Monthly Archives: June 2015

Funk/Soul Alert: New Sonny Knight & the Lakers LP

Sonny

Live Album with Secret Stash Records Just Out

By Blurt Staff

Last year we sang the praises of I’m Still Here by Minneapolis soulman Sonny Knight, so it’s pretty damn sweet to get the news of a new platter from Knight and his band the Lakers. Read Sonny’s recent interview with the Chicago Tribune, “Sonny Knight Trucks from Karaoke Circuit to International Stage​”, then check out this killer live version of “When You’re Gone”:

Sonny Knight and the Lakers Do It Live just dropped via Secret Stash as a double LP or CD, and it’s a monster. Some details:

Sonny Knight and the Lakers exist in the afterglow that soul luminaries like Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin created with their raucous, kinetic, and supreme live performances. Sonny Knight and the Lakers Do It Live, from the eponymous group, is a loving return to the height of live Rhythm and Blues, with Knight and his band perfectly capturing the uproarious vibe and rebellious musicianship of an era long gone in their first live album release. A year of steady touring through the US and Europe has allowed the group to create a seamless set, mixing songs from their critically-acclaimed debut studio album, I’m Still Here, with a couple covers of classic soul songs from their native Minneapolis,  and re-imagined bits from Led Zeppelin and James Brown. Recorded in their hometown of Minneapolis at the Dakota Jazz Club over two nights and four performances, Sonny Knight and the Lakers aim to bring a new focus on the art of the live record. Hoping to add to the rich history of live albums rather than producing something merely derivative, they set out to reconstruct the ephemeral experience of a live concert and earn a permanent place on your record shelf.

Being devoted collectors of classic R&B and soul records, creating a live album was something the band always thought about, but never had any solid plans for. The Dakota Jazz Club was a welcome stop after touring throughout Europe, and after securing the booking, Secret Stash Records founder and Lakers drummer, Eric Foss, realized that it would be one of the final opportunities to capture the show before tearing it apart and building a new one. Sonny Knight recalls, “We played that show for such a long time that things were just right.  Things had already been tweaked, everything was there, and everything was ready to go.” Lots of jumping through logistical hoops ensued in the days leading up to the shows. The club’s staff, already supporters of the band and Secret Stash, was fortunately game for the procedure. They allowed the label to transform the artist green room into a fully functional, 100% analog recording studio control room, drilling holes through the walls to run cables in order to get a live feed. After that, all that was left was the actual performing part. Since they were recording directly to 2 track tape, there was no room for error; there is no ability to go back and fix a take.

Secret Stash Chief Engineer, John Miller, mixed the record live, essentially making John the 9th member of the band that night. Not only did they need solid takes from each player, they needed solid takes from the engineer.

Sonny Knight and the Lakers were ready to show their fans just how their live show had evolved and how different it had become from their studio recordings. Knight explains, “We’re very proud of the studio work we do, and we will continue to do it.  But, we want to share the raw energy of our live show with more people.” He adds, “We want to set ourselves apart from some of the other acts out there playing soul music today.”

In preparation for the recording, every band member immersed themselves in live records. From Johnny Cash to Aretha Franklin to Fela Kuti, they consumed each piece as education and inspiration. Foss recalls, “One record that we all geeked out on was Sam Cooke Live at Harlem Square.  It’s a great example of an artist who cut silky smooth records putting on a raucous show.” He adds, “If you watch videos of James Brown performing in the 60s, that band is sweating their asses off.  I have this image burned into my mind of Clyde Stubblefield dripping sweat and looking exhausted while playing the baddest drum break ever.”

The band also wanted to dramatize and enhance audience interaction for the recording, much like their R&B predecessors did. From the moment the Lakers introduce the 66-year old Sonny Knight on stage during an instrumental groove, he affectionately provokes the audience with “Where that noise at?” and doesn’t slow down for the entire 16-track set list. He wastes no time jumping right into up-tempo favorites from 2014’s I’m Still Here such as “Juicy Lucy” and “Get Up and Dance”.  Highlights from the second half of the set include the ferocious quickness of “Caveman”, and the title track from their debut release, which effectively slows down the pace and focuses on Sonny’s journey from an Army man and semi-truck driver to his second life as a vigorous rhythm and blues showman. Knight and the band certainly gave the hometown crowd the raw, high energy, rambunctious show they set out to deliver: “To give you an idea of the energy, I think I broke 3 drum sticks during set 4.  We’re digging all the way in and none of it is sweetened, overdubbed, or even remixed,” Foss reveals.

