World In A Jug- Canned Heat
Canned Heat rose to fame because their knowledge and love of blues music was both wide and deep.
Emerging in 1966, Canned Heat was founded by blues historians and record collectors Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson and Bob “The Bear” Hite.
Drawing on an encyclopedic knowledge of all phases of the genre, the group specialized in updating obscure old blues recordings. Applying this bold approach, the band attained two worldwide hits, “On The Road Again” in 1968 and “Going Up The Country” in 1969. These were inspired interpretations of the late 1920s blues recordings by Floyd Jones and Henry Thomas.
Canned Heat gained international attention and secured their niche in the pages of rock ‘n roll history with their performances at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival (along with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Who) and the headlining slot at the original Woodstock Festival in 1969. >> Read more…
-Written and edited by Skip Taylor & Brett Lemke; 2006, cannedheatmusic.com
Canned Heat’s second long-player, Boogie With Canned Heat (1968), pretty well sums up the bona fide blend of amplified late-’60s electric rhythm and blues, with an expressed emphasis on loose and limber boogie-woogie.
The quintet — consisting of Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson (guitar/harmonica/vocals), Larry “The Mole” Taylor (bass), Henry “Sunflower” Vestine (guitar), Aldolfo “Fido” Dela Parra (drums), and Bob “The Bear” Hite (vocals) — follow up their debut effort with another batch of authentic interpretations, augmented by their own exceptional instrumentation.
One development is their incorporation of strong original compositions. “On the Road Again” — which became the combo’s first, and arguably, most significant hit… >> Read more
-Lindsay Planer, AllMusic.com
Georgia In A Jug- Johnny Paycheck
The first time that many people ever heard of Johnny Paycheck was in 1977, when his “Take This Job and Shove It” inspired one-man wildcat strikes all over America.
The next time was in 1985, when he was arrested for shooting a man at a bar in Hillsboro, OH.
That Paycheck is remembered for a fairly amusical novelty song and a violent crime (for which he spent two years in prison) is a shame, for it just so happens that he is one of the mightiest honky tonkers of his time.
Born and raised in Greenfield, OH, Paycheck was performing in talent contests by the age of nine and riding the rails as a drifter by the time he turned 15.
After a Navy stint landed him in the brig for two years, he arrived in Nashville, where he performed in the bands of Porter Wagoner, Faron Young, Ray Price, and George Jones. >> Read more…
-Dan Cooper, AllMusic.com
Johnny Paycheck was steadily moving his way up the country charts until 1978, when “Take This Job and Shove It” catapulted him to the top.
It was a combination of the right song given to the right singer at the right time, but much of that combination was down to producer Billy Sherrill, who had steadily been smoothing out the rough edges in Paycheck’s sound while exaggerating his outlaw stance for almost comical effect.
No other song quite captured this blend like “Take This Job and Shove It,” which took a David Allan Coe original and twisted it into a cartoon that was appealing because of its exaggeration, not in spite of it.
The song became an anthem, propelling the album to number two on the country charts, taking Bobby Braddock’s drinking song “Georgia in a Jug” to number 20 along the way. >> Read more…
-Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic.com
Papa Wants To Knock A Jug- Axel Zwingenberger
German blues/boogie-woogie pianist Axel Zwingenberger was born in Hamburg on May 7, 1955.
Originally, Zwingenberger studied classical piano (for 11 solid years), before discovering such authentic blues artists as Albert Ammons, Meade “Lux” Lewis, and Pete Johnson, who served as an immediate influence on the pianist.
Along with three other piano playing friends, Zwingenberger began playing blues concerts and festivals on a regular basis, including the 1974 First International Blues and Boogie Woogie Festival for a West German radio station in Cologne, as well as Hans Maitner’s annual festival, Stars of Boogie Woogie, in Vienna.
