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!
Whispering Weeds- Frank Black and the Catholics- ” Black Letter Days”
Yellow Weeds- Grant-Lee Phillips- “The Narrows”
Weeds- Renee McCoullough- “Cool Me”
Weeds Like Us- Janiva Magness- “Devil Is An Angel Too”
The Weeds Outlived The Roses- Darrell McCall- “The Real McCall”
Walking Tall Through High Weeds- Sarah Pirkle- “Walking Tall Through High Weeds”
Hot New Music:
Crazy Dance- Brooks Williams- “My Turn Now”
Sleepy Hollow- The Pines- “Above The Prairie”
Party Late All Night- Isaiah B Brunt- “A Moment In Time”
The Last One- Laura Gibson- “Empire Builder”
Lay Your Burden Down- Wink Burcham- “Cleveland Summer Nights”
Am I That Easy To Forget- Thomas Wade- “Blue Country Soul”
Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You- Huey Lewis and the News- “Soulsville”
As Long As The Grass Shall Grow- Gillian Welch and David Rawlings- “Look Again To The Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited”
Green Grass Rainwater- Robben Ford- “A Day In Nashville”
Green Grass- Shannon Whitworth and Barrett Smith- “Bring It On Home”
The Grass Is Always Bluer- David Serby- “Honkytonk and Vine”
Grass Windows- Iron and Wine- “Ghost On Ghost”
Green, Green Grass Of Home- Tom Jones- “Gold”
** Keep scrolling down the page for our informative blog/program guide. Follow along as you listen! **
Whispering Weeds- Frank Black and the Catholics
Instead of releasing one sprawling album as he did with Teenager of the Year, this time Frank Black spreads a bounty of songs over two simultaneously released albums, Black Letter Days and The Devil’s Workshop; interestingly, his fellow college rock veterans Tom Waits and Paul Westerberg also released two albums at once just a few months earlier in 2002. Black Letter Days, alphabetically the first of the two albums, is also the bigger and more ambitious work.
-Heather Phares, AllMusic.com
Yellow Weeds- Grant-Lee Phillips
After spending his formative years in Stockton, California, Grant-Lee Phillips headed to Los Angeles to study film. Finding himself beneath the spell cast by local bands like the Rain Parade and the Dream Syndicate, Phillips soon partnered with Stockton acquaintance Jeff Clark to form Shiva Burlesque. The band dissolved after two critically acclaimed records, and Phillips began writing and demoing under the Grant Lee Buffalo alias.
-Andy Kellman, AllMusic.com
In a career defined by risk and reflection, Phillips only just recently took on the biggest gamble of his life…and with the wager comes The Narrows.
For practically all of his time on Earth, songwriter Grant-Lee Phillips has reconciled widescreen mystery and wonder with his own experiences from a fixed vantage point. Not that California is such a myopic perch: The state whose very name implies the promise of reinvention and potential wealth encompasses such varied terrain as Stockton (the hardscrabble port town of Phillips’ birth), the now-fleeting bohemia of San Francisco, and the sprawling industry capitol that is Los Angeles – his home since age 19.
“Los Angeles is a desert,” he explains from the road in Oslo, Norway, “It’s a hard place to plant your roots and a harder place to pull ’em up after some thirty years.” In 2013, he did just that: The lifelong California resident transplanted himself and his family to landlocked Tennessee. Reasons why abound, but answers to the questions the relocation posed are still emerging.
Weeds- Renee McCoullough
Singer/songwriter Renee McCullough has been performing her raw and unique brand of Americana for over twenty years. Her intimate style has received considerable attention, and the debut CD, “Cool Me”, released January 2010, was produced by Grammy award winning engineer, Jim Robeson of Bias Studios and includes the talents of many award winning and respected local musicians. In 2011 she signed with Creative & Dreams Music Network based in Nashville.
Renee began her musical journey playing folk venues in Washington DC, which included passing the basket alongside Mary Chapin Carpenter in the mid 1980’s.
