With their unceremonious ejection from the EMI gravy train at the end of the 70’s, it seemed that The Saints were finished. Relieved to be ditching such troublesome clients, EMI overlooked what The Saints had left them; 'Prehistoric Sounds', a criminally neglected R'n'B masterpiece - maybe the most gorgeous suicide note a band ever left. The album was as uncompromised (and therefore doomed) as most other great cult albums, but it contained the seeds of songwriting that strongly contradicted the premature demise of The Saints.
Returning in the early 80’s with the tellingly entitled 'Paralytic Tonight, Dublin Tomorrow' (released on the all new French label, New Rose), Bailey buried any doubts over whose exclusive domain the band had become. Having been left in the lurch by record company and band members, The Saints were now about Bailey and whichever band members made the hallowed grade. Never looking back, Bailey turned The Saints back on, and the outpour commenced.
It was 1984 when Bailey reached a new peak, and it was called 'Ghost Ships'. In one stroke the song absolved the sins of a thousand bands lacking the ingenuity, integrity, guts and smarts to wait, watch, listen and learn. To this day, 'Ghost Ships' is a haunted, haunting affirmation of everything that Bailey has done.
Alien to complacency, Bailey pushed his own limits, and those of his band, reaching a new peak in the 90's with 'Prodigal Son'. An album redolent of his beloved Irish roots, rich in references to literature and legend and containing some of his most beautiful songs to date, 'Prodigal Son' announced the emergence of a new Bailey, more confident and with his demons held firmly in check.
Having made The Saints a minor household name, Bailey chose to soldier on as a solo artist. A series of superb albums followed at frequent intervals, including 1994's '54 Days At Sea', recorded in Scandinavia with a Bolivian folk group he first met playing at a street festival. Abounding in all the usual allusions and delivered in a voice that he now exercised like a whipped mongrel, '54 Days At Sea' felt like another watershed, another self-contained detour in a career of musical swings.
In 1997, Bailey returned to The Saints. The result was the outstanding album, 'Howling'. Bailey was back on another pilgrimage. Recorded fast, loose and with no shortage of great songs, 'Howling' is a loud, proud return to the band ethic of The Saints.
A year later, following the reinvigorated, perpetually changing band route, The Saints released the rip-roaring album 'Everybody Knows The Monkey'. Recruiting unknown, but feisty musicians, Bailey returned to the no-nonsense guitar rock he last perfected on 1982's 'Out In The Jungle'. Strained by the demands of agitation, volume, and passion, Bailey’s gigantic voice is given free reign by a band of heavy-hitters. The opening track, 'What Do You Want', perfectly sums up a career that has continually crashed, burned and risen from the subsequent wreckage.
For the new millennium came a new Saints album, albeit one that paid homage to the folk that carved out the music many of us live by to this day. 'Spit The Blues Out' features eight original tracks of awesome power and divine intervention, coupled with four cover versions of classic blues songs to which Bailey’s voice does ample justice. Recorded in Amsterdam, the album highlights Bailey's songwriting at its best, mixing originals and covers that reflect the grim and greedy theme park we live in today. Drinking songs, sad songs, rocking songs and fuck songs. Songs that speak to you of the world. 'Spit The Blues Out' captures the power that was injected into rock‘n’roll when rock‘n’roll was full of sex and danger.
In 2005, still resident in Amsterdam, The Saints released 'Nothing Is Straight In My House'. Featuring twelve new songs, hammered into shape in a three-week creative furnace, the record is a loud, noisy, passionate and demented mapping of the surreal psychotic soul of our surroundings. The songs are inspired by the fear and loathing of our times and reverberate with rock 'n' roll’s primal energy.
Following swiftly came 'Imperious Delirium', recorded at Stollywood Studios in Amsterdam. Fanned by the flames of an ill wind and wanton war-mongering, the record delivers a tirade against prevailing times. It is a literal howling at the insane behavior of the outlaws who make our laws and it represents some of Bailey’s most political writing. Along the way, however, love songs prevail in the shape of the wonderfully titled 'Je Fuckin T’aime'.
Which brings a common theme up to date, that being the impending release of 'King Of The Sun', a brand new collection of songs of love and dereliction by Bailey and his latest incarnation of The Saints. Recorded in Sydney and released on the Highway 125 label, the album portrays a journey home after a hundred-year war. Bailey’s writing and singing have never sounded more majestic. His is the voice of a world-weary conscript who got more than he signed up for but never shirked the task. Accompanied by piano, strings and horns, (the very sound that got The Saints dropped by EMI) 'King Of The Sun' could be viewed as a beautiful swansong to a formidable campaign. Then again, don’t bet on that.
If ever a song summed up America’s state of mind in 2016, it’s Scott Smith’s piano stomping rocker “The World Is Strange”. Aiming to convey the overall concept of his infectious debut album ”The Sum Of Life” in its cover art, the Bay Area based americana, country and blues influenced singer and songwriter hit upon a piercing lyric on that track, “The Lord’s gone away, he ain’t comin’ back, he’s on his way to Vegas in a new Cadillac”. So on the album cover, the almighty, silver hair and beard whipping in the breeze, rolls carefree on the I-15, about to pass by a hitchhiking Smith, as if to say, “You’ve lived it, you’re a rocker, write some songs, you figure it out”.
Over the course of the acoustic instrumental title track and the spirited mix of 10 edgy rockers and soulful ballads that follow, he does just that, with, to paraphrase the Beatles, a little help from his legendary Bay Area musical friends. Smith first tapped David LaFlamme, a virtuoso classical and rock violinist, who was the founder of the iconic San Francisco band It’s A Beautiful Day. LaFlamme put his signature sound on the free flowing acoustic instrumental opening title track, the uplifting and encouraging old school country and americana tune “Bad Dreams” and “The Best Gift.
Smith also invited Nina Gerber, who became famous for playing with the late folk artist Kate Wolf, to play acoustic guitar on the title track. Nina Gerber also plays electric slide guitar on “Over It Soon” and ”Messing With Reality”.
Mitch Woods plays boogie woogie piano on “The World Is Strange” and the rollicking anthem “Payday”. Also featured are Tommy Tutone drummer Vic Carberry, pianist and keyboardist Giovanni Imbesi, who has played with Yanni and Andy Summers.
Multi award winning singer songwriter Seth Swirsky is back with his long awaited 3rd solo album. “Circles & Squares”. Swirsky, one part of the highly acclaimed pop duo, The Red Button, wrote, played and produced the entire 16 song album of newly minted, mostly, under 3 minute long, pop gems.
Swirsky’s 1st solo album, “Instant Pleasure”, won best pop album at the 2005 Los Angeles Music Awards, with the title song being featured in Adam Sandler’s largest grossing movie, ”Big Daddy”. His 2nd solo effort, “Watercolor Day”, won best pop song, for the title track, at the 2010 Hollywood Music & Media Awards. Both albums won or came in the Top 5 of most of the major influential year end polls for best album of the year. Swirsky was named by Music Connection Magazine as one of the Hot 100 unsigned artists of the year.