Asked what he thought about his latest achievement of recording a live album after many years outside of the music industry, Sonny Knight muses: “Doing this record took away a lot of fears.  There is always something to learn.  But I’m not afraid anymore… I feel like we can do anything right now.”  Knight’s optimism coincides with the band heading back to the studio this summer to record their second studio album.

 

N.W.A. Partially Reunites in L.A.

NWA

Watch a video, below.

By Uncle Blurt

Everybody who knows yer ol’ uncle here understands one key thing: I am definitely down with N.W.A. Ask me sometime about that Ice Cube teeshirt I rock underneath my pinstripe suit. And I cannot wait to watch that N.W.A. biopic that’s coming soon, titled quite sensibly Straight Outta Compton… but I digress.

Saturday night erstwhile band members Ice Cube, DJ Yella and MC Ren were on stage together at the Staples Center in Los Angeles during the BET Experience, performing a mini-concert of “8 Ball,” “Straight Outta Compton,” “Chin Check” and “Fuck tha Police.” Billboard reports they also gave props homage to the late Eazy E during the set by interpolating portions of “Boyz-N-The-Hood” and “Foe Tha Love of $.”

Not on hand was Dr. Dre, however, but it wasn’t as if they were expecting him to show up. Ice Cube had told Rolling Stone recently that “I hope he blesses us with his presence, but if not, I’ve been rockin’ for a long time without anybody. So whoever shows up, I’m still gonna rock. Whoever don’t show up, we still gonna rock.”

Yes Bassist Chris Squire 1948-2015 R.I.P.

Squire

One of the key and most revered architects of British Prog-rock, and the only constant member of the group, he was affectionately known as the Fish.

By Fred Mills

The name Chris Squire is synonymous is many circles with the term “Prog-rock,” for as longtime bassist for Britain’s premiere Prog combo Yes, his signature melodic tones, and bass-as-lead-guitar style, helped define the movement starting in the late ‘60s The music world is accordingly mourning Squire’s passing, two days ago (June 27) in Phoenix, from acute erythroid leukemia. His condition had only been diagnosed a few months earlier; Squire was 67.

Co-founding the group with vocalist Jon Anderson in 1968, Squire was the only member to remain in the lineup for the entirety of the group’s 4 ½ decade career, one which encompassed 21 official studio albums and countless live recordings. At the Yes Facebook page, roster details were listed thusly: The band’s current line-up consists of singer Jon Davison, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Alan White, and keyboardist Geoff Downes. YES alumni are Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Bill Bruford, Trevor Horn, Trevor Rabin, Billy Sherwood, Tony Kaye, Peter Banks, Patrick Moraz, Benoit David, Oliver Wakeman, Igor Khoroshev and Tom Brislin.

A post was made yesterday at FB by the band:

“It’s with the heaviest of hearts and unbearable sadness that we must inform you of the passing of our dear friend and Yes co-founder, Chris Squire. Chris peacefully passed away last night in Phoenix Arizona. We will have more information for you soon.”

Squire 2

Squire was a huge influence on several generations of bassists, while more than a few Yes albums—among them, the key early quartet of The Yes Album, Fragile, Close to the Edge and Tales From Topographic Oceans—regularly land on fan and critical best-of-of-all-time lists. On a personal note: yours truly can personally attest to be a huge fan back in the day, even though I hadn’t been following the group all that closely in recent years. I did, however, go see the group about 6 years ago, and they were every bit as riveting as they were in the early ‘70s when I saw them probably 9 or 10 times, including no less than three Topographic concerts. While my musical tastes subsequently detoured when Punk arrived, I will always have a fond place in my heart for Yes—my then-girlfriend (now my wife) was equally smitten, sitting down for hours at a time with her art supplies, listening to the band and trying to copy those intricate Roger Dean album covers.

