Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Why Does Christmas Remind Me of Johnny Cash - ' Hurt"

For some reason every Christmas season I think of Johnny Cash and lately his last few albums produced by Rick Rubin like the Grammy Award-winning American IV: The Man Comes Around.The second track, Hurt, is a powerful song written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, but seemingly fit more for the Man in Black.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Album Review: Mipso - Old Time Reverie

I'm still rather troubled that this year I missed all the major music festivals I usually attend like Merlefest, Floydfest, and Bristol Rhythm & Roots. However, I've found a North Carolina quartet that is helping alleviate that pain. Mipso is a modified bluegrass band that should be part of Floydfest's Emerging Artist Series. And I say modified since they are not a traditional bluegrass band - and not newgrass either. Their latest release Old Time Reverie showcases this unique Appalachian sound. My favorite track is Bad Penny, shades of Americana fused with old time country. Everyone Knows is close behind. Mipso consists of Jacob Sharp (mandolin), Joseph Terrell (guitar), Wood Robinson (bass), and Libby Rodenbough (fiddle). The album showcases their tight harmonies and individual instrumentation. Pair with Chapel Hill's Top Of The Hill Brewery. Cheers.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Album Review: Jason Boland & The Stragglers - Squelch

Based on attendance from shows in the DC area, Jason Boland & The Stragglers must have a solid national audience which should only increase after the band's eighth album, Squelch. Boland's signature gravelly vocals and the pedal steel guarantee a solid country sound; although there are other genre's mingled in. See The First To Know and the rockn' It's Alright to Be An A*Hole. Yet, the Texas Country vibe is what shines the brightest, songs like the opening track Break 19, Heartless Bypass, and Do You Love Me Any Less. And listen to the end, Bienville is a fine Texas waltz. Pair Squelch with Stillwater Oklahoma's Iron Monk Brewing Company. Cheers.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Album Review: Tellico - Relic And Roses

I'm an admitted dobro and pedal steel junky, so it shouldn't be surprising that I totally enjoyed Tellico's dobro and steel laced debut release: Relic And Roses. Of course there's more to this album then just Aaron Ballance on the aforementioned instruments; Jed Willis contributes solid  mandolin and clawhammer banjo; Jon Stickley (producer) of the Jon Stickley Trio; and then there's Anya Hinkle (guitar, fiddle) and Stig Stiglets (bass). You may be familiar with these names from their Dehlia Low days and the two wrote all tracks except the Neil Young White Line-River of Pride medley. Their songs are rootsy and full of life, whether uplifting or sorrowful. The album starts with an authentic Appalachian sound in Backstep Blues but its Can't Go Home Again where the album hits its stride. Just hear those instruments. Would love to hear the playful Hawkeye Pierce and Honeycutt Blues live, and Farewell Winds is the most powerful track - until you hear Mexico 1995. This is a tremendous debut effort; suburb orchestration and songwriting. Well done. Pair with Blonde Whiskey from Asheville Distilling Company. Cheers.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Album Review: Sour Bridges - Entertaining Americana Rock

Austin-based band Sour Bridges proves that Americana-rock bands need not fear the banjo or fiddle. Brothers Bill and Matt Pucci have combined their love of bluegrass with electric guitar and bass and an occasional keyboard to create a funky, vibrant sound. Last month the band releases their self titled album, the third in their portfolio. My favorite songs are those where the fiddle and banjo are prevalent such as Teddy, Cocaine Lorraine, and Workin' Boy.  Kat “Mama Kat” Wilkes (fiddle), Dalton Chamblee (drums), Jack Bridges (vocals, bass guitar) and "hired gun" Ben Morgan (keys) round out the team. The waltzy Meet You There showcases the band's tight harmonies and Bumble Bee their rustic pickin' ability.  This is an impressive release; all songs diverse and entertaining. Pair with Richmond Virginia's Hardywood Park Craft Brewery where the band performs June 28th. Cheers.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Album Review: Robyn Ludwick - Little Rain

Last year the "Queen of Modern Texas Country Soul", Robyn Ludwick, released Little Rain and recently I finally got around to purchasing a copy. The descriptor is spot on, as the album combines a bit of bluesy soul to that Texas Americana sound. The album was produced by Gurf Morlix who also featured his considerable talent on the guitar, keyboards, banjo, pedal steel, and backing vocals. Husband John Ludwick (electric and upright bass) and Rick Richards (drums) round out the musical cast. The opening track,  Longbow, OK, sets our high expectations for this release with it's tale of love gone bad. Seems like a constant theme as the Heartache continues with her soulful vocals - at times backed by haunting music. Lafayette is a favorite track where Ludwick displays more range and Little Weakness all Americana. If you are still not convinced, consider that Ludwick is the sister of Charlie Robison and Bruce Robison. Would love to hear the singing at that family reunion. Pair Little Rain with the Lost Maples Winery, the closest winery to Ludwick's Bandera Texas hometown. Cheers.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Album Review: Kym Warner - Everything That Brought Me Here

