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Pics, bios, reviews, album art and more! Learn lots about all the folks on the show!
Before You Accuse Me (Take A Look At Yourself)- Delbert McClinton- “Honky Tonk ‘N Blues”
Let Yourself Go- Stacey Kent- “Let Yourself Go- Celebrating Fred Astaire”
Keep Your Hand To Yourself- The Georgia Satellites- “The Essentials”
Cross Yourself- Emmylou Harris- “Hard Bargain”
You Really Let Yourself Go- Bruce Robison- “Eleven Stories”
Respect Yourself- The Staple Singers- “The Best Of The Staple Singers”
Pick Yourself Up- Tony Bennett and Bill Charlap- “The Silver Lining: The Songs Of Jerome Kern”
Hot New Music:
My Ding Dong Daddy Don’t Daddy No Mo- Joe King Carrasco y Los Side FX- “Chiliando”
I’m Glad There Is You- JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske- “Jazz In The Lobby Bar”
Mama Wouldn’t Like It- Nikki Hill- “Heavy Hearts, Hard Fists”
Trust Somebody- Jackie Greene- “Back To Birth”
Get Behind Mule- Sugar Brown- “Poor Lazarus”
Tiny Town- Cary Morin- “Tiny Town”
I Keep It To Myself- Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltry- “Going Back Home”
Let Myself Fall- Rosie Thomas- “Only With Laughter Can You Win”
All By Myself- Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin- “Common Ground”
I Like To Keep Myself In Pain- Kelly Hogan- “I Like To Keep Myself In Pain”
I’m Gonna Be Myself- The Sheepdogs- “Future Nostalgia”
Drink Myself To Sleep- Sarah Gayle Meech- “One Good Thing”
I Can’t Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)- The Four Tops- “The Definitive Collection”
** Keep scrolling down the page for our informative blog/program guide. Follow along as you listen! **
Before You Accuse Me (Take A Look At Yourself)- 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 decades to evolve into a bona fide solo artist. A critics’ darling and favorite of his peers, McClinton never 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
Delbert McClinton always understood that it was more than just country music that went down at Texas roadhouses and honky tonks, and his before-his-time rootsy mix of blues, country, R&B, and soul made it hard for his various record labels to market him effectively, although his body of live and recorded work since he got his start as a harmonica player in the early ’60s is a very impressive legacy. This set compiles 14 key tracks from his mid- to late-’70s period, including signature classics “Two More Bottles of Wine” and “Solid Gold Plated Fool,” among others.
-Steve Leggett, AllMusic.com
Let Yourself Go- Stacey Kent
New York native Stacey Kent never anticipated a career in jazz music: she was a Sarah Lawrence graduate with a degree in comparative literature. But her childhood days spent listening to the traditional beauty of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole undoubtedly influenced her. While on holiday in Europe after graduating from college, she took up singing without much formal training and never looked back.
Kent became acquainted with several musicians at Oxford in 1991, and through them she found herself participating in a jazz course at the famed Guildhall School of Music and Drama. There she also met her future husband, tenor saxophonist Jim Tomlinson, and landed a spot in the class. Her next spot was singing with the Vile Bodies Swing Orchestra at the Ritz Hotel in London, quickly landing a role in Ian McKellen’s Richard III film, playing a big-band singer.
-MacKenzie Wilson, AllMusic.com
Let Yourself Go is an exceptional collection of 13 tunes written by the cream of popular song writers — Berlin, Gershwin Brothers, and others — honoring Fred Astaire’s contributions to the vocal art. With his low key, narrow ranged voice, Astaire probably introduced and/or made popular more songs that were destined to become standard entries in the Great American Songbook than any other artist. Kent delivers this selective play list with one of three musical combinations, just piano, with piano plus rhythm, and with a larger aggregation which includes sax and guitar. Irrespective of the instrumental context, all of the tunes are delivered with Stacey’s pleasant nasal twang to help her create the impression that the lyrics she’s singing are part of an intimate one on one conversation with each listener. There’s nothing over dramatic on this album. No gimmicks, just a voice as engaging as any on the scene conveying the meaning of a melody in the tradition of the person she is honoring, the inestimable Astaire.
