The start of this band dates back to September 1979 as a country blues acoustic trio. In 1981 the first electric line up with bass and drums commits the Mandolin’ Brothers to rock-blues classics. At the beginning of the 90's, after much musical experience and as many line up changes, the band adds an accordion and keyboards and reintroduces the mandolin (this time amplified) drawing the band closer to the roots-rock sound. The latter varies from the Mexican-border and the Louisiana-swamp-rock to the ballads of solo artists, without ever forgetting their blues roots.
During their 35 years of career they have played all around Europe, USA and worked with many artists, like Dave Alvin, Eric Bibb, Alvin Lee, Elliott Murphy and Nine Below Zero, to name but a few.
Their 5th album “Far Out” is out now through Ultra Sound Records.
Marco R Wagner
Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro's 1960’s art scene, Marco Rodriguez Wagner had his first public performance in Spain at 16 and was soon part of Madrid's renowned art and cultural scene (La Movida). Drawing upon his Brazilian roots and Spanish guitar training in his performances in New York, Nashville and Madrid, Marco continues to be a sought-after guitarist and performer in Europe and the United States.
Working in Nashville as a solo artist in the 90’s, he also collaborated with many local artists, performed with Julie Gold or Dolly Parton, and as a member of the Peace Celebration Band, with ex members of the Byrds, the Guess Who, Orleans, New Grass Revival, and the Wooten Brothers.
In Nashville he also co-founded the popular band The Joytoys, which evolved into his own, Worlds Collide. Marco often tours with New York artists such as his friend Luthea Salom. His latest band effort, “140 Reasons” (Several Records, Spain), his 3rd album to date, was a candidate in 2006 for the Spanish Academy of Music Awards in two categories; Best Rock Album, and Best Album. His acclaimed and powerful single ”Democratize” has also been featured on Neil Young’s ’L.W.W.’ website ever since.
Produced by himself, his latest solo project, “My Old Spain”, is an original americana collection of songs with stellar collaborations such as Jeff Espinoza (Vargas Blues Band, Red House) and Ramón Arroyo (Los Secretos). He resides in Spain, where he also runs a weekly radio show, ’In Between Worlds’.
Marcus Eaton’s career has been a study in dichotomy. His music is unique and original, yet wide in its appeal. His band is but a trio, but is as sonically powerful as any twice its size. His influences and famous fans include icons dating to the 60's (such as Rock'N'Roll Hall Of Fame-member David Crosby), and those who are among today’s most acclaimed artists (such as Tim Reynolds of Dave Matthews Band).
Eaton might be a small-town guy at the core, but his music knows no borders.
The singer/songwriter/guitarist from Boise, Idaho, recently released his 5th CD of original material, “As If You Had Wings”, an effort that has proven Eaton’s appetite for expansion. Powered by swirling bassist Ben Burleigh and powerhouse percussionist Kevin Rogers, the release is robust, a real rocker at times, yet shows the thoughtful songwriting that has been an Eaton trademark since he signed his first recording contract with a subsidiary of MCA Records in 2002.
As one reviewer noted, the latest CD is Eaton’s “most accessible yet aggressive rock music yet. He’s developed into a dazzling guitarist”. Announces another, “The intricacy of Eaton’s songs is gratifying and unfortunately lacking in most mainstream rock”. Eaton’s style is an excellent mixture of maturity and excitement”.
The band has been likened to such vaunted trios as Cream, Rush and Police, with Eaton’s clear and inviting voice and ever-dazzling guitar work pacing the band.
One of the more discriminate authorities in rock history agrees with the haughty praise heaped on Eaton.
“I truthfully think he’s one of the best young singer-songwriter guys in America, maybe in the world”, Crosby says. “He’s an enormously talented person. And it comes from a very, very good place. People who really listen to music, I think, will find him just a joy. He’s a really brilliant writer. Brilliant musically. Brilliant lyrically. And he just plays (guitar) like God on a good day!”
And this lavish praise is imparted after a mere two-year collaboration between Eaton and Crosby, who were introduced by a mutual friend two years ago and forged a bond through their passion for music.
Eaton has been a featured act for such wide-ranging artists as Bob Dylan, Train, Victor Wooten, Dave Matthews Band, Tim Reynolds, Derek Trucks Band, Martin Sexton, John Mayer, Jewel, Counting Crows, Jason Mraz and Sheryl Crow.
Eaton borrows from traditional rock, funk, reggae, flamenco, classical, jazz and folk, has toured extensively with Tim Reynolds. The Dave Matthews Band guitarist says, "Marcus weaves a tapestry rich in musical depth and soulful feeling. Sweet impassioned spot-on singing round out this total package of dynamite”.
Eaton has performed at venues vast and intimate. He has been featured on the 20,000-capacity Gorge Amphitheatre side stage during a show headlined by Dave Matthews Band. His CD release party at The Knitting Factory in Boise crammed the concert hall even beyond it’s official 999-seat capacity.
Born in Pocatello, Idaho, Eaton has been one of the most acclaimed artist in the intermountain west for more than a decade. With such luminaries as David Crosby among his confidants, he seems poised to take the step to stardom many have anticipated for him since he first picked up a guitar as a child.
“I think everything happens in a great way for me”, he says. “It happens when it’s supposed to happen”.
"Time For Football" is, of course, a football song, but most of all it is a song about dreams and companionship. We need each other in this world, as we need each other in a team. No matter if it's at the school yard or at the Wembley stadium, in family or in the neighbourhood. I need you. You need me. And that's the truth also when it comes to the challenges of the future for humanity.
The song is written by the Swedish singer-songwriter Markus Berjlund who performs it together with Caroline af Ugglas. Andreas Ahlenius is the producer-engineer and among the musicians you hear Marty Wilson-Piper.
During his life Markus has been listening a lot to musical giants like Dylan, Springsteen and Neil Young. In "Time For Football", you can also hear musical influences from British post-punk bands like New Order and The Smiths.
Caroline af Ugglas is well known in Sweden for her intense and emotive voice and her charismatic stage appearances. She has made 7 albums and also made many TV appearances in different contexts. Her album "Så Gör Jag Det Igen" (2009) reached the number one position of the Swedish album list.
Markus Berjlund has made 3 solo albums. In 2010 he had his first song added on the playlist of the dominating Swedish radio channel, Radio P4. His music has also been played in other Scandinavian countries. But he had never even thought of writing a song in English when one morning - when the Swedish version of this song was completed - the phrase “it takes a team to fullfil a dream” came into his head. One hour later he had completed the lyrics of "Time For Football" with words focusing what mankind has in common, all over the world. Football as a metaphor for important aspects of life itself. But it is also a tribute to some of the greatest practitioners ever of the sport; Puskas, Pelé, Maradona, Gascoigne, Beckenbauer and Cruyff.
Marty Wilson-Piper is to many music lovers most known as a guitarist in the legendary Australian group The Church. As in their major hit "The Unguarded Moment", Marty here brings sober guitars with a driving force.
Andreas Ahlenius has produced gold and platinum albums with Saybia (DK) and produced and/or mixed some of the most prominent Swedish artists like Miss Li and Di Leva.
Firenze Records announces a February 17th, 2015, release for Markus James’ new album, "Head For The Hills". Recorded in Holly Springs, Como, Senatobia and Luxahoma, Mississippi, as well as in Northern California, "Head For The Hills" showcases Markus James on vocals, electric slide, 3 string cigar box, gourd banjo, slide dulcimer, acoustic guitar, harmonica, beatbox, and a snakeskin-covered 1- string diddley bow. He’s backed by a “who’s who” of North Mississippi Hill Country drummers including Kinney Kimbrough (son of Junior Kimbrough), Calvin Jackson (R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Deep Blues film), Aubrey “Bill” Turner (Otha Turner), and R.L. Boyce (Jessie Mae Hemphill). Also appearing is drummer Marlon Green, who was the last drummer to record and tour with the legendary John Lee Hooker, and who is currently accompanying James live.
