Keep scrolling down the page for our blog/program guide.
Pics, bios, reviews, album art and links to where you can purchase the music featured on the show!
Hot New Stuff:
Victim Of Life’s Circumstances- Clay McClinton- “Bitin’ At The Bit”
Aged and Mellow- Catherine Russell- “Bring It Back”
Until The End- Andrea Schroeder- “Where The Wild Oceans End”
M80 – Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen- “On The Edge”
Poor Man’s Son- Noah Gundersen- “Ledges”
House Of Cards- Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials- “Jump Start”
House Of Cards- Rachel Harrington- “Celilo Falls”
Cards On The Table- James Harman Band- “Cards On The Table”
All I Wanna Do Is Play Cards- Corb Lund- “Hair In My Eyes Like A Highland Steer”
Laid My Cards On The Table- Washboard Sam- “Vol. 7″
Turn The Cards Slowly- Patsy Cline- “Best Of Anthology”
** Keep scrolling down the page for our informative blog/program guide. Follow along as you listen! **
Every Time I Roll The Dice- Delbert McClinton
The venerable Delbert McClinton is a legend among Texas roots music aficionados, not only for his amazing longevity, but for his ability to combine country, blues, soul, and rock & roll as if there were no distinctions between any of them in the best time-honored Texas tradition. A formidable harmonica player long before he recorded as a singer, McClinton’s career began in the late ’50s, yet it took him nearly two de`cades to evolve into a bona fide solo artist. A critics’ darling and favorite of his peers, McClinton never really became a household name, but his resurgence in the ’90s helped him earn more widespread respect from both the public at large and the Grammy committee.
Delbert McClinton was born in Lubbock, Texas, on November 4, 1940, and grew up in Fort Worth. Discovering the blues in his teenage years, McClinton quickly became an accomplished harmonica player and found plenty of work on the local club scene, where musicians often made their living by playing completely different styles of music on different nights of the week. His most prominent early gig was with the Straitjackets, the house band at a blues/R&B club; it gave McClinton the opportunity to play harp behind blues legends like Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and Bobby “Blue” Bland. In 1960, McClinton’s cover of Williamson’s “Wake Up Baby” made him the first white artist to have a record played on the local blues station KNOK. McClinton’s harmonica was prominently featured on Fort Worth native Bruce Channel’s 1962 number one smash “Hey! Baby”; brought along for Channel’s tour of England, McClinton wound up giving harp lessons to a young John Lennon.
-Steve Huey, AllMusic.com
Last Roll Of The Dice- Chris Wilson
“Ever since I first saw The Beatles play live I knew that music was going to be my life. There’s nothing that comes close to playing live or putting out a good record – it really is that simple.”
“It’s Flamin’ Groovy!” brings together Chris Wilson, Cyril Jordan and George Alexander – The Flamin’ Groovies – over 12 tracks of their archetypal rock and rock.
Chris is also joined by ex-Groovies Roy Loney, Mike Wilhelm and James Ferrell, along with Procol Harum’s Hammond legend Matthew Fisher, who played live with the Groovies during their recent UK dates.
This is the album that triggered the reunion – this is the spark that reignited The Flamin’ Groovies. This is the proof that the band’s members haven’t lost any of their magic…
>> Read more…
When Chris Wilson took Roy Loney’s place at the microphone with the Flamin’ Groovies he was all of nineteen years of age. He became the voice and face of the band, as well as Cyril Jordan’s new songwriting partner.
Few of the songs he and Jordan created reached audiences until Shake Some Action was released in Britain in 1976. By that time the Flamin’ Groovies had morphed. With Loney they were part Stones, part Lovin’ Spoonful, more informed by Dr. Ross and Gene Vincent than the jingle-jangle power pop (heavy on Beatlesque, British invasion markers) that the Groovies later practically created as a genre.
On Shake, Now, and Jumpin’ in the Night, the trilogy of albums for Sire Records that the Groovies cut between 1976 and 1979, they forged a sound that leaned on pealing, gorgeous guitar sounds, derived from Harrison and McGuinn much more than Keith Richard’s grit. And Chris Wilson’s vocals, while urgent and authoritative, were more Lennon than Jagger. The kid who smoked through Jordan-Loney’s “Slow Death” in 1971 was still an expressive singer, but he was a bit manicured to fit in with the band’s emphasis on plangent harmonies.
