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Pics, bios, reviews, album art and more! Learn lots about all the folks on the show!
My Baby’s Got Style- The Smokin’ 45’s- “Trouble Again”
I’ll Change My Style- Omar Kent Dykes and Jimmie Vaughan- “On The Jimmy Reed Highway”
Die In Style- The Hillbilly Moon Explosion- “Damn Right Honey!”
Hit “Em Up Style- The Carolina Chocolate Drops- “Genuine Negro Jig”
Goin’ Down In Style- Pat Green- “Dancehall Dreamer”
She’s Got Style- Rusty Zinn- “The Chill”
Bandera Style (Whiskey, Smoke and Beer)- McKay Brothers- “Cold Beer and Hot Tamales”
Hot New Music:
Ramblin’, Gamblin’ Man- Gov’t Mule (with John Popper)- “Dub Side Of The Mule (Deluxe Edition)”
Coal Miner’s Grave- Laura Orshaw- “Songs Of Lost Yesterdays”
Dat’s Alright With Me- The Josh Garrett Band- “Honey For My Queen”
The Traveling Kind- Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell- “The Traveling Kind”
Heaven Don’t Call Me Home- The Lone Bellow- “Then Came The Morning”
Wagon Full Of Nuts- Maria Daines- “Turned October”
Main Street USA (Rt. 66)- The Red Dirt Rangers- “Lone Chimney”
Main Road- Lucinda Williams- “Sweet Relief: A Benefit for Victoria Williams)
On Main Street- Los Lobos- “Tin Can Trust”
Waitress In The Main Street Cafe- Bobby Bare- “The Mercury Years”
Going Down Main Street- James Cotton- “Giant”
Jesus Is On The Main Line- Mavis Staples- “We’ll Never Turn Back”
Main Street Breakdown- Chet Atkins- “The Essential Chet Atkins”
** Keep scrolling down the page for our informative blog/program guide. Follow along as you listen! **
My Baby’s Got Style- The Smokin’ 45’s
Formed out of veterans of the Detroit music scene, the Smokin’ 45s are bringing fans their special blend of Rock and Blues. Their live show takes the music up a notch, making for a night of lively entertainment including songs from artists like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Charlie and the Nightcats as well as their own music which stands tall next to that of their well-established influences. There’s no room in these sets for long, drawn-out, self-indulgent solos. These sets are packed with heart-pumping, foot-stomping rock and blues with a distinctive Detroit drive.
The Smokin’ 45s first came together in 2000 when they debuted as The Legendary Stone Drunk Rock and Blues revue. Their first show consisted of a short opening set, but certainly showed the promise that this combo had in store. Over the next few months, they continued working on writing original material and finding tasty covers that well suited the sound they had assembled. The results were clear – this was the genesis of something that was moving forward.
As the band’s material developed, the moniker Stone Drunk Rock and Blues Revue didn’t fit the band adequately. The band considered several alternates and decided the name The Smokin’ 45s portrayed their hard driving, deliberate approach to playing rocking blues music. They began working on changing the name and debuted with their new designate.
I’ll Change My Style- Omar Kent Dykes and Jimmie Vaughan
Some tribute projects to earlier greats seek to modernize and update their music. This project, co-led by singer Omar Kent Dykes and guitarist Jimmie Vaughan, instead focuses on revitalizing the music of Jimmy Reed in traditional settings. While not closely copying the original recordings, these new renditions are very much “in the tradition.” With his deep and low voice, Dykes does justice to the lyrics and feelings in the music; Vaughan has plenty of fine guitar solos; and the guest spots of singer Lou Ann Barton and either Kim Wilson, James Cotton, Gary Primich, or Delbert McClinton on harmonica add to both the variety and the power of the music. As with the best tribute projects, this one will send listeners back to Jimmy Reed’s original records while also standing by itself as a heartfelt and relevant homage to the great bluesman.
