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!
Steppin’ Down Blues Lane- The Charlie Smith Blues Band- “Steppin’ Down Blues Lane”
Eastwood Lane- Connie Evingson- “Little Did I Dream – Songs By Dave Frishberg”
Swervin’ In My Lane- Robert Earl Keen- “No Kinda Dancer”
Shady Lane- Mercy Dee Walton- “Pity And A Shame”
Juke Joint On Moses Lane- Fiona Boyes- “Blues Woman”
Penny Lane- The Beatles- “1″
Hot New Music:
How You Want It Done- Dave and Phil Alvin- ” Common Ground: Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin Play and Sing The Songs Of Big Bill Broonzy”
Calm After The Storm- Common Linnets- “Common Linnets”
Kickstartin’- Bernie Pearl- “Take Your Time”
Oklahoma Lottery- Karen Jonas- “Oklahoma Lottery”
Boom Boom- Billy Branch and the Sons Of Blues- “Blues Shock”
Whenever You Come Around- Willie Nelson- “Band Of Brothers”
Lake Arthur Stomp- The Savoy Family Band- “The Rough Guide To Cajun Dance”
The Lake- Tim Grimm- “The Turning Point”
Hurricane On China Lake- Marcia Ball- “So Many Rivers”
Shadows On The Lake- Jennie Stearns and the Fire Choir- “Blurry Edges”
Dead River. Lake County- The Great Unknowns- “Homefront”
Lake Marie- John Prine- “Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings”
Swan’s Lake- Los Twang! Marvels- “Guitars In Orbit”
** Keep scrolling down the page for our informative blog/program guide. Follow along as you listen! **
Steppin’ Down Blues Lane- The Charlie Smith Blues Band
Charlie Smith is the name of the legendary bluesman from New York’s Capital District who shares the dregs of his imagination with those people who are bold enough to listen.
As a teenager, his group opened for the likes of Led Zeppelin, and BB King.
Smith’s own group has hosted some of the most renowned blues jams ever to sweep the area, and he has played in almost every venue that has been known to host blues.
He lives the life — Charlie has no office job. He doesn’t work in a kitchen. He doesn’t drive a cab. He interprets life 24/7 and brings it with him to his shows.
As you may know, Greater Nippertown guitarslinger Charlie Smith was inducted into the New York State Blues Hall of Fame a couple of months ago. What you don’t know is that Smith could have used his new release Steppin’ Down Blues Lane for his résumé tape. Don’t worry, though: This isn’t a “Greatest Hits” package. The lion’s share of Steppin’ comes from live recordings made at various venues over a 10-year period. Cruising through these righteous slices of club life (which is the only way to experience the blues, to my mind), you see the kind of full-throated, unvarnished havoc Smith has been wreaking on the Empire State during this century. >> Read more…
-J Hunter, nippertown.com
Eastwood Lane- Connie Evingson
Connie Evingson is one of a choice group of jazz performers who have successfully made the Twin Cities their home base. Others include guitar player Joan Griffith; ace piano player Sanford Moore; and saxophone, clarinet and flute player Dave Karr. Although her first professional gig didn’t come along until 1980, Evingson had been performing before the public since she was five when she was in her church and school choirs. Growing up in a household where music was played nonstop, she absorbed the offerings of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Joe Williams, and later Peggy Lee and Shirley Horn. After receiving a B.A. from the University of Minnesota where she studied anthropology as well as music, Evingson started to work in 1980 at the Night Train, a small club in St. Paul, MN, that started her on a very active performing career on the stage and in the recording studio. >> Read more…
-Dave Nathan, AllMusic.com
Jazz vocalist Connie Evingson is known for taking divergent musical paths. Her recorded catalog of acclaimed CD’s ranging from jazz and Broadway standards to the music of Peggy Lee, the Beatles, Django Reinhardt, Dave Frishberg, Norman Gimbel and more reflects an adventurous spirit that knows no boundaries. A Twin Cities resident, Connie appears regularly at the nationally renowned Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis, is the featured artist of the Jazz at the Jungle concert series at the Jungle Theater (also in Minneapolis) and tours worldwide, with appearances at concert halls, theaters and festivals in the U.S., Europe and Japan. She has been a guest artist with Jazz at Lincoln Center, Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, the Minnesota Orchestra and Toronto Symphony conducted by Doc Severinsen, the JazzMN Orchestra and Vocalessence, among others. Her nine CD’s on Minnehaha Music have all charted in the Top 50 in the U.S. and Canada and can be heard on radio stations around the world. All the Cats Join In, her third CD in the “jazz manouche” style popularized by Django Reinhardt, is scheduled for release this Fall, 2013. Whether singing bebop, bossa nova, big band swing or a ballad, Connie’s voice is readily identifiable – sure in pitch, a tad smoky in places, razor sharp in articulation and exhibiting an inherent sense of swing that’s dead-center in the pocket. >> Read more…
