Keep scrolling down the page for our blog/program guide.
Pics, bios, reviews, album art and more! Learn lots about all the folks on the show!
The Sun King and the Winter Moon- Kevin Welch and the Danes- “Millionaire”
The Winter Hours- The Deep Dark Woods- “Winter Hours”
Winter Muscadine- Michelle Malone- “Sugarfoot”
Winter- Patricia Barber- “Modern Cool”
Cold Winter Blues- Shirley Scott- “On A Clear Day”
Winter Is The Warmest Time Of The Year- Corin Raymond- “There Will Always Be A Small Time”
Winter Prayers- Iron and Wine- “Ghost On Ghost”
Hot New Music:
Ditty Boy Twang- Tim O’Brien- “Pompadour”
Red River Valley- Carly Miller- “Spirit Of The Age”
Mess With My Mind- Jason Cloud & The Max- “Moderne Day Bluesman”
Day Like Any-Amy LaVere and Will Sexton- “Hallelujah, I’m A Dreamer”
Walkin’ Shoes Blues- Chad Elliott- “Wreck and Ruin”
Appalachia Apologia- The Lonesome Trio- “The Lonesome Trio”
Driftin’ Snow- Blackie and the Rodeo Kings- “South”
Shadows In The Snow- Adam James Sorensen- “Midwest”
Prayin’ For Snow- Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders- “Junkyard Rhythm”
Rain and Snow- The Be Good Tanyas- “A Collection (2000-2012)”
Footprints In The Snow- Robert Earl Keen- “Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions”
Ballad of the Snow Leopard and the Tanqueray Cowboy- Lyle Lovett- “Step Inside This House”
Out Of The Snow- The Amazing Rhythm Aces- “Too Stuffed To Jump”
** Keep scrolling down the page for our informative blog/program guide. Follow along as you listen! **
The Sun King and the Winter Moon- Kevin Welch and the Danes
Born in Long Beach, California, August 17th, 1955
Traveled his little ass off till he was 7, family settled in Oklahoma.
Made it through high school, Midwest City High, and one semester of music school at Central State, Edmond, Oklahoma, joined a bluegrass band, dropped out of school, hit the road.
Met John Hadley, real songwriter for Tree International, who also taught art at the University of Oklahoma (OU) in Norman. Hadley was immediately critical of his guitar playing, which made him try harder just to get even.
Traveled a honkytonk circuit for 5 years in a van and a truck named Phyllis in a band called New Rodeo and then a band called Blue Rose Cafe. Started thinking there might be another way to live.
Met Jennifer Patten, got married, moved to Nashville like Hadley said they should, started writing for Tree International. This is 1978.
Wrote for 10 years, got some cuts, started earning a living. Had 3 kids, Dustin, Savannah, and Ada. Jennifer and Kevin split up but still stayed good friends. The 3 kids got to ‘still have a Mom-and-a-Dad’.
Steve Earle made Guitar Town, and then Steve, Don Schlitz, Mark Germino and some other madmen suggested Kevin get a record deal.
Backed by a Copenhagen-based band he dubs the Danes, Kevin Welch rocks out a little more than usual on his fifth album, Millionaire. This unit has mastered the kind of rock shuffle for which the Rolling Stones are known; you get the feeling they could encore with a good version of “Honky Tonk Women.” The arrangements make a good basis for Welch’s songs, a typically high-quality collection of tunes that reflect on life and love. Welch’s characters, who usually speak in the first person, are among life’s losers, particularly the unhappy participant in the Witness Protection Program who narrates “Witness,” but many of them are redeemed by love.
-William Ruhlmann, AllMusic.com
Photo by: Rodney Burseil
The Winter Hours- The Deep Dark Woods
Formed in 2005, the Deep Dark Woods are a Canadian neo-folk rock alternative country band out of Saskatoon, Canada comprised of singer and guitarist Ryan Boldt, bassist Chris Mason, organist and pianist Geoff Hilhorst, guitarist Clayton Linthicum, and drummer Lucas Goetz (guitarist Burke Barlow, a founding member who still writes with the band, was a member until 2012). Signed to Sugar Hill Records in the United States and Six Shooter Records in Canada, the band has released five albums, the self-titled The Deep Dark Woods (2006), Hang Me, Oh Hang Me (2007), Winter Hours (2009), The Place I Left Behind (2011), and the Jonathan Wilson-produced, Bryce Gonzales-engineered Jubilee in 2013.
