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Pics, bios, reviews, album art and links to where you can purchase the music featured on the show!
Booze and Lies- Shine Jar- “Getting Up To Rise”
Love Lies- Holly Cole- “Night”
Honey, I Ran Out Of Lies- Harmonica Shah- “Havin’ Nothin’ Don’t Bother Me”
Lies- Eric Clapton and Friends- “The Breeze- An Appreciation Of J.J. Cale”
Half Tank Of Gas, Full Tank Of Lies- The .357 String Band- “Lightning From The North”
Rock and Roll Lies- Mary Gauthier- “Dixie Kitchen”
Hot New Music:
Soup’s On- Adler & Hearne- “Second Nature”
After The Storm- Shovels & Rope- “Swimmin’ Time”
Swing That Thing- Luke Winslow-King- “Everlasting Arms”
Coal Miners’s Blues- Jemima James- “Nothing New”
Boomtown- Erik Koskinen- “America Theatre”
She Makes It Easy Now- Jesse Winchester- “A Reasonable Amount Of Trouble”
Truth! – Ruthie Foster- “The Truth According To Ruthie Foster”
Truth Be Told- Bill Kirchen- “Hammer Of The Honky Tonk Gods”
The Truth Will Set You Free- James Hand- “The Truth Will Set You Free”
The Truth About You- Rosanne Cash- “The Wheel”
Tell The Truth- Ray Charles- “The Birth Of Soul”
The Truth Of My Sweet Anna Lee (with John Oates)- Yarn- “Shine The Light On”
Truth Number One- Willie Nelson- “It Will Come To Pass”
** Keep scrolling down the page for our informative blog/program guide. Follow along as you listen! **
Booze and Lies- Shine Jar
Steeped in roots and a little 160 proof shine, Shine Jar brings you uncomplicated, relevant, in your face blues-rock sprinkled with right amount of outlaw
After writing songs in his bedroom for many years Dick Heuvels (Vocals, rhythm guitar), decided the time had come to share some of them with the world. Luck and a little help from Craigslist delivered him a bass player from Scotland (Iain Paton), a retired 70’s country drummer (Wayne Hoffman) and a Southern roots infused lead player (Chris Mohr). A collective appreciation of good music, “good” beer and good company quickly shaped the guys into a collective.
Focussing on originals with a sprinkling of rare and obscure covers, the band set out to create an original sound.
Love Lies- Holly Cole
Canadian vocalist Holly Cole isn’t one of those artists who falls into any one category. Her smoky voice is sultry, yet she’s ironically humorous and candid while reshaping traditional standards and pop classics. Jazz is her bedrock, but not exclusively.
Cole was a New Year’s baby born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1963. She was surrounded by music from an early age, for her parents were both classical musicians. As a kid, she immersed herself in pop music and classic rock & roll. Everyone in her family played piano; Cole mastered the instrument and in 1981, she took up professional singing lessons. Her older brother was talented as well. When Cole was 16, her brother took off for the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Cole joined her brother and his pals for an eight-week stint one summer. This break would ultimately lead Cole to her musical calling.
Cole’s brother had fallen in love with postwar jazz by the time his younger sister started tagging along. She was immediately taken by the intimacy and beauty of Sarah Vaughan, Anita O’Day, Billie Holiday, and Betty Carter. Jazz comprised an art that was both compelling and rich with deep emotion for Cole. She had found her base.
-MacKenzie Wilson, AllMusic.com
“The night is filled with secrets and the wonder of their potential.”
Holly Cole is a self-declared night owl, perfectly at home in the time between dusk and dawn, a dear friend of the wee small hours. It’s a fact that now finds firm and poetic expression in the title and content of her eagerly awaited new album – NIGHT.
Holly Cole’s artistic approach is born of silence. It’s the place she identifies as the place of origin for all things creative, supported by the inspiring aura of the night, protected from the information overload of modern life. To her, the night provides a stimulus of discovery and focus, offering peaceful retreat and contemplation.