-Dave Nathan, AllMusic.com
Photo by: Nicole Nodland
Keep Your Hands To Yourself- The Georgia Satellites
At a time when rock & roll didn’t care about its roots, the Georgia Satellites came crashing into the charts with a surprise hit single to remind everybody where the music had come from. The hit single, 1986’s “Keep Your Hands to Yourself,” rocked as hard as an old Chuck Berry song, as well as being almost as clever. The Satellites weren’t a back-to-basics roots rock band, either — their straightforward sound borrowed equally from Berry, the Rolling Stones, the Faces, Little Feat, and AC/DC, with a Southern backwoods bent. At their best, The Satellites were just a damn good rock & roll band, driven by the classic yet fresh songwriting of lead singer/guitarist Dan Baird.
-Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic.com
Cross Yourself- Emmylou Harris
Though other performers sold more records and earned greater fame, few had as profound an impact on contemporary music as Emmylou Harris. Blessed with a crystalline voice, a remarkable gift for phrasing, and a restless creative spirit, she traveled a singular artistic path, proudly carrying the torch of “cosmic American music” passed down by her mentor, Gram Parsons. With the exception of only Neil Young — not surprisingly an occasional collaborator — no other mainstream star established a similarly large body of work as consistently iconoclastic, eclectic, or daring; even more than four decades into her career, Harris’ latter-day music remained as heartfelt, visionary, and vital as her earliest recordings.
Harris was born on April 2, 1947, to a military family stationed in Birmingham, Alabama. After spending much of her childhood in North Carolina, she moved to Woodbridge, Virginia while in her teens and graduated high school there as class valedictorian. After winning a dramatic scholarship to the University of North Carolina, she began to seriously study music, learning to play songs by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Soon, Harris was performing in a duo with fellow UNC student Mike Williams, eventually quitting school to move to New York, only to find the city’s folk music community dying out in the wake of the psychedelic era.
Still, Harris remained in New York, traveling the Greenwich Village club circuit before becoming a regular at Gerdes Folk City, where she struck up friendships with fellow folkies Jerry Jeff Walker, David Bromberg, and Paul Siebel.
-Jason Ankeny, AllMusic.com
After she first came to the attention of discerning music fans with her contributions to Gram Parsons’ first solo album in 1973, Emmylou Harris spent over 20 years as one of the finest interpretive singers in American music, approaching material from a variety of composers with a thoughtful intelligence that matched the natural beauty of her voice. Then after breaking new creative ground with 1995’s Wrecking Ball, Harris set out on a surprising new creative journey — while previously she wrote songs for her solo albums only on occasion, now her compositions began to dominate her recordings, and Harris has revealed that she’s as gifted a tunesmith as she is a vocalist, writing with a clear eye and an unforced lyrical and melodic beauty that’s a fine match for her voice. Harris wrote or co-wrote 11 of the 13 songs on 2011’s Hard Bargain, and the album is full of cleanly drawn stories of people struggling to rise to the challenges of life…
-Mark Deming, AllMusic.com
You Really Let Yourself Go- Bruce Robison
The Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter Bruce Robison issued his self-titled debut LP in 1995. He also attracted notice thanks to his inclusion on several compilations, including 1995’s Austin Country Nights: Rising Stars From the Heart of Texas collection and True Sounds of the New West. The full-length Wrapped followed in 1995, and his sophomore effort, Long Way Home From Anywhere, appeared four years later.
-Jason Ankeny, AllMusic.com
Respect Yourself- The Staple Singers
The Staples’ story goes all the way back to 1915 in Winona, Mississippi, when patriarch Roebuck “Pops” Staples entered the world. A contemporary and familiar of Charley Patton’s, Roebuck quickly became adept as a solo blues guitarist, entertaining at local dances and picnics. He was also drawn to the church, and by 1937 he was singing and playing guitar with the Golden Trumpets, a spiritual group based out of Drew, Mississippi. Moving to Chicago four years later, he continued playing gospel music with the Windy City’s Trumpet Jubilees. A decade later Pops Staples (as he had become known) presented two of his daughters, Cleotha and Mavis, and his one son, Pervis, in front of a church audience, and the Staple Singers were born.