-Steve Leggett, AllMusic.com
“Winter Hours”, The Deep Dark Woods’ sophomore release on Black Hen Music, is an album full of raw emotion, sadness, beautiful vocals and harmonies, new sounds, and well thought out arrangements. Working with Juno award winning producer/musician Steve Dawson at Vancouver’s famed recording studio “The Factory”, they managed to bring out an energy that the new songs deserved, recording the album live off the floor. What was created represents a collection of their best songs yet, the ever changing sound of the band, and a step forward from their touted first release “Hang Me, oh Hang Me”, which was nominated for Best Roots Album at the Western Canadian Music Awards this year.
The timeless sound of the aptly named “The Deep Dark Woods” belongs to the depressing winters of the north. Pulsing with human warmth, these original songs echo through the lonesome night.
Winter Muscadine- Michelle Malone
“Equal parts badass guitar slinger and sweet songstress, with masterful lyrical introspection – sublime to raucous.
“Raucous and jubilant – somewhere between Lucinda Williams and Shelby Lynne comes Malone alternating between soulful ballads and rowdy, riffy blasters.”
– ROLLING STONE
“The kind of singer and songwriter who can jolt things into overdrive.”
– NEW YORK TIMES
Atlanta native Michelle Malone is “equal parts badass guitar slinger and sweet songstress” (Guitar World). Her mastery of guitar, along with her trademark voice and songwriting skills,have earned her 3x Best Female vocalist, Best Acoustic Guitarist, Album of the year, and 2 grammy ballot appearances (Best Contemporary Blues 2006, Best Americana 2009). Her songs have appeared in film and TV, and have been recorded by Indigo Girls, Antigone Rising and Vistos Bosses. Malone has performed in 7 countries, and is currently recording a new album, touring the U.S., as well as performing in a new band led by SugarLand’s Kristian Bush. Day 2, produced by fellow Atlantan and Grammy nominee Shawn Mullins, spent 10 weeks on the Americana radio charts and received critical success. Malone performs solo, duo, and with a 4 piece band in arena’s, theaters, festivals, clubs, cruise ships, colleges, and even living rooms. Her shows are upbeat, personable, “raucous and jubilant” (Rolling Stone).
Atlanta-based Michelle Malone follows up her successful return-to-roots Stompin’ Ground release from 2003 with another slab of gritty, boot-scootin’ Southern folk-rock, Sugarfoot. She hedges her bets a bit by including the sweeping, mid-tempo “Where Is the Love,” obviously tailored to find its way onto radio since it appears in two versions — one called “radio mix” — but Malone is no sellout and has recorded another tough, no-nonsense collection dominated by rugged, folksy blues-rock.
-Hal Horowitz, AllMusic.com
Winter- Patricia Barber
In 2011 Patricia Barber has just finished a new ‘live’ album of the Patricia Barber Quartet recorded ‘ by Chris Grabowski at the wildly popular Green Mill residency. Monday Night, vol2 is available through her website: patriciabarber.com
She is also putting the finishing touches on other Floyd Records projects, one a DVD entitled Patricia Barber & Kenny Werner– ‘Live’ in Concert . This chronicles a resplendent evening with Patricia and Kenny and two 9′ Steinway pianos at the sold-out 1000 seat Pick-Staiger Auditorium–this DVD will be available in the spring.
Patricia is also and mostly busy finishing a set of all original songs for an eagerly awaited album to be called, Synchronicity due out in the fall.
These days you will hear Patricia playing most often with her Quartet, the pbq, with Neal Alger on guitar, Larry Kohut on bass, and Eric Montzka on drums. This Quartet continues to develop new, innovative ways of presenting jazz and remains the crowd favorite.
Patricia is also performing concerts with personnel stepping into the Quartet from Paris, NY, Fargo, Brazil and beyond. She is performing with classical musicians, solo, leading a variety of different enesembles and composing commission works for musicals, classical groups, singers, and jazz ensembles. This year’s bookings have her all over the world, starting with the historic double-bill with Kenny Werner, followed by a residency at the Jazz Standard in NY and continuing the year in Macedonia, Turkey, San Francisco, South Africa, etc. and of course, France.