Last month I attended another great house concert, this time featuring Kym Warner and Warren Hood, where the duo thoroughly entertained the captive audience. You should know Warner as a founding member of the Grammy nominated bluegrass outfit The Greencards. And Hood has an impressive following among The Waybacks fans as well as anyone from the Austin area. The duo were brilliant; entertaining with stories, humor, and music - many of these derived from Warner's debut solo album "Everything That Brought Me Here". Simply, this album is fantastic - the all acoustic release displaying Warner's mastery of the mandolin as well as the impressive musicianship of his guest musicians: Andy Hall (dobro) of the The Infamous Stringdusters, Tommy Emmanuel, Jedd Hughes, Carl Miner, Jake Stargel, Bill Whitbeck, David Beck, Brian Standefer, Jeff Taylor, Eric Darken and Dan Dugmore. I've had the album running continually during the day for the past few weeks and never tire with particular standouts in City to the Bay, El Paloma, Start Your Engines, San Leanna, and the highly relevant Great Falls. You won't be able to see Warner solo or with The Greencards this summer as he is touring with Robert Earl Keen as a member of his bluegrass band. In any event, pair Everything That Brought Me Here with Austin's (512) Brewing Company. Cheers.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dom Flemons Offers Free Download of "What Got Over" EP

Carolina Chocolate Drops alum and talented multi-instrumentalist Dom Flemons is offering a free download of his What Got Over EP through May. After the free download period, the EP will be available in the following stores. Here's Flemons describing how the EP evolved.
When I recorded Prospect Hill back in January 2014, I knew from the beginning that I would have a lot of extra songs. Overall, we recorded about 30 tracks and I was only able to include a portion of these on the final album. On my What Got Over EP I present a few tracks that I felt were too good to leave in the vault. Included on this EP are also a few alternates to the main tracks I picked for Prospect Hill—versions in which I experimented with the sound and instrumentation but in the end they didn’t make the final cut.
Enjoy this companion as one more testament to 2014: The Year of the Folksinger with the hope that the music will push on! We all can use a few extra sets of hands to help in the cause of making good honest music. I want to present this collection as a thank you to all the fans and lovers of good music. This one is for you! Catch you all down the road!
And these songs are too good to leave in the vault. First timers would never guess these are contemporary songs; full of old time instruments and a throwback vocals. The harp laced electric blues in Clock on the Wall is an exception; actually a terrific exception and a new side to Flemons I've never heard.  The remainder of the EP is pure Flemons the historian. Go listen.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Album Review: Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds - The Weather Below

If you're planning on attending Floydfest this year, then get a preview of one of the scheduled artists, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, through their latest release The Weather Below. Produced by Ryan Hadlock and recorded at Bear Creek Studio just outside Seattle, WA; the album's rock and soul tinged sound merits a listen. The attraction starts with Arleigh Kincheloe's sultry and powerful vocals and is augmented by vibrant horns (Phil Rodriguez (trumpet), and Brian Graham (saxophones)). Then the harmonica (Jackson Kincheloe) merges with the guitar (Sasha Brown) and blends seamlessly with the bass (Josh Myers) and drums (Dan Boyden). Just check out Don't Be Jealous. That's a tight track. So is Cold Blooded - love the opening guitar riff.  The title track, Borderline, We Need A Love, and Catch Me If You Can are also favored songs. Pair with NYC's Kings County Distillery - home to an awesome band - Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Album Review: Grant Dermody - Sun Might Shine on Me

If you are a fan of acoustic country blues and harmonica, then the latest from Seattle blues harmonicist Grant Dermody is for you. Sun Might Shine on Me was recorded in Southwest Louisiana at the studio home of Dirk Powell (Joan Baez, T-Bone Burnett, Balfa Toujours) and the release is reminiscent of historic recordings whether from the Mississippi Delta, Appalachia, or Cajun country. Dermody is joined by a fleet of talented players in Creole fiddler Cedric Watson (Pine Leaf Boys), Creole swamp-pop elder drummer Jockey Etienne (Slim Harpo); Seattle-based blues and folk guitar master Orville Johnson (Laura Love), and Texas-based blues mandolinist Rich Del Grosso (Howard “Louie Blouie” Armstrong). When You Left pretty much exemplifies the album; slow and steady acoustic guitar, harp, and Dermody's raspy vocals. Check out So Sorry To Leave You and J'ai Passe as well. Pair with Southwest Louisiana's Bayou Teche Brewing. Cheers.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Lockn' Music Festival - Best Lineup in 2015?

The lineup for the 2015 Lockn' Music Festival is hard to ignore. Held September 10-13 at Oak Ridge Farm in Arrington,Virginia; this camping festival has perhaps the best lineup of 2015. Just look at the opening night with The Doobie Brothers joining The String Cheese Incident as The Doobie Incident, Little Feat, Galactic, and Deer Tick. The rest of the weekend continues with a who's who of jam band and classic bands: Widespread Panic, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Robert Plant, Phil Lesh & friends (Warren Haynes, Carlos Santana) , The North Mississippi AllstarsAnders Osborne, Steve Earle & The Dukes, Umphrey's McGee, Hot Tuna, Melvin Seals, and soon and so on. You get the picture. A four day pass is $285 with various camping options.  There will be plenty of beer food venders as well along with activities such as mountain biking courtesy of CAMBC (Charlottesville Area Mountain Bike Club) and swimming through Water Lockn'. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Album Review: Woody Pines Upcoming Self Titled Release

If you are a fan of Old Crow or Pokey LaFarge, Woody Pines upcoming self titled album on Nashville’s Muddy Roots Records label should be your thing. In fact, Woody Pines and Gill Landry toured together previously as a jugband.  The album combines that sound with a little country blues and rootsy country to create one special release. Pines is augmented by Skip Frontz Jr on bass and Brad Tucker on electric guitar, with the album produced by Grammy-winner Mitch Dane and mixed by Vance Powell. Two tracks you must seek out are Little Stella Blue and Make It To The Woods; one soft, the other rough and bluesy - but both excellent songs. Delta Bound is another great blues song; Walking Stick and Black Rag Swing will be festival favorites. The album is due out May 28th and pair with the several breweries where the band is performing this summer: Triumph Brewing Company, Bearwaters Brewery, and Marietta Brewing Company. Cheers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Album Review: The Honey Dewdrops - Tangled Country

