Blues Control released Valley Tangents nearly a year ago, during the summer of our end-of-times, 2012. Luckily for all, the end-of-times proved to be a new age of enlightenment more than anything, with Blues Control at the forefront, extending the meadows of their Valley Tangents with no signs of straying into slate, porous rock, ocean or mountain. Valley Tangents provide lush and lively excursions for all who graze on its grasses, and recent torrential downpours yield a fresh new organism on which to feast - the official music video for 'Tangents tune, "Open Air." Directed by Tara Sinn (who also directed "Love's A Rondo"), the video creates a pastoral-like terrain, communicating the song's ambient qualities, which slowly builds aurally and visually with footage that becomes progressively more experimental as it approaches its denouement."Open Air" also celebrates the official Valley Tangents tour of Europe! Make sure to catch them during this tour, which marks the first time they will set foot on the European continent for Valley Tangents.Tour Dates:6/7/13: Le Bourg- Lausanne, Switzerland6/8/13: Kraspek- Myzik Lyon, France6/9/13: Cave 12- Geneva, Switzerland6/10/13: Miscelanea- Barcelona, Spain6/12/13: La Limera- Valencia, Spain6/13/13: El Perro Club- Madrid, Spain6/14/13: Ibu Hots- Vitoria, Spain6/15/13: Festival West Side- Nantes, France6/16/13: Espace En Cours- Paris, France6/17/13: Slowboy- Dusseldorf, Germany6/19/13: Les Ateliers Claus- Brussels, Belgium6/20/13: Occii- Amsterdam, Netherlands6/22/13: Power Lunches- London, United Kingdom6/23/13: All Tomorrow's Parties Festival- Camber Sands, United Kingdom w/ Laraaji6/24/13: Echnum- Antwerp, Belgium6/25/13: Oberdeck- Hanover, Germany6/29/13: Drone Bar- Copenhagen, Denmark6/30/13: Fusion Festival- Larz, Germany7/2/13: The Circus- Helsinki, Finland7/3/13: Sing Sang- Studio Malmö, Sweden7/4/13: Festsaal Kreuzberg- Berlin, Germany7/5/13: Urban Spree- Berlin, Germany
2017 might be the end of the world as we know it, but as long as we keep getting fine performances out of our legendary steamroom, hey - we feel fine! All things being ultimately equal, we can die with Cory Hanson's encapsulations of the dilemma of hope and its yang of despair ringing quietly and classically in our ears. His debut solo album, The Unborn Capitalist From Limbo, shines brightly from a deeply political perspective, one that is just as personal as it is universal - but the knife cuts particularly close to the bone in the live visitation here.
Cory heads off on his first solo tour early next month, playing all his luminous solo tunes for fortunate west-coasters, but we got lucky too when he stopped by DCHQ recently for a "Steamroom Sesh" to perform ”Evening Glass" with lead violin and vocal support from Heather Lockie, who arranged the strings and performed on the record. It's a winning and intimate rendition - quite dry despite being performed in a our steamy confines the size of a closet! Not to toot our own horn or anything, but MAN do the acoustics sound excellent! And while you'll only find that particular sound quality in the steamroom, Cory will be performing with the same gentle philippic, soaring melodies AND full backing band.
Watch the refreshing Steamroom Session below and prepare yourselves for the "Unborn Capitalist Live" Experience 2017!
Bill MacKay is a musician and a musician's friend - a genial guitarist/composer/improviser based in Chicago who has energized the experimental folk, rock and avant scenes around town with his polyglot approach to the guitar, combining the folk of Appalachia, the blues and gospel with rock, jazz, western-country and an array of eastern modes. Mackay's interest in this tactic - essentially, a personal blending of roots elements - has evidence itself throughout his discography. On Esker, his third solo work and his Drag City debut, Bill takes it further with an album of all-original material performed entirely in consort with himself. Playing all the parts with guitars, glass slide, bass, piano and percussion, he deepens his hybrid-genre approach with both contrast and cohesion, creating warm, melodic narratives that draw on folk, psych and experimental rock modes.