The Staples recorded in an older, slightly archaic, deeply Southern spiritual style first for United and then for Vee-Jay. Pops and Mavis Staples shared lead vocal chores, with most records underpinned by Pops’ heavily reverbed Mississippi cotton-patch guitar. In 1960 The Staples signed with Riverside, a label that specialized in jazz and folk. With Riverside and later Epic, The Staples attempted to move into the then-burgeoning white folk boom. Two Epic releases, “Why (Am I Treated So Bad)” and a cover of Stephen Stills’ “For What It’s Worth,” briefly graced the pop charts in 1967.
In 1968 The Staples signed with Memphis-based Stax. The first two albums, Soul Folk in Action and We’ll Get Over, were produced by Steve Cropper and backed by Booker T. & the MG’s. The Staples were now singing entirely contemporary “message” songs such as “Long Walk to D.C.” and “When Will We Be Paid.” In 1970 Pervis Staples left and was replaced by sister Yvonne Staples. Even more significantly, Al Bell took over production chores. Bell took them down the road to Muscle Shoals, and things got decidedly funky.
Starting with “Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)” and “I’ll Take You There,” The Staples counted 12 chart hits at Stax.
-Rob Bowman, AllMusic.com
Photo by: Richard Fegley
Pick Yourself Up- Tony Bennett and Bill Charlap
Tony Bennett’s career has enjoyed three distinct phases, each of them very successful. In the early ’50s, he scored a series of major hits that made him one of the most popular recording artists of the time. In the early ’60s, he mounted a comeback as more of an adult-album seller. And from the mid-’80s on, he achieved renewed popularity with generations of listeners who hadn’t been born when he first appeared. This, however, defines Bennett more in terms of marketing than music. He would probably say that he has remained largely constant to his goals of singing the best available songs the best way he knows how in each phase of his career. Popular taste may have caused his level of recognition to increase or decrease, but he continued to sing popular standards in a warm, husky tenor, varying his timing and phrasing with a jazz fan’s sense of spontaneity to bring out the melodies and lyrics of the songs effectively. By the start of the 21st century, Bennett seemed like the last of a breed, but he remained as popular as ever.
Bennett grew up in the Astoria section of the borough of Queens in New York City under the name Anthony Dominick Benedetto. His father, a grocer, died when he was about ten after a lingering illness that had forced his mother to become a seamstress to support the family of five. By then, he was already starting to attract notice as a singer, performing beside Mayor Fiorello La Guardia at the opening of the Triborough Bridge in 1936. By his teens, Bennett had set his sights on becoming a professional singer.
-William Ruhlmann, AllMusic.com
One of the world’s premiere jazz pianists, Bill Charlap has performed with many leading artists of our time, ranging from Phil Woods and Tony Bennett to Gerry Mulligan and Wynton Marsalis. He is known for his interpretations of American popular songs and has recorded albums featuring the music of Hoagy Carmichael, Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin. Time magazine wrote, “Bill Charlap approaches a song the way a lover approaches his beloved…no matter how imaginative or surprising his take on a song is, he invariably zeroes in on its essence.”
In 1997, Charlap formed the Bill Charlap Trio with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington (no relation), now recognized as one of the leading groups in jazz. In 2000, he was signed to Blue Note Records and has since received two Grammy Award nominations, for Somewhere: The Songs of Leonard Bernstein and most recently The Bill Charlap Trio: Live at the Village Vanguard. In 2009, Charlap was pianist and musical director for The Blue Note 7, an all-star jazz septet celebrating the legacy of Blue Note Records on its 70th anniversary. The septet performed a 50-city tour and released the CD, Mosaic: A Celebration of Blue Note Records.
Charlap is the artistic director of New York City’s Jazz in July Festival at the 92nd Street Y. He has produced several concerts for Jazz at Lincoln Center and an evening of George Gershwin’s music at the Hollywood Bowl.
Born in New York City, Charlap began playing the piano at age three.