This iconic Canadian songstress has produced an album that features a stylistically diverse and emotionally stirring collection of songs. It stands as a love letter to the night and its power – a celebration of the hours where daylight’s chatter has disappeared and turned into peaceful moments of creative possibility, providing a chance to see the world with different eyes and to listen with different ears. An invitation to intimacy.
The seeds were planted in her earliest family memory: suffering from a croupy cough, she was put on her father’s shoulders, walking out into the night while looking for relief. Mesmerized by new sensations, the little girl was enveloped by the mystery of the night and its secrets, well protected and healed. To keep re-discovering the world withthe “eyes of the night” has been a constant in her adult life. It’s a desire that re-invents itself in her artistry.
Her approach is organic, minimal, sensual and intense.
Honey, I Ran Out Of Lies- Harmonica Shah
Harmonica Shah’s roots are planted firmly in three pivotal blues regions. The West Coast, where he was born in Oakland, CA. on March 31, 1946. The Texas badlands, where he spent time in his youth with his grandfather, guitarist/harpist Sam Dawson (whom Alan Lomax recorded) and his equally beloved and despised adopted hometown of the Motor City, deep in the industrial heartland. His beautician mother, set him up as a JET magazine salesman in the late 1950’s, which opened up both the doors of Oakland’s bars and clubs and the enterpising young Shah’s ears to the music of Lowell Fulson, Jimmy McCracklin, Juke Boy Bonner and Big Mama Thornton, all of whom he found behind those doors.
Lies- Eric Clapton & Friends
Robert Johnson and J.J. Cale represent the yin and yang of Eric Clapton’s musical influences.
On one side is Johnson, the famously troubled Thirties-era Mississippi bluesman who moaned about hellhounds on his trail, spooks around his bed and those lowdown, shakin’ chills. On the other side is Cale, the famously laidback singer-songwriter from Tulsa who penned laconic odes to singin’ whippoorwills, “chugalugging” and shakin’ tambourines.
Clapton has covered the music of both men on several occasions throughout his career, taking Johnson’s “Crossroads” to the heights of blues-rock jam-outs with Cream in 1968 and earning massive commercial success as a solo artist with his versions of Cale’s insanely catchy “After Midnight” in 1970 and breezy “Cocaine” in 1977.
Yet, when looking back at Clapton’s work as a whole, one can’t help but notice that the Cale-influenced side of the equation takes up a much larger chunk of the pie, which was probably the result of the fact that Clapton actually got to meet and hang with Cale. Their bond lasted from the Seventies until Cale’s death in 2013 at age 74.
Clapton even had Cale’s phone number, something he’s still tickled about.
-Damian Fanelli, Sept. 3, 2014, guitarworld.com
J.J. Cale- Photo by: Jane Richey
Photo by: Brian Rooney
Half Tank Of Gas, Full Tank Of Lies- The .357 String Band
The .357 String Band toured hard all over North America and Europe from 2004-2012. Members: Derek W. Dunn, Joe Huber, Rick Ness, Billy Cook and Jayke Orvis
The Wisconsin state motto is simple – “Forward.” Milwaukee’s own .357 String Band epitomizes this spirit. Established in 2004, they have brought their relentless style of Americana from the West Coast of the U.S. to as far east as Serbia, playing over 600 shows in 10 different countries, and honing their razor sharp, adrenaline-fueled live show with a grueling tour schedule.
Anything but derivative, The .357 String Band pays homage to both the dark roots of Americana – the fatalistic murder ballads, sneering Outlaw Country and unforgiving Gospel. The result is something the band calls “Streetgrass.”
Using only stringed instruments, The .357 String Band plays with all the fire and fury of Rock & Roll; with an surprising musical and lyrical refinement.
Rock and Roll Lies- Mary Gauthier
In a Nashville bookstore, to the tune of steam hissing from a latte machine and laptop taps of nearby browsers, she speaks in a low voice, yet communicates urgently. Her voice never rises. Her music never rattles rafters or crashes like cymbals toward the high notes in a power chorus. Her tempos shuffle and trudge more than they dash.
And her songs? They’re about as idiosyncratic as anything in the wide world of “popular music.” They’re painfully personal, especially on Trouble and Love. Yet they somehow infiltrate the souls of her listeners, no matter how different the paths they’ve followed through their lives.