Connie Evingson was delighted to discover that one of her musical partners, tenor saxophonist Dave Karr, had known pianist/composer Dave Frishberg since they attended the University of Minnesota in the early ’50s. A record date was set up for the vocalist to cover 14 songs from Frishberg’s vast songbook, with the composer at the piano and Karr also on hand. The performances are brief and to the point, allowing for some short, effective solos by the band. Evingson captures the essence of Frishberg’s lyrics, appropriately sassy in “Peel Me a Grape” (without overdoing it), delighting in the exotic “Zanzibar” (with Karr switching to flute), and swinging like mad in “Can’t Take You Nowhere” (a signature lyric by Frishberg, a vocal adaptation of an old Tiny Kahn song called “T.N.T.”). Frishberg introduces “Zoot Walks In” by narrating the opening chorus’ lyrics, with Karr and alto saxophonist Mark Henderson providing a swinging backing for Evingson’s lively vocal. Connie Evingson’s strengths as a ballad interpreter are put to the test with Johnny Mandel’s lush “You Are There” (with a sentimental lyric by Frishberg) and the pianist’s introspective “Listen Here.” Connie Evingson, who has recorded a number of CDs for her Minnehaha Music label, is clearly deserving of wider recognition with this delightful Dave Frishberg songbook.
-Ken Dryden, AllMusic.com
Swervin’ In My Lane- Robert Earl Keen, Jr,
Among the large contingent of talented songwriters who emerged in Texas in the 1980s and ’90s, Robert Earl Keen struck an unusual balance between sensitive story-portraits (“Corpus Christi Bay”) and raucous barroom fun (“That Buckin’ Song”). These two song types in Keen’s output were unified by a mordant sense of humor that strongly influenced the early practitioners of what would become known as alternative country music. Keen, the son of an oil executive father and an attorney mother, was a native of Houston. His parents enjoyed both folk and country music, and his own style would land, like that of his close contemporary Nanci Griffith, between those genres. Keen wrote poetry while he was in high school, but it wasn’t until he went to journalism school at musically fertile Texas A&M that he learned to play the guitar. He and Lyle Lovett became friends and co-wrote a song, “This Old Porch,” which both later recorded. Keen made a splash in Austin with his debut album, No Kinda Dancer, self-financed in 1984 to the tune of $4,500 dollars. He moved to Nashville during the heady experimentalism of the ’80s that saw Lovett and k.d. lang hit the country Top Ten, but he soon returned to Austin. Texas landscapes and residents provided Keen with creative inspiration, as his second album, West Textures, made clear; that album yielded one of Keen’s signature numbers, an ambitious crime-spree song called “The Road Goes on Forever.” >> Read more…
-James Manheim, AllMusic.com
Shady Lane- Mercy Dee Walton
Mose Allison certainly recognized the uncommon brilliance of pianist Mercy Dee Walton. The young, jazz-based Allison faithfully covered Walton’s downtrodden “One Room Country Shack” in 1957, four years after Walton had waxed the original for Los Angeles-based Specialty Records (his original was a huge R&B smash). Walton was a Texas émigré, like so many other postwar California R&B pioneers, who had played piano around Waco from the age of 13 before hitting the coast in 1938. Once there, the pianist gigged up and down the length of the Golden State before debuting on record in 1949 with “Lonesome Cabin Blues” for the tiny Spire logo, which became a national R&B hit. Those sides were cut in Fresno, but Los Angeles hosted some of the pianist’s best sessions for Imperial in 1950 and Specialty in 1952-1953. Walton, who usually recorded under the handle of Mercy Dee, was a talented songsmith whose compositions ran the gamut from lowdown blues to jumping R&B items. >> Read more…
-Bill Dahl, AllMusic.com
Whether you know him as Mercy Dee Walton, Mercy Dee or just plain Mercy, there was no doubt that he could write some incredible songs and spin some wonderful yarns. The playing wasn’t bad either, and these early-’60s recordings are among his finest.
