Sadie Jemmett’s debut album, ‘The Blacksmith’s Girl’, will be released by Wildflower Records on October 25th, 2011.
Produced by Steve Lee, mixed and co-produced in L.A. by David Bianco (Teenage Fanclub/Del Amitri/Tom Petty) and mastered in London by Kevin Metcalfe (Queen/David Bowie/Kinks/Oasis), 'The Blacksmith’s Girl' is the distillation of Sadie’s astonishing life story. Mostly written over the last year, the magical, eloquently confessional songs are all about coming to terms with her extraordinary and often traumatic past. Many of them delve deep into her own sub-conscious. Yet like the best songs of Joni Mitchell, at the same time they’re far more than pages torn from a private diary.
The album is set to appear on Wildflower Records, the label run by American folk legend Judy Collins. ”I opened for Judy at a show at London’s Jazz café last year”, Sadie recalls. ”She appeared when I was sound checking, which was a bit intimidating because I’ve always regarded her as an inspiration. But she seemed to like what she heard and afterwards invited me to her dressing room, wanting to know all about me and the songs”.
At the time Sadie assumed that Wildflower was purely a vehicle for Collins’ own releases. When she discovered that the label was signing other acts, she got back in touch. Collins had not forgotten the singer and the songs that had so impressed her that night at the Jazz Café, and a deal followed.
By this time, 'The Blacksmith’s Girl' was already intact as an album. But in the meantime, of course, Sadie had been writing new songs, among them the wonderful ”Up On The Heath”, which has now been added to the album. Produced by Ed Harcourt, the track will be the first single.
”I was introduced to Ed and played him the song and he loved it and said he wanted to be part of it”, says Sadie. ”He plays on it and produced it and he got Cass Browne from Gorillaz in on percussion. We did it in a day and I sat back and let him do it. He knew exactly what to do with the song”.
“The songs are a journey of healing and coming to terms with everything that has happened to me”, she says. “I wasn’t able to launch a career until now because I had to sort my life out – and I did that through the process of writing and playing. It’s a very personal and cathartic album. It’s saying this is where I came from, this is where I am”. But it sometimes feels as if it isn’t me really who wrote the songs. Somehow they were channeled through me and I think everyone can relate to what I’m singing about because the emotions are universal”.
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.
Sarah MacDougall has made quite a splash in the last few years. This up-and-coming altcountry-indie-folksinger has been everywhere and anywhere with her heartfelt songs and original style and lyrics, and has won over audiences from Vancouver to the UK to Poland. Over the past two years Sarah has toured Canada, UK and Scandinavia several times, and there isn't anywhere she has played where she hasn't left a mark on her listener. On her recent tours, Sarah has often been called a favorite at festivals, and she has been getting rave reviews for her latest CD, "Across The Atlantic", (Copperspine Records).
This Swedish- born, Canadian based songwriter has been compared to great singers like Eliza Gilkyson, Buffy Saint Marie, Joan Baez, Tracy Chapman, Feist, Johnny Cash, Danny Michel and Christine Fellows, just to name a few.
"Across he Atlantic" is Sarah's first official release (released on Vancouver indie label Copperspine Records). This raw but polished and richly textured album features ten songs with serious stick-in-your-head melodies and poignant, sometimes quirky lyrics. Shifting back and forth between driving up-tempo ditties and bittersweet ballads, it is an album that celebrates train hopping and dancing in the rain. It also tackles heavy subjects such as having to leave someone across the Atlantic, and poverty. Sarah writes simple yet multi-layered songs that sometimes make you want to tap your toes and sing along. Sometimes they will break your heart.
Sarah's stamp is everywhere on this record, as a performer, producer, and audio engineer. 'I wanted to write an album that sticks in your head and grabs a hold of your heart', says Sarah. 'And I also wanted to prove myself as a producer and audio-engineer, because I am incredibly passionate about sound!'
And she certainly has proved that she could produce, write and record an album that is both heartfelt and elegantly produced. Herizon magazine described "Across The Atlantic" as having 'a heart that beats strongly - unique in this day of over-produced music for the masses - a self-produced album that is restrained and elegant in execution, "Across The Atlantic" highlights an emerging talent breathing new life into old musical forms'.
