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!
Flattop Joint- Sonny Burgess with Dave Alvin- “Tennessee Border”
Wish The World Was Still Flat- The River Monks- “Home Is The House”
Flatnose, The Tree-Climbing Dog- The Austin Lounge Lizards- “Employee Of The Month”
Flat Stuff- Greg Brown- “Freak Flag”
Mecca Flat Blues- Claire Austin- “Claire Austin Sings ‘When Your Lover Has Gone’ ”
Flatland Farmer- Terry Allen- “Lubbock (On Everything)”
Flat Natural Born Good-Timin’ Man- Gary Stewart- “The Essential Gary Stewart”
Flat Creek- Tom Mindte- “Something I’ve Been Working On”
Hot New Music:
Dust My Broom- Sonny Landreth- “Bound By The Blues”
Deep Water- Amy Helm- “Didn’t It Rain”
Spinning- Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes- “Soultime”
Steamer’s Hill- Ashley Fayth and the Compass Rose- “Take Back The Fire”
Pretty Girls Everywhere- Andy T and the Nick Nixon Band- “Numbers Man”
Whatever Happened To The Honeymoon (with Will Sexton)- Stacey Garretson- “Living Art”
Ain’t Messin’ Round- Gary Clark, Jr.- “Blak and Blu”
People Make The World Go Round- The Stylistics- “The Best Of The Stylistics”
Comin’ Round Again- Kevn Kinney’s S.T.A.R.- “Comin’ Round Again”
No Memories Hanging Round- Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell- “The Traveling Kind”
Ain’t Comin’ Round No More- Hadden Sayers- “Hard Dollar”
Don’t Monkey ‘Round My Widder- Chet Atkins and Doc Watson- “Reflections”
‘Round Midnight- Amy Winehouse- “The Other Side Of Amy Winehouse- B-Sides, Remixes and Rarities”
** Keep scrolling down the page for our informative blog/program guide. Follow along as you listen! **
Flattop Joint- Sonny Burgess with Dave Alvin
Sonny Burgess is one of the wildest rockers to record for the legendary Sun label in Memphis. He and his band the Pacers came out of Newport, AR, with a hard-rocking style that, unlike that of most rockabillies, owed little to nothing in the way of a stylistic debt to country music. With his red-dyed hair, matching stage suit and guitar, and wild stage performances, Burgess made mincemeat of the competition on many of the early-’50s rock & roll package tours. Though his Sun releases never brought him much in the way of commercial success, his recordings nonetheless remain landmarks of the early rockabilly style. Burgess later toured and recorded with other Memphis alumni in the Sun Rhythm Section, and during the new millennium hit the road and the studio under the moniker of Sonny Burgess & the Legendary Pacers (celebrating the Pacers’ 50th anniversary in 2005). Burgess & the Legendary Pacers issued the Gijon Stomp! album, a collection of new recordings, on the El Toro label in 2009. Clearly, the rockin’ flame that is Sonny Burgess refuses to be snuffed out.
-Cub Koda, AllMusic.com
Sonny Burgess was part of rockabilly’s first generation, recording for Sun Records in the 1950s, but even in the ’90s he was still capable of tearing it up. This ’92 recording shows a sexagenarian Burgess still breathing fire on hardcore rockabilly tracks where he’s ably backed by–among others–guitarist Dave Alvin, formerly of the Blasters. There’s no audible softening of Burgess’s hard-driving sound here, just raw rock & roll in its purest form.
-Jim Allen, AllMusic.com
Wish The World Was Still Flat- The River Monks
“The River Monks might just be Iowa. The five-part vocal harmonies swirl outward like wind across the fields, while the band’s traditional folk instrumentation is given Iowa’s unexpectedly progressive touch, leaving you with something entirely recognizable, yet completely new.” – Tiny Mix Tapes
The River Monks have been called ‘wistfully harmonious’ and ‘mega-folk’, descriptive of their multi-layered harmonies and the blend of traditional folk instrumentation with a modern, broad, lush perspective. Creating huge scapes of airy atmosphere and complex, diverse rhythm, and in the same breath hushing audiences with whispered dynamics, The River Monks deliver a polished brand of melody and texture, sure to please fans of Sufjan Stevens, Fleet Foxes, Simon & Garfunkel, and The Beach Boys.