“After my 'Nightbird' album came out in 2003, I started getting offers to go out and play, and one of them was from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg", recalls Markus James. “I went down there with one African musician and the reaction we received was so great, and I noticed that nobody was asking questions about the connection between traditional West African music and Blues, the people there just dug the music and they let us know. After that, I started traveling more and more to Mississippi and meeting musicians there, and I was especially drawn to some of the old-school drummers of North Mississippi”.
After performing in Mali, West Africa, one year, James had an epiphany about the connections between what he’d heard there and some of the North Mississippi Hill Country music he saw and heard in the film made from Robert Palmer’s classic book, 'Deep Blues'. “I came back to the US, saw the 'Deep Blues' film, and was amazed to see the exact same thing that I had just seen in the sand dunes outside Timbuktu, three drummers and a guy playing what they call a cane flute. It was just such an obvious connection between the musical traditions I had been immersed in in West Africa and some of the traditional music in North Mississippi. I was on my way back to Mississippi, this time to perform in Oxford at Ole Miss, and this whole process led me to seek out, record and eventually start performing with some of these great drummers. Traditionally, in North Mississippi, like in West Africa, music is part of life, it’s not just some ephemeral entertainment like a song on the radio, and these guys also do other things like farming, construction, making white lightnin, etc. They are not slick session players who work in studios in a city. So, having recorded in all kinds of rough environments in West Africa, I felt right at home setting up mics on a porch, hanging mics from barn rafters, in a carport, and just rolling, and this seemed perfectly normal to them as well.
“I must have watched the first part of the 'Deep Blues' movie (about North Mississippi) a hundred times, and when I found myself playing with Calvin Jackson in Sherman Cooper’s potato barn in Como, it was like a dream come true. How this all came to pass is a long story. I had befriended the late, great Jessie Mae Hemphill and visited her several times in Senatobia. She loved the film I had made ('Timbuktoubab'), and the African instruments we were playing. We had a great time hanging out and singing together. Jessie Mae told me about what she knew of the Africans in her family and about traveling and playing with her grandfather, Sid Hemphill, who is documented in the Library of Congress. Jessie Mae and I were preparing to record together in her trailer, but when I showed up the last time she was on her way to her final resting place”.
James had similar encounters with many of the drummers who’d wind up on his new CD. Kinney Kimbrough had stayed at James’ place in Northern California when he was on tour with another band. They had started recording then, and later in Como, and yet again in Holly Springs, when Markus stayed with Kinney’s family and they recorded in his open-air carport. James and Kimbrough have gone on to perform live as a duo, and Kinney appears in several videos from the new album. Markus also recorded with Aubrey “Bill” Turner and R.L. Boyce, both of whom were mainstays of fife and drum music in North Mississippi.
“I have recorded a lot of things with these drummers over the last eight years”, says James. “The music on this album includes some of these recordings that work with the theme of the album. One of the highlights of this recording process was when I reached Calvin. After talking for a while and telling him I was also doing some acoustic things now with my gourd banjo, he suggested he could hambone, so I drove out to his family property in Luxahoma, where we recorded on his sister’s porch, with him hamboning while I played gourd banjo and cigar box. He also said buckets, pots and pans were the first things he had played when he was a kid, so we found two five gallon buckets and recorded with him playing those on the porch. The sound of feet stomping on the porch was awesome. Each of these drummers has special unique qualities, but they are all connected to the rich musical traditions of Hill Country Music. This is different from Delta Music and it’s not for me to try to explain what that’s about, but I feel that the differences are profound. The Hill Country is a beautiful place, with lots of trees and shade, somewhere you would want to be, especially if you found yourself in the sweltering Delta or in the big city and out of luck”.
What do you have when you combine songs that speak to the soul, talent that shines the spotlight on the darkest corners of your hopes and fears, music that inspires, comforts and makes you want to alternately laugh, cry or reflect – with a heart that touches all that hear her and an honesty that makes you want to be a better person? Maria Solheim.
Maria originally aspired to be a reporter, having started working as a freelance journalist in her native northern Norway at the tender age of 14. Luckily for us, she turned her abilities for stating the truth to songwriting – in English (the better to disguise her lyrics from her parents). Love isn’t an easy topic when you’re a teenager. By the time she was 18 she had caught the eye – and more importantly the ear – of the music industry, resulting in her debut album "Barefoot" being released when she was just 19. Featuring some of Norway’s best studio musicians, the album started to generate opportunities for Maria, leading to a support spot with Susanne Vega and the start of what would become a tradition of successful tours in Germany.
Maria’s 2nd album "Behind Closed Doors" ironically opened more of them, including a release and tour in Japan. The critics loved her, and why not? The album showed Maria’s continuing development as a songwriter and as the head of her own band. With the release of her 3rd album "Frail" (one that Maria has said is very close to her heart) in Scandinavia, Germany and Japan, she continued to build her considerable and ever-increasing fan base. She even garnered a royal 'command performance' at the baptism of Norway’s Princess Ingrid Alexandra, second in line to the Norwegian throne.
In spite of a grueling tour schedule that included Germany, UK, China, Thailand, Japan, the US, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Scandinavia, Maria found the time and energy to record "There Will Be Spring", replete with beautiful yet catchy songs that proved to be eminently synch-able. Maria has seen her music in demand for a wide variety of projects - Films, audio books, advertisements (including a worldwide deal for Ecco Shoes) – not to mention other displays of Maria’s talents as a published book author and exhibitions of her artwork. The album opened up a new audience for Maria when it was released in France.
Following this whirlwind of activity, Maria took some time to gather her thoughts, experiences and energy – and to have a family. But even then she continued creating; the single “Rom For Alle” – her first in Norwegian – was a duet with Hans Erik Husby Dyvik (AKA Hank von Helvete, former lead singer of the hugely successful Norwegian band Turbonegro) and went double platinum.
Maria has now marshaled her considerable abilities in the recording of her new album, "In The Deep", to be released by Membran in February.
Produced by Nick Terry (Turbonegro, Libertines, Klaxons, Roger Sanchez, former singer with The Stone Roses Ian Brown), Maria was also joined in the studio by Henry Olsen (former Primal Scream member who has also worked with Nico, Velvet Underground, John Cale and more), Emil Nikolaisen (formerly with Serena Maneesh) and other stellar musicians. The result is a wild record with songs that range from quiet, simple guitar-based tunes, through rock, all the way to pop. 'This album has been developing a long time', says Maria. 'There have been a lot of tears and laughter along the way, and I’m incredibly proud of the result. Now I've made an album I can dance to!'.
When it comes to Maria Solheim, the possibilities are truly limitless.
Marsteller & Rhodes
Producers Paul Marsteller and Gabriel Rhodes invite you back into the parlor with “The Beautiful Old”, an entertaining collection of elegant yet earthy songs, ranging from 1823’s 'Home Sweet Home' to 1918’s 'Till We Meet Again'. “The Beautiful Old” keeps the piano, often played by The Band’s Garth Hudson, at the heart of each arrangement, illustrating the original spirit of the compositions brought back to life with such illustrious vocalists as Richard Thompson, Christine Collister, Dave Davies (The Kinks), Graham Parker, Kimmie Rhodes, Kim Richey, Heidi Talbot, Jimmy LaFave, Eric Bibb and more.
The stories behind the songs reflect changing times for music and popular culture: 'After The Ball' became the first song in history to sell a million copies of sheet music (and went on to sell 5 million!) and was the beginning of what became known as Tin Pan Alley; 'Come Josephine In My Flying Machine' is a fun take on the new invention of air-flight; 'The Dying Californian' is based on a farewell letter written at sea in the Gold Rush era; 'The Flying Trapeze' is a comic-tragic account of French acrobat Jules Leotard, who also designed the one-piece garment that bears his name.