Five years ago this summer I heard the The Honey Dewdrops for the first time at Floydfest 9 and came away very impressed with the acoustic duo. Now Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish are set to release their 4th album Tangled Country - an original collection of rootsy folk and blues. The album was recorded in their Baltimore hometown, produced by Nicholas Sjostrom (also playing bass and piano) and featuring Dave Hadley on pedal steel and E.J. Shaull-Thompson on drums. Wortman and Parrish have been performing together since 2003 and their stripped down sound is powerful starting with Wortman's vocals. She's simply impressive, then combine Parrish's soft harmonies as in LowlandsHorses, and Numb and you have some excellent songs. Loneliest Songs and Parrish's lead in Fair Share Blues are my two favorite tracks. Listen to the end because the musicianship in the last track Remington pretty much sums up this enjoyable release. Pair with my favorite Baltimore brewery, Brewer's Art. Cheers.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Album Review: Todd Grebe and Cold Country - Citzen

I followed Bearfoot many years ago and then lost track of the band after a few member changes. Last week, however, Hearth PR provided a recollection of the bluegrass band by sending me the newest release from Todd Grebe and Cold Country, titled Citizen. It appears that Grebe joined the band in their final years, then married longtime member, Angela Oudean, and returned to Alaska to form the new band.  They also left their bluegrass sound in Nashville for this album is all honky-tonk country and Americana and its a good one. (Although I should note that they returned to Nashville to record this album at The Butcher Shoppe studio with Grammy-award winning recording engineer David Ferguson). The musicianship is excellent with Oudean, harmonies and of course fiddle, Nate May (telecaster), Larry Atamanuik (drums), Mike Bub (bass) with special  guests Steve Hinson (pedal steel), renowned Nashville session pianist Jimmy Wallace (piano) and Bearfoot alumni Megan McCormick (guitar). But it's Grebe's dusty vocals and songwriting that makes this release unique. Some of the lyrics have a John Prine quality with one of my favorites on the title track: "freedom isn't free; but I'm pretty sure it ain't costing for me". Other favorite tracks are Luckiest Man Here On Earth, Ain't That Fine, and You'll Never Find Me. Pair with one of my favorite beers, the Smoked Porter from Alaskan Brewing Company. Cheers.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Steel Wheels Presents the Red Wing Roots Music Festival - A Phenomenal Lineup

For the past few years, MyJoogTV alum The Steel Wheels have hosted the Red Wing Roots Music Festival and this year the event is being held July 10th-12th at Natural Chimneys Park in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley Virginia. Each year the lineup rivals many of other local festivals such as Floydfest and 2015 is no exception. The headliners are outstanding, but its the local talent that elevates this lineup and should encourage your participation. First, there's The Steel Wheels, an extremely talented source of roots music and generally great guys. Then there's fellow Virginians or Appalachians Scott Miller, Bryan Elijah Smith & The Wild Hearts, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, Sunliner (Travis Book and Sarah Siskind), Missy Raines & The New Hip, Chatham County Line, and Jon Stickley Trio. Then there are the imports such as Eric Lindell, The Brothers Comatose, Cahalen Morrison & Eli West, Billy Strings & Don Julin, Spirit Family Reunion, and Nikki Lane. Oh yea, the headliners. How about Robert Earl Keen featuring his bluegrass band, the Punch Brothers, The Wood Brothers, Elephant Revival, The Travelin’ McCourys, and Sara – Sarah – Aoife (Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan). Pretty impressive. Tickets are reasonable at $129 for three days of great music. The area is also an outdoors man paradise with bike trails, hiking, fishing caverns and local wineries and breweries.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Album Review: Retro Soul from Major And The Monbacks

I've always had a soft spot for bands with horns and that trend has continued with the eight-piece band Major and the Monbacks. After performing together for seven years, they have finally come around to recording their debut, self titled album (release date May 12th). And it's a good one.  There's horns a plenty, a sophisticated sound, high energy dance tunes, and tight vocal harmonies. While in high school in Norfolk, VA, twin brothers Neal (guitar, vocals, keys) and Cole (bass) Friedman formed the precursor of what would eventually become Major and the Monbacks with classmates Michael Adkins (guitar, vocals, harmonica, keys), Harry Schloeder (guitar, vocals, keys), and Tyler Wes (percussion, hype). Nate Sacks (saxophone), Bryan Adkins (drums), and Aaron Reeves (trumpet) round out the eight pieces. Pair this excellent album with Norfolk's Smartmouth Brewing Co. Cheers.

  • I Can Hardly Wait - slow start to the album, then.....
  • Somedays - an instant classic; best track
  • Annabelle - starts slow but gradually gains a full head of steam
  • Don't Say A Word - hear a little JJ Grey in this one
  • She Don't Knock - sophisticated soul
  • Sunshine - vocal harmonies abound in this pop song
  • Be My Baby - starts with 1950s do whop pop; leans towards Holy Ghost Tent Revival
  • Magnolia - notice the keys and guitars
  • Fool - there's some St. Paul and The Broken Bones
  • I Do - fast pace finale

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Album Review: The Lonesome Band - Running Alone

For the past couple of weeks I've been fixated on the debut album for the Austin based The Lonesome Band. Titled, Running Alone, this all original album sounds a bit like Hank III, a bit like Robert Earl Keen, both backed by a jam band. The Lonesome Band consists of Anthony Lucio (guitar), Sam Whips Allison on lead guitar, Barrett O’Donnell on bass, and Miguel Gilly on drums. On the album, the band is augmented by Alex McMahon (pedal steel), Chojo Jaques (fiddle), and Larry Eisenberg (keyboard).