On Chris Wilson’s new solo album, It’s Flamin’ Groovy!, you hear the range that he can cover as a singer, alternately leaning on the late Seventies approach he’s best known for, but also embracing the gap-toothed, shaggy haired kid who howled through “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”…
-Steve Wilson, blurtonline.com
Roll Of The Dice- Bruce Springsteen
In the decades following his emergence on the national scene in 1975, Bruce Springsteen proved to be that rarity among popular musicians, an artist who maintained his status as a frontline recording and performing star, consistently selling millions of albums and selling out arenas and stadiums around the world year after year, as well as retaining widespread critical approbation, with ecstatic reviews greeting those discs and shows. Although there were a few speed bumps along the way in Springsteen’s career, the wonder of his nearly unbroken string of critical and commercial success is that he achieved it while periodically challenging his listeners by going off in unexpected directions, following his muse even when that meant altering the sound of his music or the composition of his backup band, or making his lyrical message overtly political. Of course, it may have been these very sidesteps that kept his image and his music fresh, especially since he always had the fallback of returning to what his fans thought he did best, barnstorming the country with a marathon rock & roll show using his longtime bandmates.
Bruce Springsteen was born September 23, 1949, in Freehold, New Jersey, the son of Douglas Springsteen, a bus driver, and Adele (Zirilli) Springsteen, a secretary. He became interested in music after seeing Elvis Presley perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956 and obtained a guitar, but he didn’t start playing seriously until 1963.
-William Ruhlmann, AllMusic.com
Roll Of The Tumbling Dice- Lonnie Brooks
Having forged a unique Louisiana/Chicago blues synthesis unlike anyone else’s on the competitive Windy City scene, charismatic guitarist Lonnie Brooks has long reigned as one of the town’s top bluesmen. A masterful showman, the good-natured Brooks puts on a show equal to his recordings (and that’s saying a lot, considering there are four decades of wax to choose from).
Born Lee Baker, Jr. in Louisiana, Brooks took his time when choosing his vocation; he didn’t play guitar seriously until he was in his early twenties and living in Port Arthur, TX. Rapidly assimilating the licks of B.B. King and Long John Hunter, he landed a gig with zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier (not a bad way to break into the business) before inaugurating his own recording career in 1957 with the influential swamp pop ballad “Family Rules” for Eddie Shuler’s Lake Charles, LA-based Goldband Records. The young rock & roller — then billed as Guitar Junior — enjoyed more regional success on Goldband with the rocking dance number “The Crawl” (covered much later by the Fabulous Thunderbirds). Mercury also issued two 45s by Guitar Junior.
When Sam Cooke offered the young rocker a chance to accompany him to Chicago, he gladly accepted.
-Bill Dahl, AllMusic.com
“Lonnie works the room like a fire-and-brimstone preacher, testifying the blues from the bottom of his soul.”
“An explosive mixture of blues, rock ‘n’ roll, South Louisiana swamp pop and gritty Southern soul music.”
–NEW YORK TIMES
“He blisters searing licks behind strong vocals and pulsating band work…sizzling, deep, funky grooves.”
Over the course of his career, guitarist/vocalist Lonnie Brooks has come a long way. From his early days backing zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier to his years as a hit-producing Gulf Coast R&B artist to his emergence as an innovative Chicago bluesman, Lonnie has created an instantly recognizable, signature sound and style. Combining rock ‘n’ roll, Memphis soul, Cajun boogie, country twang and hard Chicago blues, Brooks defies simple classification. His massive voice and blistering guitar playing make every song he performs his own. And as anyone who’s ever seen him in concert can attest, his live performances are legendary for kick-starting a party and spreading a rollicking good time.
Lee Baker Jr. (Lonnie Brooks) was born in Dubuisson, Louisiana in 1933. He learned to play blues from his banjo-picking grandfather, but didn’t think about a professional music career until he moved to Port Arthur, Texas in the early 1950s. There he heard the music of Gatemouth Brown, T-Bone Walker, B.B. King, Long John Hunter and others and began to think about making money from his music. One day, while Lonnie was strumming his guitar on his front porch, zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier offered him a job. Before long Lonnie was recording his own songs and became a regional R&B star with a string of rockin’ singles, most notably Family Rules and The Crawl, recorded for the Goldband label under the name Guitar Junior.