These antique tales illuminate the past, but along with the other songs on “The Beautiful Old”, reflect timeless subjects of loss and regret, comforts of home, wistful loneliness, heartbreak and the joys of love as the sweetest song of all.
Martin Kaplan is an American singer-songwriter based in San Diego, California. ”The Slow Down”, his 1st solo release, features 12 songs spanning a 25 year songwriting career. Imbued with an alt-country vibe, ”The Slow Down” paints a vivid narrative for the listener, inviting self-reflection with its refreshing counterpoint to the frenetic pace of modern life. Reinvention and embracing uncertainty are recurrent themes in Martin’s life and these motifs are thoroughly explored throughout the album.
The musicians on ”The Slow Down include veterans of the Los Angeles Americana music scene including Todd Herfindal (Meadows), Rich McCulley (Bob Woodruff, Will Kimbrough), Carl Byron (Anne McCue, Michelle Shocked), Greg Boaz (Dave Alvin) and Tommy Rickard (Linda Perry, Scott Weiland).
Earlier in his musical career, Martin played with San Francisco indie rock band Lost Pilgrims, releasing 2 albums and touring the United States several times. In March 1994, Billboard Magazine featured Lost Pilgrims as one of the best unsigned bands in the United States.
Today, Martin Kaplan can be found, hoe in hand, cultivating organic avocados and tangerines on his rocky hilltop grove in Escondido, California.
With his 3rd album, "Together", Swedish singer-songwriter Martin Lorentzson has taken his love for rootsy pop music one step further. Through working with other songwriters and soundscape producer Carl Granberg, the new album shows that Martin’s warm voice paired with strong melodies and detailed, dreamy arrangements is a winner.
Martin is a true do-it-yourself artist. All of his albums have been realized without a record label or today’s crowdfunding platforms. The hard work has paid off - He’s been playing live in national TV several times, and his songs have been placed in big brand commercials.
His new album indicates a more daring path in his career, a path that likely will attract new listeners and fans. Martin is, however, experienced enough to have balanced expectations.
“The more songs you write and the harder you work, the better songwriter you’ll become. That’s all that matters".
"Together" will be released March 25th, 2014, as a physical CD and on all digital platforms.
American music icon Marty Stuart will release his 2nd album for Sugar Hill Records entitled "Nashville, Volume 1: Tear The Woodpile Down" on April 24th, 2012. The ten song collection, almost entirely written by Marty, features his touring band of musical missionaries The Fabulous Superlatives. Nashville staples Buck Trent, Kenny Lovelace, and Robbie Turner are joined by country music royalty Hank Williams III and Lorrie Carter Bennett (The Carter Family) on harmony vocals to fill out the cast.
Marty Stuart arrived in Nashville on Labor Day weekend, 1972. “I came to Nashville from the land of Jimmie Rodgers, looking for a place, a place to belong inside the world of country music. It was a country boy Hollywood, the air castle of the South, a dream factory”. 40 years, a decade worth of hits and a full round of hillbilly stardom later, Stuart has hillbilly rocked himself back to the bosom of traditional country music.
“When I reconnected with traditional country music I found myself, my calling”, says Stuart. “The kind that is timeless, beautiful, beyond trend, the empowering force, the reflection of a people and a culture. The kind of country music that the working man and scholars alike call home. The job seemed to be to champion it, love it, protect it, care for its people, attempt to write a new chapter for it and to make sure that everybody understands that it’s alive and well in the 21st century”.
Stuart has done that with his acclaimed collection of country music memorabilia and treasures which currently tours across the country, and with his Marty Stuart Show on RFD TV which provides a platform for some of Nashville’s classic artists to perform on a nationally syndicated program.
“When I first came to Nashville the most outlaw thing you could possibly do around here was to take country music and blow it up into rock & roll. Mission accomplished! Today, the most outlaw thing you can possibly do in Nashville, Tennessee is play country music”. With "Tear The Woodpile Down", the latest chapter in the Marty Stuart story, he’s doing just that
Mats Ingvarsson's Hope
Mats Ingvarsson is a bass player/composer/producer who has acquired his musical overview from the driver seat next to the drummer in many and diverse contexts. He has played funk och soul with Grand Clinic, Soul Quality Quartet, Damn, Timbuktu and others. Jazz with Geri Allen trio, Anders Bergcrantz, Almaz Yebio, Fredrik Kronkvist 4 and others. Brazil, afro and world with A Bossa Elétrica, Simone Moreno, Sofi Hellborg, Sousou & Maher Cisssoko, Tania Naranjo Latin Trio and others.
Here he has gathered an electric quartet to inject some "Hope". His deep roots in soul and funk as well as love for acoustic jazz has led him to collect some originals and pair them with a few covers to make an eclectic album. There are guest appearances from hornplayers and Mats sings on some tracks when the quartet isn't shining on its own.
Matt Lax & Nearly Beloved
The prevalent theme that runs through "This House Of Mine", Matt Lax & Nearly Beloved’s 4th CD, is that of souls - Souls lost, souls found, souls sacrificed, souls that search for redemption and brave souls that briefly 'stir together with the wind' as an illusive and temporal reward for navigating life’s perils with both your soul and you soul mate intact. "This House of Mine’s" plush soundscape of guitars, fiddle, banjo and bass, rich harmony and intimate vocals explore empty rooms and mythic landscapes where souls are either '…seeking to be soothed', as in "Sing Me Along" or hoping for a peaceful resting place, as in the palm wine music inspired "Sing A Song For Us". In the songs "Awakening", and "What The Morning’s For", there is ample expression of love that is to be savored and succored, while the title of "In This World" hints of reward in a world beyond - In a song about keeping the spark of love alive while we erstwhile 'serve all mankind'.
Such unbridled altruism may seem like a departure to fans familiar with Nearly Beloved, but close listening of their earlier efforts reveals several examples of simple and honest love songs nestled between some of Matt’s more satirical and stylized musings. The band’s last 2 CD’s, "A Hurricane & A Tumbleweed", and "Where’s Bob", are indeed more adventuresome both in musical and thematic range; while "Wanderer’s Dream" and "This House Of Mine" bookend the band’s 22 year span with song selections and arrangements that are more unified in feeling, theme, and sound.
Finger style guitar and frailing banjo are the musical mainstays of "House Of Mine" as the songs invoke not only American blues, country, soul, and folk music, but South African township and West African palm wine music as well. Musical coherence for these far-flung styles is achieved simply through the omission of drums and percussion. “As pickers, we’re often changing how and what we play to accommodate drums at rowdy club venues after doing a string of café and small venue gigs without drums”, says Lax. “When it came time to record this CD, we wanted all the intricacy of the guitars and banjo to be heard, and we wanted the integrity of each song’s style to live uncompromised by any choice of cadence by the drummer”.
While Matt’s own singing and guitar work have never been better represented than in this collection of songs, the influence of guitar originators like Mississippi John Hurt, Joseph Spence, Doc Watson, Nick Drake, palm wine godfather SE Rogie and township master Ray Phiri are lurking just below the fret board throughout the CD. Lax’s knowledge and respect for these masters is echoed aptly by his band mates Erik Pearson (guitars, banjo, upright bass), Michael Stadler (guitars, fiddle, mandolin, cello), and rock-solid bassist Paul Olguin. Stadler, a highly accomplished guitarist in his own right (he can be heard featured on a compilation of style innovators called 'Claw Hammer Guitar'), while Pearson’s long love affair with claw hammer banjo style has made him a mainstay with San Francisco’s old timey innovators The Crooked Jades, and led to his tenure as the banjo teacher to the late Warren Hellman, founder of The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.