If Sufjan Stevens ever decided to return to his 50-state project—an attempt at composing album-length tributes for each state—he would be wise to skip Iowa altogether. The River Monks have beat him to the punch with their new album, Home is the House, one of the most essential and distilled “Iowan” records in recent memory, complete with traditional instruments contrasted by progressive song structures. Songs address themes of nature, friends and family and have the kind of studio polish that humbly displays the hard work that the band’s six musicians must have poured into the album.
The lush production, intricate arrangements and brilliant lyrics—which are somehow always as hopeful as they are melancholic—will be sure to bring plenty of Sufjan Stevens comparisons. Fans of Fleet Foxes and Akron/Family, or newer big-band folk acts like Mutual Benefit, will find plenty to love here, as well.
-Max Johnson, June 27, 2014, littlevillagemag.com
Flatnose, The Tree-Climbing Dog- The Austin Lounge Lizards
Regarding their name, Austin Lounge Lizards guitarist and founding member Conrad Deisler said: “I think it was a slang term I’d heard my grandmother use to describe gentlemen of easy virtue who hung around in bars. When we started out, that’s just what we were doing — hanging out and playing for beer and tips and stuff like that.” The Lounge Lizards trace their origins back to the late ’70s, when Deisler, then a Princeton student, hooked up with Hank Card to indulge their shared interest in folk and country by playing in progressive folk bands. The two landed in Austin in 1980, where they met Tom Pittman, a banjo and pedal-steel player who’d just moved to town from Georgia. They combined the sounds of Pittman’s bluegrass heritage with the folk and country forms from Deisler and Card’s college-band days up north. Unsatisfied with playing bluegrass and traditional country covers, the Lizards found they had a knack for writing bizarro social and politically themed songs, overflowing with tongue-in-cheek twang.
-Zac Johnson, AllMusic.com
The Austin Lounge Lizards are light, they’re fluffy, and they’re funny as all get out. Whether it’s a lampoon of Very Big Texan Things in “Stupid Texas Song,” a parody of Leonard Cohen in “Leonard Cohen’s Day Job” (which gets funnier the more you listen to it) or acknowledging the family of the ’90s (“Hey, Little Minivan”), they’re sharp and smart. The satire isn’t quite as biting as on Small Minds, their 1995 release, but they sure are funny.
-Steven McDonald, AllMusic.com
Flat Stuff- Greg Brown
Greg Brown’s mother played electric guitar, his grandfather played banjo, and his father was a Holy Roller preacher in the Hacklebarney section of Iowa, where the Gospel and music are a way of life. Brown’s first professional singing job came at age 18 in New York City, running hootenannies (folksinger get-togethers) at the legendary Gerdes Folk City. After a year, Brown moved west to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where he was a ghostwriter for Buck Ram, founder of the Platters. Tired of the fast-paced life, Brown traveled with a band for a few years, and even quit playing for a while before he moved back to Iowa and began writing songs and playing in midwestern clubs and coffeehouses.
Brown’s songwriting has been lauded by many, and his songs have been performed by Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana, Michael Johnson, Shawn Colvin, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. He has also recorded more than a dozen albums, including his 1986 release, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, when he put aside his own songwriting to set poems of William Blake to music. One Big Town, recorded in 1989, earned Brown three and a half stars in Rolling Stone, chart-topping status in AAA and The Gavin Report’s Americana rankings and Brown’s first Indie Award from NAIRD (National Association of Independent Record Distributors). The Poet Game, his 1994 CD, received another Indie award from NAIRD. His critically acclaimed 1996 release, Further In, was a finalist for the same award. Rolling Stone’s four-star review of Further In called Brown “a wickedly sharp observer of the human condition.”
Photo by: Greg Wood
Mecca Flat Blues- Claire Austin
A vocalist who mixed classic blues elements with traditional jazz. She studied piano in Tacoma, then played in night clubs throughout the Northwest. During the mid-’40s, Austin sang in the Midwest. She recorded with Turk Murphy in the early and mid-’50s, and led an all-star group in 1955 and 1956. Austin recorded again for the GHB label in 1966.
-Ron Wynn, AllMusic.com
The history of jazz and blues is full of talented artists who were obscure but didn’t deserve to be. One example is Claire Austin, an expressive jazz/blues vocalist who was as proficient with intimate, introspective torch singing as she was with more extroverted classic blues. Claire Austin Sings When Your Lover Has Gone was recorded for Contemporary in 1955 and 1956, and finds Austin favoring vulnerable, relaxed, subtle torch singing (her phrasing could be described as an appealing combination of Mildred Bailey, Peggy Lee, and Billie Holiday). As a torch singer, she embraces the songbooks of great pop composers like Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, and the Gershwin Brothers.