Squire, for his part, along with guitarist Steve Howe, handled the bulk of the musical writing, with Anderson tackling the lyrics, during the group’s classic era. He also worked on a number of side projects, including several solo albums (1975’s A Fish Out Of Water in particular) and the XYZ, Cinema and Conspiracy groups. He will be hugely missed, and while Yes apparently has plans to continue on without him—they had already signed on a new touring bassist following his leukemia diagnosis and decision to temporarily bow out while he underwent treatment—there certainly will be no replacing him.

He is survived by his third wife, Melissa, and five children, Carmen, Chandrika, Camille, Cameron, and Xilan.

 

Incoming: Deluxe 4LP Vinyl Box Tells the Ork Records Story

Ork

“Where in the mythos of punk is there room for a frizzy-haired cinephile San Diegan? How could the defining rock attitude and look of the late 1970s get brainstormed by two go-nowheres from a boarding school in Hockessin, Delaware – a D student and kid voted Most Unknown by his senior class?” – from the new press release from Numero Group.

By Blurt Staff

Numero Group has finally got its Ork Records LP box set to roll. Titled Ork Records: New York, New York, it’s due Oct. 30 as a deluxe 4LP box or 2CD set. All you punk and indie collectors already know the significance of this. The rest of you: watch a trailer below:

From Numero Group:
“Forget the worn-out yarns about London gobbers and safety-pin piercings – the true story of the birth of punk rock on 45 is the story of Ork Records, captured by Numero Group on four hefty LPs (or two shiny compact discs) and told across 120 high-gloss pages filled with insider photos and sordid details. Naturally, this piece of history will be released on Orktober 30th.

“It is a story populated by iconic names like Television, Alex Chilton, Lester Bangs, Richard Hell, the Feelies, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Brian Eno, Blondie and the Ramones. And it’s a tale told from the hallowed grounds of CBGB, Max’s Kansas City, and Ardent Studios.

“This a story so glorious and important that it’s shocking to think that it’s never been told until now. Only the Numero Group could properly tell it, as it is a tale of imploding ambitions and underdog hustlers with a litany of heartbreaks and financial straits—a tale of indispensable rock ‘n’ roll made by people unjustly dispensed by history and the masses. For all the Record Geek Valhalla names mentioned earlier, there are even more forgotten heroes involved in this narrative that measure up to those Hall of Famers.

“The legend began on wax with Television’s “Little Johnny Jewel,” the poetic head-splitter spread across two sides of a 45 in 1975. But it all began, in fact, with Terry Ork, a Jewish SoCal film nerd enthralled by Andy Warhol’s posse as they made a transgressive surfing flick, who moved cross-country to manage a movie memorabilia shop on the grubby streets of the Lower East Side. Made in the shadows of disco and dereliction in late-‘70s Manhattan, Ork Records: New York, New York is not just the genesis of punk, it is the birth of the New York City scene and indie culture as we know it.”
More details: http://www.numerogroup.com/products/ork-records-new-york-new-york

2015 Hopscotch Music Festival Lineup Announced

Hopscotch 2015 poster

Sept. 10, 11 and 12 bring the event back to Raleigh once again. See full lineup above – click on the poster image to enlarge.

Hopscotch Music Festival, called “America’s (Secretly) Best Festival” and “the premiere experimental and underground festival in America,” returns September 10-12, 2015. Today, the festival released its schedule, featuring 140 performances in 12 venues within a walkable footprint in downtown Raleigh, N.C. The first of three outdoor main stage nights in Raleigh City Plaza begins on Thursday, Sept. 10 with groundbreaking post-rock collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor headlining and Atlanta’s Deerhunter opening. Friday, Sept. 11 will be headlined by the Grammy nominated TV on the Radio, with California’s Tycho in direct support. Durham’s Carlitta Durand will open. On Saturday, Sept. 12, country pioneer Dwight Yoakam will headline along with legendary Los Angeles band X who will open. Two local favorites, American Aquarium and The Vibekillers, round out the 4-band bill.

