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Sam Llanas of the BoDeans readies solo album '4 a.m.'

Sam Llanas (pronounced yanas), lead singer-guitarist for the acclaimed Milwaukee band the BoDeans, takes listeners deep into the night on his new release, 4 A.M., arriving Oct. 25 on Inner Knot Records. The intimate, mostly acoustic collection, produced by longtime collaborator Gary Tanin, features 10 new Llanas originals and a dazzling cover of Cyndi Lauper’s hit “All Through the Night.”

Llanas says of his latest work, “I do a lot of work late at night. It’s a night record, a nocturnal record, thematically about things that happen in the night. That covers a lot of ground. It could be the simple things — being in love, being with somebody — or about the loneliness that the night can bring.”

The album, an understated complement to the BoDeans’ just-released 10th studio album Indigo Dreams, is markedly different from Llanas’ 1998 solo bow A Good Day to Die, which was a powerful eulogy for Llanas’s brother recorded under the group rubric Absinthe.

“The Absinthe record was kind of bombastic and very intense,” Llanas says. “I wanted to do something that was lighter, as light as I can get. I wanted it to be completely different. That’s why 4 A.M. is pretty much an acoustic record.”

Work on 4 A.M. began nearly four years ago, when Llanas’ band the BoDeans, which he has led since 1983, was between projects.

He recalls, “I had time on my hands, and I had some songs I wanted to record. I started working with Terry Vittone — I just said, ‘Hey, let’s make some recordings.’ There was no real thought that it was going to be an album or anything like that. It just sort of escalated from there.”

Sessions for the embryonic project commenced at guitarist Vittone’s house. “I would record the songs in the afternoon,” Llanas says, “and get them to a point where I liked them. Then the next day I’d go back, and Terry would say, ‘Sam, I want you to hear some ideas I threw down on the track.’ And Terry was willing to take really strong direction from me, because I didn’t want a guitar player who was playing all over the song. Terry was really good at putting in the nuances that were needed. He played very little, and that seemed to work very well.”

With the majority of the material in the can, a protracted layoff from recording ensued. After almost two years, Llanas began completing 4 A.M. at Daystorm Music in Milwaukee with producer-musician Tanin, who had also worked on A Good Day To Die and supplied the strings on the new recording.

Llanas decided to preserve the original recording’s spare quality, and added a couple of new tracks that were left untouched. “I wanted to keep it simple. ‘The Way Home’ and ‘Janey’ seemed to work really well just the way they were.”

However, he adds, “I thought the other songs needed a bit more dressing up. Some I thought would work better if we put a little bit more on them.” Thus, BoDeans keyboardist Bukka Allen was called in to play accordion, while Milwaukee musicians Matt Turner and Ryan Schiedermayer contributed bass and percussion, respectively.

Some of the compositions on 4 A.M. began life as prospective material for the BoDeans, Llanas says: “‘Nobody Luvs Me’ was actually recorded with the BoDeans, but it’s quite a different version — you wouldn’t really know it’s the same song. ‘Shyne’ was on our album Mr. Sad Clown. I thought that would work really well there, so I brought it into that project. The first song on 4 A.M., ‘Oh, Celia,’ was demoed with the BoDeans years and years ago. That’s quite an old song.”

Nestling seamlessly with Llanas’ own cycle of before-dawn melodies is his hushed cover of Lauper’s 1983 perennial “All Through the Night,” penned by Jules Shear. “It’s a beautiful song,” Llanas says, “but when they recorded it, in the early ’80s, the sound that they got on it was so harsh . The keyboards always ruined the song for me. I really wanted a version of that song that was just beautiful. That’s what I tried to do — honor that song, and give it what it deserved.”

Llanas’ new solo opus offers a new dimension to his music — one that actually dates back to the sunrise of his professional career.

“Before I ever had the BoDeans, I was a solo performer in Waukesha,” he remembers. “I would go and play at these open mic shows, and I learned my craft and honed my stage skills that way. I think this record really reflects that part of my career, that part of my personality. It goes back to before I ever performed with the BoDeans. It was just me — one man and one guitar.”

