Show #19- “Reunions, Odds and Ends, Pillows”
Welcome to show/blog #19- “Reunions, Odds and Ends, Pillows”.
A couple of weeks ago, I got a phone call inviting me to a 40 year class reunion. Of course, that got me to thinking about all the feelings that go along with that sort of thing. It wasn’t long before I figured “Reunions” would make for a dandy 6 pack theme set!
Family Reunion- Corb Lund
Reunions can be a lot of fun—at least it sure sounds like it when Corb Lund’s clan gets together out in Alberta, Canada!
These vivid depictions of the Canadian West are never less than universal. Lund notes, “My gut feeling at the beginning, which I think has been borne out, is if you write about what is familiar to you and do a good job of it, the specifics fade away and the universality of the message comes through. When I was younger, listening to Springsteen singing about the slums of New Jersey, that was alien to me, but I got it, because the music is so good. That’s what I aspire to – to paint a picture that’s intriguing.”
He has already impressed listeners and critics: Lund has been named Roots Artist of the Year by the Canadian Country Music Association for the last five years running and was again nominated this year. He collected the Roots and Traditional Album of the Year trophy for his album Hair in My Eyes Like a Highland Steer at the 2006 JUNO Awards (the Canadian Grammys), and took home a CCMA Album of the Year award for the set as well. His ambitious 2007 song cycle Horse Soldier, Horse Soldier! was nominated for the prestigious critical accolade, the Polaris Music Prize.
Lund came by all the praise naturally: Unlike many so-called “country artists” these days, he is no drugstore cowboy – he’s the real McCoy.
“My family is all ranchers and rodeo people,” Lund says. “They’ve been in Canada for about 100 years, and before that they were raising cattle in Utah and Nevada. Some of my relatives are still down there. I grew up rodeoing. (I was a steer rider) – that’s like the junior version of bull riding. I was on horseback pretty much as soon as I could walk.”
Lund’s interest in musical storytelling was bred by his boyhood love of Marty Robbins (whose classic 1959 LP Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs was a crucial discovery) and Johnny Horton (whose hits like “The Battle of New Orleans” and “North to Alaska” impressed the budding history buff). Lund acknowledges the impact of other performers – Kris Kristofferson (now a New West label mate), Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. But some even more important influences ran in the family.
“My grandpas used to sing all these old Western cowboy ballads,” Lund says. “Those songs come from before recorded music — they’re traditional numbers that the cowboys always sing in camp, or just for fun, to entertain themselves. My grandpas knew all those songs. The first song I ever knew was called ‘The Strawberry Roan,’ (a cowboy song that’s at least 150 years old.)”
Country and Western music has always run in Lund’s blood, but before he began performing it full-time, he was swept away by indie rock. From 1989 to 2001, he worked with the aggressive Edmonton band the Smalls.
“They call it punk rock – they say that because it was an indie kind of project – but it was more like a modern kind of Black Sabbath thing,” Lund says. “It was a very do-it-yourself, independent-scene kind of thing. So it was kind of punky. We did four records. It was good – we sold about 40,000 records. I think if the band had been from Chicago or New York or Los Angeles, we might have been able to take it further, but it was a niche music, and we took it about as far as we could take it in Western Canada.”
He continues, “About 1993 or ’94, I started playing country gigs. That’s the stuff I grew up with. I never really stopped playing it and liking it. There was quite a long period where I was doing both. From a writing standpoint, it’s not as different as you might think. I would compare it to sketching in pencil versus doing oil paintings.”
“We play folk fests and rock fests and country fests.” Lund says. “I write my own stuff, and a lot of the regular country guys don’t. I think there is a kind of quirkiness to the writing that opens it up a little bit to people who might not normally pick up on country & Western stuff. I’m in a unique situation: I grew up country, and I spent 10 years in a rock band, in a situation where you were encouraged to be unique and strive for new sounds. I bring that kind thing back to my country writing. There’s enough of an irreverence to it where it steps outside the boundaries of what’s traditionally expected.” –http://www.corblund.com/about.php
Reunion- Hot Club of Cowtown
Haunting tune about all those emotions that got along with attending a reunion. This song has really been growing on me!
Since their first recording in 1998, Austin-based Hot Club of Cowtown have grown to be the most globe-trotting, hardest-swinging Western swing trio on the planet. The first American band to tour Azerbaijan, they have opened stadiums for such artists as Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson and continue to bring their brand of western swing to a wide range of festival audiences all over the world. But for guitarist Whit Smith, fiddler Elana James and bassist Jake Erwin, it has always been about staying true to their roots.
