With their unceremonious ejection from the EMI gravy train at the end of the 70’s, it seemed that The Saints were finished. Relieved to be ditching such troublesome clients, EMI overlooked what The Saints had left them; 'Prehistoric Sounds', a criminally neglected R'n'B masterpiece - maybe the most gorgeous suicide note a band ever left. The album was as uncompromised (and therefore doomed) as most other great cult albums, but it contained the seeds of songwriting that strongly contradicted the premature demise of The Saints.
Returning in the early 80’s with the tellingly entitled 'Paralytic Tonight, Dublin Tomorrow' (released on the all new French label, New Rose), Bailey buried any doubts over whose exclusive domain the band had become. Having been left in the lurch by record company and band members, The Saints were now about Bailey and whichever band members made the hallowed grade. Never looking back, Bailey turned The Saints back on, and the outpour commenced.
It was 1984 when Bailey reached a new peak, and it was called 'Ghost Ships'. In one stroke the song absolved the sins of a thousand bands lacking the ingenuity, integrity, guts and smarts to wait, watch, listen and learn. To this day, 'Ghost Ships' is a haunted, haunting affirmation of everything that Bailey has done.
Alien to complacency, Bailey pushed his own limits, and those of his band, reaching a new peak in the 90's with 'Prodigal Son'. An album redolent of his beloved Irish roots, rich in references to literature and legend and containing some of his most beautiful songs to date, 'Prodigal Son' announced the emergence of a new Bailey, more confident and with his demons held firmly in check.
Having made The Saints a minor household name, Bailey chose to soldier on as a solo artist. A series of superb albums followed at frequent intervals, including 1994's '54 Days At Sea', recorded in Scandinavia with a Bolivian folk group he first met playing at a street festival. Abounding in all the usual allusions and delivered in a voice that he now exercised like a whipped mongrel, '54 Days At Sea' felt like another watershed, another self-contained detour in a career of musical swings.
In 1997, Bailey returned to The Saints. The result was the outstanding album, 'Howling'. Bailey was back on another pilgrimage. Recorded fast, loose and with no shortage of great songs, 'Howling' is a loud, proud return to the band ethic of The Saints.
A year later, following the reinvigorated, perpetually changing band route, The Saints released the rip-roaring album 'Everybody Knows The Monkey'. Recruiting unknown, but feisty musicians, Bailey returned to the no-nonsense guitar rock he last perfected on 1982's 'Out In The Jungle'. Strained by the demands of agitation, volume, and passion, Bailey’s gigantic voice is given free reign by a band of heavy-hitters. The opening track, 'What Do You Want', perfectly sums up a career that has continually crashed, burned and risen from the subsequent wreckage.
For the new millennium came a new Saints album, albeit one that paid homage to the folk that carved out the music many of us live by to this day. 'Spit The Blues Out' features eight original tracks of awesome power and divine intervention, coupled with four cover versions of classic blues songs to which Bailey’s voice does ample justice. Recorded in Amsterdam, the album highlights Bailey's songwriting at its best, mixing originals and covers that reflect the grim and greedy theme park we live in today. Drinking songs, sad songs, rocking songs and fuck songs. Songs that speak to you of the world. 'Spit The Blues Out' captures the power that was injected into rock‘n’roll when rock‘n’roll was full of sex and danger.
In 2005, still resident in Amsterdam, The Saints released 'Nothing Is Straight In My House'. Featuring twelve new songs, hammered into shape in a three-week creative furnace, the record is a loud, noisy, passionate and demented mapping of the surreal psychotic soul of our surroundings. The songs are inspired by the fear and loathing of our times and reverberate with rock 'n' roll’s primal energy.
Following swiftly came 'Imperious Delirium', recorded at Stollywood Studios in Amsterdam. Fanned by the flames of an ill wind and wanton war-mongering, the record delivers a tirade against prevailing times. It is a literal howling at the insane behavior of the outlaws who make our laws and it represents some of Bailey’s most political writing. Along the way, however, love songs prevail in the shape of the wonderfully titled 'Je Fuckin T’aime'.
Which brings a common theme up to date, that being the impending release of 'King Of The Sun', a brand new collection of songs of love and dereliction by Bailey and his latest incarnation of The Saints. Recorded in Sydney and released on the Highway 125 label, the album portrays a journey home after a hundred-year war. Bailey’s writing and singing have never sounded more majestic. His is the voice of a world-weary conscript who got more than he signed up for but never shirked the task. Accompanied by piano, strings and horns, (the very sound that got The Saints dropped by EMI) 'King Of The Sun' could be viewed as a beautiful swansong to a formidable campaign. Then again, don’t bet on that.
Salim Nourallah is a singer/songwriter/producer from Dallas, Texas.
10 years ago, Salim and Farris Nourallah recorded their debut CD "Nourallah Brothers" on an 8-track recorder. Before it was even released the brothers had decided to go their separate ways. They have not recorded music together since.
Salim released his first solo record, 'Polaroid', in May of 2004 on WesternVinyl/Secretly Canadian. He went on to release the critically acclaimed 'Beautiful Noise' in 2005 which won Best CD/Best Song and Best Producer awards in the 2006 Dallas Observer Awards. After the German indie label Tapete Records released 'Beautiful Noise' in the spring of 2006, a headlining European tour followed. It was capped with an appearance at Hamburg's Reeperbahn Festival. Salim's 3rd CD 'Snowing in My Heart' yielded the successful single "Don't Be Afraid" which appeared on HBO's TV show "The Wire." Another European tour followed in the fall of 2007 with performances not only throughout Germany but also in Paris, Vienna and Switzerland.
In the fall of 2007 Salim still found time to produce the Old 97's successful 'Blame it on Gravity' CD.
'Constellation' is Salim's 4th solo CD. It was recorded in the spring of 2008 with singer/songwriter/producer extraordinaire, Billy Harvey. Salim and Billy played and sang everything themselves with the notable exception of guest appearances on the song "Saint Georges" by Austin musicians Bob Schneider (vocals & piano) and Bruce Hughes (upright bass).
'Constellation' is a joyous sonic return to the indie pop sounds of Nourallah Brothers while also maintaining the emotional directness of Salim's previous solo CDs. With soaring vocals, catchy melodies and evocative words it promises to be one of Salim's best efforts to date.
Look for Salim Nourallah on tour in Europe in April/May of 2009.
Emerging outlaw country singer, Sara Petite crafts songs that hold a tender, thoughtful quality – a flowing humanism - some quirky twists and turns – and then, at times, she transports you to the depths of her (and your) soul. She also finds room in her repertoire for traditional country, bluegrass, rock and even some celtic music.
On the title song for her new CD, "Circus Comes To Town", Petite proves to be a bit of Disney's baby, creating lush lyrics in 3-D and enhanced color and revealing wide-screen myths that never die. In her circus, bears waltz while a trapeze artist swings thru death-defying space.
Petite captures the prize with the 11 tracks on "Circus Comes To Town", produced by Eddie Gore at his Insomnia Studios in Nashville. To support her, Gore enlisted top session players, including electric guitarist Kenny Vaughan, mandolinist Steve Peavey, and fiddler John Mailander. Gore met Petite through Melanie Howard, widow of famed songwriter Harlan Howard.