A renowned pop songwriter, Swirsky has written hits for a wide array of artists including Taylor Dayne, Smokey Robinson, Michael McDonald, Al Green, Olivia Newton John, Celine Dion, Air Supply and many others.
A true renaissance man, Swirsky is a painter, a 3 time bestselling author and a filmmaker, whose movie, “Beatles Stories”, from 2012, was chosen by over 20 film festivals around the world. A native New Yorker, Swirsky makes his home in Los Angeles.
”Little Bright Band Of Light” is the new Howlin’ Dog Records release from the much beloved Texas troubadour Shake Russell. Shake is widely known for writing deep, beautiful, and poetic ballads and waltzes, to which many of his fans in his Texas home have courted, danced, and fallen in love. This release, though, shows great breadth as well as the depth you would expect from him.
There is the light (the title track, ”At The Speed Of Love”, ”At Lane’s End”), the dark mystery (”Shadow Man”), the fun swing finger snappers (”Shotgun, OK”, ”Alright”, ”Good Deal”), and of course the beautiful ballads of love and the things that make life worth living (”Pure”, ”Letters, Songs & Photographs”, ”All The Way Home”). Rounding out the collection is his homage to George Jones, ”The King Of The Honky Tonk Is Gone”, and songs harkening back to the landscape of his Texas home (”I Love The Wind”, ”River Of Innocence”)
All of the songs are written or co-written by Shake, several with the help of his frequent writing partner Chuck Hamrick, and 3 with Michael Hearne, who often performs with Shake and is also featured as a guitarist on many of the tracks on this collection.
Shake’s deep, resonant voice delivers the beauty of these songs straight to the heart, and the carefully crafted, mostly acoustic arrangements hold these gems up to the light to sparkle and shine.
Sharon Goldman is a New Jersey based singer songwriter. Her intelligent, inventive storytelling has led to appearances in the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance. Several well received albums have been spun on folk and public radio around the globe and Sharon has performed in top coffeehouses, listening room series and house concerts around the Northeast US. Songwriters also know her as founder and writer of the popular blog Songwriting Scene.
Her latest album, "Kol Isha (A Woman’s Voice)", takes her artistry in a new and unique direction. She has dug deep into her orthodox jewish childhood and emerged with a bold, imaginative song cycle that is by turns deeply feminist, conflicted and yearning, tracing her own journey to find her voice as a passionate woman, a lifelong questioner, and a constant seeker. She delves into memories of prayers and rituals, of roads not taken, and of voices not heard. She also mines the stories of biblical and mythical women, such as Lilith, the Sabbath Queen and the lovers in the Song of Songs, for creative inspiration.
Like most personal artistic explorations, "Kol Isha" is shot through with more questions than answers. It highlights conflicts born of contradictions and competing loyalties. It reflects Goldman’s hunger to know herself and her place in the world, with a deep level of honesty that comes through even in song stories that are totally imagined.
"Kol Isha" is the project that will speak to anyone who has ever tried to rediscover childhood rituals, who has struggled to tap into their own truth, has drawn close to something and then pushed it away, and who has struggled to understand his or her own decisions and actions. Sharon Goldman’s journey is uniquely her own, but she invites us to connect with the spirit of candid reflection and transformation.
According to singer songwriter and activist Si Kahn, “Sharon Goldman has done something quite remarkable, merging the cadences of ancient hebrew liturgy with a contemporary feminist perspective on modern jewish and american life. Despite its historic roots, her work is easily accessible to anyone who appreciates intelligent, poetic, musically-compelling folk”.
"Kol Isha", to be released in October 2016, was co-produced with Stephen Murphy (Sloan Wainwright, Amy Soucy) and engineered by Mark Dann. It features Cheryl Prashker on percussion, Craig Akin on upright bass and Laura Wolfe on harmonium and violin. The album includes guest appearances from Red Molly’s Abbie Gardner on dobro, Brian Prunka on oud and Amy Soucy on background vocals.
The Shiner Twins
In the many reviews that appeared after the release of the Shiner Twins’ second album 'Southern Belles', the band has been hailed as the hottest roots-band from the Netherlands, and some reviewers even described the band as the best roots-band in Europe, judging the album as “a milestone in the genre”.
The band’s unique blend of southern soul, rhythm & blues, country, traditional gospel, New Orleans funk, texmex and singer-songwriter oriented material makes them anyhow stand out in the widely varied Dutch roots- and americana-circuit. That’s one of the reasons why the band was invited to play at all the important festivals in the Netherlands and Belgium in the spring and summer of 2009.
The initial roots of the Shiner Twins are located in Austin TX. When founding bandmember Jack Hustinx was living there in 2001/2002 he was asked to put together a European touring-band by Austin’s legendary powerhouse-singer Malford Milligan (ex-Storyville), and so he did. After three very successful European tours and one tour in and around Malford’s hometown Austin - to celebrate the release of the critically acclaimed 'Sweet Cherry Soul' album - this co-operation came to an end. Because the remaining bandmembers agreed that there was this “undefinable chemistry” every time they played together they decided to continue as a band, the Shiner Twins, with their own material, written by both Jack Hustinx and Richard van Bergen, the band’s two lead-vocalists and guitarists. Richard is considered to be one of the most talented roots-guitarists in the Netherlands, probably the best slide-player in the country, heavily influenced by co-players like Bonnie Raitt, Lowell George, David Lindley and Ry Cooder.
In October 2006 the band’s debut-album 'All In Store' was released, and almost instantly this CD was hailed by every magazine and website as one of the most excellent and original roots-CDs ever to come out of the Netherlands. The CD entered at a #2 position in the Euro Americana Chart and gained a lot of airplay on national radio. The name Shiner Twins was put on the map, and the band played almost continuously in the many clubs, theaters and festivals throughout the Netherlands and Belgium. This definitely contributed to the outstanding live-reputation of the band, not only through their solid musical craftsmanship and haunting vocal-harmonies, but also as being one of the most honest and intensely playing rootsbands you will ever see. All four Shiner Twins members are true, convincing and experienced roots-junkies that have been playing and recording with many different bands and artists for more than 25 years.
Two years after the release of their debut the Shiner Twins launched the eagerly awaited follow-up entitled 'Southern Belles', an even stronger mix of styles, adding more traditional southern gospel to their music, featured in 13 new intriguing Shiner Twins originals.
In their native Netherlands every rootsmusic-fan is proud that this soulful roots-combo is coming from their country, now it’s up to the rest of Europe to get to know the Shiner Twins…..
As the title suggests, 'Family Man' is Shooter Jennings’ most personal and introspective album to date, focusing on his home life with Drea de Matteo and their two children, the endless temptations of life on the road, his Southern heritage and upbringing, and his unique position among today’s country musicians. Shooter has worn many hats throughout his career: the selfdescribed “son of a rebel saint”, the hell-raising vigilante minister at a revival of true country music, the radical prophet using rock and roll as his medium.
Now after a career where he has done everything from sharing the stage with Alice in Chains to writing songs for the Oak Ridge Boys, Shooter will finally reveal the man at the heart of it all when he releases 'Family Man'.