Remaining willfully out of the musical mainstream, Hot Club of Cowtown have created an international cult following for their sonic personification of joy and unique sound inspired by their namesakes: “Hot Club” from the hot jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli’s Hot Club of France, and “Cowtown” from the Western swing influence of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.
Like any scrappy modern band, Hot Club dwells between the daily grind of touring and the euphoria of its live shows. Years of crisscrossing the USA in a silver Ford van through a landscape where local traditions are becoming more and more diluted, and modern life more electronic, have galvanized this Texas trio who are more devoted than ever to keeping their music sincere, free of irony, and focused on a simpler time.-http://hotclubofcowtown.com/the-band/
“Unfussy and unpretentious, their blend of down-home melodies and exuberant improvisation harks back to a lost era of so-called western swing. When they plunge into Orange Blossom Special your thoughts turn not so much to runaway trains as to a B-52 tearing up a runway.”
-Clive Davis, The Times (London), 2008
“One of the finest performances by a visiting American country act I’ve witnessed for a very long time… they pretty much lifted the roof [off of the Black Box in Belfast] a couple of months back…a pretty much perfect country trio at the very top of their game.”
-Ralph McLean, The Belfast Telegraph, 2008
“Perhaps the first thing one notices when listening to the Hot Club of Cowtown is its lack of irony, self-consciousness and forced hipness in embracing a style of music that so easily lends itself to such things…Stylistically, the band steps out from the shadow of its influences to become more than a faithful retro band that likes to raise its tempo every now and then. It’s writing more of its own songs and varying its delivery… conscious always that above all else, the music is for dancing and an old-fashioned good time.”
-Neil Strauss, New York Times
“…Spirit, originality and skill that would surely have impressed Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt back in the 1930s.”
-Robin Denselow, The Guardian (London), 2009
“Cynics could say that they play hick-jumping with jazz sophistication, or jazz sweetness with hoedown grit. Either way, they scoop off the best parts of both styles, and are a supremely entertaining combo.”
-Martin Longley, Coventry Telegraph (UK), 2008
“This Austin-based western swing/jazz trio–violin, guitar and upright bass –will bring even the tamest audience to its feet. Plus, instrument aficionados will drool over the 1925 Gibson acoustic, 1937 Gibson amp and all the other classic gear that helps to keep Cowtown hot and hoppin’.”
“Would that any night of hot jazz and western swing could be as satisfyingly entertaining as this minimally outfitted (there are but three of them) party band par excellence.
-Bernard Zuel, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), 2009
“Austin trio Hot Club Of Cowtown sounds like it’s spent the last 40 years in tiny rural clubs. The group’s old-fashioned mixture of Western swing and hot jazz leaves all the irony at home, and what’s left is a refreshingly sweet-natured, accomplished, old-school treat, mixing the perky rhythms of swing masters like Bob Wills with the European gypsy music of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. Hot Club took a hiatus in the mid-2000s as its members picked up opportunities to work with the likes of Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, but reformed for 2009’s Wishful Thinking, which finds the band sounding as energized and enthusiastic as ever.” 09/28/2010
“The young band distinguishes itself by its technical musicianship and vast acreage of diverse styles alone, but it seals the deal on stage, subtly and methodically casting aside the audience’s daily worries and levitating the room into a dreamy salon of carefree abandon. Even the heartbreak songs are served sunny-side up.”
-Derek Raymaker, Toronto Globe & Mail
“I doubt that many rock bands expend more energy in their playing, but what I admire most here is the unified point of view: a nostalgic love of western swing, big-band crooning, ragtime, even jazz improvisation.”
-Marc Mickelson, Soundstage.com
“Smith’s fretwork conjures up Reinhardt’s energetic stint with Duke Ellington, while [James] exudes pure countrified fiddle goodness.”
-David Lynch, Austin Chronicle
“Working in such tradition, the Hot Club of Cowtown can burn, playing fast and furious driving rhythms at break-neck pace, and the wild abandon of Whit’s fleet-fingered solos improvised over dangerous changes can leave a listener slack-jawed and winded.”
-Baker Rorick, Guitar Magazine
“Their sly mix of hot licks and cool vocals remains equally driven by the twang of Texas roadhouses as the gypsy string jazz of Reinhardt and Grappelli.”
-Eli Messenger, Country Standard Time
“…Infusing classic pop and jazz tunes with plenty of string-band verve.”
-Mike Joyce, Washington Post
“If rosin were flammable, violinist Elana [James] would be charged with arson.”
“While its repertoire and style draw from classic western swing and hot violin/guitar jazz of the Parisian 1930s and ’40s, it’s one of the most original groups on the Americana circuit, deserving of attention both live and on record.”