Music writer George Varga of the San Diego Union Times says about Petite; “She first had to overcome a state of emotional and physical depletion... Fueled by intense grief and numbed at times by alcohol”. (Petite's fiance died of a rare blood disease in 2011). You can feel Petite's pain in “Drinkin' To Remember” as she sings, “I ain't drinkin' to remember / I'm drinkin' to forget” and further explains, “I'm burning up your photograph / But there's still a picture in my head”. “It is now me that has to keep moving on and writing new music”, Petite says.
Petite wrote all the songs on "Circus Comes To Town", except “Barbwire”, co-written with songwriter John Eddie. This cautionary love tale warns “She got barbwire 'round her heart / to protect them other parts”.
"Circus Come To Town" serves up a wide range of songs from moody tunes (“Forever Blue”) to comic fare (“If Mama Ain't Happy”) to optimistic songs like “Someday I'm Gonna Fly”, lends honky-tonk riffs to “Scarlet Letter”, inspired while reading Nathaniel Hawthorne's 19th century romantic novel.
“I wear my heart on my sleeve, which sometimes leaves you vulnerable”, Petite emphasizes. “As I am an artist, we're all vulnerable”.
On “Ashes”, the melancholic closing song, Petite shares what she believes her late fiance would say: “Spread my ashes in the desert, scatter some at sea / Keep a little for yourself, a little piece of me”.
Transplanted to San Diego from a rural town in Washington – and influenced by artists as diverse as Loretta Lynn and June Carter to Tom Petty and John Mellencamp - Petite has toured the West Coast, Southeast and Europe, and she's now traveling throughout the U.S.
"Circus Comes To Town" is the CD that will bring Sara Petite still more loyal fans. So if you like your music straight and lyrics strong, this recording is for you.
Scott Kirby released his new CD, “Row Me Home” in late September, 2009. The new recording is Kirby’s sixth release and features 11 brand new songs by the artist known for his laid back “beach folk” style. Originally from Concord, New Hampshire, Kirby has lived in Key West for the better part of twenty years, but still spends much of his time on the New Hampshire Seacoast when not touring. His songs are a mainstay on 'Radio Margaritaville', the popular station heard nationally on Sirius and XM satellite radio.
“Row Me Home” was produced by veteran drummer/producer Russell Kunkel in his Los Angeles studio and mixed by his son and Emmy-winning engineer Nathaniel Kunkel. In addition to his extraordinary drumming career, Kunkel has produced a number of well known artists such as Dan Fogelburg, Carly Simon, Aaron Neville and Graham Nash. He also produced six Jimmy Buffett-albums and has numerous co-writing credits with Buffett and many others, and co-wrote four of the songs on Kirby’s latest CD. Kunkel also released his own Jazz album, “Rivage”, last year, on the Chateau Beach label.
In addition to producing, Kunkel played drums and percussion and was joined by longtime rhythm section partner Leland Sklar on bass, legendary guitarist Dean Parks on pedal steel, dobro, acoustic and electric guitar, and keyboardist extraordinaire Jay Oliver on piano and organ. Gabe Witcher played fiddle on several cuts and Gary Meek filled out the band on saxophone.
A group of veteran LA-based singers provided the background vocals including Windy Wagner, Ken Stacey and Dorian Hollie, in addition to Sweet Pea Atkinson and Harry Bowens, who were on break from the Lyle Lovett tour. Coral Reefer Peter Mayer sang on “Row Me Home,” a tune he also co-wrote.
“Russ deserves the credit for assembling this stunning array of talent and I’m forever grateful.” said Kirby. “These are all folks Russ has worked with over the years in his own amazing career and there was such a comfort level in the studio that it put me at ease in what otherwise could have been a daunting experience. This was more like old friends getting together to hang out and make some music in a casual and often comical atmosphere, which is my favorite and most effective way to work!”
Scott Krokoff (pronounced crow-cough) is a practicing lawyer who never gave up his lifelong dream to be a singersongwriter, and in so doing hopes to serve as an inspiration to others who have not yet fulfilled their dreams. With a rich and rootsy Americana sound drawn primarily from 60's and 70's folkrock and pop influences, Scott writes and sings from the heart about dreams, love, the working world and other themes many people can relate to.
Vocally, he sounds like a combination of Jackson Browne and Glen Phillips. He is both a fingerpicker and strummer, fusing the fingerpicking styles of James Taylor, Paul Simon and Lindsay Buckingham, and incorporating the country rock of Neil Young and the Eagles and the roots rock of Tom Petty.
Scott released his latest EP, "Realizations & Declarations Vol 1", in late 2013. This is the first of a series of EP's that will culminate in a full-length album as the follow-up to "A Better Life", Scott’s debut CD released in 2007. Scott’s next EP, "Realizations & Declarations Vol 2", is expected to be released by fall 2014.
"Watercolor Day" is the new album from Seth Swirsky, hit songwriter and member of The Red Button,who took the indie pop world by storm two years ago with their debut, "She's About To Cross My Mind".
"Watercolor Day" is what Nick Lowe would call "pure pop for now people". Just listen to the songs. It's as if Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney decided to make a record together in 1971 and asked members of 10cc and ELO to join in!
Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles digs it, saying "'Watercolor Day' is a sonic bouquet of delicious melodies, melt-in-your-mouth harmonies and warm butterscotch guitars that jangle and shine. Fantastic!"
The influential music blog, Powerpopaholic said: "This disc is pure summer sweetness distilled and I am proud to list it in my year end top ten". Enjoy!
The Shiner Twins
In the many reviews that appeared after the release of the Shiner Twins’ second album 'Southern Belles', the band has been hailed as the hottest roots-band from the Netherlands, and some reviewers even described the band as the best roots-band in Europe, judging the album as “a milestone in the genre”.
The band’s unique blend of southern soul, rhythm & blues, country, traditional gospel, New Orleans funk, texmex and singer-songwriter oriented material makes them anyhow stand out in the widely varied Dutch roots- and americana-circuit. That’s one of the reasons why the band was invited to play at all the important festivals in the Netherlands and Belgium in the spring and summer of 2009.
The initial roots of the Shiner Twins are located in Austin TX. When founding bandmember Jack Hustinx was living there in 2001/2002 he was asked to put together a European touring-band by Austin’s legendary powerhouse-singer Malford Milligan (ex-Storyville), and so he did. After three very successful European tours and one tour in and around Malford’s hometown Austin - to celebrate the release of the critically acclaimed 'Sweet Cherry Soul' album - this co-operation came to an end. Because the remaining bandmembers agreed that there was this “undefinable chemistry” every time they played together they decided to continue as a band, the Shiner Twins, with their own material, written by both Jack Hustinx and Richard van Bergen, the band’s two lead-vocalists and guitarists. Richard is considered to be one of the most talented roots-guitarists in the Netherlands, probably the best slide-player in the country, heavily influenced by co-players like Bonnie Raitt, Lowell George, David Lindley and Ry Cooder.