For most concert artists, this would be a light schedule, and she likes it that way. It leaves her time to read, think, compose, work with her trio and quartet at the legendary Green Mill in Chicago on Monday nights, and live her life in a self-designed art orbit, allowing her to pen some of the most original and lasting music being written anywhere.
Photo by: Andrea Canter
Cold Winter Blues- Shirley Scott
An admirer of the seminal Jimmy Smith, Shirley Scott has been one of the organ’s most appealing representatives since the late ’50s. Scott, a very melodic and accessible player, started out on piano and played trumpet in high school before taking up the Hammond B-3 and enjoying national recognition in the late ’50s with her superb Prestige dates with tenor sax great Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. Especially popular was their 1958 hit “In the Kitchen.” Her reputation was cemented during the ’60s on several superb, soulful organ/soul-jazz dates where she demonstrated an aggressive, highly rhythmic attack blending intricate bebop harmonies with bluesy melodies and a gospel influence, punctuating everything with great use of the bass pedals. Scott married soul-jazz tenor man Stanley Turrentine, with whom she often recorded in the ’60s. The Scott/Turrentine union lasted until the early ’70s, and their musical collaborations in the ’60s were among the finest in the field.
-Alex Henderson, AllMusic.com
Most of organist Shirley Scott’s records in the 1960s featured her husband, tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, so this trio effort with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Jimmy Cobb was a change of pace. As usual, Scott features an off-the-wall tune (“What The World Needs Now Is Love”) in her repertoire, along with standards (including “On A Clear Day” and selections by Henry Mancini, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Irving Berlin) and a couple of basic originals. The music grooves and Scott shows that she did not need a competing horn in order to come up with soulful and swinging ideas.
-Scott Yanow, AllMusic.com
Winter Is The Warmest Time Of The Year- Corin Raymond
Corin Raymond is a singer-songwriter in the style of Johnny Cash who draws comparisons to John Prine. Like Cash, Raymond is a troubadour whose robust veracity connects with older folks and children alike. As with Prine, Raymond’s material appeals to other writers as much as to his fans. His songs are covered by Dustin Bentall, The Good Lovelies, The Strumbellas, The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer, and a far flung community of roots musicians and enthusiasts. Raymond’s songs, which are slightly apocalyptic and suggest criminal activity, make singing along easy. They have the common touch. Judges quote from his lyrics when handing sentences down. Truckers cry. He has the words you’ve been looking for.
This Toronto, ON-based troubadour has a parallel career as half of the Undesirables, an in-demand act on the roots circuit. His second solo album, There Will Always Be A Small Time, has a more direct country/folk approach, and it’s an impressive work. Raymond has a robust and serviceable voice (John Prine comparisons often come his way) but his true strength is as a songwriter. Within Canadian roots music circles word of that is quickly spreading, as other artists have begun covering his tunes.
-Kerry Doole, June 15, 2009, exclaim.ca
Winter Prayers- Iron and Wine
Singer/songwriter Samuel Beam, who rose to prominence with a blend of whispered vocals and softly homespun indie folk, chose the moniker Iron and Wine after coming across a dietary supplement named “Beef Iron & Wine” while working on a film. Raised in South Carolina, Beam received his bachelor’s degree in art from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and later his Master of Fine Arts degree from Florida State University Film School. Although Beam would later expand his sound to include electric instruments and rich, lush textures, he was firmly exploring the former style when several of his lo-fi recordings caught the ear of Jonathan Poneman, co-owner of Sub Pop Records. The songs had been recorded in Beam’s bedroom without the aid of studio flourishes, but Poneman nevertheless requested that additional material be sent to the label for submission, and Beam responded by sending two CDs in the mail — both of them full-length albums.
-James Christopher Monger, AllMusic.com
After expanding his intimate indie folk sound about as far as it could go on the last Iron & Wine album, Kiss Each Other Clean, Sam Beam (and trusty producer Brian Deck) take a step back on Ghost on Ghost and deliver something less suited for large arenas and more late-night jazz club-sized. The arrangements on that album were stuffed with instruments and seemed built to reach the back row; this time there are still plenty of horns, violins, and female backing vocals in the mix, but they are employed with a much lighter touch. Working with jazz drummer Brian Blade and a standup bass and mixing together elements of country, jazz, indie rock, and soft rock, the album has a much more intimate feel that suits Beam’s quietly soulful vocals much more naturally.
