Monthly Archives: May 2017

Track Premiere: John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeans No Mas! “We Waited Five Years”

Yes, more, Mr. E! Tune clipped with love from upcoming full-length by the Tarheel rocker.

By Blurt Staff

Full disclosure: BLURT is a North Carolina-based journalistic empire, with one foot in the Triangle and one foot in Asheville (and, we hasten to add, just recently, we’ve added a vestigial limb actually located in Dublin, Ireland). So we gonna support the home team, okay? This means that the August 4 release of a new album from John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeans No Mas!, titled The Fall and Rise of John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas!, has got us feeling pretty good.

Let’s cut to the chase and give all the rest of you room to cheer. Take a sonic spin with “We Waited Five Years”:

Now, you are already saying to yourself, “Hmm, what’s with those David Bowie allusions?” And indeed, as Elderkin points out, about the album, “It plays like some sort of weird sequel to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.” There’s even a track called, tellingly enough, “Give Me Your Hands”, not to mention the overt tribute to the late icon, “Song For David Bowie.” It’s a concept album from the veteran Tarheel rocker, who has enlisted a who’s-who roster of fellow Carolinians, including co-star/vocal foil Danielle Howle, Don Dixon, Robert Sledge of Ben Folds Five, and members The Old Ceremony, Pressure Boys, Sex Police, Dillon Fence, What Peggy Wants, The Temperance League, Hobex, National Symphony Orchestra, Popes, Spongetones, Hindugrass, Satellite Boyfriend, and the Coolies.

Intrigued? Here’s more on the web:

https://www.moonbeamsnomas.com
https://www.facebook.com/moonbeamsnomas/
https://twitter.com/MoonbeamsNoMas

 

 

Video Exclusive: Live Song + Interview by China’s Twinkle Star

Live in Beijing China, May 6th 2017, Yugong Yishan Club

By Jonathan Levitt

A while back I introduced Blurt readers to the Chinese band Twinkle Star. A chance ride in lead guitarist Zhang Shuai’s car has led to a close friendship with the band. As they were wrapping up their tour for their latest and greatest record Full of Hope they made a stop in their hometown to bring the house down at the Yugong Yishan Club in central Beijing. Zhou Jialin, who is now the sole member of the Blurt Beijing team (as I’m now stateside) brought along her Taiwanese friend A Pei to shoot some of the concert for Blurt readers and what a killer show it was as evidenced by the footage that I edited together for the song “To Be With You”.

My heart on sleeve plea is that I really hope that Blurt readers can explore more of the band’s musical offerings and hopefully someone out there can help make their dream of playing stateside a reality!

Catch up with the band online: https://www.facebook.com/TwinklestarbandCN/

Photo credits: All photos by Zhou Jialin are marked ZJL / All photos by Pei marked Pei / Bottom photo of Zhou Jialin by Pei

“Stax 60” Album Campaign w/10 LPs from 10 Classic Artists

Each Stax Classics entry features a dozen tracks by a legend—among them, William Bell, Johnny Taylor, Staple Singers, Otis Redding, and Carla Thomas.

By Bill Kopp

The venerable and legendary Stax Records was started 60 years ago in Memphis, Tennessee. Originally doing business as Satellite Records, the label founded by Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton (and later helmed by Al Bell) would go on to release a catalog of staggering quality before falling victim to a host of problems that would end its existence in the mid-1970s. (Stax would eventually continue as a reissue label.) Those interested in learning more about Stax are enthusiastically directed to Rob Bowman’s excellent and richly detailed Soulsville, U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records, published in 1997. [It is indeed a reference Bible around the BLURT kiosk. -Soul/funk Ed.]