Sarah's music has been heard on CBC (including Vinyl Cafe), BBC (including Bob Harris), as well as on Lufthansa airplanes! She has played everything from coffee shops to theatres, along with small and large festivals in Canada and the UK. She has shared stages with Todd Snider, James Keelaghan and Kimmie Rhodes, and toured Canada with Kate Reid and Joanna Chapman-Smith, and the UK with fellow Canadian band Po'Girl.
Sarah most often tours solo or with trusted friend and virtuoso lapsteel player Tim Tweedale (Headwater, Viper Central). She is currently working on her upcoming album, which should be available for the world's ears somewhere in 2010.
"I would like to say a few words about this album that I feel is worthy of mention. It was produced by Anthony Crawford who did an amazing job.
Anthony has a gift of capturing unique and beautiful views and recently took the cover photo for Neil Young's 'Chrome Dreams II'-album. His work has been featured in the fine galleries of L.A. and San Francisco.
The photos of the 'Redbird'-album were taken by Anthony at Neil Young's ranch in California while rehearsing for the 'Chrome Dreams II'-tour. The album was also mastered there.
There are some incredible players on this album including Anthony Crawford (Neil Young/Steve Winwood), Rick Rosas (Neil Young/Joe Walsh), Phil Jones (Tom Petty/Joe Walsh/Rolling Stones/Roy Orbison/Bob Dylan), Spooner Oldham (Aretha Franklin/Bob Dylan/Neil Young) and Waddy Wachtel (Everly Brothers/Bonnie Raitt/Jackson Browne/Linda Ronstadt/James Taylor).
I thank everyone who was involved with this project and truly hope that the world will get to hear it. It holds a piece of my heart." ~ Savana
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!”
Sean O’Brien is the former lead singer of several California-based rock groups going back in time almost twenty-five years. First was Meantime, a power pop quartet that eventually mutated into the Davis, CA psychedelic cowboys, True West. Next came Denim TV, whose two albums, "Denim TV" and "Starving Rich", both broke the CMJ Top 100 in college radio airplay upon release, leading to a very successful national tour.
In 1991, Sean moved to Los Angeles, where he collaborated with math professor and former Angry Samoan Gregg Turner on "Sante Fe", by The Mistaken, for the independent label Triple X. This winsome CD garnered some pleasant press and appeared in the Top 35 radio airplay in Holland upon release. 1999 saw the release of "12" by The Mariettas, a powerful punk-pop quartet which included former members of several legendary LA-area groups; such as The Leaving Trains, Baby Lemonade and Arthur Lee and Love. "12" drew great notices in the US, as well as in the United Kingdom, in music magazines such as Luke and Bucketful of Brains.
Sean returned to his native Bay Area in 2001. He recorded several new songs acoustically and refined the material for "Too Personal", the first solo album of his career. Sean plays guitars throughout, though two guest musicians do appear on the album. Polly Klemmer, of The Mistaken, plays piano on two tracks. Also, on “The Answer Is In”, Sean is joined on acoustic guitar by his old friend Russ Tolman, solo recording artist and former guitarist of True West.
In 2006 Sean released "Seed Of Mayhem", featuring members of all of the above mentioned. That year he formed his permanent group, Sean O’Brien and His Dirty Hands: featuring Jeff Kane on lead guitar, Bill Davis on bass, and Matt Shelley on drums. The Dirty Hands recorded their first CD, "Goodbye Game", in 2008.
In the summer of 2009, Sean released "The Drug Of Memory", a compilation covering nearly thirty years of recorded work with: The Meantime, True West, Cottonmouth, The Mariettas and some solo work. Most of these tracks are previously unreleased.
In 2010, First Cold Press released a third Denim TV album, “Denim TV – Live at Club Graffiti – 5/30/85″, which features several previously unreleased songs. Sean has just released a new album of original songs called “Future Harvest”.
"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 dynamic collection of ten new songs was recorded over two weeks during late September/early October in Los Angeles. Shane Alexander once again teamed up with critically acclaimed LA production duo, Heroes & Villains, with whom he made his 2006 release Stargazer. Also returning from Stargazer: drummer Charlie Paxon (James Blunt, Colin Hay), Billy Mohler (Macy Gray, Liz Phair) on bass, piano, keyboards and electric guitar and Kim Bullard (Goo Goo Dolls, Tori Amos) on Hammond organ. Chad Crawford on bass and Jeff Friedl on drums also appear. Veteran producer/engineer/mixer Toby Wright (Alice In Chains, Wallflowers, Chris Whitely, Trey Anastasio) mixed the record.