-Tim Sendra, AllMusic.com
Ditty Boy Twang- Tim O’Brien
On the surface, Tim O’Brien’s career seems maddeningly eclectic. But over the years, he’s become a subtle master at mixing the primary musical colors into his own distinct sound. You hear the numerous influences in every note, yet each and every note is uniquely his own.
The Wall Street Journal has characterized O’Brien’s work as “classic-sounding material stamped with his own perceptive personality.”
It has been four years since his last solo recording, but between collaborations with Darrell Scott, the recent Grammy winning recording with Jerry Douglas’s Earls of Leicester, and the rebooting of Hot Rize, he’s barely had time for a shower. Still, somewhere in O’Brien’s vivid imagination, the seeds of Pompadour began to sprout, and the fruits of his recent wanderings, music making and worldly observations have blossomed into eleven exquisitely varied, true-to-life and above all musical tracks.
It has been four years since rural roots music string trouper Tim O’Brien’s last album, but it doesn’t feel it. That’s because he has stayed busy keeping his name and talents in front of audiences with work on last year’s Grammy-winning Earls of Leicester, a revival of his own Hot Rize group and two collaborative albums with fellow folk/bluegrasser Darrell Scott.
Still, O’Brien seems most comfortable coloring outside the confines of his typically backwoods genre, which he does with confidence and subtle humor on Pompadour. Certainly the opening jazz-tinged title track that finds the protagonist waking up to see his perfectly coifed hair in the mirror is not exactly typical territory. Additionally, the jazzy muted trumpet, fluttering marimba and O’Brien’s scat singing shifts the tune into retro areas most wouldn’t expect unless you have closely followed the singer-songwriter’s eclectic history.
-Hal Harowitz, December 14, 2015, americansongwriter.com
Red River Valley- Carly Miller
Singersongwriter, filmmaker from Carlsbad, California.
Mess With My Mind- Jason Cloud & The Max
Jason Cloud was born as, Jason Charles Boulter, in the Fall of 1982. He was adopted by Charles and Diana Boulter, in Dallas Texas. Jason was raised in Lakewood, Dallas, a White Rock Lake Community.
At the young age of 5, Jason was already showing a interest in music that his mother was a avid fan of. Being drawn to his mothers favorites, Freddie King, Bonnie Raitt, Cream, Led Zepplin, and Peter Green’s “Fleetwood Mac”. Jason would listen for hours, tapping his hands, and feet to the beat, and singing along with a passion.
By the time he was 8, he already had a nylon string guitar in his hands, and by 12, he was able to play along to all his favorite records. Once High School started, and the pressure of fitting in ensued, Jason began hiding in his room and playing his guitar. For years this went on, having hits and misses with odd jobs, here and there. He would pick up gigs with various bands on guitar. He would even pick up drum gigs, which is a additional talent he picked up along the way. Jason eventually found a home with “Lee Sheetz Band”, a honky tonk band out of Amarillo. He stayed playing with this live band for several years. Learning the business first hand, from a full time working band.
In 2011, Jason set his sights on Dallas, to attend to his mother, who had fallen ill with cancer. Upon returning, his mother urged him not to give up on his dream, of leading a real blues band. So he got his act together, took his guitar, and a handful of his original songs, and got to work.
Photo by: Chuck Flores
Day Like Any- Amy LaVere and Will Sexton
While Amy LaVere’s voice may have the high, breathy tone of a young girl, she brings to her music the emotional peaks and valleys of a grown woman who has certainly seen her share of the world, and it’s hard not to believe that her adventurous life has informed her work.
LaVere was born Amy Fant, in a small town near the border of Texas and Louisiana to parents who were part-time musicians. Her family’s nomadic life led LaVere to live in 13 different places before she finished high school, and when her folks finally settled in Detroit, she rejected the classic country sounds they doted on — Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson were their favorites — in favor of punk rock. LaVere played drums and sang in a Motor City punk band called Last Minute, but after graduating she grew restless and headed back to Louisiana, which turned out to be a brief stop on the way to a job in Nashville, working for a music management company. After settling in Nashville, LaVere met Gabe Kudela, who played with the barnstorming country-punk band the Legendary Shack Shakers. After a brief romance, LaVere and Kudela wed, and after she learned to play upright bass, the couple began playing nightclubs on Nashville’s Lower Broadway as part of a group they called the Gabe & Amy Show; the band developed a loyal following in Nashville, and spawned another when they pulled up stakes and relocated to Memphis in 1999.