-Ron Wynn, AllMusic.com
Juke Joint On Moses Lane- Fiona Boyes
Australian Blues guitarist and singer, Fiona Boyes, has been variously described by reviewers as a ‘musical anomaly’, ‘Bonnie Raitt’s evil twin’, or simply as ‘scaring the hell out of me’. How did this fair-haired gal, born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, of Scottish and English heritage, become an internationally recognised and awarded recording and touring artist? How did she come to be the first woman and non-American to win the International Blues Challenge in Memphis? Why did some of the great Mississippi Delta and Chicago blues giants, such as the late Pinetop Perkins and Hubert Sumlin, choose to describe her as one of the best women guitar players since Memphis Minnie, record on her albums, and share stages with her at international Blues festivals? How does it come about that the Mayor of Clarksdale, Mississippi, birthplace of the Blues, should present Fiona with the ‘Key To The City’, recognising her as an Aussie ambassador of the Blues? The answer lays partly in Fiona’s striking and original talent; she writes, sings and plays just about anything in the Blues realm with passion and authenticity. It is also her immersion in the wide musical and historical traditions that make up the Blues and her deep love of the art-form itself. >> Read more…
Fiona Boyes has made a name for herself on the blues circuit, but when it comes to the specific types of blues that she performs, the Australian singer/guitarist/songwriter has not been the least bit easy to categorize or pigeonhole apart from saying that she is blues-oriented. Listening to Boyes for an hour or even half-an-hour, one is likely to hear a very wide variety of blues or blues-related styles. Texas blues, Chicago blues, Louisiana swamp blues, Memphis blues, and Mississippi Delta blues are all fair game for Boyes, who is as comfortable rocking out and embracing electric urban blues as she is playing acoustic guitar and embracing down-home country blues. >> Read more…
-Alex Henderson, AllMusic.com
A lot of interesting things have been written about Fiona Boyes, but one of the most attention-grabbing came from Midwest Record Recap — which said that the Australian singer/guitarist “sounds like Bonnie Raitt’s evil twin.” While that comment was amusing, it was also insightful; Boyes does, in fact, have a strong Raitt influence (with elements of Marcia Ball and Rory Block), but her approach is noticeably darker, swampier, and more mysterious than Raitt’s. Boyes is clearly her own person, and one of the great things about Blues Woman is the fact that she is so hard to pin down stylistically. The Aussie is blues-oriented — that much is clear — but during the course of this album, she embraces everything from electric Chicago blues on the Howlin’ Wolf-influenced “Howlin’ at Your Door” to early R&B (of the late-’40s/early-’50s variety) on “Do You Feel Better?” to blues-soul on “Train to Hopesville” and “Waiting for Some Good News.” Although Boyes plays electric guitar on many of the tracks, she is also an excellent acoustic guitarist — and her mastery of the acoustic guitar is evident on the Mississippi Delta blues-minded “Place of Milk and Honey.” Texas blues is also part of the equation on this 2008 recording; so are Louisiana and Memphis blues. And through it all, Boyes never fails to be recognizable. >> Read more…
-Alex Henderson, AllMusic.com
Penny Lane- The Beatles
We were all on this ship in the sixties, our generation, a ship going to discover the New World. And the Beatles were in the crow’s nest of that ship.
The Beatles will exist without us.
No one person could have broken up a band, especially one the size of the Beatles.
I can’t deal with the press; I hate all those Beatles questions.
Somebody said to me, ‘But the Beatles were anti-materialistic.’ That’s a huge myth. John and I literally used to sit down and say, ‘Now, let’s write a swimming pool.’
The Beatles created something that never trailed off. What a gift that was to their fans. If you’re into the Beatles, you loved them from beginning to end.
There are only four people who knew what the Beatles were about anyway.
As far as I’m concerned, there won’t be a Beatles reunion as long as John Lennon remains dead.