The success of his singles led to numerous southern tours and a busy schedule of dancehalls, juke joints and roadhouses across Texas and Louisiana. In 1959, Lonnie found himself on a tour with the great Sam Cooke. The two became fast friends, and when Cooke suggested a move to Chicago, Lonnie was eager to go. The first thing the young Louisiana man discovered was that Chicago already had a Guitar Junior, so he changed his name to Lonnie Brooks.
Rollin’ The Dice- Jim Pipkin
I have performed my original songs on hundreds of stages over the years, from Nashville’s Bluebird Café to the now-defunct Union Grove Fiddler’s Convention in North Carolina. I appeared by invitation at the World Folk Showcase in Washington DC, and have represented Arizona’s songwriting tradition as a guest of both the State of Arizona and the Folklore Society of Greater Washington at the FSGW’s annual Getaway at Camp Letts, Maryland.
I served proudly for many years as a Roster Artist for the Arizona Commission on the Arts, one of the finest juried arts commissions in the country.
Being the opening act for Rosanne Cash, JJ Cale, Bill Danoff, and Beth Nielsen Chapman was certainly an interesting range of experiences. I’ve recorded with Barry McGuire, Joe Bethancourt, and many others.
Roll The Dice- The Will Callers
“Cool as Buffalo Springfield, deep as Dylan, trashy as The Stones, smart like The Beatles, fight like The Eagles, and they’re original.”
- Ray Wylie Hubbard, facebook.com
“The Will Callers…are doing things the old-fashioned way: writing great songs”. –Classic Rock Magazine
“In place of the band’s previous contemporary alt-country predilections comes a sincere and sincerely intoxicating throwback-to-early-FM-radio vibe, lots of dirty, swampy riffage and huge hooks, old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll punch evoking Faces and Creedence throughout. The twin guitarwork on “Take My Advice” is straight from the School of Keef and Ron, with frontman Jake Murphy and guitarist Justin Elliot basically trading licks throughout, calling and responding to each other, and the bluesy, slow-roiling “87 Miles to Austin” calls to mind JSBX on ’ludes. The Will Callers won’t be local long, trust me”. – Ft Worth Weekly
“Stepping up to the plate to prove that young country music is not dead, The Will Callers spread the gospel of alt-country as a reminder that Texas is king when it comes to southern charm”. – Corpus Christi Caller Times
“The crowded electric Americana scene now has another force to contend with in The Will Callers. Frontman Jake Murphy’s ragged-yet-refined voice is engaging and perfect for his band’s signature brand of slow-burning, whiskey-stained roots-rock.”
- The Fort Worth Weekly
“Alt-country doesn’t get much better than this, and rarely does a band reallydeserve your attention. But these guys do”. – Dallas Observer
Victim Of Life’s Circumstances- Clay McClinton
Clay McClinton’s musical roots are firmly planted in the traditions of his Texas birthplace, where strains of country, blues, rock ’n’ roll and Tex-Mex blend effortlessly into a sound he likes to call “Texas gumbo.” After spending 10 years diligently honing his own version of that sound, McClinton showcases his range as an artist and writer on his fourth and most ambitious album, Bitin’ at the Bit (Red Chili Records; Feb. 18, 2013).
Steeped in authentic Americana, the album marks the Austin resident’s first collaboration with a longtime family friend, Grammy-winning producer and songwriter Gary Nicholson. McClinton says Nicholson’s experience, vision and masterful guidance, and the comfort level their familiarity provided, helped him step beyond his usual creative zone to achieve new heights.
Nicholson and McClinton co-wrote most of the album’s tracks, and share writing credit for “Stories We Can Tell” with McClinton’s dad, Delbert. That trio also collaborated with legend Bruce Channel (“Hey Baby”) on the rollicking “Beer Joint.”
Nashville hit maker and drummer Tom Hambridge and Austin-based performer George Ensle joined in on other tracks, rounding out an album full of deeply personal songs that also carry universal appeal. The proof is in his growing fan base: His soul-driven delivery and genuine presence earn him new converts everywhere he plays (not to mention generous support; fans’ Kickstarter donations funded the album).
As a kid, McClinton had no idea he’d choose a music career. But he knew enough to pay attention when his dad got together with his musical pals, who happened to include fellow Grammy winners Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and the late Stephen Bruton, as well as Nicholson. The years McClinton spent on his dad’s tour bus also left their mark, but even though the occasional vocal inflection or chord change might suggest his dad’s influence, McClinton’s musical identity is distinctly his own.