-Craig Havighurst, Nashville Tennessean
Reunion- Frankie Miller
A great sounding traditional country tune! We always love to feature folks who should have received more credit and airplay!
Frankie Miller, a native of Victoria, Texas, was born on December 17, 1931.
Frankie organized a band called the Drifting Texans and began making regular
visits to local radio station KNAL in his teen years. He also did some guest
spots at KLEE Houston, where he met Hank Locklin, who helped him get a
contract with Gilt Edge Records, a subsidiary of Four Star.
Frankie had five singles released from a session made in 1951 and then
military service halted his musical career for two years. Frankie served
with distinction in the Korean conflict, receiving the Bronze Star and
attaining the rank of sergeant.
Back from the war, Frankie Miller renewed his career by signing with
Columbia. Between July 1954 and November 1955, he cut a dozen numbers in Jim
Beck’s Dallas studio including “Hey Where Ya Goin?” and “It’s No Big Thing”.
Frankie continued to appear on the Cowtown Hoedown on Fort Worth radio and
played shows in Texas, recording one single each for the Cowtown Hoedown and
In 1959, Frankie signed with Starday Records. Frankie’s first cut,
“Blackland Farmer” with “True Blue” on the backside became one of Starday’s
biggest sellers. It appeared on the Country charts initially in April 1959,
went to Top 5 and subsequently came back in 1961 to peak in the Top 20 and
made the pop charts as well. In 1971, Sleep LaBeef had a Top 70 chart entry
with the song.
A second single, “Family Man”, also made the Top 10. Two other releases,
“Baby Rocked Her Dolly” (Top 15, 1960) and “A Little South of Memphis” (Top
40,1964), also made the Country chart. Over a period of seven years, Frankie
had nearly 50 songs released on Starday.
Cash Box Magazine selected him as “Most Promising Country Artist” in 1960
and for a time he appeared as a regular on the Louisiana Hayride and guested
on both the Grand Ole Opry and the Ozark Jubilee.
During the time, Frankie toured with several artists that would become
country music icons including Johnny Cash, Ernest Tubb, Buck Owens, Lefty
Frizzell and Willie Nelson.”
The first major tour that I was ever on was with Frankie Miller,” Country Music Hall of Famer Bill Anderson said.
“Frankie was the star and I was just opening for him at that time. He was always a very kind artist and gave me some great advice.”
By 1965, Frankie had cut a pair of singles for United Artists, but decided
to return to the Dallas-Arlington-Ft. Worth area. In 1968, he had a single
on the Stop label.
Bear Family records has reissued several of his songs from Gilt Edge,
Columbia and Starday on three albums in recent years.
Frankie has recently gone back on tour throughout Texas and headlined the
Rhythm Riot in England in November of 2003. He is frequent performer at the
Ernest Tubb Record Shop in the historic Ft. Worth Stockyards.
Frankie signed with Heart of Texas Records based in Brady, Texas, in 2005.
“The Family Man” was released on March 25, 2006. The album contained a
couple of rerecorded gems from Miller including “Blackland Farmer” “Pain”
“Just Two Lips Away” (a duet with Leona Williams) and “Family Man” while
concentrating on new material for Miller including “Pickin Time” “I Flew
Over Our House Last Night” and “The Old Side of Town.”
“I plan to continue to sing and play Country Music for anyone that will
listen,” Frankie Miller recently said. “I love Country Music and the
Country Music fans-they are the best in the world.”
Reunion- Bobbie Gentry
Whatever became of the woman who made “Ode to Billy Joe” such a smash hit in the 60’s? It seems like like Bobbie Gentry has “disappeared” from the public eye. Anyone know more? It all adds more to the mystique of Bobbie Gentry! Another haunting tune about reunions. Much like “Ode to Billy Joe” this song has an undercurrent of mystery….
Bobbie Gentry remains one of the most interesting and underappreciated artists to emerge out of Nashville during the late ’60s. Best-known for her crossover smash “Ode to Billie Joe,” she was one of the first female country artists to write and produce much of her own material, forging an idiosyncratic, pop-inspired sound that, in tandem with her glamorous, bombshell image, anticipated the rise of latter-day superstars like Shania Twain and Faith Hill.