My Ding Dong Daddy Don’t Daddy No Mo- Joe King Carrasco y Los Side FX
Known as the King of Tex-Mex rock and roll, Joe King Carrasco, creates a stylistic borderland of pop rock and Latin rhythms. His cross-cultural stew blends cumbias, vamp, salsa, surf, reggae, blues, and Latin-tinged polkas. It has been a long road, coming from Dumas,Texas, a dusty little west Texas town where in the 7th grade he started playing in garage bands. In his late teens, he was often lured to the beaches in Southern Mexico and was drawn to the Mexican music he was hearing around him. Back in Texas he joined up with future members of the Texas Tornados and formed a band known as Joe King Carrasco & El Molino and in 1978 released his 1st LP titled “Tex-Mex Rock & Roll”. Somehow this record made its way to England and was re-released by Big Beat Records.
In 1979, he formed Joe King Carrasco and the Crowns featuring Vox organ-driven Tex-Mex pop. The Crowns, released their first single, “Party Weekend”, and the label chase began and soon the band was playing chic New York venues and generating lines around the block. The band became one of the first American groups signed to England’s legendary Stiff Records. During this time Joe toured extensively throughout Europe, Central America, Bolivia and Columbia as well as across the USA and Canada, consistently delivering high energy performances where dancing was the numero uno priority.
Rounding out his assault on the International music scene with an in-depth interview in Rolling Stone Magazine and an appearance performing his music on Saturday Night Live.
I’m Glad There Is You- JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske
JoAnn is a native of Wisconsin. She received a piano performance degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and began a serious study of jazz after college. After a tour as a musician on the SS Norway, she moved to the Twin Cities, armed with determination and a ever deepening love of jazz. This elegant, charismatic and sophisticated jazz singer pianist has performed ever since, for her own shows and concerts and in a variety of venues. She is currently in her seventh season of performing regularly (September through May) at Jazz in The Lobby Bar in The Saint Paul Hotel, with her longtime bassist Jeff Brueske.
She has developed a dedicated fan base of people who love her song choices, voice, out of the ordinary arrangements, piano skills and all around musicality. As a singer, JoAnn’s distinctively intimate and unique voice is often compared to Norah Jones, Diana Krall or Blossom Dearie, yet her warm vocal style is all her own. With a knack for finding great songs and overlooked treasures, she performs smartly arranged music from the songbooks of anyone from Nat King Cole and Blossom Dearie to Leonard Cohen and Madeline Peyroux.
Born into a musical family, Jeff Brueske began his unofficial musical career singing the liturgy in church from the front pew at age 2 1/2 years. Beginning guitar lessons at age 12, he majored in classical guitar in college, and completed his Masters degree at the University of Minnesota studying under maestro Jeffrey Van. Shortly after, he began a serious study of jazz improvisation, analyzing recordings and receiving guidance from guitarists Kevin Daley and David Singley. He began to gig around the Twin Cities at various clubs and in private venues, and developed a reputation as an excellent teacher.
He has appeared in performances at the Great American History Theater, Totino Fine Arts Center, School Sisters of Notre Dame Arts Festival, the 318 Cafe (with Reynold Philipsek), and numerous concerts throughout Minnesota including the Passport to the Arts Series in Woodbury, MN.
His current playing focuses on solo jazz and classical programs with a distinctly Latin flavor on the nylon string guitar, often as an accompaniment to his clear tenor voice.
Mama Wouldn’t Like It- Nikki Hill
Those who have seen Carolina girl Nikki Hill sing her ass off agree—this isn’t just another newcomer on the scene, this is a… ‘whiplash’ moment. Where did this fireball come from? Why haven’t I heard of her before? If you haven’t heard of Nikki Hill yet, you soon will, and once you see her perform, you won’t forget her. Hill and her band have been touring extensively following the independent release of debut album ‘Here’s Nikki Hill’ in 2013 leaving jaws on the floor along the way. With a no-filter energy, and explosive live show, they deliver a sound that will make you believe in rock ‘n’ roll again! With an unstoppable force of a band, Nikki’s unique voice with raw rock and soul dynamics mixed with the strength, passion, and honesty of blues shouters of the past, creates a breath of fresh air with their authentic approach to American roots music.
Photo by: Aubrey Edwards
Trust Somebody- Jackie Greene
Discovered at an open-mike night when Dig Music’s owner happened to be there, singer/songwriter Jackie Greene is a captivating performer who works well in simple, sparse environments. Signing to the label almost immediately, the California native worked countless clubs and bars before his discovery, a fact made more interesting when considering that he was a teenager at the time. A multi-instrumentalist, Greene played most of the instruments on his debut record, Gone Wanderin’. A soulful bit of roots music, the album brought him to a national audience and sprung him into a college tour during the fall of 2002.