-Alex Henderson, AllMusic.com
Flatland Farmer- Terry Allen
There may be no greater maverick than Terry Allen in all of country music from the mid-’70s onward. Along with Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, and Butch Hancock — all of whom he’s known and collaborated with — Allen is a standard-bearer of the Lubbock, Texas country scene. Though not widely heralded, this is perhaps the most progressive movement in all of contemporary country, digging into modern-day concerns with a gutsy, liberal perspective while maintaining a firm musical grounding in regional country and folk traditions. Allen is perhaps the most ambitious of them all, writing complex song cycles that have been performed with the help of fellow eclectics ranging from Lowell George to David Byrne.
Allen’s audience, like those of other Lubbock pioneers, is not the country mainstream. Indeed, his principal appeal may not lie with the country audience at all (though his music definitely is country), but with open-minded alternative folk and rock listeners. Unlike most current country artists, his words aim to question and confront hard day-to-day realities rather than offer conservative clichés or maudlin comforts to shield listeners from those very day-to-day realities. He does so with a humor and irreverence that will find little sympathy in Nashville or Middle America.
Country music is just one of Allen’s artistic pursuits, perhaps accounting to some degree for his wide perspective. The Renaissance man is also an internationally recognized artist with three NEA grants and a Guggenheim Fellowship to his credit. He’s also a true multimedia performer, having done work in the mediums of painting, sculpture, film, video, installation, theater, and poetry. Among his more interesting projects, for instance, was writing the music for Amerasia, a film about American servicemen living in Thailand after the Vietnam War; writing a new national anthem (with Ely, Hancock, and Gilmore) in conjunction with a book about Vietnam; and collaborating with his wife, Jo Harvey Allen, as well as Ely and Hancock, on the production of the acclaimed stage play Chippy.
-Richie Unterberger, AllMusic.com
Although it’s all but unknown outside of a devoted cult following, Terry Allen’s second album, 1979’s Lubbock (On Everything), is one of the finest country albums of all time, a progenitor of what would eventually be called alt-country. This is country music with a wink and a dry-as-West-Texas-dust sense of humor, but at heart, Lubbock (On Everything) is a thoughtful meditation on Allen’s hometown. Recorded in Lubbock after Allen hadn’t lived there for close to a decade with a small group headed by local legends Don Caldwell and Lloyd Maines, the songs alternate between biting character studies like “Lubbock Woman” and “The Great Joe Bob (A Regional Tragedy),” about a high school football star who ends up robbing a liquor store, and more loving tributes like “The Thirty Years War” and “The Wolfman of Del Rio.” Salted through are a handful of songs about the pretensions of the art world (something Allen knows well in his day job as a sculptor and painter) that help keep the album’s more cutting lines from sounding mean-spirited. A 20-song masterpiece, Lubbock (On Everything) is essential listening for anyone with an interest in the outer fringes of country music.
-Stewart Mason, AllMusic.com
Photo by: James Bland, jamesbland.com
Flat Natural Born Good-Timin’ Man- Gary Stewart
The voice just stopped you in your tracks. Hillbilly haywire with a lonesome Kentucky edge that added a little chrome to those Cadillac pipes, it wasted no time in grabbing your soul by the lapel. When you listened to Gary Stewart sing, you kind of held your breath, wondering if he’d get out of the song alive. He’d swoop down on words, elongate syllables and growl around his range, then spit out the chorus. At a time when many roots-conscious rockers were trying to add a little country to their rock ‘n’ roll, Gary went the other way ’round with a vengeance. “Stewart didn’t really fit in anywhere,” writes Jim Lewis. “He wasn’t Southern rock, and he wasn’t Nashville country.” Amen to that. Gary Stewart was a weird, frustrating and often thrilling genre unto himself.
Live, if Stewart was on his game, look out. A long-haired runt of a guy with only a scary grin breaking the dark shadows beneath his cowboy hat, Stewart rode an audience like bucking a bronco. Suddenly possessed by the spirit, he’d throw the band a curve by ambling over to the piano and, caressing the keys with the crude, rhythmic whimsy of Skip James, lurch into an impromptu version of Merle Haggard’s “I Can’t Be Myself” with the herky-jerky rhythm of a marionette that had cut its own strings. Many were afraid of Stewart, spooked by his sheer wattage, but in moments like this he looked as fragile and forlorn as an empty champagne glass on a barroom floor. Say the wrong word to Gary and he’d shatter.
