Thu, 05/14/2015 - 12:29 pm

Ruf Records recording artist Spin Doctors pay their old blues bar band tab with a June 23rd release called Songs From The Road, a live DVD/CD out on the label’s award winning series. The ever-popular band from the 90s had radio hits, million plus album sales and a Rolling Stone magazine cover but they always focused on their live performances. Filmed live at Harmonie Club in Bonn, Germany, this was a perfect setting to capture a dynamite set from a band that has made it their business to blow off the roof.

“We get up onstage and we turn it on,” says Spin Doctors vocalist Chris Barron. “We play our hearts out.”

Stop the man on the street and he might tell you the Spin Doctors are the million-selling legends behind hits like “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong”. Ask a longer-term, harder-core fan, though, and they’ll remind you that Chris Barron, Aaron Comess (drums), Eric Schenkman (guitar) and Mark White (bass) came up playing for their lives on the sharp-end of the New York blues circuit.

“Those blues clubs were our bread and butter in the late-’80s,” says Aaron, “and people loved that we stretched out and jammed out.” - Mark White

The NYC scene took no prisoners. As such, when hysteria hit – around the time of 1991’s Pocket Full Of Kryptonite album – the lineup was already a stingingly tight live draw. Over the next quarter-century, fashion moved on, but the Docs’ talent for rocket-fuelling killer original songs onstage has only grown with age. And with 2013’s restorative If The River Was Whiskey album giving their catalogue a blues-flavored adrenalin shot, there’s never been a better time to catch them live. “I think a lot of people might come out and see us based on the hits,” says Aaron. “But then they get there and they’re like, ‘Holy shit, these guys have a whole other thing that I didn’t know about.’”

“Christopher Barron proves to be a funny, crowd-pleasing frontman…” -Allmusic.com

Ruf’s popular Songs For The Road live series has always been driven by the concept of capturing a band as they sound from the front row, and with this latest two-disc CD/DVD release, all the stops were duly pulled out in terms of production. Recorded live at the Harmonie club in Bonn, Germany, on October 17th, 2013, you can almost feel the gust of the speakers, the hot bounce of the crowd and the buzz crackle through the venue as much-loved studio material is twisted into bold new shapes. “Aaron, Eric and Chris are the most amazing improvisers I’ve ever played with in my life,” says Mark. “It’s almost like we’re four jet fighters, and we’ve all got each other’s backs.”

"We just all had the same sense of rhythm, and there was a feeling that it was more than four guys playing," he said. "That always felt like magic.”Chris Barron to NY Times (2005)

More than production values, though, Songs From The Road is about the songs with the Doctors chasing through a set list that runs the gamut of genre and vintage. Naturally, there’s a healthy slug of Kryptonite-era material (alongside the aforementioned über-hits, look out for early fan favorites like What Time Is It?” and “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues). But you’ll also find the track listing rooted squarely in the here-and-now, with Whiskey cuts including “Some Other Man Instead”, “About A Train”, “Scotch And Water Blues” – plus the song that Chris deems the best he’s ever written, “Sweetest Portion”. “Our tunes are not a drag to play live,” notes Eric. “It feels seamless from the stage, like any of the new tunes can sit with any one of the Kryptonite songs. We can do any of them.” 

“Their  sound  hasn’t  aged  a  bit:  it  still  reflects fondness  for  the  honky-tonk  lurch  of  the  Rolling  Stones,  the  psychedelic  reach  of Jimi  Hendrix  and  the  rubberized  funk  of  the  Red  Hot  Chili  Peppers.” – New York Times

So pull up a ringside seat at the rebirth of the Spin Doctors. This is Songs From The Road; no smoke, no mirrors. They come armed with their best material yet, they are still playing for their lives. They are just an honest band; “Some bands, you go and see 25 years later and they’re just up there going through the motions,” says Aaron. “But I think because everybody is so serious about their craft, to me, we sound better than ever. We sound world-class now, I think.”

Stream A Song: “What Time Is It?

https://soundcloud.com/jill-kettles/spin-doctots-what-time-is-it/s-aJQxV

2015 Tour Dates:

5/23/15          Reserve Casino & Hotel                                                   Central City, CO

7/04/15          House Of Blues/Kissimmee Lakefront Park                  Kissimmee, FL

7/24/15          Friday Night Live Series                                                    Rutland, VT 

8/01/15          Fremont Street Experience                                             Las Vegas, NV

8/08/15          FolsomFest in Rodeo Park                                               Folsom, CA

8/21/15          Craft Brew At The Zoo                                                      Powell, OH

9/05/15          Guild Hall                                                                                 East Hampton, NY

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 7:54 am

Sol Driven Train gets ready to throw their big summer music festival Sol Slam 2015, over the July 31st and August 1st weekend at The Windjammer. This year’s line-up includes Sol Driven Train, The Broadcast, cellist goblin Rushad Eggleston and Sunflowers & Sin. Tickets are on sale now with weekend passes starting at $30 that includes a 10% off bar tab and a special mixtape download of tracks from Sol Slam 2015 artists. Daily passes are also available for Fri, 7.31 only (An Evening w/ Sol Driven Train) at $15.00 or Sat, 8.1 at $20 all day & night; $5 for day only (til 8pm); $15 for night only. The Windjammer is located on 1008 Ocean Blvd in Isle of Palms, South Carolina 29451 along the Atlantic Ocean.

Follow the link for tickets: http://www.the-windjammer.com/wp/events/

Every year Sol Driven Train hand picks a charity and this year’s chosen group is Music & Memory. This unique non-profit organization brings personalized music into the lives of the elderly or infirm through digital music technology, vastly improving quality of life. They train nursing home staff and other elder care professionals, as well as family caregivers, how to create and provide personalized playlists using iPods and related digital audio systems that enable those struggling with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive and physical challenges to reconnect with the world through music-triggered memories. By providing access and education, and by creating a network of MUSIC & MEMORY℠ Certified elder care facilities, their aim is to make this form of personalized therapeutic music a standard of care throughout the health care industry.

For more information: http://www.musicandmemory.org/

Festival-goers are encouraged to bring a working digital music player or Amazon/ iTunes gift card to donate or make a monetary donation to Music & Memory and be automatically entered in a raffle.

Sol Driven Train has been spending this year supporting their latest album DANCE! which was released in March on their own label Sol Driven Train Records. They have been spotlighted in Relix.com, Washington Times, and The Alternate Root and Punk Globe magazines with critical praise. Their video for “Crazy Dancer” is now in rotation on AXS-TV, a cable channel owned by entrepreneur Mark Cuban. Taking cues from the whimsical to the outrageous, the video has been a favorite amongst fans. As the band explains, “We encourage folk to be themselves and celebrate the weird in their life,” the band states.

So come out from near and far to join the band and their friends celebrate and give back in the name of music! Music is the best medicine for the SOL!

Tue, 06/09/2015 - 2:13 pm

On July 10th, Ruf Records recording artist singer-guitarist Samantha Fish, will raise eyebrows with her third studio release, Wild Heart, produced by Luther Dickinson (The North Mississippi Allstars/Black Crowes). Having Samantha on guitars and Luther on various stringed instruments, they rounded out the lineup with Grammy Award-winning Brady Blade (Emmylou Harris/Bob Dylan) on drums. Special guests include Lightnin Malcolm (guitar), Sharde Thomas (drums) and Memphis session singers Shontelle Norman-Beatty and Risse Norman. The result is a stunning representation of Americana roots music.

Wild Heart was recorded in three different studios, as they trekked the backroads from Louisiana to Mississippi in the fall of 2014. Starting at Brady Blade’s Shreveport, Louisiana studio, they laid the basic rhythm tracks and vocals. Luther and Samantha then hightailed it to his Zebra Ranch Studios in Hernando, Mississippi where they had a traditional Hill Country Blues session. Then, finally, all roads lead to Memphis where the duo put the final touches at both Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studios and the legendary Ardent studios.

Growing up in Kansas City in a musical family, Samantha’s first instrument was the drums before she switched to guitar.  As she listened to her musical heroes, Fish began to explore their own influences by going back in time. After the sun went down she would visit clubs like Knuckleheads to soak it all in. “They had all kinds of artists come through the doors,” she says. “I really got into listening to the live performances, and that’s just where it rubbed off on me. When you see something right in front of you, that’s where the impact happens.” (Vox Magazine 2014) Over the years, she’s cultivated her own sound by blending her influences ranging from Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow, R.L. Burnside and Stevie Ray Vaughan as well as her musical peers.

“I fell in love with it,” she told Premier Guitar of her growing passion for the form, “and started doing my homework by listening to the old guys like Son House and Skip James.”

Only into her mid-20s she already released two CDs, played all over the world and shared the stage with well-established to the legendary artists from Tab Benoit and Johnny Lang to Buddy Guy. Label mate and sometimes touring buddy, Mike Zito has long championed Samantha, produced her critically acclaimed albums, Runaway and Black Wind Howlin' (2013).  Samantha’s had a master’s class in a wide variety of the blues. Her work ethic is unquestioned and her love for performance is obvious.

Boys will be boys it’s a powerful thing

Better learn how to swim or learn how to drink – Bitch On The Run

All that ambition and passion paid off in 2012 when Samantha won a Blues Music Award for Best New Artist Debut for her 2011 release Runaway (Ruf Records). The wonderful critical praise, winning fans at shows and all the long hours driving came to a shining moment that put more fuel into her fire. This desire is now revealed with Wild Heart as the pivotal moment in her budding career.

Always yearning to learn, Samantha soaked in this experience like a sponge from the songwriting sessions to the final background harmonies.  As her songs came together, it was suggested for her to collaborate with another songwriter she jumped the opportunity. Last summer she traveled to Nashville and wrote with accomplished songwriter Jim McCormick, whose songs have been cut by Trisha Yearwood and Keith Urban. A native of New Orleans, Jim has a flare for blues-boogie and full throttle vocalization to haunting melodies that gave Samantha a chance to growl.

“… Fish’s commanding voice holds its own against the crunching guitar riffs and driving beat.”

-Elmore Magazine

Samantha and Jim wrote five of the 12 songs on the album, including the title song, “Wild Heart”, that echoes Led Zeppelin with a whiplash of a steady guitar riff. “Show Me” - a song that could easily be heard at some of New York City’s finest rock clubs – wreaks stale beer. Samantha holds her own on guitar duties on this tune as Brady Blade grinds the drums with a slow steady roll.

As the album opens she’s bashes away with “Road Runner“, a warning to others of this mean man that broke her heart. The driving guitar sounds and thunderous beat supports her voice that is smooth as honey with a sad dash of salt.

Left me waiting by a red-light, I think about him every night

Road runner, road runner – Road Runner

After wrapping basic tracks, it was off to Dickinson’s Zebra Ranch Studios via the back roads of Mississippi. Seeing the culture and environment upfront got her excited for the unknown. The result of that magical setting was a cover of Charley Patton’s, “Jim Lee Blues Pt. 1”, which fits Fish’s voice. It was an organic setting with fellow Hill Country Blues artists Sharde Thomas and longtime friend, Lightnin Malcolm. Sharde is a native Mississippian fife/drum player in the same American tradition of her grandfather Othar Turner. “This session had a whole other vibe to it. The studio is out in the country, no cell service, no distractions. You're just surrounded by nature and guitars,” beams Samantha.

Samantha’s love for the Hill Country Blues genre started early on as her musical foundation began to build. This fiery singer-songwriter and guitarist met some of these players when she attended the King Biscuit Blues Festival at age 17. There she met Lightnin Malcolm, a guitarist who befriended the young gun and then a few years later, at Zebra Ranch, she got to record with him. “Working with Malcolm was a longtime coming as I'd known him since I was a teenager. Hearing hill country blues made me fall in love with blues music and he was one of the first artists who let me jam with him.”

 “One of my favorite songs on Wild Heart is ‘Go Home’. It became so powerful and we wanted girl power, no-frills and those ladies delivered,” Samantha proudly states.  It’s a quiet moment of reflection of an inner self struggle that can either be destructive or productive.  The background singers, Shontelle Norman-Beatty and Risse Norman provide a soothing answer to Samantha’s tearful call.

“Maybe in a moment of clarity, I’ll do what’s right,

Maybe I’ll finally swallow a bit of my own advice” Go Home

Both Samantha and Luther wanted to make a live and honest record, capturing Fish’s emotional intensity and power trio integrity. “She is so smart and talented. It was a joy to take her under my wing and share what I've learned with her. Samantha brought her emotional energy from her performances which transcended into the record. The songs are very personal and she delivered. I am proud to be a part of the record”, states Dickinson. Samantha was equally satisfied with the results, “I was blown away by his ability to color a song. I stepped out of my comfort zone and I couldn't be more proud of what we made.”

“Fish is an inveterate storyteller as well. Her songs are vivid and compelling with thick guitar lines and catchy riffs.” – The Morning Call

As the album comes to a close, Samantha has run the gamut of emotions. Her fingers are tired and her voice is shaking but she is able to pull out one more gem of a performance. A whispering rendition of RL Burnside’s “I’m In Love With You”. This is Samantha at her best-caressing the melody while the guitars and a slight drum beat flickers underneath her reassuring voice.

Samantha has dug her high heels in some rich musical soil with Wild Heart and is poised to reach a new level in her career. She is armed with her guitar and these songs are in her back pocket; for there is no doubt Miss Fish will

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 12:38 pm

American Blues Music Group recording artist Dudley Taft brings his own version of the blues to the table with Skin And Bones, a hair-raising collection of blues, rock and a slice of grunge pie to be served on October 16, 2015. Recorded at Muchmore studio in his home in Cincinnati and Omni Sound in Nashville he and bassist John Kessler co-produced the record.

Skin And Bones came from three sessions with Jason Patterson on drums and John Kessler on bass at Taft’s home studio once owned by legendary rock icon Peter Frampton in Cincinnati, OH. Yes, that guy. Taft bought the house with the intent of utilizing the studio full time.  He didn’t know the support phone number when setting up the room would lead him to Frampton himself. Taking cues from Neil Young and his studio approach of using the first takes, Dudley gives Skin And Bones a raw feel with fresh air weaving in and out of the arrangements. Never mind the blemishes, let the soul of the songs shine through.

As the creeping chord progression starts the CD with the title track, “Skin And Bones”, Dudley sings about Bourbon Street in New Orleans. You can almost feel the hot pavement under your shoes as you walk through the Crescent City. He gives nods to the past musicians, the voodoo, and its patina history.     

