knopfler

Thomas Dolby's first new studio album in 20 years

Thomas Dolby, the iconic ’80s star whose smash hits “She Blinded Me With Science” and “Hyperactive” helped define the MTV generation/revolution, will break his 20-year silence with a new release later this year titled A Map of the Floating City. The album, featuring appearances by special guest artists Mark Knopfler, Regina Spektor, Natalie MacMaster, Bruce Woolley and Imogen Heap, will be available on October 25, 2011 on Lost Toy People Records as a regular and hi-res download, as a physical CD, and in a special Deluxe Edition featuring a second disc of instrumentals and bonus tracks.

The five-time Grammy®-nominated British artist quit the music business in the early ’90s and spent many years in Silicon Valley, where his tech company Beatnik Inc. created the ringtone synthesizer embedded in more than three billion mobile phones shipped by Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and others. Now retired from Beatnik, Dolby has returned to his native U.K. and is busy recording an album of brand new songs in a renewable energy-powered studio he built aboard a 1930s lifeboat in the garden of his beach house on England’s North Sea coast.

Of the album, which is divided into three parts, Dolby says, “The new songs are organic and very personal. A Map of the Floating City is a travelogue across three imaginary continents: In Amerikana I’m reflecting with affection on the years I spent living in the U.S.A., and my fascination with its roots music. Urbanoia is a dark place, a little unsettling . . . I’m not a city person. And in Oceanea I return to my natural home on the windswept coastline.”

“I marvel at the new landscape of the music business — distribution via the Internet and recording technologies I barely dreamed of when I started out,” he continues. “But this album does not sound electronic at all. I have zero desire to add to the myriad of machine-based, synth-driven grooves out there. The Net has made a music career approachable for thousands of bands — but I hear too few single-minded voices among them, so I’m returning to what I do best, which is write songs, tell stories.”

To help tell his stories, Dolby has enlisted an impressive cast of guest musicians. Legendary guitarist Mark Knopfler helps drive the epic “17 Hills,” a song about a pair of hapless lovers and a jailbreak. Natalie MacMaster, the Cape Breton fiddler, adds spice to two songs. Scottish singer Eddi Reader takes a front seat on the ethereal “Oceanea.” Bruce Woolley (Camera Club) plays theremin. And Regina Spektor has a cameo as an East European waitress on “Evil Twin Brother.”

The innovative transmedia game The Floating City, co-created by Dolby and based on his song catalog all the way back to the 1980s, is currently in full swing and is proving highly addictive for thousands of regular players. The winning “tribe” will be treated to a private concert performance of the new album in its entirety. Thomas Dolby will shortly announce a string of concert dates in the U.S. and U.K. in support of the album.

Thomas Dolby prepares first new album in 20 years

Thomas Dolby, the iconic ’80s star whose smash hits “She Blinded Me With Science” and “Hyperactive” helped define the MTV generation/revolution, is preparing to break his 20-year silence with a new album later this year titled A Map of the Floating City. The album features appearances by special guest artists Mark Knopfler, Regina Spektor, Natalie MacMaster, Bruce Woolley and Imogen Heap. Leading up to the full-length, Dolby will release three digital-only EPs containing three or four songs apiece exclusively for signed-up members of his online fan community, The Flat Earth Society.

The five time Grammy™-nominated British artist quit the music business in the early ’90s and spent many years in Silicon Valley, where his tech company Beatnik Inc. created the ringtone synthesizer embedded in more than 3 billion mobile phones shipped by Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and others. Now retired from Beatnik, Dolby has returned to his native UK and is busy recording an album of brand new songs in a renewable energy-powered studio he built aboard a 1930s lifeboat in the garden of his beach house on England’s North Sea coast.

“The new songs are organic and very personal,” says Dolby. “This album is a travelogue across three imaginary continents. In Amerikana I’m reflecting with affection on the years I spent living in the USA, and my fascination with its roots music. Urbanoia is a dark place, a little unsettling . . . I’m not a city person. And in Oceanea I return to my natural home on the windswept coastline.

I marvel at the new landscape of the music business — distribution via the Internet and recording technologies I barely dreamed of when I started out,” he continues. “But this album does not sound electronic at all. I have zero desire to add to the myriad of machine-based, synth-driven grooves out there. The Net has made a music career approachable for thousands of bands — but I hear too few single-minded voices among them. What I do best is write songs, tell stories.”

