Field Reportings from Issue #65
A LITTLE GOOD NEWS: Those eagerly awaiting the Be Good Tanyas album Hello Love — due out October 10 on Nettwerk Records — are in for a few surprises. For one thing, the usually sedate Vancouver, B.C., folk trio comes dangerously close to rocking out on a harmonica-drenched version of Neil Young’s “For The Turnstiles”. The disc also features a handful of tracks that, with their soulful singing and loping, acoustic grooves, could almost be described as funky.
According to singer-guitarist Frazey Ford, this was no accident. Ford says it stemmed in part from the contributions of musicians from Chicago country-soul band JT & the Clouds, who beefed up the rhythms of certain songs, including a version of that group’s “Scattered Leaves” and an off-the-cuff cover of Prince’s “When Doves Cry”.
“From that experience of getting into what it felt like to play with a really great rhythm section from Chicago, we got more interested in achieving that same kind of vibe on some of the other stuff,” Ford says. “Before, I think we were not so concerned about being in the pocket and that kind of stuff; it was more just a kind of free-for-all thing. But this time we were more exploring the groove element of things, and how things can fit — especially if you’re recording live off the floor, if you get that sort of magical beat underneath, what you can do on top of it.”
Ford and her fellow Be Good Tanyas — Samantha Parton and Trish Klein, both of whom sing and play various instruments — built their reputation on a spare sound that emphasizes the spaces around their intuitive vocal harmonies. On Hello Love, they took care to leave ample breathing room for melody.
“I guess it’s just that all of our tastes tend to go toward the spaciousness of something,” Ford says. “Somebody will come in and play the song in its elemental state, and then you’re kind of like, ‘OK, this is the essence of what’s going on here.’ And then we’ll add things, but we’ll always take them away if it feels like it’s not adding to it.”
The album also includes a pair of gospel numbers: the Charles Tindley hymn “What Are They Doing In Heaven Today” and the traditional “Out Of The Wilderness” (a.k.a. “Leaning On The Lord”). Though she professes no specific faith, Ford says she can identify with the comfort offered by old sacred songs.
“I definitely relate to the lyrics,” she says. “I think everybody does relate to coming out of the wilderness. I personally get a lot of joy and elevation out of singing gospel. I actually have a gospel group that I do that’s just a cappella, and it’s basically just for my own growth and development. I wouldn’t say that I’m a Christian. I’ve just always listened to the lyrics of gospel, because I feel that it can be related to anything. It’s a lot about struggle; it’s a lot about joy and spirit.”
PLACES TO BE: The fifth annual AMERICANA MUSIC ASSOCIATION HONORS & AWARDS show is set for September 22 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. Nominated for Artist of the Year are Rosanne Cash, James McMurtry, Marty Stuart and Neil Young. Album of the Year nominees are McMurtry’s Childish Things, Delbert McClinton’s Cost Of Living, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives’ Souls’ Chapel, and Rodney Crowell’s The Outsider….
Chicago bar the Hideout celebrates ten years with its annual HIDEOUT BLOCK PARTY September 8-10. The vent doubles as a 25th-anniversary event for Touch & Go Records, with many of the label’s past and present artists taking part, including Calexico, Quasi and Scratch Acid….
This year’s TALL STACKS FESTIVAL in Cincinnati, Ohio, will take place October 4-8 and will feature performances from Wilco, Al Green, Old Crow Medicine Show, Dr. John, the Del McCoury Band, Bettye LaVette, John Hiatt, Rodney Crowell, Junior Brown, Tift Merritt, and the Blind Boys Of Alabama, among others….
The third annual AMERICANA FOLK FESTIVAL is scheduled for October 21 at Montgomery Bell State Park in Dickson, Tennessee. Performers include Patty Griffin, Mindy Smith, the Avett Brothers, Thad Cockrell and Kate York….
The 2007 FOLK ALLIANCE confab will be held February 22-25 in Memphis, Tennessee.
COMING SOON: A tentative release date of October 31 has been set for a new WILLIE NELSON album on Lost Highway. The disc was produced by his labelmate Ryan Adams and includes backing by Adams’ band, the Cardinals….
Philadelphia band MARAH has penciled in a fall release for a concert DVD and live CD package. The DVD was shot in Mataro, Spain, during a tour supporting 2005’s If You Didn’t Laugh, You’d Cry. The footage initially surfaced as an uncommonly well-made bootleg that was being traded among fans. The official release will be supplemented with other previously unreleased material….
A tribute to BARBARA MANDRELL, titled She Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool, is due on Nashville’s BNA label October 10. Contributing artists include Willie Nelson, Dierks Bentley, Shelby Lynne, Brad Paisley, CeCe Winans, Lorrie Morgan, Sara Evans and Reba McEntire….
Athens, Georgia, songwriter JACK LOGAN returns this fall with a new band Third Creature, whose disc Orthodox Garage will be released by Fundamental Records….
Canadian band the SADIES follows its new double-disc live release with an instrumental soundtrack for Tales Of The Rat Fink, an animated documentary about Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, on October 17….
Shout Factory has set an October 24 release date for a four-disc audio and video tribute to HARRY SMITH and his Anthology Of American Folk Music. The set was compiled by Hal Willner and features recordings and footage from several Smith tribute concerts in recent years, including performances by Wilco, Beth Orton, Beck, Elvis Costello, and Lou Reed.
SIGNING ON: New to the Rounder Records roster is bluegrass singer BRADLEY WALKER, whose Highway Of Dreams comes out September 12. Guests on the 27-year-old’s debut disc include Vince Gill, Rhonda Vincent, Alecia Nugent and Larry Cordle….
Blue Note Records welcomes SUZANNE VEGA to the label for an album to be recorded this fall and likely released in spring 2007….
Sugar Hill Records has signed bluegrass sextet the INFAMOUS STRINGDUSTERS. The Nashville group’s first album for the label is due in early 2007….
Red House Records has signed Iowa duo the PINES, featuring David Huckfelt and Benson Ramsey (son of Bo Ramsey). A 2007 release is expected.