Most of the CD tracks feature just the four band members recorded live over two days at Laughing Tiger Studios in San Rafael. Subsequent vocals, horns, cello, accordion and penny whistle were added to the basic tracks slowly over the course of the next year. "It Just Happens" features a vocal duet with Loralee Christensen and Mike Rinta’s Memphis-inspired horn arrangements. "Astronauts & Fishermen" is augmented by Richie Lawrence’s accordion and Adam Beach’s penny whistle, featured on a fine breakdown with Stadler’s claw hammer guitar as they linger momentarily on the traditional Irish tune "The Kesh" before returning to the song’s African-inspired 6/8 meter. Electric guitar is supplied mostly by Erik Pearson, whose shimmering tremolo-laced sound fills the soundscape with George Harrison-inspired arpeggios and Richard Thompson-like jabs. Lax’s sole electric guitar effort on "My Soul’s Intention" is reminiscent of both Ray Phiri and Chet Atkins, no doubt from years of listening to both Mahlatini and the Mahatella Queens and The Louvin Brothers. “I find twang everywhere”, surmises Lax. The more pop-inspired tracks are "Going Out Of Her Mind", "Without You", and the title track, "This House Of Mine". Here the band are at their most straight-forward with songs of unrequited love and in "House Of Mine", the sum of one’s life revealed in the metaphor of a house that is easily afforded but unfit for companionship.
There is a fossil-encrusted image underlying a photo of Matt on the CD’s inset. It’s from a vacation photo Matt took of a table top at Deetjen’s Inn in Big Sur, California. The image speaks not only of the temporal worlds that "This House Of Mine" explores, but the overlay of lives that fill our conscious thoughts. Another thought resonates as well. “We may well be fossils in the way we approach making music. We want to make a complete musical statement that you can live an hour of your life with, hopefully more than just once”. If people will grant themselves the time, there is a big payoff to be had by listening to this CD.
Matt Townsend & The Wonder Of The World
Matt Townsend & The Wonder Of The World formed in 2014 with the creation of singer-songwriter Matt Townsend's debut LP "Matt Townsend & The Wonder Of The World" on Eternal Mind Records.
Matt Townsend began writing songs in secret around 2008 for no purpose other than to satisfy an insatiable need to write them. Though the songs seemingly appeared out of nothing, in the years since he has written hundreds of compositions and began performing in 2010. Initially busking on the streets of Burlington, VT, and playing local coffeehouses, he soon began gracing the stages of clubs and venues around the Burlington area. His first solo EP "What Light Shall Be" was released in November 2012. He has since performed on stages in Vermont, Boston, Ireland, Western North Carolina and more.
Drawing influence from the songwriting wells of Bob Dylan, Neutral Milk Hotel, Townes Van Zandt, Neil Young, William Blake and many, many more, Townsend's songs "connect universally while remaining personally vulnerable".
Inspired by strange dreams and visions, the precarious beauty of human life, and the mysterious forces of the Universe, Matt Townsend's songs emerge out of the folk tradition, rock and roll and more, with a lyrical focus from the view-point of the soul.
Matt Townsend now lives in Asheville, NC, by way of Burlington, VT.
Melanie Dekker is a Canadian roots-folk-pop sensation hailing from Deep Cove, BC, who writes songs to connect people’s hearts by weaving between emotion and sensibilities. Her world class strumming and voice like chocolate (radio hit in Canada "I Said I", radio hit in Denmark "Boomerang"), tour over 100 concerts in Europe yearly and her new album “Distant Star” has already sold 10,000 copies since its November 15th, 2013 rlease in Canada. This acoustically driven album is a beautiful addition to her elaborate discography. One of her previous albums, "Revealed", was produced by David Kershenbaum (Tracy Chapman, Joan Baez, Joe Jackson). Like these artists, Dekker has a special tangible emotive flare - She will move you, and laugh with you, as her deliciously crafted and potent songs pull on your heart. “I want to move people, like they move me”.
Dekker has opened for Diana Krall and Faith Hill, and performed with Russell Peters, Chaka Khan and Bryan Adams, as well for president Bill Clinton. She’s made a string of popular youtube videos which include her music synched to her experiences at the Polar Bear Swim, the 2010 Olympics, her own Wisdom tooth removal, and her Christmas concerts in Afghanistan. Dekker was given a 'Medal Of Honour' by the Chief of Defence Staff for Canada for her song "Fall In/Wounded Soldier", which was an emotional surprise. There are other surprises. Dekker says, “I get lost in the endless wonder and emotions behind my songwriting. So much so that long after a song is crafted and recorded, and performed hundreds of times, I often still look surprisingly at it and think 'Huh? I wrote that?' Somewhere between starting with nothing and finishing a 4 minute song that fans are singing along to has an infinite sense of wonder to me. I’m enchanted by it and driven by it”.
In the winter of 2011 The Men got what is usually referred to as a ”unique offer” in commercials. They were asked if they wanted to travel 9,911 miles across half the globe from Lund, Sweden to Melbourne, Australia to play in a music festival.
”We just shook our heads and realised that it was a completely stupid idea. Sure, we would be headlining the festival, but still — it was too long a journey and too short notice. And then we looked at each other again. Melbourne. When would we get a chance like that again? We had to say yes”.
The group’s singer and hyper-energetic maracas shaker Sven Köhler remembers the trip that made such strong impressions on him, bassist Ola Främby, guitarist Olof Wallberg and drummer Niklas Kilenstam, that it inspired the five first songs on The Men’s 4th album ”This Way”, "If Tomorrow Comes", "St Kilda Beach", "Looking For Swedish Men", "Mr BBQ" and "My New Black Sailing Shoes".
“Oh, no – not a concept album”, you might think. Have The Men followed 60’s icons The Who, The Kinks, The Small Faces and The Pretty Things down this risky path? Not really. The Australian theme songs merely work as a kick-off to what might be the best collection of songs in the hard-hitting rhythm and blues tinged power pop style that they’ve made their own.
Still there are differences that give ”This Way” a slightly different edge compared to its predecessors, ”The Men” (2002), ”Return” (2006) and ”Four Good Men And True” (2009). For starters, the band this time decided to record in producer Amir Aly’s Yla Studios in Malmö, while the two latest albums were done in producer Christoffer Lundquist’s famously retro equipped studio.
In Sweden, Aly is as famous for his modern pop productions, as Lundquist is for his ability to capture the late 60’s sound. On paper it sounds like two different production schools, but in reality the difference isn’t that big. “The main goal this time was to push the sound as far as we possibly could. Everyone was to play loud, and everyone was to be heard the most”, is Ola Främby’s summary.
As a fan of The Men’s forerunners The Sinners and The Girls, Amir Aly enthusiastically started his work to create an "updated old school sound for 2013”. Production-wise the task was solved with a clever microphone placement in the studio in order to give each instrument it’s own characteristic sound. The idea was to use fewer microphones but position them in a way that would give the group a more modern and aggressive sound. The result has made Niklas Kilenstam’s already explosive drumming get even more in your face than before. Then Ola Främby’s mighty Gretsch bass was plugged into a Fender 75 guitar amp, which created a fat and slightly distorted bass sound. And when Aly finally panned Olof Wallberg’s ringing guitar power chords and Främby’s pumping bass into opposite stereo channels everyone realised that they had achieved their goal. It sounded like The Men, only more so.
Words like ”retro”, ”mods” and ”60’s” have followed The Men since their formation in the early 00’s. But with ”This Way” it seems the band have escaped the anorak. So what’s the correct way of describing The Men’s music today? Ola Främby needs only three words. “Hard, but elegant”, he says. And when he describes the atmosphere in the song "Back To Square One" he comes even closer to what might be the essence of The Men’s music; “It sounds like England when it’s raining”.
But let’s get back to the album’s sunny start with its Melbourne-inspired songs. "Looking For Swedish Men" almost wrote itself when their Australian record label contact/concert promoter/fan Dave Stevens met them at the airport, holding up a sign with that message.