By 1975, Zwingenberger received his first recording contract, issuing such solo recordings as Boogie Woogie Breakdown, Power House Boogie, and Boogie Woogie Live, as well as lending his talents to recordings by such artists as Lionel Hampton, Jay McShann, Big Joe Turner, Lloyd Glenn, Joe Newman, Sippie Wallace, Mama Yancey, Champion Jack Dupree, Sammy Price, Ray Bryant, Charlie Watts, Vince Weber, and the Mojo Blues Band, among others.
In addition to issuing other solo recordings, Zwingenberger continues to tour all over the world and has also authored several publications about blues/boogie-woogie music and musicians.
-Greg Prato, AllMusic.com
My Heart Is As Cold As An Empty Jug- Tex Ritter
Singing cowboy Tex Ritter stood as one of the biggest names in country music throughout the postwar era, thanks to a diverse career that led him everywhere from the Broadway stage to the political arena.
He was born Maurice Woodward Ritter in Marvaul, TX, on January 12, 1907, and grew up on a ranch in Beaumont.
After graduating at the top of his high school class, he majored in law at the University of Texas.
During college, however, he was bitten by the acting bug and moved to New York in 1928 to join a theatrical troupe. After a few years of struggle, he briefly returned to school, only to leave again to pursue stardom.
Ritter was playing cowboy songs on the radio when he returned to New York in 1931 to act in the Broadway production Green Grow the Lilacs; during scene changes, he also performed on his guitar.
Thanks to his success on the stage, he began hosting radio programs like Tex Ritter’s Campfire and Cowboy Tom’s Roundup before entering the studio with producer Art Satherley in 1933, where his deep, lived-in voice graced songs like “Rye Whiskey.”
He caught the attention of Hollywood producer Edward Finney, who was searching for a cowboy singer in the mold of the highly successful Gene Autry and was tapped to star in the 1936 Western Song of the Gringo. Over the next two years, Ritter starred in a dozen films, including 1937′s Trouble in Texas (co-starring a young Rita Hayworth)…
-Jason Ankeny, AllMusic.com
Blood on the Saddle is a deluxe four-disc box set which collects Tex Ritter’s recordings from 1932 to 1947, including his complete ARC and Decca sides, and everything from his first five years at Capitol.
Over this period, Ritter progressed from spare, folksy readings of cowboy material to his mellow take on Western swing.
Perhaps the earthiest of the singing cowboys, Ritter’s rich personality and flair for the dramatic come through on these classic recordings.
Hits such as “Jealous Heart” and “There’s a New Moon Over My Shoulder” are represented, as well as alternate takes, unreleased songs, and rarities, including a number of recordings for children with spoken intros in the style later adopted by Merle Travis for his folk albums.
Tex Ritter’s catalog has been under-represented in the CD era, so collectors and serious fans will no doubt be thrilled by this loving presentation of his earliest recordings.
-Greg Adams, AllMusic.com
Jug Band Music- Diamond Jim Greene
I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago until I was 12.
My family moved a lot spending time in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kansas and West Virginia.
I have performed in numerous blues band configurations over the years including with the Southern California-based, all acoustic, “Blues Ambassadors” during the mid 1980’s. Even while with the Blues Ambassadors I performed gigs solo or with just a harmonica player.
For the last 25 years, I have pretty much performed unplugged and solo, or with a harmonica player and/or upright bass and sometimes piano and tuba.
The late John Cephas with Phil Wiggins, the late John Jackson, the late Archie Edwards, Paul Geremia, Roy Bookbinder, all of whom I had the pleasure of meeting and playing with during the mid 1980′s, remain constant influences as does fellow Chicagoan, the late “Honeyboy” Edwards.
I have toured extensively throughout Europe since 1995, spreading the good news about acoustic blues on major festival stages in the U.S. and abroad, including multiple years in the Chicago Blues Festival; the Long Beach Blues Festival and several years in the International Blues Festival at Lucerne, Switzerland, to name but a few.