Along with the City Plaza main stage shows, attendees will bounce between 11 indoor venues: CAM Raleigh, Deep South the Bar, Fletcher Opera Theater, Kennedy Theater, Kings Barcade, Neptune’s, Pour House Music Hall, The Lincoln Theatre, Tir na nOg, Slim’s, and Vintage 21. From bars to concert halls to a church, these venues link together to create Hopscotch’s unique setting, one that utilizes Raleigh’s existing infrastructure. The indoor sets reflect Hopscotch’s reputation for programming an eclectic and unconventional weekend, one that showcases the likes of Virginia rapper Pusha T, Texas psych legend Roky Erickson, alt-country rocker Lydia Loveless, far out Brooklynites Zs, and electronic voyager Clark, all alongside a selection of compelling North Carolina bands.

TICKETS:  All remaining VIP and 3-Day passes, now along with 1-Day passes and Single City Plaza headlining show tickets, are on sale here: ​​http://hopscotchmusicfest.com/buy-tickets.

Pearl Jam’s Vedder Helps Supersuckers Launch Cancer Fund for Eddie Spaghetti

supersuckers

Legendary punk combo frontman recently diagnosed with the disease; fund established for fans and friends to donate.

By Blurt Staff

Eddie Spaghetti, front man for Seattle’s ass-kicking saviors of rock and roll, the Supersuckers, has been diagnosed with Stage 3 oropharynx cancer. In order for him to undergo immediate surgery and radiation treatment, the band has cancelled its upcoming European tour and also postponed work on the follow-up to last year’s Get the Hell.

Within hours of learning this news, friends of the Supersuckers responded by raising more than $20,000 in the first 24 hours of the campaign to Support Eddie Spaghetti’s Cancer Fight.

“I have been blown away by the incredible generosity of friends and strangers,” says Eddie. “It shows you that even the darkest times can offer some light, some hope. Thanks everyone.”

 The Supersuckers played its last show (for now) on Thursday, June 18 to a packed house at Seattle’s Tractor Tavern. Among the evening’s highlights was a performance of the Ramones’ “I Believe in Miracles,” featuring surprise guests Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Blind Marky Felchtone from Zeke.  (Watch the clip, below.)

“Now apparently the battle begins,” adds Eddie. “Friday I went in for my pre-op physical (I’m pretty sure I got a D+) and then surgery is slated for this week … It’s weird because I feel fine right now, but I know that I’m not fine and need to go through all this crap to get better.”

eddie

(photo credit Brian Kasnyik)

 

Documentary on Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival Coincides w/2015 Event

wilco

[Solid Sound Festival] is something we couldn’t have possibly set out to create, but has somehow been created.” – Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy

Every Other Summer, a full-length documentary film about Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival, is available to buy or rent now via Vimeo On Demand. Directed by Christoph Green and Brendan Canty of Trixie Films and shot in 2013, it documents the Chicago band’s three-day music and arts gathering that takes place at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA. (The film’s title references how frequently the festival is held.) Watch the trailer HERE.

This year’s event takes place this coming weekend, June 26-28, at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA. Limited quantities of three-day tickets still remain through solidsoundfestival.com.

Regarding the 2013 SSF film, in addition to performances by Wilco, Neko Case, Yo La Tengo, The Dream Syndicate, Lucius, Foxygen, White Denim, Sam Amidon, Sean Rowe, The Relatives and more, plus appearances by comedians Reggie Watts, John Hodgman and Jen Kirkman, Every Other Summer offers a behind-the-scenes look at the festival’s utopian vibe and the impact it has had on the small Rust Belt town where it takes place.

“We came into the project knowing that there would be music and art in a beautiful location,” co-director Green said. “We also knew from years of working with Wilco that there is a very close bond between the band and their fans that really transcends any musician/audience relationship that we have experienced. What we really didn’t expect was the way that the town itself and its people, the museum, the musicians, the volunteers and the area’s history all came together to create something sublime and beautiful.”