It was the drum beats (actually Bill Payne on the album) on the opening track - Agree to Disagree - that captured my attention. Then I noticed that the vocals sounded a bit like Hank III, with the storyline reminiscent of REK. But it was their rockin' jam band sound that kept my attention. Check out that lead guitar; Danny Gatton would be proud. Other REK-like tunes are Halfway There (perhaps my favorite track), Love I've Never Known, and Make 'Em Dance. That's Just Me is another great song with excellent instrumentation as is Running Alone, where the jam band really comes alive. And they wouldn't be a Texas band without a waltz - The Lonesome Waltz. These guys need to come to Hill Country BBQ or Gypsy Sally's. Pair with Austin's Uncle Billy's Brew & Que, located just over the river from 6th Street. Cheers.

Update: Forgot to include the release date for "Running Alone": May 12th, 2015.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Album Review: Trout Steak Revival - Brighter Every Day

It didn't take long to warm up to Colorado's Trout Steak Revival and their just released album Brighter Every Day. The appeal definitely starts with the band's orchestration and performance of the songs;  I had noticed a Stringduster-like quality even before I read that the album was produced by Chris Pandolfi. Another asset is that all five members [Steve Foltz (mandolin & guitar), Casey Houlihan (standup bass), Will Koster (dobro & guitar), Travis McNamara (banjo), and Bevin Foley (fiddle)] contribute vocals and songwriting so the album is a diverse ride through various landscapes. And interestingly, there's no particular favorite track; each is solid. Although if forced to choose the opening track, Union Pacific is pretty tight. Pair the album with Colorado's Songbird Cellars and Elevation Beer Company, where the band is scheduled to perform in May. Cheers.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Album Review: Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers - Loved Wild Lost

Anyone ever listen to the Van Sessions (usually covers of iconic songs) on Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers YouTube site? Well you should. And these sessions are a good introduction to the 1960's folk-pop sound infused with a little rock, country, and blues from their latest album, Loved Wild Lost. Bluhm's soulful vocals elevate the songs, whether they are soft ballads, easy listening country, funky blues, or straight rock. Me and Slim and Hearts Gets Tough are examples of the later where The Gramblers (Tim Bluhm, Deren Ney, Dave Mulligan, Steve Adams, & Mike Curry) strut their stuff. This is one tight outfit. Mr. Saturday Night is one of my other favorites and listen to the end to hear Bluhm's sweet vocals in High Neck Lace and Heavy Hey Ya. She is quite impressive. Pair with San Francisco's 21st Amendment. Cheers.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Album Review: Sam Lewis - Waiting On You

Last week we posted about a marketing strategy from Nashville based singer-songwriter Sam Lewis for his upcoming release, Waiting On You, on April 21st. Well I've been listening to a preview version and straight up - this album is phenomenal; perhaps my favorite of the year so far. It captures a blues and soulful side of Lewis  that I don't remember from his self titled debut album. Now, this isn't a blues album - although the blues piano in Reinventing the Blues is close - just Lewis and many excellent players which include Kenny Vaughan, guitarist Darrell Scott, guitarist Will Kimbrough, pianist Gabe Dixon, and backup vocals from The McCrary Sisters. Seriously, what a supporting cast; plus the album was produced by Oliver Wood, of The Wood Brothers. Talk to Me and 3/4 Time are my favorite tracks, but in reality, there are no sub-standard tracks. Just listen to the pedal steel in Never Again or the orchestration in Texas. Powerful stuff.Pair this gem with Nashville's brewery and live music venue Tennessee Brew Works. Cheers.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Album Review: The Honeycutters - Me Oh My

Asheville based The Honeycutters are ready to release their third album, Me Oh My, later this month and after listening continuously the last few days; there is still no sign of fatigue.  From the opening track, Jukebox, the band exudes the rootsy country flavor of the album with front women and songwriter Amanda Anne Platt delivering genuine songwriting and vocals.  I found myself following the advice of that song "it's only a song, so for heaven's sake won't you sing along" and singing along with the rest of the album. The orchestration from the band is quite  pronounced throuhout with Tal Taylor (Mandolin), Rick Cooper (Bass), Josh Milligan (Drums), and Matt Smith (Pedal Steel, Dobro, Electric Guitar). These guys can play. The title track and Ain't It The Truth are two powerfully themed songs followed by one of my favorite tracks: Carolina. Little Bird is also a must listen as it was a finalist in MerleFest's Chris Austin Songwriting Contest. Want something more upbeat? I'll Be Loving You is for you; but Lucky may bring you back down. Pair with Asheville's music loving brewery, the French Broad Brewing Company. Cheers to this highly recommended album.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sam Lewis Debuts a Dozen Live Videos on 12 Outlets in 1 Day

In preparation for his upcoming release, Waiting On You, Nashville based singer-songwriter Sam Lewis has released a dozen live videos on 12 different outlets in a single day.  Great concept; increases exposure to both the sites and Lewis. Looking forward to the April 21st release date, but in the meantime I'll be surfing. Cheers.