My instruments of choice are prewar National Steels and 12 string guitars. >> Read more…
Jug Band Music- Lovin’ Spoonful
In early 1965 as the “British invasion” dominated the American music scene, two rockers from Long Island, Steve Boone and Joe Butler, teamed up with two folkies from Greenwich Village, John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky, to form the Lovin’ Spoonful and go on to record and perform some of the songs that would dominate the charts and establish them among the greats of the mid-sixties era.
Combining the best of folk music and rock and roll, with a touch of country thrown in, they gave us such hits as “Do You Believe in Magic,” “Daydream,” “You Didn’t Have to be So Nice,” “Nashville Cats” and the anthem for a hot July evening, “Summer in the City.”
All this in the span of 4 years and 5 albums. In addition to that they also wrote and performed two soundtrack albums for two directors very early in their careers, Woody Allen “Whats Up Tigerlily” and Francis Ford Coppola “You’re a Big Boy Now.”
They toured almost constantly during this period and were one of the first rock bands to perform on college campuses almost as much as for teenage concert goers. >> Read more…
The Iceman- Billy Bluez Jones
…from the root to the fruit …blues/funk meets hip hop!
Blues Again! – French Blues Magazine cd review:
Chicago Examiner cd review :
Mississippi Travel &Tourism Commission :
“This guy has what it takes …the music oozes sexuality …he is totally his own man with a show-stopping style!”
The American Bluesman
AllAboutJazz.com : The Urbanization of Delta Blues
Taking Blues to New Places with R&B, Soul, and Urban Style :
“Billy Jones brings back the Thrill that once belonged to Jimi Hendrix & Stevie Ray …A refreshing blast of the really great sound of Healing Blues, Jazz, Funk Music.
I’d recommend this to any avid blues listener and I look forward to hearing more from the reclusive Billy Jones.”
As a writer it’s nice to know that more than your friends and relatives are reading your articles. Recently this writer was contacted by Billy Jones. Billy is a bluesman. He plays guitar, sings and writes his own songs. He even sent a copy of his new 2013 CD, “I’m A Bluesman”.
Billy Jones Bluez doesn’t play in the Chicago area. He was born and raised in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Many of his shows are down in Mississippi in the casinos. He’s never recorded for Alligator or Delmark Records. However, he is a bluesman.
Billy isn’t your average blues act. Every song doesn’t sound like “Sweet Home Chicago”. He mixes traditional blues with rock and soul too. He can sing like Son Seals when doing traditional blues or that of a 1970s soul crooner on more heartfelt numbers.
On “I’m A Bluesman”; his guitar is always crisp and clear, sometimes hypnotic. He fills the songs with layers of special effects and keyboards. There are funky bass lines, drifting keyboards and dance beats. >> Read more…
-Joe Skotnicki, March 25, 2013, examiner.com
New Angel In Heaven- Ashleigh Flynn
A Million Stars, Ashleigh Flynn’s fourth studio effort on her own Home Perm Records, is produced by Chris Funk, her longtime friend and musical collaborator, best-known as the Decemberists’ multi-instrumentalist.
The record features Todd Snider and many of Portland’s most talented musicians including, Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee-Drizos, Nate Query, John Moen, Annalisa Tornfelt, and the Stolen Sweets singers, among others.
A Million Stars continues the inspired narrative Flynn began on earlier records with tales deeply rooted in the American experience.
The most profound seed of inspiration for the new record was a watercolor painted by her young niece depicting a cowgirl atop her horse under a starry desert sky.
Who was this girl so confidently astride her mount? Calamity Jane? Surely there were others like her?
Discovering the painting led her on a quest to learn more about the women of the westward expansion, unnamed heroes that history had largely overlooked. >> Read more…
On the fourth album released on her label, Home Perm, Ashleigh Flynn continues to do what she’s always done best: seduce us with lively stories backed by tender, raucous, and rollicking instrumentals.
