Friday, December 19, 2014

Album Review: Chris Jones & the Night Drivers - Live At The Old Feed Store

I realized this morning that I've been listening to the newest release from Chris Jones & the Night Drivers - Live At the Old Feedstore for about over two months now and failed to publish anything about it. Needless to say, I've been enjoying this Bluegrass album, the Night Drivers are an extremely tight band: Jones, banjo man Ned Luberecki, bassist Jon Weisberger, and mandolinist Mark Stoffel. Like me, many of you are familiar with Jones and Luberecki from SiriusXM Radio's Bluegrass Junction. Weisberger was recipient of the IBMA's first Songwriter of the Year in 2012 and Stoffel is an outstanding . The album starts with an ode to the Stanley Brothers "Bound to Ride" and an original - "Like a Hawk". Luberecki's banjo heats up in "Emergency Pulloff" and closes the album out with "Pike County Breakdown". You'll be clapping along with the audience. My favorite track is Then I Close My Eyes with accompanying harmonies from 2013 IBMA Momentum Vocalist of the Year Emily Bankester. "Lonely Town" and George Jones "I Cried Myself Awake" are a close second. And even The Sound Of Music’s "Edelweiss" gets a play. Pair with Woodbury Tennessee's (home of the Old Feed Store) Short Mountain Distillery. Cheers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Album Review: Norman Blake - Wood, Wire & Words

Hopefully readers are familiar with folk legend Norman Blake. At the very least you are familiar with his projects with the Johnny Cash Show, Kris Kristofferson, Dylan's Nashville Skyline, John Hartford's Aereo-Plain, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Will the Circle Be Unbroken, or O Brother, Where Art Thou?.  Well, he's out with a solo acoustic album titled Wood, Wire & Words - just Blake and his guitar with one harmony from his wife Nancy.  The album is his first release of original material in 30 years and consists of outlaw and old time folk songs. In many instances Blake gives a brief introduction on the song's background as in a live performance. My favorites are the rags, just Blake picking his guitar.  Every song chronicles a piece of history so for those who like to remember and honor the past, this release is for you. Coming January 20th on Plectrafone Records. Cheers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

NPR Music First Listen: Thompson, 'Family'

NPR Music is currently streaming the Thompson family's collaboration, appropriately titled, Family. Teddy Thompson assembled his family tree including parents Richard Thompson and Linda Thompson, brother Jack, younger sister Kami, her husband James Walbourne, and nephew Zak Hobbs and named the assemble simply Thompson. The ten tracks on Family are lead by different family members, with my favorite track being "Root So Bitter" - love the guitar work. Close behind are the two song by Linda Thompson "Bonny Boys" and "Perhaps We Can Sleep" Teddy nails it when he sings, "My mother has the most beautiful voice in the world".  And Richard Thompson fronts his two songs, the country rock "One Life at a Time" and rhythmic "That's Enough". There are tight harmonies throughout and as you would expect, excellent musicianship. Nicely done.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Brendan Taaffe & The New Line's African Reimagining of Irish & Appalachian Tunes - Can't Hold the Wheel

Zimbabwean mbiras
For the past week, I have not been able to stop listing to Brendan Taaffe & The New Line's new release Can't Hold the Wheel. Taaffe has taken traditional folk songs and rearranged them with a blend of African rhythms many by using the Zimbabwean mbira. This instrument is a series of tuned metal keys fixed to a resonator. Taaffe currently resides in Vermont and has assembled a very talented cast of New England roots musicians for The New Line consisting of Adam Hurt on gourd banjo, Stefan Amidon on percussion and vocals, Colin McCaffrey on electric guitar and bass, Mike Olson on trumpet, and Heather Masse on vocals. Masse's vocals on Doc Watson's Red Rocking Chair and harmonies in The Old Churchyard and Goodnight Irene are sweet. Olson's trumpet in Nobody 'Cept You is like a lulliby and I think Hurt's soft banjo throughout helps blend the African rhythms to American folk. Fall On My Knees, Red Rocking Chair, and Train on the Island are my favorite tracks. For folk lovers, you will enjoy this release. Pair with and enjoy the live music at Brattleboro Vermont's Whetstone Station Brewery. Cheers.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Album Review: Todd Day Wait’s Pigpen - travelin' blues

