Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Maine based Americana from North of Nashville

Lately I've been admiring the Americana music making its way south from Brooklyn, but now its time to head further north to Portland Maine to find the latest non- Americans band: North of Nashville. This duo of Jay Basiner (acoustic guitar, lead vocals, harmonica, bass drum, snare drum, tambourine) and Andrew Martelle (fiddle, mandolin, guitar, vocals) sounds straight from Texas - forget Nashville. In their self-titled debut album, Basiner delivers twangy vocals and very realistic lyrics of lost or more forcibly rejected love. The orchestration is quite impressive coming from just two individuals and nails the genre completely - particularly Martelle's fiddle in The Lady and The Outlaw. Love the bass drum in that song too. The fiddle continues with Hooked On Me - a catchy and clever song.  As I mentioned lost and jilted love is a theme throughout (Eyes For Me, One Night of Pretending, Isabella) and as my son enters baseball season, Remember These Days hits home. Being a Parrothead, I could also envision Buffett covering Dreams Come True (For Awhile) - nice ending to an excellent debut effort. Now I have another reason to head to Portland, sample some Allagash Brewing Company or New England Distilling and listen to some good ole American roots music. Cheers.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Album Review: The Warren G. Hardings - Get A Life

This week I received another sample from Hearth Music,  this time from the high-energy Seattle string-band The Warren G. Hardings and their latest release: Get A Life. And I'm talking high energy - it slows for Anonymous Waltz - but otherwise Dave Zelonka (Guitar), Gabriel Marowitz (Mandolin), Andrew Knapp (Bass), Steve Werner (Banjo), and Lee Callender (Fiddle) crank out some fast based music. Even at the frenetic pace, the harmonies are spot on. Check out Darling. The songs are all original with some great lines - “my girl is cool as water/warm as brandy wine” - or the lyrics in What Can I Say & Cannibal Lies. Pair this brewgrass with one of Seattle's McMenamins live music friendly breweries. Cheers

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Album Review: Runaway Dorothy - The Wait

I shouldn't be surprised anymore how many Old Time String or Americana bands keep pooping out of Brooklyn, but I still am. The latest is Runaway Dorothy, a quartet fronted by Dave Parnell (vocals, guitar, harmonica), and including his younger brother Brett “Bert” Parnell (electric guitar), Sam “The Reverend” Gallo (bass), and Evan Mitchell (drums). Interestingly, the band formed a cohesive unit by performing live on NYC subway platforms. That cohesion is on display in their latest release, The Wait. Just listen to Ballad Of A Dead Man or Blue Kentucky Rain. A pretty tight unit. Caroline is another good one as is Come Down. If you are in the DC area, the band is playing this Friday night at Hill Country BBQ. Pair with Brooklyn's Sixpoint Brewery. Cheers.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Progressive Rock Comes Alive with Druckfarben

Are you fans of the classic rock band Yes? That's what I was thinking about while listening to Second Sound, the sophomore album from the Canadian rock band Druckfarben.  And that's before I read their bio and learned that all the members participated in a recreation of the Yes albums Close to the Edge and The Yes Album. Pretty cool. In this release, Progressive Rock is still kicking - and pretty cool to listen to these original songs that seem straight from the 70's. The harmonies are tight, elements of classical music are present, and there's one extremely long finale - the 19 minute title track. Liberated Dream is my favorite delivering a little psychedelic funk to the picture, with An Answer Dreaming close behind. Pair with Toronto's Black Creek Historic Brewery. Cheers.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Standing Room Only for Ray Wylie Hubbard at the Bamboo Room

My Spring Break and Ray Wylie Hubbard tour scheduled collided in Lake Worth Florida at the Bamboo Room - one of my favorite south Florida music venues. Unfortunately for me and four other fans, the show sold out just prior to our arrival. After moping for a few minutes our fortunes changed as a fellow walked out with exactly five tickets from a group no-show. Hallelujah. We entered just minutes before Hubbard walked onstage - accompanied by his son Luke and percussionist Kyle Snider.

This was my first live viewing of Hubbard and there were no disappointments. He was engaging, humorous, insightful, and just plain enjoyable. He played popular and not as popular, covered Choctaw Bingo, and his songs covered by others. You get a strong sense of his commitment to country and Chicago blues with many references to Lightning Hopkins and Holwling Wolf.  Of course there was Mother Hubbard's Blues and Snake Farm and a couple from his latest The Grifters Hymnal. I could see why he's proud of his son Luke, the boy can play the electric guitar and Snider kept the trio in check.  A pretty awesome evening. Paired with locally brewed  Due South Brewing Company Category 3 IPA. Cheers. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

CLAY vs. LEVI: Round 2 at Jammin Java

The other night I attended the Clay vs Levi Round 2 featuring Levi Lowrey and Clay Cook at Jammin Java and with only a few shows left, I highly recommend seeing if they are preforming in your area. Rock, paper scissors determines who starts the show and afterwards they alternate songs. And while one leads, the other accompanies. They two have great chemistry - seems very natural - which makes this "contest" work. Some of the songs Lowrey played came from his latest self-titled CD (also highly recommended) although my favorite was All American - perhaps an updated version of Uneasy Rider. Lowrey plays either the fiddle or acoustic guitar, while Clay comes prepared with the pedal steel and acoustic and electric guitars.Cook is also pedaling a new release, North Star, which I hope to have reviewed soon. Go out and see these two fight it out. Cheers.

Friday, April 4, 2014

25 years with Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys - What A Dream It’s Been

Can't believe Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys have been performing for 25 years, but it's true. And to celebrate their Silver anniversary they released What A Dream It’s Been, an all acoustic, newly re-arranged, sample of their favorite releases.  Thus fans will hear some of their favorite roots, swing, rockabilly, and traditional country music - for me, Parts Unknown is the one.  However, the entire collection is a winner; love the acoustic picking in Nothing to Lose and This Ain't a Good Time, the duet in the title track, the country tone in Glad When I'm Gone, and of course the tardy wisdom in If I Knew Now (What I Knew Then). Pair with Southern California's Stone Brewing Company. Cheers.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Jeff Black's "Folklore" Released Today April 1st

Jeff Black continues his roots music tradition by releasing his 10th CD, Folklore. I'm not sure what part I enjoy more, Black's clear vocals and powerful and vivid songwriting or the "bare bones" musical notes from the 5 string banjo, 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars and harmonica. The title tack is my favorite song, with Break the Ground and Flatcar close behind - but all of Folklore is acoustic poetry. The cover photograph is also pretty cool and reflects the roots tradition of this release. The photo was taken by Black's paternal grandmother, Lotos Nile Black in 1930. Jeff Black writes in his liner notes: “I think it’s the picture of my Dad looking into the camera, into the future, that inspires me, and the fade of my Uncle into the unknown that keeps me searching.”  Recorded at Black’s Arcana Studios and mixed by Dave Sinko (Chris Thile & the Punch Brothers, Sam Bush Band, Don Williams), the CD comes highly recommended. Pair with Nashville's Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery rootsy pre-prohibition brand Belle Meade Bourbon.