Aged and Mellow- Catherine Russell
Jazz and blues vocalist Catherine Russell, a native of New York City, was born with distinctive bloodlines. Her father was Luis Russell, the renowned big-band leader who was born in Panama, and lived in New Orleans and New York City. He was a groundbreaking vintage jazzman — a pianist, composer/arranger, and most prominently, the music director for Louis Armstrong in the mid-’40s. Her mother is Carline Ray, a veteran jazz bassist, vocalist, graduate of the Julliard and Manhattan Schools of Music, and famous for performing with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Mary Lou Williams, and Wynton Marsalis, among many others. Naturally Catherine Russell is influenced by old-time blues and jazz singers like Bessie Smith, Ruth Brown, and Etta James, as well as the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Nancy Wilson, Abbey Lincoln, gospel and opera music. But she was a late bloomer, not establishing a recording career as a leader until much later in life. She has appeared at numerous festivals and on nationally syndicated radio and television shows. As a backup singer, she has worked with Paul Simon, David Bowie, Steely Dan, Cyndi Lauper, Jackson Browne, Rosanne Cash, Joan Osborne, and Madonna.
- Michael G. Nastos, AllMusic.com
Bring It Back, the latest album from vocalist Catherine Russell, set for release February 11, is a retro collection of tunes culled from the birth of jazz through the rhythm and blues resurrection, with a nod to the swing era in between. And if there is any singer with the kind of chops to sell this kind of musical variety, Russell is that singer. Not only does she have a voice like rich, aged brandy, not only does she exude the rhythmic joy the music demands, this is music that is in her blood. After all, her mother is the great jazz pioneer Carline Ray, and her father, arranger Luis Russell, was longtime leader of the Louis Armstrong band. With a pedigree like that, how can she miss?
Working with a 10-piece band on most of the 13-track set, she hits each and every tune out of the park. Some of the songs are well known, some have been largely forgotten, but either way, Russell’s readings reinvigorate them. In her hands they breathe with renewed life.
-Jack Goodstein, Wednesday, February 5, 2014, blogcritics.org, seattlepi.com
El Dorado Two-Step (Featuring Tim O’Brien)- Eric Brace and Karl Straub
Hangtown Dancehall (A Tale of the California Gold Rush) is an ambitious ‘folk-opera’ by Eric Brace and Karl Straub. There are several reasons why it is an artistic success.
The theme – the Californian Gold Rush of 1848 – is a subject matter that continues to intrigue, as shown in the story in February 2014 about the couple who discovered 10 million dollars worth of gold coins, some dating back to 1848, in their back-yard.
The 22 tracks open with a neat instrumental called Sweet Betsy From Pike, which is based on an 1850s song by John Stone about a couple called Betsy and Ike, who travelled to California from Missouri in search of the gold in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Hangtown Dancehall takes up the bitter-sweet tale of these young prospectors and what may have happened to them. There is real passion and originality in the lyrics and this is an album over which incredible care has been taken.
The songs are woven into a moving and engaging story but they also work as a individual pieces of music…
-Martin Chilton, March 4, 2014, telegraph.co.uk
As front man of the acclaimed roots-rock band Last Train Home, as a solo artist, and as a duo with songsmith Peter Cooper, Eric Brace is a prolific and admired artist. A former music journalist for the Washington Post, Brace relocated to Nashville in 2003. He has released eight CDs and one live concert DVD with Last Train Home (Last Train Home, True North, Holiday Limited, Time and Water, Bound Away, Tributaries, Last Good Kiss, and Live at IOTA), as well as a sublime album called The Skylighters, where Brace led a band that included bluegrass luminaries Mike Auldridge on dobro and Jimmy Gaudreau playing mandolin.
After moving to Nashville, Brace began touring and recording with duo partner Peter Cooper, and the pair has two much-lauded albums to their credit.
Karl Straub is a D.C. area songwriter whose material has been covered by numerous artists, including Last Train Home, Mary Battiata and Little Pink, the Grandsons, Mark Noone, Virginia Coalition, Kevin Johnson, Lisa Moscatiello, the Kennedys, Cowlick Lucy, Eugene Chadbourne, and Lee Wilhoit. His latest album is “Harlem Hayride,” the last Graverobbers full-length which was unfinished for years but recently polished off and sent out into the world in both digital and vinyl incarnations.