After graduating high school, Gentry settled in Las Vegas, where she appeared in the Les Folies Bergère nightclub revue; she soon returned to California, studying philosophy at U.C.L.A. before transferring to the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. In 1964, she made her recorded debut, cutting a pair of duets — “Ode to Love” and “Stranger in the Mirror” — with rockabilly singer Jody Reynolds. Gentry continued performing in clubs in the years to follow before an early 1967 recording a demo found its way to Capitol Records producer Kelly Gordon; upon signing to the label, she issued her debut single, “Mississippi Delta.” However, disc jockeys began spinning the B-side, the self-penned “Ode to Billie Joe” — with its eerily spare production and enigmatic narrative detailing the suicide of Billie Joe McAllister, who flings himself off the Tallahatchie Bridge, the single struck a chord on country and pop radio alike, topping the pop charts for four weeks in August 1967 and selling three million copies. Although the follow-up, “I Saw an Angel Die,” failed to chart, Gentry nevertheless won three Grammy awards, including Best New Artist and Best Female Vocal. She was also named the Academy of Country Music’s Best New Female Vocalist.
…she later maintained she helmed the sessions herself and also wrote much of her own material, drawing on her Mississippi roots to compose revealing vignettes that typically explored the lifestyles, values, and even hypocrisies of the southern culture. Favoring more soulful and rootsy arrangements over the lavish countrypolitan style in vogue in Nashville at the time, Gentry’s records sound quite unlike anything on either the country or pop charts at the time and her smoky, sensuous voice adapted easily to a variety of musical contexts. -Jason Ankeny, AllMusic.com
In 1979 Gentry married performer Jim Stafford, but the marriage ended 11 months later. By the end of the 1970s, Gentry had quietly left the music scene behind and dropped out of public view, reportedly working behind the scenes in television production. “She just disappeared,” Lucinda Williams told Rolling Stone, “and I heard she married some rich guy in Vegas. It just adds to the mystery of it all.”
Class Reunion- Gene Watson
He’s always been known as a “singer’s singer”. One of the truly pure, great voices in country music. Thought we’d throw in a neat “story-tune” into the “Reunion” set. Neat twist at the end to this song!
If you ask any number of country singers who their favorite singer is, a large number of them will respond: “Gene Watson.” Gene has scored over 72 charted songs, including 23 Top Tens and 6 #1 hits over his forty-year career. It is safe to say that most knowledgeable country fans would point to Gene Watson as one of country music’s best ballad singers in the same league as country icons George Jones, Merle Haggard, Vern Gosdin and others who are the standard bearers for honest, traditional country music. It’s no surprise that such artists as Vince Gill, Lee Ann Womack, Trace Adkins, Connie Smith, Joe Nichols, Alison Krauss, and many others are not only happy but eager to record with Gene. There is also the stunning truth that at age 66, Gene is singing better than ever, with his clear, pure tone intact and an unmatched soulful delivery.
“I can remember singing before I can remember talking,” he relates. “Even when I was a kid, if I heard a song twice, I knew it. But I never planned to be an entertainer. I knew I could sing, but that wasn’t out of the ordinary. My whole family could.” In fact, Watson doesn’t even think he was the best singer in the seven-child household. Make that “bus-hold”. The itinerant Watson family moved from shack to shack until his father customized an old school bus for living quarters and transportation from job to job.
“Yeah, we were poor,” says the singer. “Today, people live in motor homes. Ours was yellow. We traveled to Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas until one day my dad came in and decided we were going to Phoenix, Arizona. We didn’t have the money to go to Phoenix, so we worked our way out there, stopped to pick crops and all that stuff. My dad was kind of a gypsy. He always said, ‘I’m fixin’ to leave in the morning. If there’s a dollar out there, I’m going to get 50 cents of it.’ I always kept that in mind. My dad worked hard at whatever it took to put food on the table. He worked in the log woods. He worked at the tire shops. He was a crop worker. We would cut spinach. We would pull radishes. We would dig potatoes. We would pick cotton. Whatever it took, we did it. That’s the only life I knew. I was a poor boy. But I wouldn’t take nothing for my raising–as far as my teachings, the way my mother raised me, the way my dad worked and everything. I think it took all that to get all this.-http://genewatsonmusic.com/biography/
Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn: As a singer in a beer joint band, I survived many late night Texas & Oklahoma honky tonks by hosing the rowdies down with a late night Gene Watson song. He’s one of the all time, great classic country singers. ‘Got no reason now for going home’ has a permanent place on my play list. To this day he is known as a singer’s singer in Nashville. Gene is a special artist. The trail that he forged made it possible for a lot of us to be where we are today. ”
George Jones: “Gene Watson is one of my all-time favorite ballad singers…the way he belts out a ballad, it just doesn’t get any better than that.”
Chris Hillman (The Byrds, Flying Burrito Bros., Desert Rose Band): “Gene Watson’s voice is right up there in the major leagues with George Jones, Vern Gosdin and Lefty Frizzell for pure country Soul. “Gene’s recording of ‘Farewell Party’ is a roadmap for all aspiring singers.”