Although LaVere and Kudela’s marriage broke up in 2003, LaVere’s love of singing was stronger than ever, and she had developed a belated appreciation for classic country, blues, and jazz sounds that influenced her performing style.
-Mark Deming, AllMusic.com
There shouldn’t be rules in rock and roll, who are we saving our broken hearts for?
“Last Rock n’ Roll Boy To Dance” — Amy LaVere
Some of my favorite vocalists have worked and recorded in duo settings, e.g., Peggy Lee and Dave Barbour (guitar), Lee Wiley and Bobby Hackett (trumpet) and Sheila Jordan and Harvie S (bass), that allow the vocals and the songs to be front and center while the accompanist has nowhere to hide, certainly time to fish or cut bait. And, just as significantly, the strength, or weaknesses, of the songs become obvious on even a casual listening.
To this end, three albums of considerable note and musical diversity have just been released that warrant your listening pleasure.
First up is Amy LaVere and Will Sexton’s wonderful Hallelujah, I’m a Dreamer . The reason I begin with jazz singing is that while Ms. LaVere has always rolled and rocked, in this duo setting (save for a brief piano riff, I think), she swings, both vocally and on the acoustic bass. And swinging is no easy task, just ask all those who don’t, or can’t. And Mr. Sexton on all manner of acoustic guitar, slides easily from Spanish to to blues to the Everly Brothers, while Amy keeps the rhythm going steady, both tight and loose, by weaving subtle jazz lines throughout. To my ears, even though it is solidly in the Americana vein, its jazz underpinnings and phrasings cannot be denied.
This is also an intimate record where you feel you are in the room with them.
-Amos Perrine, April 8, 2015, nodepression.com
Photo by: Cracker Farm
Walkin’ Shoes Blues- Chad Elliott
Like the dark earth of his Iowa origins, Chad Elliott’s life has served as fertile ground for music. Elliott has turned love, loss, fatherhood, divorce and homelessness into lyrics. He performs more than 200 shows each year. He has cultivated more than 1,000 songs in his career while also honing his skills as painter, sculptor and children’s book author/illustrator (Wilderman’s Treetop Tales).
Elliott’s early career demonstrates a love of folk, roots and singer-songwriter music. He has worked with many greats and shared the stage with artists of the highest caliber, including Odetta, Tom Paxton, Loudon Wainwright III, R.L. Burnside, Greg Brown, Bo Ramsey, etc. Today, his songwriting has made a marked shift to Americana.
On his 20th album, “Wreck and Ruin”, Elliott dives into his love of roots-rock, soul and blues music with a rocking band behind his artfully crafted songs. Producer and drummer, Ken Coomer (Wilco, Uncle Tupelo) lined up the best rhythm and lead players in Nashville to create Elliott’s greatest album to date. Guitarist and bassist Kenny Vaughan and Dave Roe, legendary Nashville players, add the needed touches to rocket Elliott’s songs into a new arena of hard driving Americana.
Appalachia Apologia- The Lonesome Trio
Twenty-two years ago, in the rolling plains of northern Ohio, a strange and fortuitous gathering occurred. Ed Helms, Ian Riggs, and Jacob Tilove, then students at Oberlin College, were drawn together by a mutual love of fine whiskey and bluegrass. In short order, music was happening. With Riggs on bass, Helms on guitar, Tilove on mandolin and all three melodically shouting, a distinctive musical voice took shape. Soon other friends joined up on all manner of banjos and fiddles and a loose-knit ensemble called Weedkiller was born. They played back porches, front yards, and basement keg parties all over Oberlin for a few great years, but when college ended, so did Weedkiller. As the universe would have it, Ed, Jake, and Ian all landed in New York City to pursue their individual hare-brained passions of comedy, architectural history, and jazz bass studies respectively. City life was exciting and chaotic, but their friendship and musical bond endured, and their regular, informal jam sessions kept everyone’s feet on the ground. Over time those informal sessions became songwriting sessions and even a casual recording session or two. Soon invitations rolled in to play at a friend’s party or a cousin’s wedding and before they knew it, The Lonesome Trio was a fixture on the NYC bluegrass scene, playing regular shows at the Parkside Lounge, Rockwood Music Hall, and other depraved haunts of the old-time crowd. Despite active careers in various fields, The Lonesome Trio soldiered on, a constant in the topsy-turvy lives of its dedicated members. The particular sound and voice of The Lonesome Trio might be described as rootsy, bluegrass-ish, Americana, or even a little bit cowboy. But a more accurate description might be the peculiar mind meld of three old friends who’ve been through 22 years of life, love, loss, and laughter together, working it all out through raw and honest acoustic music.