Weeds Like Us- Janiva Magness
Blues and soul singer Janiva Magness was no stranger to trouble and hard times growing up, and at her best, she pours that lifetime of emotion into her passionate phrasing and vocal delivery. Born in Detroit, Magness grew up with her father’s blues and country record collection, as well as the city’s wonderful Motown pop-soul sound, all of which shaped her style and approach as a musician. She lost both of her parents to suicide while in her early teens, and she ended up living on the streets, channeled through endless foster homes, before becoming pregnant at the age of 17 and being forced to give up the child for adoption. Her personal and creative redemption came at an Otis Rush show in Minneapolis. Discouraged, stressed, and definitely underage, Magness snuck into the club and was transformed by Rush’s performance. That was the moment, Magness maintains, that her vision of herself as a singer and musician began to take shape.
-Steve Leggett, AllMusic.com
It would have been natural for soul/roots vocalist Magness to capitalize on the success of her 2008 Alligator debut by shifting toward a more commercial middle ground for the follow-up two years later. While she hasn’t changed direction drastically, it’s encouraging that Magness finds under-the-radar material to wrap her husky voice around. Those somewhat unlikely sources for torchy songs include gems from Nick Lowe and Julie Miller. The latter provides the title track, setting the album’s philosophical tone by examining both the angelic and demonic sides of human nature.
-Hal Horowitz, AllMusic.com
The Weeds Outlived The Roses- Darrell McCall
Darrell McCall actually began his recording career as a member of the Little Dippers in 1960. Darrell broke away from the group the following year, and by 1963 his sound had evolved into pure country. He sang both traditional country and honky tonk during the ’60s, but eventually became devoted to the dance hall country that has remained popular for decades.
Born in and raised in New Jasper, OH, Darrell began his musical career by landing a slot as a Saturday morning DJ on a local radio station when he was 15 years old. Around the same time, he was playing local dances and events as a musician. Following his high school graduation, he joined the Army, where he was stationed in Kentucky. After his tour of duty was completed, he and his childhood friend Johnny Paychech moved to Nashville in 1958. Darrell and Johnny attempted to record as a duo, but they were unsuccessful. Eventually, Darrell became a studio harmony vocalist, singing on records by Faron Young, George Jones, and Ray Price among others. In a short time, the studio work metamorphosed into road work, as he played bass and sang harmony for several different touring bands, including those of Young, Price, and Hank Williams Jr.
Walking Tall Through High Weeds- Sarah Pirkle
Jeff Barbra and Sarah Pirkle have been married (to each other!) for almost 18 years, and make their home in Walland, TN in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains national park.
Jeff and Sarah are 1st PLACE WINNERS of the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MERLEFEST.
Jeff & Sarah’s songs have been recorded by:
Rhonda Vincent, The Lonesome River Band, EmiSunshine, John Starling, Dale Ann Bradley, April Verch, Terri Hendrix & Lloyd Maines, Charlie Sizemore, Darrell Webb, Ernie Thacker, Rickie Simpkins, Blue Moon Rising, Carrie Hassler, Jay Clark, Laura Walker, Mary Cogan, Eric Lewis & Andy Ratliff, Gary Ferguson & Sally Love, and many others…
Quotes about Jeff & Sarah
“This music is pure & wonderful Americana……The mountains, and the people who make up their culture are beatifically sculpted into words by Jeff and Sarah. Listen to life from their perspective. It’ll reach down and grab ya!…….I know it did me.”
LARRY CORDLE, Writer, “Murder On Music Row”, “Highway 40 Blues,”etc…
“Jeff and Sarah are great artists and great people…….Their music rings true….That’s all you need to know about these folks.”
LLOYD MAINES, Grammy Award Winning Producer, Dixie Chicks
Crazy Dance- Brooks Williams
Brooks Williams, from Statesboro, Georgia USA (the town made famous by country-blues legend Blind Willie McTell and his song Statesboro Blues), creates a super-charged roots music that is electrifying and fighting-fit. Keys And Chords in Belgium describes Williams’ music as “A beautiful fusion of blues, old country and a touch Americana.”
fRoots says of Williams, he “really rocks, stirring up soulful Americana, full-on blues and tasty rootsy grooves.” Like drinking whiskey from a honey jar, you get both the sweet and the bite.