In October 2006 the band’s debut-album 'All In Store' was released, and almost instantly this CD was hailed by every magazine and website as one of the most excellent and original roots-CDs ever to come out of the Netherlands. The CD entered at a #2 position in the Euro Americana Chart and gained a lot of airplay on national radio. The name Shiner Twins was put on the map, and the band played almost continuously in the many clubs, theaters and festivals throughout the Netherlands and Belgium. This definitely contributed to the outstanding live-reputation of the band, not only through their solid musical craftsmanship and haunting vocal-harmonies, but also as being one of the most honest and intensely playing rootsbands you will ever see. All four Shiner Twins members are true, convincing and experienced roots-junkies that have been playing and recording with many different bands and artists for more than 25 years.
Two years after the release of their debut the Shiner Twins launched the eagerly awaited follow-up entitled 'Southern Belles', an even stronger mix of styles, adding more traditional southern gospel to their music, featured in 13 new intriguing Shiner Twins originals.
In their native Netherlands every rootsmusic-fan is proud that this soulful roots-combo is coming from their country, now it’s up to the rest of Europe to get to know the Shiner Twins…..
As the title suggests, 'Family Man' is Shooter Jennings’ most personal and introspective album to date, focusing on his home life with Drea de Matteo and their two children, the endless temptations of life on the road, his Southern heritage and upbringing, and his unique position among today’s country musicians. Shooter has worn many hats throughout his career: the selfdescribed “son of a rebel saint”, the hell-raising vigilante minister at a revival of true country music, the radical prophet using rock and roll as his medium.
Now after a career where he has done everything from sharing the stage with Alice in Chains to writing songs for the Oak Ridge Boys, Shooter will finally reveal the man at the heart of it all when he releases 'Family Man'.
Recording in his recently adopted hometown of New York, producing himself for the first time, and playing with a group of extremely talented musicians he has dubbed “The Triple Crown”, Shooter is more relaxed and confident on this album than ever before. Featuring renowned jazz pianist Erik Deutsch, guitarist Chris Masterson, drummer Tony Leone, bassist Jeff Hill, pedal steel player John Graboff, and rising roots music star, Eleanor Whitmore, who contributes harmony vocals, as well as playing mandolin and fiddle, The Triple Crown brings to mind such ensembles as Merle Haggard’s Strangers, Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys, and Buck Owens’ Buckaroos, becoming an integral part of the music and adding their unique stamp to each and every note. It is his rebel DNA accompanied with his mature outlook and emotional strength of a father and a family man, which makes him one of the most exciting artists of his era.
Simon Elvnäs says that the music has always been there in his head. It was there before he learned to play a musical instrument.
Perhaps not surprisingly Simon grew up in a family where music had an important focus. His father played the accordion and entertained the local community at dances when Simon was young. His path to true musical discovery was born out of necessity. Simon’s father decided one day that he needed drum accompaniment for his performances and put the young Simon in front of a set of drums and taught him how to play. This would continue until the age of 14.
It was then that he wrote his first song, a song he says that he simply had in his head. Most of us would probably consider this quite remarkable, but Simon talks about it as if explaining how it was to tie his shoelaces for the first time. The transition from drums to guitar was still many years away.
The subtle push towards musical expression continued when Simon’s older brother decided to start a band with Simon, Simon’s girlfriend and a couple of friends who not only knew nothing about music but had never actually seen one as Simon tells it. Still bitten by the music bug, Simon continued to play the drums and write music in his head, cranking out a total of three songs as the drummer.
Simon’s evolution into a true singer/songwriter came when he was 21. It was then that he bought his a second-hand guitar, his first, and a how-to book on playing guitar. Not long afterwards Simon found himself at a birthday party as the vocalist with a friend who could actually play the guitar. Apparently the will was there, but not the ability… yet. This birthday party would prove be the turning point in his singing career.
At the party a local restaurant owner approached Simon and asked him if he would be interested in singing at her restaurant. He accepted the offer and a month after buying his first guitar Simon had his first gig… without knowing how to play. Simon sang accompanied by his guitar playing friend from the birthday party and their debut was a success. As the guitarist lived far away Simon was forced to learn to play in a hurry, learning so quickly and so well he played at the restaurant every other weekend for 3 years. Not a bad start for a guy who primarily played covers of pop rock and folk music. Along the way, he started writing and performing his own songs.
Simon is now 35 and his music is a reflection of his journey through life and love. The collection of songs on this album is sincere and meaningful, sung in Simon’s distinctive soothing and smooth style. They reflect things that we can all relate to and Simon sings to you like a friend. From the pleasantly addictive “Can’t Let You Touch Me Now” to the pop flavored “Faultless” (with backing vocals by Irma Schultz Keller) to the hauntingly beautiful duet “I Will Change It All” with Frida Öhrn, these are tracks that take hold of you and don’t let go. All of the tracks on the album were recorded in natural sound… nothing digital about the music here. It was recorded live in order to capture the feeling and the atmosphere of the moment, that special feeling that only comes from a live performance.
The album is produced by Glen Scott, whose credits include Eric Bibb, Ron Sexsmith, Stephen Simmonds and Sarah Dawn Finer.
Simon has always known what he was born to do and that awareness has caught up with him. This is music for the heart and for the soul from a genuinely artistic musical soul. The appeal is contagious.
Nico Georis is visionary and poetic musician and one of the most original keyboard players of our times. His musical talents have taken him from Big Sur, to New York, Paris, Romania, and back to the San Francisco Bay area, while carrying on a legacy of California grooves. Nico is a man who is connected to nature’s realm and is dedicated to musically linking listeners to the pulse of life.
Following the release of his debut home recordings “Songs From Nowhere”, Nico Georis has collaborated with friends to form the band, Sky Country. Born from the lineages of 60’s California surf rock culture, the great american roots of New Orleans piano, blues, roots rock, 70’s Africa, impressionism, and other obscure realms, Sky Country humbly blasts into a new frontier in new California rock'n'roll. Highlights of 2012 included opening for Fishbone and rock n’ roll legend, Leon Russell.
“Songs From Nowhere I & II” are Sky Country’s debut home recordings, completely self produced by Nico Georis in his basement of analog relics. Sky Country’s infectious tonal grooves are revealed on an arsenal of vintage keyboards, lush and fuzzy guitars, set atop a warm lo-fi rock'n'roll river bed. Stylistically “Songs From Nowhere” pays homage to the great songwriters and musical craftsmen of the past, while firmly staking its claim to a virgin frontier in new California music.
This is warm California rock'n'roll inspired by the coast and deserts of the western frontier.
Swedish guitarist, singer and songwriter Slowman – aka Svante Törngren – has made himself a name on the European blues scene with a broad range of americana, blues, rock, soul and altcountry. But this spring, Slowman releases new material entirely in Swedish, with personal depictions of Stockholm, something the artist claims craved his native language. An EP with 3 Swedish titles – "Månguld", "Blues Från Östermalm" and "Hem Till Hornstull" – is launched on the 12th of April. The solid and rich production reaches radio, as well as print and online media, through promotion by Hemifrån, and is distributed by Plugged Records through the usual online record sites. A full length album is planned for September 2014.
Sofia Ekberg is a Swedish, Gothenburg based singer-songwriter who plays music in the field of folk-country-pop. Sofia sings stories about daily life, its big questions and small details, with a voice and lyrics that get under your skin. All accompanied by her rhythmical guitar playing.