On Sunday of the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, we State Line Bar & Grille headed inside to watch the Redskins and hopefully, hear some good music from whomever was scheduled. And we weren't disappointed. New Orleans based trio, Todd Day Wait’s Pigpen, kept us entertained throughout the first half. We encountered frontman Todd Day Wait at the last show later that evening and learned about his compelling and brave past. In 2009 he left everything behind in Columbia, Missouri and headed west in a vegetable oil-powered airport shuttle bus. After journeying to California he eventually ended up in New Orleans playing the French Quarter streets and meeting current band mates Matt Dethrow (upright bass) and George Aschmann (fiddle).  From these travels he picked up influences of country, blues, folk, soul and early R&B. And these styled meld together in their album travelin' blues. Todd Day Wait  brings plenty to this release, not only vocals and songwriting, but multi-instruments in the guitar, mandolin, banjo and Fender Rhodes. The title track is reminiscent of Charlie Pool whereas New Orlean's influences seep in during the next few tracks. The final track, Roll to Alabama, is my favorite - reminds me of another contemporary jazz outfit Blair Crimmins and The Hookers.  Pair with rum produced in New Orleans by Celebration Distillation

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween with The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band at Jammin' Java

Halloween brought the heroes of the WWF Championship Wrestling to Jammin' Java with our heroes The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band. It had been ten months since the band last played at this venue and I've been aching for signs of new music on the horizon. And, yes there is. The band will release a new album February 17th and we heard a sneak preview of a few tracks including the signature song Pot Roast and Kisses. And the opening track, Let's Jump a Train, will be typical high octane big damn band. In December, the band will be releasing a 7" 45 with one side Pony Blues by Charley Patton and the other, Willie Dixon's Can't Judge A Book By The Cover. The future looks good. We also heard old favorites like My Soul to Keep, Mama's Fried Potatoes, Glory, Easy Come and Easy Go, and Clap Your Hands., plus the Reverend play a three string paper cigar box guitar. Pretty awesome. One interesting change is that the Reverend replaced his glaring stare with a more jovial dancing demeanor. Life is good. Cheers.

Friday, October 24, 2014

CD Review: Jarekus Singleton - Refuse To Lose

Perhaps the most exciting new artist I "uncovered" at the 2014 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion was bluesman Jarekus Singleton. This guy has a presence - both charisma and guitar prowess - that just captivated the crowd - including me. Plus I learned he's a fan of Albert King - so I'm even more enamored.  His background is the inspiration for his inaugural Alligator Records release Refuse To Lose. Just listen to the title track how this once promising college basketball player returned to the guitar for inspiration. His voice is soulful, his guitar playing - funky and hot. But make sure you concentrate on the lyrics. Anyone who has hit a tough spot can relate - with Crime Scene and Blame Game my favorites. The album also features James Salone on the organ, Ben Sterling on bass, John "Junior" Blackmon on drums and percussion. Pair with beer from Jackson Mississippi's live music and now brewery Hal and Mal's. Cheers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Album Review: Bryan Elijah Smith - These American Hearts

At this year's Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion I planned part of my schedule around Bryan Elijah Smith and what a good call. he band is tight, with their self described alternative Americana sound rockn' the stage. Too bad it was an early show; a few beers with this band in the evening would kill it.  Afterwards I headed straight to the merch store to pickup his latest release: These American Hearts - featuring The Wild Hearts. TThe album is a collection of songs describing the various emotions that life on the road produces. A month after BRRR, I haven't put this CD away. It's addicting. The musicianship of  Smith & The Wild Hearts (drummer Justin Shifflett, pianist Jeff Miller, violinist Jay Austin, and mandolinist Ethan Hawkins) is outstanding - like I said - a tight band.  Pair with the Shenandoah Valley's Three Brothers Brewing. Cheers.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Album Review: Billy Strings & Don Julin - Fiddle Tune X

If you like fiddle tunes, then you need to rush out and grab this new release from Billy Strings & Don Julin: Fiddle Tune X.  The catch, is that there isn't a fiddle in these tunes, just a guitar and mandolin. But boy, can these two play. 22-year-old guitarist Billy Strings and mandolinist Don Julin tear it up; pure energy. The vocals? Straight out of the Appalachian mountains. This is one downright enjoyable album - even when they slow it down with " Lonesome Moonlight Waltz" or "I Am A Pilgrim". But for me, "Beaumont Rag" says it all. Pair with Michigan's Short’s Brewing Company where the duo perform November 1st.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Album Review: Sons of Bill - Love & Logic

Charlottesville Virginia is fast becoming a major music town and one of the reasons is Americana Rock band Sons of Bill. The trio of brothers (James, Abe and Sam Wilson), along with Seth Green and Todd Wellons, have just released a new album Love & Logic. I was able to listen to the album from the Garden & Gun First Listen, and it looks like the band retains their roots rock style with a hint of Tea Leaf Green grand sweeping sound. Don't worry, there's still plenty of power ballads, pedal steel, and catchy lyrics reminiscent of previous work. "Road to Canaan" is my favorite track, with "Lost in the Cosmos (Song for Chris Bell)" a close second; but the new style is in spectacular display in "Bad Dancer". Listen to the end because "Hymnsong" is classic Sons of Bill. Pair with Charlottesville brewery Three Notch'd Brewing Company. Cheers.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Album Review: The Devil Makes Three - I"m A Stranger Here