The Beatles saved the world from boredom.
The Beatles were a phenomenon, but they were also ordinary blokes like anyone else. I was lucky enough to see that side.
Being in The Beatles was a short, incredible period of my life. I had 22 years leading up to it, and it was all over eight years later.
The Beatles will go on and on.
How You Want It Done- Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin
“We argue sometimes, but we never argue about Big Bill Broonzy,” says Dave Alvin when explaining why he and brother Phil, who haven’t made an album together in almost 30 years, were inspired to record Common Ground: Dave Alvin + Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy to be released June 3. The Alvin brothers, who founded seminal early LA punk roots band The Blasters in 1979, have shared a fascination with Broonzy since childhood. After an illness nearly took Phil’s life in 2012, they resolved to return to the studio and pay tribute to the blues legend. Common Ground includes 12 songs that capture a 30-year cross section of Broonzy’s canon, performed by the Alvins’ in their signature style of rollicking roots and stomping country blues. “He looked so slick,” says Phil about the cover of his first Broonzy album, which he purchased in a department store at age 12. Dave agrees, “I remember the day Phil brought that record home. It’s a strong childhood memory – like stealing a Playboy for the first time.” >> Read more…
Calm After The Storm- Common Linnets
Formed in 2013 by Ilse DeLange and Waylon as the Netherlands entry in the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, The Common Linnets was also designed as a platform from which Dutch country and Americana artists could launch their careers. Appearing on Dutch TV show De Wereld Draait Door in March 2014, the duo showcased their entry, “Calm After the Storm,” for the first time, while it was simultaneously released as a single, reaching the Top Ten across Europe. The duo’s self-titled debut album was released to coincide with their Eurovision appearance in Copenhagen, where they finished in second place behind bookies’ favorite Conchita Wurst. The album’s success in the charts saw the duo embark on a promotional tour across Europe.
-Rich Wilson, AllMusic.com
Kickstartin’- Bernie Pearl
The blues is life itself to Bernie Pearl. A guitarist with an upbeat, finger-poppin’ picking style he learned at the elbows of bluesmasters Sam ‘Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, Mississippi Fred MacDowell, and others. Yet, Bernie Pearl is no hidebound traditionalist. As music critics and aficionados have said for years, he is a craftsman who packs his songs with melodic interpretations that are new and personal each time he picks up his vintage Martin or National. To hear him tell it, “I’m not a retro player. I’m playing real blues for right now.” Bernie, who grew up in the Los Angeles community of Boyle Heights, took up the guitar in the 1950′s. Later, at his brother’s legendary blues showcase, the Ash Grove, he met, studied with, and often performed with greats like Hopkins, Lipscomb, and MacDowell as well as with Freddie King, Albert Collins, and Big Mama Thornton. Bernie played duets with John Lee Hooker at Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village. “They were my teachers,” he says, “and it wasn’t just music they were teaching. If you took Mance or Lightnin’ out fishing you got philosophy, history, and lessons in life”. Armed with the teachings of those and other blues icons, Bernie raises the roof with dazzling guitar solos – acoustic and electric – and with his own Bernie Pearl Blues Band, which has backed the likes of B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Willie Dixon, and Big Joe Turner. >> Read more…
Take Your Time is a January, 2014, release by veteran blues man Bernie Pearl. Last fallPearl went into Pacifica Studios in his hometown of Los Angeles and recorded something very special. He brought with him a lifetime of experience, some old tunes and some old friends. Joining Pearl on these sessions were his long time bassist and the album’s co-producer Mike Barry. Pearl’s rich, mellow and unaffected vocals are augmented on three numbers by special guest, and fellow Los Angeles blues landmark, vocalist Barbara Morrison. Percussionist Albert Trepangier Jr. and tenor sax man Bobby “Hurricane” Spencer are also along for this journey and are featured on a few tracks. Bernie Pearl’s excursion through the blues finds the consummate bluesman grabbing timeless classics by the knape of the neck and carrying them forward into the year 2014. He reworks tunes by Lightnin’ Hopkins, Big Boy Crudup, John Brim, Mance Lipscomb, Big Joe Williams and others to suit his muse. Pearl also sprinkles in a few originals to go along with these very creative re-inventions. Take Your Time is a wonderful fourteen song document that is a reminder of just how rich, diverse and vibrant this old timey music can become in the hands of a master. The entire album is imbued with that relaxed confidence that was trademark of blues men of a bygone era, but is a quality seldom heard these days. This makes for a wonderfully refreshing listening experience. >> Read more…
