramento, CA @ The Townhouse

01/23: Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios

01/24: Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey

01/26: Vancouver, BC @ Fortune Sound Club