Dave is also the founder of the record store Pure Pop Records at St Kilda, the beach community that inspired another of the songs on “This Way”. Apart from the music festival gig the band also played in the record store, and hung around on the clubs and bars around St Kilda. With its relentless riff and honking sax, St Kilda Beach became the band’s tribute to the area’s laid-back and inviting atmosphere.
Even the lyrics have taken a step forward this time. Sven Köhler and Ola Främby write the group’s material together with The Men’s fifth member — manager, songwriter and creative spin doctor Joakim Kilenstam. ”It’s not just things we make up, it’s for real. We write about ourselves. To love and live your dreams, like keeping on playing rock ’n’ roll”, Sven says.
The songwriting trio Köhler/Främby/Kilenstam have slightly different roles in the creative process. Sven’s strength is the ability to easily find melodies and basic chord progressions. Ola not only churns out melodies in a near constant flow, he’s also the man with an ear for quirky arrangement ideas that help the songs stand out even more. Joakim is the non-musician with a head full of possible or impossible musical combinations, like: “How about playing it as if it were a soul number on ’Sweet FA’”.
One example that shows just how personal The Men’s songwriting can be these days is the duet "Don’t", where dad and daughter — Sven and Isabella Köhler Alvén, that is — meet in a generational clash, so funny and direct that it’s hard not to be moved.
Of the album’s 13 songs all but two are around the magic three-minute mark. With its six and a half minutes, "My New Black Sailing Shoes" is the big exception. “We had a bunch of unfinished songs that we started with, but never really got around to finishing. So we put them all together into one song instead”. Now wait, where have we heard this one before? Wasn’t that album called “Abbey Road”?
And sure, we could go on and discuss song after song on ”This Way”. But then we wouldn’t have time to talk about the amazingly detailed cover with its tin miniature figures by the collector and miniature creator Pelle Persson. Take a closer look at the minimal proportions of The Men figures on the CD booklet’s last page, and then consider this dialogue when Pelle was about to paint Ola Främby’s boating blazer with its classic broad stripes.
Pelle: ”Hey, that thin red line between the blue and grey fields — does that really have to be there too?”
Ola: ”Well, it depends on how precise you want to be”.
A deep sigh could be heard, but Ola’s boating blazer got a thin red line. The Men is that kind of band. And “This Way” is that kind of album.
Sven Lindström, Malmö, September 2013
Iconic country music legend, Country Hall of Famer and most recently a Kennedy Center Honoree, Merle Haggard, is releasing a new album, ‘Working In Tennessee’, on October 4th, 2011. This marks his 2nd disc for Vanguard Records and is a collection of self-penned Haggard riches, plus a couple of classics made famous by Johnny Cash, as well as a new version of Merle’s stalwart “Working Man Blues”, featuring Willie Nelson and his son Ben Haggard.
‘Working in Tennessee’ is another in a long line of stellar discs filled with Haggard’s honest and candid observations of the world in which we all live, as well as life on the road and at home with backing by his longtime band The Strangers, plus a number of veteran studio cohorts. Produced by Haggard and Lou Bradley at the Hag’s northern California Tally studio, the album is another worthy addition to his tremendous body of decades of radiant work. It’s a loaded mixture that reflects the consistently self-possessed artistry which long ago earned him the moniker “poet of the common man” and displays his masterly phrasing with alternately smooth tones and rough-hued vocals that deliver all the resonant interpretive impact he’s known for.
‘Working in Tennessee’ opens with the title track, an ideal Western swing workout, that underscores Haggard’s oft-confrontational relationship with Music City, to the stark vulnerability of “Sometimes I Dream”, co-written with his daughter Jenessa, to the autobiographical tale of “Down On The Houseboat”, co-written with his wife Theresa. Willie Nelson and his son Ben are featured on the kicking re-make of his anthemic “Working Man Blues” and Theresa joins Hag on a duet of the Johnny Cash-June Carter standard “Jackson”.
The album is a strikingly artistic example of the artist’s unflagging creativity which shows no signs of slowing down. According to Haggard, “I’m swinging back in full throttle right now. Music keeps me alive. It makes me breathe better. It’s funny, but I feel better when I come off a tour than when I start out”. What an amazing accomplishment for a man who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008 and had part of his lung removed. With no signs of the disease returning, Haggard continues to produce songs and perform live at the age of 74 with more energy and enthusiasm than many a younger man or woman.
Michael Brewer was born on April 14th, 1944, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The oldest of four children, he performed on the radio at age four. He was a singing drummer in a rock and roll band in highschool, along with fellow bandmate and guitarist Jesse Ed Davis. In 1960 he sold his drums and bought his first guitar. After graduating highschool in 1962, he traveled the folkcircuit performing in coffee houses from coast to coast, and began writing songs. He met Tom Shipley in 1964 at The Blind Owl coffee house in Kent, Ohio, but they wouldn't become a team for a few more years.
He teamed with first partner Tom Mastin in 1965, and settled in San Francisco, then Los Angeles. His first recording contract was with Columbia Records as Mastin & Brewer. They formed a band with drummer Billy Mundi (later to be an original member of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention), and bassist Jim Fielder (later to be an original member of Blood, Sweat & Tears). Mastin & Brewer toured southern California opening for The Byrds, along with another newly formed band, Buffalo Springfield. Buffalo Springfield got together in a house next door to Michael, once owned by Lenny Bruce, and they got their name from a road work vehicle that was parked in front of Michael's house. Mastin & Brewer began headlining clubs in L.A., and began recording, but Mastin decided he couldn't take the pressure, and they separated. Sadly, years later Tom Mastin commited suicide.
Mastin & Brewer's man at Columbia Records was leaving to help create a new record company being formed by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss called A&M Records. He took Michael with him, and Michael became a staff song writer for A&M's publishing company Good Sam Music.
Tom Shipley moved into a house around the corner from Michael and they began writing songs together. Soon, Tom was a staff writer for A&M, as well. Their demos for the publishing company exhibited a sound and style of their own, and A&M suggested they record their songs themselves. Their first album “Brewer & Shipley/Down In L.A.” was released in 1968.
Unhappy with life on the coast, Michael and Tom moved back to the heartland, doing what they'd done before - Performing their songs for those who'd care to listen. They made Kansas City, Missouri their home, and with friends, formed a company named Good Karma Productions. Brewer & Shipley acquired a new recording contract with Buddha/Kama Sutra Records in New York City. They recorded four albums for that label “Weeds”, “Tarkio” (containing the now classic rock-anthem "One Toke Over The Line"), “Shake Off The Demon” and “Rural Space”. Eventually, they moved to Capitol Records and recorded two albums “ST-11261” and “Welcome To Riddle Bridge”.
In 1980 Michael and Tom amicably went their separate ways. Michael met Dan Fogelberg in a bar in the Rocky Mountains, and Dan invited him to sing on a song on his latest album. The album was “The Innocent Age” and the song was "The Reach". Dan produced Michael's first solo LP entitled “Beauty Lies”, on Full Moon/Warner Bros, and it was released in 1983.
In 1987 Brewer & Shipley regrouped for a special concert in Kansas City. They did a few more reunion shows, but writing new songs is what got them back together. While on tour in Alaska, they decided to form their own company "One Toke Productions". They have written songs for, and recorded two CD's for that company, “Shanghai” and “Heartland”, and after forty plus years together Brewer & Shipley are still performing.
In 2004 Michael released his 2nd solo effort, entitled “Retro Man”. In the last few years Michael has been more prolific than ever writing songs, and in early 2011 released his 3rd solo album entitled “It Is What It Is”.
