Track taken from Willie’s granddaughter’s combo’s new album, out in June.
By John B. Moore
I’m not sure why we’re getting all worked up about Prince Harry’s wedding, when we’ve got out own Royal Family here in the U.S. to pay attention to. Willie Nelson’s granddaughter Raelyn Nelson (just the latest in a growing line of talented Nelson’s) and Hannah Fairlight have partnered for a new project, mmhmm. The two are pioneers in the Americana Pop genre.
Shortly after moving to Nashville, Fairlight landed a leading role on A&E’s Crazy Hearts: Nashville, released a self-produced EP, and landed the role of Veracity in Pitch Perfect 3. Before co-founding mmhmm, Nelson fronted the appropriately named, The Raelyn Nelson Band.
Their debut album is out on June 8, the first single from it is “Aw Hell” and they were kind enough to let Blurt be the first to share it with the world.
“Aw Hell” is the first song Raelyn and I wrote together, sitting on my back porch in Inglewood, East Nashville,” said Fairlight. “I guess we were just reflecting on real life circumstances and our coming to terms with them. Raelyn’s house burned down, which was INSANE.,. And it gave me and definitely Raelyn new perspective on everything.”
The duo have a handful of dates set up for June:
June 1st at Puckett’s in Lieper’s Fork, TN
June 15th at Lipstick Lounge – Album release show and party in Nashville, TN
Supporting Todd Snider:
June 16th at Paramount Center of the Arts in Bristol TN
Kickass platter One Bar Left arrives this week, May 4, on the Dead Beat label.
By Blurt Staff
Arthur Alexander is no stranger to memorable guitar hooks. As the guitarist/singer/songwriter from both the mid-‘70s NYC power-pop band The Poppees and early ‘80s power-pop band Sorrowshe’s written his fair share ofimpossible to shake ditties. That’s one of many reasons Blurt is stoked to be able to premiere Arthur Alexander’s new debut solo effort, One Bar Left. The LP comes out May 4th on all formats via Dead Beat Records, and traffics in a similar high-energy style of power-pop from his former bands.
“The songs on this album literally span decades – from some of the very first songs I’d written, like “Hello Suzanne” and “Till I Was On My Way”, to “I’ll Get Your Love Someday” which I wrote while I was with The Poppees, through “Can’t Get You Out Of My Dream” written shortly before Sorrows’ breakup, to songs written only recently,” said Alexander. “Some started their life years ago, but were never finished, only to be completed as I was recording this album.”
One of the things he’s proudest of on this album is how all the songs (and it’s a lot of songs!), no matter how diverse from one to the next, all seem to somehow flow together.
“As unintuitive as it may sound, I think that’s because I paid absolutely no attention or made any effort to making them “sound similar”. Instead, I went for what sounded and worked the best for each song, and nothing else. I simply went where each song wanted to take me, rather than me trying to take the song where I thought it should go. “Shot In The Heart” felt like it wanted to sound like Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” meets Tom Waits? Why Not?! As long as I felt like I’m staying true to myself and my music, that’s all that mattered.”
Check it out for yourself. Oh, and while you’re at it, check the man himself out at his Facebook page for more info, tour dates, et al.
O, what a lucky man: Key track from new album currently out (and being toured as well).
By Fred Mills
This clip is a personal fave: Having followed Chris Smither avidly ever since seeing him in a small blues club in Charlotte, NC (and later having the privilege of hanging with him and sundry other fans and media types during a memorable night of, ahem, music and fun in Tucson, AZ), I can state personally that the cat is the real freakin’ deal —and you, gentle readers, will bear witness with me when you view the following video for “Down to the Sound,” a special solo acoustic performance, filmed in Leverett, MA, of a key track from his superb new album, Call Me Lucky (Signature Sounds/Mighty Albert), which dropped a few days ago, on March 2:
With video production via J. Elon Goodman / www.saltstage.com, this simple-yet-piercing track comes alive, not unlike having the blues/Americana virtuoso sitting across you in your own house.
Smither, on the track: “This song came about from some press interview awhile back when I was in the middle of writing songs for this record. He asked me the question I’ve been asked more times than I care to remember, ‘How do you write songs?’ I think ‘Down To The Sound’ ended up being a suitable answer.”
It’s the Boston virtuoso’s 18th—yes, that makes EIGHTEEN—album to date, and a 2CD set to boot, one which took him to Austin with producer David Goodrich along with players Billy Conway (Morphine) and Matt Lorenz (The Suitcase junket). If you need more convincing, HERE is a video you can also view over at NPR’s World Café.
Or you could just check out the man in concert, because he’s on the road just about constantly for the next couple of months…
Wed., March 7 PORTLAND, OR Alberta Rose Theatre*
Thurs., March 8 EUGENE, OR Shedd Institute*
Fri., March 9 BAINBRIDGE WA The Treehouse Café*
Sat., March 10 VANCOUVER, BC St. James Hall*
Sun., March 11 SEATTLE, WA Tractor Tavern*
Wed., March 14 SANTA CRUZ, CA Kuumbwa Jazz Center*
Thurs., March 15 AUBURN, CA Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center*
Fri., March 16 BERKELEY, CA Freight & Salvage*
Sat., March 17 SEBASTOPOL, CA Sebastopol Community Center*
Fri., March 30 HOUSTON, TX The Mucky Duck
Sat., March 31 AUSTIN, TX Cactus Cafe
Wed., April 4 NEW YORK, NY City Winery NYC*
Fri., April 6 FALL RIVER, MA Narrows Center for Arts*
Sat., April 7 TURNERS FALLS, MA Shea Theater*
Sun., April 8 CAMBRIDGE, MA The Sinclair*
Fri., April 13 AUBURN, NY Auburn Public Theater
Sat., April 14 PHILADELPHIA, PA World Cafe Live
Sun., April 15 BALTIMORE, MD Creative Alliance at Patterson
Fri., April 27 NASHVILLE, TN Bluebird Cafe
Sat., April 28 BATON ROUGE, LA Red Dragon Listening Room
Sun., April 29 NEW ORLEANS, LA Chickie Wah Wah
Thurs., May 10 EVANSTON, IL Evanston SPACE
Fri., May 11 MINNEAPOLIS, MN Cedar Cultural Center
Sat., May 12 ANN ARBOR, MI The Ark
Sun., May 13 CLEVELAND, OH Beachland Ballroom
Tues., May 15 PITTSBURGH, PA Club Cafe
Wed., May 16 BUFFALO, NY 9th Ward @ Babeville
Thurs., May 17 ROCHESTER, NY Penthouse at One East Ave
Fri., July 20 TELLURIDE, CO Telluride Americana Music Festival
Choice title track from the artist’s upcoming record in March.
By Blurt Staff
Americana/blues/alt-country virtuoso Kevin Daniel’s new EP, Myself Through You, will arrive March 16, via Creative Entertainment Network/The Orchard, described as “a mix of roots rock riffs, Americana flavor, alternative country backed by pedal steel guitar, flugelhorn, and bluegrass banjo.” Indeed, as evidenced by the title track (not to mention this wonderful video for the tune “Born A Preacher”), it’s all that and much more. We’re proud to unveil “Myself Through You,” in fact, here at BLURT. Check it out:
Explains Daniel, “I chose to name the album after this song because it’s got a lot of what I love in music, banjo, organ, and great harmonies. It’s a bit of a departure from my more country-tinged stuff, but I think pushing yourself is often how you get some of your best work. The music video itself was shot on probably one of the coldest days of the winter so far, it was maybe ten degrees that day? Maybe less. It was super, super cold which is why I kept dancing and moving. Originally, I was just supposed to sort of walk around Brooklyn but decided if we were going to’ be outside all day, then I needed to keep moving around.”
The new record was recorded in the summer of 2017 at Brooklyn’s Degraw Sound with Benjamin Rice (Jack Penate, Silya & The Sailor, Aoife O’Donovan). It follows 2013’s debut FLY, and is the culmination of a career that’s began blossoming during the North Carolina native’s childhood and steadily developed through high school orchestras, a pair of jazz/blues bands, a bluegrass outfit, a punk/ska combo, and even an a capella group (he was a tenor, in case you’re wondering).
Watch for Daniel and his band, currently based in NYC, hitting the road this spring and throughout the summer. Details at his official website – and don’t confuse him with that other Kevin Daniel (a pop artist) or even that other Kevin Daniel (a visual artist). This guy’s the real deal.
Hard-twangin’, fuzzbox-stompin’ guy/gal duo Hymn For Her have been a fixture on the American and Euro roadways the past few years, touring behind their blistering 2013 album Lucy and Wayne’s Smokin’ Flames and the more recent revved-up Drive Til U Die (listen to it at their website). Yeah, that band, the one touring in a deluxe Bambi Airstream, which did double duty as a recording studio for DTUD, along with studio sessions with the likes of Vance Powell, Mitch Easter & Jim Diamond. Now Lucy and Wayne have got a new video from the album to share, at their YouTube channel. just in time for all you sweethearts and Valentine’s Day – bask in its luminous glow, and feel free to sing along as you allow us to give you an advance peek. Check out “Acetylene”:
According to Lucy, “‘Acetylene’, it’s about the vast circle of life & sharing those moments with ones we love along the way. It was inspired in Menomonie, WI, written in Beaver Island, Mich., recorded in our 1961 Airstream in Swampville, FL, mixed by Mitch Easter (of REM engineering fame) in Kernersville, N.C. and mastered in Nashville, Tenn. It’s on our last release, Drive Til U Die.…so the song has had quite a journey. Our daughter joins us singing harmonies at the end.”
She adds that a new album is currently in the works, saying, “We recently finished working on a full length CD with Vance Powell that will be released at the end of August 2018. We are beginning to work on a video for the first song on the album in February. The songs on this release are a variety of many styles and many emotions, all played by the two of us.”
The band kicks off a new round of touring this week, starting Feb. 16 in Sarasota, FL. Just look for the music venue with the Airstream parked beside the load-in doors. Tour dates at their website.
Tune culled from the artist’s new album arriving next week. (Photo: Evan Felt)
By Blurt Staff
Brooklyn-based Americana rocker Jamie McLean, who in the past has toured as guitarist for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Aaron Neville, Brett Dennen and more, is about to drop a new solo album. It’s the follow-up to 2011’s superb Sunday Morning: produced by Wilco’s Ken Coomer at Nashville’s Sound Emporium, One and Only features the tight-as-nails Jamie McLean Band (McLean along with Brian Griffin on drums and Ben Mars on bass) and includes guests Sam Bush and Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band).
We’re proud to be able to premiere a track from the new record, which arrives in stores and a digital outlets next week, Feb. 9. Check out “You’re Not The Only One”:
McLean offered his take on the tune and its genesis: “‘You’re Not The Only One’is a rock and roller but lyrically it speaks to the human condition. It focuses on how everyone, no matter who there are will go through something difficult at some point in their lives. There will be conflict, heartache, fear or sadness but there are brighter days ahead. There is solace in knowing that we have all been there and we can always elevate above the trouble. We can turn the dark to light and it will no doubt get better.
“The guitar riff at the beginning of the song just came to me. It felt like a Neil Young and Crazy Horse riff and there are certainly nods to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in there. Once I had that main musical theme I was off and running. ‘Communication broke down’was the first lyric to come to me and I dove into a story based on relationships and conflict and how to overcome it. I think it’s a bit of a universal sentiment.
“I had the verses and pre-choruses for a few months but just couldn’t seem to finish up the chorus. On one of my many songwriting trips to Nashville I hooked up with Tim Jones and we pretty quickly got to the big “You’re Not The Only One” chorus. It’s anthemic and really elevates the whole song in a perfect way. I love the “staring at the ceiling” and “we can turn the black to blue” lines. They are so visual to me.”
The Jamie McLean Band will tour behind the album throughout the US and Canada this year, and by all accounts they are a smokin’ live ensemble, having performed with Gregg Allman, Aaron Neville, Dr. John, Taj Mahal, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Trombone Shorty, Los Lobos, Blues Traveler, Marc Broussard, Gov’t Mule and many more, turning up the heat at festivals like Bonnaroo, Mountain Jam, Gathering of the Vibes, Targhee Fest, Ottawa Blues Fest, Quebec City Summer Fest, and Warren Haynes’ Christmas Jam.
Ace tune by the gutsy North Carolina band taken from smokin’ new album, due out in early March. (Pictured above, L-R: Luis Rodriguez, Kenny Roby, Dan Davis, Rob Keller)
By Blurt Staff
Americana fans with long memories know well the name 6 String Drag: the hard-twanging Raleigh (NC)-by-way-of-Clemson (SC) outfit that helped usher in the golden era of alt-country in the early/mid ‘90s, predating both Ryan Adams’ Whiskeytown and scene bible No Depression. And although the members went their separate ways in 1998, 6 String Drag wound up reuniting in 2014 and released an acclaimed comeback album in early 2015.
Indeed, Roots Rock ‘N’ Roll (Royal Potato Family) was reviewed here at BLURT, our editor hailing the mix of power pop, rockabilly-esque twang, and bluesy soul: “It lives up to its title in every sense of the word—it’s rootsy as hell, and it’ll rock your ass off.. Maturity means you get to do a few things you didn’t quite have the skills or savvy to do 20 years earlier, and it also means you and the folks around you get to savor things because the moments of now tend to hover, deliciously, even while the memories of then continue to linger.” (Go HERE to listen to a track we premiered here in 2015.)
Resuming operations clearly gave the band a sense of momentum, and now they’ve got a smokin’ followup to RRNR due on digital, CD, and vinyl on March 9 via the Schoolkids Records label (formerly Second Motion and, full disclosure, our sister business). Titled Top of the World, it’s 11 tracks of pure 6SD, produced by – as was RRNR – Jason Merritt. By way of preview we are very proud to unveil the track “Waste of Time.” Check it out below; we guarantee it won’t be a waste of your time.
Guitarist/vocalist Kenny Roby—who is joined by co-founding bassist Rob Keller, plus guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Luis Rodriguez and drummer Dan Davis, plus guests John Ginty on keys and Matt Douglas on horns—notes that Top of the World “isn’t quite the almost live and somewhat frantic approach, like 1997’s [Steve Earle-produced] High Hat. And Roots Rock ’N’ Roll was really intentionally recorded like a ’50s and ’60s record. This record isn’t super layered but it isn’t always just a raw 4 piece approach. It just depended on the song — we just took it song by song in what we felt the song needed or wanted.”
Roby and Keller both acknowledge that the group has always been influenced by artists like The Band, Van Morrison, the Kinks, Rolling Stones, and Beatles, and that if one listens closely to the new album, traces of Rockpile, Thin Lizzy and Mott the Hoople might even be detected as well. As Keller explains, “We listen to a lot of different kinds of music, and of course that rubs off on us. We get on this wavelength where we will get into things at the same time. Recently, it’s been on the pop rockier side from ‘60s Kinks to ‘70s glam rock to ‘80s punk, power pop. We probably would’ve made more records like this had we stuck together all these years because we’ve always been into this type of music.”
But wait, as the saying goes, there’s more: The aforementioned High Hat, which was originally released on producer Earle’s E-Squared label, is getting a 20th anniversary reissue next month, on Jan. 11 (also via Schoolkids)—including as a limited/numbered white vinyl edition. So those Americana fans with long memories mentioned in the first paragraph will have even more reason to celebrate, as High Hat remains an acknowledged touchstone of the genre.
Worth additional note: the above-referenced 6SD reunion came about after Roby invited Keller to play with him at a solo show promoting his 2013 solo album Memories & Birds (reviewed HERE), and they wound up doing some old 6SD faves. Around the same time BLURT published an in-depth interview with Roby, and you can read it HERE.
Remarkable L.A. band closes out 2017 following a busy year. Pictured above: Jonathan D. Haskell, Keith Joyner, Zöe Ruth-Erwin (photo by Mark Velasquez)
By Blurt Staff
We’ve turned you on to, and hopefully you’ve tuned into, les biches, the current project of erstwhile Seven Simons/Twinstar (and Georgia native/L.A. resident) mainman Keith Joyner, earlier this year via Joyner’s “Opening Ceremony” essay (about a rather unique “dark tale from the mid-‘90s, guest-starring Love and Rockets, Genesis P-Orridge, Rick Rubin’s haunted mansion, and a Dante-worthy conflagration”).
BLURT contributor Robert Dean Lurie wrote about the band for their official bio, noting, in part, “Named after a Jacques Brel song and 1968 French film, les biches is very much an anything-goes affair, harnessing the Wild West-possibilities of this new paradigm. And yet, there are a number of Joyner trademarks that remain ever-present: that keen sense of melody, the musical dexterity (always tightly corralled to the needs of the song), and a seeming inability to waste a single note. This is classic songcraft coupled with an openness to the unknown. As such, les biches is both a next chapter and a beginning, an invitation and a welcome home.
“Already an impressive cast of collaborators has come on board: Sarah Negahdari (The Happy Hollows, Silversun Pickups, Pisces), Jonathan D. Haskell (Seven Saturdays, Glasz), Brian Reyes (The Little Ones), Travis McNabb (Better Than Ezra, Frankie Ballard), David Newton (The Mighty Lemon Drops), and Manuel Calderon (mixing engineer: Beach House, Animal Collective, Yeah Yeah Yeahs). Some are here for a one-off, some could be considered auxiliary members, and one or two may reappear like comets. Joyner’s own role shifts and adapts accordingly.”
If you were prodded to check out les biches debut single “I Had A Thought” we featured in Joyner’s essay or that, plus four more over the course of the year, at the band’s SoundCloud page, you will definitely dig the group’s sixth and final single for 2017. It’s 8 minutes long, but every second of this dynamics-rich track is a rewarding one. Check out “North From the Airwaves” which is officially released on December 8. And note that the group is currently in heavy rehearsals, prepping to take a full band out on the road for 2018.
Joyner details the new song:
“Before releasing music in 2017 as les biches, I was in a band called Twinstar. We were together longer than The Beatles. Our tenure was marked by fits and starts, extended periods of hibernation, frequent personnel changes and infrequent live shows. Even so, we operated under the Field of Dreams “if you build it they will come” blueprint. That is, we put so much into the recording of our 2013 album The Sound of Leaving, that surely it would rise above the din and enable us to carry on making more records. It would be disingenuous to say we weren’t disappointed when that failed to happen.
“As we were finishing the album, I would often feud with my long-suffering bandmate Chris Candelaria about things like the bass frequency in the final masters, or the track order. In retrospect, it seems trivial given the few people that would hear it. And yet, those arguments signify that we cared deeply about the end result. It is, after all, the bane of every creative artist that anything worthwhile requires dedication and heart. But the risk that art can exist solely in a vacuum always looms large. The band came to an end, and I naturally drifted away from music in a melancholy mood, though there were certainly no hard feelings.
“Several years later, I found myself hiking in the volcanic hills of Myvatn, Iceland. (And before you think it, yes! Every asshole has been or is going to Iceland!) I am a firm believer that there’s nothing like physical exertion or a change in scenery to get the creative juices flowing. A melody crept into my brain. As I walked, it continued to mutate in subtle ways and became the silent soundtrack for the rest of the trip. And just like that, I was back in. This was my “new direction,” I thought. I wasn’t interested in writing pop songs at the time. Rather, I wished to convey what it felt like to walk past ancient cinder cones and boiling molten lava away from the world at large.
“Back in Los Angeles, I had already met Jonathan D. Haskell, the mercurial man behind the band Seven Saturdays. I was inspired by his unique and atmospheric approach to the Fender Rhodes. It was exactly what this piece of music required. So began our collaboration on what was meant to be the first les biches release. But the floodgates had opened, and a flurry of new songs materialized along the way.
“As such, North from the Airwaves becomes the last (and sixth) track to be released by les biches in 2017. To say that an eight-minute-plus song with no verses or choruses is my favorite of them all is no stretch. It was the elusive spark that changed the way I think about music, though I am keenly aware it’s a huge ask in the age of short attention spans. In other words, having built it, it’s more about the quality of the company these days. To that point, I am also joined by Travis McNabb (Seven Simons, Better Than Ezra) on drums and the fantastic Zoe Ruth-Erwin, who writes and performs under her own name, and collectively with Jonathan in the electro-dream pop duo P O L L A. This old world is full of noise and chaos. If you do stop to listen, we thank you more than you can know!”
Austin Shaw left music behind after he finished college and started his climb up the corporate ladder, after a few years he ‘felt’ like something was missing so he left his job in corporate America and moved to Santa Cruz to reclaim the artist and songwriter that always lived inside of him.
Shaw spent the last couple of years, writing, recording and touring and he recently released his full-length debut album. The songs are personal, and Shaw willingly exposes himself with his words and music. FELT is it a solid mix of classic and melodic rock, highlighted with charming guitar riffs and soulful vocals.
He navigates the complexities of day-to-day life through song. Inviting, approachable and thoughtfully efficient, the album walks in the quaint space between a stripped-down solo and full band approach. Shaw is a versatile arranger, and he flexes his musical instincts to great effect on his debut record. FELT was produced by Robert Smith (Defy Records), and also features the talents of guitarist Larry Saltzman (Paul Simon), drummer Joe Bonaci (Sting), bassist Malcolm Gold and vocalist Clara Lofaro.
Classic tune taken from the Canadian band’s very special Christmas album.
BY BLURT STAFF
Let’s kick off the holidays with a video premiere from Canada’s award-winning ambassadors of musical diversity, Sultans of String. Their latest release “Christmas Caravan” is out now and you can check out the video for their version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, featuring vocals by Rebecca Campbell here:
The genre-hopping “Christmas Caravan” was recorded and co-produced by John ‘Beetle’ Bailey. You may recognize a few titles, but you’ve never experienced seasonal music quite like this before.
“We wanted to make a real contribution to the Christmas repertoire, and hopefully create some new standards” explains bandleader/violinist Chris McKhool. “This is a Christmas album, but approached from the perspective of a world-music band. We explored diverse genres, from Quebecois fiddle tunes to collaborating with a traditional Turkish string ensemble, and jump around from African roots music, Gypsy-jazz, rumba flamenco, ska, and the grandeur of the symphony.” The Sultans of String are Chris McKhool, Kevin Laliberté, Eddie Paton, Drew Birston and Chendy Leon.
Also, lending their talents to the songs on this album are 6x Grammy winning Paddy Maloney (The Chieftains), Ruben Blades & Luba Mason (Panamanian 7 Grammy and 5 Latin Grammy Award winner), platinum-selling jazz vocalist Nikki Yanofsky, 2x JUNO/Grammy Winner Alex Cuba, Benoit Bourque of Quebec’s Bottine Souriante (3x JUNOs, 4x Gold, 3x Platinum records), Sweet Honey in the Rock (Grammy winning all-woman, African-American a cappella group), Cameroon’s Richard Bona (Paul Simon, Herbie Hancock), Canada’s singer to the stars Rebecca Campbell (Emmylou Harris, Alanis Morissette), singer Mary Fahl from NYC’s October Project, a recording collective of Turkish Roma violinists in Istanbul, Sudanese-Canadian singer Waleed Abdulhamid, Nashville-based JUNO Award winning country singer Crystal Shawanda, sitar virtuoso Anwar Khurshid, and hang drum player David Charrier from France.
This recording was produced with the support of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council and funded in part by FACTOR, the Government of Canada and Canada’s private radio broadcasters.
Sultans of String will be kicking off a fresh Canadian tour this weekend, on November 26, in Peterborough. Following a Christmas and New Year’s break, they head to the UK in January. Go here to view the complete itinerary, which will include selected dates in the US during 2018.
Tribute: Danny Kirwan (R.I.P.) with Fleetwood Mac - "Oh Well" Seattle live '72
Tribute: Tony Kinman (R.I.P.) and Rank And File - Video from "Long Gone Dead"
Blurt Audio Exclusive: Thin White Rope "The Fish Song" (from 2018 remaster of The Ruby Sea