Recording in his recently adopted hometown of New York, producing himself for the first time, and playing with a group of extremely talented musicians he has dubbed “The Triple Crown”, Shooter is more relaxed and confident on this album than ever before. Featuring renowned jazz pianist Erik Deutsch, guitarist Chris Masterson, drummer Tony Leone, bassist Jeff Hill, pedal steel player John Graboff, and rising roots music star, Eleanor Whitmore, who contributes harmony vocals, as well as playing mandolin and fiddle, The Triple Crown brings to mind such ensembles as Merle Haggard’s Strangers, Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys, and Buck Owens’ Buckaroos, becoming an integral part of the music and adding their unique stamp to each and every note. It is his rebel DNA accompanied with his mature outlook and emotional strength of a father and a family man, which makes him one of the most exciting artists of his era.
"The Trick Is To Breathe" is Sid Griffin's 1st solo album in a decade. Recorded in Nashville, TN, at the home studio of Thomm Jutz in February 2014, it was a joyous, easy and (almost) carefree session, the entire album completed in four days.
"Before Christmas I had sent some Nashville friends acoustic demos of my songs and of my new arrangement of a version of The Youngbloods' great 'Get Together'. These men and women had learned the songs off my demos and most of the songs we recorded were second takes... in fact these players are so accomplished I don't think any track was recorded in more than four takes", recalls Griffin.
After recording in the UK for most of the past two decades Sid decided to do everything differently from his last solo album, "As Certain As Sunrise". "I recorded in the USA instead of Europe, I did not engineer, co-produce, or mix the album, on a few tracks I only sang, I put myself entirely in the hands of others, I did not use any of the Coal Porters' vast musical talents, I primarily used musicians I had not met before the sessions and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Without question it was time for a change, time to shake things up".
As promoters and venues were frequently contacting Griffin about solo shows it was obviously time for new 'Sid Solo Music'. Yet the multi-tasking Griffin, a musician first, a writer second, a broadcaster third and... oh yes, a family man on top of all that, didn't have much time to spare to record. "You can spend weeks doing an album. Both my previous solo albums were done piecemeal, that is recorded in bits here and then bits there over weeks. I needed to get an album done quickly".
"Billy Bragg told me his last album was recorded by Joe Henry in just a few days out in Pasadena, CA, and I remembered Dylan did 'Nashville Skyline' in only a few days. So I contacted some Nashville cats I knew, they recommended Thomm Jutz as a producer, he and I hit it off, Thomm picked most of the players and by the time I flew to Tennessee these folks knew my songs better than I did. Hence we started on Monday and were done by Thursday!".
Sid did play mandolin on two tracks, guitar on about six more, but the core of the band was Mark Fain from Ricky Skagg's Kentucky Thunder outfit on bass, the great virtuoso Sierra Hull on mandolin, Paul Griffiths on drums, Thomm Jutz on guitar, Justin Moses on banjo, fiddle and dobro, and gospel legend James T Brown on backing vocals. Other than Thomm Jutz and Paul Griffiths none had met Sid before the sessions began.
"The Trick Is To Breathe" announces Sid Griffin is back on the world stage as a solo artist, globe-trotting troubadour and singer-songwriter. "It's a great record, it really is, my best songs ever and you can play them with a group behind you as I did in Nashville or they can be performed by me solo. I am in a good space as the saying goes and 'The Trick Is To Breathe' is going to help keep me there. Yes, I am an American who lives in Europe, but my heart resides south of the Mason-DIxon and it shows on this album. I can't wait to tread the boards again and play these songs for the people".
Nico Georis is visionary and poetic musician and one of the most original keyboard players of our times. His musical talents have taken him from Big Sur, to New York, Paris, Romania, and back to the San Francisco Bay area, while carrying on a legacy of California grooves. Nico is a man who is connected to nature’s realm and is dedicated to musically linking listeners to the pulse of life.
Following the release of his debut home recordings “Songs From Nowhere”, Nico Georis has collaborated with friends to form the band, Sky Country. Born from the lineages of 60’s California surf rock culture, the great american roots of New Orleans piano, blues, roots rock, 70’s Africa, impressionism, and other obscure realms, Sky Country humbly blasts into a new frontier in new California rock'n'roll. Highlights of 2012 included opening for Fishbone and rock n’ roll legend, Leon Russell.
“Songs From Nowhere I & II” are Sky Country’s debut home recordings, completely self produced by Nico Georis in his basement of analog relics. Sky Country’s infectious tonal grooves are revealed on an arsenal of vintage keyboards, lush and fuzzy guitars, set atop a warm lo-fi rock'n'roll river bed. Stylistically “Songs From Nowhere” pays homage to the great songwriters and musical craftsmen of the past, while firmly staking its claim to a virgin frontier in new California music.
This is warm California rock'n'roll inspired by the coast and deserts of the western frontier.
After two praised albums, Slowman releases an awaited 3rd album with original compositions in English. But Svante Törngren – the guitarist, composer and singer behind the alias Slowman – is chastened:
"I’m not expecting to a herd of journalists and TV producers. I just want to reach out to my audience with songs and compositions that I really like myself".
The desire to find a voice of his own has characterized Svante Törngren's musical career ever since he, almost 30 years ago, left a contract and the music industry in anger over meddlesome producers. He didn’t return until new technology made it possible for unsigned musicians and composers to call more of the shots in production. With the new album he has outdone himself:
"This is the best I’ve ever done. Finally it sounds close enough to what I heard in my head when I wrote the songs".
But fans and critics who favour heavy riff-based classic rock-blues may be slightly disappointed – among the 12 tracks on the new album, only a few qualify into that category. On the other hand, there are many other elements to enjoy. The skilful Mats Lundström on keyboards and John Ahlin's horn and string arrangements highlighting soloists like Anna Dager on cello, Jonas Wall on saxophone and Jonas Lindeborg on trumpet. Additionally, several tracks have been supplemented with a joyous gospel choir led by Camilla Stenman. Throughout the album, bassist Jan Enegård and drummer Stefan Rosén provide a steady groove and rhythmic accents.
Slowman himself has supervised all the details and produced the entire album:
"Some of the songs are torn straight out of my heart and it took me 4 years and a network of awesome musicians to put the bigger picture together. Now I'm incredibly proud of the result, even if the album gives me more expenditures than revenues. The real gain is on an entirely different level".
Sofia Ekberg is a Swedish, Gothenburg based singer-songwriter who plays music in the field of folk-country-pop. Sofia sings stories about daily life, its big questions and small details, with a voice and lyrics that get under your skin. All accompanied by her rhythmical guitar playing.
Sofia’s musical journey has taken many turns. She was born in the small village Bottnaryd in the deep forests of Småland, and very early on had a longing for music. At the age of five she got her first guitar and soon found a way to express herself musically.