Those songs weren’t so much written as harvested by Gauthier. Though she lives not far from the hit-making mills of Music Row, she admits to knowing nothing about how to write on command. She says, “I have to be called to write. The call comes from somewhere I don’t understand, but I know it when I hear it.”
That call first came to her a long time ago. Her life to that point had led her to extremes, plenty of negatives and a few brilliant bright spots. An adopted child, who became a teenage runaway, she found her first shelter among addicts and Drag Queens. Eventually she achieved renown as a chef even while balancing the running of her restaurant with the demands of addiction to heroin.
Two more successful restaurants, an escalating addiction, and a subsequent arrest, led her into sobriety. All that was rehearsal for what to follow, when she wrote her first song in her mid-thirties.
Photo by: Jack Spencer
Soup’s On- Adler & Hearne
ADLER & HEARNE… a spirited blend of original ‘Texas Folk,’ with Jazz and Blues overtones.
September 2014 – From Texas’ upper east side in the rural arts hamlet of Winnsboro, award-winning performing songwriters Lynn Adler and Lindy Hearne (self-proclaimed “organic song farmers”) tour nationally, serving up seasoned original songs mixed with fresh harvests of homegrown music in a spirited and soulful genre they define simply as “Texas Folk,” with subtle jazz and blues overtones.
Adler & Hearne currently are on a four-month concert tour in support of their new CD “Second Nature,” produced by Texas music icon Lloyd Maines, recorded at The Zone in Dripping Springs, TX outside Austin, and officially released on Labor Day, September 1, 2014.
In June, the duo was honored by the Texas Commission on the Arts, being named to the state’s official Texas Touring Roster for the September 2014-1016 touring season.
In concert, she (Adler) and he (Hearne) blend their voices and instruments in a spirited signature sound that reflects their true second-nature connection through song. The two met in Nashville while on solo musical journeys. Years later their paths merged in Texas, where they formed the duo Adler & Hearne, along with their indie label Spring Hollow Records.
Photo by: Lindy Hearne
After The Storm- Shovels & Rope
Charleston, South Carolina-based indie folk duo Shovels & Rope consist of married singer/songwriters Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst. Like Trent, who also played with the indie rock band The Films, Hearst had spent the years prior pursuing a solo career, utilizing her raw yet melodious and expressive voice to deliver a handful of albums, one of which landed a single, “Hell’s Bells,” in the 2010 season of True Blood. Inspired by the likes of Woody Guthrie, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, The Cramps, and the soulful harmonies of Johnny Cash and June Carter, the pair provided tour support for like-minded artists such as Justin Townes Earle, Hayes Carll, and the Felice Brothers before heading into the studio to lay down the tracks for their debut. The resulting O’ Be Joyful, which channeled country, bluegrass, and blues through a nervy, indie rock prism, was released in 2012. The album fared well with critics and roots music fans, and at the 2013 Americana Music Honors & Awards, Shovels & Rope were named Best Emerging Artist. The duo’s second album, Swimmin’ Time, was released in August 2014.
-James Christopher Monger, AllMusic.com
These are the best of times for the Americana super duo Shovels and Rope. In a span of five years, the husband and wife team of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst have snatched national prominence from the jaws of certain obscurity using little more than a couple of beat up drums and two old guitars. If there ever was a story of outsider success over long shot odds by musicians (in the truest sense of the word) it can be found in the colorful ballad of Shovels and Rope. And if this is to be a fairy tale complete with all the classic elements—love at first sight, years of anguished separation, a glorious reunion, and finally the triumph of good over evil—then perhaps a bit of back story is in order.
-Raymond E. Lee, Sept. 2, 2014, popmatters.com
Swing That Thing- Luke Winslow-King
Luke Winslow King is a guitarist, singer, composer, and lyricist known for his slide guitar work, and interest in pre-war blues and traditional jazz. Winslow King’s work consists of an eclectic mix, taking in delta-folk music, classical composition, ragtime, and rock and roll; juxtaposing original songs with those from a bygone era.