-Scott Yanow, AllMusic.com
Die In Style- The Hillbilly Moon Explosion
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work up a plausible old-school sound these days—a few twangy guitars, a pile of echo, a sneering lead vocal on top, and presto, you’re ready to rumble. There’s a difference, however, between a true vintage-tinged update and another in a series of Eddie Cochran copycats. Which brings us to Hillbilly Moon Explosion, Zurich-based rock revivalists who’ve spent the past few years touring Europe, issuing a pair of acclaimed releases (2002’s Introducing The Hillbilly Moon Explosion, 2004’s Bourgeois Baby) while watching their fan base grow by leaps and bounds. Mind you, this is no quaint Sun Records send-up; at their best, HME— bassist/vocalist Oliver Baroni; rhythm guitarist/vocalist Emanuela Hutter; guitarist Duncan James and drummer Luke Weyermann—come across like a Sam Phillips-produced soundtrack to a Sam Raimi shock flick, a furious bed of slap bass and pounding snare underpinning layers of menacing guitar lines, wailing background vocals, and eerie keyboard flourishes, with front-woman Hutter providing the perfect aural/visual focal point, fishnet stockings and all.
Dave Simons, Rolling Stone Magazine, last.fm
Hit ‘Em Up Style- The Carolina Chocolate Drops
In early 2012, Grammy award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops released their studio album Leaving Eden (Nonesuch Records) produced by Buddy Miller. The traditional African-American string band’s album was recorded in Nashville and featured founding members Rhiannon Giddens and Dom Flemons, along with multi-instrumentalist Hubby Jenkins and cellist Leyla McCalla, already a familiar presence at the group’s live shows. With Flemons and McCalla now concentrating on solo work, the group’s 2014 lineup will feature two more virtuosic players alongside Giddens and Jenkins – cellist Malcolm Parson and multi-instrumentalist Rowan Corbett — illustrating the expansive, continually exploratory nature of the Chocolate Drops’ music. Expect a new disc from this quartet in 2015.
The Chocolate Drops got their start in 2005 with Giddens, Flemons and fiddle player Justin Robinson, who amicably left the group in 2011. The Durham, North Carolina-based trio would travel every Thursday night to the home of old-time fiddler and songster Joe Thompson to learn tunes, listen to stories and, most importantly, to jam. Joe was in his 80s, a black fiddler with a short bowing style that he inherited from generations of family musicians. Now he was passing those same lessons onto a new generation. When the three students decided to form a band, they didn’t have big plans. It was mostly a tribute to Joe, a chance to bring his music back out of the house again and into dancehalls and public places.
With their 2010 Nonesuch debut, Genuine Negro Jig—which garnered a Best Traditional Folk Album Grammy—the Carolina Chocolate Drops proved that the old-time, fiddle and banjo-based music they’d so scrupulously researched and passionately performed could be a living, breathing, ever-evolving sound.
-Michael Hill, carolinachocolatedrops.com
Goin’ Down In Style- Pat Green
It’s impossible to know your limits without testing them.
It’s a truth that Pat Green has employed in his career, one that has propelled him to repeatedly refashion his sound, his approach and his own perception of who he is.
He’s simultaneously a Grammy-nominated hit maker with an outsider reputation, a Texas inspiration and a mainstream country artist who can rock arena and stadium stages with the likes of Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney.
Each of those roles has its own place. But each of them is too small to define Pat Green, who after 15 years in the recording business has earned the right to be everything Pat Green can be. Without limitations.
“I’d much rather be me and comfortable in my own skin than trying to be five different guys to get to the top,” he says.
In fact, after building a reputation as an ace songwriter of his own material, Green is fighting even that limitation with Songs We Wish We’d Written II, a sequel to a 2001 album he recorded with longtime friend—and fellow Texan—Cory Morrow.
Stocked with music penned by the likes of Lyle Lovett, Tom Petty, Shelby Lynne and Jon Randall, the disc—Green’s first for the acclaimed Sugar Hill label—mixes country, rock and blues in a manner that defies categorization. Petty’s “Even The Losers” and Collective Soul’s “The World I Know” will be familiar to just about anyone who gives the album a listen. Others, such as Aaron Lee Tasjan’s quirky “Streets Of Galilee” and Todd Snider’s burning “I Am Too,” are introductions from the underground to a large majority of music fans.