01 - "3/4 Time" - Folk Alley
02 - "Love Me Again" - The Bluegrass Situation
03 - "Waiting On You" - Diffuser
04 - "She's A Friend" - Elmore Magazine
05 - "Things Will Never Be The Same" - Guitar World's Acoustic Nation
06 - "Talk To Me" - Culture Collide
07 - "Reinventing The Blues" - The Boot
08 - "Never Again" - Acoustic Guitar Magazine
09 - "Texas" - Music Times
10 - "Little Time" - PopMatters
11 - "Virginia Avenue" - NKD Magazine
12 - "I'm Coming Home" - Artist Direct

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Album Review: Chubby Knuckle Choir - Reveille

Most music lovers correctly associate Texas music with Americana, but there's also a deep Texas blues tradition. And a new band out of Texas, has merged these two styles into an excellent album. I'm referring to Chubby Knuckle Choir and their upcoming release Reveille. At times it feels like I'm listening to several different bands as the album starts with a fiery Americana then oscillates into a softer Robert Cray styled blues and eventually returns to country and swamp blues. Hungry Hollow Road is the must listen to track, then the next tracks, Black Motel and Trouble, segues into solid Americana songs. The band is composed of Slim Bawb, Perry Lowe, Tres Womack, and Rory Smith with all contributing singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists. Some cool instruments too: bass fiddle, frottoir, congas, Brazilian box drum cajón, African drum djembe, mandolin..... You don't see these very often. The album concludes with a live track recorded at the Dosey Doe. This will encourage you to check out their tour schedule. The album will be released April 21st and we will post reminders as that day creeps closer. Pair with hometown brewpub Bastrop Brewhouse. Cheers.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Album Review: Anthony Gomes - Electric Field Holler

I love blues guitar, thus I also love Electric Field Holler, the latest release by Canadian born, Chicago trained, bluesman Anthony Gomes. Not only does this release rock, but Gomes' gritty vocals add texture and depth. The opening track, Turn It Up!, is an autobiographic history through his mentors; debut CD, Blues in Technicolor; and showcases his rockin' 6-string guitar. Blues traditionalists may lament the rock n' roll sound; but I completely digg it. Whiskey Train, Blueschild, and Tilt-A-Whirl also highlight this guitar prowess, well, you could probably pick any song for that. Pair with Toronto's Steam Whistle Brewing to ride with freight train of an album. Turn It UP! Cheers. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Album Review: Frank Viele - Fall Your Way

If you enjoy the funky side of blues, then check our New England based Frank Viele and his latest release Fall Your Way. The opening track, Broken Love Song, features Joe Bonamassa on guitar and pulls you in and the horns in Kalifornia close the trap door. Afterwards, the tracks express a sense of love gone very bad with How Dare You Say You're Sorry, Alexa, and When You Gonna Come Home. In between Easy Money retains the horns, but is much more laid back and Tonight I Must Leave Your Arms may be my favorite track with it's powerful lyrics and subtle guitar. Or the funk in Kick Up Your Heels. Pair with the funky Belgian styled beer from East Haven's Overshores Brewing Co. Cheers.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Album Review: Two Gallants - We Are Undone

At the NY Times Press Play site, I encountered a rather entertaining duo, Two Gallants, through their latest album: We Are Undone. Frontman Adam Stephens plays a wicked guitar while drummer and boyhood friend, Tyson Vogel, provides percussion balance. You may think the group is a Black Keys knock off, but they've been performing as a duo for the past decade. The guitar in the opening title track grabbed my attention and the mid-jam in the second song, Incidental, kept it.  Fools Like Us has a catchy melody; Invitation To The Funeral, the best vocals; and My Man Go, my favorite track. The last song, There’s So Much I Don’t Know focuses on Stephens' view that his hometown of San Francisco has lost some identity. Pair with a local brewery that has retained it's identity: 21st Amendment. Cheers.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Album Review: Elana James - Black Beauty

Hopefully if you're a fan of Austin based or Texas music you are familiar with the Western Swing and Jazz sound of Hot Club of Cowtown. If not you will.  Last month the band won Western Swing Group 2015 in the Ameripolitan Awards and their front lady, Elana James,  won Western Swing Female 2015.  You can hear these talents firsthand, through her latest solo album: Black Beauty.  And I mean talent. Check out her violin in Ayriliq (an Azerbaijani folk song by Ali Salimi) or Waltz of the Animals and her vocals in Hobo's Lullaby. The arrangement in that Waltz of the Animals outstanding; Who Loves You More and All I Need Is You gives us some sexy jazzy vocals; but my favorite song is High Upon the Mountains which incorporates western swing into a spirited song.  Or perhaps the soft sounds of Ripple. As you can see, there's plenty of good music in this release. There are many players on this album with the major being Dave Biller (guitar), Chris Maresh (bass), Mark Hallman (guitar, percussion), Ryan Gould (bass), and Cindy Cashdollar (steel guitar) among several others. Pair with Aubrey Vineyards from her hometown area of Overland Park - just outside of Kansas City. Cheers.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Album Review: Gill Landry's Self-titled New Release

Hopefully you are already familiar with Gill Landry from his work with Old Crow Medicine Show, but if not, start catching up by listening to his upcoming self titled album Gill Landry. Landry recorded and self-produced the album in Nashville, playing most of the instruments. There are some guest appearances, notably Robert Ellis playing a mean guitar in Fennario, Mumford and Sons trumpet player Nick Etwell in Lost Love, and Laura Marling in Take This Body. Yet the album is uniquely Landry; honest, soft spoken, and descriptive - based on his wandering experiences across this country. The aforementioned Take This Body is reason enough to procure this release, with the easy melody in Just Like You and the overall impact of Fennario, close seconds. Born in Louisiana, pair this album with Louisiana Spirits, makers of Bayou Rum situated not far from Landry's hometown of Lake Charles

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Langhorne Slim Solo at Jammin Java with Jonny Fritz

We regularly hear stories about how dedicated fans are to artists (traveling a certain amount of miles to see a show); but not that often about the reverse. Well this week, Langhorne Slim proved his meddle in his own version of Trains, Planes and Automobiles just getting to a sold out show at Jammin' Java. He and opening act, Jonny Fritz were planning to fly cross country Sunday morning after a show in Seattle; but an ice storm changed those plans. While Fritz was able to get a later flight to DC; Langhorne Slim was booked on a red-eye to NYC, then drove the 5 hours to Vienna - arriving mere minutes before showtime. Ironically, Fritz and Langhorne Slim were scheduled to play in NYC the following night.