“Fuzzy Dice” is a musical air raid that started out as a riff using the Buzzmaster Fuzz Pedal and then researching the rearview mirror classic to get inspired to write the lyrics. Fuzzy dice were hung in B-17 cockpits showing 7 for good luck as the fighters carried out their missions. The heavy driving guitars and being honest with the subject matter makes this a standout. You can almost feel the plane soar and dive and shoot.

“Coming Home” is a simple yet expressive reflection of what matters in life. As we all know, life pulls us in 25 different directions, and we get lost; sometimes the home front is where we belong. Built off a classic 50’s fingerpicked riff, Dudley uses his bare knuckles to emulate Lightnin’ Hopkins and Hubert Sumlin. Another nod to a guitar hero of Taft’s is the straight forward, “Leland Mississippi Blues” from Johnny Winter. Never mess with a classic. “The descending riff is totally cool and fun to play. It’s one of my favorite songs to perform live,” Dudley states.

“I like blues because it touches on dark and heavy things. I’ve always believed that it’s important to have old and new influences.“ - Dudley told Premier Guitar in 2013

If you listen close, his influences range from Johnny Winter, Elmore James and ZZ Top to Alice Chains’ Jerry Cantrell. A gear head geek at heart he uses all the tools in his shed to create his sound. His relationship with Reese Wynans of the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan band continues as he supplies the hum with his signature organ sounds. The backing vocals of Rachel Williams and Ashley Christensen add a sweetness to the choruses.

Dudley’s music career began in high school when he founded the band Space Antelope with friend Trey Anastasio (of Phish). In the 1990’s he joined Seattle band Sweet Water, touring the states with Monster Magnet,  Flaming Lips, Candlebox, and Alice in Chains. After recording two albums for Atlantic, he left the band to join Second Coming. More touring followed with an album on Capitol Records and a taste of success thanks to the single “Vintage Eyes” which made it to #10 on the Rock Radio charts.

In his music, you’ll hear Delta roots mingling with Seattle grunge, a southern twang with a high-octane crunch. Dudley’s music is a visual film that comes to life with his dark look and respect to the music itself. He honors the players that came before him and those around him but is always looking down the road into the future.

Dudley will be playing Seattle and Midwest cities throughout the fall in the U.S. and will return to Europe for festivals and club gigs in the summer. Look for that upcoming information on his website www.dudleytaft.com.

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 4:05 pm

Multi-award winning bluegrass-folk-singer-songwriter Tim O’Brien greases the musical wheel with Pompadour set to release on October 30th on his label Howdy Skies Records. Produced and recorded by O’Brien, he continues to meld his love for the traditional sounds of bluegrass and country with his dash of modern that finds him in a new place in life.

It’s been four years since the last Tim O’Brien solo record, and he has not sat idle. He’s been fronting, piloting and performing with folks like Steve Martin and Mark Knopfler to Hot Rize and Earls of Leicester, a group that includes dobro-master, Jerry Douglas. He’s achieved award-winning success, played with a vast grouping of musicians and yet the solo work keeps tugging at his feet.

The seeds of Pompadour took root about three years ago when O'Brien welcomed his New Zealand traveling colleagues to Nashville. "Gerry Paul is a guitarist from Wellington, New Zealand, and Trevor Hutchinson is a bassist from Dublin, Ireland," O'Brien says. "We grabbed a couple of days and recorded. This album was meant for the three of us to tour behind, but a lot of other things got in the way. And Gerry and Trevor both play with various bands, so I decided to finish it up on my own."

Pompadour swirls together bits of bluegrass, deep-roots Appalachian music, field hollers, old-school rock 'n' roll to traditional jazz and even James Brownian funk. The same applies to the perspectives from which O'Brien addresses the central theme. The spare lyrics of "I Gotta Move" and use of everyday images on "I'm A Mess For You" imply rather than spell out a story of loss and redemption. A steady-rockin' groove drives the classic trope of asking a doctor for a cure to heartache on "Give Me A Little Somethin' Take Her Off My Mind."

O’Brien hopes this release will touch his listeners more personally than much of today's new music. "This album feels really good to me," he sums up. "I love collaborating with other people, but I also like to stretch out and achieve things I might be best able to do on my own. It hangs together and tells a story. It's honest. It shows who I am as a person as well as a musician. That's something I can be proud of."

Short Order Sessions is an online shop that releases two download tracks each month on Amazon, iTunes, and other digital outlets. “I was inspired by Mo Ash and his Folkways vision. He recorded tons of stuff, down and dirty, and kept it all in print. He dodged commercial pressure somehow and was still able to do his own thing. I was thinking; Friends come to town, and we might jam at my house, and I’ve often thought it would be great to catch some of those moments. And I had these tracks in the can and ideas for others. The digital delivery system has changed everything, and I figured - why not carve my own model? In a way, the Pompadour CD is really just a way to advertise SOS.”  For more info: www.shortordersessions.com

Tim started this lifelong career when he told his mother that he knew 200 songs, and that was enough to get him through. He has done pretty well, don’t you think?

There will be a support tour starting in October and Tim is booked by Mongrel Music. Brad Hunt will handle radio.

You can view all things O’Brien at his website: www.timobrien.net

 

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 9:24 pm

Ruf Records award winning artist singer/songwriter/guitarist Mike Zito paints a beautiful imperfect picture with Keep Coming Back. Colorful images of his past, present and future are all set to some of the most powerful melodies of his career. Recorded at Dockside Studios in Louisiana, the album was produced by Grammy Award winning Trina Shoemaker and Zito himself, is set for November 6th release. Taking cues from his musical collection, live shows and his solid backing band, The Wheel, the guitarist finds himself in a fine place.

“Having fun and playing music you love and believe in; it’s all about the song.” – Mike Zito

This Texas rocker bleeds the words in his songs – “I’m Drunk” (co-written with Anders Osborne) describes his life-long addiction struggles and how many victims he has left behind.  Mike always returns to his founding values of honest, original songs, drawn from the emotional depths, twisting the great American genres into bold new shapes. The Credence Clearwater Revival cover, “Bootleg”, closes out the album with a bang, is most fitting for Zito’s voice. That voice moved a writer enough to call it, “velvet”.

The title cut is a memo to himself of how life runs in circles.  It’s a typical slice of brutal honesty from a man who has always told it straight. Ask Mike for his backstory and he’ll give you warts and all.

"Keep Coming Back; Give your burden to the Blues

Keep Coming Back, Whatta ya got to lose"

Keep Coming Back is home to seven new Zito-penned originals, three co-writes with Anders Osbourne and two covers, Bob Seger’s “Get Out Of Denver” and CCR’s “Bootleg”.  “I love to tell stories,” says the bandleader, “and these songs are stories from my heart, my crazy mind and my life. With the help of Anders, I think I’ve got the best collections of songs I’ve written yet.”

Working with producer Trina Shoemaker gave Zito a fresh new start. “Trina and I were simpatico in our ideas of what this album would sound and feel like,” recalls Mike, “and she nailed it. This album is raw when it needs to be, subtle, sincere and grooving all the way through. My band is in top form. The musicians gave their all to the songs and brought out the best in me.” This band took the energy from the road to the studio in a hot flash. Top notch players include Jimmy Carpenter (saxophone/vocals), Scot Sutherland (bass), Rob Lee (drums) and Lewis Stephens (keys).

This seasoned musician has a lot to reflect on, solo albums, a Blues Music Award winner, a founding member of Royal Southern Brotherhood, as the wheels keep rolling for him.  There’s a spectrum of genres that can only be called Americana – part-blues – half a cup country and another cup of rock – makes Mike Zito who he is.

Mike and his band, The Wheel will embark on a supporting Keep Coming Back – check his website for updates – www.mikezito.com

Mon, 11/09/2015 - 4:32 pm

Louis Armstrong House Museum today announced that Dr. John, music icon; Cyril Neville, legendary musician and activist; Jerome Chazen, Chairman of Chazen Capital Partners, Chairman Emeritus of Liz Claiborne, Inc. and Trustee of the Louis Armstrong House Museum; and Robert F. Smith, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners and noted philanthropist and jazz aficionado, will be presented with the ‘Louie Award’ for their dedication to preserving and promoting the cultural legacy of Louis Armstrong at the Museum’s annual gala on December 2, 2015.

The Gala, which will include a special performance by Cyril Neville’s Royal Southern Brotherhood band, also will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Louis Armstrong’s first professional gig, during which he played the cornet at Henry Ponce’s saloon in New Orleans.  Armstrong, who died in 1971 and was known as Satchmo, is widely recognized as a founding father of jazz.  He recorded hit songs for five decades, appeared in more than 30 motion pictures, and performed to sold-out concerts across the world. Despite wealth and fame, Armstrong settled in a working class neighborhood in Queens. His former home, perfectly preserved, is now the site of the museum celebrating his legacy.

“Each of our honorees enjoys a very special connection to Louis Armstrong and we are thrilled to honor them at the gala,” said Michael Cogswell, Executive Director of the Louis Armstrong House Museum. “The Museum is routinely visited by school groups, international tourists, domestic tourists, musicians, historic house buffs, and countless others.  Louis continues to inspire people everywhere, every day.  Just the mention of his name makes people smile.”

About the Honorees:

Dr. John is a six-time Grammy winning musician and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee. His career began in the 1950s, where he worked with legends including Professor Longhair. Dr. John headed west in the 1960s as a session musician playing on records by Sonny and Cher, Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin and The Rolling Stones. During that time he launched his solo career as Dr. John the Night Tripper and recorded his breakthrough 1968 album “Gris-Gris.”

In 2014, Dr. John the Night Tripper’s Music Director Sarah Morrow produced “Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit Of Satch,” a tribute to Armstrong, with special guests Bonnie Raitt, Ledisi, Anthony Hamilton, Shemekia Copeland, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and trumpeters Nicholas Payton, Terence Blanchard, Arturo Sandoval, Wendell Brunious and James Andrews.

"Louis Armstrong was my hero and an ambassador to the world from New Orleans,” says Dr. John. “He opened the door for all of us. So getting the Louie Award from the Louis Armstrong House Museum on the 100th anniversary of his first gig is slammin’.”

A poet, musician, and artist, Cyril Neville has used music to define the problems of society while giving it a back beat and rhythm that people have been listening and dancing to all around the world for more than four decades. Born in late-’40s New Orleans as the youngest of the four siblings who would soon define that city’s R&B sound as The Neville Brothers, Cyril absorbed his parents’ vinyl collection and found his own voice when he turned professional at 19.

“As a drummer, I was attached to Satchmo’s use of rhythm in his playing and singing from the first time I heard him,” says Neville. “So, through the years, just as others like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Bing Crosby have been influenced by him, I've ’borrowed’ heavily from Satchmo in forming my own singing style. I feel that his style of singing is just as impressive and as expressive as his Trumpet style.”

“It is an extreme privilege to be honored by the Louis Armstrong House Museum and to honor Satchmo myself at this great event.  I've read that Jazz Music is the only true Art form contributed to the world by America. That means that Louis Armstrong is the Roux of the musical Gumbo that America is still serving to the world. Funkaliciously.”

Jerome A. Chazen is founder and chairman of Chazen Capital Partners, a private investment firm. He is also Chairman Emeritus of Liz Claiborne, Inc., and is one of the four founding partners who established the Company in 1976. He was largely responsible for the innovative sales, marketing, distribution and licensing programs that are an integral part of Liz Claiborne, Inc.'s success. He is a jazz enthusiast and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Louis Armstrong House Museum.

“When I was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin way back in the 40s, I first became exposed to Louis Armstrong and his 20s records of the Hot Five and Hot Seven,” recalls Chazen. “I was hooked then and to this day. I scoured second hand stores for 78s of Louis and his various groups. I even got to interview him when he brought his big band to Madison. He was a role model and never disappointed. He changed music in the 20th-century and will be forever remembered. We are all here to make sure that happens.” 

Robert F. Smith is the founder, chairman & CEO, of Vista Equity Partners, the world’s #1 private equity firm based on its performance over the last 10 years, according to the HEC-Dow Jones ranking. Vista manages equity capital commitments of approximately $14 billion, has completed over 170 completed transactions representing over $45 billion in transaction value. Founded in 2000, Vista focuses exclusively on enterprise software, data and technology enabled solutions sectors. Born in Colorado to two parents with PhDs, Smith earned his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University and his MBA from Columbia Business School, where he serves on its Board of Overseers. Smith is the Chairman of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, Member of the Cornell Engineering College Council, a Trustee of the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco, and a Board Member of Carnegie Hall. 

Of the Louis Armstrong House Museum, Smith notes, “Bing Crosby said Louis Armstrong ‘is the beginning and the end of music in America.’  I couldn't agree more. Armstrong was a prodigious trumpeter, the pioneer of scat singing, and the world's first great solo jazz performer. His appeal was universal -- appealing to black and white at a time of deep discrimination in our society -- and he had a voice that is as recognizable today as it was when he was with us. Louis Armstrong has inspired generations of performers from across the globe. The work of this museum will ensure Satchmo's legacy endures for generations to come."

Previous recipients of the Louie Award include music producer Quincy Jones; comedian Dick Cavett; record producer George Avakian; jazz trumpet player, conductor, composer, and educator Jon Faddis; jazz saxophonist Jimmy Heath; City University of New York Senior Vice Chancellor Jay Hershenson; novelist Stephen Maitland-Lewis; poet and culture critic Stanley Crouch; and jazz promoter and producer George Wein.

Gala 2015 will be held at Capitale at 130 Bowery in New York City on Wednesday, December 2, 2015.  Cocktails begin at 6:00 pm; dinner, special performance by Cyril Neville’s Royal Southern Brotherhood band, and awards ceremony follow at 7:00 pm.

For information about gala tickets, leadership tables, sponsorship opportunities and journal advertising, email gala@LouisArmstrongHouse.org or visit www.LouisArmstrongHouse.org.  

About Louis Armstrong House Museum:

The Louis Armstrong House Museum, the long-time home of Louis and Lucille Armstrong, is a National Historic Landmark and New York City Landmark in Corona, Queens.  Since its opening in 2003, more than 100,000 visitors from all over the world have been introduced to the wonderful world of Louis Armstrong. The Museum’s programs feature historic house tours, jazz concerts, and a wide variety of educational programs. The Museum owns and administers the largest research archives in the world for any jazz musician.