Texas native Pat Green got his start in country music while still attending college in the mid-’90s. As a teenager, Green quickly took to the sounds of several Lone Star State performers like Robert Earl Keen, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Willie Nelson. He started writing songs at age 18 while studying at Texas Tech, and was eager and earnest in making something happen. He convinced his parents to loan him some money to record an album. The independently released Dancehall Dreamer appeared in 1998 just as Green was becoming a hot performer on the local bar scene. A year later, Green wowed an audience of 2,000 people at Willie Nelson’s July 4th picnic, and that magnetic event was captured for his second album, Live at Billy Bob’s Texas. Green continued to write and record as the decade came to a close.
-MacKenzie Wilson, AllMusic.com
She’s Got Style- Rusty Zinn
A young, red-haired guitarist with a monster tone and technique that belies his relatively young years, Rusty Zinn grew up in the Santa Cruz mountains in northern California. He was introduced to classic R&B through his mother’s collection of 45 singles, which included rare discs from Fats Domino and Elvis Presley. While in his teens, his brother brought home recordings by Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, and these proved to be a revelation for the young blues aficionado. He would empty his pockets regularly to purchase blues recordings and became fascinated by the guitar stylings of Robert Jr. Lockwood, Eddie Taylor, Luther Tucker, and Jimmy Rogers. These records prompted him to begin playing guitar at 17. He had some background in music, having played drums when he was younger, but he enjoyed another crystallizing moment when he saw Luther Tucker perform with Jimmy Rogers at a local club. He credits the nightclub showcase with changing his life, and he sought out all the recordings he could find with Luther Tucker as a sideman, which included records by Little Walter Jacobs, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, and James Cotton. A year later, when Zinn again went to see his idol, Tucker invited him on-stage. Tucker took the young Zinn under his wing and shared guitar techniques with him.
-Richard Skelly, AllMusic.com
Bandera Style (Whiskey, Smoke and Beer)- McKay Brothers
“Right on the mark” is how the Austin Chronicle has described the MdKay Brothers’ latest amterial. The charactrers living through the lyrics range from migrant workers looking for work to hometown kids they grew up with spending quality time is prison. Emerging from Bandera, TX, rural life in the Hill Country has created a backdrop that has shaped much of their writing to date. Noel McKay was born on the Gulf Coast of Texas in Corpus Christi while his brother Hollis came into the world in the flatlands of West Texas. After moving from Lubbock, their family settled in the hills of Bandera County where the musical influence began. Their Grandfather, who built and ran the first radio station in Frio County, had a large impact on their chilhood and musical interests. Along with two of his brothers, he introduced Noel and Hollin to many pioneering country artists including Jimmy Rodgers, Ernest Tubb, and Kitty Wells. This endeavor, sparked by their grandfathers’ love of country music and the people it affected, proved to be essential to the McKay brothers’ perspective of the Texas landscape. After thirteen years of playing together under different names, the brother decided to start a project under their own last name. This change in direction is an ineveitable reversion to their roots.
Ramblin’, Gamblin’ Man- Gov’t Mule (with John Popper)
The original leaders of Gov’t Mule, Warren Haynes and Allen Woody, were well known to Allman Brothers fans for their stint in Southern rock’s most famous native sons. In 1989, Haynes became the second replacement for Duane Allman, providing a good foil for Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts on guitar and vocals; Woody filled out the Allman sound on bass. Five years after their debut, the duo joined drummer Matt Abts in the side project Gov’t Mule, a band in which the Allman Brothers’ influence was apparent but complicated with the psychedelic, bluesy power trio feel of Cream.
-John Bush, AllMusic.com
If there are any groups out there who have, for their 20th anniversary, celebrated with a year-long series of as many live releases as Gov’t Mule they’d be a challenge to find. As the year-long festivities wind down for the group—beginning as a side project for then- Allman Brothers Band guitarist/vocalist Warren Haynes and (now-sadly deceased) bassist Allen Woody, but which has since taken on a serious life all its own—Mule has released two multi-disc sets, each demonstrating a different side of a group long associated with the Southern roots rock jam band scene but which is clearly far, far broader.
First, in December 2014, there was Stoned Side of the Muke, from a 2009 show paying tribute to the Rolling Stones, followed by December 2014’s Dark Side of the Mule—either a single-disc or three-CD/1-DVD Deluxe Edition, with Mule’s interpretation of progressive rock’s mega-sellers Pink Floyd in addition to plenty of material from Mule’s own back catalog of nine studio albums and five live albums. Then, in January 2015, came Sco-Mule—a two-CD set documenting a 1999 two-night first encounter with jazz-cum-jam band-capable guitarist John Scofield that proved how Woody-era Mule was more than ready to meet Sco head-on in a middle ground filled with its own rock-inflected jazz chops.