In the tales on “A Million Stars,” Flynn celebrates and recovers for our view the lives of the numerous women – some well-known, such as Calamity Jane, but others unnamed – who participated in the westward expansion but whose exploits often go untold.
Her long-time collaborator Chris Funk, of The Decemberists and Black Prairie, produced the album and plays multiple instruments on it, and her pals Todd Snider, Annalisa Tornfelt and others join her on the excursion.
Every track showcases Flynn’s effortless ability to range over musical genres from bluegrass to rock to jazz. >> Read more…
-Henry Carrigan, countrystandardtime.com
Photo by: Richard Hallman
Way Too Soon- The Hot Texas Swing Band
The music of the Hot Texas Swing Band is guaranteed to get your boots dancin’, your toes tappin’ and your fingers snappin’!
Like Texas itself, the Hot Texas Swing Band is a crossroads of musical influences. Listening to their big Western Swing sound, you hear Texas Dance Hall tunes, Boogie Woogie and Latin numbers, as well as Big Band Swing.
With their hearts anchored in traditional Western Swing, the Hot Texas Swing Band brings together fresh musical ideas and original material to form an exciting and energetic new Western Swing sound.
Take Me With you When You Go- Lori McKenna
My name is Lori McKenna.
I am releasing my 6th full-length studio record in April 2013. It is called MASSACHUSETTS.
I’m a housewife and a townie. I am a songwriter – or song chaser depending on the day. A song can be a tricky thing – no matter how simple it is. And most songs have a tendency to haunt me. But I believe that blessings come in disguise and that demons do too. And that, if we work it out right, our demons can be our blessings.
The long version of the short story is that I’ve been writing songs since I was a kid.
I grew up in a loving and musical family.
I got married when I was 19. We have a bunch of kids.
When I was 27 someone talked me into playing at a local open mic.
By then we had 3 of our 5 kids and those kids unknowingly gave me just enough confidence to try something so out of character.
The problem was – Boston has a tremendously nurturing music scene, and I fell hard in love with it – and they let me in.
So I put out some records. I played shows. Faith Hill and Tim McGraw championed my little songs and I made some more records. I was on Oprah with Faith. I played the Grand Ole Opry. I played stadiums and clubs and church basements.
And along the way I had a number of people hold me up and help me out. >> Read more…
Well, here’s something novel—real-life stories told from the perspective of a true-blue New Englander.
It is certainly most refreshing to hear tunes about small-town life that have that homespun feel without evoking images of tailgating, beverage-swigging and good-ol’-boy shouting.
Lori, who’s written songs for (among others) Tim McGraw and Faith Hill and even joined them on one of their tours, focuses on real, human emotions, however uncomfortable they might make us feel.
“Salt” and “Shake” (which doesn’t follow “Salt” in the album sequence), for examples, explore the darker sides that lie within all of us. But then Lori, as the happily married mother of five, can turn right around with joyous testaments like “My Love Follows You Where You Go.”
Lori’s touching narrative of her marriage, “How Romantic Is That,” is simply lovely, and we defy any parent to listen to “Grown Up Now” without a significant lump in the throat.
The record’s production is appropriately sparse and gentle throughout, without inducing boredom. Massachusetts isn’t for those who like it loud, but if you want it real, here’s your ticket.
-Bob Paxman, April 30, 2013, countryweekly.com
Richland Woman Blues- Rory Block
Heralded as “a living landmark” (Berkeley Express), “a national treasure” (Guitar Extra), and “one of the greatest living acoustic blues artists” (Blues Revue), Rory Block has committed her life and her career to preserving the Delta blues tradition and bringing it to life for 21st century audiences around the world.
A traditionalist and an innovator at the same time, she wields a fiery and haunting guitar and vocal style that redefines the boundaries of acoustic blues and folk. The New York Times declared: “Her playing is perfect, her singing otherworldly as she wrestles with ghosts, shadows and legends.”