His was a music of dangerous, wild abandon, and for a few years there in the seventies, Stewart cut a string of ferocious, magnificent recordings, some of them hits: “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles).” “Drinkin’ Thing. ” “Out of Hand.” “Your Place or Mine.” “I Had to Get Drunk Last Night.” “Single Again.” “Shady Streets.” “In Some Room Above the Street.” “Stone Wall (Around Your Heart).” Comparisons were frequently made to Jerry Lee Lewis, but to these ears Gary was more of a countrified Roky Erickson: a voice that came screaming from another dimension, and one that contained more than a hint of madness. Perhaps the only singer with phrasing as perverse is Bob Dylan, himself a Stewart fan. While touring with Tom Petty in Florida, Dylan went out of his way to meet him, confessing that he’d played Stewart’s ode to marital malaise ‘Ten Years of This’ over and over, the record casting a spell over him. But then it was easy to be bewitched by Gary.
-Jimmy McDonough, furious.com
While much of what passes for contemporary country music in the ’90s and 2000s sounds like reheated Eagles and Lynyrd Skynyrd, what’s really annoying is what a youth-driven market it has become, leaving many great country performers of the ’60s and ’70s out in the cold. This is especially irritating when considering the career of Gary Stewart, one of the greatest of the hardcore-honky tonk school who, at his peak in the mid- to late ’70s, could write and sing circles around just about any contemporary country star you could mention. A native of Florida, Stewart escaped a lifetime of working in an airplane factory in the late ’60s by pitching some songs he’d written to soon-to-be RCA country label honcho Jerry Bradley. At the time, Stewart (who was composing with his friend Bill Eldridge) didn’t aspire to more than being an in-demand Nashville songwriter, but after a couple of years writing with some success, and through Bradley’s continued intercession, he was given the opportunity to record on his own. With his huge, vibrato-laden tenor voice (which sounds a bit like Jerry Lee Lewis’), Stewart, with the inestimable help of songwriter Wayne Carson, released 1975’s Out of Hand, one of the finest honky tonk records of all time. Paced by the hit “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles),” Gary Stewart was quickly becoming a country music star.
-John Dougan, AllMusic.com
Photo by: Slick Lawson
Flat Creek- Tom Mindte
My daddy was a bluegrass fan, so I got to go to festivals in the 1960s & 70s., and we had bluegrass records. One record set that we had at the house was the 70 song 4 lp Rebel set, (REB1473-76), released about 1965. There were 4 Buzz Busby songs on the set: ‘Lost,’ ‘Me and The Juke Box, ‘That Guy’s Gotta Go,’ and ‘Whose Red Wagon.’ also on the set were Red Allen & Frank Wakefield dong ‘Little Birdie’ and ‘Musician’s Waltz’ (in 4/4), & Frank Wakefield ‘s ‘Rondo.’ There were several songs featuring John Duffy & Smiley Hobbs on mandolin as well. Of these, my favorite style was Buzz’s. Daddy told me that he used to see Buzz & Pete Pike at the Pine Tavern in DC.
I finally got to meet Buzz in 1980 when he was playing at the Friendly Inn, near Baltimore. When I found out that he was still alive and pickin’, I couldn’t wait to get there, only to be disappointed to find find out that he was playing electric guitar. I asked Buzz if he still played mandolin and he said he would get it out of the car and bring it in for the next set. He asked me if I played and I indicated that I did. He brought the mandolin in, handed it to me and let me play the last set with him, so I never did get to hear him play mandolin that night, except for a few minutes by himself at the end of the night.
Photo by: Michael G. Stewart
Dust My Broom- Sonny Landreth
Southwest Louisiana-based guitarist, songwriter, and singer Sonny Landreth is a musician’s musician. The blues slide guitar playing found on his two Zoo Entertainment releases, Outward Bound (1992) and South of I-10 (1995) is distinctive and unlike anything else you’ve ever heard. His unorthodox guitar style comes from the manner in which he simultaneously plays slide and makes fingering movements on the fretboard. Landreth, who has an easygoing personality, can play it all, like any good session musician. His distinctive guitar playing can be heard on recordings by John Hiatt, Leslie West and Mountain, and other rock & rollers.