Growing up she changed direction: trained and worked as a musical theatre performer, both in Sweden and England, and took part in productions on stages like Oscarsteatern in Stockholm, Östgötateatern in Norrköping and The Mercury Theatre in Colchester, England. When living in England she discovered her songwriting and began to play her songs at open stages in and around London, where she also worked as a session singer and was a member of Jest, a soul-rock band that played in the streets. Somewhere along the way, Sofia wrecked her voice, and wasn't able to sing for a number of years. During this silent time her songwriting kept evolving, and she worked hard to find a way back to her authentic voice and unique expression.
Now she’s here with the debut EP "All The Small Details", produced together with Patrick Rydman and Henrik Cederblom. Recorded mostly live at the studio Epidemin in Gothenburg, with three guitars, harmony singing, mandolin, dobro and stompbox, the trio creates a strong presence and a feeling of acoustic directness where the songs and the stories really come into focus and grab your attention.
Sofia plays solo, duo, as well as with the trio My Quiet Companion (with Rydman and Cederblom). She has played venues such as Visby Songwriters Festival, Copenhagen Songwriters Festival, Sunne Folk Festival, Pustervik (Gothenburg) and Jarmusch Club, Caserta, (Naples, Italy).
Sofia also works with various co-writing projects in both Sweden and Denmark. Currently she's involved in a project together with Danish singer-songwriter Cecilie Sadolin, who released her debut EP "Nordic Craft" in September 2013. Sofia is also the guitarist of the band Mint.
Furthermore, she has developed and runs the one-year course for singer-songwriters at Löftadalens folkhögskola in Åsa, Sweden.
On their 2nd album, Bremen based band Someday Jacob combine the golden longing of California in the 70’s with the quiet romance of North Germany. The album was done with recording legends Vance Powell and Richard Dodd.
Let the others do the running, this is not about being the fastest, the next big thing, or the flavour of the month. The new album of singer and guitarist Joern Schlueter and his band is a counterpoint to all that’s hasty or rushed. It stands against the panic of missing out and the fear to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. “Well seasoned countryside egg yoke”, says Stefan Reichmann, CEO of well respected German indie label Haldern Pop, about the record. “Songs like deep valleys, mysterious and beautiful”, says Ralf Schroeter, manager of star singer Philipp Poisel (and now manager of Someday Jacob, too). “Truly wonderful music”, says Vance Powell, four times Grammy winner and legendary producer from Nashville. He mixed the record.
The name of the album is “It Might Take A While”, a title that illustrates the aforementioned attitude. It will be released on September 9th, 2016, through Haldern Pop, Rough Trade and GoodToGo. It was produced in Germany, the UK and the US. Members of the production team are Vance Powell (Kings Of Leon, Jack White), Richard Dodd (George Harrison, Tom Petty, Dixie Chicks) and the americana sensation Israel Nash Gripka from Texas.
Here flows a record like the golden yellow yoke of a happy hen. It knows about all the wonderful music of the last 5 decades. From the minerals of musical history this record matured to be one of the best recording for a long time. Who would have thought a North German band is able to write and play such wonderful music without having been saturated by the golden sun of California!? The sheer amount of melodies and the wonderfully light production are nothing less than a small miracle. In spite of the title the listener quickly immersed in fascinating 70’s harmonies reminiscent of Neil Young and CSN, and a musical sensibility similar to the likes of Midlake or Scott Matthews. Some songs shine like dark diamonds, some carry the musical DNA of Laurel Canyon in them, some move the soul with quiet intimacy. The 1st single, “Between Me And You”, evokes the hushed magic of Fleetwood Mac’s ballads and widens Someday Jacob’s musical horizon yet a little more.
Already Someday Jacob’s debut record ”Morning Comes” received a lot of applause by the music world. Schlueter, then a one man band, played well seasoned neo folk with hints of americana. Shows on national radio, tours in Germany, Holland and the UK followed. One track landed on Rolling Stone Magazine’s ’Best Of New Voices CD’. In the following year, Someday Jacob became a band with Martin Denzin on drums, Uli Kringler on guitar and Manuel Steinhoff on bass. “It Might Take A While” is their first communal effort a record that is as beautiful and magical as it is timeless.
Sons Of The Sea
"Sons Of The Sea" is the quintessential Brandon Boyd record — an introspective, eclectic collection from the artist, author, activist, environmentalist and surfer that will tantalize longtime fans while further spotlighting his evolving interests. The acclaimed Incubus vocalist is stretching his formidable creative muscles with a daring new foray into solo music.
While Boyd’s inviting, empathetic voice is familiar to millions, "Sons Of The Sea", the self-titled album, infuses it in challenging new contexts. Produced by the renowned Brendan O’Brien (Incubus, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Rage Against The Machine), the album luxuriates in innovative sonic backdrops, allowing what they coined as 'oddball pop' to flourish. For an artist like Boyd, the thrill and confusion of the quest to create will always trump the tangible, material rewards bestowed for his efforts.
Leadoff track “Jet Black Crow” flaunts what Boyd calls a 'stomping playfulness' that befits his dreamlike musing on infatuation’s ups and downs. And he is just as compelling in the record’s many departures, from the eerie, synth-driven obsession of “Lady Black”, to playing lothario in the seductive “Come Together”, contemplating his unique creative process in the piano-driven “Avalanche”, or paying tribute to Emily Dickinson’s perspective on an artist’s responsibility via “Untethered” — 'tell us the truth, but tell it to us gently, lest we all go blind'.
Boyd and O’Brien joined forces when Incubus went on hiatus following 2011’s "If Not Now, When?" 'After much toiling and overthinking about how I was to go about starting a new music project, I decided that the best way forward was to let go completely!' Boyd enthuses. 'Stop thinking about where, when, what, who and how, and simply… Go!'.
That ability to overcome doubt and give voice to complex thoughts applies to his visual art as well. Boyd’s third art book, "So The Echo", emerged this fall, following up acclaimed predecessors "White Fluffy Clouds" (2003) and "From The Murks Of The Sultry Abyss" (2007). A compendium of unobstructed watercolor, ink pieces and photographic spreads, "So The Echo" 'offers some of my most vulnerable observations yet, unedited and out on a limb. After all, the echo towards a life of expressivity is only as loud as the call!'.
'There is no end in creativity', Boyd concludes. 'Hence, to strive towards an end result is a fool’s errand. Set goals, make music and paint pictures, but know that the crux of your happiness balances delicately on the wings of the act of creativity itself. Not at the finish line'.
The album “Sons Of The Sea” is set to be released in Europe in February on Membran, including special acoustic versions of “Come Together” and “Lady Black”.
Sonny Axel is a pianist and singer born 1982 in St Etienne, France, to musician parents. He showed great interest in music from a very young age, starting piano lessons at the age of 5, and then attending the National Conservatoire Primary School. It is indeed a rare thing that a child, younger than 10, shows such interest in jazz, boogie and getting albums by Erroll Garner, Duke Ellington, and even Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind & Fire, to be played in his bedroom.
The Director of the Conservatoire advised Sonny’s parents for him to also attend jazz lessons at the adjacent music school, creating a precedent as later on the 2 institutions would combine. He took a few singing classes, but finally decided to self-teach, whilst accompanying himself on the piano.