Upcoming releases include “Hangtown Dancehall,” a song cycle collaboration with Eric Brace that features Kelly Willis, Jason Ringenberg, and John Wesley Harding, as well as an album of trashy rock and roll with side project CrowTown.
Straub songs have been performed everywhere from open mikes to Wolf Trap, the Birchmere, and the Kennedy Center, and reportedly a festival in Antarctica. Straub’s cult following includes cross dressers, rednecks, and sushi chefs, as well as many musicians and children, (most of whom remember his lyrics better than he does)Straub has been performing original songs since 1985. His former band, the Graverobbers, released 3 albums and 3 singles, as well as contributing tracks to various compilations. “Americana Motel,” (a collection of cuts by local roots-oriented acts) featured Straub’s material, and a smorgasbord of local players and singers recorded his song “Don’t Take Advice.” The album was on the Wall Street Journal’s top ten list for 2001, and the recognition by his peers helped garner Straub a Washington Area MUSIC Association nomination for Songwriter of the Year.
Straub has written all kinds of songs. A typical show features fuzzy rock and roll, Elvis Costello-esque pop songs, bubblegum, swinging jazz, and honky-tonk country a la Hank Williams. Straub’s Gatton-influenced Telecaster guitar playing is featured, and his guitar solos sound like a blend of Freddie King, James Burton, and Lester Young. The Combo ranges from stripped down guitar rock and roll unit to the deluxe version with keyboards, steel guitar, and horns.
Straub’s lyrics are all over the map, sometimes frank, sometimes impressionistic.
Until The End- Andrea Schroeder
Once in a while, Germany offers uniquely talented female singers, and Andrea is one of those. Draw yourself a line from Marlene Dietrich over to Nico, add some dashes Chamber Pop in the vein of The Tindersticks to it and you come close. Discovered and loved by such illustrious people like Charles Plymell or Mike Watt, Andrea Schroeder is such an exceptional phenomenon. She’s a musical poetess, with an outstanding voice that is as fascinating as her thrilling and melancholic lyrics. „Where The Wild Oceans End“ is Andrea’s second album produced by Chris Eckman (The Walkabouts, Tamikrest, Midnight Choir) and analogue recorded at the Ocean Sound Recording Studios, Norway very close to the Atlantic coast. If you compare her forthcoming release to the critical acclaimed debut album „Blackbird“ you must admit that she has taken the next big step. Andrea Schroeder and her band, including Danish guitarist and songwriting partner Jesper Lehmkuhl (Farmen), have made an unbelievable progression since releasing „Blackbird“ on Glitterhouse Records in 2012. Focussing on her seductive but threatening voice and the charateristic melancholic storys Andrea’s musical vision is still growing. „Where The Wild Oceans End“ is an album as it was made from one piece: it leaves its marks but inspires your soul and ends in deepest satisfaction. (Glitterhouse Records)
Photo by: Dixie Schmiedle
M80 – Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen
Since Frank Solivan left the cold climes of Alaska for the bluegrass hotbed of Washington, D.C., he’s built a reputation as a monster mandolinist — and become a major festival attraction with his band, Dirty Kitchen. Solivan and banjoist Mike Munford (2013 IBMA Banjo Player of the Year), guitarist Chris Luquette (IBMA Instrumentalist of the Year Momentum Award winner) and doghouse bassist Dan Booth simmer a bluegrass/newgrass stew from instrumental, vocal and songwriting skills so hot, they also earned 2012 and 2013 Best Bluegrass Band honors from the Washington Area Music Association.
It flavors every note of their new album, On the Edge, which Engine 145 dubbed, “a fine sophomore release from one of the most exciting bands in bluegrass today.”
With their second release, Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen could now be reaching the kind of name recognition that puts them into any conversation about the elite contemporary bands. Their debut, which hit the bluegrass charts and launched a single, “Driftin’ Apart,” to number eight, gave them a good start toward that distinction. On The Edge might be the recording to do it.
Certainly the intricate and precision-demanding arrangements coupled with the high caliber of musicianship necessary to make them work is much in their favor. Solivan, an immense talent as both a lead singer and as a mandolinist and fiddler, and founding member Mike Munford, who spins out some of the finest and stylistically-distinct banjo solos going, are known quantities and are at their best here. Newcomers Chris Luquette on guitar and vocals and Danny Booth on bass and vocals are more than equal to the task.