Following his critically acclaimed Bloodshot Records debut The Coming Tide in 2013, LWK (for brevity’s sake) has been as hardworking a musician as they come. Subsequent tours in the United States and overseas with his singing partner (and now wife) Esther Rose and a mutating band (including the core of upright bassist Cassidy Holden, drummer Benji Bohannon, and trumpeter/keyboardist Ben Polcer) landed the group in front of larger audiences while sharing the stage with the likes of Jack White, Pokey Lafarge, Taj Mahal, Chris Thile, and Rebirth Brass Band. Winslow King’s second release for Bloodshot in as many years, Everlasting Arms finds inspiration in the developmental experiences of life and has LWK & Co. building upon previous creative efforts with a wider scope, exploring a sonically and stylistically panoramic songwriting vision.
It is no secret that Winslow King is a student of the arts and an ambassador for New Orleans’s rich and colorful culture. As a teen he attended the Interlochen Center for the Arts near his hometown of Cadillac, MI. Later he studied music theory at University of New Orleans and eventually received a scholarship to study music abroad in Prague, Czech Republic.
Hallelujah — An absolute joy from start to finish.
Although he’s been around for quite a while and has even visited my favourite watering hole several times, I’ve never had the urge to investigate Luke Winslow-King’s music, presuming him to be yet another one-trick pony old-timey act. How wrong was I?
Winslow-King’s fourth full-length album opens with the joyous “Everlasting Love,” that has a jaunty Skiffle beat but sounds as fresh as a sprig of mint. The album goes through a further 13 songs that slip and slide gracefully through elements of jazz, country, folk and ragtime, never failing to get the toes a-tapping and my eyes a-twinkling.
- Harrisonaphotos, September 12, 2014, nodepression.com
Coal Miner’s Blues- Jemima James
“Nobody sounds like Jemima James, she is the very definition of a soul singer, her voice is rich and plaintive, her storytelling salty and true, and she has a hell of a way with words.”
— Mara Carlyle
“Sit back, get comfortable and prepare to receive the Real Deal. Jemima James will make you laugh, make you cry and make you glad you came to hear this embodiment of wisdom and wit. This gal has it all; chops, style and humanity all rolled up in a package just for you. Do not miss this singer and song slinger when she comes to your town. Then, yes, you can thank me for encouraging you to get there! I will happily say ‘I told you so!'”
— Kate Taylor
Last year, West Tisbury musician and songwriter Jemima James fashioned a sweet collection of songs into a wonderful, well-balanced, easy listening album titled “Nothing New.” She assembled a stellar collection of musician friends and family to record the CD here on the Vineyard. Many of the songs Ms. James has performed for years. The only song on the CD she did not write is an upbeat group sing along, a rendition of the Hazel Dickens tune “Coal Miner’s Blues.”
Ms. James’s rich voice easily covers the range of songs on the album, which run the emotional gamut from plaintive to plain-old-good-time. The CD has a little country, a little folk, a little bluegrass, a little ragtime, a little rock — and a lot of good songwriting.
Ms. James has been creating songs for 40 years, recording with the likes of guitarist Michael Bloomfield, and Delta Blues singer George Higgs. She and her husband, Michael Mason, were employed as songwriters in New York City decades ago. Ms. James’s experience shows in the emotional depth of her lyrics.
- April 15, 2014, mvtimes.com
Boomtown- Erik Koskinen
Erik Koskinen’s America Theatre is a translucent eulogy to the genuine. Musically sprouted from the blend of American folk, country, rock-n-roll, and blues, Koskinen and his top-shelf band realize a sound that is distinctive and fresh while familiar and classic. From the tender opener, “First Time in Years” to the defiant “Six Pack of Beer” to “Boomtown,” a track that flays the history of the west’s settlement from bedrock to fracking with a locomotive’s force of barbwire guitars, marching bass and cracking drums, Koskinen moves the listener through a landscape of personal and social struggles, as well as small triumphs, of our nation and its people.
“He has the ability to create a song, and a sound, that feels natural, intimate and exciting all at the same time, which is something only the truly great songwriters and musicians can claim.”