Lee Ann Womack: “In my dad’s eyes, I hadn’t really made it in the music business until now. I’ve sung with Gene Watson.”
“Gene Watson: One of country’s finest, and most underrated singers.”
“Like a well-aged whiskey, Gene Watson has gained smoothness yet maintained his visceral bite.” “…gems like like ‘What Was I Thinking?’ and ‘She’s Already Gone’ prove Watson can make contemporary songs sound like timeless classics. He’s never sounded better, which is saying something.”
“(Gene Watson)still has the pipes to deliver a subtle honky tonk lament. Never a pretty boy crooner, his voice still has a chipped metallic edge as hard as the cars he used to work on.”
Ken Tucker, NPR’s Fresh Air Radio
“Gene Watson truly belongs on a select list of superb country vocalists, a fabulous stylist whose technical prowess never undermines his earthiness or honesty… Gene Watson’s anguished tone, stark delivery and piercing sound represents the best in pure country vocalizing.” American Songwriter
““Whenever country music aficionados discuss the genre’s best traditional male vocalist, Gene Watson’s name is among those that surface. He should be in the Country Music Hall of Fame.”
“What can you say about the most burnished and sensitive male voice on the planet except ‘Listen’? “ (Top Ten Best of 2007)
Edward Morris, CMT.com
“I am drawn to music where the voice is simply another instrument, rather than the one and only thing you’re supposed to notice…An unsung traditionalist gets his due from famous friends on standards and new songs. In a perfect world, the title track would be a classic, too. Can’t beat the harmonies here.” (Top Ten Best of 2007)
Craig Shelburne, CMT.com
GENE WATSON/I Buried Our Love
Magical. The haunting, minor-key melody swirls with atmosphere. By the time this master vocalist swung into the chorus, I was completely enthralled. One of the greatest country songs of the year is in the throat of a man that every country vocalist in this city should bow to. And most of them do.
Robert K. Oermann, Music Row Magazine
Reunion- Jimmie Dale Gilmore (with Lucinda Williams)
This is just a flat-out pretty tune. Sweet way to wrap up our “Reunion” 6 pack.
With his warm, warbling tenor voice and folksy, friendly approach to both his music and his audiences, Jimmie Dale Gilmore is an easy guy to like. His music is a rich blend of traditional country, folk, blues, and rock styles, and his lyrics reflect both his philosophical interests and his inherent down-home nature. Since moving to Austin, TX, and reviving his career in the 1980s, Gilmore has in many ways come to represent the current Austin music scene — its rootsy mix of country, rock, and folk music — the way Willie Nelson once reigned as king of the town’s cosmic cowboys in the 1970s. -Kurt Wolff, AllMusic.com
He explains, “I never fell into any of the categories…I just love what I love and I’ve never discarded anything I loved in favor of something new. I sure didn’t toss out my Lefty Frizzell records when I discovered the Beatles.” –http://www.jimmiegilmore.com/bio.html
Rocks In My Pillows- Houston Marchman
Great country-rootsy feel to this song. It kicks off our “Pillow” 6 pack real nice!
The driving force behind Houston Marchman is his ability to translate real life into music. Marchman spent his formative years soaking up the sights and sounds of America’s heartland. Marchman received his first guitar at the age of 5. Influenced by his musical grandfather and poetic grandmother, he wrote his first song at the age of 13. Today he continues to produce music both poetically humble and musically complex, creating music that honestly and vividly portrays life mixing the sounds of country, Texas folk, polka, conjunto and blues. Described as a charming, passionate person by those close to him, Marchman is filled with humorous accounts and boundless energy, connecting with audiences wherever he plays. His fans love the honesty of his music as well as his smoky character-filled voice. Marchman explains his philosophy of writing this way: “The point is not to be creative but to be accurate in your experience and therefore you will be creative. Don’t write what you think listeners want to hear, write what you know.” Mark Mundy of KNON in Dallas observes, “It’s this type of writing that is drawing attention to Marchman and his music. It’s refreshing to hear a singer/songwriter who can paint a picture and make you feel like you are there.” –http://www.myspace.com/houstonmarchman5
Pomade On My Pillow- Gin Palace Jesters
O.K.- when was the last time you used Pomade? In fact, when was the last time you even heard that term? And hey- when people ask who your favorite groups are—just say “The Gin Palace Jesters”…Sounds so cool!