Born in Princeton, NJ, Aurora “Rory” Block grew up in Manhattan a family with Bohemian leanings. Her father owned a Greenwich Village sandal shop, where musicians like Bob Dylan, Maria Muldaur and John Sebastian all made occasional appearances. The rich and diverse Village scene was a constant influence on her cultural sensibilities. She was playing guitar by age ten, and by her early teens she was sitting in on the Sunday jam sessions in Washington Square Park.
During these years, her life was touched – and profoundly changed – by personal encounters with some of the earliest and most influential Delta blues masters of the 20th century. >> Read more…
Rory Block pays tribute to blues icon Mississippi John Hurt on the fifth installment of her “Mentor Series,” which also includes previous releases dedicated to Robert Johnson, Rev. Gary Davis, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and Son House.
Ten of the 11 tracks on the CD are associated with Hurt except for the Block original, “Everybody Loves John.”
Rory Block first met Hurt in December of 1963, backstage at a gig that also featured old-time banjo player Dock Boggs.
Introduced to Hurt by blues historian and acoustic guitarist Stefan Grossman, Block was so impressed that she began to study his songs, his distinct finger picking technique, and his interest in diverse styles of music.
Hurt was a bluesman who didn’t just stick to the blues form, he embraced folk, jazz, Appalachian country songs, flamenco, music from Africa, and popular tunes of the era. For this session Block chose ten classic songs in Hurt’s repertoire including “Candy Man,” “Frankie & Albert,” “Got the Blues Can’t Be Satisfied,” “Richland Woman Blues,” “Spike Driver Blues,” “Stagolee,” and “Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor.”
Avalon: A Tribute to Mississippi John Hurt is not only an enjoyable release on its own terms, but it may lead a whole new set of curious listeners to investigate the original recordings made by a classic American blues musician.
-Al Campbell, AllMusic.com
Photo by: Sergio Kurhajec
Guitar Rodeo- Holger Bogen
Red hot guitar pickin’ out of Germany! For more information, go to Holger Bogen’s website:
You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover- Jimmy Barnes
Jimmy Barnes has been there and back. He’s tasted glory as the most successful Australian rock & roll singer. He’s also struggled with the pressures of being a tall poppy and he’s wrestled his own demons. It’s been a wild ride.
As lead singer for Cold Chisel, he fronted Australia’s (arguably) most successful rock band.
Within a month of Cold Chisel finishing, Jimmy Barnes was on the road with a new band (1984) and soon released his first solo album, Bodyswerve, and it entered the charts at #1.
The next year he recorded 1987′s Freight Train Heart – another #1 debut. Around this time, to celebrate the massive tour ‘Australian Made’, Jimmy and INXS recorded an Easybeats song “Good Times.” The single topped the Australian charts and subsequently was a Top 40 hit in the US and a Top 10 hit in the UK. >> Read more…
As a solo artist Jimmy Barnes has scored seven number one records in Australia, putting him up in the same league as the Beatles, Madonna, the Rolling Stones, and Rod Stewart.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, his family emigrated to Adelaide in 1956 when Barnes was four.
It was his older brother John’s interest in music that inspired Jim to follow suit, eventually leading to him becoming lead singer of Cold Chisel, who emerged as Australia’s most popular band of the ’80s.
While their rock/soul/blues fusion music was part of the band’s appeal, a large part was also the stage presence of its raw-voiced singer, crouched with intensity as he sang/shouted into the microphone with every breath in his lungs.
After 12 years, Cold Chisel gave their final performance in December 1983 and Barnes launched an immediate solo career, eclipsing Cold Chisel’s record sales with six solo number one albums in a row. >> Read more…
-Ed Nimmervoll, AllMusic.com
I Could Write A Book- Tony Bennett
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 himself probably would say that, in each phase of his career, he has remained largely constant to his goals of singing the best available songs the best way he knows how.
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.