Thanks to the vision and funding of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, the Louis Armstrong House Museum welcomes visitors, six days per week, 52 weeks per year.  The Louis Armstrong House Museum is a member of the American Alliance of Museums, Association of African American Museums, Museums Council of New York City, New York State Museums Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation, NYC & Co., and the Queens Tourism Council.  The museum is a cultural center of Queens College / CUNY and constituent of the Kupferberg Center for the Arts.

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 3:20 pm

Woodstock Records recording group Professor Louie & The Crowmatix present their 12th release, Music From Hurley Mountain, set to release on January 15, 2016. Recorded and produced in their small town of Hurley near Woodstock, NY, 100 miles north of the Big Apple, this grouping of all-stars bring the right amount of Americana to the band’s sound.

The band’s latest release Music From Hurley Mountain showcases music written by Louie and his songwriting partner, vocalist, pianist and percussionist, Miss Marie (Rick Danko). Drummer Gary Burke (Bob Dylan, Joe Jackson), guitarist/vocalist John Platania (Van Morrison) and bassist/vocalist Frank Campbell (Steve Forbert, Levon Helm) complete the talented and versatile quintet.

The Grammy-nominated Woodstock, NY ensemble, plays 150 shows every year in the U.S. and worldwide. Led by recording engineer and producer, Aaron “Professor Louie” Hurwitz on vocals, keyboards, and accordion, their repertoire is steeped in rock ‘n’ roll, blues, Gospel, to the early sounds the American roots music genre. The Crowmatix bring fans inside the musical heritage that has shaped their sound and made them one of the Hudson Valley’s most beloved bands. 

The music was inspired by the beautiful farmlands next to their recording studio in the Catskill Mountains. It’s a spirited collection of 11 originals and three select cover tunes (including Jimmy Reed’s “You Got Me Dizzy”) that create a musical short story that brings listeners along on a day spent on Hurley Mountain. Professor Louie’s accordion opens up the album with a tranquil sunrise “Golden Morning” that flows throughout til the end of the day with the aptly titled “Goodnight Hurley Moon.”

Music From Hurley Mountain is divided up into scenes as you may, starting with daybreak, a small history lesson about the rural town as it evolved and some historical events that occurred in Hurley. The songs reflect different stories and relationships of the various people who settled throughout the decades. Even the sound of the tractor can be imagined as a farmer goes to the barn for a dance. As time goes on, the Rock’n’Roll Barn, LRS Recording Studio, is built in the middle of the farm on Hurley Mountain where engineers and producers continue to record with legendary & local musicians.And finally as sun sets and the moon rises, the barn still stands, and the family sits down for supper. These various tales and stories are woven into melodies that are traditional sounding like Celtic and Gospel to the recent of early sounds of rock ‘n’ roll. Whether you have two left feet or can’t carry a tune in a bucket, you can still be moved by it.

Professor Louie & The Crowmatix began as the studio backing band for Hurwitz’s musical productions with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame Inductees, The Band, another band based out the Woodstock area. Louie produced their albums from 1993 until 2000 when the members disbanded. “Working with Rick, Garth and Levon for 15 years was a great honor – and a lot of fun – and we’re proud of the music we created together,” says Louie. “Their love of crafting musical stories based on American history had a strong influence on us, and I like to think we’re continuing that tradition in The Crowmatix recordings.”

Each member of the Crowmatix worked in a wide variety of musical genres and different stages ranging from Bob Dylan to Joe Jackson to Van Morrison. Their level of professionalism and experience gives Louie a jumpstart with a band that still carries its small town etiquette wherever they go.

For more information and to purchase their CD please the website: www.woodstockrecords.com

Tue, 01/05/2016 - 2:16 pm

Back Porch Syndicate Records recording artist Jefferson Grizzard reaches a higher plateau with a new batch of songs, with his January 15, 2016, CD release Daydream of Hope. Grizzard has been on the outskirts of the music scene and now coming into his own by tackling themes of love, loss, social and environmental issues. This is the follow-up to his critically acclaimed CD, Learning To Lie on which Willie Nile co-wrote “When Levon Sings,” paying tribute to legendary drummer Levon Helm of The Band.  The young artist has just been booked for a Leon Russell tour starting February 18th through March 12th, 2016.

Grizzard is a lone wolf in a creative world wearing his heart on his sleeves. He’s an old soul with a punk rock attitude in his approach to his career; he recalls the solitude of the artist that just wants to create and slide it under the door. The use of language in his songs is chosen very carefully; so it becomes a very deep and emotional process to allow the listener to be drawn into his world.

Jefferson weaves empathy into songs like “Give Me A Sign” that speaks of a broken man who is on the verge of escaping the town he lives in. The character talks loss, love, and regret, and Grizzard brings it full circle as he closes the song with; “Wander drunk straight outta town/I’ll kiss your grave before I take this trip.”

In “Fallout Frenzy” he sings about a hostile situation as it plays out, and the killer becomes chicken as he makes a mess of things with blood – did he commit suicide or did he just give up? Perhaps Grizzard is reacting to the recent episodes of humanity indignity that have been erupting around the world.  He seems to have touched upon the keenness of a first impression or maybe a bad vibe in the air; “I knew it was him from the moment too fast/Was the glare in his eye and/The knife in our backs.”

As “We’re Just Kids Babe” opens up the listener will think of Tom Petty or a young Bruce Springsteen in “Thunder Road” or “American Girl” –  songs that begged us to listen closer and paint a very passionate picture. The song is filled with visions of a modern day Romeo & Juliet with a twisting dark side. The colors, the shapes as the mood gets steamy as he writes about beds, cats and clearing his head.

“Grizzard is a student of the old school, rock and roll syndicate, and he joyfully embraces the cranked up slash and burn excitement that can only come from American rock because he is American rock… a unique songwriter on his way to becoming a rising force for a whole new generation of music fans that still believe that real music comes from a human voice and a guitar.” — John Pfeiffer /Aquarian Weekly

Daydream of Hope was recorded at Sound Emporium and Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. An impressive array of collaborators was assembled for the project. Studio aces Mike Brignardello, Steve Brewster, Will Denton, Dennis Wage, Aubrey Haynie, Dan Dugmore and Eric Darken were among the group. These folks’ credits include Giant, Amy Grant, Bob Seger, Chicago, Jewel, Jimmy Buffett, Little Big Town, Delbert McClinton and many more- added their touch to Grizzard’s latest offering. Steve Marcantonio was enlisted again to engineer and Ben McRee produced the project- his third album for Grizzard.

Jefferson Grizzard is an anomaly in today’s world of manufactured, disposable entertainment. He deftly mixes his poetry and melody to craft stories and characters live in his songs. Keeping great company with his contemporaries (Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Tom Waits to name a few) Grizzard delivers his unique brand of Americana.

The dictionary says empathy, is a word derived from the Greek word empatheia that comes from the word “pathos” which means feeling. So by the definition, empathy means, “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”

And it’s a noun.

So that means it’s a person, a place or a thing. So having empathy is something that we as humans, who live in communities, should share with each other and we all need more of that in a dangerous, clouded world that we live in. Grizzard is sharing what he sees and hears with Daydream of Hope.

Fri, 01/29/2016 - 10:17 am

Ruf Records recording artist Tasha Taylor has always carried the torch for Soul and Blues. Now, with her dazzling third album, Honey For The Biscuit, set for an March 18 release, the US singer/songwriter/musician unveils thirteen new songs that push her beloved genre into the spotlight. “I’m carrying on the next generation of rhythm, blues, and soul,” says Tasha. “Bridging the gap between one generation and another; it’s my family business – as well as my passion.”         

As the daughter of R&B trailblazer and Stax giant Johnnie Taylor, Tasha’s genealogy is auspicious. And yet, while lesser talents might trade on that hallowed surname, Honey For The Biscuit is a personal statement bearing her unique thumbprint. “I started writing this record three years ago,” recalls the singer/producer, “and I wrote most of the songs on my guitar.

Recorded in LA, Tasha was joined in the studio by a core all-star band. Tasha (Vocals, guitar, percussion), Nathan Watts (bass), John Notto (guitar), Jon Taylor (guitar), Don Wyatt (piano/organ), Munjungo Jackson (percussion) with the following on drums; Gerry Brown, Ronald Bruner, and Stanley Randolph. Then to round it out, a full brass section with Jamelle Williams, Matthew DeMeritt, and Lemar Buillary to make Honey For The Biscuit a thrilling reboot of the great American genres, taking in the soul, funk and every shade of blue.

“I always bring a soul element,” notes Tasha, “and this record also has a touch of Nashville, which was a new thing for me to explore. Three songs were written with Tom Hambridge and Richard Flemming, (“Leave Dog Alone,” “How Long” and “Weatherman”) and overall this record has more of my blues side exposed, from subject matter to musicianship. It also inspires some dancing, so be ready for that!”        

Special songs dovetail with special guests. There are the light-footed guitar lick and gang chants of “Family Tree” (featuring Keb’ Mo’). The handclaps and doo-wop refrain of Little Miss Suzie (Robert Randolph guesting on lap steel). The full-throttle, funky ode to a cheating man on “Leave That Dog Alone” (Samantha Fish supplying fiery guitar/vocals). The brassy belt of “Same Old Thing” (Tommy Castro at the microphone) makes Tasha smile, “I got very lucky and got some great friends to play, nice honey for my record.”        

Even amongst that blues royalty, it’s Tasha’s neck-tingling vocal that demands top billing, her raw delivery digging to the emotional depths. The lyric sheet, meanwhile, opens up her diary from a period of upheaval. “It’s been nice looking back on what is essentially a snapshot of my life,” she admits, “and realizing what you can learn from your experiences. There’s a lot of testimonials about dealing with and searching for stuff, about love, lust, and life. I think I’ve come through a lot of stuff when I hear this record, and I’m glad to have those lessons in my pocket.”      

It’d take more than a broken heart to break her stride. Flick through her backstory and it’s clear that Tasha hasn’t just inherited her father’s talent, but also his tireless work ethic. Though raised in Dallas, Texas, her de facto childhood home was the tour bus. “I didn’t have a lot in common with other kids’ family lives,” she reflects. “On the road, that’s where I grew up. It was a very different job for one’s dad to have, but I learned the most from watching him on stage from the wings.”

For a period, Tasha seemed bound to a different road, as she moved north to study drama at Boston University, before taking featured roles in hit TV shows including “Ugly Betty” and “House”. It’s a parallel career that continues to thrive, but the music in her DNA could not be denied, so Tasha went on to compose original soundtracks for shows like “Men In Trees” and “Lipstick Jungle”, before making ripples with her solo debut, 2008’s Revival.

Three years later, that album was followed up by Taylormade: a whip-smart set of Tasha’s self-penned material that tipped its hat to her late father with a spring-heeled cover of “Who’s Makin’ Love.”

“He was an inspiration and a special talent,” she reflects. “I remember being on the road with my dad and if I was worn-out or sick, he’d say, ‘You don’t have to sing if you don’t feel good – or you can be a trouper.' I guess I always choose to be a trouper.” True to Taylor Snr’s advice and example, Tasha has earned an international reputation for high-velocity shows that leave it all on the stage and lift her audiences above their troubles. “It’s very high-energy and deep emotion,” she explains. “Onstage, I feel the soul of the music, and I put my everything into my performances because of that. I love to see the audience connecting to the emotion of the music.”  In 2016, Tasha hits stages across Europe and America armed with Honey For The Biscuit: the third breakout record that realizes her potential spreads the word about the genre she has always championed and carries that magical surname into a bold new age. “If one person leaves with a new favorite song,” she considers, “then I’m happy…” 

Mon, 03/14/2016 - 2:22 pm

From the pristine waters of the Honey Island Swamp, to the vibrant streets of New Orleans, to the hazy corner of Haight-Asbury in San Francisco, this band has endured devastation, relocation, and revitalization. A group whose sound has been tagged “Bayou Americana,” the Honey Island Swamp Band takes the hammer to the nail with the help of producer Luther Dickinson, and presents Demolition Day to the world April 29 on Ruf Records.

This album marks the 10-year anniversary of the Honey Island Swamp Band, which formed in San Francisco, CA via New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina displaced the founding members.  With little hope of returning to their beloved city, the band channeled the blues and emotions of their circumstances to develop a soulful style and sound that critics have compared to legendary Blues-Roots-Rock Artists such as The Allman Brothers, Little Feat and The Band.    

Recording at the Parlor Studio in New Orleans, Honey Island Swamp Band teams up with producer/musician Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars to capture a rhythm and a feel born straight from the heart of Americana. The album features a host of New Orleans finest musicians, including guest appearances by keyboardist Ivan Neville and Tab Benoit on pedal steel.  

“Their all encompassing sound of blues, roots, country, and soul has been described as “Bayou Americana.” – No Depression

“We’ve always wanted to record to two-inch tape, to get that old analog sound,” says bandleader Aaron Wilkinson, “and this was our first opportunity to make it happen. Luther was the perfect producer to help us nail that old-school, authentic sound. He was great at keeping us focused on the spirit of each performance, not getting bogged down in details and perfectionism. That’s what we were looking for and what we needed.”

After all, polish isn’t necessary when you’re working with songs this strong. Across its eleven cuts, Demolition Day tips a hat to most of the great American genres, while adding the Honey Island Swamp Band’s inimitable thumbprint. There's the spring-heeled slide-blues of “Ain’t No Fun”, the upbeat funk of “Head High Water Blues”, the cat-house piano and country-fried guitars of “How Do You Feel”. But then, on the emotional flipside, there’s also the reflective wah-guitar lilt of “Say It Isn’t True”, the mournful funeral-jazz slow-burn of “No Easy Way” and the heart-in-mouth acoustic confessional of “Katie”.

“We’re diverse and complex people,” explains Chris Mule, the band’s guitarist, “and our audiences are as well. So we try to let our music reflect that.”

Drawing from their diverse backgrounds, the band’s lyrical content is quite colorful. “They really are all over the map,” Aaron explains of the topics explored on Demolition Day. “Some are rooted in reality and personal experience. “Head High Water Blues” is a look back at the Hurricane Katrina experience now that ten years has passed. Much has been rebuilt, but much has not and never will be – and the song is more about the emotional scars that can never be fully erased. Others are just fiction and storytelling. We had the music for “Through Another Day”, and it sounded sort of old and epic and Southern, and that inspired this Civil War-era storyline that became the lyrics. Others are just sort of playful nonsense about life and relationships, like “Watch And Chain.”