Michael Ward with Dogs & Fishes
"After the completion of my last CD, I found myself in the grip of post partum diffusion. Aiming to lock myself into proscribed production, I rented a cabin from a friend overlooking Monterey Bay that I could not really afford, which was a workable, but statement making distance from my home of bed and business. The trouble it took to make use of it was designed to require results. Christened Penelope by its owner, it was a unique and unnervingly appropriate structure, which was both fittingly austere and functionally opulent. A monks cell with cable, in a postcard setting, a classically inspired backstory, and an implicit mandate for new work. 'Weekends On The Wine Dark Sea' is the product of this subterfuge.
Like any collection written and recorded in series, over time, while bending to the weight of prior commitment, these tunes reflect my attempt at processing these rich and intrusive times more or less as they happened. The jaw dropping inadequacies of our collective system of survival, matched weight with the confusion and complications of love as song worthy. Hope and affection wrestled with invective and self indictment, while bemused observation held their coats. The usual songwriter stuff.
The whole process went into unexplored territory a couple of years ago, when a fire at my house and the subsequent bell ringing bad choice of a contractor put me in the strange position, which I continue to enjoy, of living out of a backpack in a series of temporary shelters; from motels, to a luxurious penthouse in a marginal neighborhood, to the rustic charm of the construction zone that is my current home. Much of this adventure has been paid for by the good choice of an insurance company. Being a creature of routine, it was not an altogether bad thing to be rousted from a decades long living situation, as a less encumbered and well funded perspective ensued which seemed to shine some fresh light on things.
For all the writing and visualization, the actualization of all this has depended on the extended collaboration that is Dogs & Fishes. It is a great gift to work with these wonderful and richly talented players. I am deeply grateful for whatever it is that has kept these guys interested, the basic group having gone on for close to a decade. The addition of the inimitable Prairie Prince a few years ago has made us a truly dangerous outfit, capable of intricate and inventive arrangements, wild unexpected improvisation, and a bad ass groove nurtured by long time familiarity.
Most of the songs were recorded with the full band in the studio for basics, followed by weeks and months of overdubs and editing, then on to the mix, which were all done by old friend Mark Needham in his palatial lair in LA. There are a few interesting exceptions to this routine. One late summer we hauled a full Pro Tools rig and several cases of beer, to the cabin and spent the weekend jamming and recording. The result was 'The Pearl Gone By', thoughtfully edited from its original 25 minutes to the current 8. 'Engine Eddie' had been in our live repertoire for many years and had been recorded by a previous ensemble, Dog & Pony. We wanted to finally get it on a record, since it has been a consistent crowd pleaser, but a close listen made it obvious that the track was too cool to abandon, so we baked and transferred the 2 inch tape, redid the vocals and then remixed. A unique and modern experience.
This collection reflects my take on the alternately strange, grim, and wonderful life I've been living along with the rest of us, leavened by the serenity and perspective inspired by its site of composition. May you find it useful."
Mietek, a critically acclaimed recording artist and long established superstar in Poland, has achieved notable milestones throughout his vocal career, including several Polish Fryderyks for Best Singer and a coveted slot representing his country at the prestigious Eurovision Song Contest in Jerusalem.
His newest studio recording, "Signs", is also his first English language album, co-produced with American songwriter-producer Wendy Waldman. Recorded on two continents with a crew of brilliant Polish and American musicians and songwriters - and ranging in content from Arabic and Eastern influenced songs to American-style gospel tracks recorded with the legendary HB Barnum and Life Choir in Los Angeles - the album's bold vision casts Mietek as storyteller and guide to a musical world without borders. During the album's sessions, Barnum (who has arranged music for icons such as Aretha Franklin, Donna Summer, Frank Sinatra and numerous others) noted to Mietek and Waldman that they are "building a new culture" with this powerful new project.
Hailing from the ancient city of Kalisz, one of the oldest in Europe, Mietek started singing in front of live audiences by the time he was six. In his teens, he began attracting attention as a very gifted singer. At the age of twenty one, he made his official debut at the Polish Song Festival, where he won the main prize. He continued participating in international festivals around the world, from Alma–Ata, Russia, Turkey and Israel to most of the European countries and the USA., taking first prize at most of them. Hitting the charts immediately after beginning his recording career in 1990, Mietek has released numerous hit records as an artist as well as a songwriter for other acts. There are countless youtube videos, songs, and excellent musical projects of all types on the internet today, reflecting his wide scope of musical talent and interest.
Together with Edyta Gorniak, Mietek recorded "Dumka Na Dwa Serca", the most popular Polish film soundtrack song of all time and a vocal tour-de-force for both artists. The track cemented Mietek's reputation as the finest male singer in Poland, an opinion which is widely held today. Polish audiences know and love Mietek - he sings with choirs, orchestras, for children, with other artists, for charity, on television, in concert - his distinctive and soulful voice can be heard on TV soundtracks, in video games, church programs, jazz festivals and of course, on pop radio.
As a Pole, he sits at the crossroads of many rich musical traditions, both eastern and western, all of which appear in his vocal style, the production values in his recordings, his superb songwriting, and the wide variety of artists with whom he has collaborated. His insatiable curiosity to explore new musical worlds has led him to work in many fields: world music, pop, gospel, jazz, classical, soul, funk, and Brazilian music. His influences come both from the west and the east - a passion for American pop and jazz combines with a love of Arabic and Asian music, all reflected in his vocal approach.
Acclaimed US singer-songwriters Greg Copeland and Janni Littlepage, English-Italian singstress Luisa Jordan-Killoran and Swedish pop-oracle Citizen K are just a few of the artists and musicians who helped Mikael Persson complete his sophomore solo album, "Marks & Bleeds".
An album that in many ways is about dreams and meetings, where dreams have given rise to song ideas, and various meetings with other artists and musicians have helped Michael achieve what he's been looking for in his musical life ever since its inception in Borås in the 70's.
Early in the process of the new album, Mikael was offered an unreleased song by acclaimed singer-songwriter Greg Copeland, "Roughhouse Boys", and as always is the case, Mikael puts his own unique stamp on an already amazing song.
Later on, brilliant singer Luisa Jordan-Killoran enters the picture, and the project find the dynamics in the vocal arrangements that were previously lacking. Just listen to the heartbreaking version of Vince Clarke's "Only You", and you'll understand why.
In the eleventh hour of work the experienced songwriter Janni Littlepage offers her services and the album feels at once like a finished, complete unit.
Along the way, old friends and acquaintances, like Klas Qvist (Citizen K), Thomas Pontén (Little Green) and Pelle Johanson, have helped out with both arrangements and production ideas.
The title of the new, forthcoming album is "Marks & Bleeds", but in another world and in another time, it could as easily have been "Dreams & Meetings". Please enter the wonderful world of Mikael Persson, and let yourself be swept away.....
So how exactly does a Vancouver native and song-writing prodigy arrive in leafy Oxford via Canada, Papua New Guinea and Nashville?
Miriam Jones, born in Vancouver the year her parents emigrated from Atlanta, then lived in Calgary, Alberta until she was seven. Even at this early age, Miriam was smitten by English accents and her strongest and most contented memories are of visits to the public library where she was often found listening to the soundtrack of the 1968 "Oliver" film drama. Over the years Miriam kept her passion for musical theatre and rather than being a traditional music fan flitting from new trend to new trend and building a formidable record collection, she tended to latch on to just a handful of songs or albums, and then spend the next few years listening to nothing else. Outbursts of 'Come What May' from "Moulin Rouge" were frequent, embarrassing and took years to subside.
Miriam recalls: “I was eight years old when I wrote my first song, at the time devoted to a pair of Stars Of The 60's' tapes belonging to my folks (The Monkees, Donovan, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap). My mom, who grew up in Nashville and is very musical herself, had various cassettes around from the home of country music. My family spent a good deal of time there on visits to my grandparents, as well as three years living in Papua New Guinea where my Dad was teaching at a theological college on a rural campus in the highlands. That's where I was, up a tree, in fact, when I started to write, and where I first knew that I wanted to make records”.