Hard to believe, but the Americana blues outfit, The Devil Makes Three is out with their fourth album, I’m a Stranger Here, produced by Buddy Miller and recorded at Dan Auerbach’s (The Black Keys) Easy Eye Sound in Nashville. That's a good start. The trio of guitarist/frontman Pete Bernhard, stand-up bassist Lucia Turino, and guitarist Cooper McBean meld many genres into a rally interesting sound. From Stranger to Goodbye Old Friend, this release is full of darkness and sorrow; reflecting the band's maturity; but the compositions are excellent. Love this release. Favorite track is A Moments Rest; love the banjo picking and strings. There is also a guest appearance by The Preservation Hall Jazz Band as they lend a hand in the gospel laced Forty Days. Pair with their hometown brewery Whetstone Station Brewery from Brattleboro Vermont. Cheers.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Album Review: Progressive Bluegrass with Front Country - Sake of the Sound

I knew that voice was familiar when I heard the first track (Gospel Train) of Sake of the Sound, the debut album of Front Country a Bay Area collection of like minded musicians. That familiar voice, Melody Walker, whose Gold Rush Goddess and We Made it Home (with Jacob Groopman) we've reviewed in the recent past. Joining Walker and Groopman to form Front Country are Adam Roszkiewicz, Jordan Klein, Leif Karlstrom, and Zach Sharpe. This band is tight as evident by winning the 2012 Rockygrass band competition and in 2013 the equivalent at Telluride. Walker handles most of the vocals and has the range for gospel to melodic as in the title track. The second song, One Kind Word, encapsulates this band's abilities: Walker's vocals, tight harmonies, individual picking, all melding into one glorious song. The same with the album. Can't believe I missed their East Coast swing into Raleigh for the IBMA's World of Bluegrass.Won't make that mistake again. Pair with Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery. Cheers.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

2014 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion - Another Successful Musical Experience

A week has already past since attending the 2014 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion and I've been humming new songs I've heard the entire time. Bristol hosts one cool festival, with venues hosting music in both Virginia and Tennessee along State Street. We started the festival at O' Mainnin's for a quick Wolf Hills Brewing Company, after a 5+ hour drive, with The Whiskey Incident onstage. My Dad wanted to check out The Lonetones so we headed to Borderline Billiards and that was a good call. Good songwriting, nice array of instruments - including a cello, and another Wolf Hills. I very good start to the festival. Afterwards we hurried to the The Paramount Center for the Arts  for Willie Watson of Old Crow Medicine Show and found a very packed theater. Only the last rooms in the back. And Watson delivered with the old timers act playing some old public domain songs as well as a couple originals.  Watson also played a set afterwards at the 620 State stage to an even larger crowd. He is quite the popular act. After a quick bite it was time for Emmylou Harris and this was the largest crowd I've seen for any artist at this event. After a couple songs in the way back we too a side street for a spot adjacent to the stage that provided obscured views, but a good listen. And she was the ultimate Emmylou - graceful - but with a powerful backing band. Despite the great sound we left a tad early for the highlight of the night: Sturgill Simpson. His last two releases High Top Mountain and Metamodern Sounds In Country Music found a permanent residence on my phone. And Simpson showed why he's a rising star - great voice, songwriting, and backing band. Once again, the highlight of the evening and perhaps the festival.

Saturday started with Fiddlin Carson Peters, a master fiddler and showman at ten years old. Keep an eye on that kid. This was followed by a new tradition, a Starr Hill Brewing Grateful Pale Ale at the Piedmont stage - this day listening to Virginia based Bryan Elijah Smith and the roots rocking Wild Heart Revival band.  The band was incredible and I look forward to listening to their new release These American Hearts. Holy Ghost Tent Revival followed on the same stage and rocked the festival playing their new release, Right State of Mind, as well as a very cool cover of Joplin's Piece of My Heart.  Lunchtime brought us to Quaker Steak & Lube and hometown girl The Annie Robinette Band, but I snuck out to see Alligator recording artist Jarekus Singleton. This was the find of the festival - funky blues, classic blues guitar, and a great backing band. His Refuse to Lose is on my playlist right now. My Father, being on a Shel Silverstein kick, recommended The Giving Tree Band, and what a recommendation. This Illinois band is talented - check out their gospel finale. We saw two of their sets - great compositions and musicianship. Eventually it was time again for another set by Sturgill Simpson followed by another new treat, St. Paul and The Broken Bones. Motown soul meets Muscle Shoals; this is one entertaining bunch. Saturday's finale was the legendary Ray Wylie Hubbard and he played his top arsenal Snake Farm, Mother's Blues, Redneck Mothers, Choctaw Bingo - among others. What a night.