Demolition Day is about rebuilding more than tearing down. It's about a renewal of purpose, reflected through powerful lyrics and stories, great slide guitar on top of deep bass and rhythms that continue to move the foundation that the band was built upon. 

New Orleans has a deep well of music, and that well has no rules - the only boundaries are the ones that we place on ourselves.

On Demolition Day, the Honey Island Swamp Band breaks these boundaries to deliver a sound so relevant and honest that even in the darkest of days – like the violent storm that brought this group of musicians together – Demolition Day still shines brightly.

Meet The Honey Island Swamp Band:

Aaron Wilkinson - mandolin, guitar, harmonica, vocals
Chris Mulé - guitar, vocals
Sam Price - bass, vocals
Garland Paul - drums, vocals
Trevor Brooks – keyboards

Mon, 04/04/2016 - 3:47 pm

After five acclaimed albums and decades of blazing blues-rock shows, you might argue that you’ve already made his acquaintance. But by the Florida bandleader’s own admission, Big Dog is the first release to truly get under his skin. “I just wanted to make a record that best represented who I am, as a musician, singer, guitarist and live artist,” explains Albert Castiglia. “With every release, I’ve come close, but this time, producer Mike Zito helped me nail it. He and label boss Thomas Ruf wanted me to make a raw, rocking blues record. That’s what I’m about- that’s who I am.”

At 46, he’s slugged his way into contention the old-fashioned way: writing from his heart, bleeding into his performances, eating up the road. “I have no illusions about what kind of guitar player and singer I am,” he states. “My style is raw, unadulterated, crude and heavy. I don’t have the technical proficiency of other players, but I play what’s in my heart and what I feel at that moment. When I write songs, they have to mean something.”

Recorded at Dockside Studios, Louisiana, there’s not an ounce of fat on Big Dog’s eleven tracks, with Albert darting between self-penned originals, cherished covers and co-writes with some of his closest compadres. “You could smell the mojo in the sweet Southern air,” reflects Albert, “and you could feel the mojo in the recording studio. We had a studio-savvy band with an incredible amount of soul, and Mike’s role as producer was the wildcard.” 

Albert describes Big Dog as a “driving along the highway with the top down kind of record”, and “Let The Big Dog Eat” sets the pace (complete with breakneck riffing and improvised barks). Other foot-down cuts include the call-and-response “Don’t Let Them Fool Ya”, the searing “Where The Devil Makes His Deals” (written with Graham Wood Drout) and the observational wit of “Get Your Ass In The Van”. “That song was a response to all the poor, pampered souls,” grins Albert, “who think that music is one big American Idol episode.”

Some songs cut deeper. Co-written with label mate and Royal Southern Brotherhood’s Cyril Neville “Somehow” addresses the plight of the homeless and displaced in modern America. “The poor are commonly used as tag lines in speeches by politicians seeking public office,” points out Albert, “but when the cameras are off, they are often ignored and scorned. The song reflects a sadness, yet hopefulness, on how we as a society treat these people.”

Another poignant moment is “Where Did I Go Wrong”. A soul-drenched slow-blues with harp from Johnny Sansone, it’s taken from the iconic Junior Wells’ You’re Tuff Enough album, and in many ways, brings Albert’s story full-circle. Born on August 12th, 1969, in New York – before moving to Florida aged five – Albert made his professional debut in 1990 with Miami Blues Authority, but truly hit the international radar after Wells invited the young bluesman into his solo band for several world tours. “It was an incredible adventure,” remembers Albert. “Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a Chicago bluesman. Junior opened the door for me to do that. He recorded his last studio album, Come On In This House, at Dockside Studios. What a sign!”

The gig was a shop-window, and though Wells died in 1998, there was no stopping Albert, whether he was joining the great Atlanta vocalist Sandra Hall for national tours in the late-’90s, or holding his own in onstage jams with everyone from Pinetop Perkins to John Primer. Nobody’s sideman, his own triumphant solo career began with 2002’s Burn, followed up by 2006’s A Stone’s Throw, 2010’s Keepin On and 2012’s Living The Dream.

In 2014, Ruf debut Solid Ground was declared “smoldering and intense” by blues critics. Now, Big Dog ups the ante, offering eleven new songs to get your teeth into, and supported by a full international tour that promises bark and bite.

If you thought you knew Albert Castiglia, you don’t know the half of it. “I think this album is a major game-changer for me,” he says. “No matter what happens after Big Dog’s release, I’ll always be proud of it. When we tour this album, you can expect a balls to the wall, rockin’ blues show. Expect to get what I’ve always given you – my 100%.”

Wed, 05/11/2016 - 10:18 am

American Blues Artist Group drops the music today with Dudley Taft’s LIVE IN EUROPE available online and at shows. LIVE is filled with originals and hand-picked covers that will blow off fans’ and critics’ heads alike. Recorded at the Het Wapen in Vriezenveen, NL; the Dom Kultury in Kielce, PL and Radio Rzeszów in Rzeszów, PL Produced by Taft and his long time producer John Kessler and mixed by Ashley Shepherd at Audio Grotto, Newport KY, LIVE is a musical capsule for the ages.

The Dudley Taft Band has been building a firm fan base in Europe, touring extensively since 2011. The new album, Live in Europe was recorded in 2014 and 2015 in from three shows in The Netherlands and Poland. It gives the listener a taste of their live versions of originals and favorite songs by other artists. You can hear them stretch out on extended versions of Taft’s “Broken Down”, ZZ Top’s “I Heard It On The X”, Warren Hayne’s “If Heartaches Were Nickels” and Peter Green’s “Oh Well”, to name a few.

LIVE comes on the heels of 2015’s chart topping SKIN AND BONES that received critical acclaim with words like, “hardcore, expletive-spitting, razor sharpness’, (American Blues Scene). Recorded at his Muchmore studios in Cincinnati, OH, in a home once owned by legendary Peter Frampton.

“I like blues because it touches on dark and heavy things. I’ve always believed that it’s important to have old and new influences.“ - Dudley told Premier Guitar in 2013.

Dudley’s music career began in high school when he founded the band Space Antelope with friend Trey Anastasio (of Phish). In the 1990’s he joined Seattle band, Sweet Water, touring the states with Monster Magnet,  Flaming Lips, Candlebox, and Alice in Chains. After recording two albums for Atlantic, he left the band to join Second Coming. More touring followed with an album on Capitol Records and a taste of success thanks to the single “Vintage Eyes” which made it to #10 on the Rock Radio charts.

In his music, you’ll hear Delta roots mingling with Seattle grunge, a southern twang with a high-octane crunch. Dudley’s music is a visual film that comes to life with his dark look and respect to the music itself. He honors the players that came before him and those around him but is always looking down the road into the future

Take a listen to Taft’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Meet Me In The Morning”: https://soundcloud.com/dudleytaft/meet-me-in-the-morning

The touring lineup includes John Kessler (Co-producer of many of Taft’s albums) on bass guitar, Carl Martin on drums and Eric Robert on Keyboards. 

LIVE IN EUROPE is available at the following sites:

Dudley Taft - Website

Dudley Taft - Amazon

Dudley Taft - CD Baby

Thu, 06/16/2016 - 8:05 am

Now in its 12th triumphant year, the Blues Caravan is a touring showcase for the hottest young acts on the Ruf label. With past treks helping launch stars including Joanne Shaw Taylor, Bart Walker and Samantha Fish, it’s a springboard for the blues scene’s next-big-things, and a magnet for fans who want to catch them before lift- off. In 2016, we’ve got a Blues Caravan lineup sure to raise the roof each night as it rolls across the USA and Europe.

The Blue Sisters are doing it for themselves…

Tasha Taylor has the blues in her blood. The youngest daughter of R&B trailblazer and Stax icon Johnnie Taylor, she inherited his musical talent, but walked her own path, studying drama at Boston University before lighting up hit TV shows including Ugly Betty and House. The pull of music proved too strong, however, and having composed soundtracks for shows like Men In Trees and Lipstick Jungle, Tasha broke through with Taylormade: the album whose self-penned, sharply observed material pinballed from early soul single “Queen” to the redemptive gospel of “I Got Love”. She’ll start the Blues Caravan as a hot tip – and end it as a world-class contender.

Layla Zoe is ready to explode. Like her early influences – from Bob Dylan to Muddy Waters – the Canadian bandleader is a fearless writer, earning victory in 2006’s auspicious Blues Compo songwriting competition, and critical acclaim for albums including 2013’s The Lily. For the Blues Caravan 2016, Layla will be drawing on the best of her catalogue, previewing this year’s new release, and leaving it all on the stage. “With live performances,” she explains, “I believe that the more raw and uncensored I am, the more I can connect with my listeners.”

When Ina Forsman steps up the mic, you’ll believe every word. The Finnish vocalist hit the radar aged 17 with a show-stopping rendition of Etta James’s “All I Could Do Was Cry” on a TV talent show. Since then, she’s achieved international recognition, guesting with blues heavyweights Helge Tallqvist and Guy Verlinde on the road, touring mainland Europe and proving her own songwriting chops with her self- penned and fiercely personal material. When Ina hits the stage, all bets are off. “I rarely plan anything,” she says, “so what happens on the stage, just happens.”

So come out and join these three artists in having a soulful experience live.

2016 Tour Dates:

7/16                   Rockland, ME                                   North Atlantic Blues Festival

7/18                   Buffalo, NY                                       Sportsmen's Tavern

7/19                   Rochester, NY                                  Abilene Bar & Grill

7/20                   New York, NY                                   Iridium

7/21                   Jim Thorpe, PA                                Mauch Chunk Opera House

7/22                   Collinsville, CT                                  Bridge Street Live

7/24                   Sellersville, PA                                  Sellersville Theater

8/6                     Edwardsville, IL (St. Louis)            Wildey Theatre

8/8                     Lexington, KY                                   Woodsongs Old Tyme Radio Hour

8/10                   Auburn Hills, MI                              Callahan's

8/12                   Chicago, IL                                        Reggie's

8/13                   Waukeshau, WI                               Blues Festival

8/14                   Duluth, MN                                      Bayfront Blues Festival

8/17                   Kansas City, MO                             Knuckleheads

8/18                   Denver, CO                                       Soiled Dove

8/20                   Colorado Springs, CO                     Stargazers

Thu, 07/07/2016 - 8:57 am

You could say Brian Langlinais’ new recording, Right Hand Road, was birthed by an ice storm, but that would be getting ahead of the story

Long before that weather event, the album’s roots ran from sea to sea along I-10, home to a slew of bars and nightclubs where bands earn gas money between major cities. For decades, these venues have fostered the uniquely American art form called roadhouse music: a big tent under which blues, country, zydeco, and even jazz come together—often in the same band. Roadhouse legends such as Delbert McClinton, Marcia Ball, Omar and the Howlers, Mason Ruffner, and Lee Roy Parnell all came through Langlinais’ hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana, where he cut his teeth in bands playing this crowd-pleasing music.

 “Brian Langlinais is a fresh voice that's worthy of notice” - Billboard

“Back then, the job was—and still is—to make people drink and be happy,” explains Langlinais. “It was about playing songs people know. I covered Wilson Pickett’s catalog, which led me to a lot of lesser-known Stax artists like William Bell. I ended up in blues bands with horns, groups that became more soul than Mississippi Delta blues.

Horns loom large in Langlinais’ history. His father played saxophone with Swamp Pop legends The Shondells, and Brian double-majored in college in trumpet and vocal performance. Ultimately, it was the singer that won out. Langlinais eventually landed in Nashville, where he strayed from his roadhouse roots long enough to record two acclaimed Americana records: Rock & Fire and Tonight I Might. But with Right Hand Road, those roots have called him back.

Langlinais had been considering returning to Lafayette to record, when his friend, producer/guitarist D.L. Duncan asked him to go there for a day and cut some tracks with Grammy-winning engineer Tony Daigle (Derek Trucks, James McMurtry, Jon Cleary). They would just lay down a couple of covers, and see if they liked working together. Brought along from Nashville were a bassist, Ron Eoff (Cate Brothers, Jo-El Sonnier, Levon Helm) and a keyboard player, Patterson Barrett (Gurf Morlix, Buddy Miller), with drummer Brian Brignac (Sonny Landreth), picked up in Lafayette.

“We weren’t sure it would turn into a record” Langlinais recalls. “It was just to see how much fun we could have. We were planning on going back to Tennessee the next day, but there was an ice storm in Nashville. None of us could get back, so we ended up tracking for three full days.”

In addition to the stellar quality of the playing and singing, what distinguishes the resulting Right Hand Road is its level of songwriting. The tunes tell timeless stories while adding new twists. William Bell’s classic “Every Day Is a Holiday” has been covered by everyone from Warren Haynes to RZA, but few since Bell himself have brought the well of authentic Southern soul feeling Langlinais and company evidence here.

“Wilson Pickett’s ‘Green Grass’ has become a Zydeco standard, but not like we did it,” says Langlinais. “Brian and Tony came up with a groove that went in a different direction, and Ron did a tic-tack thing on bass that made us feel this could be the beginning of a great record.”

Though the singer had more covers in his iTunes library, producer D.L. Duncan felt they should write some tunes of their own. “D.L. had some scratch lyrics for a couple of songs,” says Langlinais. “We would come up with a groove, take a little break, D.L. would come back with a lyric that he thought would fit, and I would start singing it. We wrote ‘Louisiana Love,’ ‘My One Desire,’ and the two acoustic songs, ‘Right Hand Road’ and ‘Our Love Is Slippin’ Away,’ in the studio while we were tracking.” Their work sits comfortably next to the covers, displaying the same simplicity mixed with an emotional depth that makes this kind of music so enduring.

“…his blues have redemption, and his vocals reveal an approachable spiritual lightness rather than dwell in bitter self-pity." - Music News Nashville

Back in Nashville, Langlinais and Duncan decided they needed two more songs to round out the record, so “Tucumcari Tonight” and “You Can’t Say I Didn’t Love You” were recorded at the Dog House with Lynn Williams (Delbert McClinton, Marcia Ball) on drums, Steve Conn (Sonny Landreth, Keith Urban) on keys, James Pennebaker (Delbert McClinton, Lee Roy Parnell) on guitar, and Eoff on bass.

