Field Reportings from Issue #59
BUB BYE: What a difference a few weeks make. The July-August ND feature on the DEL MCCOURY BAND quoted the bandleader rhapsodizing about his sidemen. Yet soon after the magazine hit the stands, fans were surprised to learn bassist Mike Bub was out. Bub and McCoury traded conciliatory, if vague, messages at the group’s online bulletin board. “Like any separation after folks have been together for years — no matter how amicable, it’s painful, and there is rarely just one thing you can point to that caused the split,” McCoury said. “So I’d like to leave it with this; it was time for a change.” Bub’s take: “Untimely, surprising and unexpected, I share these reactions with all of you…
I leave with my full respect of Del and Jean and all the boys intact and I appreciate to no end what they have done for me and my family.” Rumors of further lineup changes are unfounded, says McCoury’s spokesperson.
LIVE FROM PHILLY: For a band that earned its bones grinding it out onstage, it may seem strange that Philadelphia’s MARAH is breaking new ground on its fifth album by recording live in the studio (previous Marah efforts were pieced together in the studio one instrument at a time). If You Didn’t Laugh, You’d Cry was laid down in a mere nine days and will surface via Yep Roc on October 18. “It is probably the most folk-punk record we have made,” says Marah’s Serge Bielanko. “It captured exactly the spirit as best we could without having a mobile truck outside a club somewhere.” The songwriting, by Bielanko and his brother Dave, is their most intimate yet. “I ended up turning the cameras in on me more than I ever have, and I think Dave did that as well,” Serge says. “It is personal in ways that I don’t think we have ever made a full record before.”
CHICKIN’ ENGLISH: North Carolina trio TRES CHICAS (Caitlin Cary, Tonya Lamm and Lynn Blakey) spent May in London recording a new album with Nick Lowe’s producer Neil Brockbank. Lowe himself dropped in to supply bass for one track. “It was recorded live during a very rainy, cold English spring,” says Blakey via e-mail. “So we all sat close together and ended up making a really intimate, soulful and warm-sounding record.” Results expected in early ’06.
DOLLY’S GUEST LIST: For her new album Those Were The Days, due from Sugar Hill on October 11, DOLLY PARTON called in a host of friends for help on a new album of covers. Among the tunes and collaborators: “Blowin’ In The Wind” (Nickel Creek), “The Cruel War” (Alison Krauss, Dan Tyminksi and Mindy Smith), “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” (Norah Jones and Lee Ann Womack), “Turn, Turn, Turn” (Roger McGuinn), “Twelfth Of Never” (Keith Urban), “If I Were A Carpenter” (Joe Nichols), “Crimson And Clover” (Tommy James), “Both Sides Now” (Judy Collins and Rhonda Vincent), “Me And Bobby McGee” (Kris Kristofferson), “Those Were The Days” (Mary Hopkin), and “Where Do The Children Play” (Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens). Dolly also performs a solo cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine”.
IT WAS 40 YEARS AGO TODAY: A diverse group of artists is coming together to mark four decades since the release of the 1965 BEATLES album Rubber Soul. Due in October from Razor & Tie is This Bird Has Flown, which features contributions from the Rhett Miller, Sufjan Stevens, Ben Harper, Minday Smith, Fiery Furnaces, Dar Williams, Low, Yonder Mountain String Band, and, on a gender-switching version of John Lennon’s “Run For Your Life”, the Cowboy Junkies. That track, which stole the controversial line “I’d rather see you dead, little girl…” from the rockabilly staple “Baby, Let’s Play House”, is an odd choice for the female-fronted Junkies. “We chose this one because the lyrics are so creepy and I thought that we could at least put a spin on it,” says guitarist Michael Timmins. “We flipped the gender and tried to give it a playfully ominous tone.”
CASE OPEN: Scheduled for release sometime in October is a three-disc PETER CASE tribute album to benefit the music education charity Hungry For Music. Contributing artists include Alejandro Escovedo, John Prine, Dave Alvin, Bob Neuwirth, Victoria Williams, Kevn Kinney, Richard Buckner, Chuck Prophet, Kim Richey, Joe Ely, Todd Snider, James McMurtry, Chris Smither, Amy Rigby, the Silos, Steve Wynn, Will Kimbrough, Gurf Morlix, Maura O’Connell, Marvin Etzioni, Bill Kirchen, and Susan Cowsill.
BOBVISION: Martin Scorsese, who captured The Band’s farewell concert in his movie The Last Waltz, will turn his lens on the formative years of BOB DYLAN when his documentary No Direction Home airs on PBS September 26 and 27. A companion double-disc soundtrack (for those keeping score, #7 in His Bobness’ Bootleg Series) also is scheduled to hit stores in September, complete with 26 unreleased songs dating from 1959 through 1966.