The first single (which has a video below!) "Aster", meditates on early American strains with overlapping liquid slide guitars and gently looping piano rhythm. It envelops the listener in cinematic tranquility with an effortless, yet precise sound! Over the past decade-plus, he has recorded records both as a solo artist and with his band Darts & Arrows, while performing and collaborating with a number of other artists. The dynamic singularity with which Bill ties his interests together is the key to his music, an effortless combination of wide-ranging elements that evokes a warm and swathed view of the world around us. Would but the grace of his slide guitars accompany our final steps into the grave, it would be a life well-spent! Mark your calendars for May 5th!
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's Best Troubador is an intimate portrait of artistic admiration for the late, great Merle Haggard. Best Troubador presents sixteen performances of songs plucked from Merle's extensive and varied catalog, each track reflecting a deeply personal appreciation and execution. As a long-time fan and follower of Haggard, Bonny's introspection and approach offer a singular and alluring take on storied songs written by a legendary performer. Recorded at home with friends old and new, Best Troubador is a record that can only have happened now, and it marks a place in time that will stand out in our future memories!
Listen to Best Troubador in its entirety on NPR's First Listen right now and purchase your copy of the double album on May 5th!
Chris Gantry's music was always stylistic fusion: his 1967 album debut Introspection sounded a little bit folk, a little bit pop and only a little bit country, with smooth melodies and verdant string charts. But the 60s were afoot, and by the time of Chris' second LP in 1970, Motor Mouth, his approach had radicalized into a wide-eyed, hard-edged delivery. The critics dug it, and Chris played on Johnny Cash's TV show, but the next Gantry record didn't appear for five more years. And herein lies a tale: of dropping out, of a vision-quest and an exorcism of sorts, and of sessions for a bunch of songs so far out from Nashville norms that it's only now they've seen release. This is the story of At the House of Cash.
Settled at Cash's studio in '73 with a band of heavy Nashville cats, Gantry extemporized his songs with sleek self-confidence, even while plunging through the hippie mirror of confusion. High on the waves of the times, Chris had pulled apart the tropes of traditional voice-and-guitar singer-songwriting, pushing them into fevered, eclectic, entirely personal territory. He took in the scope of the freedom generation with whom he'd been riding shotgun, and turned it back out again with unhindered lyrical expressions reflecting both disillusionment and a deep sense of transformation, with deft gestures and songwriting chops nailing down the tunes. Had At the House of Cash seen release in its day, it would have been a shot of earthy surrealism straight into the heart of Music Row.
But the album didn't find a backer, so Chris Gantry shrugged and moved on. He's kept on with singing and writing, doing books and plays too, appearing in Trash Humpers, and three new records over the last few years - but At the House of Cash stands tall with its outlaw brethren from the golden age of Nashville, and it is damn fine having it out in the open air with the rest of us at long last. Out on vinyl and CD on November 17th!
Step back in time and land smack dab in the middle of Music Row with Nashville's living legend and ORIGINAL outlaw country badass, Chris Gantry! At The Hideout next month, for his first performance in Chicago ever, the troubadour will sling tunes from the newly unearthed, early-70s lysergic classic, At The House of Cash and more! Gantry has been writing and recording songs for 40 years, cutting his teeth with solo albums in the late 1960s and 1970s featuring tunes that would be made famous by Glen Campbell ("Dreams of the Everyday Housewife") and Johnny Cash ("Allegheny")-and in true outlaw fashion, Chris continues to write and perform to this day, into his 70s. Gantry's ragged and rowdy maverick spirit, one he cultivated while paling around with Kris Kristofferson, Cash, and Shel Silverstein, is fully evident on his recordings and in his live performances - hell, he's such a wild card even in retirement years, he was cast by Harmony Korine for a role in his film, Trash Humpers.