Landreth was born February 1, 1951, in Canton, Mississippi, and his family lived in Jackson, Mississippi, for a few years before settling in Lafayette, Louisiana. Landreth began playing guitar after a long tenure with the trumpet. His earliest inspiration came from Scotty Moore, the guitarist from Elvis Presley’s band, but as time went on, he learned from the recordings of musicians and groups like Chet Atkins and the Ventures. As a teen, Landreth began playing with his friends in their parents’ houses.
“They would ping-pong us from one house to another, and though we were all awful at first, as time went on we got pretty good. It’s an evolutionary process, just like songwriting is,” Landreth explained in an interview on his 44th birthday in 1995.
-Richard Skelly, AllMusic.com
Sonny Landreth’s new album, Bound By The Blues, to be released June 8th on Provogue, marks a return to the slide guitarist’s musical roots. It presents a bold, big-sounding collection of recordings that climb to stratospheric heights of jazz informed improvisation, swagger like the best of classic rock, and inevitably remain deeply attached to the elemental emotional and compositional structures that are at the historic core of the blues.
With Landreth’s mountainous guitar tones and nuanced singing leading the way on its ten songs, Bound By the Blues is a powerful tribute to the durability and flexibility of the genre, and to his own creative vision. It’s also a radical departure from his previous two albums, 2012’s classical/jazz fusion outing Elemental Journey and 2008’s guest-star-studded From the Reach.
“Ever since The Road We’re On [his Grammy-nominated 2003 release], fans have been asking me, ‘When are you going to do another blues album?’ Landreth explains. “After expanding my songs for Elemental Journey into an orchestral form, I thought I’d get back to the simple but powerful blues form. I’d been playing a lot of these songs on the road with my band, and we’ve been taking them into some surprising places musically. So going into the studio to record them with just our trio seemed like the next step.”
Photo by: Jack Spencer
Deep Water- Amy Helm
I’m just trying to tell some stories as honestly as I can,” Amy Helm says of Didn’t It Rain, her first solo album and her eOne Music debut.
Although the personally charged, organically soulful Didn’t It Rain is her first release under her own name, Amy Helm has been making music for most of her life. She’s already won widespread praise as a singer, songwriter and live performer, first as a member of the celebrated alt-country collective Ollabelle and subsequently for her extensive work with her father, musical icon Levon Helm, who passed away in 2012.
Blessed with a commanding, deeply expressive voice and an uncanny songwriting skill that instinctively draws upon a deep well of American musical traditions, Amy Helm delivers a timelessly powerful statement with Didn’t It Rain.
The spellbinding dozen-song set is rooted in first-person experience, exploring universal themes of life, love and loss on such musically and emotionally resonant originals as the smoldering soul ballad “Rescue Me,” the hushed, lilting “Deep Water,” the meditative “Roll Away” and the stark, haunting “Wild Girl.” Complementing Helm’s originals are her personalized takes on the Sam Cooke classic “Good News” and the traditional title track, which she delivers with the heartfelt gospel urgency that’s always been an element of her vocal persona.
Even though this is officially Amy Helm’s debut, Americana fans know she is hardly a newcomer. The daughter of the Band’s drummer/vocalist Levon Helm and singer/songwriter Libby Titus has been a professional musician working both with her late dad on his Midnight Ramble shows and tours and with her own Ollabelle group who released four excellent albums. Like that outfit’s repertoire, Helm’s solo disc is an eclectic affair that incorporates elements of New Orleans funk, gospel, swamp, folk, country, pop and lots of soul. With that much going on, this could have been a sprawling mess, but Helm’s focus and talents knock it out of the park. Her captivating vocals, committed performances and a batch of terrific songs you’ll remember after the first spin kick this into high gear quickly.
-Hal Horowitz, July 23, 2015, americansongwriter.com
Photo by: Jennifer Altman
Spinning- Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes
If you’re looking for something that’s easy on the ear to use as aural wallpaper for your commute or as background music for a dinner party, then stop right here; this is proper music. Southside Johnny has been making music with various Asbury Jukes for over forty years and compromise isn’t something that he’s about to start now. The quality of the songs, the playing and the arrangements is what it’s all about; always has been, always will be. Southside had fraught relationships with his various labels in the days when bands signed to a label and hoped that the label would make them successful but it hasn’t worked that way for a while now so Southside has moved on to a completely different way of working; he has control over the creative and business processes. ‘When’s the album being released? When it’s ready’. And “Soultime!” is well and truly ready. It’s taken a while (the last album “Pills and Ammo” was released in 2010), but Southside’s a very busy man these days; not only is he trying to keep an eight-piece rock and soul band in line, but he’s also working with his Americana project The Poor Fools, comprising various Jukes and some of the extended Jersey shore family.