“Chicago’s original honky-tonk fools,” the Gin Palace Jesters are purveyors of the finest in hard hitting hillbilly Honky-tonk, Country Boogie and Western Swing . Infused with a deep and sincere fondness for all traditional American musical styles, the sound of the Gin Palace Jesters could best be described as being akin to the sounds of Country Music’s “Golden” age. Although a portion of their live performances come from their vast catalog of the Hillbilly & Country Hit Parade, these boys are not mere followers or imitators. They also posses the talent of 3 songwriters performing original novelty numbers, heartfelt love songs, honky-tonk weepers, drinking songs and dark ballads. Delivering 3 and 4 part country harmony, the Gin Palace Jesters prove that authentic country and cowboy music can still hold validity in both traditional songs as well as brand new originals. The Gin Palace Jesters are a true authentic American band often seen holding court where the thrones are bar stools, the lights are made of neon, the holy spirits are served on the rocks, and Hank Williams is King. –
Grasshoppers In My Pillow- Maria Muldaur
An honor to play a tune by this classy artist. Great title and a cool version of the old Leadbelly blues classic.
Maria Best known for her seductive ’70s pop staple “Midnight at the Oasis,” Maria Muldaur has since become an acclaimed interpreter of just about every stripe of American roots music: blues, early jazz, gospel, folk, country, R&B, and so on. While these influences were certainly present on her more pop-oriented ’70s recordings (as befitting her Greenwich Village folkie past), Muldaur truly came into her own as a true roots music stylist during the ’90s, when she developed a particular fascination with the myriad sounds of Louisiana. On the string of well-received albums that followed, Muldaur tied her eclecticism together with the romantic sensuality that had underpinned much of her best work ever since the beginning of her career. -Steve Huey, AllMusic.com
Muldaur’s musical roots run deep. Born and raised in New York City’s Greenwich Village, Muldaur was surrounded by bluegrass, old-timey, jazz, blues and gospel music, but her very first musical influences were from the records of country and western singers Hank Williams, Kitty Wells, Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb. At age five, she would sing Kitty Wells’ “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” while her aunt accompanied her on the piano. As a teenager, Maria tuned into early rhythm and blues and was an avid fan of Fats Domino, Little Richard, Clyde McPhatter and Ruth Brown. She became interested in the girl groups coming onto the scene and formed her own, The Cashmeres, while in high school.
As pop radio became less soulful, Maria turned to the wealth of American roots music that was being rediscovered right in her own backyard. On any given day, she could stroll through Washington Square Park in the Village and hear blues, jug band, gospel and old-timey music. Soon she was hanging out and joining in on nightly jams and song swaps called hootenannies.
In the Village, Maria soon became involved with The Friends of Old Timey Music, a group of that traveled to the rural South to find legendary artists like Doc Watson, Bukka White, Skip James and Mississippi John Hurt, then bring them north to present them in concert to urban audiences. Aspiring young musicians like John Sebastian, Bob Dylan, John Hammond, Jr. and Muldaur were both pursuing and creating a new wave in American roots music.
“We used to have after-hours jams on Saturday nights,” says Maria. “Blues legends like the Reverend Gary Davis would come over. I found myself sitting at the feet of not only him, but Mississippi John Hurt, Son House and blues diva Victoria Spivey.” Deeply inspired by the pure mountain music of Doc Watson and the Watson Family, Maria left the intense New York scene and traveled to North Carolina to learn fiddle. During her extended visits with the Watson family, she soaked up Appalachian music and culture from the nightly gatherings on Doc’s back porch. – http://www.mariamuldaur.com/bio.html
Review of “Richland Woman Blues’:
“On this stunning CD, an early candidate for blues album of the year, Maria Muldaur proves how vital and timeless early blues and gospel music remains. It also shows how exciting an interpreter she can be in all-acoustic duo and trio settings, featuring a revolving cast of stellar collaborators. She’s never sounded better.
With four songs from each, Muldaur pays special tribute to Bessie Smith and Memphis Minnie, two of the greatest female blues artists of the pre-World War II era. Every cut is a terrific performance, whether done faithfully with pianist Dave Mathews, or in funky vocal duets with Tracy Nelson and Alvin Youngblood Hart. Other highlights include Muldaur’s sly, sexy version of Mississippi John Hurt’s title song and her down-home take on Leadbelly’s Grasshoppers In My Pillow. Three gospel numbers, including duets with Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal, are infused with passion and power.” Rating five
– Mike Regenstreif, Montreal Online
Cryin’ On My Pillow- Slim Cessna’s Auto Club
These guys have carved out quite the reputation for putting on dynamic live performances. Song fits right in with our “Pillow” 6 pack!