The Lonesome Trio — a group born of a comedian, architecture historian, and jazz bass musician — is as sincere and transparent as bluegrass gets. Though Ed Helms (vocals, guitar, banjo), funny human and co-star of The Office and The Hangover trilogy, comprises one third of the band and despite the fact that their website is adorned with satirical images of tea cups on craftsman tables and bandmates Ian Riggs (vocals, bass) and Jacob Tilove (vocals, mandolin) wearing overly plush knit sweaters, there is an engrained seriousness within the group’s self-titled album. The Lonesome Trio knows and respects the long-standing tradition of straight-to-the-heart Americana.
-Christine Perez, June 12, 2015, lamusicblog.com
Driftin’ Snow- Blackie and the Rodeo Kings
One of Canada’s leading roots rock acts, Blackie & the Rodeo Kings is a collaboration between three well-respected blues, folk, and rock musicians, Stephen Fearing, Colin Linden, and Tom Wilson. Fearing is a Vancouver-born, Irish-raised singer/songwriter who returned to the city of his birth in 1981; since 1986, he’s released a number of critically acclaimed albums, and is a multiple Juno-award winner. Colin Linden hails from Toronto, and has collaborated with artists as varied as Leon Redbone, Bruce Cockburn, Robert Plant, and the Band, as well as producing albums for a number of artists and releasing several fine solo albums. And Tom Wilson, from Hamilton, Ontario, was the leader of the celebrated blues-rock band Junkhouse before going on to a successful career as a solo artist and songwriter. Fearing, Linden, and Wilson were friends and colleagues who had frequently appeared on each other’s albums, and in 1996, they joined forces to pay homage to Willie P. Bennett, a singer and songwriter from Southern Ontario who won a cult following (and later a Juno award) for his powerful, evocative story songs. The trio recorded an album of Bennett’s songs called High or Hurtin’: The Songs of Willie P. Bennett, and released it under the group name Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, a reference to the title of an album Bennett released in 1978.
-Mark Deming, AllMusic.com
Blackie & the Rodeo Kings started out as a project in which three singer/songwriters — Stephen Fearing, Colin Linden, and Tom Wilson — got together to pay homage to a friend and colleague, and as good as they are together, BARK are a band that cherish their sense of democracy so much that no one ever seems like the leader. As a result, their best recordings have the feel of a casual guitar pull more than a group of heavyweights hatching a grand project, and that’s certainly the case with South, the trio’s eighth album. “Gotta Stay Young” even leaves in the false starts as the gang briefly stumbles before finding the groove, while a few stray laughs can be heard in “I’m Still Loving You,” and much of South sounds like it could have been recorded in a couple afternoons in someone’s living room with good microphones and some whiskey on hand for company. And that’s a compliment; the loose, spontaneous feel of these sessions serves the songs especially well, while the minimal accompaniment and hands-off production (by Linden) reinforces the sense that this album doesn’t put up many barriers between the performers and the listener. And it sure doesn’t hurt that these guys brought some solid material to the table, such as Wilson’s rough and sweet “Gotta Stay Young,” Linden’s rough-hewn but evocative “Summertime’s Over,” and Fearing’s fierce and bluesy “Everything I Am.” South is simple but strong, an album that succeeds simply by offering fine songs played well by three guys and a few extra friends who sound honest and invested in their music; that may not seem like the state of the art in contemporary music, but it worked many moons ago and remarkably, it still works today.
-Mark Deming, AllMusic.com
Shadows In The Snow- Adam James Sorensen
Some of the spaces that Adam James Sorensen shares are as wide as the mouth of a canyon, easily accessed and open to us without posing any danger. My favorites, though, are the ones I have to squeeze into with caution and care, trying to connect to the pain, nostalgia and truth about us all that’s not quite so comfortable.