-Bradley Torreano, AllMusic.com
“We live in such a fast-paced, hectic environment, I wanted to make a record that would invite people to step back and take their time to listen,” Jackie Greene says of Back to Birth, his first album in five years. “I wanted to make a record that would reward people who are willing to sit down and give it a couple of serious listens.”
Back to Birth – Greene’s seventh album and his Yep Roc Records debut – is more than worthy of some serious attention. The 11-song set showcases the multitalented artist’s uncanny knack for synthesizing his deep affinity for American roots styles into timeless, personally-charged music. Armed with a persuasive voice, a vivid songwriting skill and an instinctive mastery of several instruments, Greene has carved out a unique musical niche, and the album marks another creative landmark in his already compelling body of work.
Produced by Los Lobos member and frequent Greene collaborator Steve Berlin, Back to Birth underlines Greene’s remarkable evolution as a performer and writer. With such new compositions as “Silver Lining,” “Trust Somebody,” “Now I Can See For Miles,” and the stirring title track, the artist’s distinctive melodic sensibility is matched with thoughtful, introspective lyrics that confront some profound philosophical issues with plainspoken eloquence.
Get Behind Mule- Sugar Brown
Born in 1971 and raised in Bowling Green, Ohio, Sugar Brown was born as Ken Chester Kawashima to a Japanese father and Korean mother who both immigrated to the United States in the mid-1960s. Now a permanent resident of Toronto, Canada, Sugar Brown is a modern blues musician, singer and songwriter. His brand of dark, sweet, and inconsolable blues has caught the attention of the Canadian music scene, winning the 2013 Toronto Blues Society Talent Search and quickly receiving invitations to play at the Kitchener Blues Festival and the prestigious Mariposa Folk Festival in 2014.
Sugar Brown’s blues originated while studying as a college student at the University of Chicago. By day, he studied history, political economy, and philosophy; by night he learned to play the blues from Chicago’s famed West Side blues raconteur and singer, Taildragger, as well as from blues legends such as Dave Myers and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, the late drummer of Muddy Water’s band. Sugar Brown’s blues were shaped by playing the small clubs and venues along the West Side of Chicago, where the sounds and memories of past blues greats like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Jimmy Reed, and Magic Sam were still very much alive.
There is something to be said about the dedication, ambition, and determination of a scholar; the drive to be the best and to offer his best work on whatever project is presented. Enter Sugar Brown, aka Dr. Ken Kawashima, PhD. Kawashima is a scholar and professor of East Asian history, as well as a scholar of music. His chosen musical endeavor is classic blues music and a concerted effort to record and preserve the unmistakable Chicago blues sound that harkens back to Chess Record’s famous releases. The 2014 release of Sugar Brown’s debut recording Sugar Brown’s Sad Day stunned listeners across Canada with his ease and force in playing and singing blues. He quickly earned recognition for his classic style and raucous performances from the media and festival bookers coast-to-coast.
Recently, Sugar Brown’s repertoire has morphed beyond Chicago blues and into a more chaotic and wild space shared by the Texas blues of Lightnin’ Hopkins and Frankie Lee Sims, as well as the trance-like blues of northern Mississippi’s R.L. Burnside. Sugar Brown’s highly anticipated, second studio album, Poor Lazarus, reveals Sugar Brown in his many diverse grooves, shades, and styles, and is the result of three years of performing and collaborating with harmonica maestro, Bharath Rajakumar (Bharath and his Rhythm Four), drummer extraordinaire, Art Makris (JW-Jones, Kid Ramos), and jug band star, Julia Narveson (Ever-Lovin’ Jug Band). Also on the album is Toronto-based drummer and percussionist, Pat Philips who added vibes to the mix. Like Sugar Brown’s first album, Poor Lazarus was also recorded live-off-the-floor, full-track mono, and on to tape for that classic analog sound.
Photo by: Rick Zolkower
Tiny Town- Cary Morin
Described as “one of the best acoustic pickers on the scene today,” Cary Morin brings together the great musical traditions of America and beyond like no other. With deft fingerstyle guitar and vocals that alternately convey melodic elation and gritty world-weariness, Morin crafts an inimitable style often characterized as acoustic Native Americana with qualities of blues, bluegrass, jazz, jam, reggae, and dance.