To help tell his stories, Dolby has enlisted an impressive cast of guest musicians. Legendary guitarist Mark Knopfler helps drive the epic “17 Hills,” a song about a pair of hapless lovers and a jailbreak. Natalie MacMaster, the Cape Breton fiddler, adds spice to two songs. Scottish singer Eddi Reader takes a front seat on the ethereal “Oceanea.” Bruce Woolley (Camera Club) adds theremin. And Regina Spektor has a cameo as an East European waitress on “Evil Twin Brother.”

The first EP, Amerikana, will be available June 12 exclusively to signed-up members of The Flat Earth Society at www.thomasdolby.com. It includes the songs “Road to Reno,” “The Toad Lickers” and “17 Hills,” featuring Knopfler and MacMaster. Two additional EPs are to follow during 2010, culminating in a physical CD release that will add additional songs and complete the set. A multi-city live tour is likely for 2011.

Landreth taps Clapton & Knopfler on new album

Sonny Landreth- for the Grateful Web

Louisiana-based singer/songwriter/slide-guitar monster Sonny Landreth will release his ninth album, titled From The Reach and his first on his own Landfall Records label (distributed by Ryko Distribution), on May 20. On it, Landreth does something unprecedented in his body of work as he collaborates with five of the greatest guitar players on the planet — Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Robben Ford, Eric Johnson and Vince Gill — in some jaw-dropping performances. Also making appearances are the legendary New Orleans pianist and singer Dr. John and Margaritaville's iconic troubadour Jimmy Buffett.

"I've been wanting to make this kind of record for a long time —– to do an entire album that would feature some of my favorite players as special guests," says Landreth. "The other thing was how to do it without being yet another clichéd 'duets' album. Then I got the idea to write the songs specifically for each of the artists and that was the real hook for me, as a writer as well as a guitar player."

On the opener, "Blue Tarp Blues,' Sonny exchanges solos with Knopfler, and the aural contrast between Sonny's shimmering slide and the Dire Straits leader's biting Strat is a textural treat. Clapton appears to cut loose on "When I Still had You," adding his soulful voice to the choruses as well. Slowhand then wails on "Storm of Worry," a spooky slow blues reminiscent of his Bluesbreakers era.

"The Milky Way Home" is a powerful instrumental rocker that features Eric Johnson on delectably distorted guitar passages that morph into his trademark cello-like sound. "The Goin' On" shifts into a country-rock groove, with Vince Gill and Sonny alternating between guitar solos and lead vocals. Robben Ford brings his extraordinary tone and phrasing to "Way Past Long" and "Blue Angel" (the latter with Gill on backing vocals), as Landreth swaps his trusty Strat for a Les Paul. Each of these performances is an extraordinary showcase of brilliant players reacting to each other in supremely inspired fashion.

In one of two delightful changes of pace to the album's six-string focus, Dr. John brings the requisite gris-gris to "Howlin' Moon" with his trademark rollicking piano and harmonies, and he's joined on the track by Jimmy Buffett. "Although the idea of the record was playing with my guitar heroes, I wanted to open to the unexpected as well," Landreth explains. "I'd written 'Howlin' Moon' a long time ago and I'd always had Dr. John in mind for it. Then we took it a step further with Jimmy's vocal and the vibe was perfect."

As for the intriguing album title, "I thought about it a lot," he says. "One of the most interesting things to me in the songwriting process is letting it cook and bubble and see what comes up to the top. As I was writing these songs, the word 'reach' kept coming up and 'reach' is a pretty powerful word. Aside from the obvious meaning, it can refer to a body of water. And the water imagery kept coming throughout the writing of these songs as well, so it's like this is what came up out of this whole project for me. What would happen if I invited all these people: where would this take me. I literally reached out to them, and they graciously came on board. Then there was the impact locally of Katrina. So the title is the result of all of the above. It's coming from an honest place."

The same could be said of everything this one-of-a-kind artist has done in his single-minded career.

This spring and summer, Landreth will perform at the following festivals: Houston International Festival, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Festival Internationale de Louisiana, Metro Fountain Blues Festival in San Jose, Tropical Heatwave in Tampa, Blues Brews and BBQ Festival in Charleston WV, Cisco Systems Blues Festival Ottawa, Montreal Jazz Festival. Belleville American Music Festival in Wisconsin, Calgary Folk Festival, Blues On The Green in Austin and the Chenango (NY) Blues Festival.

Mark Knopfler | Red Rocks | 7.19.05

Over the years I have always thought of Mark Knopfler as one of my favorite guitar players and I always regretted missing him play live. Last night I figured out why. He was awesome. I was not quite sure what to expect – which was kind of nice for a change. Too many times I know what I am in for and I get just that. But, I have never seen MK and this was going to be a first time for me.