Today Concord Music owns the rights to administer the Stax Catalog, and has done a good job of reintroducing long-deleted titles to release. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Stax, Concord has compiled best-of from several of the label’s artists. I have four of those titles – all released May 19 – on my desk: all are called Stax Classics, and there’s one each from William Bell, the Dramatics, the Staple Singers and Johnnie Taylor. Each Stax Classics entry features a dozen tracks by the highlighted artist, plus a short yet informative liner note essay and a reasonable amount of discographical information. These aren’t really designed for the serious enthusiast; instead each serves as a tidy sampler/introduction to the Stax-era work of the artist.

William Bell’s Stax Classics volume features his best-loved tracks, including “Private Number,” his romantic duet with Judy Clay. The other 11 tunes are pretty great, too. The Dramatics are represented best by “In the Rain” and “Whatcha See is Whatcha Get” (both on Stax Classics), but other lesser-known cuts like “Get Up and Get Down” and “The Devil is Dope” are breathtaking in their arrangement and execution.

The riches found in the versatile Staple Singers’ wonderful catalog likely made paring Stax Classics down to a dozen tracks a difficult task. The song’s you’d expect to find are indeed here: “Respect yourself,” “I’ll Take You There,” and so on. An excellent and little-heard later-period cut, “City in the Sky” is included as well. Johnnie Taylor’s entry in the series includes his unbelievably funky (if naughty) “Who’s Making Love” as well as the incendiary “Somebody’s Sleeping in My Bed”: and ten others. All four are excellent, but on sheer chutzpah I’d give a minuscule edge to the Johnnie Taylor set.

Other entries in the Stax 60 series include titles by Booker T & the MGs, Isaac Hayes, Albert King, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, and Carla Thomas.

Here’s a YouTube trailer for the series:

Track Premiere: Amy Black “If I Could Reach Out”

New album “Memphis” out this week.

By Blurt Staff

It’s called “If I Could Reach Out (and Help Somebody)” and, if you are a fan of soul/blues man Otis Clay, you’ve already recognize the tune. Now, songstress Amy Black has recorded it for her new album, titled Memphis, which was indeed recorded in Memphis and was produced by Scott Bomar of Memphis nu-soul-funk mainstays The Bo-Keys. Folks from St. Paul & the Broken Bones, along with legends of the Memphis session musician community (like the Hi Records rhythm section), appear on the record as well. The album drops June 2 on Black’s Reuben Records label, and we are privileged to premiere the aforementioned track:

Notes Black, about the track and the album, “When I was in Boston, I’d watched a program on PBS and found out about the Nashville-based organization Thistle Farms and their work with woman in the sex trade. I was so moved by what I learned and I remember thinking, “If I ever move to Nashville, I want to work with those guys.” Now, that I was here and needed to place to give to, I called Thistle Farms, attended an orientation (that had me in tears) and started volunteering with the amazing woman in the shipping department.

“Each week, I would drive into Nashville and volunteer. It got me into the city, I got to know some of these incredible women and hear their stories, and I really got out of my own way. It wasn’t glamorous work, which was perfect. Just taking orders and packing boxes, helping a cause that I believe in. And, no surprise, it was just the right medicine. I found so much from giving.

“Fast forward one year and I was in a very different place — living in East Nashville (the perfect spot for me) and preparing to do an album in Memphis with some killer players. I had the originals for the album lined up, but wanted to do three Memphis covers. My producer, Scott Bomar sent me Otis Clay’s, “If I Could Reach Out (and Help Somebody)” for consideration. All it took was one listen to know that I would definitely do this song. It’s what I believe. It is my religion. I can’t wait to sing it live at every show. I’ll take everyone to church and delivering it as my sermon: It is better to give than to receive.”

There’s a precedent for Memphis; Black’s 2015 album, The Muscle Shoals Sessions, found her traveling to the venerable Muscle Shoals, Alabama, studios to work with Spooner Oldham, no stranger to Memphis sounds. So triangulating from her home in Nashville was a natural for her. For Memphis she cut tracks at Bomar’s Electraphonic Recording studio and then mixed it at Ardent. And as noted above, a cream of Memphis musicians pitched in to infuse the new record with authenticity.