Not knowing this situation I arrived to the largest crowd I've scene at the venue just as Jonny Fritz took the stage. This was the first I heard Fritz, but after his set, I felt this was someone who the audience would like to hang out with. He's personable, likeable, a folksy voice, and composes songs about love and life that we all can related to. I plan on posting a review of his upcoming album, Dad Country - but as a preview - I can't think of anyone that can take a subject, like taking out the trash on Monday, and making that the focus of a workable song. Well done. These are songs with clever lyrics such as "packing the van like playing tetris". I'm looking forward to listening more to Jonny Fritz.

By the time Langhorne Slim took stage, we were aware of his travel situation and were just hoping he had enough energy to play a decent set.  He seemed to provide more banter and introductions between songs (his introduction to Fire was probably three times longer than the song itself); but when he sang - he was all in. For those unfamiliar with Langhorne Slim, he writes the most interesting and compelling love songs - and as usual Collette was a constant fan request. These songs are not sappy; they're clever and interesting and sung from the heart. And his raspy - bluesy voice and modest demeanor give it cred.   I was most impressed with the live version of Song for Sid, his dedication to his grandfather. That song, Fire, and many others he performed are available on his previous album Langhorne Slim & the Law "The Way We Move".  He also played several songs off their upcoming release - looking forward to that June 2015 release and another tour with the entire band. Cheers.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Album Review: Ryan Culwell - Flatlands

Before last week Ryan Culwell was completely off my radar; but after listening to Flatlands, he's won a new fan. Culwell is now based out of Nashville, but the album's all about his boyhood roots in the Texas panhandle. These are serious songs; some ballads, some rootsy, others almost folkish - but all play through the heart. Just listen to the last track Horses. For me, that's what makes the album; no two songs are similar - yet all are powerful. Listen to the anguish in Red River or the personal journey in the title track. Piss Down In My Bones is a favorite track with it's staccato rap as is Won't Come Home (a slow ballad). Pair with the opening track Amarillo's hometown brewery, Big Texan Brewery. Cheers.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Album Review: Nels Cline & Julian Lage - Room

Do you like jazz guitar or guitar instrumentals? Then I have an album for your. Wilco lead guitarist Nels Cline has teamed with jazz guitarist Julian Lage to record Room, a "mix of original and collaborative guitar works".  Initially I just allowed the album to play as background music but as it looped through more cycles I started appreciating the depth of the guitar playing.  This may have started with Racy but definitely by Blues, Too.  These two are masters of their craft; take a listen and pair with some spicy ZAP zinfandel such as Michael David Winery. Cheers.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Album Review: James McMurtry - Complicated Game

This week James McMurtry releases Complicated Game, his first studio album in six years (that was Just Us Kids). I'm probably one of a very few set of people who love McMurtry's music, but am not a big fan of his protest songs. Yet, I can say, I love everything about this release. McMurtry's strength is story telling, I guess you can say he's a fiction writer like his father, just a different media. Produced by C.C. Adcock and Mike Napolitano, Complicated Game is full of stories of the working man and catches your attention with the opening lyrics: "Don't yell at me while I'm cleaning my gun" and Copper Canteen continues with a vivid account of the song's hero.  The album proceeds in a similar vein - vivid storytelling. You Got To Me is another remembrance song, while How'm I Gonna Find You Now is vintage McMurtry staccato rap. My favorite track is Carlisle's Haul, a song about fishermen, which apparently received its inspiration from McMurtry spending time on the southern Potomac where it meets the Chesapeake. Deaver's Crossing has a great melody and the album concludes with Cutter, a slow, serious, song of introspection. I think this is his best overall album yet - perhaps not an individual hit like Just Us Kids or Levelland, but the overall quality of each song makes this a classic album.

The musicianship is also first rate; completely expected when you examine the cast of players. McMurtry's traveling band consists of Daren Hess (drums), Tim Holt (electric guitar) and Cornbread Traylor (bass), and all perform on the album, but McMurtry had loads of assistance recording Complicated Game. Producer Adcock plays the electric guitar on most tracks and there are appearances by Curtis McMurtry (Banjo), Rick Nelson (Violin, cello), Sam Broussard(Strings), Derek Trucks (Slide guitar), Sam Broussard (Electric guitar), Richard Comeaux (Pedal steel), Kevin Smith (Upright bass), Benmont Tench (Hammond B3, Wurli, Piano), Danny Barnes (Banjo, Ivan Neville (Moog bass), Dirk Powell (Mandolin, fiddle, banjo, upright bass, violin, harpsichord), Donald Shaw (Piano, accordion, harmonium), Warren Storm (Drum kit), Dustin Welch (Banjo), Dave Rosser (Bass), Denny Freeman (Bari guitar), and Doyle Bramhall II (Backing vocals). Now, that's some talent.