-David Mac, bluesjunctionproductions.com
Oklahoma Lottery- Karen Jonas
Fredericksburg-based artist Karen Jonas has been accused of beating her dad’s old Cortez acoustic guitar. Sometimes, the song requires it. But most of the time, Karen’s rhythmic thumb-and-strum style just keeps the audience rapt and hanging on her every word. She’s currently putting the finishing touches on her first official solo album (expected release date: March, 2014). The album features a rocking Alt-Country/Americana band, though you might also catch her solo or accompanied by Tim Bray on a hollow-bodied Gretsch. Until 2009, Karen was best known as a highly skilled folk singer-songwriter with a quieter finger picking style and a soaring vibrato, who’d been singing her whole life in choirs and honors choruses, and embraced acoustic guitar on first hearing Joni Mitchell’s Miles of Aisles. Moving to Fredericksburg in 2009 had a noticeable influence on Karen’s writing and playing. Then a partnership with Alex Culbreth in 2011 led to a critically acclaimed CD under the name The Parlor Soldiers. When The Dust Settles featured drums, bass, and electric guitars alongside the acoustics. The experience left Karen with a desire to build excitement to new levels at her shows, and she began using a more aggressive sound to deliver the goods. >> Read more…
Every now and then a debut album comes around that makes you do a double take, and a triple take, and before you know it, you’ve spent an afternoon listening to the record. That is the kind of album you get with Karen Jonas debut album Oklahoma Lottery. This is good country music folks. This album has the kind of diversity and songwriting that make you want to hear more. Karen’s sultry voice matches the smooth honky tonk sound of the album, and she can keep up with the faster numbers too. It is actually surprising that this is a debut record at times, and that is a good thing. >> Read more…
-Joshua Wallace, April 14, 2014, psychoramblincountry.com
Photo by: Fritzi Newton
Boom Boom- Billy Branch & the Sons Of Blues
Billy Branch was discovered by Willie Dixon, the “father of modern Chicago Blues,” while Billy was still in college. Willie encouraged Billy to finish his college education, which he did, but instead of going to law school after receiving his political science degree, Billy began touring with the Willie Dixon Chicago All-Stars. This gave Billy the unique opportunity to travel and work as an under study for the legendary Carey Bell who was planning to leave the All-Stars and form his own band. When Carey took his leave, the young Billy Branch took his place, touring with Willie Dixon for 6 years. Since those early days, Billy has played on over 150 different recordings, including 12 under his own name. He’s recorded with Willie Dixon, Johnny Winter, Lou Rawls, Koko Taylor, Eddy Clearwater, Honeyboy Edwards, Syl Johnson, Lurrie Bell, Lonnie Brooks, Ronnie Baker Brooks, John Primer, and Taj Mahal, just to name a few. In addition, he has received three Grammy nominations (losing one nomination to BB King and Eric Clapton). He served two consecutive terms on the Grammy Board of Governors, and founded the Grammy Blues Committee. In addition, he has won multiple W.C. Handy Awards from the Blues Foundation, an Emmy Award, an Addy Award (this is like an Oscar for TV ads), two Chicago Music Awards, and numerous humanitarian achievement awards. Billy Branch has become the ambassador of the Chicago Blues. >> Read more…