With sheer wit and judicious charisma, Chris is neither country nor pop, not quite rock but not avant garde, either - like the best artists, his music can't quite be reduced to any one thing, which is exactly the kind of artist we love most! Since Chris' songs are unique and don't succumb to strict definition, it kinda makes sense that an album like At The House Of Cash was never released back when - recorded at Johnny Cash's home studio while Chris got back on his feet there following a marijuana bust and a peyote-enhanced trip to Mexico, it was so singular and strange for its time (particularly trying to imagine it being marketed to a Nashville audience) that it prompted Cash to exclaim, "Chris, June and I listened to your record last night, and I don't think even the drug people are gonna understand it." But we've discovered they do, and so too do the folks on the straight and narrow - Gantry's music is for all, and so we're inviting all Chicagoans to come out for what is quite possibly a once in a lifetime event!
Start hoarding your psychoatives now, Chris Gantry comes to The Hideout on February 22nd, with special guest Jon Langford!
CHRIS GANTRY LIVE:
February 22nd at The Hideout in Chicago, IL
Chicago guitarist, composer and improviser Bill MacKay's informed and creative approach to the electric guitar is breathtaking. Fountain Fire, his second Drag City solo album (and third DC album overall, including the 2017 duet album with Ryley Walker, SpiderBeetleBee), signals new flares in
Bill's flame-stoking fascination with traditional and improvised music, burning everything down to a charred, smoking essence. His playing is free yet precise amid magnetically compelling compositions, and, for the first time, he sings, with all the sweetness and mystery of his playing. All of which is to say, Fountain Fire is truly an expansive - yet sharply focused - collection of jams.
The album's third single, "Welcome," acts as a paean to inviting strangers to your country or home with a warm embrace. Featuring electric & acoustic guitars, bass, percussion and even organ, "Welcome" dances wildly and may leave you thinking, just how many fingers does this guy have?! Beaming with energy and incandescence, "Welcome" is hypnotic voyage through
MacKay's exploratory sound. Listen to "Welcome" above (and on WFMU's Avant Ghetto) and don't forget to pre-order your copy of Fountain Fire today!
3/21 @ The Little Fleet in Traverse City, MI
3/25 @ Bastion in Nashville, TN
3/26 @ Green Lantern in Lexington, KY
3/27 @ State Street Pub in Indianapolis, IN
3/28 @ Torn Light in Cincinnati, OH
3/29 @ The Hideout in Chicago, IL
3/30 @ Acme in Milwaukee, WI
4/10 @ Reverberation Vinyl in Bloomington, IL
4/11/19 @ Foam in St. Louis, MO
4/12/19 @ Cafe Berlin in Columbia, MO
4/13/19 @ Mills Record Co. in Kansas City, MO
5/15/19 @ The Love Song Bar in Los Angeles, CA
5/16/19 @ Kim Maxwell Studio in Ojai, CA
5/18/19 @ Swedish American Music Hall in San Francisco, CA
The annals of Nashville, the 20th century’s immortal Music City, are filled with lore of the legends, as well as tales of the one-shots, the lesser-knowns and the delightful obscurities: singers, writers and players who had a moment, were a step away from stardom or just stood in the same room with the men and women whose names we know. Like the outlaw he defines himself as, Chris Gantry doesn’t really fit in any of those boxes – and 50-plus years since he wrote his first and biggest hit, he’s still writing and singing, having lived to tell the tale of his serpentine but ultimately joyful path, a “Life Well Lived.”'
Now in his mid-70s, Gantry is still a consummate performer and an inveterate writer, appearing in performance as a lusty, genial man, grateful to have drunk of the experience he’s had, transcendent in that experience and ebullient in the moment of singing it. Nashlantis is the ninth record of Gantry tunes to be released since Chris moved to Nashville in the early 1960. Then, he fell in with like-minded others: Shel Silverstein, Kris Kristofferson, Eddie Rabbitt, Vince Matthews and Mickey Newbury – guys working day and night to break into the business, writing and singing their way through the chaos of their youth. It was an intoxicating environment – everyone with his own vision, and Chris’s cosmic stirrings setting him a little apart from the rest.