- Rich Larson, February 13, 2014, southernminn.com
“The state’s best pure country singer/songwriter.”
– Jon Bream, Star Tribune
“The real deal: Erik Koskinen’s authenticity comes through.”
– Jim Walsh, Minn Post
“The album’s subject matter could probably be called ‘blue collar realism'”
– Dupsyk, Missoula Independant
“I’ve been a fan of Erik’s for years now and America Theatre is my favorite album yet. The songs, the band, the sound….amazing.”
– Dave Simonett, Trampled by Turtles
She Makes It Easy Now- Jesse Winchester
If you listen to many of the songs Jesse Winchester wrote in his four-decade career, tragically cut short by his death at 69 from cancer in April 2014, you’ll hear most of the elements of what’s become known as “Americana” – detailed, empathetic stories of everyday people (including himself) set to music incorporating folk, country, bluegrass, blues and gospel influences.
How ironic, then, that a musician with such a strong sense of personal and musical roots should make the life changing decision to leave his Memphis home in 1967 and resettle in Canada in defiance of his draft notice, a.k.a. an invitation to fight in Vietnam.
Born on the army base – another irony – in Bossier City, La., where his father was stationed, Jesse was mostly raised in Memphis, where the Winchester name was well-established in local politics and society. There were ten years of piano lessons ahead, playing guitar in high school bands, and attendance at Williams College in Massachusetts, where Jesse made the first dramatic change in his life. During a year of studies overseas, he joined a rock band in Munich, Germany, and toured there before and after his 1966 graduation.
But in the mid-Sixties, graduating from college almost inevitably led to military service, and Jesse soon received his draft notice back in Memphis. Aware of the consequences, he bought a one-way ticket to Montreal and fly north with his guitar and a few hundred dollars.
After a few years of playing piano in Canadian bars and teaching himself to write songs, Jesse met Robbie Robertson, lead guitarist and main writer for The Band, the legendary quintet of former Dylan backing musicians, “through a friend of a friend.”
“Say what needs saying….and then try not to say anything else.”
— Jesse Winchester on what makes a good song
Goodbye is the hardest thing to say. For songmakers, and those of us who actually do much more than just listen to them, a farewell has a bittersweet inevitability. There is a certain melancholy that pervades singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester’s final collection of songs, A Reasonable Amount of Trouble, before his untimely passing last April to cancer. It is hard to gauge how much of this is due to this listener’s own sense of melancholy over the artist’s passing and how much comes from the deep sense of bittersweet farewell woven into every track of this album. But, this is no reason to avoid this final work of one of America’s finest songwriters. In fact, in essence, it’s possibly one of the most life affirming and uplifting Americana albums of the year.
It was over 40 years ago that Jesse Winchester’s first album came out with such pure, straightforward songs as “Yankee Lady” and “The Brand New Tenessee Waltz”, boasting production by the Band’s Robbie Robertson. He was an organically independent artist who tempered his gentle Southern romanticism with strains of blues, country, and folk. Later in his career, he would even throw in some doo-wop and appealing pop covers. He was among the first American artist to blur the line between author, poet, lyricist, and storyteller in a way that helped to create a new form of songwriting that embraced both the troubadour and the philosopher, all wrapped up in the fine vintage wine of his tenor voice. It all emerged from this Southern gentleman’s soul.
-Terry Roland, September 14, 2014, nodepression.com
Photo by: Cynthia Winchester
Truth! – Ruthie Foster
With a naturally expressive voice that has drawn comparisons to greats like Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald, Texas-based singer and songwriter Ruthie Foster has a wide palette of American song forms — gospel and blues to jazz, folk, and soul — and her live performances are powerfully transfiguring. Foster grew up in Gause, Texas, a small town in the Brazos Valley southeast of Dallas, and even as a child she was fascinated by music; she listened to everything she could, hearing and absorbing not just gospel and blues, but also the country and pop songs she heard on the radio. By the age of 14 she was a soloist in a local choir and was certain that her future would revolve around music. When she moved to Waco to attend community college, her studies concentrated around music and audio engineering. She also began fronting a blues band, learning how to command a stage in the rough bars of Texas. Hoping to travel and gain a wider-world perspective, Foster joined the Navy, but her obvious musical talents soon had her singing with Pride, a Navy band that played pop and funk hits at recruitment drives in the southeastern U.S.