– Bob Hill
As Sorensen’s lyrics navigate through personal terrain, the subtle tone of his voice carries a warmth that embraces the listener. Returning to Chicago, his native home, was the catalyst for writing and recording his debut, MIDWEST. Evoking a strong melancholic undercurrent, MIDWEST offers the songwriter’s observations with a reflective and honest fragility.
Midwest speaks with chilly eloquence and eerie precision. It’s a lovely record.
– Jerome Clark (Rambles.net)
IDWEST has a lush and distinctive sound, beautifully described as ” Defiantly Mellow ” by Americana UK. Sorensen carefully steeps his poetry in a well of murky water, creating an atmosphere that Antoine Legat (rootstime.be) refers to as ” balm for the wounded soul “.
Prayin’ For Snow- Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders
Alex “Crankshaft” Larson, is “one of those old fashioned showmen who can actually deliver.” – Hymies Records. His style is heavily rooted in rock ‘n’ roll, blues, country, and soul, that “could not have been imagined prior to the early punk scene,” as described by Dig In Magazine. Crankshaft is “one of the best and most interesting roots, rock and blues acts playing around town these days.” – Cities 97. Rock solid original material, dedicated fans, and his 21st century twist on the American roots have pushed him near the top of the crowded Minneapolis music scene.
Photo by: Tiffany Smith
Rain and Snow- The Be Good Tanyas
Alt folk trio The Be Good Tanyas have achieved cult status since the band’s luminous debut Blue Horse, an album named one of 2002’s top 50 releases by Q magazine (UK), firmly established the group on the Americana music scene. With subsequent releases, Chinatown and Hello Love, the band has met with ever growing critical and fan acclaim, garnering 4 star reviews in Rolling Stone and MOJO magazine and selling out concert halls across North America and Europe.
Frazey Ford, Trish Klein and Samantha Parton; three women with gorgeous, haunting and plaintive voices accompanied by rustic, sparse and soulful instrumentation, high lonesome harmonies, and intelligent song-writing.
“The sonic equivalent of a prairie wind.” – Shawn Edward Cote – No Depression
“This balance of sweet and spooky is at the heart of the Be Good Tanyas’ timeless beauty. Decades from now, their musical sound is natural next to the traditional songs that inspire their work”–Meredith Ochs of NPR Music
Old-timey Canadian alternative folk trio the Be Good Tanyas spent the turn of the 21st century crafting soulful, rustic tales of woe, wonder, happiness, and heartache in a style that was popular at the last turn of the century. Warm, spacious, wise, and often winsome, Frazey Ford, Trish Klein, and Samantha Parton, and for a time Jolie Holland, operated in the same sepia-toned universe as artists like fellow Dust Bowl disciples Gillian Welch and Freakwater, recharging old classics and building new songs on a foundation of traditional folk, blues, bluegrass, Appalachian, gospel, and early Americana music. A Collection features 16 tracks from the Vancouver-based group, most of which are culled from their three well-received studio albums, Blue Horse (2000), Chinatown (2003), and Hello Love (2006).
-James Christopher Monger, AllMusic.com
Footprints In The Snow- Robert Earl Keen
Among the large contingent of talented songwriters who emerged in Texas in the 1980s and ’90s, Robert Earl Keen struck an unusual balance between sensitive story-portraits (“Corpus Christi Bay”) and raucous barroom fun (“That Buckin’ Song”). These two song types in Keen’s output were unified by a mordant sense of humor that strongly influenced the early practitioners of what would become known as alternative country music. Keen, the son of an oil executive father and an attorney mother, was a native of Houston. His parents enjoyed both folk and country music, and his own style would land, like that of his close contemporary Nanci Griffith, between those genres. Keen wrote poetry while he was in high school, but it wasn’t until he went to journalism school at musically fertile Texas A&M that he learned to play the guitar. He and Lyle Lovett became friends and co-wrote a song, “This Old Porch,” which both later recorded.
Keen made a splash in Austin with his debut album, No Kinda Dancer, self-financed in 1984 to the tune of $4,500. He moved to Nashville during the heady experimentalism of the ’80s that saw Lovett and k.d. lang hit the country Top Ten, but he soon returned to Austin. Texas landscapes and residents provided Keen with creative inspiration, as his second album, West Textures, made clear; that album yielded one of Keen’s signature numbers, an ambitious crime-spree song called “The Road Goes on Forever.”