Engaging, riveting, sad and humorous; demanding the audience to participate both live and while listening to their albums; Slim Cessna’s Auto Club has been branded with every musical description possible. This seems fitting, as SCAC describes their music as American (Is that not what America is and has been, a mixture of every one and thing resulting in something new?); and after a decade of working and living as SCAC, they have created their own genre. –http://slimcessnasautoclub.com/#
“This is the country band that plays the bar at the end of the world.”
“For years, the Auto Club has been considered the best live band in Denver. Hell, they might be the best band in America as well!”
SPIN MAGAZINE ONLINE
“…the best band at SXSW was Slim Cessna’s Auto Club…”
“… they’re gradually staking their a claim as one of the era’s greatest bands. Their recognition of country’s roots, their spectacular musicianship, their willingness to experiment and their unmatched ability to craft unique, convincing narratives about characters who exist at the edges of our national consciousness come together to make music that is truly stunning, and that you won’t find anywhere else.”
“If I had to be stuck in a bar, forever with only one band playing nightly, it would definitely be Slim Cessna’s Auto Club.”
I’ll Pin A Note To Your Pillow- Billy Joe Royal
Yes, I must admit I have a real soft spot for this tune and album. When it came out in 1987, I was so blown away by this tune that I partied way into the night with some guys in a band who were playing at a club down the street. In fact, I “missed the bell” the next morning for work which ultimately led to my decision to quit drinking. The tune still sounds cool today and I’m glad it all turned out the way it did! End of self-disclosure…
Send Me The Pillow You Dream On- Willie Nelson and Hank Snow
A really sweet version of this classic written by Hank Locklin.
Dang- we should do a show featuring some of the great songs written by Hank Locklin. One of these weeks!
Slip-In Mules- Soul Movers
R&B out of Australia! Cool take-off on the old “Hi-Heel Sneakers” tune! I’m hoping for another album from these folks!
!!!!! EMOTIONAL **** RAW **** POWERFUL !!!!! Soul Movers : “Old School Soul with a Modern Punch” Inspired by artists such as Etta James and Julie London, Lizzie sang a sultry Jazz set around the traps in Sydney, enthralling fans with her riveting stage presence and seductive voice. In 2007 she teamed up with Deniz Tek to pursue a lifelong love of Soul music. Together, they formed the Soul Movers … playing a unique blend of late 60’s Memphis R&B and rocking Beat music.-http://www.myspace.com/thesoulmovers
Blessed- Lucinda Williams
A new release from Lucinda Williams always creates lots of buzz!
The object of cultish adoration for years, singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams was universally hailed as a major talent by both critics and fellow musicians, but it took quite some time for her to parlay that respect into a measure of attention from the general public. Part of the reason was her legendary perfectionism: Williams released records only infrequently, often taking years to hone both the material and the recordings thereof. Plus, her early catalog was issued on smaller labels that agreed to her insistence on creative control but didn’t have the resources or staying power to fully promote her music. Yet her meticulous attention to detail and staunch adherence to her own vision were exactly what helped build her reputation. When Williams was at her best (and she often was), even her simplest songs were rich in literary detail, from her poetic imagery to her flawed, conflicted characters. Her singing voice, whose limitations she readily acknowledged, nonetheless developed into an evocative instrument that seemed entirely appropriate to her material. So if some critics described Williams as “the female Bob Dylan,” they may have been oversimplifying things (Townes Van Zandt might be more apt), but the parallels were certainly too strong to ignore. -Steve Huey, AllMusic.com
I feel a lot more comfortable being me these days. I’m constantly told that my work is good. A lot of fans and a lot of other artists say my songs and albums mean a lot to them. Isn’t that what’s important?
I grew up in a very literate, very independent household where people spoke their ideas and were very supportive of helping each other find their own way.
I guess you could write a good song if your heart hadn’t been broken, but I don’t know of anyone whose heart hasn’t been broken.
If you come into success too soon, you’ll burn out and be finished before you know it. If you let the maturation process happen naturally, you’ll be happier with yourself in the end.
The old jazz singers or old blues singers, you always just saw them kind of sitting down and singing. They weren’t worried as much about their voice sounding perfect. They would make the song kind of fit their voice.
You should put time into learning your craft. It seems like people want success so quickly, way before they’re ready.
Clear Blue Eyes- Amos Lee (featuring Lucinda Williams)
This guy is red-hot these days!
Let’s All Go To Bed- Mother Truckers
Great name for a band! Why didn’t I think of that one?!? And there’s some “giddy-up” to the guitar licks too!