-William Ruhlmann, AllMusic.com
During the ’70s, while most singers of his generation were fading into memory or trying far too hard to fit in with a changing musical landscape, Tony Bennett did something unique: he started his own label and produced a series of surprisingly timeless recordings.
Isn’t It Romantic? presents 15 of these songs, in a variety of settings, from elegant duets with pianist Bill Evans to small-group songs with a quartet featuring Ruby Braff’s Dixiefied trumpet or a trio with Torrie Zito’s urbane piano (songs with the latter usually including an orchestra).
The focus, however, is always on Bennett’s voice, and if this material didn’t become as renowned as his ’50s and ’60s recordings, it’s still a treasure of standards sung by one of the best standards singers.
-John Bush, AllMusic.com
More than anybody else I’d like to thank Count Basie for teaching me how to perform.
I’ve been so fortunate because I never really had ups and downs as far as my career. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I’ve been sold out all over the world.
To work is to feel alive.
I have a simple life. I mean, you just give me a drum roll, they announce my name, and I come out and sing. In my job I have a contract that says I’m a singer. So I sing.
I think one of the reasons I’m popular again is because I’m wearing a tie. You have to be different.
Tulsa Telephone Book- Calexico
Calexico, a Tucson collective of musicians focused around Joey Burns and John Convertino, forged an eclectic identity through their exploration of Southwestern culture.
Composer Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti Westerns as well as Portuguese fado, Afro-Peruvian music, and ’50s and ’60s jazz, country, and surf music all factored into Calexico’s music.
Burns studied classical music at the University of California, Irvine, before starting his rock career, and Calexico formed after Burns met John Convertino in Los Angeles in 1990.
At the time, Convertino had been playing with Howe Gelb’s experimental rock group Giant Sand after serving as their upright bassist for a European tour.
Burns and Convertino found their voice as a duo during a Giant Sand break, moved to Tucson in 1994, and began collecting instruments from the Chicago Music Store.
First, they worked with Tucson’s neo-lounge combo Friends of Dean Martinez, playing marimba, cello, accordion, and vibraphone in addition to their usual work on bass, guitar, and drums. >> Read more…
-Robert Hicks, AllMusic.com
They call New Orleans a melting pot.
When one thinks about it like that, it’s hardly surprising that this is where CALEXICO reconvened to record their seventh full-length album, ALGIERS.
Joey Burns and John Convertino have long called upon an extended range of musical influences, blending them together so distinctly that the results have almost become a genre of their own.
Nonetheless, the choice of New Orleans may still come as a surprise to many.
CALEXICO are, after all, associated with a style that their name – borrowed from a small town of less than 40,000 inhabitants on the border between the US and Mexico – has always defined with an unusual precision.
Their work has spoken of dusty deserts and the loners that inhabit them, mixing America’s country music heritage with that of a Latin persuasion.
In other words, it isn’t obviously affiliated with the sounds that have made New Orleans one of the premiere tourist destinations in the US.
What’s emerged as a result of this decision, however, is arguably the most exciting and accessible record CALEXICO have made. It’s a fact emphasised by the band’s decision to name the album in tribute to the neighbourhood where they worked: Algiers. >> Read more…
Real: The Tom T. Hall Project assembles a wide variety of Nashville denizens, alt-country enthusiasts, and folky singer/songwriter types to pay tribute to the songs of Tom T. Hall.
The result is that rare tribute album which sums up the strengths of its subject while introducing a fair number of legitimate interpretations of that artist’s work.
Not everything here hits the mark, but much of it does, and it handsomely illustrates the depth of Hall’s writing and the versatility of his music.
The performers vary widely not only in their preferred musical style, but also in their tactics of interpretation: Some strip the songs down to the barest musical bone in order to emphasize the lyrics, while others take new approaches to reinventing the songs, placing them in musical backdrops which reveal additional emotional facets behind the lyrics. >> Read more…
-Steve Huey, AllMusic.com
Book Store- Steven Wright
Frizzy haired-yet-balding comic Steven Wright quickly set himself apart from other standups with his sleepy, wry, mumbled, deadpan one-liners.