“A man and a guitar, a lot of soul, and an understanding of the history of soulful men with guitars in American music can sometimes achieve this kind of timelessness in their work…,” comments Richard Higgs (Public Radio Tulsa). “Cary Morin has the chops and is one of the best acoustic pickers on the scene today. [His] performances… would stand out, variously, among the old-school delta blues pliers, the Greenwich Village folk crowd at the end of the 1950s, the back-to-nature bards of the late ’60s, or today’s thriving singer/songwriter scene. Morin references all these styles; they’re in his vocabulary, but he’s no dilettante. His engaging sound is his alone….”
Morin’s third solo release, Tiny Town, follows close on the heels of an international tour that spanned the U.S. and reached as far as France and Denmark.
Crow tribal member and son of an air force officer, Morin was born in Billings, Montana. He spent the bulk of his youth in Great Falls, where he cut his teeth picking guitar standards at neighborhood get-togethers, before relocating to Northern Colorado.
I Keep It To Myself- Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltrey
Early in 2013, Wilko Johnson received the news that he had terminal pancreatic cancer and had maybe ten months to live. Instead of whiling away his final days, Johnson set out on a final tour and, finding himself still standing at the end of it, received an invitation from Who singer Roger Daltrey to go into the studio and record an album of whatever songs the guitarist wanted. Wilko had a few new originals, plus the idea to cover Bob Dylan’s “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window,” but he mainly stuck to the Dr. Feelgood songbook: the hard R&B and rock & roll songs he wrote and recorded in the ’70s that continued to resonate decades later. Supported by his touring band, Johnson entered the studio with Daltrey and knocked out Going Back Home in a week, just like the Feelgoods and the Who did back in the old days. That twin connection is important, as Going Back Home isn’t merely a return to Wilko’s roots, it’s a homecoming for Daltrey as well, marking the first time in decades that he’s sung such tough, blues-based, three-chord rock & roll.
-Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic.com
Let Myself Fall- Rosie Thomas
Singer/songwriter Rosie Thomas has been shaping her sweet, delicate song stylings since her early childhood, but she made a name for herself when she joined Motor City dream pop band Velour 100. Thomas sang and toured with the band during the late ’90s before jumping ship for a solo career. Mixing up the folk-pop of Joni Mitchell with indie sensibilities, Thomas found herself surrounded by a new scene. She and Damien Jurado dueted on “Wages of Sin” for Sub-Pop’s 2001 compilation Badlands: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska as well as guested on “Parking Lot” on Jurado’s Ghost of David. Thomas, however, introduced something more reflective, humorous, and intriguing on her solo debut, When We Were Small (Sub-Pop), in early 2002. When she’s not making music, Thomas’ comedic alter ego, a bespectacled pizza delivery girl who she’s named Sheila, may also appear. Her winning streak continued in late 2003 with the release of her second full-length release, Only with Laughter Can You Win.
-MacKenzie Wilson, AllMusic.com
Rosie Thomas’ sophomore album further explores the singer/songwriter’s relationships with family, love, self, and her spirituality. Her sweetly childlike voice understates her weighty topics, giving a warm balance to the recordings, and her sunny melodies guide the songs to both logical conclusions and lingering questions. Gentle acoustic guitars and atmospheric instrumentation (including xylophones, pianos, and breathy electric guitar lines) support her multi-tracked vocals unobtrusively, allowing her gentle melismata to roll around the words, keeping her message free from misinterpretation.
-Zac Johnson, AllMusic.com
Photo by: Michael Lavine
All By Myself- Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin
Blasters founders Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin have had a famously combative relationship over the years, but as Dave once said, “We argue sometimes, but we never argue about Big Bill Broonzy.” So it’s fitting that their love of Big Bill brings them together in the recording studio for their first album together since the Blasters’ Hard Line in 1985. Common Ground: Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Play & Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy features the Alvin Brothers performing a dozen songs from the Broonzy songbook, and while listening to this is a potent reminder of how good Broonzy’s songs still sound in the 21st century, it also demonstrates the complementary talents of Dave and Phil Alvin.