Holy Ghost Tent Revival had recommended Oregon's The Quiet Life, so Sunday started off again at the Piedmont stage with another Grateful Pale Ale and more good music.  This is a band to put on your radar. With football Sunday we staked out barstools at the State Line Bar & Grille and listened to Todd Day Wait's Pigpen a three piece folk band from New Orleans. Good enough to purchase their CD. Next up was Arkansas native Adam Faucett who has it all, a mesmerizing voice, plays a good guitar, and nice songwriting. Look at Gypsy Sally's in November. We had to depart his set early for Shaver, Sunday's headliner and my favorite Texas outlaw artist. He's up there, only sings, but his voice remains true. I Want to Live Forever. After autographs, we were able to hit the tail end of Dale Watson and his Lone Star show. A classic. The festival finished where it all started, O' Mainnin's,with King Super and the Excellents singing Del Shannon. Pretty cool. Another great festival.

Photos are available at the MyJoog Facebook page and videos on the MyJoogTV YouTube channel. Cheers.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Album Review: Holy Ghost Tent Revival - Right State of Mind

I always look forward to seeing Holy Ghost Tent Revival perform at the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, but this year will be even more special after listening to their just released album - Right State of Mind. The band has successfully transitioned from a horn infused jam band jazz sound to a horn infused classic rock-soulful sound. The band was tight previously, but this new sound should raise their visibility exponentially.  This album has some jam band qualities but also more subtle notes such as Sun/Shadow (my favorite track) and If I Lie. Trouble With Truth is another cool song, and check out the harmonies in Big Big World. Once again, HGTR is Stephen Murray, Matt Martin, Kevin Williams, Hank Widmer, Charlie Humphrey, and Ross Montsinger. Go out and meet these Carolina boys. And of course, you need to pair with Flying Dog Brewery.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Album Review: Lost & Nameless - When You Walked Into the Room

Not wasting any time Lost & Nameless is out with their second release of the year, this time When You Walked Into the Room (release date September 6th). We reviewed Empty Spaces this Spring and the latest is a continuation of this folk-fiddle-rockn' sound. The six songs feature Patrick Conway on vocals, guitars and banjo; Chris E. Peterson on mandolin, fiddle and vocals; Nathan Quiring on piano, organ, accordion and vocals; and Peterson’s protégé, Kimberly Zielnicki, on vocals, fiddle, bass and piano. The title track attracts your attention as Conway describes love at first sight while the next track (Say Goodbye) juxtaposes that thought by describing a relation's end. She has quite the voice and a way with melodies, doesn't she? Harmonies are the theme in Have We Lost and May I is an interesting track as it is a 2,000-year-old Buddhist prayer set to music. The EP finishes with a rousing instrumental combining “Matthew’s Reel” by Erin Shrader and “Reel a Levis Beaulieu”, a traditional French Canadian fiddle tune. Cheers to good music.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Album Review: Cahalen Morrison & Country Hammer - The Flower of Muscle Shoals

I've been following the alt-county sound of Cahalen Morrison & Eli West, for a year now, and see that Morrison has stepped out on his own with his new project:  Cahalen Morrison & Country Hammer: The Flower of Muscle Shoals. And this is a keeper. "I've Won Every Battle, But I've Lost Every War" is powerful with it's subtle guitar and tight harmonies. "Sorrow Lines the Highway of Regret" is classic honky tonk and check out the guitar in "Over and Over and Over Again". Then there's a little Tex-Mex in "San Luis" and Hobbled and Grazing". There's a lot of different sounds throughout - and lovers of the accordion and pedal steel will not be disappointed. The Country Hammer is composed of Country Dave Harmonson on pedal steel, Jim Miller n guitar and additional vocals, Robert Adesso on guitar/harmony vocals, Mary Maass on fiddle, Ethan Lawton on drums, and Michael Thomas Connolly on bass and accordion. The release was recorded at Empty Sea Studios in Seattle, which shows that the pacific Northwest is a new outpost for roots music. Pair with Seattle's Fremont Mischief. Cheers

Monday, September 1, 2014

August Shows: Enter the Haggis, Girls Guns and Glory, & Blair Crimmins and The Hookers

August was filled with family vacations but I did get a chance to see a few excellent shows starting with Enter the Haggis playing at the Nottoway Park Vienna concert series.  I've been following this Canadian Celtic Rock band for a number of years now since I first heard them at Jammin' Java. This evening they played several songs off my favorite of their releases, Gutter Anthems, as well as several new songs available from their new love CD, Live At Saint Claire.These guys are fun to listen to so take a look at their tour schedule for the remainder of '04.