-MCKAYA, Aug. 19, 2015, musicriot.co.uk
Steamer’s Hill- Ashley Fayth and the Compass Rose
“Pure, simple, clean, well-written, melodic, re-affirming and personable, if not always intimate. These words come naturally, as her songs, like a clear river over rounded stones.”
ROBERT SINGERMAN, MANAGER (R. E. M./ JAMES BROWN/ SUZANNE VEGA)
Hailing from the east coast island of Newfoundland, a hotbed for some of Canada’s best storytellers and creative writers, Ashley grew up on the rugged shores of the North Atlantic Ocean, more than 200km from the province’s only city.
Citing this beautiful and untainted landscape as the primary inspiration for her upcoming album, Take Back the Fire, Ashley’s award-winning songs are saturated with colourful imagery and cleverly knit lyrics.
David Farrell of Canadian entertainment blog NewCanadianMusic.com credits Fayth with having “a voice as clear and as beautiful as Waterford crystal,” and with “writing songs that are guileless enough to make you smirk and blush. In fact, it is not hard to call her sweetheart”.
Pretty Girls Everywhere- Andy T and the Nick Nixon Band
The Andy T-Nick Nixon Band, fronted by guitarist Andy T and vocalist Nick Nixon, displays musicianship at its highest. As Blues Underground Network said, “Simply put, Andy T and James ‘Nick’ Nixon have quickly risen to the top of many people’s lists of Great Collaborations.”
Their new release on Blind Pig Records, Numbers Man, was produced by renowned Texas guitarist Anson Funderburgh, and features the great Kim Wilson’s harmonica on one of the tracks.
Guitarist “Andy T” Talamantez arrived in Nashville from Southern California in 2008 and teamed up with local blues and R&B legend vocalist/guitarist James “Nick” Nixon in 2011. After meeting Nick and watching him perform, Andy knew that they would make an unstoppable combination. As Ted Drozdowski of the Nashville Scene put it, “When Andy first heard Nick, he knew he’d found his foil for the group he envisioned — an outfit that could swing effortlessly between West Coast jump blues stompers, hardcore Chicago and Texas string-fests, and Louisiana swamp grooves.”
Whatever Happened To The Honeymoon (with Will Sexton)- Stacey Garretson
I grew up Fredericksburg, Texas, the daughter of a cattle rancher and an opera singer. Between showing steers at stock shows and classical piano lesson, I spent my time riding my horses and playing bassoon. My musical influences were very diverse.
Ain’t Messin’ Round- Gary Clark, Jr.
To sum up Gary Clark Jr.is more challenging every day. He’s a musical universe unto himself, expanding at a nearly immeasurable rate, ever more hard to define — as a mind-blowing guitarist, a dazzling songwriter and engagingly soulful singer.
With his debut album Blak And Blu he has just become the first artist ever recognized by the Recording Academy with Grammy Award nominations in both the rock and R&B categories for the same album in the same year, winning the latter: Best Traditional R&B Performance” – “Please Come Home”(from the album Blak And Blu). And the day after claiming those honors he provided one of the highlights of the highlights-filled “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles,” with sparks flying as he dueled with Joe Walsh on an incendiary “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” Dave Grohl behind them pounding the drums.
But that barely scratches the surface.
Texas guitarist Gary Clark, Jr. has been compared to guitar icons like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and his playing is a powerful and inspired mix of blues roots with contemporary soul and hip-hop, and when he’s rolling at his best, he sounds like nothing so much as a natural hybrid of both the past and the future of the blues. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Clark first picked up a guitar at the age of 12 and spent his teens playing whatever gig he could get in the Austin area, eventually meeting Clifford Antone, promoter and owner of Antone’s, the city’s premier blues club, who began featuring Clark at his venue. An amazing live performer, Clark soon became one of the brightest players on Austin’s blues and rock scene. He released an independent album, 2005’s Tribute, followed by a pair of self-produced albums in 2008 for Hotwire Unlimited, 110 and Worry No More. An EP, Gary Clark Jr., also appeared from Hotwire in 2010.