“To me, the record symbolizes getting to go back home,” Langlinais says. “If you are from New York and say, ‘I need a sandwich from Katz’s Deli,’ people from New York can taste that sandwich. Likewise, if you’re from Lafayette, and I say, ‘I’m hungry for an Old Tyme Grocery po’ boy,’ you know the flavor. Going back to Lafayette meant working with people who have the same set of references. I have worked with people who can play a second line groove, but with these musicians, it was so much easier to express the minutiae that make a groove specific.”

It is this kind of attention to detail that renders Right Hand Road special. You don’t have to be a music scholar or musician to feel in your heart and bones how getting the specifics right adds to the music’s impact. This recording could only have come from someone with Louisiana music in his DNA.

“I was born and raised there, and my family was one of the first families to get land grants there,” says Langlinais. “My bloodline is only Acadian and French. Going home to Lafayette and doing the music that I’m about was a full circle.”

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 10:28 am

This is a collection of the best songs from iconic pop rocker Dwight Twilley recorded since returning to his hometown Tulsa. The tracks were cherry picked from the unexplainable string of rock solid albums released worldwide from 1999-2016. Remembered for hits “I'm on Fire” & “Girls” in the 70's & 80's, Twilley has been far from idle. It's extremely rare for an artist who emerged in 1975 to release a 40 song double CD including 7 bonus tracks in 2016. This is exactly what Twilley has done.

Dwight’s music has been featured in movies like Wayne’s World, Diary Of A Teenage Girl, You’re Next, and the Netflix hit series, House Of Cards.

His fans are ecstatic perhaps you should find out why.

Click HERE to order The Best of Twilley – The Tulsa Years!

Fri, 12/16/2016 - 2:12 pm

The Soul Of John Black is back – it’s part Chicago blues shaken and stirred with Delta mindfulness and a Memphis soul garnish.

The Soul of John Black has not been sold. It’s alive and well. He’s out and about – walking the streets with shades over his eyes.  This eclectic mix of blues, soul, jazz and funk with slices of hip-hop grows arms and legs as it spins on the record player. Early In The Moanin’ will be released on February 3, 2017, on Cadabra Records through CD Baby.

John Bigham; “JB” – as he’s known to friends – will be appearing at the 2017 Folk Alliance International Conference for two private showcases on February 17 and 18. This will be a one-of-a-kind acoustic setting showing off his guitar chops that are old school Delta style mixed in with reggae and soul.

After eight years in Fishbone and a stint with Miles Davis, The Soul Of John Black calls Early In The Moanin’; his “love letter to the blues. I’m taking it back to Mississippi to the Delta, in my own way.”

“Old school funk…spine-tingling.” – Interview

John himself produced and recorded Early In The Moanin’ at Tiger One Studio in Los Angeles bringing in some ace session players like Jake Najor (Big Daddy Kane), Mark Levy (Duradero Drums), Greg Camp (Smash Mouth) and Curtis Sanford (The Deele). The slice of Hip-Hop comes from the genius mind of Richard "Segal" Huredia, a well-known sound mixer, known for his work on Dr. Dre’s seminal album, The Chronic.

“I learned about music from my friends, my parents, and the radio,” JB says. “In Chicago a lot of soul-blues was popular and even doo-wop, but when I got turned on to Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, as a guitar player there was no turning back.”

With that broad stylistic education under his belt, Bigham moved to L.A. to pursue a career in music and began working as a touring sideman and session player. His first high-profile gig was playing guitar for R&B hit man El DeBarge. But JB’s personal history as an experimenter goes back to 1989 when he began an eight-year tenure playing guitar and keyboards in pioneering ska-funk-punk band Fishbone.

JB’s career has been filled with critical praise from Rolling Stone to NPR, nominations from The Blues Music Awards and The Independent Music Awards as well as studio session work with Dr. Dre, Eminem and Nikka Coats amongst others.

“Oddly enough, I didn’t get into really deep old school blues until I was working with Miles [Davis] and he recorded songs with John Lee Hooker for the soundtrack to a movie called The Hot Spot. That music affected me profoundly. John Lee Hooker became one of my main guys. I also figured that if his music and Miles Davis’ could blend so beautifully, I should be able to find my own way of combining everything that I love. And that’s what The Soul of John Black is about.”

Using words like wobble, talking about raking leaves and honoring Bobby “Blue” Bland in “Cher” (with a nod to the smooth crooner’s classic “St. James Infirmary”), The Soul Of John Black creates a sexy mood with his voice and rhythms.

“I say, Cher  - I love your pretty hair - well I know this might seem strange, but I can't get you off my brain, and I'm well aware it's the type of thing that get you put in St. James” –  “Cher”

You can almost see a smooth grin; slide on his face.

So sit, pour a glass of your favorite potion and get seduced by The Soul of John Black. You will slip into another world.

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 6:55 pm

Talk about a tough act to follow. Back in 2014, Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado released Too Many Roads: the award-winning ninth album that saw the golden-voiced frontman and his seven-piece lineup showered with global acclaim. For the fans who have followed the Copenhagen band since their formation in 2003, it felt like a career-best release.

But we were wrong. With Change My Game, Thorbjørn has raised the stakes once again. In a world where most bands are content to tread water, here’s an album that breaks new creative ground, explores fresh musical directions and delivers a bold batch of songs that are at once catchy and immediate, but rich with deeper meaning.

Released in January 2017 on Ruf Records, Change My Game is not just an album title, but also the guiding ethos that has driven this band from the start. Since making their first impact with 2006’s From The Heart, Thorbjørn and his all-star lineup have dodged media pigeonholes and broken down the boundaries of genre, their confidence to experiment growing with every year spent together on the road. Now, on this 11th album, their musical leap is greater than ever before, with dynamic arrangements sent through the roof by the band’s musicianship and Thorbjørn’s electrifying vocal.

Change My Game finally achieves the studio sound that Thorbjørn has always heard in his head. For the first time, the eight musicians decided to self-produce and mix the entire album, and the result is a visceral production that showcases their best material to date. Rock-influenced songs like “Dreamland” are hard, fiery and ferocious. Ballads like lead-off single “I Used To Love You” have an aching emotional power. Meanwhile, for the fans who love the Tornado’s fresh take on classic blues, there’s “Train,” which opens with a locomotive sound, a lone vocal, and an acoustic guitar – before the band turn up the heat and bring the song to its horn-driven climax.

At a time when technology rules the music industry, Change My Game is an album that runs on human chemistry, and that’s testament to the 800-plus shows that this lineup has played together in 21 countries from the Canada to India. Firm believers in the power of live music, Thorbjørn and the band will take Change My Game out on the road in 2017, with a touring schedule that will see them raise roofs across the planet and convert countless new fans to the cause.

Fourteen years into their career, these are high times for Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado. Perhaps you thought they’d peaked with Too Many Roads. But with Change My Game, the only way is up…

FACTS:

#         Despite hailing from Denmark and releasing albums on a small Danish label until 2014, the band have won acclaim in Canada and all over Europe.

#         They have played over 800 shows – more than 200 of these at festivals – in 21 countries including Canada and India.

#         They received a Danish Grammy two years in a row.

#         In Germany, where they recently participated in the legendary TV show Tyskland ROCKPALAST, they received one of the most prestigious awards in the business.

#         In the UK, the band were selected as part of Classic Rock Blues Magazine’s Best Of 2014 CD.

#         Since 2003’s formation - all but two of the original members are still in the lineup.

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 7:28 am

Nina Massara is putting everything she has into a sound she hopes will bring the music she loves to every generation, young and old. Nina has the looks of a retro black and white movie star with a sassy voice that will remind you of modern day belters like Rhiannon Giddens, Victoria Williams, and Valerie June. With a tinge of “I told you so” in her voice, Nina takes on critics and fans with her U.S. debut, Watch Me. This album is set to release on March 3, 2017, on CSP Records, an independent label out of Texas. Label President Jimmy Rogers, who has spearheaded many a blues artist over the past 40 years, was so knocked out by her that he signed her on the spot.

“Look out world; Nina Massara is a fantastic new artist!” Jimmy Rogers, CSP Records.

Recorded and produced by Morten Wittrock both in Denmark and at Austin’s famous 5th Street Studios, Nina brings her distinctive vocal and personal style to a fabulous collection of original Americana songs written by producer Wittrock and Ray Weaver. These two music veterans were able to wrap the melodies and words to fit this young budding talent. Ray Weaver is an American songwriter living in Denmark whose work has been compared to Kevin Welch and Steve Earle. Combine that with Morten’s rocking blues the two succeed with songs like, “Impossible To Resist” a duet with Colin Brooks, who is a former member of Band Of Heathens now an Austin session player. The two bring a playful and flirty flavor to the tune with a funky back beat. A Bourbon Street drenched “Big Easy” recalls her American father’s Louisiana roots complete with a slide guitar that echoes a slow gait down the sidewalk.

Raised in Denmark by her American father and Danish mother, Nina grew up listening to legends like Delbert McClinton, Keb’ Mo, Taj Mahal and Bob Dylan while working beside her father in his local Mexican restaurant. That myriad of influences continues as Nina accompanied her parents when they did the backstage catering for artists like B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Feat, John Hiatt and more. The music of legends flowed deeply into Nina’s heart, and she couldn’t wait to make her own music.

She began working in the studio with the award-winning Danish producer Morten Wittrock when she was just 15-years-old, doing everything from making coffee to editing Pro Tools tracks. When she turned 18, she bartended at Copenhagen’s storied Mojo Blues Bar continuing her musical education through experience.

Nina’s unique blend of New Orleans earthiness, a little Etta James vocal styling along with some Scandinavian sweetness this young songbird, brings a magical mojo to every song. Her voice, along with the playing and production creates a listening experience that honors both Nina’s deep commitment to her musical roots and her desire to do something entirely new.

Earlier this year this young woman moved to New Orleans to experience their extraordinary culture first hand and now she is residing in Nashville, TN to embed herself in their music community. She is brave, unafraid and determined. Nina Massara will be bringing her remarkable blend of the best of the past and the future to music lovers for many, many years to come.

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 8:56 am

Where The River Meets The Road is remarkably the fifteenth solo release from GRAMMY award winning artist, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Tim O’Brien. Each of the 12 tracks on the album connects to his home state of West Virginia. Two originals, “Guardian Angel” and the title track “Where the River Meets the Road,” tell deeply personal stories of O’Brien’s family - the death of his older sister when he was a toddler, and the tale of his great grandfather moving to his hometown of Wheeling in the 1850s. The remaining ten songs were collected and compiled after more than a decade collaborating with the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame. Inducted into the Hall of Fame himself in 2013, his work with the organization helped connect him with the sheer width and breadth of music born of West Virginia’s native sons and daughters.

The project altogether paints a cohesive picture of the beauty and hardship that makes West Virginia the haunting, comforting, magnetic homeland that it is. All at once quintessentially West Virginian and archetypically Tim O’Brien, Where The River Meets The Road will be released on Howdy Skies Records on March 31, 2017.

As a teenager, O’Brien began a self-described “walkabout,” because, like most West Virginians, he felt he must leave the economically forbidding environment of his homeland. For a while he made his living playing folk gigs in Chicago and across the country, eventually landing in Colorado. There he helped found the seminal, progressive Bluegrass band Hot Rize. Their work through the 80’s and 90’s garnered great critical acclaim and eventually brought him to Nashville. His diverse musical career blossomed with the birth of solo albums, multiple chart-topping songs covered by the likes of Nickel Creek, Dixie Chicks, and Garth Brooks, and collaborations with artists such as Darrell Scott, Steve Earle, Steve Martin, and more recently Jerry Douglas’ the Earls of Leicester.

O’Brien admits that the scope of these successes would not have been possible if he had remained in his home state. This journey to find work and carve his path mirrors not only the experience of his own great-grandfather but also the West Virginian experience as a whole. Each song, artist, and songwriter referenced on the album tells a version of this journey. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands” is a rare African American nostalgia piece that reminisces about growing up in the coalfields and the importance of his grandmother’s influence. “When the Mist Clears Away” written by Larry Groce, host of West Virginia Public Radio’s iconic, decades-old live show, Mountain Stage, conjures the beauty of the state’s hazy mountains and the undying, hopeful resilience of its pioneering residents. Hit country songwriter Billy Edd Wheeler’s piece “High Flying Bird” - once covered by Jefferson Airplane - describes the mortal grip of the mines and deep roots that prevent the freedom even little birds have, but we do not. As a whole, Where the River Meets the Road simultaneously tells the story of music born of the classic struggle of West Virginia and the story of what brought O’Brien to make this very record.

The pure human relatability of the album is expertly conveyed by its stellar lineup of musicians. Fellow West Virginia Music Hall of Famer, Kathy Mattea sings harmonies on two tracks and country music’s current hero of authenticity and grit, Chris Stapleton, contributes his trademark fiery vocals as well. Never failing to assemble an exceptional backing band, O’Brien calls on friends new and old for musical support, notably Noam Pikelny on banjo, Bryan Sutton on acoustic guitar, Stuart Duncan on fiddle and mandolin, and Chris Scruggs on steel and electric guitar. His sister Mollie O’Brien and his partner Jan Fabricius join on background vocals, adding familial continuity from the stories to the recordings as well. O’Brien himself opted for fiddle, guitar, and bouzouki, forsaking his primary instrument mandolin to take more of a background, foundational role in the instrumentation, allowing the story, songs, and lyrics to shine.

Tim O’Brien’s wonderful and colorful past plus this collection are sure to be a cornerstone of all music lovers from every genre for it paints the story of everyday Americana life.

Tim will be on tour this spring and summer playing the songs from his vast catalog along with his stories and tales of Where The River Meets The Road.

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 2:35 pm

Philadelphia’s own Boris Garcia will release Around Some Corner on Porchwerk Music label for fans everywhere.  The band called on their secret weapon, Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth fame to take the role of producing the album. Carbone moves Boris Garcia’s songs of whimsy and emotion and molds them into complex compositions, making it look effortless.

Tim Carbone on Boris Garcia’s songwriters Jeff Otto and Bob Stirner – “As Lennon and McCartney did for The Beatles - they add just the right shadings to each other’s compositions to make the picture complete.”