Next up was Americana, Country, Rock band Girls Guns and Glory as they opened for Sarah Borges at IOTA Club. I really shouldn't write opened for because they were touring with Borges in order to support their join LP single “Mixed Messages". They performed several songs from their #1 rated release Good Luck - I'm singing All The Way Up To Heaven to myself right now - as well a a few with Ms. Borges. There's some nice chemistry with these Boston area natives. And Borges is one cool cat, when not performing with the band, she hung out in the audience dancing and singing along.

The next evening I caught Atlanta based old time jazz player Blair Crimmins and The Hookers in Georgetown's Gypsy Sally's. Last I saw Crimmins, the band was opening for Yarn at this venue, and now the main event. This is one act I highly encourage you to see. The music is fun, the band is entertaining, and multi-instrumentalist Crimmins also writes clever lyrics. Having an expanded playlist, the even turned a few covers into a gypsy jazz sound. The highlight was the band marching through the venue, over the bar, playing and dancing to Cajun Mardi Gras Song. Go see this band.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Guy Clark - My Favorite Picture Of You

Guy Clark new album review This week I finally purchased master songwriter Guy Clark's latest CD, My Favorite Picture Of You, for a mere $5 through Amazon. It had been four years since his last release of new material and that period has been difficult for the 72 year old. Just check out the cover. That's a photo of his late wife, Susanna, after she found her husband drunk with Townes Van Zandt.The love of his life passed away in 2012 and My Favorite Picture Of You displays the heartache Clark must feel: A curse on your lips but all I can see / Is beautiful. All the songs were either written or co-written by Clark, except for Lyle Lovett's "The Waltzing Fool". You will also hear some wonder harmonies supplied by Morgane Stapleton - listen to "Cornmeal Waltz", "Good Advice", and the title track. But don't get distracted by the simple beauty of these songs - they have meaning.  For instance maybe that Good Advice isn't your place to give; or how dangerous illegal immigration can be for immigrants in “El Coyote”.  My favorite track is the last, the blues infused “I’ll Show Me" co-written with Rodney Crowell. The song showcases Clark's talents as a guitarist in addition to his songwriting abilities -> plus more harmonies from Stapleton. Pair with Big Bend Brewing Co, located not far from Clark's birthplace of Monahans, Texas.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Nicky C and the RSB Impresses with Much Obliged

This weekend I attended the Nicky C and the RSB CD release show at Jammin Java and have been listening to their debut CD, Much Obliged, since. I've come away quite impressed. I had listened to their promotional demo last year, and it appears the trio have hit their stride. That demo had more of a southern Rock sound, whereas Much Obliged has a more contemporary rock sound reminiscent of Hollis Brown. Frontman Nick Collins provides the bass and vocals and his voice sounds somewhat similar to a recent listen of Ryan Harkrider of The Nightowls.  Josh Stansfield plays a wicked guitar throughout - this guy has talent.. My favorite track is Baltimore, perhaps because it has a local feel, but also because drummer Justin Ehrlich comes alive blasting his way through the drum kit. Another locally themed song is 4th of July - quite a catchy tune that I seem to be humming throughout the week. The CD finishes big, with the title track - a song where Ehrlich's beat combines with Stansfield's guitar to create a jammin' composition. For $5, this was a bargain. In honor of Baltimore, pair with Brewer's Art's Resurrection Ale. Cheers.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Lockn' Music Festival - Oh, what a lineup and is this the last chance to see The Allman Brothers

I was reminded last week by our friends at Starr Hill Brewery, about the greatest lineup to be at a festival in recent memory.  The Lockn' Music Festival is somewhat pricey, held in a remote area; but look at this star studded lineup. And, since the Allman Brothers are calling it quits this year, this may be your last chance to see the legends live. The festival is held on an estate located almost equidistant between Charlottesville and Lynchburg (Oak Ridge Estate, 2300 Oak Ridge Road, Arrington, VA 22922).  This is a camping festival, but hotels are available in some of the surrounding communities (transportation packages are sold out). A 4-day pass is $285, with VIP camping listed at $800. I guess I need to get some camping gear.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Time to Start Planning for the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion

I just started making plans for this year's Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion held September 19-21 in various outlets within the city. This is easily my favorite music festival; no need for camping, musicians perform at all types of venues; and easy access to food and beer. Plus shuttles buses to the area hotels. Bristol, itself, is considered the Birthplace of Country Music with the likes of the Carter family, Jimmy Martin, and the Stanley Brothers as a short representation on musicians who first recorded there. Coverage our of past ventures to Bristol can be read here, but needless to say, we are quite excited with this year's lineup - starting with Sturgill Simpson. This guy is the future of country music and we are ready to pair him with Emmylou Harris, Shaver, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Dale Watson, and other country - americana legends. Then there's old friends Holy Ghost Tent Revivial and local players in Roger Rasnake, Ed Snodderly, Scotty Melton, Annie Robinette, and Wayne Henderson. Bluegrass fans will be sure to catch Donna Ulisse & the Poor Mountain Boys and Marty Raybon & Full Circle. I'm also excited about The Kruger Brothers, Truth & Salvage Co., Folk Soul Revival, The Black Lillies, M.S.G. – The Acoustic Blues Trio, among many others. And as usual, tickets are extremely affordable - a weekend pass is only $70. See you there.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Nomadic Life Springs Forth Jason Tyler Burton and Headwaters

With all my WineCompass duties in July, I missed the July 8th release of Headwaters, the sophomore release from Jason Tyler Burton. But I've been catching up all day with the release on a continuous loop. Not one sour grape in the bunch. And I can't decide which track I enjoy most. I thought A Garden Grows, then The Waltz, then A Finer Line, then the powerful title track, and so on down the line. All are characterized by Burton's soft, easy vocals; subtle harmonica, strings, and guitars; and phenomenal backing vocals. Must be either Katy Taylor, Jessika Soli Bartlett, Rachel Panitch, or Lynsey Shelar. The inspiration for the album comes from Burton's wandering ways - specifically trying to find the source of the Green River in the mountains of Wyoming:
In 2007, he and his wife ventured west from Kentucky to the Utah wilderness, leaving behind the security of a career in higher education, with a desire “to take some risks and live a better story,” living out of their van and working with the National Park Service and other seasonal jobs. The idea for the album came to him while searching for the source of the Green River in the mountains of Wyoming, recalling his childhood pastime. The songs on Headwaters were born out of the stories he encountered while living this nomadic life in the heart of the American West, stories about the search for meaning and belonging.
Listen often and pair with Bitter Creek Brewing, located not far from the Green River in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Cheers.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Album Review: The Nightowls - Good As Gold B-Sides

Seems like just a short while ago that I first learned of Austin's favorite soul, funk, Memphis horns, Motown styled The Nightowls through Good As Gold. On September 9th, the band will release a followup EP:  Good As Gold B-Sides, and believe me, it's as enjoyable as its companion. There are just four tracks, and front man Ryan Harkrider and the remaining eight members of The Nightowls make you long for more. Nobody Ever Wants to Leave is my favorite track, Austin's new theme song; but the bluesy soulful Either Way is close behind. The horns are the highlight throughout - I'm mean, what's not to like about that sound. Once again pair with Austin's music friendly brewery, Thirsty Planet Brewing. Cheers.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Album Review: Brian Pounds - Strikes and Gutters

When I received the Strikes and Gutters EP from Brian Pounds, I was immediately impressed by his smooth, soulful vocals. I guess The Voice was a relevant venue to display his talents.  Then you add in the pedal steel and I'm hooked. The pedal steel is played by Brian Douglas Phillips (also the producer) and I enjoy listening to the interplay between Pounds' vocals and the country twang of the instrument. Pounds' songwriting is also passionate and honest, the opening track reminds me of the late Brad Payne, whereas I feel Keep My Hands to Myself was written for JJ Grey. Fred Mandujand (drums), Matt Wiley (electric guitar), and Billy Masters (electric guitar) round out the supporting cast; and I looking forward to following this obviously upward mobile musician. Pair with Austin's Adelbert's Brewery. Cheers.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Album Review: The Slambovian Circus of Dreams - A Box of Everything

A Box of Everything is pretty much what you get with this latest from Tthe Slambovian Circus of Dreams. The opening track Rocket is a Tom Petty-ish rhythmic kaleidoscopic entry into the album which then leads into the title track - a more 70's-ish orchestra rock song.  The band was formed in Sleepy Hollow, New York - a pretty interesting place in itself - and is fronted by Joziah Longo (guitar/harmonica) accompanied by Sharkey McEwen guitarist/mandolin); Tink Lloyd (accordion, cello, uke, theremin, melodica); and Eric Puente (Percussion).