She’ll be hitting the road with her Memphis Music Revue show, the followup to her previous Muscle Shoals Revue, naturally enough, starting next week. More details: http://amyblack.com/

Wed., June 5  CLEVELAND, OH  The Beachland Ballroom
Tues., June 6  WORTHINGTON, OH  Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza
Sun., June 11  NASHVILLE, TN  City Winery Nashville
Mon., June 12  ST. LOUIS, MO  Off Broadway
Sun., June 18  CHICAGO, IL  City Winery Chicago
Wed., June 21  NEWPORT, KY  Southgate House
Fri., June 23  OKLAHOMA CITY, OK  The Blue Door
Sat., June 24  DALLAS, TX  AllGood Cafe
Tues., June 27  AUSTIN, TX  The Townsend
Thurs., June 29  HOUSTON, TX  The Mucky Duck
Sun., July 2  ATLANTA, GA  City Winery Atlanta
Thurs., July 6  MEMPHIS, TN  Lafayette’s Music Room
Thurs., July 13  AUBURN, AL  Sundilla Concert Series (Unitarian Fellowship building)

Todd Rundgren Takes Down Fox News on… Fox News?!?

Hilarious new video rounds up all the usual Trump-centric suspects, takes ’em out back, and gives ’em a good olf-fashioned whuppin’...

By Barbi Martinez

The other night we were treated to the very odd notion of Todd Rundgren’s showing his new video, the politically-scathing “Tin Foil Hat,” on Fox show Watters’ World. Fair enough; Todd has often dipped into politics and satire, often simultaneously. What is truly mind-blowing, however, is that Fox would sanction the airing of content clearly disdainful of the Fox and Trump universes. Everyone from Bill O’Reilly (aka “Bill Orangutang”), Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Reince Priebus, and President Trump gets needled – in a couple of instances, completely skewered. The video was co-created with Donald Fagen and the song will appear on Todd’s new album White Knight.

Bono & George W. Bush — BFFs?!?

This is what the term “strange bedfellow” was coined for…

By Barbi Martinez

We do love our U2 around the BLURT pontoon boat, but we also periodically find ourselves scratching our heads following some new report of Bono having a good hang with unlikely suspects. To wit: he recently dropped in on former President George W. Bush at Bush’s Prairie Chapel Ranch (near Waco, Texas). Bush later took to Instagram – which seems unlikely enough in and of itself – to post a photo of the two arm in arm and write, “Bono is the real deal. He has a huge heart and a selfless soul, not to mention a decent voice. @laurawbush and I are grateful he came to the ranch to talk about the work of @thebushcenter, @onecampaign, @PEPFAR, and our shared commitment to saving lives in Africa.”

Yep. The only thing that would be more unexpected would, oh, maybe Bono palling around with Veep Mike Pence, and… wait, you say he already DID pal around with Pence? Indeed. In February at the Munich Security Conference, Bono – who was there to give a speech –  had a photo op with the second most powerful man in America, apparently wanting to thank Pence for his help in 2003 and 2008 with the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief. Sure enough, Pence tweeted it out…

What is it about politicians and social media, anyway? Oh well. At least the current President is smarter than to fall into that digital trap…

Incoming: Jimmy Herring’s New Band For Summer/Fall Shows

From Widespread Panic and much more – any questions?

Guitarist Jimmy Herring embarks on the next chapter of his storied career with the debut of the new band, The Invisible Whip. As a founding member of The Aquarium Rescue Unit, Project Z, and Jazz is Dead – in addition to playing with everyone from The Allman Brothers Band to The Dead to Phil Lesh and Friends – Herring made an indelible impact on improvised music. He currently serves as the lead guitarist for Widespread Panic – you may have heard of ’em.