Sofia’s musical journey has taken many turns. She was born in the small village Bottnaryd in the deep forests of Småland, and very early on had a longing for music. At the age of five she got her first guitar and soon found a way to express herself musically.
Growing up she changed direction: trained and worked as a musical theatre performer, both in Sweden and England, and took part in productions on stages like Oscarsteatern in Stockholm, Östgötateatern in Norrköping and The Mercury Theatre in Colchester, England. When living in England she discovered her songwriting and began to play her songs at open stages in and around London, where she also worked as a session singer and was a member of Jest, a soul-rock band that played in the streets. Somewhere along the way, Sofia wrecked her voice, and wasn't able to sing for a number of years. During this silent time her songwriting kept evolving, and she worked hard to find a way back to her authentic voice and unique expression.
Now she’s here with the debut EP "All The Small Details", produced together with Patrick Rydman and Henrik Cederblom. Recorded mostly live at the studio Epidemin in Gothenburg, with three guitars, harmony singing, mandolin, dobro and stompbox, the trio creates a strong presence and a feeling of acoustic directness where the songs and the stories really come into focus and grab your attention.
Sofia plays solo, duo, as well as with the trio My Quiet Companion (with Rydman and Cederblom). She has played venues such as Visby Songwriters Festival, Copenhagen Songwriters Festival, Sunne Folk Festival, Pustervik (Gothenburg) and Jarmusch Club, Caserta, (Naples, Italy).
Sofia also works with various co-writing projects in both Sweden and Denmark. Currently she's involved in a project together with Danish singer-songwriter Cecilie Sadolin, who released her debut EP "Nordic Craft" in September 2013. Sofia is also the guitarist of the band Mint.
Furthermore, she has developed and runs the one-year course for singer-songwriters at Löftadalens folkhögskola in Åsa, Sweden.
Sons Of The Sea
"Sons Of The Sea" is the quintessential Brandon Boyd record — an introspective, eclectic collection from the artist, author, activist, environmentalist and surfer that will tantalize longtime fans while further spotlighting his evolving interests. The acclaimed Incubus vocalist is stretching his formidable creative muscles with a daring new foray into solo music.
While Boyd’s inviting, empathetic voice is familiar to millions, "Sons Of The Sea", the self-titled album, infuses it in challenging new contexts. Produced by the renowned Brendan O’Brien (Incubus, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Rage Against The Machine), the album luxuriates in innovative sonic backdrops, allowing what they coined as 'oddball pop' to flourish. For an artist like Boyd, the thrill and confusion of the quest to create will always trump the tangible, material rewards bestowed for his efforts.
Leadoff track “Jet Black Crow” flaunts what Boyd calls a 'stomping playfulness' that befits his dreamlike musing on infatuation’s ups and downs. And he is just as compelling in the record’s many departures, from the eerie, synth-driven obsession of “Lady Black”, to playing lothario in the seductive “Come Together”, contemplating his unique creative process in the piano-driven “Avalanche”, or paying tribute to Emily Dickinson’s perspective on an artist’s responsibility via “Untethered” — 'tell us the truth, but tell it to us gently, lest we all go blind'.
Boyd and O’Brien joined forces when Incubus went on hiatus following 2011’s "If Not Now, When?" 'After much toiling and overthinking about how I was to go about starting a new music project, I decided that the best way forward was to let go completely!' Boyd enthuses. 'Stop thinking about where, when, what, who and how, and simply… Go!'.
That ability to overcome doubt and give voice to complex thoughts applies to his visual art as well. Boyd’s third art book, "So The Echo", emerged this fall, following up acclaimed predecessors "White Fluffy Clouds" (2003) and "From The Murks Of The Sultry Abyss" (2007). A compendium of unobstructed watercolor, ink pieces and photographic spreads, "So The Echo" 'offers some of my most vulnerable observations yet, unedited and out on a limb. After all, the echo towards a life of expressivity is only as loud as the call!'.
'There is no end in creativity', Boyd concludes. 'Hence, to strive towards an end result is a fool’s errand. Set goals, make music and paint pictures, but know that the crux of your happiness balances delicately on the wings of the act of creativity itself. Not at the finish line'.
The album “Sons Of The Sea” is set to be released in Europe in February on Membran, including special acoustic versions of “Come Together” and “Lady Black”.
“Oh, it’s over,” sings the choir at the end of Sorta’s eponymous new record, and so, in a way, it is. Not in a they-planned-it-that-way sort of (sorta) way; not every band gets the luxury of a premeditated grand exit, a la The Band’s 'Last Waltz'. Sometimes the tape just runs out, right in the middle of a solo, song or a band just getting good and warmed up, and, just like that, it’s over. Everyone looks around at each other, the same stunned, puzzled look on everyone’s face, and after a long moment, without anyone needing to say a word, it’s decided to just let it be.
In the late summer of 2007, the members of the Dallas-based band were well on their way toward completing their fifth full-length album. Producer/engineer Stuart Sikes (White Stripes, Cat Power, Modest Mouse) was relentless, pounding live take after live take out of the band, not in pursuit of studio perfection, but rather those magically ragged-but-right performances that sometimes surface when musicians are past the point of exhaustion and operating on almost pure instinct. It was brutal but exhilarating, and Sorta — singer-songwriter Trey Johnson, bassist Danny Balis, lead guitarist and piano player Carter Albrecht, pedal steel player Ward Williams, guitar and keyboard player Chris Holt and drummer Tom Bridwell (new to the band, but a longtime friend and fan) — all rose to the occasion. As would only be expected from six journeymen musicians in their 30s, and from a critically lauded group with multiple Dallas Observer Music Awards to their collective credit.
But then something unexpected happened: the tragic Sept. 3 death of Albrecht. A year later, his loss still seems surreal an unexplainable to everyone who knew him, and anyone who ever heard him play. Albrecht one of the most prodigiously talented, respected and beloved musicians in Dallas, whose credits included not only Sorta and his own band, Sparrows, but also work with Edie Brickell, Paul Simon, Charlie Sexton and the Dallas Symphony.
The rest of the band was still very much in mourning by the time they reconvened to finish the album (which was mastered in late 2007). The decision was made to “clean up a few loose ends” with minimal overdubs, but no more songs were tracked and Albrecht’s recordings were left untouched. For the album-closing song “Afraid of the Dark,” a group of friends was brought in to sing the aforementioned “it’s over” refrain through tears as Albrecht’s pre-recorded guitar line answered back through the studio speakers. Neither that song nor any of the others were written about their late friend, though of course, for all involved, the entire album will forever play like a bittersweet benediction — not only for Albrecht, but for the band Sorta itself.
“The future is uncertain,” the band writes in the album’s liner notes, “but the past is full of distinct memories, pain and pleasure, and most importantly, music made with love.” Frontman Johnson, who began playing as an acoustic duo with Balis eight years ago before Albrecht made it a trio and subsequent members helped fully define Sorta’s continually evolving sound, says that there are plans to support the album’s release with live dates, but notes that sorta will most likely stand as Sorta’s final bow. In the months since the record was mastered in early 2008, the band members have dispersed to work on separate projects: Holt — recently named Musician of the Year at the 2007 Dallas Observer Music Awards — fronts his own band, the Slack; Ward moved to Nashville to pursue session work; and both Johnson and Balis are at work on their first solo albums. Carter’s posthumous solo debut — recorded at the same time as the Sorta album — is due for imminent release, too. “Carter’s album will melt you,” Johnson enthuses.