Brooks Williams got his start in the clubs and bars around New York and Boston (the same music scene that years earlier sparked the careers of Bonnie Raitt and Chris Smither). There, playing 5-6 nights a week, he developed his signature roots sound.
Brooks Williams is a great singer. In 2013 he was nominated best male vocalist by the UK’s foremost roots-music mavens, Spiral Earth. AmericanaUK says, “he has a beautiful voice that you just melt into.” He has that way of delivering a song that plays with the line the way a slide guitarist teases the notes from the strings.
And he’s one helluva good guitar player, ranked in the “Top 100 Acoustic Guitarists.”
“He really rocks, stirring up soulful Americana, full-on blues and tasty rootsy grooves.” fRoots
(link to full fRoots review)
“He’s a true master of everything guitar, from acoustic to slide to electric to resonator, nylon-string to arch-top to cigar-box!” Fatea
(link to full Fatea review)
“Williams is not only an excellent story teller, he’s not afraid of using a melody.” Rocking Magpie
(link to full Rocking Magpie review)
“One of the most consistently excellent musicians in roots music. On top of all this is his songwriting which stands comparison with virtually any of his peers.” American Roots UK
(link to full American Roots review)
“A beautiful fusion of blues, old country and a touch Americana. Fans of the music of Ry Cooder and JJ Cale will definitely cherish this album [My Turn Now].” Keys And Chords (Belgium)
“Blues infused Americana master. ‘Eargasmic’ delight! If you needed an album to define the meaning of Americana then this traditional and rootsy yet somehow thoroughly modern hotpot of exquisite pickin’, singing and song craft [My Turn Now] would be a strong contender to nail the definitive definition of Americana in eleven sweet songs!” The Graveyard Shift
Sleepy Hollow- The Pines
“simply and eloquently stated sonic poetry…the real deal.”
“a dusty and often ghostly take on Americana”
“starkly poetic, buzzed-about Americana”
“Music at once so fragile, so gravid and, ultimately, beautiful”
“Quiet, serene, romantic, mysterious – The Pines are all these things and more”
“The Pines can make you feel happy and sad almost simultaneously.”
The Midwest is to The Pines what Monument Valley was to filmmaker John Ford. The flat, endless expanses of the band’s native Iowa are at once the settings of, characters in, and muse behind the songs on their new album, Above The Prairie. Songwriters David Huckfelt and Benson Ramsey-who along with Benson’s brother Alex form the band’s touring trio format-craft their music with a filmmaker’s keen eye for detail and framing, blending celestial, ethereal atmospherics with rich, warm vocals and earthy acoustic instruments. It’s a gripping brew that demands your total presence, transporting you into vividly painted musical and lyrical snapshots.
Photo by: Benya Krueger
Party Late All Night- Isaiah B Brunt
For decades Isaiah has been a top Aussie production guy and studio owner who’s worked with Julio Iglesias orchestra, hosted the Goo Goo Dolls and rehearsed American Idol’s Randy Jackson and his band for their Australian touring. Not only has Isaiah been behind the board for globally upper echelon bands, he’s been a go-to sideman for bands touring down under like the time he hit the road in Sydney aiding Keanu Reeves band Dog Star.
All the while he was working with other peoples music, Isaiah always knew where his heart lay. The same place it was when he first heard his father strum the Ukulele, blow harmonica and unleash the lap steel.
The Last One- Laura Gibson
Empire Builder – April 1, 2016
Empire Builder, Laura Gibson’s second record for Barsuk/City Slang, and fourth LP, is named for the Amtrak route Laura took while moving from Portland, Oregon to New York City in the summer of 2014, after deciding to enter graduate school, to move away from a supportive community, a close-knit family and her long-time boyfriend. Out of her comfort zone, she found even more of a challenge than she’d envisioned. Immediately upon arrival, she broke her foot and barely left her 5th floor apartment for the first two months. Then, on March 26th, 2015, her East Village building burned to the ground in a horrific gas explosion which killed two people and left many homeless.