FOREVER YOUNG: Director Jonathan Demme was scheduled in August to roll film as NEIL YOUNG performed shows at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Young’s new Nashville-recorded album, Prairie Wind, is due September 20, two days after he joins Willie Nelson, Wilco and others at Farm Aid in Tinley Park, Illinois. And don’t hold your breath, but the oft-promised career-spanning Young anthology, Archives, is apparently again on the front burner.
LENS ON LEN: Legendary singer-songwriter LEONARD COHEN is the subject of a new documentary scheduled to air on the Sundance Channel in 2006. Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man is directed by Lian Lunson (who helmed Willie Nelson: Down Home). The LeonardCohenFiles.com site also reports that Cohen is co-writing and producing singer Anjani Thomas’ album Blue Alert. A volume of new Cohen poetry and drawings, entitled Book of Longing, is scheduled for release in spring.
BAND BOX: Although THE BAND may already be one of the most extensively anthologized groups in music history — the Allmusic.com website lists over 30 compilations — this fall finds another set featuring 111 songs, a DVD and a hardbound book hitting the shelves. A Musical History, due September 27 on Capitol/EMI, will include 37 previously unreleased cuts, including early rock ‘n’ roll sides cut with Ronnie Hawkins and as Levon & the Hawks. The DVD holds rehearsal footage, numbers recorded on the 1970 Festival Express tour, and their memorable 1976 set on “Saturday Night Live”.
BRAGGING RIGHTS: The politically uncompromising BILLY BRAGG will get the deluxe reissue treatment from Yep Roc on September 20. Three of his formative releases — 1983’s Life’s A Riot With Spy Vs. Spy, 1984’s Brewing Up With Billy Bragg and 1986’s Talking With The Taxman About Poetry — will each be repackaged with a bonus disc. A fourth disc combining two EPs — 1988’s Live And Dubious: Help Save The Youth Of America and 1990’s The Internationale — will include a DVD. All the records will also be available in a box set that will include an additional DVD and an exclusive lyric book.
SATELLITE RODEO: Although roots group Blackie & the Rodeo Kings is on hiatus, band member TOM WILSON is not putting his feet up. Wilson had intended to crank out four albums this year. Already, he has two in the can. “I kind of decided to do whatever the fuck I wanted to musically,” says Wilson. “My mandate is to work with people who are my friends and people I respect and not be forced into situations I’m not comfortable in.” The first of those projects is a collaboration with Bob Lanois (brother of producer Daniel Lanois) on barebones tracks that were put down in a remote cabin. The result, The Shack Recordings, is available through theshackrecordings.ca. Wilson’s other album is tentatively titled With Angels And Tom Wilson, targeted for October in Canada (with a U.S. release TBA). That was recorded over three days in Nashville with Wilson’s Blackie compadre Colin Linden handling production. The album features keyboardist Richard Bell (Janis Joplin, The Band), Motown legend Bob Babbitt, E Streeter Gary Tallent, and Rosanne Cash duetting with Wilson on the song “Talk Of The Town”. The two other albums Wilson hopes to complete in short order are a compilation of his past non-Blackie output and a new Blackie & the Rodeo Kings album. Work will begin on the latter project in January. That may be welcome news for the group’s most famous fan — George W. Bush, who reportedly had Wilson’s song “Swinging From The Chains Of Love” in heavy iPod rotation.
FABLED LABELS: Stalwart insurgent-country imprint BLOODSHOT RECORDS will celebrate its 11th birthday on Oct. 25 with the 43-track compilation For A Decade Of Sin: 11 Years Of Bloodshot Records. Participants include Bobby Bare Jr., Waco Brothers, Graham Parker, Split Lip Rayfield, Sally Timms and Ryan Adams….
ROUNDER RECORDS has entered the digital music fray with the Rounder Archive, an online-only offer of deep catalogue rarities as either downloadable digital audio files or as custom-made CDs. Click away at Rounderarchive.com.
LAST ROUNDUP: Dobroist JERRY DOUGLAS collaborated with Alison Krauss, Bill Frisell, John Fogerty, Bela Fleck, Sam Bush and Derek Trucks on The Best Kept Secret, due September 20 on Koch….
Speaking of ALISON KRAUSS, add her name to the list of artists bypassing traditional record retailers to market music. Krauss & Union Station’s retrospective, Home On The Highways, is being sold exclusively at Cracker Barrel restaurants….
Australian singer-songwriter ANNE MCCUE is collaborating once again with Dusty Wakeman, who co-produced her 2004 album Roll….
Guests on the new BILLY JOE SHAVER disc The Real Deal, due September 20 on Compadre, include Big & Rich, Nanci Griffith, Flaco Jiminez and Kimmie Rhodes….
The original dB’s have reunited for a mini-tour — two shows in Chicago September 17 and two nights at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey, September 19-20. The group spent this past January in the studio recording new material (including a cover of the Motown classic “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted”), and a new song, “World To Cry”, was posted as a free download at www.thedbsonline.net.