Stylistically, the new album has a sound all its own and features some of Alexander’s best studio performances to date. There are more up-tempo songs than his previous effort, including the anthemic opener “Amsterdam”, the driving “Difference of Opinion” and the groovy “Outside the Lines”. After touring so much as a solo acoustic artist, Shane obviously sought to get back to a “band sound” and something that could get a crowd moving. However, there are still Shane’s trademark acoustic ballads - the title track is a delicate, infectious song with soft finger-picked guitar and doubled vocals that whisper “all is as it should be” and the sunshine-infused “Coffee Kiss” will be sure to please fans of songs like “Valentine” and “Front Porch Serenade” from his two previous efforts.
In 2007 Shane Alexander performed for the biggest audiences of his career when he opened for SEAL’s U.S. tour, in addition to his own touring in the US, Canada, Netherlands, Germany, France and Belgium. Nearly all of the songs from Stargazer were licensed for television, including: ABC’s Brother and Sisters, Big Shots and What About Brian?, FOX’s Bones, MTV’s Real World and Laguna Beach, CBS’s Criminal Minds, ABC Family’s Wildfire, and shows and movies for both Nickelodeon and Lifetime – exposing Shane’s songs to millions worldwide.
In 2006, Alexander was asked to open two US tours with Jewel and one US tour with Lisa Marie Presley – armed only with an acoustic guitar; he won over thousands of new fans night after night.
In 2005 the debut album The Middle Way earned accolades and abundant regional airplay in the states. The song “The Open Road” received national airplay in the Netherlands which led to a distribution deal in Holland and Belgium with Lucky Dice Music. Playboy Netherlands gave the record 4 stars - this would happen again in 2006 with Stargazer.
Shane Alexander’s The Sky Below is scheduled for a February 19th release with a full band international tour to follow.
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.
The Slide Brothers
The Slide Brothers, standard bearers of the sacred steel tradition, has just released their first studio album on Concord Records. The album, simply titled "Robert Randolph Presents: The Slide Brothers", was catalyzed by Robert Randolph, who has revitalized the sacred steel tradition in the modern era, carrying the style born in The House of God Church more than 80 years ago to mainstream secular success before concert and festival audiences around the world.
The Slide Brothers’ album includes 11 tracks and features some of the most dynamic electric slide guitar playing ever recorded. Inspired by Randolph to finally emerge beyond their respected positions within the sacred steel community, the Slide Brothers tackle rock, funk and even the deepest blues with a ferocity that will startle fans of Duane Allman, Derek Trucks and even Muddy Waters.
The Slide Brothers are Calvin Cooke, Chuck Campbell, Darick Campbell and Aubrey Ghent, each of whom was raised worshiping and performing in The Church of the Living God. They were an ad hoc family, traveling and learning from the other dominions in their communities in cities from Nashville to Chicago to Newark. Calvin Cooke was born into a musical family in Cleveland, Ohio in 1944 and would go on to become known among the ranks of Nashville’s premier country steel guitarists as “the B.B. King of gospel steel guitar.” Cooke is hailed today as the most influential living pedal steel guitar master within the Sacred Steel tradition.
The album opens with a searing interpretation of the Allman Bros classic “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’”. The twin guitar attack by Chuck and Darick Campbell immediately serves notice to the remarkable musicianship honed by years of playing in church and at sacred steel conventions. “Growing up in church, traditional blues music always came off to us as a little bit sloppy”, explains Chuck Campbell. “It was not as precise as Sacred Steel where it is always about mimicking the voices heard in the church. We wanted to play these songs with the same conviction we have in church — playing the steel so that you can almost hear the words as if they were sung by a voice”.