Boris Garcia on Tim Carbone - “He visualized the music we had in our heads and made it appear on the disc. His experience and ridiculous musicality made it seem like we had George Martin in our midst, constantly pushing, screaming, laughing….stoking the embers and fluffing the froth. Boris Garcia’s journey to a great extent is about the relationship that we have maintained with Tim, both musically and in personal bond.”

Boris Garcia is seven very talented musicians: Jeff Otto on vocals and ukulele, Bob Stirner on vocals and guitars, Tim Kelly drums, percussion, Bud Burroughs mandolin, bouzouki, and accordion, Tom Hampton lap steel, Chip Denoyers on pedal steel and  EJ Simpson on bass. The group unknowingly created a new genre, which someone called “Outlaw Mystic – An Intoxicating Blend Of Americana, Bluegrass, and Pop.”

This multi-talented ensemble started out as a recording unit rather than a performing group and was more of a lark than a serious project at its inception. Jeff Otto was creating in the studio when he brought in Bob Stirner for some guitar help that soon expanded into its current line-up. The band then recruited Bud Burroughs on mandolin completing the strength of the lineup and forging the nucleus of the Boris Garcia “sound" with unforgettable melodies and honest storytelling.

As a songwriter, Stirner puts it, "Boris Garcia is a product of its combined influences, from Coltrane and Stockhausen to bluegrass and Celtic music, American roots to Jam. Our songs are rooted in Americana and Pop but with a Boris Garcia instrumental "treatment" that makes them more, well...Boris Garcia!"

“Boris Garcia has perfected the science of playing from the heart” – Relix

Recorded at Carbone’s studio in rural Pennsylvania the group hunkered down to create, Around Some Corner and bond once again. Here are a few highlighted songs:

“Knockin’ On Wood” opens up the album with a waltz as the singer longs for his love as his travels back from his journey. Their poetic lines of “I have left a trail of dust and blood” and “I saw her in my dreams for years - I saw her give me sons” flow over the walking melody bringing the listener in the song effortlessly. “Captain of The Crew” is almost a ship song that could be a storybook - a very detailed tune filled with flutes, recorders, and percussion. This band recalls Gordon Lightfoot and Pure Prairie League with their melodies, rhythms, and harmonies which are refreshing nowadays. “Message At Twilight” is the bluegrass closer, with the focus of the mandolin and ukulele that creates their version of the romantic Celtic sound. With that exclamation point ending, you want to hear more!

“The purity of the musicianship all-around renders Boris Garcia more than academics...” – All About Jazz

With constant comparisons from The Band to Doc Watson to Grateful Dead, Boris Garcia doesn’t mind the flattery but likes to expand on it with each release.  Starting with their 2005 debut, Boris Garcia’s Family Reunion (Porchwork), the band breaks the mold each time to impress fans and critics. Their second album, Mother's Finest released in 2006 to critical praise that led to appearances and rotation on WXPN and an invitation to play their hometown’s own Philadelphia Folk Festival which was a turning point for them as they branched out into other markets. Two others followed, Once More Into The Bliss and Today We Sail continuing their signature sounds and building a solid fan base. During these years they have enjoyed opening slots with New Riders of the Purple Sage, Little Feat, Railroad Earth, Jackson Browne, Hot Tuna, and David Bromberg.

The band will be performing all summer and into the fall so follow the caravan Around Some Corner and down the street as they lead the way!

Boris Garcia is:

Bob Stirner, guitar, vocals

Jeff Otto, Ukelele, Vocals

Bud Burroughs, Mandolin, Keyboards

Tim Kelly, Drums, Percussion

EJ Simpson, Bass

Chip Denoyers, Pedal Steel

Tom Hampton, Lap Steel

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 6:55 am

If you like Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, and Kasey Musgraves, you will love Ali Handal. Her sass and up-front attitude is refreshing, insightful and beautiful. Her guitar prowess is playful and technically flawless.

The phrase That’s What She Said, has been used in our culture for a while but not really put into a musical connotation like this. Ali takes her natural ability to converse and connect while being poetic and authentic.

Songs cover the gamut of love, life, cats and surviving cancer… with a sly-grin on her face, she makes the listener fidget in their seat. She plays off her guitar licks; her rhythms are like a pair of black boots with spurs. While cancer isn’t a laughable situation to be in, sometimes laughter is the best medicine.

Moved early on by wise and resilient women, singer/songwriter Ali Handal wore out Carole King’s Tapestry album. As a cat-obsessed six-year-old (some things never change), Ali honored her initial musical heroine by naming her very first kitten “Carole.” Over the years, the sweet melodies and lyrics penned by musical sages King, Dylan, Lennon, and McCartney captivated her. She had an epiphany when, as a teenager, she heard Led Zeppelin for the first time. Completely mesmerized by Jimmy Page’s seductive guitar riffs, Ali quit her piano lessons to pick up the guitar.

Now based in Los Angeles, Ali unleashes sultry, groove-filled songs upon live audiences, setting the stage ablaze with fiery guitar passages and soulful lyrics delivered by her powerhouse voice. She holds her own among the ranks of fierce female performing songwriters like Ani DiFranco and formidable guitarists such as Jimmy Page.

Music Connection magazine described her as “earthy, natural, real and loaded with talent…a singer/songwriter with something to say… a gifted artist who brings insight and intelligence to her art.” When asked about her music and stage presence, fans simply say “badass.”

Ali’s songs have been featured in numerous films and hit shows like Sex and the City, Dawson’s Creek and iCarly. She’s toured Australia, Japan and beyond, provided backing vocals for Neil Young, and shared the stage with songwriting legend Paul Williams as his featured vocalist. Also, a published author, Ali penned Guitar for Girls (Hal Leonard), an exceptional guitar method book & CD brimming with advice for aspiring female musicians, as well as encouraging quotes and remarkable songs from female songwriters in all genres.

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 6:34 am

Robert Cline, Jr. travels from the Texas Plains to Colorado Rockies to the waters of The Shoals to find his calling – preaching the good news of this legendary place of American music. It’s quite magical and mystifying – no one can put the finger on how it’s so lush with sound. But it is.

When you move to a new area, you wanna know where to get the best coffee, the freshest meats, and a good watering hole. Robert Cline, Jr has found his waters of inspiration – deep in the sounds of American Mojo. After traveling thousands of miles, Cline has found his new hometown.

Produced at the Nutt House in Sheffield, AL, Robert started to hear his songs a certain way, and he needed some Mojo, something original and greasy -back beat grooves – thus entering: The Muscle Shoals  Swampers. Along with them, a few co-written songs with Shelley King and Gary Nichols, tucked under Robert’s hat, the music began to rise like the waters after a good summer rain.

Thus began the romance between a man and his quest for the song:

“Hello, my name is Robert Cline Jr. Thank you for taking a moment to listen to American Mojo and to hear the story of my pursuit of the American dream and my journey as a troubadour. When I started this project, I could never have imagined where I would be today. With this album, I hope to share my insight and passion so that you too find your Mojo.

The community here at The Shoal that I have woven myself into has been one of the greatest rewards that keep on giving.

Early on in my songwriting career, I was introduced to Kent Finlay (one of the founding songwriters of the Hill Country movement and founder of Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, Texas) and it was Gary Hartman, the Director of the Center for Texas Music History, who made the introduction.  Gary arranged an opportunity for me to play for Kent and after the show; he encouraged me to try my hand at writing my songs. So I stepped up to the challenge.

Then in slow-motion musical fashion, I met The Subdudes, the New Orleans groove band, who then took me under their wing to foster me as a songwriter and performer. The title track "American Mojo" takes place down in New Orleans, where ‘the dudes’ are from originally. John Magnie, the band leader, produced my debut album All The Right Reasons. Together with Steve Amedee, I began playing solo and band gigs honing my skills.

Fast forward to my old stomping grounds of Austin, Texas during the SXSW Music Festival that I had a chance meeting with The Muscle Shoals Swampers– the legendary session players that played on a lot of American rock, R&B, country and blues records for the past 40 years. Aretha Franklin called them “greasy.”

Like everyone else, I had sung along with Lynyrd Skynyrd classic name dropping song, "Sweet Home Alabama," but I didn't know who they were or their legacy.  Now I know. So out came the song, "The Boys From Muscle Shoals," that was co-written with Gary Nichols of The Steel Drivers. Not only does this song capture the sound of The Swampers; I tried to tell how they shaped rock-n-roll history!

Fri, 08/11/2017 - 7:43 pm

Sounding Arrow is the first solo project from Scott Kinnebrew, singer and lead guitarist of roots rockers Truth & Salvage Co., and former ringleader of Smoky Mountain indie faves Scrappy Hamilton. Sounding Arrow’s new album Loving Is Breathing is set to release on September 22, 2017, on California Country Records.

After ceaseless touring with Truth & Salvage Co. between 2009 to 2014, the band opening for the likes of The Black Crowes (Chris Robinson produced their debut LP), The Avett Brothers, and the late, great Levon Helm; the band decided to take a much-needed break in 2015.  Now that he was on his own, Scott began to create his solo endeavor of Sounding Arrow and Loving Is Breathing is a clear indication just how cathartic and revelatory the freedom to explore both outwardly and inwardly ended up being for this trippy troubadour.

Loving Is Breathing opens with “Universe,” drenched with harmonies and easy vibrations. Kinnebrew says it’s about “how clear it is that this world is totally alive and we’re all connected.” On the fourth track “You Will Be Loved,” he marvels how “for thousands of years the world just stayed the same, and now we all are here with no clue about tomorrow.”  On the fifth track “Beautiful Life,” a late-night voice coos outside his window that “love is still the answer!”

In fact, we all may as well just shed our sorrows right now and join the Sounding Arrow amoré parade, because Loving Is Breathing embodies heartfelt gratitude and celebratory wonder from top to bottom. Kinnebrew’s grateful for each new day (and new night) in the Latin-tinged, Wall of Sound-inspired “Mister Sun Sister Moon”; he’s grateful for his girl in the dance-y first single and video “King Size Heart”; and in “Summertime,” he’s just grateful it’s almost Summer.

The stony bliss of Kinnebrew’s re-imagined Frankie Valli classic “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” sticks to the optimism edict, and when asked what the title track is about, he says, “It’s about how, really, everything is okay!

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 11:08 am

Eli Cook is a mystifying soul. He’s a keen observer, a provoking thinker and has swagger.

All under that messy blonde hair is a passionate heart with fingers of silver and gold that recalls John Lee Hooker, Chris Smither, and Chet Atkins, mixed in with a dirty, grungy sound. It’s clean playing mind you; it’s just his fingers are covered in the dirt left over from the crossroads.

High-Dollar Gospel preaches a high voltage bolt to your ears and shakes you loose.

Coming from Albemarle County in Virginia at the Foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Eli Cook grew up listening to the blues, country, classic rock and alternative rock. He grew up with no TV and radio shows like Prairie Home Companion were his Saturday night entertainment. Life moves slowly in this rural area of the world giving him time to hone his skills with his voice and guitar chops. At 18 he was opening up for B.B. King – a few years later he’s playing in Canada – and then the next week he’s blending in with his hometown locals. Talent like this shouldn’t go unnoticed, and Eli has been smoldering in the underbelly for far too long.

It’s what was around me, and I just tried to pick up on everything and everybody, including Doc Watson and Chet Atkins. In fact, hearing Chet fingerpick made me realize I didn’t need a band.” (Source: Guitar Player 2007)

Produced by Eli Cook at Full Moon Recording Studios in VA, High-Dollar Gospel opens up with a slow bang with “Trouble Maker” – taunting and questioning his muse to join him.  Acoustic picking and slide drive the classic hoedown backs the cautionary tale “The Devil Finds Work.” The haunting “Mixing My Medicine” contains the cavernous sound of a detuned custom 12-string guitar; an instrument played famously by Leadbelly and Blind Willie McTell.  Cook slows down Muddy Waters’ melancholy “Can’t Lose What You Ain’t Never Had” into a terrifying, heart of darkness lament, his voice reaching a bottomless depth of sorrow. The orchestral 12-string guitar underscores the metaphoric boast of “King Of The Mountain” that shows off Eli’s huge growl of a voice with its anthem-like chorus is a showstopper.

“Got my spirit vision mama, she's callin’ me

head-on collision when a heart runs free

when I'm high, lordy people, don't nobody mess me round

I seen every kind of evil; got to get on out this town” – King Of The Mountain

High-Dollar Gospel isn’t all balls to the wall, for his take on “44 Blues” is a brilliantly inventive version of Howlin’ Wolf’s classic propelled by his tapping foot. Dylan’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” is made less declamatory than the original as Cook slows and lightens his approach without losing the romantic heat. He again flashes his slide accompaniment skills on the jaunty “Month Of Sundays” in a poetic entreaty to a paramour. (Click on Eli’s face for an acoustic performance of “Month Of Sundays”)

Eli Cook explains his album title as “I was brainstorming ideas that would evoke the imagery of the American South. The phrase ‘high-dollar’ is an old one, and ‘gospel’ is the Southern church music that brought us Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and countless other iconic musicians. The two phrases together can have several connotations, but the one I think of is the feeling of disillusionment that seems to be more and more pervasive. I think a lot of young people feel a sense of apathy and a loss in direction, generally speaking. People need inspiration, and it seems like that is becoming harder to come by.”

He’s in the vanguard of young, 21st-century blues rockers!” – Tinsley Ellis

The growl in his voice shows off an emotional connection to the music as a tool rather than decoration, and with your eyes closed, you could be listening to Howlin’ Wolf or Chris Cornell. On Aug. 18with High-Dollar Gospel, Eli shows you what you can’t imagine, something so strong and melodic, so don’t be afraid to look and listen.

Back away the concrete is buckling

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 1:44 pm

The energy and passion which resonates from AJ Ghent’s music, from the strum of the guitar to the pounding rhythm of the drums, to the outstanding lyrics, is sure to be felt by everyone.  His newest creation, THE NEO-BLUES PROJECT is a 6-song EP set for release on March 16, 2018, on Ropedope Records. AJ aims to create an unforgettable experience for music lovers, with the hopes of taking them to a musical paradise.

THE NEO-BLUES PROJECT starts off with “Do The Rump,” a sexy rendition of the Junior Kimbrough classic, creates a mood for the album by teasing; you can’t be shy. AJ’s slide is flawless and taunting as it goes over the edge with a tambourine hip-shaking ending. “It was an honor to cover Junior Kimbrough I wanted to put my spin on it adding a bit of slide guitar and synth with a touch of jam.”