So too will sorta, the last record this wonderful band made together before — nay, as — the proverbial tape ran out. Under different circumstances, it might have been a slightly longer album. Albrecht might have wanted to revisit some of his parts, many of which had only been recorded as demo or scratch takes before his death. But many of the songs here feature Johnson’s scratch vocals, too, chosen over later takes not out of necessity but because they best fit the sound of the band playing as a band, capturing the urgency and majestic beauty of Sorta’s live shows in a way that never before fully survived the translation to disc on the band’s previous studio albums (2001’s 'Plays for Lovers', 2002’s 'Laugh Out Loud', 2004’s 'Little Bay' and 2006’s 'Strange and Sad but True'). The songs here, too, are arguably the best the band ever worked on together — lifted both by the sterling performances all around and some of Johnson’s most engaging and — however ironic in hindsight — lighthearted and even playful lyrics. There’s sadness here — always a Sorta/Johnson specialty — but also songs like “Poor Little Child” and the wickedly sly, bouncy “Fool’s Gold” that sound every bit as fun to listen to as they were for the band to record. Even “I’ll Be There” — written about the death of another friend of the band’s — soars on the wings of Albrecht and Holt’s guitars, layered together in such a way you’d swear George Harrison was in the mix, too.
The end result is a snapshot in time of a band that had only just begun to truly realize its full potential, poised for what surely would have been only the beginning of its greatest output. Instead, it’s Sorta’s swansong. But it’s hard to imagine the band going out on a higher note — or saying goodbye to their friend in a way more fitting manner than to share with the world the beauty of the irreplaceable role he played in making Sorta the very special band it was, and everyone who played with him the best they musicians could be.
“The band did good,” Johnson offers matter-of-factly. “I mean, as not cool as I am with the ridiculous tragedy and loss, I’m very satisfied with what we did. The record’s a perfect statement and document of what the band sounded like, and for me especially, that’s very valuable. More than anything, I just want people to have the chance to hear it. It can be a very difficult to listen to — there are some moments on here that will make you cry, even if you’re able to forget the circumstances around it. But I think it’s a beautiful record. Everybody who makes records wants to make records that move people. And this one does; it moves me, and I hope it moves other people, too. I hope it finds a home.”
Southern Girls consists of Helga Hægeland, Nina Munksgaard and Lene Tønnessen. We all live in Kristiansand, in southern Norway, where we have been active in the local music milieu. All three of us have released CD’s individually, and we have also performed as backing singers and soloists in numerous concerts and recordings. Four years ago, we formed a trio, and quickly gained a loyal and enthusiastic following, giving concerts and performing at festivals around Norway. We also recorded a few singles that received national airplay in Norway. This is our first CD as a trio.
This has been an exciting cooperation with our producer, John Beland. He has been in Norway twice to supervise recording sessions. First in November 2012, then in June 2013. He is known all over the world as a member of The Flying Burrito Brothers, but he has also worked with many famous artists, including Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristoffersen, Garth Brooks, Elvis Presley and Waylon Jennings. We were greatly honored when he travelled all the way from Texas in order to attend our release concert in Kristiansand on September 27th this year.
This is a country-rock CD. Lene has written three new songs, and John Beland contributes four. It has been exciting and rewarding to have worked together on this music. We sing a lot of harmonies, and our vocals become more attuned as time goes by. We always have a great time performing together.
We have also included some of the most professional and well-known musicians in our region on our team. This group contributes with professional performances in our concerts and on this recording.
We hope that this CD will convey to the listeners our own joy for music. We love performing together. If you enjoy listening to it, please recommend it to family and friends. We are convinced that you are in for a big surprise. The feedback we have received thus far is overwhelming.
The CD has been recorded both in Norway and in the United States. John Beland has worked with backing arrangements in Texas, vocals have been added in Norway, Frank Basil has recorded the drums in California, and the mastering was done by Bill Douglas in Colorado. To make music together on different continents is not as challenging as it once was.
The CD is called “A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That”.
Stephen David Austin
The honest and unadorned images in his lyrics open a window into the life and times of Americana singer-songwriter Stephen David Austin.
Neon motels, brown Bakersfield skies, tobacco-stained fingers and a woman’s whiskey eyes reveal the veteran musician’s vision of a town, a world, or simply a state of mind where the ground is shifting beneath our feet faster than we can regain our balance. With a keen eye for detail and a strong sense of place, Austin paints his images in sepia tones darkened by the fine brown dust of the San Joaquin Valley.
It’s all here – ready to be experienced – on Austin’s first solo CD release, “A Bakersfield Dozen”.
Even as the raw, Telecaster-laden rhythms and crying pedal-steel guitar cling to a musical tradition born of the Bakersfield Sound, Austin’s lyrics make it clear the world he inherited from Buck Owens, Tommy Collins, and Merle Haggard is being transformed before our very eyes.
“I’ve always been drawn to stripped-down, raw roots music and great storytelling”, Austin said of his influences, who, in addition to the aforementioned icons, include Dave Alvin, Steve Earle, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Townes Van Zandt and Gram Parsons. “If you can’t tap your feet to it, or tap your beer bottle against the tabletop, you’ve missed the target”.
While these musical traditions are hugely important to Austin, songs like “Kansas Ain’t In Kansas Anymore” and “The Cage” immediately signal to listeners that even our dearest traditions may not survive the forces of change surging toward us like a record Sierra snowmelt on a summer afternoon.
Inspired by a popular quote from “The Wizard Of Oz”, Austin’s “Kansas” takes Dorothy’s iconic line a step further, suggesting that even the Kansas that exists in the American Heartland of our imagination can’t claim to be in Kansas anymore.
Drawing his lens inward to reflect a more personal perspective, Austin’s “The Cage” is penned in the storyteller tradition. It’s about a man hitch-hiking toward his hometown after spending decades in prison. But like Kansas, the man’s home is sure to bear little resemblance to the place he once knew.
In his song “The Day Buck Owens Died,” Austin mourns the loss of the Bakersfield Sound pioneer, and at the same time, dedicates an unabashed homage to the music of Owens and the Buckaroos. Austin said he still remembers being stunned by the news of Buck’s passing in March 2006 – and when Buddy Blue, a founding member of The Beat Farmers, died a few days later, Austin dealt with the loss the best way he knew how, by writing about it.
Austin is the first to recognize that his view of the world is anything but rose-colored. His lyrics have focused on broken dreams, endless nights and the inevitable fall from grace so many of us face at some point in our lives. Fortunately, his sense of humor remains hilariously intact in songs like “Best Ex I Ever Had” and “Dance With No Pants”.
Americana music is a lyricist’s domain, the perfect vehicle for a storyteller-songwriter like Austin. And the southern San Joaquin Valley, the setting of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” is a central character in much of Austin’s writing.
“If Steinbeck had been a musician,” Austin said, “I think he’d still be in Americana”.