Wright’s act is captured on his 1985 album I Have a Pony, recorded live at Wolfgang’s in San Francisco and Park West in Chicago.
His absurdist style is a weirder slant on the kind of observations of everyday life provided by other comics — Jerry Seinfeld for instance.
It’s amazing that I Have a Pony is actually broken down and labeled with individual tracks since the vast majority of Wright’s material is rarely more than a sentence or two each. >> Read more…
-Bret Adams, AllMusic.com
When I Write The Book- Elizabeth McQueen and the Firebrands
What happens when a singer and songwriter with a leaning towards American roots music hooks up a with a band from a another town that is as steeped in experimental, reggae, r& b and electronica as they are in old time fiddle music?
That’s what Elizabeth McQueen wanted to find out when she called on her friends Brothers Lazaroff to remix songs off her 2010 release “The Laziest Girl in Town.” The answer turned out to be very good music indeed.
Elizabeth McQueen may not have been born in Austin, but she’s a perfect fit for the town. Like the town she’s lived in for more than a decade, the 35 year old singer’s musical influences are all over the map.
In 2001 she moved to town with the goal of putting together a country band. That band, Elizabeth McQueen and the Firebrands morphed into an Americana band that played a mix of roots country, rock jazz and pop that they came to call roots pop.
In 2005 Elizabeth joined the Western Swing Band Asleep at the Wheel. Over 7 plus years she’s been with the band she’s covered countless miles, sung backup for Ray Price, Lyle Lovett and Merle Haggard, and dueted with Willie Nelson.
Singing with the band made Elizabeth get serious about improving her chops, and so she started studying the stylings of the great female jazz vocalists of the mid 20th century.. Nina, Ella, Peggy and more. This inspired her 3rd solo record, “The Laziest Girl in Town” which she released on Freedom Record in 2010. >> Read more…
Elizabeth McQueen is full of surprises.
Few artists today would record a tribute to pub rock as their second LP. Actually, you have to wonder how many people even know what pub rock is. For the uninitiated, it was an influential UK scene flourishing in the early Seventies that included groups like Eggs Over Easy, Brinsley Schwarz, and Ducks Deluxe.
Names you might recognize, like Nick Lowe, Declan McManus (aka Elvis Costello), Graham Parker, and Joe Strummer (RIP), played a loose, unpretentious mix of rock & roll, country, and blues in a circuit of pubs around England.
Happy Doing What We’re Doing accurately captures the spirit of those bands, which she brands as “roots pop.”
None of the tunes she’s chosen were big hits, though they’ll be instantly recognizable by fans of Rockpile, Squeeze, and Costello.
The fact that a woman is singing these songs might seem a stretch since men dominated the pub-rock scene, but McQueen’s clear and confident vocals adapt nicely, and the fact is she’s chosen great songs (“Seven Nights to Rock,” “A1 on the Jukebox,” “Local Girls,” “When I Write the Book”), imbuing them with youthful character.
Come to think of it, it should come as no surprise that McQueen and her crack Firebrands identify with these long gone English bands. They were just playing roots music in bars, and that’s what McQueen and her band do in Austin on a nightly basis.
-Jim Caligiuri, February 18, 2005, austinchronicle.com
Book Of Dreams- Bruce Springsteen
In the decades following his emergence on the national scene in 1975, Bruce Springsteen proved to be that rarity among popular musicians, an artist who maintained his status as a frontline recording and performing star, consistently selling millions of albums and selling out arenas and stadiums around the world year after year, as well as retaining widespread critical approbation, with ecstatic reviews greeting those discs and shows.
Although there were a few speed bumps along the way in Springsteen’s career, the wonder of his nearly unbroken string of critical and commercial success is that he achieved it while periodically challenging his listeners by going off in unexpected directions, following his muse even when that meant altering the sound of his music or the composition of his backup band, or making his lyrical message overtly political.