-James Manheim, AllMusic.com
Robert Earl Keen has been playing the Texas singer/songwriter circuit for over three decades, and as a guy who often favors the acoustic side of the country and Americana music scenes, it’s no kind of surprise that he’s crossed paths with the bluegrass music community, and it certainly makes sense that he’s a fan. What is a bit of a surprise is not that Keen has decided to cut a bluegrass album, but that the respected tunesmith has chosen to make it a collection of covers rather than writing a new set of songs. Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions finds Keen and a crew of top-notch pickers (including Danny Barnes, former leader of bluegrass iconoclasts the Bad Livers) whooping it up on a set of tunes that have become bluegrass standards; this isn’t always bluegrass for purists (which is to say there are drums on a few tracks and the version of “Hot Corn, Cold Corn” takes serious liberties with the traditional arrangement), but the fiddles, banjos, and mandolins keep this rooted within the accepted boundaries of the genre, and the players certainly do right by the songs. Just as importantly, Keen sings these numbers with a genuine enthusiasm and a dash of swagger that suit his Lone Star attitude…
-Mark Deming, AllMusic.com
Ballad of the Snow Leopard and the Tanqueray Cowboy- Lyle Lovett
Lyle Lovett was one of the most distinctive and original singer/songwriters to emerge during the ’80s. Though he was initially labeled as a country singer, the tag never quite fit him. Lovett had more in common with ’70s singer/songwriters like Guy Clark, Jesse Winchester, Randy Newman, and Townes Van Zandt, combining a talent for incisive, witty lyrical detail with an eclectic array of music, ranging from country and folk to big-band swing and traditional pop. Lovett’s literate, multi-layered songs stood out among the formulaic Nashville hit singles of the late ’80s as well as the new traditionalists who were beginning to take over country music. Drawing from alternative country and rock fans, Lovett quickly built up a cult following which began to spill over into the mainstream with his second album, 1988’s Pontiac. Following Pontiac, his country audience declined, but his reputation as a songwriter and musician continued to grow, and he sustained a dedicated cult following throughout the ’90s.
Born in Klein, Texas — a small town named after his great-grandfather, a Bavarian weaver called Adam Klein, which later became a Houston suburb — Lovett was raised on his family horse ranch. He didn’t begin his musical career until he began writing songs while he attended Texas A&M University in the late ’70s, where he studied journalism and German. While he was a student, he performed covers and original songs at local folk festivals and clubs. As a graduate student, he traveled to Germany to study and continued to write and play while he was in Europe. However, he didn’t begin to pursue a musical career in earnest until he returned to America in the early ’80s.
-Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic.com
Step Inside This House, in a way, is a perfect follow-up to The Road to Ensenada, his straightest country album since his debut, taking Lyle Lovett back to the very beginning, as he covers his favorite songwriters. He consciously avoids such obvious influences as Randy Newman and Jesse Winchester, choosing to concentrate almost solely on Texan singer/songwriters, resulting in a minor revelation. Lovett’s place in Texas’ progressive country tradition has always been evident, and his good taste has never been in question, but this not only confirms his strength as a performer, but also illustrates the origins of his clear, wry narratives. He not only sheds light on songwriters known better for their reputation than their actual recordings (Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Walter Hyatt, Michael Martin Murphey, Robert Earl Keen), yet he carries a torch for obscure names like Eric Taylor, Vince Bell and Craig Calvert, David Rodriquez, and Steve Fromholz, who has no less than four songs on the album. For all the different writers, what’s striking about Step Inside This House is how all the songs seem to spring from the same worldview. Few covers albums are as unified and Lovett’s achievement is particularly noteworthy since none of the songs are standards.
-Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic.com
Out Of The Snow- The Amazing Rhythm Aces
Thirty years ago in a Memphis recording studio The Amazing Rhythm Aces™ made their first album, “Stacked Deck”. It was simply American music – a mixed bag of influences that had drawn them together. Fans didn’t seem to care about labels, either. For more than two decades, songs like “Third Rate Romance”, “Amazing Grace (Used To Be Her Favorite Song)” and the Grammy-winning “The End Is Not In Sight” would remain etched in the hearts and minds of a generation as benchmarks of popular music’s better days. After recording six more albums and touring with everyone from Willie Nelson and Jimmy Buffet to Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles the group disbanded in 1981, but its songs lived on as radio staples and its albums were coveted by collectors.