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.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Is It Too Early To Start Planning for Merlefest 2015?

Merlefest - April 23-26 2015, Wilkes Community College, North Carolina.

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.