Following her tour of duty, Foster landed in New York City, where she regularly played various folk venues. Atlantic Records offered her a recording deal, figuring they had a budding pop star on their hands, but Foster wasn’t interested in moving in that direction, preferring instead to explore the various strains of American roots music that had informed her childhood.
-Steve Leggett, AllMusic.com
Ruthie Foster has plenty of soul in her voice and the funky music she enjoys, enough to spread around to many listeners of populist contemporary blues and beyond. Blessed with solid chops and a style to match, Foster brings down the house on this set of tunes that crosses over to dance music through acoustic folk-pop at times, and most certainly rock & roll. With electric guitarist Robben Ford, keyboardist Jim Dickinson in one of his last studio efforts before passing away, and a horn section steeped in Memphis R&B, Foster has a very potent band to support and lift her up.
-Michael G. Nastos, AllMusic.com
Truth Be Told- Bill Kirchen
Johnny Cash – “I think he’s great.”
Nick Lowe – “A devastating culmination of the elegant and the funky, a really sensational musician with enormous depth.”
Pop Matters – “He is one of the singular instrumental stylists of American roots music, and to hear his sound once is to have it indelibly etched on one’s musical memory.”
No Depression – “You might call [Hot Rod Lincoln] the Triumph of the Telecaster. Then again, you might say that about Kirchen’s whole career.”
3rd Coast Music – “Most discographies have their ups and downs, but Bill Kirchen’s albums just get better and better.”
San Francisco Chronicle – “Kirchen can count on the respect of anybody who knows his work.”
Puremusic.com – “one of the classic American artists.”
Austin-American Statesman – “Bill Kirchen rules, it’s just that simple…scorching guitar runs in all directions…”
Indy Week – “one of the best guitarists in the land”
Vintage Guitar Magazine – “an American treasure”
Washington City Paper – “Like an impassioned preacher in a souped-up convertible, Kirchen described passing Muddy Waters, Link Wray, Merle Haggard, B. B. King, Carl Perkins, Jimi Hendrix and more, nodding in tribute to each one with a perfect guitar quotation as he drove by. … Bill Kirchen took every one for the ride of their lives in his Hot Rod Lincoln.”
Rolling Stone – “Opening night was particularly special due to the presence of Les Paul and Albert Lee, … Bill Kirchen cranked up his Tele for a set that gave the crowd a hotfoot, sparked by his epic cover of [‘Hot Rod Lincoln’]. (review of Danny Gatton Tribute, New York, Tramps)”
Grammy nominated guitarist, singer and songwriter Bill Kirchen is one of the fortunate few who can step onto any stage, play those trademark licks that drove his seminal Commander Cody classic Hot Rod Lincoln into the Top Ten, and elicit instant recognition for a career that has spanned over 40 years and includes guitar work with Nick Lowe, Emmylou Harris, Doug Sahm, Elvis Costello and many more. Named “A Titan of the Telecaster” by Guitar Player Magazine, he celebrates an American musical tradition where rock ‘n’ roll and country music draws upon its origins in blues and bluegrass, Western swing from Texas and California honky-tonk.
Any good rockabilly knows without a doubt that Bill Kirchen is the undisputed king of dieselbilly rock… What some may not know is that he has a heart, golden with country roots, that perfectly accents his amazing telecaster virtuosity. On his newest release, Hammer Of The Honky-Tonk Gods, Kirchen struts not only his amazing twang, but some of his finest songwriting. Joined by an all star cast of musicians, including Nick Lowe (who co-produced as well) on bass guitar and Robert Trehern on drums, this album truly cements Kirchen’s place among the elite of real country musicians.
-Embo Blake, hybridmagazine.com
The Truth Will Set You Free- James Hand
“Folks, like I said before and it’s STILL true, James Hand is the real deal!”