Poor Man’s Son- Noah Gundersen
Pop-folk singer and songwriter Noah Gundersen was born May 31, 1989 in Olympia, Washington into an extremely religious but also very musical family that frowned on secular music, a view that he eventually abandoned. Gundersen began taking piano lessons before he was a teen, and after inheriting an electric Epiphone guitar from his father in 2002, he began tracking songs on his father’s recording equipment. By the time he was 16, Gundersen was gigging in the local cafes, and in 2006 his sister, Abby, an excellent violinist, cellist, pianist, and harmony singer, began to accompany him. The duo added a rhythm section and began performing as a full band under the name the Courage. Gundersen also formed the post-hardcore group Beneath Oceans in 2007, but after finishing an unreleased EP, the band called it quits in 2008 and Gundersen resumed his solo career.
-Steve Leggett, AllMusic.com
Despite his young age, Washington-based singer-songwriter Noah Gundersen has wasted no time establishing himself as a musical force to be reckoned with. Bursting on to the scene in the summer of 2008 with his debut EP Brand New World, the then 19-year-old immediately began turning heads with his velvety exposition and razor-sharp lyrics, and would go on to release two additional EPs, as well as a complete album with the help of his former band, The Courage. A regular contributor to popular television dramas such as Sons of Anarchy and The Vampire Diaries, Gundersen’s unique brand of honest indie-folk has garnered a devoted and ever-growing fan base.
On his debut LP Ledges, Gundersen continues to add to his already impressive list of releases by crafting a thought-provoking rollercoaster. Recorded at Seattle’s Studio Litho, the album itself is calculated and unyielding, somersaulting its way around a menagerie of heavy, yet unavoidable topics. The young songwriter’s provocative work has been spread across 11 original tracks, resulting in a cohesive effort whose beauty and focus make it destined for subsequent listens.
This is apparent from the album opener, “Poor Man’s Son.” An integral fixture in Gundersen’s live performance, within seconds listeners are shrouded in ebbing group vocals accompanied only by stark silence. With Noah’s wispy voice leaping just slightly higher than those of his peers, what starts as a gentle ripple slowly swells to a towering crescendo, setting a powerful backdrop for the songs to come.
The album’s title track finds Gundersen searching for relevance by intimately showcasing his inner most fears, all in an effort to find out what makes “a better man.” This pervasive hunt for purpose thrives on structural simplicity, and cascades forward with the support of an airy violin hook.
-Kyle Florence, February 10, 2014, underthegunreview.net
House Of Cards- Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials
A bazooka assault of foot-stompin’ blues and slow-burnin’ knee-bucklers.” -Chicago Sun-Times
“Full of fire, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials hit the floor running and accelerate from there. High-octane, expressive, fiercely articulated, harrowing intensity, raucous slide.” -Living Blues
From working at Chicago’s Red Carpet Car Wash to appearing on national television, from gigging at the smallest ghetto blues bars to performing on the biggest international concert stages, master bluesman Lil’ Ed Williams has come a long way. Mixing smoking slide guitar boogies and raw-boned Chicago shuffles with the deepest slow-burners, Lil’ Ed and his blistering Blues Imperials – bassist James “Pookie” Young, guitarist Mike Garrett and drummer Kelly Littleton – deliver the blues, from gloriously riotous and rollicking to intensely emotional and moving. Not since the heyday of Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers has a blues band made such a consistently joyful noise. Currently celebrating 24 rip-roaring years together, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials ply their musical talents with skills that have been honed to a razor’s edge. As much a family as a band, Lil’ Ed, Pookie, Mike and Kelly have outlasted sports stars and presidents, musical fads and fashion trends. And together, they continue to make blues history with each and every performance and new recording.
The band’s wildly energetic and seriously soulful new CD Jump Start is jam-packed with Lil’ Ed’s incendiary slide playing and rough, passionate singing, as the ragged-but-right Blues Imperials cook like mad alongside him.
“The world’s #1 houserocking blues band.” – Boston Globe
“With a jumping band pumping behind him, Lil’ Ed blasts wild, passionate, blazing-hot slide…powerful, raucous boogie blues that’s utterly devoid of rock, jazz or fusion influences .”
– Guitar Player
“Raw-boned, old-fashioned Chicago blues has a new young master–Lil’ Ed Williams.”