Esteemed rock critic and author Dave Marsh calls 4 A.M. “A great record. Really the best thing that has come out of their music in a long, long time — closer to classic BoDeans. Sammy’s voice is so much what I love about BoDeans and it has never been showcased any better.”

Lady Antebellum Unveils Album Release Date!

Reigning CMA and ACM Vocal “Group of the Year” Lady Antebellum announced today that their third Capitol Nashville studio album OWN THE NIGHT will be released on Sept. 13, 2011. The album’s lead and record breaking track “Just A Kiss” has quickly become the fastest rising single of the trio’s career, climbing into the Top 15 on Billboard’s Country Singles chart in just five weeks.

“We took more time to write and record this record than we've ever done before,” says Charles Kelley. “I remember looking at Hillary and Dave at the GRAMMYs this year, on the wildest night of our lives, and saying 'this is amazing…we'll never get to experience a moment like this again, but now we have to go home and get to work.'"

"And that's exactly what we did," adds Dave Haywood.  "We packed up and flew home from LA, cleared our calendar of everything and went into rehearsal with the musicians.  I love that part of recording…taking the songs we've written and bringing them to life with these musicians who are so incredibly talented."

“One of our favorite songs on the new record is called 'We Owned The Night,' which is about a special once-in-a-lifetime moment, and we thought that naming the album around that same sentiment was really appropriate," says Hillary Scott. "It's also about the experience we want to create every night in concert for our fans…together, we own the night!"

OWN THE NIGHT follows the band’s GRAMMY winning second disc NEED YOU NOW.  Since its release in Jan. 2010, the album has sold over five million copies across the globe, spawned three multi-week No. one hits (“Need You Now,” “American Honey,” “Our Kind of Love”), taken home five GRAMMY Awards and scored over a dozen other award show trophies.

For updates on OWN THE NIGHT and for a full list of upcoming tour dates, visit www.ladyantebellum.com.

UK Sensation Israel Nash Gripka Releases Sophomore Album Today

Singer/songwriter Israel Nash Gripka releases his sophomore album entitled Barn Doors & Concrete Floors TODAY, March 29, 2011. Building on the success of his debut release, New York Town (2009), Gripka is poised to increase his fan base both stateside and abroad. In fact, strong buzz for the upcoming release in the UK, lead UNCUT Magazine to include a track from the new album on their March cover mount.

In addition to a new record, the Ozark native has been passionately supporting Food for Thought a program created by his mother. Across 29 counties in southwest Missouri, children often go home to an empty dinner plate. Many of these children rely on school meals alone for their daily nutrition. In the Pierce City school system where Gripka grew up, 71% of children qualify for free or reduced lunches. Food for Thought was established to help by providing the most at-risk children with backpacks filled with healthy, easy open foods to eat over the weekends. “It is such a great program,” says Gripka. “I’m honored to help give back to my hometown and help kids in need.” In addition to working with his mother to obtain donations, Gripka is working on a music festival this summer to raise money for the program.

Multiple tours in the US and Europe, growing recognition as a songwriter and new philanthropic endeavors, the last two years left Gripka with renewed passion. He set out to write new songs, with new sounds and new ideas from these experiences. The nostalgic and uplifting record starts off with the reflective, harmonica infused, “Fools Gold.” It then slips into the bittersweet ache of “Goodbye Ghost” and UNCUT’s March cover mount “Baltimore” before settling into the flirty “Red Dress.”

Harkening back to the days of Neil Young and Bob Dylan, Gripka’s vision was to record in a studio that was, in fact, not a studio at all. In the heart of a dusty, old barn nestled deep in the Catskill Mountains, Gripka, along with co-producer/drummer Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) and a merry band of musicians, created the highly anticipated follow up. “I really wanted to capture sounds that no other place could create,” says Gripka. “I wanted to throw away clocks, avoid set hours, eat around a big table for dinner and sit around a warm fire at night. The idea was to create an environment where nothing else really mattered except making music.”