Two songs from the album celebrate the music of Elmore James, the Chicago blues legend who made his mark as a master of the slide guitar technique that would later influence greats like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and, of course, Robert Randolph. Randolph also counts The Slide Brothers as a major influence and an inspiration. “I was born with these guys”, explains Randolph. “I look to them the same way I look to blues greats like Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson. Aubrey Ghent and Henry Nelson, Aubrey’s dad, and The Campbell Brothers; they all shaped this Sacred Steel tradition inside the churches but they weren’t allowed to leave the church until now”.
Likewise, Aubrey Ghent has also become a celebrated steel guitarist, preserving the sacred steel tradition and bringing it to a wider audience. Ghent’s unique skills became apparent at a very early age and local churches began inviting him to perform at services starting when he was only nine years old. At twenty he answered God’s call and became known as the “Preaching Deacon”, evangelizing through both word and music. Unlike Robert Randolph and the Family Band who have crossed over by doing more secular music, Ghent has stayed closer to the gospel roots of the tradition.
Chuck Campbell began playing the lap steel guitar at the age of twelve and is renowned for his innovative approach to the instrument, both technically and musically. His brother Darick Campbell first made his mark in music as a drummer, and he was the premier drummer of the General Assembly, the National Convocation of the House Of God Church in Nashville, Tennessee. His choice of the Lap Steel is a direct reflection of the influences that he has blended in becoming the most emotional player of The Campbell Brothers musical tour de force.
Robert Randolph set the music world on fire in 2000 when he began playing his first club dates in New York City before audiences who had, for the most part, never before had any intersection with the sacred steel phenomenon. Randolph started playing the instrument as a church-going teenager in Orange, New Jersey. He was raised in the House of God Church, an African-American Pentecostal denomination that had been implementing steel guitars in services since the 30's. Randolph’s own group, the Family Band, includes cousins Danyel Morgan, Marcus Randolph and John Ginty. Robert Randolph & The Family Band’s "Live At The Wetlands", released in the fall of 2001, vividly captured the band’s live performance and set the stage for "Unclassified", the studio debut that followed in 2003, introducing Randolph to an even wider audience. One new fan was veteran guitarist Eric Clapton, who brought the band out on tour and appeared on Robert Randolph’s 3rd release, "Colorblind", in 2006. In 2010, Randolph teamed-up with producer T-Bone Burnett and released the album "We Walk This Road", which featured guest appearances from Ben Harper, Leon Russell and Doyle Bramhall II. More recently, he unveiled "Robert Randolph & The Family Band’s Live in Concert", a long-awaited follow-up for the fans of his acclaimed "Live At The Wetlands" recording. Today, Robert Randolph finds himself back in the studio and returning to his roots. “By co-producing and presenting the new album from The Slide Brothers, I’m hoping that the story can finally be told”, he explains. “For 80 years this music has been hidden inside the churches and these older guys were not allowed to play anything else. Now we’re all hanging out with The Allman Brothers, Buddy Guy and BB King and can use gospel and mainstream music to tell our story”.
The Slide Brothers shift easily between genres, incorporating both traditional gospel repertoire as well as and secular material. To underscore the album’s diversity, a stirring instrumental version of the spiritual classic “Wade in the Water”, is followed by a vibrant and bluesy cover of Fatboy Slim’s 1999 trip hop hit “Praise You” (featuring vocals by blues queen Shemekia Copeland and backing by Robert Randolph & the Family Band). Jimmy Carter of the famed Blind Boys Of Alabama joins Aubrey Ghent to provide lead vocals for “My Sweet Lord”. “It has long been a vision of all of ours to be able to this”, says Chuck Campbell. “Robert was able to pull together the top steel players from different generations. It is truly an honor to be a part of album that brings together so many wonderful people such as [Jimi Hendrix bassist] Billy Cox, Shemekia Copeland and the Blind Boys Of Alabama. Instead of us meeting at a church convention we were able to get everyone together in a recording studios to play secular songs and religious songs with the same conviction. We feel blessed that we have finally been able to do this”.
The story of The Slide Brothers will finally be told, when their debut album, 80-years in the making, is released.
Born April 1957 in Linköping, in the middle of Sweden. Residence, the south of Stockholm, capitol of Sweden. Stage history; Bought his first guitar at age seven. Became a local guitar hero in the 70’s. Participated in several CBS-labeled records and national tours in the 80’s with the Swedish bands 2001 (rock-pop) and Station (soul-pop). A wide range of experience; from Sababas (afrofunk/highlife) to musician and composer when The Pero Theater launched in 1983. Known from local pubs and clubs for his Jimi Hendrix’ acts and the cover-power-trio Crossroads.