Now, comes the celebration’s finale, Dub Side of the Mule, taken from one of the group’s legendary New Year’s Eve shows—also available in a single-disc and 3-CD/1-DVD Deluxe Edition—that brings Mule together with Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals fame for a reggae-heavy set that, in the Deluxe Edition also comes with a healthy set of Mule material augmented with music from The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Procol Harum and others, in addition to a four-song collaboration with Gregg Allman and Friends. All told, the December 31, 2006 show from New York City’s Beacon Theater—longtime annual Allman Brothers Band home, with whom Haynes continued to play until the end of 2014 when, after 45 years, the ABB decided to call it quits and go out on a supremely high note—runs nearly four hours, but doesn’t lag for a second.
-John Kelman, April 12, 2015, allaboutjazz.com
Coal Miner’s Grave- Laura Orshaw
“Laura Orshaw has firmly established herself as a significant emerging artist in the arena of traditional American music… An extremely talented musician with unlimited potential.”
~ Bluegrass Unlimited
“This is a fiddler of seemingly boundless energy. With finesse, style and a contagious joy, Orshaw attacks each piece.”
~ Dirty Linen Magazine
“Laura Orshaw is that rare player who certainly has the chops, but also plays with great emotion and drive.”
~ Sing Out!
Laura Orshaw “has firmly established [herself] as a significant emerging artist in the arena of traditional American music,” according to Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. Laura grew up in a musical family in Northeastern Pennsylvania; at age 10 she learned to play and sing from paternal grandmother and regional Old Time musician, Betty Orshaw. Throughout her teens Laura performed across the Northeast with her father in The Lonesome Road Ramblers, performing classic bluegrass from the 1950’s around one mic. She recorded two fiddle projects in her early teens and recently released her new solo project, “Songs of Lost Yesterdays”. Laura has 12 years of experience performing, teaching private lessons, and conducting educational programs and workshops throughout the Northeast and now makes her home in Cambridge, MA. Her passion for teaching is also evidenced in her professional education, as a master’s level counselor, and her work at Lesley University as Coordinator for their Expressive Therapies Graduate Program.
Photo by Kelly Burgess / www.kellyburgessphotography.com
Dat’s Alright With Me- The Josh Garrett Band
“Josh is our next generation with an old soul and he’s playing it with his heart. That’s what we need more of today.” -KENNY NEAL
“Josh Garrett is a young triple threat blues man, with a winning combination of unique Cajun flavor guitar work, soulful vocals, and a killer band. I am honored to perform with him.” -JIMMY HALL
“Not only is [Josh Garrett] an amazing musician, he’s an excellent performer. He’s charismatic, fun, and really knows how to work the crowd. If you go to see Josh Garrett and the Bottom Line you will definitely have an amazing time, especially if you love the blues.” -TODAY.COM
“There is only one band between here and New Orleans who can mix Blues with jazz, reggae with rock, and country with funk and soul to produce somethin alive and completely new.” -GRAPEVINE
Josh Garrett is a songwriter, singer and guitar player from New Roads, LA. He and his family relocated to Houma, LA when Josh was a child. Josh picked up his father’s guitar when he was 12 years old and started writing songs soon after. By age 20, Garrett was performing several times a week in Houma, LA. At age 24, he recorded his first album entitled, “Changed Man” and never looked back.
The Traveling Kind- Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell
Maybe it was just a matter of momentum. It took Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell close to four decades to get around to making a duets album after the two first started working together in the mid-’70s, when he became a guitarist and frequent songwriter with her Hot Band. But just two years after releasing 2013’s Old Yellow Moon, Harris and Crowell have the ball rolling again with The Traveling Kind, another album built around their easy but heartfelt creative interplay as both vocalists and songwriters. Harris and Crowell co-wrote six of The Traveling Kind’s 11 songs, and tunes like “You Can’t Say We Didn’t Try” and the title track reflect Harris’ sweet, firm, very human tone as well as Crowell’s outwardly cocky but inwardly perceptive voice, and the sweet and sour push and pull complements them both.