He first got a contract to make an album after Glenn Campbell’s version of his tune “Dreams of the Ordinary Housewife” went to number 3 on the Billboard Country Charts in 1967. Between 1968 and 1975, he recorded three madly diverse records, released by three different imprints – Monument, Magic Carpet (a Monument subsidiary) and ABC Dot. One other session from that time sat in the can for over 40 years, until Drag City put it out in 2017 as At the House of Cash. Meanwhile, the fellow who brought that long-lost project to Drag City, Jerry David DeCicca (a singer and performer in his own right, who also co-produced the Larry Jon Wilson album released back in 2008), was producing a new record for Chris.
Recorded in Nashville with the legendary engineer Rob Galbraith, Nashlantis features 11 mesmerizing Gantry performances (“a séance with the Human Spirit” as the producer puts it), retouched in Austin with painterly brevity by DeCicca and Stuart Sikes. Preserving the intimate nature of Chris’ acoustic guitar and vocals, Don Cento, Ryan Jewell, and Marina Peterson wove electric guitar, mandolin, synthesizer, percussion and cello into the fabric of the songs, and guest harmony vocalists Edith Frost and Bill Callahan added stellar contributions as well.
Nashlantis is inevitably a reflection on Gantry’s long and winding path through this world – but the vitality of the songwriting stops the music from becoming simple elegy or denouement. Chris’ crafty old-school way with a tune and his smooth melodicism gives him the space to tell his tales with ease; lovers, losers and madmen are depicted with warmth and empathy, a genuine love of the human spirit and the singing chops of a man who’s known tens of thousands of nights of song.
Nashlantis is a testament to the career and talent of Chris Gantry – the individualism that set him apart from his earliest days and his openhearted embrace of the unknown. Jerry David DeCicca’s production sound makes for yet another unique chapter in the Chris Gantry catalog – a potent new entry, five decades and more down the line – the improbability of which makes it pure Gantry, all the way.
Compassion is a cycle of music born of the need for healing.
Jim Becker has been playing music for several decades, in Chicago and around the world, with lengthy tenures in Califone and Iron & Wine and many additional production and playing credits to his name. Lama Lobsang Palden is a gifted energy healer, teaching Yantra Yoga and Buddhist meditation. As a young boy, he was recognized as a tulku - a reincarnation of a Nyingma guru yoga master. Following the path, he studied all aspects of Buddhist philosophy in Tibet and India and has taught meditation, yoga and the Buddhist Dharma all over the world.
The relationship that allowed Lama and Jim to make this record started with treatment, three years before the record was begun. Jim went to the Lama for healing, to address the many aches and ills that medicine couldn't seem to heal. As Jim was leaving his first session, the Lama said to him, "You and me, we make a record."
In 2013, they began at Lama's house, recording on a Tascam Portastudio. Sessions stretched out over a year. Intent on an organic, acoustic sound-bed, Jim chose his instruments carefully, tuning to the drum skin or pitch of a gong. Lama's performances and Jim's accompaniment filled the first channels of a 4-track cassette tape, then tape after tape with more music, 450 minutes-worth, by the end. As their horizons expanded, they included some sounds from the world outside, like rain falling and waves breaking.
With the first single, "Compassion", the Tibetan healing ritual experience begins. Tempo is strong amid chants, chiming gongs, rolling drums. Like George Harrison's Radha Krishna Temple production, this is a spiritual experience captured with rock studio techniques, an immersive dreamscape to carry listeners forward and help them use Tibetan mantra to transcend and relax their minds. Listen to the song by clicking the link above (it's so easy!) and mark your calendars for October 9th.