The Mother Truckers are a kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll band from Austin, Texas! Their music is high-octane Americana, blending elements of Country and Blues with loud guitars, big choruses and powerhouse vocals. Their creative songwriting and high energy live performances lift you up to a place that’s somewhere between a honky-tonk and a mosh-pit!-http://www.themothertruckers.com/BIO.html
This band is a trove of talent from guitar virtuosity, to male/female vocal harmonies that give Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris a solid run for their money. Their styles mix Blue Ridge reverence with Wild West rebellion and a strong dose of Texas tenacity.
– Eben Sterling
GUITAR PLAYER MAGAZINE
“My theory is if you start on a good note, and you end on a good note, you can hit anything in between.” That only describes part of Zee’s maniacal approach to guitar. It’s his ability to combine Rock, Blues, Country, and Americana in a single tune that makes his bands’ latest ‘LET’S ALL GO TO BED” such a 6-string HOOT! -Matt Blackett
I’m Alright- Mose Allison
83 years young! Almost like this gentleman invented cool!
Mose Allison, pianist/singer/composer, has been a major influence on musicians of the last 50 years and he has been touring and recording for at least that long. His songs have been recorded by many, among them, The Who, Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello, The Clash and Diana Krall. His singular style, a unique blending of jazz and blues, and his profound lyrical wit, mark him as a true American original … –http://moseallison.com/
Mose continues to write and perform all over the world. His songs have been covered by Van Morrison, John Mayall, The Who, The Clash, Eric Clapton, the Yardbirds, Elvis Costello and Bonnie Raitt to name a few. Van Morrison recorded a tribute album, Tell Me Something, The Songs of Mose Allison, on Verve Records, and rockers like Pete Townshend, Bonnie Raitt, Ray Davies and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones have frequently cited Mose Allison as a major influence. During a recent London engagement, Time Out, the major entertainment weekly, praised Mose:
Mose Allison’s popularity in the UK dates from the ‘60s, when his mixture of Delta-born blues feel and his gift for writing a song with a sting in the tail made him a prime source of inspiration for the UK’s new generation of blues/rock artists. Not just namechecked but lionized by the likes of Pete Townshend, Jack Bruce, Brian Auger and Georgie Fame, he became British rock’s most popular jazz musician. His piano style is notable for its strange mixture of classical-influenced sophistication and blues-based intimacy, and there’s still none like him with a lyric.
As one writer recently said: “Mose is now at the peak of his performing career. Although maybe this last statement is not quite true as he seems to continue to improve on perfection.”
At this point, I don’t listen to other people too much. I’m not really that affected by anyone.
But I got an audience that knows what I do. They usually show up, so I usually do pretty good.
I been getting good crowds. It only took 50 years.
I have no idea what I’m doin’. I’ve never seen me.
I haven’t stopped and I don’t plan on stoppin’ any time soon.
I just have a lot off different influences.
I just try to do as good job with the material as I can and play some jazz as well, some improvised music, and do that every night. Just see where it goes.
I never sit down and write. I just sorta let things form in my brain.
I’m playin’ music for a certain type of person. Fortunately, there are more and more of us. At least there are more comin’ to see me than there were 30 years ago or so.
I’m playin’ the music I like.
It’s as much fun as it ever was, you know, once I get there. Gettin’ there is a little harder.
There’s a few tunes of mine that don’t have jokes, but most of them have a joke and they have a humorous point of view somewhere.
There’s a lot of terrible things goin’ on all the time, but you gotta try and have some fun in the end.
Bright Morning Stars- Wailin’ Jennys
When I heard this song, it just grabbed me- just too beautiful to pass up. Lovely way to wrap up the show this week.
The Wailin’ Jennys are Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody and Heather Masse—three distinct voices that together make an achingly perfect vocal sound.
Starting as a happy accident of solo singer-songwriters getting together for a one-time-only performance at a tiny guitar shop in Winnipeg, Manitoba, The Wailin’ Jennys have grown over the years into one of today’s most beloved international folk acts. Founding members Ruth Moody and Nicky Mehta along with New York-based Heather Masse continue to create some of the most exciting and exquisite music on the folk-roots scene, stepping up their musical game with each critically-lauded recording and thrilling audiences with their renowned live performances. –http://www.thewailinjennys.com/bio.aspx
.. Three extraordinary voices, two founding singer-songwriters, one singular vision: The Wailin’ Jennys continue to evolve into far more than the melodious sum of their individual talents five years after blowing in on a fresh acoustic breeze from Canada’s mid-western heartland. The Wailin’ Jennys have toured three continents, and are enjoying burgeoning international acclaim and a rapidly growing fan base.-http://www.myspace.com/thewailinjennys
“Perhaps more beautiful than ever, The Wailin’ Jennys are the darlings of the North American roots music arena.” – The Toronto Star
Some pics and chuckles for the week: