- Written by Bluebird
This website was built on classic rock. We quickly learned, however, that you can't speak about any classic rock in depth until you understand the history of blues and folk music. Jazz and soul overlaps with these genres too and don't even get me started on the roots of funk. As blurred as the boundaries can be amongst these styles of music, each has a core sound that many experts can identify. I am not an expert on any form. I am a here to listen and learn, I write as I go.
The best way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in it, and that is my mission. This summer, I packed up my family and we spent our vacation time at the Newport's Folk and Jazz festivals. Upon return from this trip, I received this album, All Out Of Peaches, from The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra. Given that it was a product of New Folk Records, (2011) at first glance, I thought I'd be equipped to tackle this review. But after listening to the opening title track, it was like nothing I'd heard to date.
Photo Credit: Zach Nichols
Read more: The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra: All Out of Peaches
- Written by Bluebird
Review by Bluebird
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Label: Last Gang Records
Lindi Ortega made the trip from Toronto to Nashville, TN, with a Hank Williams influence and a great producer, Colin Linden. This record uses gentle depth in the production that expands the soul. With Mexican/Irish roots, Ortega's voice is soft and clear, with just enough twang to be called country. I'm trying to decide if she's got some blue-eyed soul in her. Full of breath and warmth, her vocals are precise.
Inspired by an interest in the blues on early country music, the musicianship is clearly a throwback to that time. You can hear the instruments so clearly, it is a joy to follow each song through crescendo to end. This is her second album, after her JUNO award nominated record, Little Red Boots, and the material she deals with in Cigarettes and Truck Stops, yields straight on blues topics; struggle, travel, life, death and, of course, the cross roads and the after-life. Much like the courage of Patti Griffin, she boldly announces who she is to her audience. She has been acclaimed to sound like Emmylou Harris, but certainly is bringing her own style into the genre.
"Cigarettes and Truckstops" the title track had a sweet vintage sound, maybe a reminder that Patsy Cline is still out there somewhere, while "Don't Want To Hear It" had a soul mover rollick much like Bonnie Raitt or blues singer, Beth Hart. "Demons Don't Get Me Down" is straight on piano bar, dusty country, juke joint music. "Murder of Crows" is a deep cut of blues with the opening guitar and Ortega takes you on a ride. She brings mystique into the record with this storytelling ballad. "Heaven Has No Vacancy" is piercing. "Every Mile Of The Ride" is airy and open, a wonderful way to end this classic record.
Cigarettes and Truckstops is recommended not only for country music collectors, but music fans in general, who want a record that pulls from the roots into modern times.
~A Press Note from Lindi Ortega's Biography:
Cigarettes & Truck Stops was largely inspired by Ortega's move to Nashville from her hometown, Toronto, which brought her closer to the origins of many of her influences, including Hank Williams. By reading a biography of Williams, Ortega discovered his mentor Rufus "Tee-Tot" Payne, the street performer who taught Williams to play guitar. This sparked Ortega's interest in the influence of blues on early country—a fascination that comes through strongly on the record. Ortega brought on praised producer and T-Bone Burnett musician, Colin Linden (O Brother Where Art Thou, Lucinda Williams, Bruce Cockburn) for the project when she found that he shared her interest in blues and the roots of country music.
LINDI ORTEGA TOUR DATES
*Social Distortion tour
11 /// Chicago, IL /// Vic Theatre*
16 /// Detroit, MI /// Royal Oak Music Theatre*
18 /// Cleveland, OH /// House Of Blues*
20 /// Toronto, ON /// The Sound Academy*
23 /// Montreal, QC /// Metropolis*
26 /// New York, NY /// Roseland Ballroom*
30 /// Boston, MA /// House Of Blues*
1 /// Sayreville, NJ /// Starland Ballroom*
3 /// Philadelphia, PA /// The Electric Factory*
6 /// Washington, DC /// 9:30 Club*
9 /// Charlotte, NC /// The Fillmore Charlotte*
10 /// Myrtle Beach, SC /// House Of Blues*
11 /// Atlanta, GA /// Tabernacle*
13 /// Chattanooga, TN /// Track 29*
14 /// New Orleans, LA /// House Of Blues*
16 /// San Antonio, TX /// Backstage
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- Written by Deb Hebert
Sandi Thom: FLESH AND BLOOD
Label: Guardian Angels Records
In 2006, Scottish singer-songwriter, Sandi Thom, rose rapidly to fame in the UK, Australia, Ireland and Germany, after achieving a No. 1 hit single with
"I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker(With Flowers In Her Hair)." This was off her debut album Smile…It Confuses People. Two follow-up albums including, The Pink and Lily (2008) and Merchants and Thieves (2010), also topped charts in several countries.
Born into a musically gifted family, Sandi started playing piano at age 4, singing at 6, and writing by 11. She is influenced by artists from many genres, and seamlessly integrates blues, rock, folk, pop, Americana and country into her compositions.
This is Sandi Thom’s fourth studio album, and her second release on her independent label, Guardian Angels Records. According to her official press biography, "The album was produced by the Black Crowes’ Rich Robinson, and recorded at 16 Tons Studio in Nashville, Tennessee. It features an all-star ensemble, including Black Crowes' drummer Steve Gormanand, and guitarist Audley Freed (who's also worked with Dixie Chicks, Train, Jakob Dylan, and others). It also features special guest appearances from singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie and the legendary saxophonist and Rolling Stones collaborator Bobby Keys."
- Written by S.A. Hussey
"It's the wind over the ocean. It's the secrets in the sand.
It's all trying to tell me something.
So I'm listening."
"Life is Calling"
~ Lyrics by Beth Hart
Beth Hart came into the world on January 24th and grew up in Los Angeles, California. At the tender age of 4, she was playing piano and at age 18, won 13 episodes in a row on Star Search, where she went on to win the show's final competition. Years later, she is performing and making blues records with guitarist Joe Bonamassa and appearing worldwide in legendary line-ups, including Jeff Beck.
- Written by Bluebird
Barnaby Saints don't give up and neither do I. They wanted me to hear their music, and I don't let a song fall through the gaps of any inter-net pavement. This folk and bluegrass band is a breath of fresh everything.
From Their Biography:
Barnaby Saints are a Los Angeles based group that fuses a mix of bluegrass, gospel, indie rock and layered harmonies. Described in one review as " the lovechild of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and The Devil Makes Three," the band fuses old folk story telling with lush vocals, banjo, dobro, and swelling B3 organ to create a unique soundscape. With a debut EP recorded in June 2011, the band has garnered positive reviews, played great shows, toured on the west coast, and enjoyed performing music together. With a new album and fall tour in the works, Barnaby Saints is looking forward to a full year and more good times.
This EP was self-produced by Barnaby Saints, along with Scott Coslett and Todd Berman, mixed by Scott Coslett and Todd Bergman and mastered by Peter Barker.
Track by Track
Over and Over- The fast running sound is upbeat, while the fiddle follows its own path. The voices are blended with drums that don't overwhelm the song. The lyrics are wise and easy to relate to, making sense of the pace of time and repetition, which often we can not avoid.
Bones- The strong rhythms and harmonies reminded me of Ha Ha Tonka, my favorite folk band from the Ozarks. Facing life and death with courage, there is hope in circular things. Picking guitar and tambourine offer a very different sound from their first song, with poignant categories of phrasing, this track has some power behind it. I'd love to see and hear this played live. It will be a clapping foot stomper for sure!
Half The Time- The acoustic and clear vocal lead is a great opener to this song. This tune reminded me of "Coming Home' by Langhorne Slim, but the Saints have more production and instruments behind this tune. The sound is clean, romantic, breezy and youthful.
Tennessee- Dreamy, expansive, reaching, yearning, hopeful.
Washing Me Down- Whistling effects, banjos with harmonies, add a country vibe, to what could be a raw version of a Fleetwood Mac sound, who happened to incorporate a lot of folk and blues into their music. I just saw Lindsey Buckingham , and his entire take on music after all of this time, is that the 'the little machine vs. the big machine' comparison needs to be made constantly, to keep life in the recording industry balanced.
Waiting For Day- We get a little organ leading the group to a sing along with a gospel elevation. The high notes shine with inclusiveness, the fiddle floats.
Blue Winter- This could be a popular radio song. It has a modern singer-songwriter acoustic feel to it, but then moves into the bluegrass form. Barnaby Saints know what they play best and they stand up for it.
This record just fits into exactly what you'd expect from a contemporary folk band and is recommended to any collector of this genre, but it would also be an easy addition to those of us who are new to this song form. It is harmonic, warm, accessible and demonstrates understated talent. The production and arrangements bring out the best in these musicians, when blending their accomplishments as a group. My only critique is that they get their names out to the public, to get more credit for their work!
Meet Barnaby Saints:
Drums ~ Anthony Lopez
Bass ~ Frank DiVanna
Organ ~ J.T. Thomas
Upright Bass ~Tom Freund
Fiddle ~ Aubrey Richmond
Support your favorite artist through buying their music:
- Written by Bluebird
Chris Ross is Halfway to Wonderland, however he defines it. With stated influences of Ray LaMontagne, this singer-songwriter from Maine is living his dream with every note that he sings, every lyric he writes. Dreamy love songs these are not, however. They are songs of love, but more of love that is defined in a broader sense. Love of country, dignity, family, sanity. There are some romantic love references, and these are honest descriptions, as close to the moment to moment breath, that love can be observed.
I heard contemporary singer-songwriter tones of the Counting Crows, Ray LaMontagne and even some classic soul influences in these tracks. In your face acoustics like Mumford and Sons make this an exciting contemporary take on folk music. Cool slides of blues guitar bring some Southern charm and history to the instrumentation. But the factor that sets Ross apart from other singer-songwriters today is his lyrics. These songs are thoughtfully laid out in precise narratives, where each word is a symbolic intervention as if in a poem. And the instruments are used to either describe, highlight or contrast the material being illustrated.
- Written by Bluebird
This album was arranged, recorded, engineered, produced, and mixed by Kevin Bowe.
Release Date: 2012.
My discovery of Kevin Bowe's work came directly from Randy Abramson 's website, Rock Torch.The site interviews rock musicians and asks them who they would recommend the readers listen to, in terms of new music or unearthed gems. They follow a wide range of musicians from many genres, and I stumbled across an article on Alex Chilton after he died. I am a huge fan of the Replacements, Paul Westerberg, Grandpa Boy, and anything else that Westerberg wants to call his music.
Corresponding with Kevin Bowe to set up this review has been a privilege. Picking up a guitar at 13 years old, he is in this business for the love of the music and the good life. And what is the good life? Not necessarily being famous, but having the joy of writing for, and playing music with, his 'heroes'. He toured and recorded with Paul Westerberg, and they co-wrote the song, "Everybody Lies." He also recorded with Etta James, Johnny Lang, The Meat Puppets, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Leo Kottke, Three Dog Night and dozens of other artists. With this expanse of recording and touring history from Bowe, I had instant respect for his experience. After just a slight amount of research, I learned that this Minneapolis writer, producer and guitarist, has scored 3 Platinum records, and written songs on two Grammy award winning albums, while working with Paul Westerberg.
This current record, "Natchez Trace" is all his own, with contributions from Paul Westerberg, Freedy Johnston, Chuck Prophet, Tim O'Reagan (Jayhawks), Nels Kline (Wilco) and Scarlet Rivera (Dylan/Desire).
Read more: Kevin Bowe and the Okemah Prophets: Natchez Trace