– Willie Nelson
Though he’s been making powerful original Country music for over forty years, until recently James Hand had unjustly remained one of American music’s secret treasures — a local legend in Texas, modestly plying his craft in countless smoky dives and dancehalls to a slowly widening circle of admirers. What he does, he does straight from his heart, taking the hard-won lessons that life and love have taught him and pouring them into his songwriting and performing. James Hand sings like nobody but himself, his phrasing drawing out the pain and humor of his lyrics with an unpredictable yet soulful series of tiny inflections. His songs are equally mysterious and unclassifiable. While they are noticeably rich with the influences of his heroes — classic country architects like Hank, Lefty, and Ernest — Hand’s songs are uniquely his, imbued with equal parts gallows humor and the ability to stare unflinchingly into life’s darkest corners.
Today at the unlikely age of 55, Hand is just starting to receive the attention he deserves after having released his first nationally-distributed album in 2006, The Truth Will Set You Free, produced by Asleep at the Wheel frontman Ray Benson and legendary Texas producer and multi-instrumentalist Lloyd Maines.
A local legend in West Texas, James Hand spent the better part of four decades writing and playing pure honky tonk country before he earned any significant attention outside the Lone Star State, when Rounder Records released his first nationally distributed album, 2006’s The Truth Will Set You Free. James Hand was born in 1952 in Waco, TX, and developed a passion for country music early in life, joining a band that was playing local roadhouses at the age of 12. While Hand loved music, 15 dollars a night and free beer weren’t enough to keep body and soul together, and he took up a career as a horse trainer.
-Mark Deming, AllMusic.com
James Hand sounds like the kind of guy who was playing hard honky tonk music in beer bars and roadhouses long before “Young Country” reared its ugly head and made his music unfashionable, and there’s a good reason why — he’s been doing just that in a career that has spanned four decades. After all that time, Rounder Records finally took a chance on him and released Hand’s first nationally distributed album, The Truth Will Set You Free, in 2006. While one can clearly hear hints of Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, Hank Thompson, and Johnny Horton in Hand’s strong, lonesome voice and songs of broken hearts and hard living, he doesn’t sound like he’s trying to copy anyone so much as he’s writing and performing in the style of these creative contemporaries, and at its best The Truth Will Set You Free plays like a country record that could have been made 40 years ago without suggesting this man is playing at being “retro.” (He still has his day job as a horse trainer, which tells you plenty about his attitude towards the current state of Nashville.)
-Mark Deming, AllMusic.com
Photo by: Rich Chapla
The Truth About You- Rosanne Cash
The history of popular music is littered with the careers of the children of famous artists, performers who manage to carve out some small measure of success based far less on talent than on the recognition that their famous names afford them. Perhaps no greater exception to this trend was Rosanne Cash, the daughter of Johnny Cash, whose idiosyncratic and innovative music made her one of the preeminent singer/songwriters of her day.
Born May 24, 1955, to her father and his first wife, Vivian Liberto, Rosanne was raised by her mother in Southern California after her parents separated in the early ’60s. She was largely uninfluenced by her father’s music until she joined his road show following her graduation from high school; over a three-year period, she was promoted from handling the tour’s laundry duties to performing, first as a backup singer and then as an infrequent soloist. Still, Cash remained unsure about choosing a career in music, and took some acting classes; not wishing to succeed solely on the basis of her family’s influence, she also worked as a secretary in London and traveled extensively abroad.
-Jason Ankeny, AllMusic.com
Like the dark, cathartic Interiors, The Wheel is an introspective, soul-searching set of confessional songs revolving around love and relationships. While many of the themes and emotions of Interiors are repeated on The Wheel, Rosanne Cash hasn’t repeated herself, either lyrically or musically. Working from the same combination of folk and country that has fueled her songwriting throughout her career, she has created an album of subtle, melodic grace that helps convey the deep feelings of her lyrics. It’s an immaculately produced album, but that never detracts from the emotional core of Cash’s music.
-Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic.com
Photo by: Clay Patrick McBride
Tell The Truth- Ray Charles
Ray Charles was the musician most responsible for developing soul music. Singers like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson also did a great deal to pioneer the form, but Charles did even more to devise a new form of black pop by merging ’50s R&B with gospel-powered vocals, adding plenty of flavor from contemporary jazz, blues, and (in the ’60s) country. Then there was his singing; his style was among the most emotional and easily identifiable of any 20th century performer, up there with the likes of Elvis and Billie Holiday. He was also a superb keyboard player, arranger, and bandleader. The brilliance of his 1950s and ’60s work, however, can’t obscure the fact that he made few classic tracks after the mid-’60s, though he recorded often and performed until the year before his death.
Blind since the age of six (from glaucoma), Charles studied composition and learned many instruments at the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and the Blind. His parents had died by his early teens, and he worked as a musician in Florida for a while before using his savings to move to Seattle in 1947.
- Richie Unterberger, AllMusic.com
The title isn’t just hype — this absolutely essential three-disc box is where soul music first took shape and soared, courtesy of Ray Charles’ church-soaked pipes and bedrock piano work. Brother Ray’s formula for inventing the genre was disarmingly simple: he brought gospel intensity to the R&B world with his seminal “I Got a Woman,” “Hallelujah I Love Her So,” “Leave My Woman Alone,” “You Be My Baby,” and the primal 1959 call-and-response classic “What’d I Say.” There’s plenty of brilliant blues content within these 53 historic sides: Charles’ mournful “Losing Hand,” “Feelin’ Sad,” “Hard Times,” and “Blackjack” ooze after-hours desperation. No blues collection should be without this boxed set, which comes with well-researched notes by Robert Palmer, a nicely illustrated accompanying booklet, and discographical info aplenty.
-Bill Dahl, AllMusic.com
The Truth Of My Sweet Anna Lee (with John Oates)- Yarn
Since their start in 2007, Yarn’s original Americana sound has developed into music that seekers of the unique see as the soundtrack to their lives. Yarn’s albums were recognized by the AMA’s and R&R radio charts, spending time in the top 5 at their highest point. Yarn has become one of the hardest-working and harder-touring bands for this generation’s digital natives and new music folllowers.
2013 brings this grammy-nominated roots band into the music revolution, inspired by today’s music devotee’s hunger for artists to believe in and follow, they are giving it to the fans everyday in everyway possible. Yarn’s devotion to their fans is realized in online and social sharing of their music, whether it’s daily video posts, premiering fresh songs on local radio, or performing live in small town venues across the country. They are bringing songs to American music lovers, and the music lovers are responding.
Truth Number One- Willie Nelson
Every word of the winding title It Will Come to Pass: The Metaphysical Worlds and Poetic Introspections of Willie Nelson indicates that this 2014 Omni compilation is no standard Willie Nelson collection. As is its wont, Omni specializes in the Nashville netherworld that exists somewhere between Tennessee and Hollywood, a place Willie explored quite often in the ’60s. Often when his story is told, it’s implied there was no room for Nelson in Nashville during the ’60s because he was too much of a rough outlaw, but this collection, drawn entirely from records he cut for RCA during that decade, plus a cut or two from the early ’70s, illustrates how Willie didn’t fit in because he’d descend into spooky, jazzy grooves or strum a 12-string just as often as he’d haul out the western swing. Apart from “Me and Paul,” a 1971 tune that became an outlaw standard, and the sweetly melancholic “Healing Hands of Time,” there’s not much here that made Nelson’s songbook, but that’s the appeal of It Will Come to Pass: it is steeped in the ’60s, from its sound to its attitude. This captures the often-forgotten Willie the beatnik, dressed in a turtleneck and picking out jazzy runs on his guitar as he sings elliptical song-poems and open-ended stories. Nelson’s great originals of the ’50s were rooted in jazz — “Crazy,” “Night Time,” “Funny How Time Slips Away” — and so are these songs, but they also flirt with the progressive country-folk, pop, and psychedelia of the time, while also dipping into the quieter side of Texas country. It’s a beguiling mix and even if he rarely returned to this expansive state of mind, it is a sound that is quintessentially Willie, so it’s a blessing to have it preserved on this expertly curated comp.
-Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic.com