Geography, people, cultures and traveling have influenced Miriam as a songwriter. Her time in Papua New Guinea was both beautiful and at times frightening, wonder and solitude always at the ready, and the intense soulfulness of the people moved her. At the age of 11 her parents brought her back to Canada along with her two sisters and her brother where they settled in a small mountain town in the British Columbia interior, the place she calls home. Miriam learnt the drums for 5 years and won a regional song-writing contest in her teens. She used the prize money to purchase her first guitar and toured with a small vocal jazz ensemble.
Some years and many miles later Miriam eventually found herself back in Nashville making a record with Grammy award winning producer Charlie Peacock at the controls. Some might say that Jones’ vocal lilt lends itself naturally to the music of the Grand Ole Opry but the resulting album, "Being Here" (2008), was anything but a cookie-cutter country record, the mixture of folk-pop stylings and classic songwriting redolent of the greats of early 70’s southern California with its intimate, soulful, unvarnished performance.
“I spent two weeks with Charlie at his home studio", Miriam remembers, "and wrote three songs in two days because he asked if I could, it was the first time I'd felt really challenged as a writer, and I got so high off of it. The studio continues to be my favorite context to work in". Even the legendary writer JD Souther stopped by, complimenting Miriam on her guitar playing.
Miriam's follow up album "Fire-Lives", self-released in late 2010, was a home-recorded mini-masterpiece (home now being in Oxford with her English husband), which offered a sound that is at times the work of a burgeoning folk and roots Joe Meek. Whip smart songs, endless layers of guitars, horns, pianos, drums and voices combined with the unusual acoustic of the house itself to produce a powerful record that snakes into the listener’s consciousness like Springsteen trying to make "Born To Run" in his kitchenette rather than the Record Plant.
As with "Being Here" the local media, this time in Oxford rather than British Columbia, picked up on the album immediately, and the need to take it on the road resulted in the record's musicians pulling together to form a committed band, Miriam Jones & The Red Sea. No sooner was the new band in place than BBC Oxford offered them a slot second on the bill at the Cornbury Festival. This was followed by an engagement, since oft renewed, to appear at the Greenbelt Festival.
This period also begat two singles including a quick trip to Abbey Road that produced a fresh mix of the "Fire-Lives" track 'Words Away', complete with baritone saxes and glistening bells, which became the catalyst for the first national play on the BBC for Jones’ music, bringing her to the attention of broadcasters, critics and listeners across the country.
With the early success of 'Words Away' and the applause of the summer’s festival audiences still ringing in her ears, Miriam went back to revisit 'Routine Runaway', a concert favourite and another highlight of the "Fire-Lives" album. Once again, Jones took the song apart and rebuilt it from the ground up, taking the organic home studio live recording and turning it into another feat of low budget production ingenuity and yet more airplay.
What then followed was less a quick follow-up to cash in on the media attention than a long period committed to writing and re-writing a collection of contenders for what would inevitably be an important release in Miriam's fledgling career. Armed with more than a baker's dozen of poignant short stories in song form there followed a long search for the perfect producer to bring those narratives to life. That search finally bore fruit in 2014 with the forming of a creative partnership with Simon Edwards (Fairground Attraction, Billy Bragg, etc) who, as well as producing the new songs, became the first member of her new band. The resulting new album contains ten, four minute tales, featuring characters that could have leaped straight from the pages of Anne Tyler or Raymond Carver, delivered with a grit and a warmth that puts Jones firmly in the Bonnie Raitt and Joan Osborne class of tough but soulful exponents of North American roots music.
"Between Green & Gone" is released in January 2015.
Mitchell Coleman Jr
Fans of slammin’ yet radio-ready jazz-funk fusion will rejoice upon the discovery of bassist-composer Mitchell Coleman Jr, a disciple of the Stanley Clarke, Larry Graham, Louis Johnson and Marcus Miller schools of "The Throwdown". With the release of his debut album, "Soul Searching", a musical journey of self-exploration, Mitchell has fulfilled a lifelong dream to express the music that’s been on his heart since he began thumpin’ basses at the tender age of 10.
Independently released on Mitchell’s own Soul Revelation Music label, the 13-song "Soul Searching" finds the man composing 11 of the pieces plus choosing 2 exquisitely inspired classics to cover: “When Your Life Was Low” (a song made famous in 1999 as performed by singer Lalah Hathaway, lyricized by prolific Will Jennings with music by the late, great Crusaders keyboardist-composer Joe Sample to whom Coleman’s performance is humbly dedicated) and Earth Wind & Fire’s 1975 gem “That’s The Way Of The World” (simply because “the words always moved me”). Mitchell is also the co-arranger and co-producer of all the material including the singles “Passport” and “Flow”. His production collaborators are Motown veteran Michael B Sutton (who handled “Flow”, “When Your Life Was Low” and “Ethiopia Love”) and Herman “Hollywood” Dawkins, Mitchell’s keyboard-playing ace who handled the rest.
Throughout "Soul Searching", listeners are treated to generous slabs of funk-jazz at its fieriest, be it “Déjà Vu” or “Just One More Hit” (both influenced by Ohio funk band Slave’s bass master “Mr Mark” Adams and its horn section, respectively), “Overload”, with its hook lifted from bassist Robert Wilson & The GAP Band’s “Oops Upside Your Head”, “Come Up”, reminiscent of Chicago tenor sax legend Eddie Harris’ million-seller “Listen Here”, and the album closer “Liberation”.
On the heavier side are the astounding “Ethiopia Love”, inspired by a sojourn to meet his wife’s family, “Secrets”, Mitchell’s impressions of “Prince Of Darkness”, jazz icon Miles Davis, whose Tutu poster adorns his home studio and “Genesis”, the very first song Mitchell ever composed at age 14.
Addressing his single releases, Mitchell elaborates, “‘Flow’ is just a lil’ somethin’ to get folks up on their feet to let their body go. With ‘Passport,’ I’m letting you know I am the torch carrier of this music. Whenever the land of funk is your destination, ‘Passport’ is your ticket to enter”.
Mitchell Coleman Jr was born the day after Christmas of 1967 in Meridian, Mississippi. He spent his early years in Cuba, Alabama. When his father returned home from Vietnam, he moved the family first to Hartford then Bloomfield, Connecticut. There, Mitchell fell in love hard with electric bass. Following a stint in the United States Air Force, Mitchell moved to Hollywood intending to study at the Bass Institute Of Technology but had to pay the bills with electrical engineering jobs. Soon after a chance meeting with Otis Williams, founding member of Motown’s The Temptations, to whom his military buddy Terry Weeks became a member, Mitchell found himself in the mix of music’s unsung behind the scenes side. He began studio work with a group called Ninth Chakra led by Cario Johnson, and it was at one of those sessions that Mitchell met keyboardist Herman “Hollywood” Dawkins, a soul mate in the mission of jazz-funk fusion. “The first time we hit, we were like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. ‘Man, you got jazz on my funk, and it’s soundin’ really good’. Hollywood is the mastermind of making what’s in my head tangible. Our motto is, with funk as our vehicle let jazz be our journey”.
Together, Mitchell and Hollywood cooked up what became the initial tracks for his debut album, "Soul Searching", fortified by the presence of top shelf talents such as keyboardist Deron Johnson, guitarists Kayta Matsuno and Sean Fabian, saxophonists Tim Anderson and Sal Avila, veteran vocalists Jim Gilstrap, Pamela and Joyce Vincent, and newcomer singers Sean Thomas and Nodesha. After Mitchell pressed and sold copies of that first version of the album on-line, a mutual friend steered veteran producer Michael B Sutton his way who provided cherry on top polish to the proceedings. “Michael is a great guy, he spoke my language and I fell in love with him right away”, Mitchell says. “As a producer and consultant, he is a gatekeeper with great ideas which I needed and appreciate”.