Evidently, McMurtry and the band are fans of Lagunitas Brewing Company so pair Complicated Game with a Little Sumpin' Sumpin' or Hop Stoopid Ale. Cheers. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Album Review: Elle King - Love Stuff

Here's a very interested album I found while perusing the New York Time's Press Play; Elle King's Love Stuff. Part, rock, part, pop (I won't call it Power Pop because it's more sophisticated then that); I found this album completely enjoyable. King comes through with her raw vocals, punk delivery, great guitar work, and even the banjo takes center stage on a few songs. I Told You I Was Mean portrays these attributes in a jazzy - bluesy setting. American Sweetheart is a song that seems better than anything Katy Perry sang during the Superbowl. Want to hear the banjo? Start with Kocaine Karolina. The album concludes with See You Again, which we hope is the case with King's career. We recommend pairing "Love Stuff" with Brooklyn Oenology, a great spot to enjoy New York wine and spirits. Cheers.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Album Review: Punch Brothers - The Phosphorescent Blues

The Punch Brothers have always been a leading force in progressive bluegrass and in their latest album, The Phosphorescent Blues, they are expanding the boundaries - perhaps too far. No one can ever question the musicianship of Chris Thile (mandolin),  Gabe Witcher (violn), Noam Pikelny (banjo), Chris Eldridge (guitar), Paul Kower (bass) and with the album having been produced by T Bone Burnette, the musicianship is tight. However, for my tastes, the songs are too pop-ish and theme, if there is one, too disjointed. It's not until Boll Weevil, when the group returns to their bluegrass roots, is there a song I enjoy. Fans of the Punch Brothers will no doubt add this one to their collection, but I'm waiting for a more bluegrass feel. Cheer.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Album Review: Anders Osborne and North Mississippi Allstars or N.M.O. - "Freedom & Dreams"

Southern bluesmen Anders Osborne and North Mississippi Allstars have teamed up as N.M.O. and released an new album: Freedom & Dreams. I mean just image, two of the best guitarists, Osborne and Luther Dickinson, playing the guitar together as they did in the Southern Soul Assembly tour with JJ Grey and Marc Broussard. According to Dickinson, "Freedom and Dreams is extremely honest and captures NMO's relaxed chemistry so well, most of these songs did not even have a proper count off or beginning. We were interested in combining Anders' singing and songwriting with NMA's groove and aesthetic to create something unique that neither of us could do without the other — a type of modern Southern folk rock." And they get pretty close to this. There is obviously great guitar work; soulful vocals, and Cody Dickinson on drums - pretty tight. You can hear for yourself as the album is streaming on Osborne's site. I think the album hits its stride in the middle with Shining (Spacedust), Brush Up Against You, and Annabel - this being my favorite track. On Saturday (Feb 21), I'll be pairing N.M.O. at the Jefferson Theater (Charlottesville, VA) with Champion Brewing Company and on Monday (Feb 23) at The Birchmere (Alexandria, VA) with Port City Brewing Company. Cheers.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Album Review: Ryan Bingham - Fear and Saturday Night

Last month Ryan Bingham released his 5th album Fear and Saturday Night and I just got around to listening. Idiot. Lost of month of listening to the first entrant to album of the year. This album is stellar - from the lyrics, Bingham's hoarse vocals, and the musical arrangements. Evidently Bingham secluded himself in a trailer in the California mountains without amenities and wrote songs based on his life experiences. The result is songs with feelings and meaning set to a classic rock theme played with an alt-country sound. The album was produced by Jim Scott and features a new band of Shawn Davis (bass), Daniel Sproul (lead guitar), and Nate Barnes (drums).  Pair with Bingham's new hometown L.A.'s Angel City Brewery. Cheers.
  • Nobody Knows My Trouble - Bingham's biography set to a classic alt-county sound
  • Broken Heart Tattoos - waltzy advice
  • Top Shelf Drug - bluesy rock of wonderful love
  • Island in the Sky - epic -> flying high
  • Adventures of You and Me - rockin' TexMex
  • Fear and Saturday Night - demon's going to town
  • My Diamond is too Rough - Bingham's talent for storytelling
  • Radio - swamp music evolves into pounding rock n' roll
  • Snow Falls in June - love the musical arrangement
  • Darlin - love sentiments we can relate to
  • Hands of Time - Steppenwolf meets Bingham
  • Gun Fightin Man - finally, the harp in this sad ballad

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Album Review: JJ Grey & Mofro - Ol’ Glory

On February 24th JJ Grey & Mofro release their newest album Ol' Glory. I listened to an early stream and can say Grey has recorded a winner. You can be sure there's plenty of Grey's signature bluesy and soulful vocals, lyrics based on his northern Florida home, and a great backing effort by Mofro (Anthony Cole - drums, Andrew Trube - guitar, Anthony Farrell - organ, Todd Smallie - bass, Dennis Marion - trumpet, and Jeff Dazey - saxophone). In fact Grey gave the band more freedom to arrange the music by not recording the songs before hitting the studio. He'd vaguely describe what he wanted and let band members improvise. The result is killer. Every Minute is vintage old school Grey and A Night To Remember is where the horns take over combining with Grey's soulful vocals to form one funky song with an extended guitar solo to boot. Turn Loose is complete 70's funk and Brave Lil' Fighter falls within another era. And if you haven't danced by the time Ol' Glory is over, something is wrong. For those in the D.C. area the band plays the Nightclub 9:30 tonight February 18th. Pair with Jacksonville's Bold City Brewery. Cheers.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Robert Earl Keen Goes Back to Bluegrass Roots in Happy Prisoner