Gibson escaped from her apartment unharmed, but lost everything: all identification, eyeglasses, musical instruments, years of notebooks and every word she had written in response to her move. She spent the next few months rebuilding her life, bouncing between friends’ couches and guest rooms, finishing her second semester, and all the while rewriting the lyrics she’d lost. A financial recovery was made possible with help and support from hundreds of friends, fans and strangers. It’s no surprise that Empire Builder stands as her most personal record to date.
Lay Your Burden Down- Wink Burcham
Wink Burcham is an old soul with a song craft that belies his age. With a genuine reverence to the past, this Tulsa, OK artist has a knack for writing witty, heartfelt lyrics that immediately pull the listener into his stories, ala John Prine or Townes Van Zandt. The music easily slips between old-fashioned country, grass-roots folk, and Piedmont-style blues and is an important part of the New Tulsa Sound movement.
I reviewed Wink Burcham’s previous recording, a compilation of his first two studio albums, on this site last year and was absolutely captivated by the quality of his music, ultimately making the recording one of my favourite albums of 2015. In fact it came to mind that last year’s review, on which I didn’t mention any songs individually, could in many ways be superimposed onto the review of this new recording. Then, after further listening sessions it struck me that if ‘Cleveland Summer Nights’ warrants any kind of rethink it would have to be that the incredible quality of his earlier music has actually increased by at least a ‘notch’ on this tremendous album that will most certainly be vying for the upper echelons of many 2016 ‘Albums of the year’ lists.
Am I That Easy To Forget- Thomas Wade
In the early nineties, Thomas Wade was on a path that was sure to lead him to superstar status. He was the poster boy for CMT Canada’s videos with songs like “Zero To Sixty” and “Lying Here With You.” He was the total package, A-Number one, top of the heap, cream of the crop. He had the songs, the look, the charisma and screen presence to go all the way. He was the whole package. And he got there! Well, almost got there. He was well on his way when a cruel plot twist changed the story.
-Don Graham, January 30, 2014, cashboxcanada.ca
Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You- Huey Lewis and the News
Soulsville U.S.A. was the Memphis neighborhood where the great Stax label was located during the ‘60s and ‘70s, so it only makes sense that Huey Lewis & the News decided to call their album-length salute to Stax Soulsville, saluting a place that has, some 40 years later, turned into a state of mind. The group headed to Memphis to cut this 14-track album but since the Stax studio has long since shuttered, they went to Ardent, yet another legendary Memphis studio, to record with producer Jim Gaines, who helmed the band’s big ‘80s hits Sports and Fore! Not surprisingly, Soulsville winds up like a bunch of old friends having fun revisiting their favorite tunes.
– Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic.com
As Long As The Grass Shall Grow- Gillian Welch and David Rawlings
As the ’60s became a time of deep socio-political change and upheaval in America, the country music establishment wasted little time establishing itself as the voice of the “silent majority” who wanted to live in a quietly conservative nation (as opposed to the loudly conservative point of view that would arise in Nashville in the ’80s and onward). One exception to this was Johnny Cash, who was often moved to speak out in favor of justice for the disadvantaged and disenfranchised. One of Cash’s first and most powerful statements in favor of human rights was his 1964 album Bitter Tears, a song cycle that dealt with the way Native Americans had been wronged throughout United States history, and remarkably, one of its most powerful songs actually became a hit single — “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” drawn from the true story of the Pima Indian soldier who helped raise the flag at Iwo Jima during World War II, only to face brutal racism and succumb to alcoholism after returning home. To honor the 50th anniversary of Cash’s album, producer Joe Henry has assembled Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited, a collection featuring a handful of noted folk and country artists covering the songs from Cash’s landmark album. The tone of Look Again to the Wind is gentler and more thoughtful than Cash’s original album, largely due to the artists involved — while Cash’s voice was legendarily strong and dark, the vocalists here include Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Nancy Blake, and Bill Miller, whose performances are heartfelt but less physically imposing than what Cash delivered in 1964.