Essentially, Michael amplified the heart of Mitchell within three songs, “Flow”, “Ethiopia Love” and “When Your Life Was Low” featuring the voice of Michael’s daughter, Dionya Sutton. Now Mitchell Coleman Jr is givin’ up the funk-jazz, merging the earthiness of the former with the mystique of the latter on a bumpin’ "Soul Searching" journey that, thankfully for him and his swiftly expanding audience, has only just begun.
Mona & Maria
Mona & Maria is a new duo from Oslo, Norway. They're here with their debut album 'My Sun'. Mona & Maria’s music can be described as harmony-based pop with folk elements and great, and often grand, arrangements, but still with an acoustic feel. Their debut 'My Sun' consists of 10 self-penned songs. Mona & Maria tell us about the debut:
“Something was let loose after we started working on songs that did not fit the sound of the band we were in. We strongly felt the need to create something more personal, and we started making melodies to something obscure that had been lying dormant in both of us. After a band breakdown, came a new musical need that we found in each other. We both were terrified of singing alone, but together we sort of found a third person to make us feel secure. We began experimenting with harmonies. It became our way of being together. After several rounds and recordings of these songs, the record started to take shape, and we found our soundscape by working with dynamics. We wanted to have both the low-key and intimate, and the grandiose and dramatic, to have both darkness and light at once. We wanted to make unpretentious arrangements that enhanced the lyrics and the melodies, and not buried them. The result was 'My Sun'.”
Mona Andersen (27) and Maria Knudsen (28) have already written songs together for many years, and both were central parts of the band Bazooka Boppers, with which they released two albums. After the band’s break-up in 2010, Mona and Maria continued playing together, and it worked out so well that they decided to move forward as a duo. The album was recorded at Engfelt & Forsgren Studio with Christian Engfelt as producer, along with the girls themselves. Engfelt also plays the bass on a few of the songs.
Son of jazz-rock fusion guitar legend Larry Coryell and author-actress Julie Coryell, contemporary soul blues artist Murali Coryell grew up surrounded by great music, by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis and Carlos Santana. Murali began playing drums at age 8 and continued through junior high school. He started playing guitar after discovering the blues in his early teens. "I was into the music of Led Zeppelin, particularly a minor blues tune called 'Since I've Been Loving You'. My dad told me if I wanted to hearsome real blues to get BB King's 'Live At The Regal' which to this day, I consider one of the greatest recordings ever made. The emotion and sadness in BB King's voice and guitar really spoke to me. That's when I first picked up a guitar". He took lessons for a while but picked up most of what he learned from listening to the music of other blues guitar greats, besides BB, from early Clapton, Albert Collins, Jimi Hendrix and Albert King.
The big turning point in Murali's musical career came at age 15 when he attended the National Guitar Summer Workshop in Connecticut. "For the first time in my life I got serious about my music. I started playing all the time. I got into jazz". He joined a jazz ensemble at college, studied classical guitar and graduated with a degree in music theory and composition. He founded a soul-blues band, The Ambassadors, in upstate New York in the late 80's. The band quickly became a regional favorite in New York's Hudson Valley area. In the summer of 94, while a faculty member at the Guitar Workshop, Murali met Duke Robillard who was teaching a master class.
"Robillard heard me sing at a concert and asked to sit in with my band. He called me a month later and hired me as second guitarist for his upcoming world tour. He featured me on a couple of vocal tunes, Ray Charles' 'I Got A Woman' and Albert King's 'The Hunter'".
Soon after, Murali was signed by the fledgling Big Mo Records label as a solo artist resulting in his Stax/Volt influenced debut CD, “Eyes Wide Open”. In 1999 Murali recorded “2120” for Marshall Chess' CZYZ label. Rolling Stone magazine named Murali “One promising new hound”. Since that time he's released several albums including 2003's "Strong As I Need To Be", 2005's "The Future Of Blues", the solo acoustic album "Don't Blame It On Me" in 2007, 2008's "The Same Damn Thing" and 2009's "Sugar Lips" as well as a collaboration with his father Larry and brother Julian "The Coryells" (2000,Chesky Records). The brand new CD "Restless Mind" is being released now in 2014.
In additon to performing with his own group, Murali has toured as a featured artist with award winning blues artist Joe Louis Walker and his father, jazz guitar legend Larry Coryell.
Music Is Love
There's been tributes to The Byrds, The Buffalo Springfield and The Hollies. There's been several tributes to Neil Young. There's even been a tribute to Graham Nash's album "Songs For Beginners". But there has never been a tribute to the collective body of work of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Until now!
On October 16th, 2012, Sweden's Hemifrån and Italy's Route 61 Music releases "Music Is Love - A Singer-Songwriters' Tribute To The Music Of Crosby Stills Nash & Young.
The album features, not only several musicians from the inner circle of CSN&Y (Stephen Stills' former girlfriend Judy Collins and daughter Jennifer Stills, Anthony Crawford and Rick Rosas from Neil Young's Electric Band, Sonny Mone from Crazy Horse, David Crosby's guitarist Marcus Eaton and vocal favorites Venice), but also some cool names from the 70's (Karla Bonoff, Elliott Murphy, Willie Nile, Wendy Waldman), some interesting names from the 80's (Sid Griffin from Long Ryders, Ian McNabb from Icicle Works, Liam O'Maonlai from Hothouse Flowers, Steve Wynn from Dream Syndicate), as well as some new-up-and-coming names from the alt country scene in the U.S. (Clarence Bucaro, Neal Casal, Carrie Rodriguez).
The liner notes are penned by Dave Zimmer (author of two official books on CSN and CSNY), and CSN&Y's official photographer Henry Diltz offers some unpublished photos from his vast archives.
My Darling Clementine
Recorded at Yellow Arch in Sheffield and produced by Colin Elliot (Richard Hawley, Duane Eddy, Kylie) and featuring Richard Hawley’s band alongside guest appearances from Kinky Friedman and The Brodsky Quartet, "The Reconciliation?" underlines My Darling Clementine’s position at the very summit of the UK’s music scene. Whereas the unmistakable retro country sound on their debut was conceived with an implicit brief, "The Reconciliation?" takes on a wider, more contemporary feel.
"There was a game plan with the debut to dive deep into late 60's, early 70's, Nashville folklore and emulate those classic country duets” explains Michael Weston King. “We studied it and forged our own album in its likeness. The song writing, the way we recorded, the way we sang, the musicians we hired to play on the album were all carefully selected with one aim in mind”.
The debut was produced by Neil Brockbank, famed for his work with Nick Lowe and featured some of Britain's finest players from the classic pub rock era (including Geraint Watkins, Martin Belmont, Bobby Irwin.) The result was sensational, a country record that would hold its own with the great records of the time with the likes of The Guardian welcoming “a great album” and country bible Country Music People hailing it the “greatest UK country record ever”.
Far from abandoning that ethos and the duo’s unflinching love of old school classic country, "The Reconciliation?" offers a nonetheless different, broader take on the genre. As King notes, “With this new album it is more about building on what we have done but also making it a little more contemporary. Still looking back to that musical period but without replicating. Hence a new studio, a new producer and a new team of players.
Featuring eleven new songs alongside a very rare Ronnie Self cover (incidentally given to King by his old friend and songwriter Jeb Loy Nichols), "The Reconciliation?" fuses modern, contemporary themes with a country soul vibe that is both infectious and utterly compelling. In King and Lou Dalgleish we have two performers who know intrinsically what makes each other tick. They know which buttons to push and how to get the best out of each other’s performance, painfully cajoling each other one minute only to be in each other’s arms the next. But let’s be clear, this isn’t some kind of 50’s Porter Dolly love-in, My Darling Clementine are very much aware of the complex, challenging world they reside. "The Reconciliation?" also features the legendary Texan songwriter and humorist Kinky Friedman and the world-renowned UK string group The Brodsky Quartet.