Steve Broderick & The 100 Watt Suns
Steve Broderick is a former New York City based singer-songwriter who, besides being a well-known figure on the New York regional club circuit, has been a touring member of the multi-platinum, arena-filling Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) for 10 years. His solo disc, simply titled "Steve Broderick", is his first recording as a solo artist.
The Steve Broderick solo disc is the culmination of years spent in the rock 'n' roll trenches. Steve’s many bands have ridden the rock 'n' roll roller coaster from the grimiest clubs in the East Village, all the way to touring with legends like Bad Company and Lynyrd Skynryrd. His new album spans those years of ups and downs, including the exhilaration of being signed to a label, and the frustrations of being dropped. In fact, 2 songs on the new album, “Love Is Wasted On Me” and “Dripping”, are from Steve’s catalog and are the songs that made the industry first take notice of Steve’s instantly identifiable voice and incisive songwriting. And he’s still in the trenches, every day, writing, recording, and playing live - and even performing at a sold-out Madison Square Garden with Trans-Siberian Orchestra on December 27 of 2004, a dream gig for this New Yorker, and, it’s safe to say, for anyone who has ever picked up an instrument with dreams of rock 'n' roll stardom.
Broderick was heavily influenced by the Rolling Stones as well many of the newer roots rock singer songwriters and the album draws upon those influences but also pushes further into deeper waters. Steve says: “The players involved with TSO are from many different genres including rock, jazz, Broadway and classical. Being exposed to their level of musicianship encouraged me to step it up and study and learn more about the craft, and to experiment, especially with some mellower music”. Steve Broderick’s new album features twelve original songs, all written or co-written by Broderick, plus one special cover.
Steve’s collaborators are an accomplished group. Steve says, “I met Mike Lutz, the album’s producer, when my band was opening up for Ted Nugent. Lutz was in Brownsville Station and wrote the classic ‘Smokin’ In The Boys Room’. Mike, being a Detroit guy, was friendly with Blue Miller, the guitarist who spent years in Bob Seger’s band”. Blue also has recently been involved with writing and producing India Arie. Steve, Blue and Lutz collectively wrote “Sometimes I Can’t Believe You’re Real”, a standout track on the album. The disc is fleshed out by guitarist Joel Hoekstra, who Steve had seen in the long-running off-Broadway show 'Love, Janis', about the life of Janis Joplin, and drummer-studio whiz Mark Ambrosino, a real find who tours and records with many artists including Stevie Wonder and Michael McDonald.
Steve tips his hat to his friend and former manager David Krebs (confidant of AC/DC, Aerosmith and many other rock legends) for suggesting the cover “Never A Day Goes By” by 70's rockers Artful Dodger. Krebs also introduced Broderick to Paul O’Neill, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra mastermind, writer and producer, who encouraged Steve to really push his emotional connection to the songs that he wrote about hope and redemption.
Who are these guys? What secrets lie deep within? Do they have something to hide? Are they coming or going? Are they being coy or aloof? Are they poseurs or the real McCoy?
Maybe we should ask them to show us what they are hiding. Fear not, all will be revealed on “Where Are The Bodies Buried?” Steve Mednick’s 10th CD release since 2006 and the third in the “Problems In Democracy Series” which started with “Dark Ages Reprise: Songs in the Key of Gw” (2006) and continued with “Time For A Change” (2008).
“The songs and themes on ‘Where Are The Bodies Buried?’ revolve around the hope that rationality, civility, the sanctity of human rights, science and fact will, again, rule the roost against the severe individualistic and theocratic impulses of the right. My fondest hope is that we, as a nation, rise up and above the travails of life, the roadblocks, prejudices, insults, obsessions and nihilism that defines so much of what we see in the news. I hope we make the correct choices everyday and at the polls. I hope that you like the words and the music.”
Not surprisingly Steve is already at work on his next music projects; “Explanations & Construals”, “The Well Of Souls” and “Root Of The Sun”.
Steve Noonan released his first album in 1968. It was such a huge smash success that he is releasing his follow-up immediately forty years later!
Way back in the 1960’s there was a hip music magazine called Cheetah. The first issue featured a nude picture of Mama Cass on a bear skin rug. Did you know Mama Cass had a tattoo? It was Cheetah that labeled Tim Buckley, Steve Noonan and Jackson Browne as “The Orange County Three.” All three were friends who performed at the Paradox in Orange County and other folk clubs and all three were very talented songwriters. At that time Jackson Browne was not much of a singer and it would be a few years before he would make his first album, but Elektra Records had signed Tim Buckley and he had recorded his first LP. Looking for another singer songwriter to duplicate Buckley’s success, Elektra signed Steve Noonan in 1967. It seemed like a dream come true to the teenaged Noonan, but, sadly, it wasn’t. It turned out to be the worst thing for Steve Noonan’s professional ambitions.
Just as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band had a Top 40 hit with 'Buy For Me the Rain', a song written by Steve Noonan and his friend Greg Copeland, Steve went to New York to record his album. Paul Rothchild, the legendary producer of the Doors and Janis Joplin was brought in to produce the album. But Elektra and Rothchild wanted Tim Buckley II, not Steve Noonan. They tried desperately to recreate Noonan in Buckley’s image and Steve resisted. The clash led to Rothchild storming out and taking his name off the record. Steve said, “You can take my name off it, too.” The record came out. Elektra spent twenty dollars on promotion and it sunk like a stone. I bought a copy for sixty-six cents at Aaron’s Records on Melrose. The album and the artist who made it deserved better. 'Leaning Back & Laughing' is as fine a track as anything ever released on the label.
The second Steve Noonan album is the work of a seasoned artist, a singer songwriter who has labored in relative obscurity for all these years. While Tim Buckley fell victim to rock’s excesses, and Jackson Browne rose to fame and played intimate songs in baseball stadiums, Steve Noonan played coffee houses and living rooms, always writing and playing and singing. Most of the artists of the sixties did their best work in their twenties. But here we find Steve Noonan just a bit older and doing some of the strongest work of his life. The songs on this new album were mostly written in the last few months. Listening to these songs now is like hearing an exciting new discovery. It’s like finding a forgotten gem for sixty six cents in the bargain bin at Aaron’s.
That golden California Sound comes alive again on 'Time Still Knocking', Steve Postell's Immergent Records debut. This rich, organic work draws on rock, folk, blues, country and R&B, all distilled through well-honed craftsmanship coupled with genuine heart and the musical camaraderie of a staggeringly talented group of musicians.
A singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, Steve's remarkable career begins a new chapter on 'Time Still Knocking' which features a wide array of legendary musicians. Contributors and collaborators include David Crosby, Jennifer Warnes, John Oates, Robben Ford, Eric Johnson, Paul Barrere, Dave Koz and many others.
“I was with the band, Little Blue, for nine years and I wrote a lot of the material, so when I was signed, the original thought was to create a new band around me," Steve says. "But after I started working on the album, it became clear that this was an artist-driven project. We felt it was time for me to make a solo record."