-Mark Deming, AllMusic.com
Heaven Don’t Call Me Home- The Lone Bellow
Playing what they call “Brooklyn country music,” the Lone Bellow (lead singer and songwriter Zach Williams, singer and mandolin player Kanene Doheney Pipkin, and singer/guitarist Brian Elmquist) are a group of transplanted Southerners who deliver a passionate, soulful, acoustic-based alternative rock Americana. The band began after Williams’ wife was involved in a serious accident that left her temporarily paralyzed from the neck down. While hoping and waiting for her recovery (she did recover), Williams began writing a set of haunting songs that dealt with tragedy, hope, and redemption. Following her recovery, the couple moved to Brooklyn.
-Steve Leggett, AllMusic.com
Then Came the Morning, the second album by the Southern-born, Brooklyn-based indie-folk trio the Lone Bellow, opens with a crest of churchly piano, a patter of drums, and a fanfare of voices harmonizing like a sunrise. It’s a powerful introduction, enormous and overwhelming, as Zach Williams, Brian Elmquist, and Kanene Pipkin testify mightily to life’s great struggles and joys, heralding the morning that dispels the dark night: “Then came the morning! It was bright, like the light that you kept from your smile!” Working with producer Aaron Dessner of the National, the Lone Bellow has created a sound that mixes folk sincerity, gospel fervor, even heavy metal thunder, but the heart of the band is harmony: three voices united in a lone bellow.
“The feeling I get singing with Zach and Brian is completely natural and wholly electrifying,” says Kanene. “Our voices feel like they were made to sing together.”
Long before they combined their voices, the three members of the Lone Bellow were singing on their own.
Photo by: Steven Sebring
Wagon Full Of Nuts- Maria Daines
Maria Daines is a multi-award winning International vocalist and songwriter whose band opened for US artist Pink at Cardiff International Arena for the Party For Animals World Wide concert in August 2007, the last date of Pink’s ‘I’m Not Dead’ tour. The concert raised over £90,000 for six animal welfare charities. Based in the UK, Maria and her guitarist/producer Paul Killington write songs in many genres, including rock, country, folk, blues and soul.
Daines/Killington songs are published by North Star Music and feature in several film documentaries, including Saving America’s Horses, A Minority Pastime and Dark Water Rising, the survival stories of family pets rescued during hurricane Katrina.
Main Street USA (Rt. 66)- The Red Dirt Rangers
“The Rangers have a sound that combines the legacy of Woody Guthrie and Bob Wills with the spirit of everyone from Merle Haggard to the Grateful Dead and all manner of American music in between.” — Greg Johnson, No Depression magazine
“The Red Dirt Rangers draw from a lot of influences, throw them all in the pot, and mix well. What comes out is a sometimes wild, but always an outstanding and enjoyable ride, all over the map of roots music.” — AnnMarie Harrington, Take Country Back
“These guys are hip cowboys…they play with soul, Tex-Mex with extra jalapeño and can give Bob Dylan a Bob Wills touch.” — Woodstock (NY) Times
“Writers with dirt under their fingernails, beat up snakeskin boots on their feet, whiskey and jalapeños in their bellies, and Kerouac on their minds.” — Real Groove, Auckland, New Zealand
“The Rangers always have epitomized and expanded on the Oklahoma red dirt sound – the elusive stew of country, folk, and whatever else is laying around…” — Thomas Conner, Tulsa World
Sitting right in the middle of the country, with music from the rest of the USA swirling through it from all sides, Oklahoma has understandably been the source of several influential pop-music movements. Invariably, those styles can be traced not just to a city, but to a specific place within that city, as well as to an act that sums up what it’s all about.
You can begin in the 1920s with the Oklahoma City Blue Devils, who’d become a huge force in the creation of Kansas City jazz, coming out of the downtown OKC area known as Deep Deuce. Not long afterwards, Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys popularized the music now known as western swing from the Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa; several decades later that same town’s Leon Russell turned a church into a studio, introducing the Tulsa Sound to the whole doggone rock ‘n’ roll world.
Like the others, Red Dirt music grew up in a specific place in a specific town. The town is Stillwater, home of Oklahoma State University. The place was a two-story, five-bedroom, funky old place called the Farm-for two decades the epicenter of what would come to be called the Red Dirt scene.