The first professional contracts soon followed and he would eventually meet other musicians with whom he would affirm his own personal style. Incontestably influence by rhythm’n’blues and motown, he appeared at many jazz clubs and private events during the next 10 years. Notably the opening act of the Casino Ruhl in Nice as a trio.
During the summer of 2007, he met an American singer, Sugar Blue, and over the next 6 years he played with him in many venues around the world. Sugar Blue’s music had an enormous influence on Sonny’s style and it was through Sugar Blue’s guidance that Sonny developed his own style of music.
In 2010, Sonny recorded his 1st album in Los Angeles, California, at the Pig Sound studio. Producing this album gave him the opportunity to include original material he had written and to sing them. Then In 2014, he appeared alongside Ute Lemper in the Woody Allen film “Magic In The Moonlight”.
Sonny’s has just released his 2nd album, “Kick Back”, of original songs. Future plans are a tour in both the US and the ret of Europé.
Stephen David Austin
The honest and unadorned images in his lyrics open a window into the life and times of Americana singer-songwriter Stephen David Austin.
Neon motels, brown Bakersfield skies, tobacco-stained fingers and a woman’s whiskey eyes reveal the veteran musician’s vision of a town, a world, or simply a state of mind where the ground is shifting beneath our feet faster than we can regain our balance. With a keen eye for detail and a strong sense of place, Austin paints his images in sepia tones darkened by the fine brown dust of the San Joaquin Valley.
It’s all here – ready to be experienced – on Austin’s first solo CD release, “A Bakersfield Dozen”.
Even as the raw, Telecaster-laden rhythms and crying pedal-steel guitar cling to a musical tradition born of the Bakersfield Sound, Austin’s lyrics make it clear the world he inherited from Buck Owens, Tommy Collins, and Merle Haggard is being transformed before our very eyes.
“I’ve always been drawn to stripped-down, raw roots music and great storytelling”, Austin said of his influences, who, in addition to the aforementioned icons, include Dave Alvin, Steve Earle, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Townes Van Zandt and Gram Parsons. “If you can’t tap your feet to it, or tap your beer bottle against the tabletop, you’ve missed the target”.
While these musical traditions are hugely important to Austin, songs like “Kansas Ain’t In Kansas Anymore” and “The Cage” immediately signal to listeners that even our dearest traditions may not survive the forces of change surging toward us like a record Sierra snowmelt on a summer afternoon.
Inspired by a popular quote from “The Wizard Of Oz”, Austin’s “Kansas” takes Dorothy’s iconic line a step further, suggesting that even the Kansas that exists in the American Heartland of our imagination can’t claim to be in Kansas anymore.
Drawing his lens inward to reflect a more personal perspective, Austin’s “The Cage” is penned in the storyteller tradition. It’s about a man hitch-hiking toward his hometown after spending decades in prison. But like Kansas, the man’s home is sure to bear little resemblance to the place he once knew.
In his song “The Day Buck Owens Died,” Austin mourns the loss of the Bakersfield Sound pioneer, and at the same time, dedicates an unabashed homage to the music of Owens and the Buckaroos. Austin said he still remembers being stunned by the news of Buck’s passing in March 2006 – and when Buddy Blue, a founding member of The Beat Farmers, died a few days later, Austin dealt with the loss the best way he knew how, by writing about it.
Austin is the first to recognize that his view of the world is anything but rose-colored. His lyrics have focused on broken dreams, endless nights and the inevitable fall from grace so many of us face at some point in our lives. Fortunately, his sense of humor remains hilariously intact in songs like “Best Ex I Ever Had” and “Dance With No Pants”.
Americana music is a lyricist’s domain, the perfect vehicle for a storyteller-songwriter like Austin. And the southern San Joaquin Valley, the setting of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” is a central character in much of Austin’s writing.
“If Steinbeck had been a musician,” Austin said, “I think he’d still be in Americana”.
60 years ago, a young man and woman met at a roller rink outside Houston. Their love story, covering half a century and half the globe, provides the centerpiece for ”I’ll Take You Home”, the 5th full length album by singer songwriter Steve Brooks. Many of the songs explore the meanings of home, where we find it and how we keep it standing, against the twin winds of age and economy. As in the americana classic ”One Good Year”, which Steve wrote with Slaid Cleaves, his characters are chasing grace, in a world in which grace ain’t so easily found.
Some songs also reflect Brooks’ home for the past 25 years, Austin, the heartland of the Texas troubadour tradition. More than a few of those troubadours have written with Steve or recorded songs from his catalog. They include Cleaves, Christine Albert & Chris Gage, The Flyin’ As, Jim Patton & Sherry Brokus, Danny Santos and Oscar winning actor Russell Crowe.
At heart, Steve is a Guy Clark style storyteller, with the knack for turning phrases you’d expect from a former reporter for the New Orleans Times Picayune. He seasons with generous dashes of humor, honed by writing a satirical song-a-week for Jim Hightower's syndicated radio show, and appearing on TV’s "I've Got a Secret" as 6 time World Pun Champion. Through many of his songs runs a strong spiritual current, a reflection of lay sermons he’s delivered at more than 30 Unitarian churches.
More than 70 folk and americana DJ’s have spun Steve’s last album, ”Chasing Grace”. Crowdfunded through the faith of more than 160 fans, ”I’ll Take You Home” promises to spread Steve’s songs even farther beyond the borders of Texas.
Australian artist Steve McNaughton has earned high praise as one of Sydney’s best contemporary songwriters whilst achieving independent chart success and overseas airplay. His music varies from solid radio friendly hooks, to passionate, upfront and personal material. He has been writing songs for over 20 years and performing with different artists and bands around Sydney for nearly as many.
Steve launched his 1st album ‘Hardly Softly Rock’ in 1999, and as the name suggests it was an album with an impressive blend of solid rock and sweeter US westcoast rock. Several of the singles on the album, particularly ‘Hold Me Tonight’ and ‘Stalingrad Still Stands’ gained both massive local and overseas radio airplay and spent many weeks in the top 10 of the Ison Live Radio Top 50 chart. With 2 duets on the album, one featuring legendary Aussie rocker John Swan, and the other blues vocalist Jenny Lang, the album quickly sold out the original CD run.
In 2007 Steve released his 2nd album ‘Storm Chaser’ full of songs with solid radio friendly hooks and some definite groove and attitude. The opening title track ‘Storm Chaser’, was inspired by Scott Currens, and other American storm chasers. It is a high energy rock song that fully captures the fury of nature when the plains turn violent across the United States’ mid-west.
Skope TV and radio magazine has been full of praise for this album and provide the following glowing tribute, “Steve McNaughton’s ‘Storm Chaser’ is an earth moving experience. If you turn on the CD and close your eyes you could almost mistake his vocals for the legendary Elvis Costello. There seems to be a clear influence from that era. The CD is full of up tempo contagious tunes. The instrumentation is a good companion to solid, well written lyrics and the production takes some interesting turns, with killer background vocals that really drive a couple of the songs”.