The album’s opener, the inviting, bluesy '3:45 Coming Through', is one of the few tracks that Steve wrote on his own as most of the songs are collaborations. His songwriting partners ranged from rockl veteran John Oates (Hall & Oates) on the baroque folk-rock of 'Straight For the Moon', to hard rocker Kip Winger on the churning 'Change in the Circle'. “Even though Kip, John and the others are all different, there’s a kind of common thread, true of every person who worked with me on this record,” Steve says. “They all understand and strive for a very high level of artistry. That’s what connects everything, not their styles.”
The music on 'Time Still Knocking' crackles with a sense of discovery, yet is also instantly familiar. The rising harmonies in 'Background Noise' and 'Catch The Wind' tap into a legacy that includes CSN&Y and the Eagles, among others. Steve also pays tribute to his influences with Buzz Feiten’s 'Long Way Home' (featuring Buzzy and jazz legend Dave Koz) and Little Feat’s 'Missing You', sharing vocals with the song's writer, guitarist Paul Barrere.
For Steve Postell, 'Time Still Knocking' is the culmination of dedicated work, lasting friendships and creative partnerships for a complete musician who knows where he’s been and looks to the future with anticipation.
“My primary inspiration was always to be a singer-songwriter, but I wanted to understand as much about the process as possible,” he says. “It’s always been about songwriting first, though the studio – engineering, how you record, arrange and so on – is a big part of it too. Assembling all the talent for this record, from the incredible musicians to mix engineer Nathaniel Kunkel and up to the final days with legendary mastering engineer Bernie Grundman, gave me the chance to watch these songs come into existence from their birth as mere ideas."
Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst
Steven Casper, a Los Angeles based singer-songwriter, grew up in Japan, Italy, Nigeria and Mexico as an American Embassy brat. Steven spent countless hours listening to his parent’s record collection of American music icons such as Hank Williams, Bob Wills, Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie and Mahalia Jackson.
Steven had been looking for a guitarist to help him record some of his new root based songs. As luck would have it, Steven was given Glen Lynskey’s number by a mutual friend. Glen, who had performed for numerous major label acts, had won Best Electric Guitarist of the Northwest in 1996. They spoke briefly on the phone and agreed to meet. Glen liked Steven’s songs and the two quickly became good friends.
A three song demo was recorded. The drummer on the session, Tony Felicetta (who now plays Ringo in the highly successful Las Vegas Beatles tribute show), asked Steven if he had any other songs because he thought “we could put a set together and play some clubs”. “Yeah, I’ve got about 300 tunes”, Steven said. A band was born.
Steven then decided to speak to a longtime friend, Ross “The Professor” Levinson, a film and TV composer, who played violin and keyboards, to see if he was interested in joining the band. Ross had previously played with such artists such as Tom Waits, Harry Belafonte and Joan Jett. Ross came by a rehearsal and immediately clicked with the band. The interplay between Ross on violin and Glen on lead guitar has become one of the features of the band’s sound. Ross also went on to produce the band’s first two records, “Cowboy Angst” and “I Used To Be The King Of The World”.
The current band’s line-up was completed in 2004 with drummer Jay Nowac, and bassist Herb Deitelbaum. Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst then released, “Topanga Ranch Motel” in 2008 and “Solid Gone” in 2010. Both albums were produced by Ira Ingber, who has been a guitarist and producer with numerous artists including Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Frank Sinatra, Canned Heat and Captain Beefheart. Ira was able to capture the bands dynamic live sound which Music Connection Magazine described as “country music originating in the Allman Brother’s backyard”.
The next album, “Kindness”, recorded in 2011, continued the collaboration with producer Ira Ingber. For this record the band and Ira brought in some guest musicians: The Brotherhood Horns, Carl Byron on keyboards and accordion, John McClung on pedal steel, and Matt Cartsonis on mandola.
In the following year, The Professor and Glen moved on to other endeavors. Both are greatly missed. However, as the door closed on the band’s original lineup, another door opened as Carl Byron and John Groover McDuffie joined up. John is a multi-talented, versatile musician who is accomplished on electric and acoustic guitar, pedal steel, lap steel, dobro and slide guitars. Since 2005 John has been the musical director for Rita Coolidge. Carl, hailed by the Los Angeles Times as a “musical ace”, adds piano, organ and accordion to the mix. Also a talented composer, Carl’s compositional works have appeared in dance and theater performances.
“Trouble” is the latest work from Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst. The new members and guest musicians help guide the music deeper into American roots music while still keeping a rock 'n' roll feel. That is until you sit down “on the front porch”. Once again the album was produced by Ira Ingber.
The band performs regularly in the Los Angeles area at clubs like The Grand Ole Echo, Ronnie Mack’s Barndance, The Viper Room, Molly Malones,
Club Good Hurt, TRiP, and The Mint.
Steven Jaymes for over 20 years has been battling alcohol and depression that has seen him disappear hitch hiking into the mountains of Mexico and Cuba looking for solace and peace away from the madness of his nightly work in the bars and clubs all around the world. He has had his front teeth cracked and chipped numerous times by drunks falling over his Mic stand. He has gone from performing with the likes of Gavin DeGraw and Keith Urban in such legendary venues as The Bitter End in New York and Ronnie Scotts in London, to playing in a piano bar in Switzerland which was a front for a brothel.
As he said, "It is a hard one to reconcile going from a beautiful venue with such respect and appreciation, to a piano bar where people are so drunk they passed out sitting at the piano while girls so trashed take off their tops and roll around on top of the piano doing their best Michelle Phiffer impressions." He has played over 5000 professional gigs yet still admits to getting a little nervous when dragged up to play for family and friends. He has survived smashing his left arm in a hang gliding accident that saw him as the only one armed piano player in town wearing a contraption of wires and steel to regain the use of his fingers from the nerve damage.
While still gigging nights he has worked as a builder's labourer, barman, laid railroad track, a truck driver a window cleaner, but mostly just a professional gypsy musician. He has played in Spain, Japan, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, United States, Ireland, England, Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, Cuba and Australia, yet does not really live anywhere, but dreams of building a cabin in the mountains of New Zealand where he was born.
When in the States He was offered some wonderful opportunities in Nashville but couldn't stomach the hypocrisy and racism so went back to New York where he finished his third album "Hemingway's Cats" and where he lived for two years including dealing with being downtown on September 11th.
The new Album is "Black 17" but don't ask me to describe what sort of music this is, except that Steven seems to collect and combine amazing musicians and artists from far flung places. He has been compared to Jackson Browne, Ben Folds, Leon Russell, Van Morrison and Joe Jackson. Some call it the best jazzy roots you will ever hear others call him a folk rocker, I think the "new" term is singer songwriter.
There are tales on everyday life, on brothels in Belgium and Gay bars in Christchurch. There is humour romance and bawdiness, stories of love and tragedy. The result is a sensitivity that draws you in and holds you close while at the same time setting you free and not a sign of a rapper in here anywhere. Steven Jaymes is unwaveringly musical in style with a dark velvety soulful voice that sounds like it has been well tested and through the fire of experience. I think Michael Smith from the Drum Media summed it up best when he wrote, "He's just doing his thing without an ounce of pretension and there is something refreshing about that."
"Don't talk about food... your culture is killing me". With that first shot across the bow, Stoney Spring's debut CD promises a dark musical assault on our "sleek, sexy, crumbling civilization" and selected ills: timidity, bland indie music, and the corrosive legacy of Steve Jobs.