Gripka presents a musical experience that is both old and new. In an almost conflicting manner, Gripka uses his upbringing as the son of a southern Baptist minister to contrast the realities of his life through music. From drinking to praying, from churches to county jails and from sorrow to revival, his songs are stories and reflections that kick like classic Rock N’ Roll all while pining with the heart of Americana roots, complete with undertones of soul trampled country, and gospel choirs.

The 11 track record plays like a vinyl relic you might find in your parent’s basement. “When artists make records that are unencumbered by regimented schedules,” says Gripka. “And you turn off contact from the outside world and really reflect, you can hear that in the recording.” Listeners will hear it loud and clear on Barn Doors & Concrete Floors.

For more information about Israel Nash Gripka, to purchase the album or donate to Food for Thought visit www.israelgripka.com.

Brian Setzer Gives Bluegrass a Rockabilly Spin

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

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

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

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'Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL!' Tracklist

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

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

2. "Cherokee" (written by Ray Noble)

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

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

5. "Far Noir East"

6. "Intermission"

7. "Go-Go Godzilla"

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

9. "Hillbilly Jazz Meltdown"

10. "Hot Love"

11. "Pickpocket"

Christopher Paul Stelling: A Songwriter With a Story To Tell

Take one look at his road-worn, weathered guitar, and you know that Christopher Paul Stelling is a musician with a story to tell. With a heartfelt voice, dynamic finger-picked guitar stylings, and a songwriting approach that combines folkloric, mythological, and religious imagery, Stelling has forged a style that is all his own, yet hauntingly familiar. Think along the lines of John Fahey, Tom Waits, and Skip James.

Stelling has a busy few weeks ahead- this Thursday, August 19th, he’ll be appearing on East Village Radio’s Belly of the Beast at 8pm, and next Tuesday, August 24th, you can catch his signature blend of hellfire gospel at New York’s Rockwood Music Hall at 9pm, right after Hoots & Hellmouth.

Stelling has managed to revive a sense of musical storytelling and mastery over his instrument that was thought to be long since forgotten, especially in the modern era. His songs evoke everything from delicate fragility to blistering ferocity-those who witness his live shows are often left in disbelief, and wanting more.

Over the past decade, Stelling has traversed the country exploring the roots of American music. Originally hailing from Daytona Beach, he's since hopped from Boulder to Boston, Orlando to Asheville and everywhere in-between, until deciding to call Brooklyn home. Keep your ears out for a full-length album from Christopher Paul Stelling in 2011.

Upcoming Tour Dates:

August 28th – Brooklyn, NY – Goodbye Blue Monday

September 4th – Butler, PA - Associated Artists of Butler County

October 3rd – Brooklyn, NY – The Rock Shop

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Check out some of Chris' tunes on video:



"Black Wings" (Tom Waits cover)

David Malachowski & The Woodstock Allstars

The Woodstock Allstars is a revolving group of world-class musicians and friends who have played together in various combinations and configurations, but never all at the same time. What results is an intriguing, compelling blend of blues played with a jazz sensibility and rock stance. The name is borrowed from a friend; the late Artie Traum.

Led by venerable guitarist Malachowski (Shania Twain, Savoy Brown, Commander Cody) the Woodstock based band features some of the best musicians in the world. Bassist Graham Maby and drummer Gary Burke are thought by many to be the definitive Joe Jackson rhythm section, and it was Burke, Maby and Malachowski (as leader) that formed the core of the Shania Twain Band in the mid-nineties seen by millions. Burke –now with Professor Louie & the Crowmatix-was on Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Tour, and in the Rick Danko Band, Maby has also played with Natalie Merchant, They Might Be Giants and Joan Baez.

WEDNESDAY., JAN. 27
DAVID MALACHOWSKI & THE WOODSTOCK ALLSTARS: PETE LEVIN-ORGAN, GARY BURKE-DRUMS, GRAHAM MABY-BASS, MACHAN TAYLOR-VOICE, DANIEL A WEISS-PIANO, DENNIS GRUENLING-HARP, ERIK LAWRENCE-SAXOPHONE, DAVID MALACHOWSKI-GUITAR

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