-Mark Deming, AllMusic.com
David Rawlings and Gillian Welch, photo by: Henry Diltz
Green Grass Rainwater- Robben Ford
Robben Ford is one of the premier electric guitarists today, particularly known for his blues playing, as well as his ability to be comfortable in a variety of musical contexts. A five-time Grammy nominee, he has played with artists as diverse as Joni Mitchell, Jimmy Witherspoon, Miles Davis, George Harrison, Phil Lesh, Bonnie Raitt, Michael McDonald, Bob Dylan, John Mayall, Greg Allman, John Scofield, Susan Tedeschi, Keb Mo, Larry Carlton, Mavis Staples, Brad Paisley, and many others.
Born in 1951 in Woodlake, California, and raised in Ukiah, Robben was the third of four sons in a musical family. His father Charles was a country and western singer and guitarist before entering the army and marrying Kathryn, who played piano and had a lovely singing voice. Robben’s first chosen instrument was the saxophone, which he began to play at age ten and continued to play into his early twenties. He began to teach himself guitar at age thirteen upon hearing the two guitarists from The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Michael Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop.
NOLA-inflected R&B adorned Robben Ford’s Bringing It Back Home in 2013, a collection of covers played by an all-star ensemble and highlighted by the guitar slinger’s additional skills as a fine interpretive singer and arranger. When Ford began writing tunes for his follow-up he decided to lay them down in a way seldom employed these days: by recording the entire album in a single day. Ford convened a choice band — guitarist Audley Freed, keyboardist Ricky Peterson, bassist Brian Allen, drummer Wes Little, and trombonist Barry Green — at the storied Sound Kitchen Studio in Nashville, and set about recording a live record in a controlled environment. He wrote seven of the nine tunes here, and they walk the line between wonderfully contoured numbers that showcase his singing skills and contemporary and soul-inflected blues.
-Thom Jurek, AllMusic.com
Photo by: Henry Dittz
Green Grass- Shannon Whitworth and Barrett Smith
The coast is calling, and Shannon Whitworth is packed and ready.
If her first two albums were cross-country treks (and they were, taking her across the U.S. and Canada in support of Chris Isaak and the Tedeschi-Trucks Band), High Tide is a trans-Atlantic voyage. Leaving all preconceptions of the banjo-wielding songstress behind, Whitworth’s new adventure steers into waters both familiar and refreshingly new.
Since her days as the anchor voice and songwriter of lauded N.C. ensemble The Biscuit Burners, Shannon Whitworth has attracted international attention with her passionate presence and a talent that’s evident within moments of taking the stage.
Whitworth’s swoon-inducing style found its first showcase in her Asheville-produced solo debut, 2007’s No Expectations.
This is my favorite thing to do. Play my original music in a great setting for a bunch of people who want to be inspired by a good show full of sincere, quality music-making. I usually bring a friend or two along to accompany me, which can turn it into an even more spontanaeous, special evening.
These days, most of my shows are with Shannon. I play guitar and sing and do what I can to help out with her beautiful sound and great songs.
Like musical genre, the release of music has become progressively atomized in the past 25 years. Long gone is the ritual ministry of going to a record store to buy and album. Albums, those often painstakingly conceived collections of songs, are gasping their Chain-Stokes last breath at the hands of a generation used to downloading the newest single mp3 recorded in someone’s basement using an iPad, the result posted on YouTube. No liner notes, no story, only an effete bunch of too-hip- for-their-own-good writers blogging that this is the new “thing” using the internet as the new word-of-mouth (read that propaganda machine) to decrease the signal-to-noise ratio to just noise.