Self-produced by Ghent at his studio, The Ghent Factory in Atlanta he focused on how he wanted music to flow on all instruments. AJ fires away on any of his axes whether it’s his Jackson Steel Slide King Guitar or his 33:3 custom 8 string guitar throughout the album making unreal riffs while carrying the melody. AJ is a wizard at making it all sound magical!

“Power” is all about having the strength and empowerment to be strong through any obstacle or rough seas that life throws you. He channels his inner Jimi Hendrix, James Brown and Lenny Kravitz through all these songs.

I’m gonna let you know

The more you feed me,

The more I grow,

So you can bring it on yea

What you’ve got, cause I won’t stop – “Power”

“Mercy” is soulful and recalls Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson, as he begs for his muse to be a little more giving back to the relationship. This song sounds like it would’ve come out of Stax Records studio in Memphis back in their hey-day. “Long Lost Friend,” written with his wife MarLa, is a simple ballad that all of us can relate to. Sometimes people come and go and coming back again for various reasons for growing apart and coming back together can be bittersweet or joyous.

I won’t make the mistake no more

Of doing you harm, and doing you wrong

Cause the truth is, I was the one in the dark,

And all this time, you’ve been right here – “Long Lost Friend”

AJ Ghent [J-ent] hails from Fort Pierce, Florida and growing up it was all about the music. Music that has truly been running through his family for generations; such as his great uncle Willie Eason, the creator of the ‘Sacred Steel Tradition,’ and his grandfather Henry Nelson, the founder of the “Sacred Steel” rhythmic guitar style. This style is played by many names today, such as Robert Randolph, The Campbell Brothers, and more.

AJ began his music career in West Palm Beach, FL with his sister Tiffany Ghent. There he spent many nights exploring a rich range of genres, from hip-hop to R&B. However, he was in search of something more, a style that was uniquely his own. Fresh with his marriage to MarLa, he set his eyes on Atlanta, GA. When he arrived in ‘A-town’ AJ took on sideman jobs and studio session work. Not long after, AJ met the legendary Colonel Bruce Hampton who began to mentor him; teaching him what mattered the most; “time – tone and space” for all his music and life journeys. AJ was invited to play in Hampton’s band, Pharaoh's Kitchen, which he did for about a year -- and like true Colonel Bruce style, the elder statesman always reminded AJ to be ‘true to himself.'

He has had a colorful career thus far playing and opening for such legendary acts Zac Brown, The Allman Brothers Band, Derek Trucks, Robert Cray, and Gov’t Mule. He can be heard on various recordings with Zac Brown, Luther Dickinson, and featured on Zac Brown’s 2013 Grohl Sessions Vol. 1 alongside Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters). AJ’s band has had various formations, from a trio to a full-size live band with horns, playing small clubs to mid-large sized festivals and arenas; dazzling audiences everywhere. In 2015, he released a DVD/CD called LIVE AT TERMINAL WEST – recorded and filmed at the Terminal West venue in the old King Plow factory in Atlanta, GA. The album was well-received by fans and critics praising the fearless leader! “The 11-song album is a relentless, high-energy romp through gospel, soul and funk-infused landscapes, with a couple of cool-down moments just so the audience can catch their collective breath.” (Relix, 2015)

At the age of 31, AJ Ghent [J-ent] knows where his talent comes from and isn’t afraid to explore other sounds. This Neo-Blues is something different: A musical fusion form that takes art and skill to master, something that AJ Ghent [J-ent] has spent his whole life perfecting.

AJ will be embarking on a tour to support THE NEO-BLUES PROJECT in the US as well as some special dates in Australia! Check them out:

 February 23, 2018 - Geelong Workers Club - Geelong Victoria, Australia

 February 24, 2018 -  Blues at The Briar - Mount Martha, Victoria, Australia

 February 25, 2018 -  Way Out West Blues Club - Williamstown, Victoria, Australia

 March 1, 2018 -  Milton Theatre -   Milton NSW, Australia 

 March 3, 2018 - Girrakool Blues Festival & BBQ - Kariong NSW, Australia

 March 17, 2018 - Eddie's Attic - Decatur, GA (EP RELEASE CONCERT)

 March 30, 2018 - Sunrise Theatre Black Box - Ft. Pierce, FL (HOMETOWN EP RELEASE CONCERT)

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 6:28 pm

The new album Badlands, from North Dakota Blues-Rock artist Jennifer Lyn, couldn’t come at a better time. Set for release on Feb. 2, 2018, her second album reflects her influences from rock to blues and back again. As a new generation takes the reins, keeping this kind of music alive is needed more than ever to remind us of our own history and preserve the love of this genre for generations to come.  

Born in Minnesota, Jennifer Lyn grew up between two worlds: one, her family’s love and appreciation for traditional country, folk, and gospel music in her home; the other, the years she spent absorbing many diverse forms of music while living in various places throughout the United States. “My mom has a beautiful voice, and she used to sing to me as a child,” Lyn remembers. Growing up Jennifer learned she could sing at a young age. As a result, she was always singing along to her favorite songs, humming her melodies, and performing in the various school music programs.

After only knowing about four chords of the guitar a few years back, Lyn decided to buckle down and expand her horizons. This would be the payoff for it would help her songwriting out as well. “I was finding that not being able to play an instrument was really hindering my songwriting. I would end up humming the guitar parts to my band, which wasn’t very effective.” Jennifer took a serious look at what she wanted to accomplish as a songwriter and to be effective at her craft; she needed to take the plunge and get better at guitar.

After honing her skills, Jennifer to decide to front her band, Jennifer Lyn & The Groove Revival, and share her diverse music background with her growing group of fans. She has been wowing crowds with her energetic shows leaving them breathless.

Her debut album I’m All Wrong For You Baby (October 2016) touched on her musical diversity with songs ranging from traditional blues, rock, and ballads with gospel undertones. Her new album, Badlands delves even further and casts an eye on a blend of different musical experiences creating a variation of blues music that embraces a wide pallet of many sub-genres. Her songs on the new album are fueled by her soulful vocals, burning desire to play guitar and beautiful accompaniment from band members Darren King (bass) and Kevin Holm (drums). 

“Every time I write, I pull from influences that I’ve been exposed to from childhood to now. I have a broad pallet of likes regarding the music I listen to, so I find that when I write, my music tends to pull from many different genres.” – Jennifer Lyn

Recorded in Bismarck, ND, Badlands was produced by international recording artist Richard Torrance (Capital, Shelter Records), who also produced her last album I’m All Wrong For You Baby and is featured instrumentally on the new album. Badlands weaves between hard-hitting, guitar-driven songs that touch on stories of love gone wrong and social pressures like a cheating lover or finding your place in today’s world. Songs like,”Burned it Down” and “Anything But Me” are more personal narratives speaking of life.

“For Badlands, my producer encouraged me to step-it-up a notch and added some additional instruments to really display the songwriting and compliment the stories I was trying to tell.” – JL

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 6:28 pm

Just as Chris Smith and Charles McCarron wrote in their 1916 hit song "Down In Honky Tonk Town," "It's underneath the ground, where all the fun is found,” The Nouveaux Honkies are right in the thick of it.

Honky Tonk Country is a sophisticated art form. It’s simple in the message but not in melodic chords; a lot of masters of music can’t play the intricate melodies and English professors can’t pass the “no mores” or “no goods” and the word ain’t. Its ragtime roots are based on jazz and blues for feeling and The Appalachians for musical chops. The idea of honky tonk was to be down to earth, gritty and directly speak to the blue-collar folk after a long day of work. Cheap beer, dancing and sometimes located in the red-light districts of towns across the country these places were hopping on any given Friday night.

Hank Williams, Sr. to Loretta Lynn back to Billy Joe Shaver and Willie Nelson, a lot of them were living the same lives as the bar patrons.  Sometimes it saved them, and sometimes it killed them.

In this place where some folks come together

In this place where some folks fall apart

In this place where we come out of the weather

In this place we can make a new start.  – In This Place

With the opening chords, of Loud In Here, The Nouveaux Honkies strike that very emotion that is in Honky Tonk with a modern twist. It’s a collection of love songs, hate songs, and a cover of the classic, “Wichita Lineman.” It’s also a charming vignette, for the married duo bring their life of burnt dinners and cold coffee from their RV to the stage. This vagabond couple lives in an RV – most of the time.

Well, that’s how the legend goes...

In mid-2014, Rebecca Dawkins and Tim O’Donnell, of The Nouveaux Honkies, hoisted anchor and set sail in their rebuilt RV.  The journey started in South Florida and took them as far west as the Rockies, as far north as the Great Lakes, as far east as Cape Cod, and returned south for the winter. It’s been somewhere around 150 thousand miles, 600 shows, and at least one million smiles that have influenced The Nouveaux Honkies and their latest recording, Loud in Here, which will be released March 2, 2018.

I didn’t ask for this; I just can’t see around the corner

There’s a wreck about to happen that will leave me broke and torn

but somethings gotta die to make room for something born.  - Loud In Here

In this new collection, the couple nod to the greats and by creating their gumbo they reveal from a long stretch of highway influences, what makes them happy. Fans love their authenticity and critics adore their charm.

The Nouveaux Honkies look forward to the new release and performing for the folks that afforded them the life they love. Check out their website for more info on dates: https://tnhband.com

Wed, 05/09/2018 - 8:05 am

Legendary musician and founder of Atlanta’s favorite pizza joint, Fellini’s Pizza, Clay Harper has never been one to wear the same mask twice, and bleak beauty is a brilliant artistic mix of sounds and poetic language. The album will be released on May 29, 2018, and there will be a special show on that Tuesday– 8 PM at The Avondale Towne Cinema at 106 N Avondale Rd in Avondale Estates, GA:

A taste of what to expect:

 20 QUESTIONS WITH KOSMO VINYL

"I WAS TRYING TO SOUND LIKE..." SONGS BY CLAY HARPER PERFORMED BY KEVN KINNEY, MURRAY ATTAWAY, AND ERROL MOORE

PERFORMANCE OF “COKE OUT THE WINDOW- THE GENE TRACY STORY” - A ONE ACT PLAY

MUSIC FROM BLEAK BEAUTY BY CLAY HARPER WITH MARSHALL RUFFIN, CHRIS CASE, JORDAN DAYAN AND SPECIAL GUESTS

AFTER PARTY MUSIC SELECTED BY KOSMO VINYL

“Harper upset the ‘80s with the Coolies, a high-velocity band that deconstructed the Paul Simon Songbook. He’s continued to challenge social mores and the accepted norm through spirited projects and guises as both an artist and a producer. With his new album, bleak beauty, he’s realized the only person you need to be is yourself.” – Tony Paris, longtime Atlanta music journalist

bleak beauty was recorded by Harper and Ruairi Kilcullen at RDK Audio in Little 5 Points and mixed at Harptone, both in Atlanta. Guests on the record include Chaz Jankel, Rick Richards, Kevin Scott, Mark Johnson, Tom Gray and Mark Bencuya all contributing to the icon’s eclectic style.  The sounds are stark and pure; the words are honest and straightforward.

“I depend on my friends to help make my songs.  I admire and respect their talent that they generously give.  They try hard for us, and I try hard for us.”

“One constant in my life is music.  Most of my friends are somehow involved in music.  We talk about music.  We share discoveries.  I can’t function without it. Happy or sad…there’s a soundtrack.” – Clay Harper

“bleak beauty is the soundtrack of a hard time for me as I attempt to process and make sense of the illness and death of my partner, Stephanie Gwinn.   We were together 20 years.  We were living in San Francisco.  After about a year of mysterious symptoms, it was discovered that she had a brain tumor.   Over a heartbreaking six-month period, it eventually took her life.  Stephanie was a very private person. This record is not really about her…it’s more about me ~ my feelings of love, fear, and loss.  Feelings that are certainly not unique to me but are personal and unsettling.  Sometimes life comes down to just sadness and coping.  That’s now, and that's this. “ - Clay Harper

As the album opens up; so does Clay – his voice is deliberate as he states his convictions with his conflictions. The simple strike of the piano keys of Mark Bencuya the opening song, “bleak beauty” sets the tone for the rest of the album. He admits he’s lost, he’s in trouble, and he will find his way.

Rick Richards acoustic slide guitar on “The Kindness Of Strangers” is an excellent compliment to the bass that vibrates underneath with Clay’s narrative of several incidents of bad taste, bad news over the phone and wondering question of why?

“Stephanie Sleeps,” it’s very telling to hear the trio play a melody that will never have words.   “I don’t know what to say.”

The last song, “I’m Not High” searches for the presence in nature of his lost love while reaffirming to her and himself a commitment to life and living.

“The title of the album is borrowed from the blog of writer, filmmaker, and photographer Danny Lyon.   It captured what I was feeling and consequently trying to accomplish.  I wrote to him, and he graciously permitted me to use “bleak beauty” as the title.” – Clay Harper

“Our friend Kosmo Vinyl did the cover.  He’s intuitive and tremendously talented.  I think it’s a beautiful piece of art and I’m very grateful,” says Harper.   Kosmo Vinyl has been a fixture on the rock scene since the 1970s with his work with The Clash, Ian Dury and Atlanta’s own, drivin’ n’ cryin’ at Clay’s former recording studio, Casino Studios once in Little Five Points.

The image on the album’s cover is an adaptation of George Brassai photographs of graffiti in Paris from the early 1900’s. Brassai was a French-Hungarian visual artist that was most recognized by his photos of the city of Paris at night.   Kosmo was able to render a “tough and romantic emotion at the same time” for Harper’s music. He equated it with carvings made on trees, caves and other surfaces giving it a temporal feel.  Even down to the lettering of Clay’s name and the album title it all came together as it should.

Clay is one not to sit idle. Over the years he’s written children’s books, collaborated on friend’s albums and been an Atlanta icon. He keeps his music close and his friend’s closer.

Raised in Philadelphia, Clay moved to Newnan at 14 and 18 to Atlanta.  There he took a job at Franco’s pizza at Brookwood Station and thus the idea of Fellini’s was born.  Fellini’s Pizza opened in 1982 and is still a popular place for musicians and artists to meet, eat and work.