Now we have his latest album ‘Eagles Aloft’, his best album by far. With this album, Steve has taken a huge leap into the contemporary country scene using US westcoast artists, some americana and Nashville influences, for inspiration. The result is a slick album of crossover country and soft rock, earning rave reviews from highly credible sources. Donna Wilson from the Nashville Examiner not only gave the album a 5 gold star rating, but states “ this is one album you absolutely must have in your collection”.
Douglas Garnett from Skope Magazine and Radio, heaps praise on the album and is full of superlatives with these quotations, on some of the stand out tracks, “’Cross Country’ is the first track from the new album by Steve McNaughton, titled ‘Eagles Aloft’. Bluegrass is the first thing that comes to mind, americana with roots in country. The players are top notch and the production is perfect for jukeboxes in pubs all across the beltway. ‘One More Shot’ steps things up a notch, with an upbeat driving guitar and some gypsy like fiddling. ‘Floating’ has a Tom Petty type of feeling to it. This song is a story driven track with a soulful organ guiding the vocals. Even Steve’s voice sounds like mr Petty at times throughout the song. The vocal harmonies are great and the guitar solo shows a lot of restraint. My stand out track on the album is ‘When You’ve Got It Good’ sounding like a cross between Eagles and Heartbreakers. Americana is the best way to describe it. Pop for the golden age of radio”.
”Welcome to ’Root Of The Sun’, my 12th CD. Work on this began in 2013 and was completed in 2015. It was placed on the backburner when the circumstances of life brought me ’Never Mind The Rain’. I wish I could remember when and where I stumbled across the term ’Root Of The Sun’, however, I do know that Pat Manfredo’s remarkable photo on the cover captured its essence. She has a great eye, don’t you think?
As always I am and will remain eternally grateful to my collaborators in the studio including most eminently my good friend and producer Eddie Seville, who heroically breathes life into these songs. I have learned that the presentation of music requires a great ear, vivid imagination, technical prowess, shared vision and lucky accidents. After 9 years of collaboration it is evident that Eddie brings that, and so much more to this process. Eddie and our other multi-instrumental musical genius, Karl Allweier, are all over this work and I am ever indebted to them.
These songs had time to marinate since they sat in the studio for a long time. They came to me in their own time and waited patiently for me to bring them to you. I hope you will agree that it was worth the wait. There are a lot of songs and I’ll just say a few words. In the end, you’ll be the judge.” ~ Steve Mednick
“The Ceremony Of Innocence” is the 1st CD since my 12th and the 1 before my 14th, which will be called ’Following The Thunder’. Can you tell by the sentence structure that I am trying to avoid something? I guess I don’t want to call it my 13th, although, I just did. The truth is that I am not superstitious, but my mother was, and I suppose this reticence to state the obvious is homage to her fixation with that number. On the other hand, this 4th volume of my ’Problems In Democracy’ series of CD’s is about an election with a result that was not predicted, predictable, anticipated or, in the end, welcome by the voters of my country. So, if my mother were here, she would probably say, ’you see that number is a bad omen’. Is there such a thing as a good omen? Whatever the case, the CD was held up until after the election because something inside of me said, ’who knows what will happen?’. And it did.
The title of the CD comes from a poignant poem called ’Second Coming’, written by William Butler Yeats, in the aftermath of World War I, a time of isolation, anti-immigrant fervor, xenophobia and nativism. At that time the purity of our pilgrim past was being diluted by new immigrants from the Mediterranean, the Balkans and the Polish ghettoes. Oh, how history repeats itself. The US now has a president who has signed executive orders to build a wall on the Mexican border, ban Muslims from coming to the US and reinstate the gag rule on international health programs. He vows to ’make America great again’ while placing a shroud on Lady Liberty. As the journalist Charlie Pierce has said, ’This isn’t funny anymore’. In spite of all our flaws and the embrace, far too often, of ugly prejudice and an irrational obsession with guns, we have long remained a beacon for the rest of the world. We are a great and mighty nation nourished by our remarkable living Constitution. Let us continue the struggle during our next 4 years and beyond. We are better than this! ’Meanwhile back on the planet earth, they said it couldn’t happen here. You’d like to think for what it’s worth, that the truth will trump your fears. I hear white noise on the radio, I hear him lying to the masses. Hiding what was deep in his soul, you can only hope that this nightmare passes’.
This CD is dedicated to the memory of my aunt, Roz Larman, who cared about music, musicians and the future of her country. It is also dedicated to the hope that we will rise again from wherever we are headed.” ~ Steve Mednick
Steve Noonan released his first album in 1968. It was such a huge smash success that he is releasing his follow-up immediately forty years later!
Way back in the 1960’s there was a hip music magazine called Cheetah. The first issue featured a nude picture of Mama Cass on a bear skin rug. Did you know Mama Cass had a tattoo? It was Cheetah that labeled Tim Buckley, Steve Noonan and Jackson Browne as “The Orange County Three.” All three were friends who performed at the Paradox in Orange County and other folk clubs and all three were very talented songwriters. At that time Jackson Browne was not much of a singer and it would be a few years before he would make his first album, but Elektra Records had signed Tim Buckley and he had recorded his first LP. Looking for another singer songwriter to duplicate Buckley’s success, Elektra signed Steve Noonan in 1967. It seemed like a dream come true to the teenaged Noonan, but, sadly, it wasn’t. It turned out to be the worst thing for Steve Noonan’s professional ambitions.
Just as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band had a Top 40 hit with 'Buy For Me the Rain', a song written by Steve Noonan and his friend Greg Copeland, Steve went to New York to record his album. Paul Rothchild, the legendary producer of the Doors and Janis Joplin was brought in to produce the album. But Elektra and Rothchild wanted Tim Buckley II, not Steve Noonan. They tried desperately to recreate Noonan in Buckley’s image and Steve resisted. The clash led to Rothchild storming out and taking his name off the record. Steve said, “You can take my name off it, too.” The record came out. Elektra spent twenty dollars on promotion and it sunk like a stone. I bought a copy for sixty-six cents at Aaron’s Records on Melrose. The album and the artist who made it deserved better. 'Leaning Back & Laughing' is as fine a track as anything ever released on the label.
The second Steve Noonan album is the work of a seasoned artist, a singer songwriter who has labored in relative obscurity for all these years. While Tim Buckley fell victim to rock’s excesses, and Jackson Browne rose to fame and played intimate songs in baseball stadiums, Steve Noonan played coffee houses and living rooms, always writing and playing and singing. Most of the artists of the sixties did their best work in their twenties. But here we find Steve Noonan just a bit older and doing some of the strongest work of his life. The songs on this new album were mostly written in the last few months. Listening to these songs now is like hearing an exciting new discovery. It’s like finding a forgotten gem for sixty six cents in the bargain bin at Aaron’s.
That golden California Sound comes alive again on 'Time Still Knocking', Steve Postell's Immergent Records debut. This rich, organic work draws on rock, folk, blues, country and R&B, all distilled through well-honed craftsmanship coupled with genuine heart and the musical camaraderie of a staggeringly talented group of musicians.
A singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, Steve's remarkable career begins a new chapter on 'Time Still Knocking' which features a wide array of legendary musicians. Contributors and collaborators include David Crosby, Jennifer Warnes, John Oates, Robben Ford, Eric Johnson, Paul Barrere, Dave Koz and many others.
“I was with the band, Little Blue, for nine years and I wrote a lot of the material, so when I was signed, the original thought was to create a new band around me," Steve says. "But after I started working on the album, it became clear that this was an artist-driven project. We felt it was time for me to make a solo record."
The album’s opener, the inviting, bluesy '3:45 Coming Through', is one of the few tracks that Steve wrote on his own as most of the songs are collaborations. His songwriting partners ranged from rockl veteran John Oates (Hall & Oates) on the baroque folk-rock of 'Straight For the Moon', to hard rocker Kip Winger on the churning 'Change in the Circle'. “Even though Kip, John and the others are all different, there’s a kind of common thread, true of every person who worked with me on this record,” Steve says. “They all understand and strive for a very high level of artistry. That’s what connects everything, not their styles.”
The music on 'Time Still Knocking' crackles with a sense of discovery, yet is also instantly familiar. The rising harmonies in 'Background Noise' and 'Catch The Wind' tap into a legacy that includes CSN&Y and the Eagles, among others. Steve also pays tribute to his influences with Buzz Feiten’s 'Long Way Home' (featuring Buzzy and jazz legend Dave Koz) and Little Feat’s 'Missing You', sharing vocals with the song's writer, guitarist Paul Barrere.
For Steve Postell, 'Time Still Knocking' is the culmination of dedicated work, lasting friendships and creative partnerships for a complete musician who knows where he’s been and looks to the future with anticipation.
“My primary inspiration was always to be a singer-songwriter, but I wanted to understand as much about the process as possible,” he says. “It’s always been about songwriting first, though the studio – engineering, how you record, arrange and so on – is a big part of it too. Assembling all the talent for this record, from the incredible musicians to mix engineer Nathaniel Kunkel and up to the final days with legendary mastering engineer Bernie Grundman, gave me the chance to watch these songs come into existence from their birth as mere ideas."
Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst
What do you do when you’re an independent artist with no major label or corporate sponsorship, and a burning desire to reach audiences? For Los Angeles artist Steven Casper, the answer is to huddle with in-demand session players who happen to be longtime bandmates, plus guests like gospel and r'n'b songbirds Charity McCrary and Linda McCrary-Fisher, and produce honest, skillfully crafted music that gives people good reason to listen. Casper, whose tunes have been heard in shows like "True Blood", plans a spring 2016 release of his 7th album, "I Feel Like I’ve Got Snakes In My Head".
Like 2014’s "Endless Sky" and 2012’s "Trouble", "I Feel Like I’ve Got Snakes In My Head" is an EP. “I love albums”, he says. “I don’t care about singles. But we’re really tribal in our listening now. We don’t have to wait for radio to play music we like, we go to a streaming service and listen to what we want. I want my music out there sooner so instead of full LP's, I’m putting out 6 or 7 track EP's”.
That love of albums, and the longer stories they reveal through carefully sequenced songs, was developed while growing up as an 'American embassy brat'. Casper’s music loving parents worked in the Foreign Service in Italy, Japan, Mexico and Nigeria, and he has vivid memories of raptly listening for hours to records from their select collection, Woody Guthrie, Mahalia Jackson, Hank Williams and Bob Wills, along with rock ‘n’ roll icons such as the Beatles and Elvis Presley. His own, rootsy rock springs from those early influences, plus later inspirations like Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams.
“I returned to the States when I was 16, that was culture shock”, he recalls with a laugh. “The United States was this land where they had TV 24 hours a day and Levis. Nothing like the places I had lived. California was magic to me”.
The amiable, intently focused Santa Monica resident still feels that unique alchemy in LA’s boundary-pushing music community, and in associations he’s made with industry veterans like Bob Dylan,Bonnie Raitt, JD Souther producer and guitarist Ira Ingber, with whom he reteamed for "I Feel Like I’ve Got Snakes In My Head". Opening track, “For A Few Dollars Less”, is a muscular instrumental duel between John McDuffie’s lonesome surf guitar and Carl Byron’s harpsichord, that pays homage to Ennio Morricone while showcasing Ingber’s deftly textured production.
From there Casper goes roadhouse with the bluesy rocker “Driving Fast” and dynamic “Restless Heart,” followed by honky-tonker “She’s Bad”. After a fun spin south of the border with the enticing “Maria”, he turns contemplative for “Slow Dancing”. The EP ends with a reprise of “Driving Fast” that downshifts to just his raspy vocal and acoustic guitar, Byron’s accordion and tambourine. The alternate take shows off the piece’s musicality, and Byron’s sensitive artistry.
“Sometimes when we’re mixing, we discover a new song within the song”, Casper explains. “In Booker T & The MGs, Steve Cropper, the guitarist, never did anything flashy, he just did the perfect thing. And that’s what Carl reminds me of. He plays really soulfully, and he plays the perfect thing that’s needed”.
McDuffie is similarly invaluable to Casper’s warmly received live band, he’s played with Casper for 3 years, Byron for 4, and bassist Herb Deitelbaum and drummer Jay Nowac for 10. The road-seasoned veterans’ loyalty is grounded in mutual respect and love of music.
For Casper, the song’s the thing. He wants audiences 'to feel the music', and is determined to 'write the best songs I can. The main success is writing a good song'.
Julie Christensen’s new band Stone Cupid, a kindred spirit to her post-punk powerhouse Divine Horsemen, headed to the studio with producer Jeff Turmes last spring to capture a debut album to be released this spring.
Christensen, who’s authored 5 independent albums and sung with everyone from Leonard Cohen to Lou Reed, has surrounded herself with a team of team players. Guitarists Sergio Webb and Chris Tench flank Christensen at the front. As Tench creates the ideal sonic landscape, Webb populates it with one stunning surprise after another. Propelling the enterprise are drummer Steve Latanation and bassist Bones Hillman, who combine taste and telepathy into something so unified they seem a single entity.
The crew’s resumés feature stage or studio credits for a wide swath of top-shelf acts, including Midnight Oil, Sheryl Crow, Agent Orange, Americana stalwarts Matthew Ryan, Amelia White and David Olney, and country mavericks Gail Davies and Pinto Bennett.
Christensen’s own musical odyssey is as varied as the kinds of songs she can deliver. Born and raised in Iowa, she headed to Austin in the late 70's, then Los Angeles in 1981. There she met and married Chris Desjardins and together they formed Divine Horsemen, a band whose sound she likens to “Beggars Banquet-era Stones”. From 1988-1993 Christensen toured the world with Leonard Cohen as one of two featured backup singers. In 1990, she was signed by Polygram, but the Todd Rundgren-produced album fell victim to label politics and went unreleased. 2003-2006 saw her paying tribute to Cohen in the 'Came So Far For Beauty' concert series, and spotlighted in the feature documentary 'I’m Your Man'.