But Clark was far from just a one-trick pony guitar gunslinger. He could also sing, write, and arrange. He wrote the original score for the film Full Count and also appeared as an actor in John Sayles’ 2007 film Honeydripper. In 2010, Clark was selected by Eric Clapton to perform at the Crossroads Guitar Festival, and a DVD of the show featuring Clark led to a recording deal with Warner Bros. Clark was soon in the studio working on his major-label debut.
-Steve Leggett, AllMusic.com
Photo by: Henry Strauss
People Make The World Go Round- The Stylistics
After the Spinners and the O’Jays, the Stylistics were the leading Philly soul group produced by Thom Bell. During the early ’70s, the band had 12 straight Top Ten hits, including “You Are Everything,” “Betcha by Golly, Wow,” “I’m Stone in Love With You,” “Break Up to Make Up,” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New.” Of all their peers, the Stylistics were one of the smoothest and sweetest soul groups of their era. All of their hits were ballads, graced by the soaring falsetto of Russell Thompkins, Jr. and the lush yet graceful productions of Bell, which helped make the Stylistics one of the most successful soul groups of the first half of the ’70s.
-Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic.com
Comin’ Round Again- Kevn Kinney’s S.T.A.R.
“We’ve spent the better part of the last five years criss crossing the deepest dirtiest beautiful American South. We are here to entertain. In the bars, so filled with smoke you could hardly recognize a true fire. People have come to see what you got. We show up for the show and wade through a crowd as diverse as the music we’re gonna play tonight. There’s a girl with a tattoo of Dale Earnharts number 3 on her neck. Drifters, grifters, gonna be’s and has beens. Country folk. City folk. Workin’ folk. ‘Remember you can’t be a folk singer if you got no folks to sing to.’ I said that… And these folks expect music all night long… three sets… and requests…
This is where you learn your ‘chops’… tried true and set. It’s where the legends begin. Jimi Hendrix with Little Richard at the Royal Peacock on sweet Auburn Avenue, the Allman Brothers in underground Atlanta, The Satellites at Hedgens. And if you want it, there it is, go get it and you play all night till you can hardly breathe and fingers hurt and you can hardly think through the heat and the there’s ten drunk people talkin’ at you at the same time. Your grace is tested. But there’s always too, that couple in the back sitting quietly at a booth and you can tell from their glances toward you they get it. This is where this album comes from. And I love it. One of the easiest records I ever made, just doing what you do. When in doubt just be yourself.
The opening track ‘Comin’ Round Again’ is an observance of the Katrina disaster on the Gulf Coast of America. A place the band and myself know well. It, I think, echoes the frustration I felt on my visits on conversations. Listen on to the end to feel the rumble of the hurricane and the walls of water breaching the levees.
Kevn Kinney was the lead singer of the Atlanta rock band Drivin’ n’ Cryin’, but since the band’s 1986 inception he’s released some spare acoustic records on his own, often collaborating with R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck. MacDougal Blues for Island in 1990 announced the rocker’s arrival on the folk scene with the engaging title cut and nine more acoustic tracks produced by Buck and mostly played by his bandmates from Drivin’ n’ Cryin’. Though often cited as a working-class lyricist, Kinney cannot easily be thrown into the same bag as Springsteen, Mellencamp, or Dave Alvin. Instead, his is a unique spin on class, not urban yet not completely rural — he’s lived and worked in the urban center, Atlanta. Yet there is a gentleness and deeply humanistic thread to his work, and his use of traditional instruments enhances his words’ warmth.
-Denise Sullivan, AllMusic.com
Photo by: Frank Mullen
No Memories Hanging Round- 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
Ain’t Comin’ Round No More- Hadden Sayers
For most musicians, “the road” is a place of either hedonism or heartache. Contrasts on the far ends of a far too common cliché. But for Soul-Blues Guitar Slinger Hadden Sayers, the road is a comfortable buzz of underground fans and passionate shows.
It wasn’t always this way.
Because for a while, Sayers wasn’t on the road.
He built a successful career in Houston, Texas before relocating to the Midwest so his wife could pursue a career in cancer research. But then, shifty record companies faded away. Band members died tragically. The gigs stopped coming through and the phone stopped ringing. The ’57 Strat stayed in its case.