But twenty-four years ago Svante Törngren (aka Slowman) turned his back on record companies and producers – for good, he thought. It was back in 1985 and the industry had a different structure. As an artist, composer and musician you depended upon a few producers and the standards of commercial success in the 80’s. After a couple of records with other bands, Svante Törngren formed his own, and quite a few big companies were interested in their demo. But he couldn’t stand the interference, picking in details and nitty gritty. So; Svante closed the door with a slam and made his living elsewhere.
But now he is back. With his own material, skilled fellow musicans and a lasting urge to express himself. The name ”Slowman” is an ironical tribute to the fact that it took some 20 years to come up with a debut album.
"The Best Of Slowman" available here.
“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.”
The Spokes started off as a regular cover band in early 2000, seated in the woods of Hälsingland, Sweden, in a town called Ljusdal. Playing covers of mostly southern rock, texas blues and rock’n’roll such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Black Crowes.
Some own tunes started to turn up and around 2007 it was decided to stop playing covers and only go for own material. In late 2010 Spokes got in touch with Johan Dereborn for some ideas to record an album. This started off a nearly 2 year collaboration with Johan as the producer for the first, upcoming album.
In the spring of 2012 Spokes released an EP containing 4 songs.
And now, in the last weeks of 2012 The Spokes releases their 1st album, "In My Head", with a total off 12 songs.
Italian guitarist, singer and composer Stefano Frollano has close artistic ties with the legendary music of California, from which he constantly draws inspiration. He began studying classical guitar at the age of 13, and his discovery of such milestone records as C.S.N.&Y’s 'Déjà Vu' / '4 Way Street' and Neil Young’s 'Harvest' gradually led him to focus on folk-rock and blues.
In the 80's, he founded the bands Simbiosi, Blue Flares and Karma, while he released his first CD, playing with Skydog, in 1995.
In 1997 Stefano made up his mind to leave for the legendary U.S. West Coast so as to record his first solo album, simply called 'SF' and released completely independently in 2006. Reverberating the legacy of the sounds absorbed over the past years, his first collection of songs, features top international musicians Jeff Pevar and James Raymond as guest artists, who are regular members of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s backing band. The CD, achieving a perfect balance between the acoustic and electric, also highlighted the exciting talents of some female vocalists such as jazz singer Ada Montellanico. 'SF' got positive reviews in a number of Italian and foreign music magazines (Jam, Chitarre, Folk Bulletin, Roots Highway, Blue Desert, Broken Arrow, 4Way Site), while some tracks are regularily aired on Italian State Broadcaster Rai’s Radiouno in programmes such as Stereonotte, Music Club and Demo and by other stations in Italy and abroad.
While recording his album, Frollano published a number of reference books on CSN&Y in Italy and in Europe, articles on music in various magazines (Raro, Jam, Chitarre, Satisfaction, Ciao 2001) and works with a number of radio stations. His musical career can boast over 500 concerts and his curriculum of live performances, given over the years with a whole range of various rock bands, is studded with numerous appearances with different international artists including with his old friends Crosby Stills & Nash; Billy Talbot (bass player with Crazy Horse); Joe Henry, as well as with other Italian musicians.
In 2009, he played on Merli Rossi’s debut album, that took its name from the group, a band including among others vocalist Francesca Fagioli and pianist Francesco Venerucci.
Frollano has also written music for the presentations of a number of Italian fiction writing and for readings of Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet’s works.
His latest CD 'Sense Of You', recorded between Italy and the U.S., features contributions by top musicians including his time-honoured friends Pevar and Raymond, as well as drummer Francesco Isola, who has a long working relationship with other Italian and foreign artists; bass-player Marco Vannozzi from Stradaperta, Antonello Venditti’s legendary band; talented trumpet-player, composer and arranger Franco Piana; versatile harpist Giuliana De Donno; percussionist Luca Scorziello, a long-standing fellow-musician with Alex Britti and other Italian singers and, just like on his first album, some very special female vocalists who both accompany and perform duets with Stefano.
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”.
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."
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.