Of course, it may have been these very sidesteps that kept his image and his music fresh, especially since he always had the fallback of returning to what his fans thought he did best, barnstorming the country with a marathon rock & roll show using his longtime bandmates.
Bruce Springsteen was born September 23, 1949, in Freehold, New Jersey, the son of Douglas Springsteen, a bus driver, and Adele (Zirilli) Springsteen, a secretary.
He became interested in music after seeing Elvis Presley perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956 and obtained a guitar, but he didn’t start playing seriously until 1963.
In 1965, he joined his first band, the Beatles-influenced Castiles. They got as far as playing in New York City, but broke up in 1967 around the time Springsteen graduated from high school and began frequenting clubs in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
-William Ruhlmann, AllMusic.com
It’s a sad man my friend who’s livin’ in his own skin and can’t stand the company.
If they had told me I was the janitor and would have to mop up and clean the toilets after the show in order to play, I probably would have done it.
I do a lot of curiosity buying; I buy it if I like the album cover, I buy it if I like the name of the band, anything that sparks my imagination.
If you’re good, you’re always looking over your shoulder.
I like narrative storytelling as being part of a tradition, a folk tradition.
Talk about a dream, try to make it real.
>> Read more…
Who Wrote The Book Of Love- The Monotones
The Monotones recorded a spate of clever novelties in the late ’50s/early ’60s, the most successful of which was the enduring “(Who Wrote) The Book of Love?,” a massive Top Ten hit (number five pop/number three R&B) in 1958.
The group formed in 1955, when 17-year-old lead vocalist Charles Patrick and his brother James Patrick teamed with 16-year-old first tenor Warren Davis, 15-year-old second tenor George Malone, 17-year-old bass singer John Smith, 18-year-old baritone Warren Ryanes, and his younger brother, 15-year-old second bass John Ryanes, coming together at the Baxter Terrace housing project in Newark, NJ.
They practiced in the project’s recreation hall, inspired by acts like the Heartbeats, the Spaniels, the Moonglows, and the Cadillacs.
They adopted their name from a previous group who already had it and were in the process of breaking up.
The six friends and neighbors also began singing with the New Hope Baptist Choir, along with other choir members Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick, Judy Clay, Cissy Houston, Leroy Hutson (of the Impressions), and several of the Sweet Inspirations. Houston was the choir director and Dionne and Dee Dee were cousins of Jim and Charles Patrick (leader of The Monotones).
By 1956, they were performing the Cadillacs’ “Zoom” on Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour, winning first prize and earning a shot on the show the following week.
-Bryan Thomas, AllMusic.com
Although universally known as one-hit wonders, (“Book of Love”) the Monotones reveal on this recording that their talent extended well beyond that classic doo wop number.
Writing the bulk of their own material, the New Jersey sextet specialized in up-tempo novelty-type tunes, in addition to the requisite number of love ballads.
One of the most notable fast numbers is “Zombi,” featuring a vocal line with the singer sounding like a loon in heat.
The pick-to-click cut is “What Would You Do If There Wasn’t Any Rock & Roll?” Sounding like an anthem, and extremely catchy, this prime cut was unfortunately left unreleased at the time, but sounds as it could have returned the Monotones to the upper ends of the charts.
If you like a little history or literature with your rock & roll, check out “Ride of Paul Revere” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Of course, no late-’50s album would be complete without a few slow numbers, and the Monotones oblige with strong harmony singing on the ballads. One of the strongest is “Soft Shadows.” A romantic plea for love and understanding, it ends with a three-part harmony wail that is awesome in its execution, and drives home the point that the Monotones could execute exceedingly well on slow as well as fast songs.
All in all, the group showed themselves to be gifted well beyond their lone hit, and deserve a listen from serious fans of doo wop or high-caliber ’50s rock & roll.
-Michael Ofjord, AllMusic.com