In 2013, the population of North Adams, MA was 13,533 a number that has steadily decreased for the past two decades. This year Solid Sound will bring upward of 10,000 attendees, artists and supporting personnel to The Berkshires, a number that has steadily increased with each summer.

“Festivals like this which don’t have the bottom line as their primary motivator almost have to exist in towns like North Adams, co-director Canty said. “Long neglected by the corporate oligarchs and then abandoned by the people formerly known as the working class (now known as the unemployed), the remaining citizens are hungry for anything to come in to fill the void. MASS MoCA and the Solid Sound Festival fill that void.”

“When you are looking at a painting you aren’t so mesmerized by that one piece of art as much as you are by the thought that someone created it,” Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy said. “That’s the part that is inspiring and beautiful. As long as there are people making things, there will always be a community where people find what they need. Solid Sound is a part of that community.”

“This is a generous film: lots of great music, quirky characters and authentic sense of place,” said Joseph Thompson, Director of MASS MoCA.

Every Other Summer is a Trixie Films production in association with dBpm Records.

View a clip of Wilco performing Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair” from the band’s all-covers set at the 2013 Solid Sound Festival HERE.

Listen to New Dâm-Funk Single; LP Due in Sept.

DF

Full length promises to be a “concise, beginning-to-end vision” from the hip-hop maverick.

By Blurt Staff

Only a few weeks ago we posted some fresh Dâm-Funk, a four-song instrumental EP via his longtime label Stones Throw. At the time he was wrapping up a tour with Todd Rundgren, and word was that a new album entitled Invite The Light would surface later this year. Now we learn that it’s due in September, and the first single just dropped. Check out “We Continue”:

Invite The Light is the followup to 2009’s Toeachizown (reviewed HERE by our resident hip-hop expert, Dr. Ron Hart) and is produced by DF, aka Damon Riddick. He is joined by contributors contributors Ariel Pink, Q-Tip, Snoop Dogg, Nite Jewel, Leon Sylvers III, Leon Sylvers IV, Kid Sister, and Junie Morrison (Ohio Players).

Meanwhile, go HERE to read our earlier interview with Stones Throw founder Peanut Butter Wolf in which he sings the praises of Dâm-Funk and his labelmates…

 

Watch New “Shaman of Snakes” Video by Sorne

Sorne

Alternate version of artist’s signature song, captured live in 2015.

By Blurt Staff

His name is Morgan Sorne but he simply goes by the name Sorne, and he’s been wowing audiences for some time now (some of the Blurt crew caught him at the Mountain Oasis festival in 2013 and were reportedly knocked out). This L.A.-based conceptual artist and musician (shades of Jim Morrison and Trent Reznor) has also been working on a multi-volume series titled House of Stone, which in 2011 featured standout track “Shaman of Snakes.” Recently he decided to update the tune via the live video, below, so check it out.

Comments Sorne, “I am currently in the process of writing an entire new album, a part from ‘House of Stone’ (which has three volumes left to be released). I have been building a sound catalog of the area where I now live in downtown Los Angeles. This video serves as a glimpse into the way in which I am building and composing the music for this new album. “

Listen to Sylvan Esso Cover Gillian Welch

 

Sylvan

Single also features Flock of Dimes (w/S.E.) doing Crowded House…

By Barbi Martinez

It’s great running the Blurt shop while the editor is on the road. (Psst: don’t tell him I’ve been raiding the company’s wet bar in his absence. I’ve also been spinning Third Eye Blind nonstop, which is absolutely verboten around here, as most of you probably already know.) Well, I LOVE North Carolina’s Sylvan Esso, so it was a treat to grab the embed code for their new single featuring them covering Gillian Welch’s “Everything Is Free” for the A.V. Club, along with their pal’s Flock Of Dimes doing Crowded House classic “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” Check out the tunes, below.

Oh, and don’t recognize the name Flock of Dimes? That’s because it’s actually Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak, whom I also adore. Frankly, this version is better than the (admittedly great) cover of the same song by Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande. Not kidding.