Featuring the founding members of acclaimed alt-country band I See Hawks In LA, Stoney Spring still has one toe in American roots music. But songs like ‘Revenge Rock’, ‘New Blood’ and the gloriously rough-hewn psychedelia of title track ‘Right On Heliotrope!’ bring to mind a deft hybrid of Captain Beefheart and mid 70’s Neil Young.
Other songs – ’Jobs’, the catchy, piano-driven takedown of the sainted Apple executive, and ‘Stick Shift’, a dystopian guide to Los Angeles, defy categorization. Then there's ‘Class Of 75’, a tragic love story/drug fable set in a high school homeroom.
The driving force behind Stoney Spring is Anthony Lacques, I See Hawks In LA's original drummer and still one of its principal songwriters. He's reunited with the Hawks' lead singer Rob Waller and guitarist Paul Lacques to deliver another strange and wonderful band unto the universe.
Anthony's obsessions—maps, the plant kingdom, rock music history, institutional insanity, the degradations of digital culture, and the geography of Los Angeles — and desert childhood upbringing will be familiar to Hawks fans, but this is music gloriously untethered from stylistic rules.
Weighing in at a lean and mean 33 minutes, “Right On Heliotrope!” may be the catchiest album to not have a traditional chorus among its ten songs, fattened up by brother Paul's distinctive lap steel and Telecaster, and former Sly Stone's bassist Jimi Hawes. Then there is the soulful baritone of Hawks frontman Rob Waller, who gives a warmth to Anthony’s surreal lyric landscape. The album was produced by Marc Doten (Double Naught Spy Car, Stew/The Negro Problem) at Trend Coma Bootlegs in Echo Park, CA.
Even the album art, by collage artist Jennifer Cline, stitches together the far-ranging, disparate themes into a whole. (Yes, that’s a satanic Steve Jobs hanging upside down next to the garland of heliotropes).
In March, Stoney Spring launches its radio campaign, with the help of promoter James Holland’s Airplay Junkie, to hundreds of college and specialty stations, followed by a spring tour. The band hopes to infiltrate the charts as much as I See Hawks In LA soared past the usual suspects and into the Americana Charts, three #1’s on the Freeform Roots Chart and a #2 spot on XM radio’s alt country.
After an Echo Park CD release party with surf-noir legends Double Naught Spy Car on March 18th, 2014, Stoney Spring will do a number of Southern California and Bay Area showcases before hitting the road for a more extensive spring tour. It should be a stoney spring indeed.
As it turns out, Sugarcane Jane is not just another promising Nashville upstart paying its dues as a tour warmup act. Instead it's a new name for a couple of familiar faces, and the latest step in the evolution of a partnership rooted right here in Lower Alabama.
There is no Jane. The act is a duo consisting of Anthony Crawford and Savana Lee. She's a Baldwin County-based singer-songwriter. He's a Birmingham-native whose day job happens to be playing guitar and other instruments for a guy named Neil Young.
A couple of years ago, after meeting in Nashville, they recorded an album of folksy adult pop titled "Redbird." Her name and face appeared on the cover; the songs were his, but she sang them as if they were hers.
She moved back to Baldwin County. Disaffected with Nashville and wanting to be closer to his parents, who live in Daphne, so did he. "It's really been a blessing to come back to Alabama and be close to family," he said.
To say working for Young keeps Crawford on the go would be an understatement. He figures that in the last year Young's tours have taken him to Europe four times, to Canada twice, and across the United States several times, not to mention jaunts to such far-flung places as Australia.
"He has been very prolific of late, and it seems I've been involved in every episode of it," Crawford said. "When I come home, I make good use of it."
Crawford, it turns out, is pretty prolific in his own right. On the Internet, he's been posting installments of a humorous video documentary titled "On The Road With A Rock Star", based on his experiences with Neil Young's band. He recently released a new solo album, "Five is Red." He and Lee have put together a no-frills live recording of Sugarcane Jane-material (which they will release soon), and are hard at work on a new studio album.
"It's just two people doing what they love to do, and coming from a real honest space," he said. "Our parents seem to like it, so we know we're onto something."
"I want to be a part of the moment. I'm not here to impress upon anybody," he said.
Susan James earned high praise for her 2011 release, “Highways Ghosts Hearts & Home” of which Ryan Adams, tweeted about her “great songs” and killer band. Now in 2013 Susan James returns with the lushly written and well produced "Driving Toward The Sun". Although Susan has many musical influences, DJ's familiar with the music of everyone from Lucinda Williams to Byrds, Beach Boys, Linda Ronstadt, Eagles and even Fairport Convention will hear echoes of their legacy laced throughout James' music, which sparkles with her compelling lyrics, vocals and overall sound.
Teaming up with Ryan Ulyate, producer for Tom Petty and George Harrison among others, Ulyate is just one of the many talented people who James attracts to her projects. “When Ryan and I began, we talked about how it should be as acoustic as possible, but still have a big sound. Our aim was to get the acoustic guitar to really rock like the guitars in the Rolling Stones 'Street Fighting Man', for instance… We named the sound we were attempting 'The Wall Of Intimacy’. And every song had to have it in a way, no matter how big or small the song was. I think we achieved it, and I'm proud to share it with everyone now.”
From the transitional feeling of 'Driving Toward The Sun' to the intensity of 'U-Haul In The Driveway', and 'House Of Love', listeners will be able to visualize these snapshots of a longterm relationship that has completely fallen apart. 'Anniversary' and 'Tule Fog' and 'Mission Bells' are more stripped down acoustic tracks, where listeners will sense a glimmer of hope in some of the toughest times.
James has been described by The Los Angeles Times as a “a master at exploring the emotional and sonic possibilities”, and Blurt Magazine noted, “excellent songwriting and an eye for musical details”. On "Driving Towards The Sun", she affirms the praise with insightful and big-picture stories. An adept and seasoned performer, Susan opened for both Lindsey Buckingham and Bob Weir throughout their respective six-week national tours and also supported acts from Richard Thompson, Son Volt, Rufus Wainright to Daniel Lanois just to name a few. She is currently booking tours for 2013.
Swampcandy is a high energy American roots-delta blues influenced duo that sounds like a full band. Time and time again it is said that folks find it hard to believe that only two people are creating that much sound. Joey Mitchell plays kick drum while beating, plucking, bowing and popping his upright bass. Ruben Dobbs plays percussive finger style steel resonator and acoustic guitars while crooning, wailing and moaning out the real blues with his unmistakeable voice. They've been compared to Tom Waits, The Black Keys, Son House, Hank Sr, Lowell George and Scott H. Biram.
Swampcandy tours nationally and internationally. This is a highly motivated band that is easy to work with, playing over 200 gigs a year and has an entertainment value that far exceeds the sum of their parts. Don't miss your opportunity to work with Swampcandy.
Swampcandy is a unique band wherein that they can play any sort of venue and almost any event. They're able to bring the energy or set the mood with songs that range from stomping blues and boogie to intimate ballads that harken back to days of yore. They have played to the young, they've played to the old and all generations agree that Swampcandy is some of the best music ever made.