 There's a lot going on in the album - just look at the instruments played by Lloyd. A Petty sounds returns with Tink (I Know I'ts You) with some solid guitar work by McEwen; followed by some early slide guitar in my favorite track - The Trans-Siberian BiPolar Express. Sunday In The Rain is another cool track; as is Lost Highway. And that's just the first half of the release; there are 13 cool and entertaining songs with the second half lending itself to some fantasy (see Talkin' To The Buddha) - probably a Sleep Hollow thing. Pair with local Prospero Winery.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Album Review: Carolina Story - Chapter II

I missed Chapter I from Carolina Story but will be revisiting the dual after listening to the followup EP: Chapter II. Apparently Chapter I dealt with courtship and Chapter II marriage, but regardless this couple has great chemistry, starting with their harmonies and down to penning interesting songs - see Crash and Burn. The EP was produced by GRAMMY award-winning producer Blake Chancey and includes several stellar Nashville-based musicians: Chad Cromwell on drums, bass player Michael Rhodes, Billy Panda on guitar, steel player Dan Dugmore, and award-winning artist/songwriter Darrell Scott on mandolin/acoustic guitar/bouzouki. Yes, that Darrell Scott. Quite a cast. This one deserves some Arkansas Cynthiana from Chateux Aux Arc. Cheers.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Album Review: Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds In Country Music

Sturgill Simpson is the new face of country music. Or at least he should be. I thought High Top Mountain was an excellent album, but his latest, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, is even better. Just listen to that authentic voice and sound on Turtles on the Way Down or Life of Sin. The later is pure honky-tonk and the former, well, how many countries songs image the world perched on the back of a turtle and mention aliens.  The next track, Living the Dream, is my favorite - just listen. And keep going, there's story telling, a truckers road song, jam-band material, and much more excellent material. Pair with Woodford Reserve Bourbon (The Woodford Reserve Distillery) from Simpson's hometown of Versailles Kentucky. Cheers.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Album Review: Cooley Comes Alive with The Drive-By Truckers English Oceans

PHOTO CREDIT: David McClister
It's been over a decade since I jumped on The Drive-By Truckers wagon and although the band cranks out a new release almost every year or two, they never seemed to match the initial thrill of hearing Decoration Day or Brighter Than Creation's Dark. Until now. One listen to English Oceans and it is winner. Could be all the adversity the band's been through the last few years with bassist and songwriter Shonna Tucker, departing the band after eight years and the tragic passing of long time merchandise manager and sometime player Craig Lieske.

Normally in a DbT album, Patterson Hood provides most of the songwriting with Mike Cooley contributing a couple, but for there's an equal split. And even though the dual pen their songs separately there's a nice balance between their individual songs - both musically and lyrically. There's less of Hood's storytelling and more of Cooley's philosophical undertones - even in Hood's songs. See the final track, Grand Canyon, Hood's tribute to Lieske. The new DbT lineup consists of Hood and Cooley, Brad Morgan (drum), Patterson Hood, Jay Gonzalez (keyboards and Guitar), and Matt Patton (bass). You will find me in the crowd this Thursday (6/26) at Baltimore's Rams Head Live. Pair with Athen's Terrapin Beer Company. Cheers.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Album Review: Mingo Fishtrap - On Time

I just went through a streak of music that just really didn't match my palette, so it was a great refresher to receive the latest from the Austin based funk-soul band Mingo Fishtrap.  "On Time" is timeless, classic 60's and early 70s soul and funk. The horns are uplifting, searing guitar, tight harmonies - what is not to like. Actually if this CD doesn't move you, emotionally and physically, then somethings wrong with you. "Mingo Fishtrap are Roger Blevins, Jr. on lead vocals and guitar; Dane Farnsworth on vocals, organ, and keyboards; Chip Vayenas on vocals and drums; Mikel Urdy on percussion; Roger Blevins, Sr. on bass; Steve Butts on trumpet; Dan Bechdolt on tenor and alto saxophone; and Zol Waterhouse on trombone".  I want to see these guys with JJ Grey & Mofro. Time to click the repeat button; I'm feeling Uncle Billy's Brew & Que with these guys, but they will also be at Wolf Hills Brewing Company in Abingdon next weekend. Cheers.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Key to the Highway - Phil & Dave Alvin cover Big Bill Broonzy in Common Ground

I was introduced to The Blasters music in the late 1980's, a couple years after Dave & Phil Alvin had parted ways - but to this day - listen to The Blasters Collection monthly if not weekly. And Dave Alvin's solo CDs are always within easy reach. Thus, it is time to celebrate that the brothers have found Common Ground: Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy - the early bluesman that influenced dozens of later blues and rock musicians and is best known for "Key to the Highway".

The CD was released June 3rd and I was able to listen to several early song releases as well as catch the brother's appearance with Mojo Nixon on Outlaw Country. The brothers resolved to cover Broonzy after Phil's death experience (yes, he flat-lined) in 2012 while in Spain since the bluesman is one subject they never argue about. During the interview they mentioned how Broonzy not only influenced Muddy Waters, but also the folk musicians of the early 1960s. He was also the first blues-man to venture to Europe and have a sustained success - where he influenced the skiffle bands and guitarists Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton.