In the 80s he formed The Coolies and was signed to DB Records, owned by Danny Beard, also the owner of one of Atlanta’s favorite vinyl shop, Wax N Facts.   DB’s roster included the B 52’s, Pylon. The Method Actors, The Swimming Pool Q’s, Guadalcanal Diary and more.  The Coolies released two albums and then disbanded in1989.   Two albums by The Ottoman Empire followed.  Then East of Easter,  a collaboration with Wreckless Eric.  He collaborated with the Atlanta West Indian Musical community on Antoine Electra, Gotta Get High, and Island Gruve Supper Club, Mighty Fine Everlasting Music.  His brother Mark Harper and he co-authored the children’s book/cd  “Not Dogs…Too Simple” with a cast that included Mo Tucker, Ian Dury, the Reverend Horton Heat and Cindy Wilson.  That was followed p with “The Slippery Ballerina” also featuring Ian Dury and Mo Tucker with Bobby Byrd, Wreckless Eric, Colonel Bruce Hampton and Susan Cowsill.    In 2013, he released Old Airport Road (Terminus Records) with Kevin Dunn, Glenn Phillips, blueswoman Sandra Hall, and the late Colonel Bruce Hampton.   That album found its way to legendary music critic Robert Christgau, who gave it an A- by stating Harper delivers “beautiful songs with a despairing look at the world.”

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 5:17 pm

Critically acclaimed blues maverick, Shane Dwight, will pull you into his house by the ear after the first chord of No One Loves Me Better out on Red Parlor Records out on April 5, 2019. This esteemed independent label has long been a champion of music’s best songwriters, and Dwight is no exception. This new collection of songs is some of his most personal yet – gut-wrenching, and heartbreaking to date. The story of a man finding love, committing a crime, and wanting redemption runs deep in Shane’s songs.

From the heartwarming “No One Loves Me Better” to the dark “Bullets & Gasoline” to the sassy “Sucker,” Shane nails life to the wall like a WANTED sign out in the wild west. Shane’s songwriting has evolved so far that he may be untouchable for a while, and fans won’t be able to get it out of their heads, critics won’t know what to do with him. But one thing’s for sure; he’s here to stay.

Recorded at Grammy Award-winning Kevin McKendree’s studio in Franklin, TN with a mega all-star cast of players the sounds of this album, are slick, powerful and groove driven. The heartbeat of the drums and the entanglement of guitars mix well with Shane’s raspy voice. The eccentric guitar tunings bring the haunted voices to life; you can almost see the movie. “You will hear some of my friends, Bekka Bramlett (Elton John), Kenneth Blevins (John Hiatt), and Rob McNelley (Bob Seger) who all came to the table that day to be a part of this story. The story is of a misunderstood man, his trials and tribulations over the perils of whiskey, women, and the music business.” – Shane Dwight

No One Loves Me Better, ends with “The Trial Of A Poet” – a haunting resonator and background vocals from the renowned Bekka Bramlett; it’s filled with fog, crunchy leaves, and a flashlight. There are blues, rock, soul, country and a little bit of hip-hop that shows his California roots. It’s heavy, it’s deep, and it’s a swamp full of characters that show up at the fight.

“Exceptional talent…. it’s clear this cat can sing anything he wants.” – Blues Revue Magazine

Shane grew up on a ranch in Morgan Hill, CA a few hours from San Jose and Monterey, where the air was fresh, and the sun was hot. At the age of nine, he was diagnosed with Perthes bone disease in his hips that prohibited from him walking for about a year as a young boy. Since then, the debilitating illness does go into temporary remission but when it returns it forces Shane to live with severe chronic pain. Shane began to learn how to play guitar back in high school, playing with friends and bands along the way, he started The Shane Dwight Blues Band at 28. His musical roots were FM radio, Album Oriented Rock artists like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. He dug deep into their influences and found a stack of others, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Albert King; those gave him the nod to take it even further.

Sometimes standing on the rock where Moses stood is vital to get the energy of the ground into your soul and when Shane stood on the same burn spot where Jim Hendrix once stood at the famed Monterey Blues Festival, he felt the mysterious aura seep into his bones. Bones that once were strong get weakened at times when you need to fill your cup.

Where do you go to get it filled up? At the well of course, and for Shane that well is his fans. He has crisscrossed this country and the world many a time, to bring the people what they want, his music – a blend of rock and blues with a little dash of country. His band went on to win the Monterey Blues Festival Battle of the Bands in 2001, and that’s when it began.

He caught fire that day in Monterey, and never stopped except to get gas. His grassroots approach to his career has also been crucial for he has built it fan by fan, show by show and album by album. From What You Need to Gimme Back My Money to A Hundred White Lies, Shane has conquered it all; festivals, CD sales, radio and press accolades galore from rock to country to blues and back again. Dwight’s most successful to date has been A Hundred White Lies, which received praise from publications like, USA Today, Guitar World, and Living Blues Magazine. It charted on several popular radio lists, XM/Sirius Satellite’s Channel, “Bluesville,” Living Blues Magazine, Route 66 – an Americana radio show chart for a total of about six months together. Then, in Spring 2018 he went into Greaseland Studios with Kid Anderson and did a fresh set of his favorite blues covers with another all-star cast of players, called High Time I Got Mine which is only sold at his live shows.

Shane’s hectic touring schedule reads like an airplane flight plan. He keeps it real with a bi-coastal routing to festivals, winery series and of course, he will show up at his favorite dive bar to croon. He has performed over 3500 shows over the past 20 years, headlining at some of music’s most significant events; Beale Street Festival, Portland Waterfront, Reno Blues Festival, Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise, Ottawa Blues Fest; sharing the stage with household names such as Blake Shelton, The Doobie Brothers and B.B. King. He’s backed off the 200 dates a year he once did, but he still brings the rock to the table and the blues to the dance floor.

Country and blues music is about the same. You see, they are rooted from the same soil with a Bible and bottle in each hand. And that’s why Guitar World said that Shane Dwight, “rocks hard.”

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 2:24 pm

On the heels of winning the 2019 Blues Music Award for Best Acoustic Album this past May at The Annual Blues Foundation Awards in Memphis, Bruce Katz releases his solo acoustic piano album, Solo Ride on August 16, 2019 through American Showplace Music. This marks his tenth album to date. The album was produced by Bruce with label owner Ben Elliott.  Katz’s manager and agent Legare Robertson co-produced it. Solo Ride is Katz’s only solo release after thirty years of composing, touring and playing. It captures the emotion and intensity of his music. It contains all instrumentals from top to bottom, drawing from his vast background of stylings from jazz to blues to classical, gospel and country. “I'm tellin' ya, he's down home and uptown all at once, and that's a winning combination.” - Ted Drozdowski, musical critic.

Solo Ride puts Bruce Katz and a grand piano in a world class studio and sounds as rich and dynamic as any of the recordings he has done with full bands.

Eleven of the twelve tracks on the album are original Bruce Katz tunes and exhibit not only his virtuosic playing but also showcase his eclectic and compelling compositions.  These range from barrelhouse Boogie-Woogie to classic ‘30s/ ‘40s style jazz to gospel influenced and New Orleans influenced tunes and even a “country” waltz, all with the little details and surprising “twists” that set Bruce’s writing and playing apart from the ordinary.

“After years of working with the top names here's Bruce Katz combining his vast knowledge of the legendary piano blues masters with his unique sensibility and styling. No one else brings this kind of passion to their piano playing.  Bruce is so talented he can EVEN play the piano with both hands… and at the same time!" – Ben Elliott, American Showplace Music, engineer/label owner

Solo Ride has a rolling New Orleans number, aptly called “Crescent Crawl”, that favors the late Dr. John or Allen Toussaint; Bruce cruises the 88 keys, as he takes you to street level in the French Quarter walking with the locals. The gospel soaked “Praise House” is filled with fire and brimstone, as if you wandered into a Sunday service, the notes cascade, telling their story without a word spoken. As Bruce explains, “it was inspired by hearing the Blind Boys of Alabama. The term ‘Praise House’ refers to a hidden shack in the woods that enslaved African Americans would use for their religious worship. Again, mixing tradition and modern leanings; at its core this is a combination of gospel and blues with some jazz ideas about melody thrown together to bring that feeling to the piano.”

Country music is at the heart of a lot of modern music. “I love country music and decided to write a ‘country waltz’ for this album. Of course, the songs about lost dreams and longings are the best ones. That’s what ‘Dreams of Yesterday’ is about.”

Bruce takes a small turn with “Red Sneakers,” something Randy Newman or JellyRoll Morton would write. His slide and glide techniques recall the Scott Joplin rags: “I love 1930’s style ‘Stride’ piano and this tune is all about that and feeling good. My daughter gave me a pair of red sneakers and I just happily bounced down the street in them. I decided to write an unabashedly ‘retro’ stride tune about that feeling.”

“My new album, Solo Ride is unusual and a little unique, I think. It is a purely solo acoustic piano album, no vocals and all original tunes of mine except one cover.  It has Blues elements, to be sure, but also jazz (as in 1930s/40s style stride piano), there's a country waltz, there's a modern-day hymn, there's a Ramsey Lewis style boogaloo.  And yes, Boogie-Woogie/New Orleans and blues as well,” Bruce explains.

“Now that’s a piano player.” - Pinetop Perkins (Katz is a five-time (2008, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2018) Nominee for the Blues Music Award (W.C. Handy Award) for "Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year” and a two time nominee for the Living Blues Outstanding Keyboardist award.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Bruce began playing at age 5, and after hearing a Bessie Smith album he dedicated himself to his talent and passion for Blues and Jazz. Bruce attended Berklee College of Music in the mid-1970s studying Composition and Performance. After he spent years on the road with one band or another, Bruce entered the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where he earned a master’s degree in Jazz Performance in the early 1990s. Later he returned to his alma mater, Berklee College of Music in Boston where he spent 14 years as an Associate Professor teaching composition, piano, Hammond B-3, and blues music history. During that time at Berklee he continued to perform and tour with many well-known artists like Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard and Gregg Allman. He has resided in the Woodstock, NY area since 2005.

Bruce has been an in-demand sideman as well as the leader of The Bruce Katz Band for over 20 years.  He has played and recorded with many of the leading names in blues and roots music, appearing on over 70 albums with artists such as Ronnie Earl, John Hammond, Delbert McClinton, Gregg Allman, Duke Robillard, Joe Louis Walker, Little Milton, Maria Muldaur, Jimmy Witherspoon, Paul Rishell, Mighty Sam McClain, Debbie Davies, David “Fathead” Newman and many others. In 1992, he met legendary guitarist Ronnie Earl, and that chance meeting soon turned into an invitation to join his band, The Broadcasters. During his nearly five-year stint with Earl, Katz toured the world and performed on six albums, writing and co- writing many of the tunes, such as "The Colour of Love," "Ice Cream Man," and "Hippology."

Bruce spent six years as a member of Gregg Allman’s band, touring and playing piano.  He played with various Allman Brothers over the years and was a member of Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band and two of Butch Trucks’ bands.  Both Jaimoe and Butch Trucks were founding members of the Allman Brothers Band. He has been a mainstay in John Hammond’s band over the past ten years. The Bruce Katz Band tours extensively in the United States and Europe.

Bruce’s virtuosic and original playing draws the listener into his musical world where many of the artificial boundaries created in the ‘music business’ fall away and leave the listener with a new appreciation for what Bruce calls “improvisational American Roots and Blues music”.

“He can play jazz, blues, Bach, anything. Man, he’s a heavy!” Gregg Allman once said of his longtime band member.

“So, you get the idea...it's eclectic, but I think it all ties together...and it's all my style....“ – Bruce Katz

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 8:31 am

Songwriters Laurie Raveis and Dennis Kole of duo Raveis Kole are proud to release “Angel From Montgomery” on 8/28 along with a video via their digital platforms. The Bellingham, WA (an hour north of Seattle) based duo have always loved the classic John Prine song, and all that it envelopes as well as being a part of their live shows.

As with their last single, “HELP ONE ANOTHER (WE ALL CAN),” Raveis Kole recorded it with the help of Jeff Silverman in Nashville with a solid group of musicians backing them like noted accordion player Jeff Taylor and well-known backing vocalists, Kim Fleming, Gayle Stuart Mayes and Kim Mont. During last year’s AmericanaFest conference they began the process of recording. They revisited the song this past spring and summer putting the final touches on it.

While staying on course with the melody and the structure of the song Laurie and Dennis took a little bit of creative license to add some flair:

“Our goal in covering “Angel From Montgomery” was to honor and preserve the genius of the original, while also adding in a fresh perspective on how to approach the song,” say Dennis and Laurie. Their version carries a lot of Celtic influences with the fingerpicked acoustic guitar work in the first half of the song. The rhythmic transition after the 3rd verse brings in a new, funky, New Orleans type of pulse that is reinforced by the background vocals. This is then further reinforced by the counterpoint of the mandolin and banjo as the song draws to its high energy conclusion, before segueing back to the original outro.  

“Beautiful melodies ... powerful vocals; creating soulful and heartfelt music.” — Guitar Girl Magazine 

“Angel From Montgomery” was written by John Prine and released on New Year’s Day 1971. Despite being a young man, he wrote it from the perspective of an older woman who wants to escape her unhappy life from her marriage, home and town. The tone of the song is that of "a song about a middle-aged woman who feels older than she is...” Prine once said.  Many have touted that his perspective was near perfect, and when Bonnie Raitt recorded it in 1974, it changed the course of the elder statesman’s career. Prine went to have a long illustrious career filled with awards and accolades from fans and his peers as one of the best until his death in April 2020.

“What is absolutely certain, however, is at the moment when Laurie Raveis and Dennis Kole first met, a synergy was born that would blossom into one of the most talented singer/songwriter duos around today.” - KC Cafe Radio

Laurie and Dennis met eight years at Bigfork Guitar Festival in Montana, and they instantly clicked as songwriters and partners that created a harmonious setting for their shows. They have built a solid fanbase that loves to gather around to hear Laurie’s honey-soaked voice matched with the rich jewel tone voice of Dennis’ guitars. Raveis Kole has performed all over the US, Canada, and the UK and has opened for Cory Henry, the Edgar Winter Band, and the Wailers and many more. They have released two albums and a couple of singles. In 2018, their album, Electric Blue Dandelion – Nashville Sessions, debuted on Billboard Heatseekers Chart at #11, spinning on 170+ radio stations across 13 countries and five continents, and the duo is a 3x Hollywood Music in Media Award Nominee.