– Mark Deming, AllMusic.com
I Like To Keep Myself In Pain- Kelly Hogan
Anti- Records is proud to announce the release of Kelly Hogan’s extraordinary new solo album I Like To Keep Myself In Pain. This Atlanta native is a beloved figure throughout the contemporary music landscape, and a multi-faceted artist whose warm southern persona and powerful voice have left their mark on countless recordings and live performances. She was recently touted “a national treasure” by colleague, friend, and former Chicago neighbor, Andrew Bird, while acclaimed singer-songwriter M. Ward simply states, “Kelly Hogan rules.”
On her new album, Hogan curates an ambitious and moving labor of love, mining the perfect intersection between classic pop, country and soul. She utilizes her incredible voice to interpret compositions penned for her by musical luminaries including Vic Chesnutt, The Magnetic Fields, The Mekons’ Jon Langford, The Handsome Family, Freakwater’s Catherine Irwin, John Wesley Harding, Robbie Fulks, Gabriel Roth, Robyn Hitchcock, and the aforementioned M. Ward and Andrew Bird. She is backed on the album by an all-star group of musicians: R&B legends Booker T Jones and James Gadson (Bill Withers, Beck), as well as talented young lions Gabriel Roth (of Daptone Records, The Dap-Kings) and Hogan’s long-time collaborator Scott Ligon (of the newly resurrected NRBQ).
So who is this unique artist who has inspired some of our greatest songwriters and musicians to write for and play with her? Hogan is the consummate “singer’s singer” who has fronted a succession of highly influential bands. She has also collaborated with a list of prominent artists in a role she proudly describes as “the noble sideman.” Hogan’s body of work and her considerable interpretive skills harken back to an era when a talent for personalizing the work of songwriters was a revered art form. “I love covering other people’s songs,” she explains. “To me it’s like putting on some incredible thrift store jacket and making it into something new. Sometimes you can find lovely stuff in the pockets of the song that no one has heard before.”
Hogan began singing as a child in Atlanta, and performed in bar bands while still in high school — offering heartfelt versions of classics like “Stormy Weather” and “Trouble In Mind” — but her creative trajectory was truly formed in her twenties in a ramshackle community of dilapidated Atlanta row houses called Cabbagetown. This rough and tumble neighborhood, built to accommodate Appalachian mill workers, provided cheap housing and a sense of freedom and camaraderie for the city’s impoverished creative community. ”It was a cheap place to live, so all the musicians and artists moved in,” she explains. “You would hear music coming out of all these cruddy little houses. There was scrappy punk rock, arty noise stuff, skronky free jazz, hardcore traditional country music, drag queen poets. Everyone played in each other’s bands. We were just in love with making music.”
Out of this landscape came Hogan’s first band, The Jody Grind — purveyors of a unique and intoxicating mix of cabaret, country, jazz, and punk — featuring Hogan’s soulful voice alongside talented instrumentalist-songwriter Bill Taft.
Kelly Hogan is one of the finest and most musically astute vocalists working in American popular music, but this seems to be better understood by her peers than the general public. Hogan cut a pair of fine albums for Bloodshot Records near the turn of the millennium, but they failed to find an audience, and she has since become best known for her fine work as Neko Case’s backing vocalist, while she’s performed with an array of artists from Tortoise, the Drive-By Truckers, and the Mekons to Amy Ray, Jakob Dylan, and Mavis Staples. Given her busy schedule working with others, it seemed an open question if Hogan would ever get around to making another record of her own, but I Like to Keep Myself in Pain not only puts her in the spotlight where she belongs, it’s an instant classic that’s as strong as any record that she’s appeared on, no small achievement given her résumé.
-Mark Deming, AllMusic.com
Photo by: Neko Case
I’m Gonna Be Myself- The Sheepdogs
Trends come and go, styles fall in and out of fashion, but The Sheepdogs remain steadfast in their commitment to rock n’ roll excellence. Since their inception, the band has always sought to play the kind of music they themselves love: “Pure, simple, good-time music,” as singer/guitarist Ewan Currie puts it. It’s no surprise, then, that the band’s fifth LP, Future Nostalgia, is firmly rooted in the rock tradition that listeners have come to expect from the boys.