– New York Times
“Ed plays slide guitar like a back-alley shiv…high-decibal, gutbucket blues at its most brutally honest.”
“The liveliest blues showman alive, with an explosive, good-rocking guitar sound and the stage moves to match. Raw, gutbucket blues sure to get you up and dancing.”
– Philadelphia Daily News
“A party band in the best sense of the word…the hottest purveyors of bottleneck boogie to come out of Chicago since Hound Dog Taylor .”
– Boston Globe
“The meanest bottle neck boogie blues around. This roughhousin’ stage spitfire will ignite any crowd… Rollicking good fun and raw intensity.”
– Austin Chronicle
House Of Cards- Rachel Harrington
Imagine Loretta Lynn playing Otis Redding songs in a garage in Seattle – in 1963. That gets you somewhere near the territory being scouted out by Rachel Harrington on her newest adventure.
A winner in the 2011 songwriting contest at Merlefest, Harrington was busy last year. She released Celilo Falls to rave reviews (4-stars in Q, Mojo, The Irish Times) and generous airplay (one of the top-40 most played albums on folk radio last year), and then spent months on the road touring. Asked to perform in Seattle Theater Group’s annual Patsy Cline tribute show this past summer, Harrington found herself talking backstage with a host of fellow girl singers and musicians. It didn’t take long for their shared love of honkytonk, classic country, early rock and the Bakersfield sound to become obvious. Rachel’s new band (dubbed The Knock Outs) was born there backstage and christened with a few shots of whisky. Harrington then set to work on writing fresh material for the group.
FOUR STARS: “ancient-sounding country noir … Harrington is all about what’s left off her songs, and the skeletal arrangements leave the listener to fill in the unspoken terrors and tenderness that lie beneath”
Bury Me Close: #34 on Q’s 50 Essential Tracks To Download This Month
~Q magazine (Feb 2011)
FOUR STARS: “songs that conjure the ghosts of old America”
~Mojo (Feb 2011)
FOUR STARS: The Irish Times Top-10 Albums of the Year List includes cds by Bruce Springsteen, Richard Thompson, Willie Nelson, Robert Plant and Neil Young. At #7, Rachel Harrington’s Celilo Falls.
~The Irish Times (Dec 2010)
FOUR STARS: “a compelling blend of twang and swing … a sharply rendered sound portrait”
~Songlines (Jan 2011)
“some of 2010′s most heart warming tracks with its timeless, traditional take on American folk. An inspiring album indeed!”
~Neon Filler (UK) # 6 Album Of The Year (2010) ~Bluebunny
FOUR ½ STARS: “drawn from traditional American folk, shades of bluegrass, country and a rural soul, it is music which transcends its own influences (Townes Van Zandt, Lyle Lovett, the Carter Family and all the way down those Smithsonian Folkways) before being realised as a wonderfully authentic sound”
Cards On The Table- James Harman Band
JAMES HARMAN was born and raised in Anniston, Alabama-quickly picked up on the black blues and soul music being played on juke boxes and the radio. He sang in the church choir until age 16 when his family moved to Panama City Florida, where he found himself surrounded by like-minded blues lovers. Wearing a fake moustache, young James slipped into a still segregated black nightclub to see Little Junior Parker’s show. He was totally overtaken by the blues and soon became a regular, known as “That boy who sings like a man” by patrons.
While still in his teens, he started playing juke joints and dance clubs throughout the South. Hs performances became legendary-he was “tapped” by talent scouts, signed and taken to Atlanta, Georgia in 1964 to begin his recording career at age 18. He had a series of nine singles (45 RPM records) released during the mid to late 60′s on obscure southern labels. He tried several restarts in new home bases including Chicago in ’65, New York in ’66, Miami in ’68 and New Orleans in ‘69.
During his stay in Miami Harman was befriended by fellow record collectors Henry Vestine, Alan Wilson and Bob Hite of Canned Heat, who persuaded him to move to California, promising to help him get re-started. Harman made his move to SoCal in 1970, and true to their word, Canned Heat insisted on Harman’s Icehouse Blues Band as their opening act on many big shows. Icehouse Blues Band became established at venues such as The Golden Bear, The Ash Grove, The Troubadour and The Lighthouse, which all booked real blues artists.
James Harman was soon in demand for his own shows, as well as backing every living blues artist who was touring without a band.