An East Nashville resident since 2013, Christensen is beguiled by its concentration of musicians and their camaraderie. The move from California, meant to nurture opportunities in the acoustic and roots community, now finds her with a rock band, envisioning big-stage concert and festival gigs, and she couldn’t be happier.
Producer Turmes, who’s worked with such luminaries as Mavis Staples, Tom Waits and Richard Thompson, was again with Julie at the helm, as he was for Christensen’s previous album, 2012’s “Weeds Like Us”, a project that garnered some top 10 attention in end-of-year honors.
The new album includes artful tunes from Kevin Gordon, Chuck Prophet and others, including a bonus track of Stone Cupid's version of "Anthem", by Leonard Cohen, and a healthy helping of Christensen originals. “I’m so fired up with what we’re doing”, she says, optimistic that albums are not the dinosaurs some predict. “An album is an arc. It unfolds, piece by piece. I see young people buying albums. They’re listening. They’re getting it. I love that”. A new Stone Cupid album will be well worth the listen. “We’ve all done the big stages”, says Christensen. “This won’t be our first rodeo”.
Sue Sergel, born a stone's throw from Penny Lane in Liverpool, but a Gothenburger for many years, has a solid reputation on the Swedish blues scene. With her expressive musicality, Sue became one of Sweden's foremost blues voices and interpreters in the 80's and 90's. A favorite of the critics, she has performed with many established names and sung all kinds of blues, from heavy electric Chicago blues to classic piano.
Live, she is one of those performers who has great 'presence' on stage. Nowadays she performs with legendary Jimmy Olsson on bass and Eric Ivarsson, the guitarist who is rapidly becoming a well known name on the Gothenburg club scene thanks to his innovative and virtuous playing.
With this line up, Sue has made a departure from traditional blues and now writes songs in the americana genre, which incorporates elements of various roots music styles, including country, folk, and blues. Her lyrics are often inspired by her own life, but even by American popular culture.
As it turns out, Sugarcane Jane is not just another promising Nashville upstart paying its dues as a tour warmup act. Instead it's a new name for a couple of familiar faces, and the latest step in the evolution of a partnership rooted right here in Lower Alabama.
There is no Jane. The act is a duo consisting of Anthony Crawford and Savana Lee. She's a Baldwin County-based singer-songwriter. He's a Birmingham-native whose day job happens to be playing guitar and other instruments for a guy named Neil Young.
A couple of years ago, after meeting in Nashville, they recorded an album of folksy adult pop titled "Redbird." Her name and face appeared on the cover; the songs were his, but she sang them as if they were hers.
She moved back to Baldwin County. Disaffected with Nashville and wanting to be closer to his parents, who live in Daphne, so did he. "It's really been a blessing to come back to Alabama and be close to family," he said.
To say working for Young keeps Crawford on the go would be an understatement. He figures that in the last year Young's tours have taken him to Europe four times, to Canada twice, and across the United States several times, not to mention jaunts to such far-flung places as Australia.
"He has been very prolific of late, and it seems I've been involved in every episode of it," Crawford said. "When I come home, I make good use of it."
Crawford, it turns out, is pretty prolific in his own right. On the Internet, he's been posting installments of a humorous video documentary titled "On The Road With A Rock Star", based on his experiences with Neil Young's band. He recently released a new solo album, "Five is Red." He and Lee have put together a no-frills live recording of Sugarcane Jane-material (which they will release soon), and are hard at work on a new studio album.
"It's just two people doing what they love to do, and coming from a real honest space," he said. "Our parents seem to like it, so we know we're onto something."
"I want to be a part of the moment. I'm not here to impress upon anybody," he said.
Surrender Hill is a duo out of Sedona, Arizona. The duo started performing together in 2014 and is made up of South African, Sony recording artist Robin Dean Salmon and singer songwriter, Afton Seekins, who was born in Alaska and raised in Arizona.
Surrender Hill has just completed their 2nd album. The album, “Right Here Right Now”, was recorded at Eastwood Studios in Nashville, TN. The album features a fantastic lineup of musicians including Paul Griffith on drums, Eric Fritsch on bass and Mike Daly on pedal steel.
Surrender Hill's debut was released in April of 2015 and the duo has toured internationally since. The debut album was recorded in Sedona, AZ, with additional recording, mixing and mastering done in Nashville, TN. All of the songs on both albums were penned by Seekins and Salmon.
Surrender Hill's sound is acoustic guitar and vocal driven with lasting hooks and melodies. A comfortable blend of americana, country and roots rock.
Although this will be Surrender Hill's 2nd release, it will be Robin Dean Salmon's 12th album release. Salmon has spent his life working as a performing songwriter, musician and producer. He has 2 album releases with Epic/Sony and 8 albums released on various indie labels. Salmon has been nominated for 2 New York Music Awards and has performed throughout the United States, Europe and South Africa. Robin's touring and recording career has been extensive and he has worked with a very diverse group of artists, such as Rodney Crowell and Cyndi Lauper to Modern English, Al Perkins and Kenny Vaughn.
Afton Seekins is no stranger to the stage. In addition to being a performing singer songwriter, Seekins spent 8 years in New York City working as a professional dancer and choreographer. Her work has been featured on networks such as MTV, VH1 and NBC.
Susan James earned high praise for her 2011 release, “Highways Ghosts Hearts & Home” of which Ryan Adams, tweeted about her “great songs” and killer band. Now in 2013 Susan James returns with the lushly written and well produced "Driving Toward The Sun". Although Susan has many musical influences, DJ's familiar with the music of everyone from Lucinda Williams to Byrds, Beach Boys, Linda Ronstadt, Eagles and even Fairport Convention will hear echoes of their legacy laced throughout James' music, which sparkles with her compelling lyrics, vocals and overall sound.
Teaming up with Ryan Ulyate, producer for Tom Petty and George Harrison among others, Ulyate is just one of the many talented people who James attracts to her projects. “When Ryan and I began, we talked about how it should be as acoustic as possible, but still have a big sound. Our aim was to get the acoustic guitar to really rock like the guitars in the Rolling Stones 'Street Fighting Man', for instance… We named the sound we were attempting 'The Wall Of Intimacy’. And every song had to have it in a way, no matter how big or small the song was. I think we achieved it, and I'm proud to share it with everyone now.”
From the transitional feeling of 'Driving Toward The Sun' to the intensity of 'U-Haul In The Driveway', and 'House Of Love', listeners will be able to visualize these snapshots of a longterm relationship that has completely fallen apart. 'Anniversary' and 'Tule Fog' and 'Mission Bells' are more stripped down acoustic tracks, where listeners will sense a glimmer of hope in some of the toughest times.
James has been described by The Los Angeles Times as a “a master at exploring the emotional and sonic possibilities”, and Blurt Magazine noted, “excellent songwriting and an eye for musical details”. On "Driving Towards The Sun", she affirms the praise with insightful and big-picture stories. An adept and seasoned performer, Susan opened for both Lindsey Buckingham and Bob Weir throughout their respective six-week national tours and also supported acts from Richard Thompson, Son Volt, Rufus Wainright to Daniel Lanois just to name a few. She is currently booking tours for 2013.