The brothers cover Big Bill Broonzy in their own style, giving them a Blasters rockabilly edge - just check out "Feel So Good".  The brothers distinct voices add more flavor when they alternate vocals - "Key to the Highway" - and the musicianship is first rate. Dave's half Resonator guitar is pretty cool looking. "Tomorrow" and "Trucking Little Woman" are other favorites. Joining the brothers on the CD are The Blasters’ pianist Gene Taylor and bass and drum duties where split between Bob Glaub and Don Heffington on one hand and Dave's band mates Brad Fordham and Lisa Pankratz from The Guilty Ones.  Pair with Progress Brewing, Downey California's closest brewery. Cheers.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Patrick Sweany - Close to the Floor & Summer Shows

I recently received an email from a publicist for Patrick Sweany which lead me to revisit his 2013 release Close to the Floor. If you digg electric blues guitar, this is the guy for you: whether blues guitar, slide,  or fingerstyle. His vocals are deep and rustic - perfect for the genre; and his songwriting - highly original. Check out "Working For You" and I love "Bus Station " - Awake at 4:40 is a bad place to be. And the guitar in "Deep Water", "Just On Night", or for that matter the entire release.

Esquire Magazine recently featured this video and Sweany appeared on Music City Roots late last night.  This summer Sweany will appear at the Eureka Springs Blues Weekend; Red, White & Blues Festival; Hullabaloo Music Festival; and the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival; and numerous venues across the U.S.. Pair with 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Best Monday Night Concert -> Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers & The Hello Strangers at Jammin Java

What to do on a Monday night? Next week the answer is clear. Check out Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers & The Hello Strangers at Jammin' Java. It's roots, Americana, Texas roots rock night. Muth hails from the pacific Northwest where she is known as "Seattle’s Emmylou". Her latest release is World of Strangers and just listening to the opening track confirms this billing. "Mama Needs a Margarita" is another good one. Need confirmation? Check out the video below. Hope to hear that song Monday night.

The Hello Strangers are two sisters who have brought their Austin sound to western Pennsylvania. I spent some time at their website listening to the stream of their latest songs - most off their upcoming self-titled CD. These songs are tight - in  particular, check out "What It Takes to Break a Heart", "Caribou",  and "Never Roam Again". The sisters can harmonize and are backed by more than capable musicians. Their inclusion of "Que Sera, Sera" throws you off a little until you learn that it's inclusion pays tribute to their grandfather, Ronald Chace, who sang with Doris Day. You will enjoy this release and pair with Knob Hall Winery where they play later this summer.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Album Review: Amy McCarley - Jet Engines

Are you a fan of Holly Williams? Then take a listen to singer-songwriter Amy McCarley. No, she is not an exact match, but while listening to the opening track off her upcoming second release Jet Engines, "Everybody Wants To",  I can't help waiting for McCarley to belt out Williams' Hey why are you cheatin' on a woman like this. Co-produced by Kenny Vaughan and George Bradfute, Jet Engines is an enjoyable listen throughout - plenty of roots, rockabilly, and country as well as McCarley's very distinctive voice. "Here I Am" seems like a an anthem for many people I know, and I love the guitar work. On the other hand, "Head Out of Town" is my anthem. I can relate completely (I'm going to pick me a place and that's where I'm going to go). Plus there's some slide guitar from Bradfute. Vaughan also contributes electric and acoustic guitars throughout the CD with Derek Mixon (drums & percussion) and Michael Rinne (electric & upright bass) rounding out the supporting cast.  The title track is another favorite (great melodies) and Woods on Fire closes the release in rockin' style. Pair with Blue Pants Brewery from her native Alabama where McCarley performs May 29th. Cheers. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Album Review: Seth Walker - Sky Still Blue

I've missed the last couple times Seth Walker has played at Jammin Java and after listening to his latest, Sky Still Blue, I'm regretting those decisions. This release is tremendous - the lyrics, the swagger in his voice, and  since he's moved to new Orleans, his Americana sound has been infused with funky blues. This is perhaps my favorite of the year. Five songs were co-written by producer Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers which include many of my favorites: Easy Come, Easy Go, High Wire, and the final track - Way Too Far. Joining Walker are longtime bandmates Steve Mackey (bass) and Derrek Phillips (drums) as well as Chris Wood and Jano Rix. But don't ignore Walker's guitar work - it funky demeanor stands out in many tracks - just listen to Trouble (Don't Want No) or Either Way I Lose. Pair with NOLA Brewing and listen often. Cheers.