Harp master Billy Branch has been a figure of the note on the Chicago blues scene since he was discovered by Willie Dixon in 1969, and after more than four decades, he’s grown from a young buck bringing new blood to the blues scene to an elder statesman who stands tall for the music’s traditions. Blues Shock arrives ten years after Billy Branch last released an album, but it sounds like he and his latest edition of the Sons of Blues are still in fighting shape, playing tight, straight-ahead blues with force, imagination and wit. Branch’s muscular harmonica work is still the heart of this band, and his soloing is fine indeed, but Branch has made this an ensemble set, with his musicians — Dan Carelli on guitar, Sumito “Ariyo” Ariyoshi on keyboards, Nick Charles on bass, and Moses Rutues on drums — getting plenty of room to shine and show off their impressive instrumental skills. >> Read more…
-Mark Deming, AllMusic.com
Whenever You Come Around- Willie Nelson
Let’s face it. Willie Nelson could take his sweaty, old man-smelling headband off, slingshot it out to center stage, and it would still be more enriching than what most of modern country radio has to offer. Simply the tone of his voice immediately puts the inertia of nearly a century of noble contributions to country music behind whatever he does. A few plucks of his guitar “Trigger,” and the woody tones can can make you break out in bone-deep shivers. Just the visage of Willie—the Pocahontas braids and the folds of wisdom feathered by white whiskers enveloping one of the world’s most respected faces—commands immediate reverence, and a warm feeling usually reserved only for the proximity of close family. Band of Brothers finds Willie Nelson once again united with producer Buddy Cannon for their fourth offering on Sony’s Legacy Recordings imprint. Where the first album Heroes felt like a significant retrenching for Willie, the subsequent Let’s Face The Music & Dance and To All The Girls felt a little more forced in their premise, though undoubtedly delivering some fine music. Band of Brothers comes across much more like an inspired, purposeful effort, with the point being to showcase the 81-year old’s continuing proficiency as a songwriter—the skill that got him into all of this country music nonsense in the very first place. Though Willie has written and recorded many original songs recently, this is the first album in some 17 years that finds his own handiwork featured in the majority. And where Willie’s last two albums were a little more refined and light, which can only be expected from such an aged performer, Band of Brothers has some piss and vinegar to it; some balls, and even some bawdy, bellicose language. >> Read more…
-Trigger, June 21, 2014, savingcountrymusic.com
Lake Arthur Stomp- The Savoy Family Band
“Musically, they sure ain’t no stuffy preservationists; whether a bitter lament or an earthy hard-driving breakdown, with Marc’s squeezebox, Ann’s guitar, and their highlycapable sons Joel and Wilson on fiddle and keyboards, the Savoys cover the Cajun spectrum with a dazzling mixture of spiritual joy and virtuoso voltage.” -Jonny Whitesides-Los Angeles Times SAVOY FAMILY CAJUN BAND Carrying on Traditional Cajun Music The Savoy Family Cajun Band plays honed down, hard-core Cajun music laced with an earthy sensuality. In their hands, the old tunes have been revived and returned to new life. Marc and Ann Savoy and their sons Joel and Wilson are strong individual musicians working together to create a tight, intense sound. Marc and Ann have been performing and recording together since 1977. They have traveled all over the world, appearing in such prestigious venues as the Newport Folk Festival, the Berlin Jazz Festival, the Smithsonian Institution, the Getty Museum, and the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Ann and Joel appeared in the film Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood and they performed on the Warner Brothers Soundtrack, as well as at the film’s premiere in Los Angeles. Ann served as associate music producer on All The King’s Men (Sony Pictures) , wrote a song that was used in the film, and she, Joel and Wilson appeared therein with Sean Penn as musicians. >> Read more…
The Lake- Tim Grimm
Tim Grimm has toured and recorded with his friend, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, appeared with Harrison Ford in the film Clear and Present Danger, and has shared the stage with writer and poet Wendell Berry. His recording, The Back Fields was named Best Americana Album in the 2006 Just Plain Folks Music Awards in Los Angeles (the largest and most diverse music awards in the world). Named 2000’s “BEST DISCOVERY in Roots/Americana Music” by The Chicago Sun-Times, and “2004 MALE ARTIST of The Year” by the Freeform American Roots DJs, his songs and performances have established him as a unique voice in Americana music. Each of his past 5 recordings have reached the top of