In fact, Jimmy has been touring consistently with Widespread Panic over the past decade, along with short tours with Aquarium Rescue Unit (Col. Bruce Hampton, R.I.P.), Phil Lesh, and The Ringers, but his 2017 dates with The Invisible Whip mark the first performances of his own music, with his own band, in nearly five years. The upcoming dates will include new music Herring is currently working on, plus material from his last two albums, Lifeboat (2008) and Subject to Change Without Notice (2012). Among the concerts include appearances with John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension, whose leader is one of Herring’s musical inspirations and, uniquely, also one of Herring’s most prominent champions.

Composed of longtime friends and musical collaborators, The Invisible Whip, named for the intangible musical force that fuels them, is a nod to their time spent playing with Col. Bruce Hampton – who has made a lifelong impact on the members of the band. Members of The Invisible Whip are drummer Jeff Sipe (aka Apt Q258), Matt Slocum on B3 organ and clavinet, bassist Kevin Scott and multi-instrumentalist Jason Crosby on Fender Rhodes, piano and violin.

 

Jimmy Herring and The Invisible Whip on Tour:

July 19                                   Minglewood Hall                                          Memphis, TN

July 20                                   Duling Hall                                                     Jackson, MS

July 21                                   Duling Hall                                                     Jackson, MS

July 22                                   Workplay Theatre                                         Birmingham, AL

July 23                                   Revelry Room                                                 Chattanooga, TN

July 25                                   Terminal West                                                Atlanta, GA

July 26                                   Georgia Theatre                                            Athens, GA

July 27                                   Cox Capitol Theatre                                       Macon, GA

July 28                                   Isis Music Hall                                                 Asheville, NC

July 29                                   Isis Music Hall                                                 Asheville, NC

July 30                                   Neighborhood Theatre                                 Charlotte, NC

August 1                              Headliners Music Hall                                     Louisville, KY

August 2                              Park Street Saloon                                           Columbus, OH

August 3                              Kent Stage                                                         Kent, OH

August 4                              Mr Smalls Theatre                                           Pittsburgh, PA

August 5                              Jefferson Center                                               Roanoke, VA

August 31                            Carlos Alverez Theater at Tobin Center       San Antonio, TX

September 1                      Trees                                                                   Dallas, TX

September 2                      George’s Majestic Lounge                               Fayetteville, AR

September 3                      2720 Cherokee PAC                                          St. Louis, MO

September 7                      Gothic Theatre                                                  Englewood, CO

September 8                      Fox Theatre                                                        Boulder, CO

September 9                      Fox Theatre                                                        Boulder, CO

September 10                   Aggie Theatre                                                     Fort Collins, CO

Track Premiere: American Professionals “Guide to the Perplexed”

Awesome new album drops June 23.

By Blurt Staff

They’re called American Professionals, they hail from San Francisco, and they have a new album, Sympathetic Overdrive, out June 23 via Charlie In The Box. (Great label name, that.) We here at BLURT are happy to serve up an advance preview via the horns-and-guitars, hi-nrg pop of “Guide to the Perplexed.” Check it out:

The group is built around the nucleus of guitarist Chuck Lindo and bassist/vocalist Cheryl Hendrickson, with Adam White on drums plus, on horns, saxman Daniel Casares and trumpet/trombone player Rich Armstrong. Over the years, Lindo has played with numerous San Francisco bands on projects including Jumbo Shrimp (w/ Dead Kennedys East Bay Ray & Klaus Fluoride), noise-pop pioneers Actionslacks, and collaborations with both Dryspell and The Mr. T. Experience. He also continues to write and compose for radio and television advertising and perform with bands Wizard Van, The Real Numbers and Tom Jonesing. Meanwhile, Hendrickson composed and recorded her synth pop single, “Diamonds in the Rough,” with her Los Angeles singer/songwriter friends, Little Lonely (aka Julie Cain) and Arrica Rose (Arrica Rose and the …, Dear County). She also created the concept and directed the video for the “Diamonds” single that was released in mid-May.