All I Wanna Do Is Play Cards- Corb Lund
Corb Lund is a Canadian roots-country singer/songwriter whose third album, Five Dollar Bill (2002), established him as a favorite among critics. Prior to his mainstream breakthrough, he was a member of the Smalls, a punk rock band from Edmonton who never attained commercial success but were a regional favorite during the 1990s. Born in Alberta, where he grew up on his family’s farm in the small town of Taber, Lund moved to Edmonton to study music at Grant MacEwan Community College. In 1990 he co-founded the Smalls with a few college friends.
-Jason Birchmeier, AllMusic.com
Photo by: Scott McClellan
Laid My Cards On The Table- Washboard Sam
A popular hokum blues artist, Washboard Sam recorded hundreds of records in the late ’30s and ’40s, usually with singer/guitarist Big Bill Broonzy. Out of all the washboard players of the era, Sam was the most popular, which was due not only to his to his washboard talent, but also to his skills as a songwriter, as well as his strong voice. As an accompanist, Sam not only played with Broonzy, but also with bluesmen like Bukka White, Memphis Slim, Willie Lacey, and Jazz Gillum.
Washboard Sam (born Robert Brown) was the illegitimate son of Frank Broonzy, who also fathered Big Bill Broonzy. Sam was raised in Arkansas and worked on a farm. He moved to Memphis in the early ’20s to play the blues. While in Memphis, he met Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon and the trio played street corners, collecting tips from passers-by. In 1932, Sam moved to Chicago. Initially he played for tips, but soon he began performing regularly with Big Bill Broonzy. Within a few years, Sam was supporting Broonzy on the guitarist’s Bluebird recordings, and he began supporting a number of different musicians on their recording sessions, including pianist Memphis Slim, bassist Ransom Knowlin, and a handful of saxophone players, who all recorded for Bluebird.
In 1935, Washboard Sam began recording for both Bluebird and Vocalion Records, often supported by Big Bill Broonzy. Throughout the rest of the ’30s and the ’40s, Sam was one of the most popular Chicago bluesmen, selling numerous records and playing to packed audiences. After World War II, his audience began to shrink, largely because he had difficulty adapting to the new electric blues.
-Cub Koda, AllMusic.com
Turn The Cards Slowly- Patsy Cline
One of the greatest singers in the history of country music, Patsy Cline also helped blaze a trail for female singers to assert themselves as an integral part of the Nashville-dominated country music industry. She was not alone in this regard; Kitty Wells had become a star several years before Cline’s big hits in the early ’60s. Brenda Lee, who shared Cline’s producer, did just as much to create a country-pop crossover during the same era; Skeeter Davis briefly enjoyed similar success. Cline has the most legendary aura of any female country singer, however, perhaps due to an early death that cut her off just after she had entered her prime.
Cline began recording in the mid-’50s, and although she recorded quite a bit of material between 1955 and 1960 (17 singles in all), only one of them was a hit. That song, “Walkin’ After Midnight,” was both a classic and a Top 20 pop smash. Those who are accustomed to Cline’s famous early-’60s hits are in for a bit of a shock when surveying her ’50s sessions (which have been reissued on several Rhino compilations). At times she sang flat-out rockabilly; she also tried some churchy tear-weepers. She couldn’t follow up “Walkin’ After Midnight,” however, in part because of an exploitative deal that limited her to songs from one publishing company.
Circumstances were not wholly to blame for Cline’s commercial failures. She would have never made it as a rockabilly singer, lacking the conviction of Wanda Jackson or the spunk of Brenda Lee. In fact, in comparison with her best work, she sounds rather stiff and ill-at-ease on most of her early singles. Things took a radical turn for the better on all fronts in 1960, when her initial contract expired. With the help of producer Owen Bradley (who had worked on her sessions all along), Cline began selecting material that was both more suitable and of a higher quality than her previous outings.
“I Fall to Pieces,” cut at the very first session where Cline was at liberty to record what she wanted, was the turning point in her career. Reaching number one in the country charts and number 12 pop, it was the first of several country-pop crossovers she was to enjoy over the next couple of years. More important, it set a prototype for commercial Nashville country at its best. Owen Bradley crafted lush orchestral arrangements, with weeping strings and backup vocals by the Jordanaires, that owed more to pop (in the best sense) than country.
-Richie Unterberger, AllMusic.com