the Folk or American-roots charts. Grimm walks the fine line between folk and country, while maintaining a strong footing in tradition. We hear the rural rumblings that have shaped his life, but we are also invited in to a bigger picture, as evident in so much of his work. Critics searching for comparisons most often cite Johnny Cash, Woody Guthrie and (Nebraska era) Bruce Springsteen. Tim is an award-winning songwriter, and actor on stage and screen . After several years working in Los Angeles (where he co-starred for 2 seasons on the NBC drama Reasonable Doubts and appeared in several films), Tim returned home to Indiana. He grew up in the woods and small town settings of southern Indiana, son of schoolteachers and grandson of farmers, and his return home was a conscious choice to live a life of significance rather than one of “success’. He now lives with his wife and sons on an 80 acre farm close to where he grew up. Tim’s songs are full of the rural rumblings that have shaped his life—rich with descriptive details, and sung with warmth and intimacy—recognizing the inextinguishable national romance with the idea of the family farm and the vanishing landscape of rural America. >> Read more…
If Tim Grimm is as accomplished at farming as he is at music and acting, then his crops must be pretty good. The Indiana-based singer and guitarist’s new album, The Turning Point, shows off his versatility as a composer with some inventive songs. The title track is the tale of a 17th-century murderer in Holland, while Anne in Amsterdam was inspired by a visit to the Anne Frank Museum (“your gift it makes me sing”). Grimm also covers a song by Beth Lodge-Rigal called Family History and collaborates with harmonica player Jan Lucas on three songs, including the humorous Blame It On the Dog, about life’s drawbacks (“someone ate the last piece of pie . . . And the kids don’t laugh at my jokes”). The melodic Indiana showcases his ability to make strong and simple country music songs. >> Read more…
-Martin Chilton, Nov. 15, 2013, telegraph.co.uk
Hurricane On China Lake- Marcia Ball
Pianist and singer/songwriter Marcia Ball is a living example of how East Texas blues meets southwest Louisiana swamp rock. Ball was born March 20, 1949, in Orange, Texas, but grew up across the border in Vinton, Louisiana. That town is squarely in the heart of “the Texas triangle,” an area that includes portions of both states and that has produced some of the country’s greatest blues talents: Janis Joplin, Johnny and Edgar Winter, Queen Ida Guillory, Lonnie Brooks, Zachary Richard, Clifton Chenier, and Kenny Neal, to name a few. Ball’s earliest awareness of blues came over the radio, where she heard people like Irma Thomas, Professor Longhair, and Etta James, all of whom she now credits as influences. She began playing piano at age five, learning from her grandmother and aunt and also taking formal lessons from a teacher. Ball entered Louisiana State University in the late ’60s as an English major. In college, she played in the psychedelic rock & roll band Gum. In 1970, Ball and her first husband were headed West in their car to San Francisco, but the car needed repairs in Austin, where they had stopped off to visit one of their former bandmates. After hearing, seeing, and tasting some of the music, sights, and food in Austin, the two decided to stay there. Ball has been based in Austin ever since. >> Read more…
-Richard Skelly, AllMusic.com
Marcia Ball’s strong western Louisiana, eastern Texas roots run strongly through So Many Rivers, and she has increased the range she covers. Solid in the foundation of her piano playing and phrasing, she is rooted rock-solid to the rhythms by the drumming of Tom Fillman and the bass of both Don Bennett and Yoggie Musgrove. There is also the production work of Stephen Bruton, who also added his otherworldly guitar work to the mix. Marcia Ball’s voice has only gotten finer with the passage of time, and the collaborations with Irma Thomas and Tracy Nelson have also added a lot of potency to her voice and handling of a song. She has assembled a crack group of musicians here that gives her freedom to take those chances that make So Many Rivers stand out from the crowd. The six songs she wrote are among the standouts here. The slow-building strength of “The Storm” and the power and grit in “Give Me a Chance” add depth to this collection. She does a great job with putting some bounce into others’ tunes (“Honeypie”). This is a standout from this queen of the gatorhythms that bring the swamp alive.