Stay tuned for tour dates, and meanwhile, you can check ‘em out at their Facebook page and their Bandcamp page.

Gregg Allman 1947-2017 R.I.P.; Bandmembers Pay Tribute

An era is truly finished.

By Blurt Staff

And then there were none—Allman brothers, that is. Though the spirit of the Allman Brothers Band will no doubt endure for decades to come, given the influential legacy that the Southern rock legends forged over the years, starting in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, without the group’s actual namesakes—brothers Duane who passed long ago, and Gregg, who we lost on May 27, just as the Memorial Day weekend was in full swing, it’s unlikely that anyone will be able to lay credible claim to “owning” or “perpetuating” that legacy.

This publication’s editor, Fred Mills, offered a personal remembrance of Gregg and his band of musical brothers upon receiving news of the death, writing, “R.I.P. Gregg Allman. This wasn’t altogether unexpected, but it’s still a shock, like part of my teenage self disappearing. I first saw the band touring behind their second album, in a small Charlotte venue, en route to the career defining Fillmore East album – still quite possibly the greatest concert album ever. Several years ago I got to see him up close and personal at the Warren Haynes Xmas Jam here in AVL, and I will never forget the sight of him backstage down below the Civic Center stage, chilling out in the hospitality area and watching the TV screen with the action onstage. I started to approach him, just his cowboy boots poking out from the big stuffed chair as he stared at the screen, not moving. I realized no one dared interrupt him, as there was no one else in proximity to his seat. I sure wasn’t going to be a fanboy at that moment. It was as if a deity was among us, seated on a throne, imperious but impossibly calm. He’d be onstage in another couple of hours, doing “Midnight Rider” and more…”

The tributes, of course, have been pouring forth following the official announcement of Gregg’s passing, from liver cancer:

Gregory LeNoir Allman
December 8, 1947 – May 27, 2017

It is with deep sadness we announce that Gregg Allman, a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band, passed away peacefully at his home in Savannah, Georgia.

Gregg struggled with many health issues over the past several years. During that time, Gregg considered being on the road playing music with his brothers and solo band for his beloved fans, essential medicine for his soul. Playing music lifted him up and kept him going during the toughest of times. Gregg’s long time manager and close friend, Michael Lehman said, “I have lost a dear friend and the world has lost a brilliant pioneer in music. He was a kind and gentle soul with the best laugh I ever heard. His love for his family and bandmates was passionate as was the love he had for his extraordinary fans. Gregg was an incredible partner and an even better friend. We will all miss him.”

Gregg is survived by his wife, Shannon Allman, his children, Devon, Elijah Blue, Delilah Island Kurtom and Layla Brooklyn Allman; 3 grandchildren, his niece, Galadrielle Allman, lifelong friend Chank Middleton, and a large extended family.  The family will release a statement soon, but for now ask for privacy during this very difficult time.

The family suggests that tributes to Gregg can be made to the Gregg Allman Scholarship Fund at The University of Georgia or the Allman/Lehman Endowed Scholarship at Syracuse University.

Latter-day Allmans guitarist Warren Haynes wrote on Facebook this weekend, “I am truly honored to have been fortunate enough to have written many songs with him and equally honored to have traveled the world with him while making the best music the world has ever known… Traveling – like life – is so much better when you’ve got friends to share the experience with. I’ve lost too many lately and this one is gonna be hard to get past.

“Here was this group of Southern hippies with an integrated band coming out of the Deepest South with equally deep music on the heels of some extremely deep changes. We didn’t realize how heavy that was at the time but we sure realized how heavy the music was… Gregg wrote these amazing songs that were as natural as his voice was. The words and melodies felt so perfectly unpretentious and, when delivered by him, made an emotional connection that only happens when music is genuine and honest. I learned an enormous amount about singing and songwriting from him—most of it before we ever met.”