However, Sayers rediscovered his love of music on regular drives to Southern Ohio where he was rehabbing a battered cabin. The murmur of radials on concrete, the sounds of Van Morrison and Sam Cooke on the stereo, and the support and tutelage of a grizzled stonemason sent him back to the recording studio.
In 2011, Sayers released the acclaimed Hard Dollar, featuring the single “Back to the Blues,” which was nominated for the Song of the Year Award at the 33rd Annual Blues Music Awards. The album launched him back onto stages around the country. More than 100 gigs followed, from New York City to Mammoth Lakes, CA.
Sayers embraced the road, loved it. Savored the miles, the buses, and the airplanes. While the easy rock and roll tale is to collect panties and mugshots on the road, Sayers collected stories. Stories by everyday people who had read HIS story of healing in Southern Ohio.
Don’t Monkey ‘Round My Widder- Chet Atkins and Doc Watson
This critically acclaimed 1980 release by two musical legends has finally made it to CD, and listeners are all the more fortunate because of it. Two of the finest guitarists the world has ever produced are together on one fun-filled record. It’s odd to imagine, but a fact nonetheless, that Doc Watson and Chet Atkins both sprang from the Great Smoky Mountains at almost the same time, and really didn’t grow up all that far down the road from one another. It’s also interesting to note that each of them idolized the guitarist Merle Travis to such an extent that both men named their children after the picker (Doc’s son, Merle Watson, and Chet’s daughter, Merle Atkins). Chet Atkins was by far one of the most popular guitarists of all time, and his six-string magic shines brightly here. The red-hot picking flows like water from a backyard faucet on “Dill Pickle Rag,” an old ’30s ragtime number. More ragtime is included in the medley “Tennessee Rag/Beaumont Rag”; “Texas Gales/Old Joe Clark,” is another medley that allows both musicians to show their stuff. The flat-picking is marvelous. The same holds true for “Black and White/Ragtime Annie.” “Flatt Did It” was written by Atkins and Watson to commemorate the musical accomplishments of their friend, the late Lester Flatt, and they fill the piece with enough Flatt-inspired licks to please any Flatt & Scruggs fan. There are also some really nice vocals on the record, one of the finest of which is “You’re Gonna Be Sorry,” an old Alton and Rabon Delmore tune from the ’40s. There is also the tongue-in-cheek “Me and Chet Made a Record” and the outstanding Karl Davis composition “Don’t Monkey ‘Round My Widder.” “Goodnight Waltz” is a beautiful old Midnight Ramblers song, and Atkins and Watson create an impressive interpretation from beginning to end. The set closes with the foot-stompin’ spiritual “On My Way to Canaan’s Land,” with an arrangement from Atkins and Watson that incorporates a few names of fellow country music artists, adding another personal touch to an already deeply personal recording.
-Michael B. Smith, AllMusic.com
‘Round Midnight- Amy Winehouse
Much can be said about the late Amy Winehouse, one of the U.K.’s flagship vocalists during the 2000s. The British press and tabloids seemed to focus on her rowdy behavior, heavy consumption of alcohol, and tragic end, but fans and critics alike embraced her rugged charm, brash sense of humor, and distinctively soulful and jazzy vocals. Her platinum-selling breakthrough album, Frank (2003), elicited comparisons ranging from Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan to Macy Gray and Lauryn Hill. Interestingly enough, despite her strong accent and vernacular, one can often hear aspects of each of those singers’ vocal repertoires in Winehouse’s own voice. Nonetheless, her allure had always been her songwriting — almost always deeply personal but best known for its profanity and brutal candor.
Born to a taxi-driving father and a pharmacist mother, Winehouse grew up in the Southgate area of northern London. Her upbringing was surrounded by jazz. Many of the uncles on her mother’s side were professional jazz musicians, and even her paternal grandmother was romantically involved with British jazz legend Ronnie Scott at one time. While at home, she listened to and absorbed her parents’ selection of greats: Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra among others. However, in her teens, she was drawn to the rebellious spirit of TLC, Salt-N-Pepa, and other American R&B and hip-hop acts of the time. At the age of 16, after she had been expelled from London’s Sylvia Young Theatre School, she caught her first break when pop singer Tyler James, a schoolmate and close friend, passed on her demo tape to his A&R representative, who was searching for a jazz vocalist.
-Cyril Cordor, AllMusic.com