Photo by: Mary Bruton
Shadows On The Lake- Jennie Stearns & the Fire Choir
Jennie Lowe Stearns has always written songs from a personal place, but never with the depth of intimacy she displays on Blurry Edges. It’s the fourth solo album from the western New York singer and songwriter, and her first since 2007. In the meantime, Stearns ended a lengthy marriage to former musical partner Richie Stearns, worked a full-time job and guided two kids into their teenage years. “My hands were pretty full,” Stearns says. It’s no surprise, then, that some of the turbulence of that period found its way into the songs on Blurry Edges, the follow-up to her internationally acclaimed releases Sing Desire in 2002 and Birds Fall in 2007. >> Read more…
“Nothing lasts forever / Bedrock begs to differ” Jennie Lowe Stearns begins on “Blurry Edges,” her latest album and most her moving one yet. The line comes from “Shadows on the Lake,” and the record is full of such insights, a subtle masterpiece that is also a study in contrasts: shadows and light, control and release, fatalism and fear. Beginning as a meditation on the past and concluding with resilience and resolve, Lowe’s isn’t an easy record, but a rewarding one. The follow-up to 2002′s “Sing Desire” and 2006′s “Bird’s Fall,” one hopes “Blurry Edges” will cement Lowe’s proper place in contemporary music: not as one of Ithaca’s three best songwriters but among the nation’s top-tier composers. >> Read more…
-Luke Z. Fenchel, May 31, 2011, ithaca.com
Dead River, Lake County- The Great Unknowns
“Excellent songwriting in the Americana tradition…one of the best things I have heard this year.”—Amy Ray “I can’t stop playing this disc.” —No Depression (Rick Cornell) Sometimes it seems as though The Great Unknowns are trying very hard to live up to their name. The alt-country band recorded its first album in the basement of a college dorm in Boston on a shoestring budget in 2003, intending to press just enough copies for friends and family members. But the record found its way into the hands of Indigo Girl Amy Ray, who declared it “one of the best things I have heard this year” and released it on her independent label, Daemon Records. The record sold beyond label expectations, and picked up glowing reviews from music critics who predicted that the band would soon invalidate the “Unknown” portion of its name. No Depression columnist Rick Cornell confessed, “I can’t stop playing this disc”, and named it one of the top ten releases of 2004. Maxim called it “unpretentious heartland rock.” Most bands would try to ride that sort of success to fame and fortune, but not the GUs. After 2005, they all but disappeared for five years, and band members moved on to other projects. During that time, singer and primary songwriter Becky Warren struggled with a marriage that had become troubled when her soldier husband returned from Iraq with PTSD. When the marriage ended in 2010, Warren realized she had a lot to say, and wrote furiously, penning 12 new songs about love, loss, and the life-altering effects of war. The band—which, along with Warren, is Andy Eggers on drums, Altay Guvench on bass, and Avril Smith on guitar—re-emerged, and fans quickly showed they hadn’t forgotten about the band during the five-year hiatus. >> Read more…
It was some eight years ago that this band fronted by singer-songwriter Becky Warren first made an impact on me with their debut album PRESENTING THE GREAT UNKNOWNS. It was a disc I played endlessly for months, then as time passed on the band kinda disappeared off my radar. So imagine my surprise when HOMEFRONT dropped through my letterbox. I wondered what other releases by the group I’d missed in the ensuing years. It turned out I’d missed nothing, as after that initial burst of success and recognition the band members moved on to other projects, finally getting back together a little over a year ago to record this long-awaited second album. Once again Becky Warren has penned all the songs, one-I Wish I Was The Girl I Was-a co-write with guitarist Avril Smith. Becky possesses this rare ability to write about relationship issues with a universality that instantly connects. >> Read more…
-Alan Cackett, maverick-country.com
Lake Marie- John Prine
An acclaimed singer/songwriter whose literate work flirted with everything from acoustic folk to rockabilly to straight-ahead country, John Prine was born October 10, 1946, in Maywood, IL. Raised by parents firmly rooted in their rural Kentucky background, at age 14 Prine began learning to play the guitar from his older brother while taking inspiration from his grandfather, who had played with Merle Travis. After a two-year tenure in the U.S. Army, Prine became a fixture on the Chicago folk music scene in the late ’60s, befriending another young performer named Steve Goodman. Prine’s compositions caught the ear of Kris Kristofferson, who was instrumental in helping him win a recording contract. In 1971, he went to Memphis to record his eponymously titled debut album; though not a commercial success, songs like “Sam Stone,” the harsh tale of a drug-addled Vietnam veteran, won critical approval. Neither 1972′s Diamonds in the Rough nor 1973′s Sweet Revenge fared any better on the charts, but Prine’s work won great renown among his fellow performers; the Everly Brothers covered his song “Paradise,” while both Bette Midler and Joan Baez offered renditions of “Hello in There.” >> Read more…
-Jason Ankeny, AllMusic.com