The idea was simple: find a nice, quiet, secluded place and make a record packed with all the hot guitar licks and sing-along choruses they could muster. So the band holed up in a rented house in the remote, idyllic setting of Stony Lake, Ontario, and set about creating a studio where they could work all hours of the day. “We wanted to cut out all the noise and get back to a place where we could just fully immerse ourselves in music,” says Currie, who took on production duties for the album. “We worked hard, but we also made sure to keep it loose and have ourselves a good time.”
Carrying on the proud Canadian rock & roll tradition of easy on the brain and ears, pure as Nunavut snow classic rock & roll in the vein of the Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive, The Sheepdogs’ fifth studio long player, the aptly named Future Nostalgia, sounds like the work of a seasoned bar band who decided to tweak their set of classic rock covers by writing their own alternate-universe versions. Everything on the LP sounds instantly familiar, from the Bad Company-esque “Giving It Up for My Baby” to the Zep-loving “Hey, Hey What Can I Do”-inspired “Downtown.” That the latter of the two sees no shame in rhyming “sweet baby” with “don’t say maybe” shouldn’t put listeners off, as the myriad tropes (both lyrical and musical) that make up the 19-track set are delivered so artfully, and most importantly, without a hint of irony, that the overall effect is a lot like finding that rare classic rock radio station that doesn’t just play the same three Foreigner songs all day. They even manage to work in an appropriately spacy instrumental tribute to Jim Sullivan, the obscuro, cosmos-obsessed singer/songwriter who mysteriously disappeared in the New Mexico desert in 1975 after releasing a one-off U.F.O-themed folk-rock record six years prior. Also, don’t be put out by the number of tracks, as the album only clocks in at around 50 minutes, all of which are relegated to delivering your ear holes a bevy of expertly played Queen-style guitarmonies, stadium-ready singalongs, boogie rock backbeats, Rhodes electric piano solos, and stories about good times gone bad/bad times gone good. Solid.
-James Christopher Monger, AllMusic.com
Drink Myself To Sleep- Sarah Gayle Meech
Nashville based country artist, Sarah Gayle Meech is blazing a trail of her own, one that the founding fathers of country music would have been proud of. Having lived in Tennessee for only five years she successfully blends the city’s nature, spirit and seasons into a beautifully unforgiving soundscape. Drawing inspiration and hailing from Longview, Washington, she was surrounded by evergreens, small towns and people with grit, themes that surface often in her songwriting. After moving to Los Angeles for ten years she honed her writing skills and decided to put down roots in Nashville.
Her first album, One Good Thing, (released August 2012) was well received by fans and critics. SavingCountryMusic.com said “One Good Thing is country through and through, piercing the breastplate of honky tonk with an adrenaline shot right to its heart.” Since that release she began regular touring and holds residencies at famed Robert’s Western World and Layla’s Bluegrass Inn.
Her latest album Tennessee Love Song (available March 31) was produced by Meech and Andy Gibson (known for being Hank Williams III steel and dobro player), who also plays on the album. Sarah Gayle explores themes of love, heartache, loss and loneliness, achieving a perfect balance that truly exemplifies her character. Meech says she drew inspiration from personal experiences, Southern Gothic literature, and “…all the crazy weather and beautiful landscapes in Tennessee.”
I Can’t Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)- The Four Tops
The Four Tops’ story is one of longevity and togetherness: these Motown legends teamed up in high school and spent over four decades without a single personnel change. In between, they became one of the top-tier acts on a label with no shortage of talent, ranking with the Temptations and the Supremes as Motown’s most consistent hitmakers. Where many other R&B vocal groups spotlighted a tenor-range lead singer, The Four Tops were fronted by deep-voiced Levi Stubbs, who never cut a solo record outside of the group. Stubbs had all the grit of a pleading, wailing, gospel-trained soul belter, but at the same time, the Tops’ creamy harmonies were smooth enough for Motown’s radio-friendly pop-soul productions. From 1964-1967, The Four Tops recorded some of the Holland-Dozier-Holland team’s greatest compositions, including “Reach Out, I’ll Be There,” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” “Standing in the Shadows of Love,” “Bernadette,” and “Baby I Need Your Loving.”
– Steve Huey, AllMusic.com