As Dallas Wayne was introducing a song on Outlaw Country, he mentioned the Robert Earl Keen had started out playing bluegrass - an anecdote I had never heard before. Whether true or not, REK is hardcore on bluegrass now having just released Happy Prisoner - The Bluegrass Sessions.  I've heard several of the songs on Outlaw Country - principally the opening track "Hot Corn Cold Corn" and "East Virginia Blues". Even with the bluegrass arrangements, REK's unique vocals and demeanor are clearly recognizable. . The song choices also standout with "Vincent Black Lightning" (compare with Del McCoury), "Long Black Veil", "Wayfaring Stranger" (w/ Natalie Maines), and "T For Texas" (w/ Lyle Lovett). And Bluegrass favorite, Peter Rowan, joins in on "Walls of Time". I mean, what's not to like. Looking forward to listening for another 30 years of REK. Pair with College Station's Blackwater Draw Brewing Company or New Republic Brewing. Cheers.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Album Review: The Vespers - Sisters and Brothers

It's been a long time since I first heard The Vespers when they opened a show for Cadillac Sky. The young quartet has just released their third album, Sisters and Brothers - which I listened to a Brite Revolution.The title is relevant since the band is comprised of two pairs of siblings - the Cryar sisters and Jones brothers.  The band started out as a roots folk band with some bluegrass; but their latest expands into more of a rock-pop sound. A perfect example is "Cynical Soul" with it's acoustic instruments, but pop melodies. I like how the album begins, with the slow opening in "Break the Cycle" and "Signs" has a rockin' Black Keys feel. I suspect one power-pop song that will be popular is "You Leave Me" - but for my tastes - I like the old Vespers sound. Cheers.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Album Review: Rhiannon Giddens - Tomorrow Is My Turn

A Facebook post by Breezy Peyton (The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band) reminded me that Rhiannon Giddens just released her debut solo album, Tomorrow Is My Turn. Produced by T Bone Burnett, the album features former Carolina Chocolate Drops partner Hubby J. Jenkins (banjo, guitar or mandolin), Malcolm Parson (cello), Rowan Corbett (bones & banjo), Jamie Dick (drums), and Jason Sypher (bass).  That's quite a supporting cast and Ms. Giddens augments their sound with  Just take a listen to "She's Got You".  This reminds me of the "wow" factor when sipping an extraordinary wine.  Strong, bluesy, sexy vocals - would make Patsy Cline proud.  Another song that speaks to me is the Celtic influences in "O Love is Teasin'". Must be Rowan Corbett's influences. The talent of the backing band is in full display on the opening track "Last Kind Words". Pretty tight. And stay to the end with "Angel City" to hear how they can also slow it down with a fine, soft ballad.   Pair with western Carolina's Calaboose Cellars. Cheers.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Album Review: Pops Staples - "Don't Lose This"

If you are familiar with Mavis Staples, then you need to educate yourself on her talented father: Roebuck "Pops" StaplesWilco's Jeff Tweedy is making that effort easier by producing Pops Staples' posthumous final album, Don't Lose This - available February 17th. The sessions were initially recorded in 1990, and at his passing in 2000, the tapes fell to daughter Mavis, who handed them off to Tweedy. And why not, with Tweedy's impressive collaborations with Mavis Staples in You Are Not Alone and One True Vine. The album is mostly Pops Staples gravelly vocals and electric guitar while Tweedy provides some bass and guitar and his son Spencer drums. Sisters Mavis, Yvonne and the late Cleotha Staples enrich the recordings with lead and harmony vocals as displayed in "Sweet Home", "Better Home",  and "Love on My Side". Blues enthusiasts will love "No News is Good News" and "Nobody's Fault But Mine". There are also excellent versions of the traditional gospel "Gotta Serve Somebody" and "Will The Circle Be Unbroken". NPR is currently streaming the album so check it out and then add to your blues and gospel collection on the 17th. Cheers.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Album Review: Parker McCollum - The Limestone Kid

For the past few weeks I've kept  Sirius Radio turned off while I've listened to Parker McCollum's upcoming album - The Limestone Kid.  There's something special about this release that I can't really pinpoint. Initially my thoughts were, "yea - pleasant tracks". But something kept inciting me to return again and again. Only in his early twenties, McCollum provides solid vocals and the lyrics are interesting. (He wrote or co-wrote nine of the eleven songs.)  But I think it's the ensemble that makes this release attractive. Producer and multi-instrumentalist Corby Schaub must take a lot of this credit with help from lead guitarist Kurt Grien and bassist Jason Newberry. With McCollum on the acoustic guitar and harmonica - this is a tight outfit.  Look forward to the February 24th release date and pair with Conroe Texas' two breweries: B-52 Brewing or Southern Star Brewing.
  • Happy New Year - most pop-ish of the collection
  • Lucy - classic rock and roll song - love the electric guitar
  • Meet You in the Middle - great rhythm
  • All Day - the only mention of The Limestone Kid
  • Prohibition Rose - written by brother Tyler McCollum with Lloyd Maines on steel guitar
  • The Tune - one intricate tune
  • Galveston Bay - penned by cousin Austen Biggers; my favorite with a waltzy feel and a soothing fiddle
  • Who's Laughing Now - remove the female harmonies and I hear Sons of Bill; another favorite track
  • High Above the Water - more solid electric guitar with repeating melodic vocals (it works for me)
  • New Orleans - runs like a fast moving Mississippi River; love the line: "babe, you're the only thing as heartless as me"
  • Silhouette - the album concludes with a ballad - tight musicianship