The act that represents Red Dirt? You couldn’t do any better than the Red Dirt Rangers, who’ve been carrying the banner for Red Dirt music since the late 1980s.
Photo by: Kelly Kerr
Main Road- Lucinda Williams
The shear breadth and diversity of artists gathered for this benefit project, Sweet Relief: A Benefit for Victoria Williams, is a tribute to the affection Victoria Williams’ peers had for her. It conveniently also makes for heady listening for any fan of contemporary music. The hard, brittle edges of Soul Asylum (“Summer of Drugs”) and Buffalo Tom (“Merry Go Round”) stand shoulder to shoulder with the country-folk of Lucinda Williams (“Main Road”) and Maria McKee (an inspired and riveting “Opelousas (Sweet Relief)”). Sweet Relief offers a unique opportunity to introduce yourself to an enduring songwriter while savoring some of the day’s most intriguing musicians. How sweet it is!
-Roch Parisien, AllMusic.com
Despite a successful career as a idiosyncratic country-folk performer, Victoria Williams was perhaps best known as a songwriter; thanks, ironically enough, to a tribute album recorded in her honor. Born in Louisiana in 1959, Williams taught herself to play the guitar while still in her teens, and soon began composing songs. In college, she joined her first band, the G.W. Korners. After spending some time on the road, she ended up in California in 1979, where she was a regular at Los Angeles’ famed Troubadour Club’s “Hoot Nights.”
-Jason Ankeny, AllMusic.com
Victoria Williams- Photo by Laura Levine/Visages
On Main Street- Los Lobos
One of the most acclaimed American bands of the 1980s and ’90s, Los Lobos were seasoned musical veterans with nearly 15 years of experience under their belts when they scored their first hit in 1987 with a cover of Richie Valens’ “La Bamba.” Though their time as pop stars was short, the group — who enjoyed calling themselves “just another band from East L.A.” — won over critics and a legion of loyal fans with their bracing mixture of rock, blues, Tex-Mex, country, R&B, and Mexican folk sounds, with the band’s sound ranging from gentle acoustic ballads to the outer limits of experimental rock. While often cited as one of the great bands of Latino Rock, Los Lobos’ eclectic sound in fact defined them as a vital example of America’s cultural melting pot.
-Mark Deming, AllMusic.com
Over the course of a recording career that’s poised to enter its fourth decade, Los Lobos are a band who have never shied away from writing about folks struggling to make their way through hard times, and one might argue that in the wake of America’s financial meltdown and a recession that won’t seem to go away, the rest of the United States is starting to catch up with the East L.A. barrios that have been the locale of the group’s most powerful songs. The title cut on Tin Can Trust, Los Lobos’ 14th studio album, collects the thoughts of a guy trying to make ends meet collecting cans and bottles, whose wardrobe consists of “a dime store shirt/and two bucks for a good pair,” and it’s a song that carries more weight than usual in a time where seemingly everyone is having trouble getting by. But later in the same number, the same character tells the woman he loves “I can give you one thing a man can bring,” and it’s hardly the only moment on Tin Cast Trust where this band of survivors has something to say about simple determination in the face of bad luck.
-Mark Deming, AllMusic.com
Waitress In The Main Street Cafe- Bobby Bare
Bobby Bare’s story is nearly as fascinating as his music. Bare’s mother died when he was five. His father couldn’t earn enough money to feed his children, forcing the family to split up. Bare was working on a farm by the time he was 15 years old, later working in factories and selling ice cream to support himself. Building his first guitar, he began playing music in his late teens, performing with a local Ohio band in Springfield.
In the late ’50s, he moved out to Los Angeles. Bare’s first appearance on record was in 1958, as he recorded his own talking blues “The All American Boy,” which was credited to Bill Parsons. A number of labels refused the record before the Ohio-based Fraternity Records bought it for 50 dollars; the fee also included the publishing rights. “The All American Boy” was released in 1959 and it surprisingly became the second-biggest single in the U.S. that December, crossing over to the pop charts and peaking at number three. The single was also a big hit in the U.K., reaching number 22.
Before Bare could capitalize on his success, he was drafted into the armed forces. While he was on duty, Fraternity hired another singer to become Bill Parsons and sent him out on tour. After Bare left the army, he became roommates with Willie Nelson.
-Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic.com
Going Down Main Street- James Cotton
“Cotton is a key link on the chain of great blues harmonica players – Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, Junior Wells. Sometimes he out-rocks the Rolling Stones.”
– Chicago Tribune
“Since 1966 James Cotton has been carrying the Chicago sound to the world. On Giant, he pours 75 years of living into that harmonica and out comes devastating and powerful blasts of notes undiminished by age.”
– USA TODAY
“Legendary master of the blues harmonica. Wowed, you will be.”
– Time Out NY
“Sweat and grit …Cotton can blow down doors with Chicago style blues.”
– Austin Chronicle
“Cotton can blow like hell…dazzling.”
– Chicago Sun-Times
“A living musical legend, Cotton is at the top of his game. Giant is the work of a master…Essential, fiery and propulsive. Cotton brings the heat with his true mastery of the harmonica. Magnificent, poignant and beautiful.”
“Distinctive wail…fat-toned style. Sheer propulsive power…Cotton can drive a song with his harp, squeezing out a flurry of notes. His true genius is his ability to select the perfect note. Cotton is a virtuoso of the blues. Giant is one of the best albums of the year.”
– Blues Revue
“Cotton’s solos are forceful, squarely stabbing the notes and chords. His phrases are full of tonal variety, summoning a steamship, a train whistle, a saxophone, a hurricane and an octave-jumping bird. Cotton’s not through creating by a long shot.”
“Cotton’s long, fabled career is unrivaled in terms of its historic import….a name that is mentioned alongside some of the very best performers ever to play the instrument. Cotton’s playing has cemented his place in the top tier of blues harmonica masters: that muscular tone, those brawny wails, the stinging high note bends. …sends a shiver down the spine. Fiery, inimitable, ferocious attack, dominance and power. The well of talent he draws from is as deep as the blues he plays.”
– Living Blues
“The finest blues harmonica player alive.”
– Boston Herald
James Cotton (called Cotton by his friends) was born on the first day of July,1935, in Tunica, Mississippi. He was the youngest of eight brothers and sisters who grew up in the cotton fields working beside their mother, Hattie, and their father, Mose. On Sundays Mose was the preacher in the area’s Baptist church. Cotton’s earliest memories include his mother playing chicken and train sounds on her harmonica and for a few years he thought those were the only two sounds the little instrument made. His Christmas present one year was a harmonica, it cost 15 cents, and it wasn’t long before he mastered the chicken and the train. King Biscuit Time, a 15-minute radio show, began broadcasting live on KFFA, a station just across the Mississippi River in Helena, Arkansas. The star of the show was the harmonica legend, Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller). The young Cotton pressed his little ear to the old radio speaker. He recognized the harmonica sound AND discovered something – the harp did more! Realizing this, a profound change came over him, and since that moment, Cotton and his harp have been inseparable – the love affair had begun. Soon he was able to play Sonny Boy’s theme song from the radio show and, as he grew so did his repertoire of Sonny Boy’s other songs. Mississippi summers are ghastly, the heat is unrelenting. He was too young to actually work in the cotton fields, so little Cotton would bring water to those who did. When it was time for him to take a break from his job, he would sit in the shadow of the plantation foreman’s horse and play his harp. His music became a source of joy for his first audience. James Cotton’s star began to shine brightly at a very early age.
By his ninth year both of his parents had passed away and Cotton was taken to Sonny Boy Williamson by his uncle. When they met, the young fellow wasted no time – he began playing Sonny Boy’s theme song on his treasured harp. Cotton remembers that first meeting well and says, “I walked up and played it for him. And I played it note for note. And he looked at that. He had to pay attention.” The two harp players were like father and son from then on. “I just watched the things he’d do, because I wanted to be just like him. Anything he played, I played it,” he remembers.
There were dozens of juke joints in the South at the time and Sonny Boy played in nearly every one in Mississippi (pronounced “miz-sip-ee”) and Arkansas. Now he had an opening act! Because Cotton was too young to go inside he would “open” for Sonny Boy on the steps of these juke joints, sometimes making more money in tips outside than Sonny Boy did at the gig inside.
-Copyright 2015 by Jacklyn Hairston, jamescottonsuperharp.com
Jesus Is On The Main Line- Mavis Staples
Born in 1939 in Chicago, Mavis Staples achieved wide recognition as lead singer for the Staple Singers. She first recorded solo for Stax subsidiary Volt in 1969. Subsequent efforts included a Curtis Mayfield-produced soundtrack on Curtom, a disappointing nod to disco for Warner in 1979, a misguided stab at electro-pop with Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1984, and an uneven album for Paisley Park. Staples has a rich contralto voice that has neither the range of Aretha Franklin nor the power of Patti LaBelle. Her otherworldly power comes instead from a masterful command of phrasing and a deep-seated sensuality expressed through timbre manipulation. Both the Staple Singers and Mavis found fresh audiences stemming from their participation on the CD Rhythm Country and Blues…
-Rob Bowman, AllMusic.com
When Mavis Staples issued Have a Little Faith in 2004 on the Alligator label, there was no doubt she was back. While the recording was subdued in places, it also showcased her ability to get so far down inside a song that it had to bubble up and be completely reinvented by her voice. It wasn’t just a soul and contemporary gospel recording; it also touched on her earliest days with her family singing the blues gospel, and there was a bucket of hope in each track. Several of the songs from the recording were used in television and film. Her 2007 follow-up, We’ll Never Turn Back, focuses on another kind of hope: the hope that the men and women who engaged in the civil rights struggles of the early ’60s brought to a hostile America and changed its laws — and some of its attitudes, but not nearly enough — forever. Staples has enlisted the help of the original vocalists of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Community, who were called the SNCC Freedom Singers, Ladysmith Black Mambazo (no strangers to the struggle for basic human rights) in a couple of places, and Ry Cooder and his roots band to accompany them. Cooder produced the set, but his gift is the ability to retain in their entirety the voices of the performers when he works with them. Mavis may not have the shouting power she once had, but the conviction and expression in her voice have not wavered an inch. She’s still got plenty in her pipes, and We’ll Never Turn Back is the proof.
-Thom Jurek, AllMusic.com
My purpose: to lift your spirit and to motivate you.
My high-school a cappella teacher would embarrass me in front of the choir. ‘Mavis, you’re in the basement. Mavis, you’re singing with the boys.’ I said, ‘Mr. Finch, my voice isn’t soprano. I can’t sing up there with the girls.’ So I just got out of the choir.
I’m just singing what I feel in my heart.
We’ve had a great change. Dr King saw to that. I was so grateful to see the ‘colored only’ signs come off the water fountains and bathrooms in the south. But the struggle lives on.
The kids today have these fresh faces. It’s like they’re on pins and needles, waiting to see what I’m going to do. They’ve never seen me. In the 1960s, those were hippies. They were wired up already. The kids today know me because I’ve worked with Jeff Tweedy and other young producers.
I never sang for a Grammy, for money, for fame. That’s my whole purpose for singing: for people, for the fans.
I don’t know which way I’m going. My next CD might be country, might be Dylan, might be Mick Jagger. I don’t know. I love a challenge.
Whenever somebody tells me they want me to stop singing, I’m gone.
I won’t wear rings and jewelry on the stage because I don’t want you looking at my hands. I want you hearing what I’m saying.
I have fun just about everywhere I go.
Music is such a joy, just an absolute joy.
If you don’t get out among the people, how are you going to know what they need to hear about?
The best music of my life I heard at my grandmother’s church, this little wooden church up on a hill.
There are songs that I have to play!
Main Street Breakdown- Chet Atkins
Without Chet Atkins, country music may never have crossed over into the pop charts in the ’50s and ’60s. Although he recorded hundreds of solo records, Atkins’ largest influence came as a session musician and a record producer. During the ’50s and ’60s, he helped create the Nashville sound, a style of country music that owed nearly as much to pop as it did to honky tonks.
And as a guitarist, he was without parallel. Atkins’ style grew out of his admiration for Merle Travis, expanding Travis’ signature syncopated thumb and fingers roll into new territory. Interestingly, Atkins didn’t begin his musical career by playing guitar. On the recommendation of his older brother, Lowell, he began playing the fiddle at a child. However, Chet was still attracted to the guitar, and at the age of nine he traded a pistol for a guitar.
-Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic.com