But, there remains signs of life in the LP, the “album-length” media of the moment. Jazz and classical music may be the only thing between the album and oblivion. That and a good idea. Singers Shannon Whitworth and Barrett Smith, beneath the guise of the Shannon Whitworth Band, did some opening dates for the Tedeschi Trucks Band, revealing a beautifully tranquil and entertaining set of originals and covers readily appealing to those of a certain age (the late Baby Boom). The two touted a new recording they had just made, one devoted to their favorite songs. Now, that is a concept for an album and its title is Bring It On Home.
The single best description of the music Whitworth and Smith make is warm honey infused with opium: both pure and wholesome, while being a bit, how should we say, bohemian. At first blush, this music resembles that of Canada’s Cowboy Junkies of the late 1980s, but without the dead seriousness. Relaxed and confident, Whitworth and Smith work their way across an almost 100-year landscape of music that is the crowning achievement of the song writer’s craft. They so so with quiet percussion and carefully chosen accompaniment that makes this perfect listening music: appealing to both nostalgia and the appreciation of fine music making.
-Michael Bailey, July 30, 2012, allaboutjazz.com
The Grass Is Always Bluer- David Serby
Rancho rockers, sunset shuffles, honk tonkin’, trains, Cali-Mex two beats, and barroom ballads.
Over the last several years, David Serby has been carving a niche out for himself in the Southern California country music scene with two terrific albums (I Just Don’t Go Home and Another Sleepless Night) and steady gigging. His third full-length finds him continuing to make fine tradition-honoring honky tonk music while also drawing in other rootsy sounds.
-Michael Berick, AllMusic.com
Photo by: Oliver Walker
Grass Windows- Iron and Wine
Sam Beam is a singer-songwriter who has been creating music as Iron & Wine for over a decade. Through the course of five albums, numerous EPs and singles, and the initial volumes of an Archive Series – Iron & Wine has captured the emotion and imagination of listeners with distinctly cinematic songs.
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
Photo by: Josh Wool
Green, Green Grass Of Home- Tom Jones
At age 29 Tom Jones couldn’t imagine being a man over 50—he said it was all downhill from there. Yet today, a few years past that feared age, he’s just getting his second wind. In recent years Jones has gone from singing in front of sold-out crowds of middle-aged, underwear-tossing matrons to singing in front of sold-out crowds of fist-waving, funkily clad youths. Why the resurgence of this 50-something Welshman who first gained popularity before some of his new fans were even born? Perhaps because he’s never lost his unique vocal power or his charismatic stage presence. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s never fought the changing times.
Born Thomas Jones Woodward in Pontypridd, South Wales, Great Britain, on June 7, 1940, Jones started singing at an early age. His mother had him performing for shillings at the village store at the tender age of three and, later, singing American hits like “Ghost Riders in the Sky” and “Mule Train” for the local women’s guild. At home he would ask his mother to pull the drapes and announce him as he sang on his “stage” in the sitting room. Determined not to end up a coal miner like his father, Jones left school at 15 and held a host of laborer’s jobs while singing nights in the tough, working-class pubs in town.
-Rubiner, Joanna. “Jones, Tom.” Contemporary Musicians. 1994. Retrieved July 15, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com
I didn’t have to play rugby that well, and I didn’t have to play cricket that well, because I had this voice. Tom Jones
So when I realised I could sing for a living – do what I loved and be paid for it – I thought, ‘This is unbelievable. Unbelievable!’ And that feeling has never left me. Tom Jones
Time is my enemy. Time will catch up with me vocally. And I dread that. I dread to think about life without singing. Tom Jones
Oh yeah, I would have been a coal miner, I would think, if I hadn’t had tuberculosis when I was 12. Tom Jones
I’ve always felt myself as being a serious singer. Tom Jones
First of all, I love singing. I mean, I get out of bed and I sing. I can’t help it. Tom Jones
I’m a lyric man – I’m always looking for meaningful songs. Tom Jones
There’s plenty for me to do. There are more albums. I’ll record as long as I can and as long as my voice works as well as it does now and for as long as people want to hear me. Tom Jones