Keyboard player Chuck Leavell also put his thoughts down to digital paper, posting at his website, “Gregg Allman was not only a friend and brother, but he was a strong inspiration to me very early on in my career…. I was so fortunate to get the call to play on [Gregg’s Laid Back solo album], and as a then 19-year old keyboard player trying to find his way, it was the dream offer of a lifetime. Playing on “Laid Back” was a life changing experience for me, but even more was to come, when the jam sessions after hours with the other members of the ABB resulted in me being asked to join the band.

“Thank you, Gregg…for your inspiration, for your talent, for your loyal friendship and for the amazing human being you are. I am forever grateful for my relationship with you, for sharing the stage with you so many times, for the honor of recording with you on some records that have stood the test of time. You will always be my hero and I am your biggest fan. Rest easy, my Brother.”

***

At this stage in the game, what can a media outlet possibly publish that might adequately contextualize the contribution Gregg Allman, along with brother Duane and the rest of the Allmans extended musical family, contributed to rock ‘n’ roll? Their place in the pantheon transcends simple matters of Grammys and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame status—they moved the dial in immeasurable ways.

How to count them? Here’s a modest start…

 

 

Track Premiere: Ghost Wolves “Shouldn’t Have Lied”

Killer tune from brand new album frontloaded with fuzz/slide-guit-and-drums fury. (Photo credit: David Brendan Hall)

By Blurt Staff

They’re not only one of most exciting bands the BLURT braintrust has ever heard outta Austin, the Ghost Wolves are one of the most exciting bands we’ve ever experienced, period. Indeed, just the recorded evidence alone is impressive—of their 2014 album Man, Woman, Beast, our reviewer, Michael Toland, noted, “Outside of a marvelously stripped-down sound featuring Jonathan Wolf on rhythm pound and Carley Wolf on bare-bones riffery and teasing, pouting vocal, the Wolves burst with sheer attitude, the kind of moxie that comes from being young, hungry and not giving a shit whether or not they see the inside of an arena… Carley’s frazzled bottleneck and aggressive assertion rides Jonathan’s surging drum kit like a surfer on a shark.” (Magazine editor Fred Mills was pretty damn impressed with their 2011 release, In Ya Neck, as well.)

So now they have a new ‘un about to drop, TEXA$ PLATINUM, via Hound Gawd, and we are privileged to unveil a track from it just in time for the group’s kicking off its US tour. Check out “Shouldn’t Have Lied”:

Notes Carley, “This song was based on an experience I witnessed where one lie led to so many more and to a path of misery for a while for that person. It all could have been avoided with simple honesty, but ego and pride got in the way. That’s dangerous stuff.”

The band formed in Austin, Texas in 2010, and Wolf’s guitar playing has been featured in Premiere Guitar, SheShreds, and Guitar Girl Magazine and has performed live on NPR stations like WBEZ in Chicago. (Wolf Endorses Silvertone Guitars and Eminence Speakers.) Several tracks from their previous record got prominent TV and film placements, including on the hit TV series Shameless; several programs on the Oxygen channel (Bad Girl’s Club, Funny Girls, Best Ink); and an over-the-top trailer for Japanese martial arts film called, Why Don’t You Play in Hell? Not to mention MTV’s Real World: Explosion and for Perry Ellis at Fashion week in New York.

They will be touring heavily behind the new album, so you don’t have no excuse for not checking ‘em out, kids. Some early tour dates are below. (Photo credit: Steven Alcala)

Saturday, May 27th at Swan Dive in Austin, TX

Wednesday, June 7th at Blue Canoe in Tupelo, MS

Thursday, June 8th at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta, GA

Saturday, June 10th at The Cave in Chapel Hill, NC

Sunday, June 11th at Bandito’s in Richmond, VA

Thursday, June 15th at 10th Ave Burrito in Belmar, NJ

Friday, June 16th at Firehouse 13 in Providence, RI

Saturday, June 17th at The Press Room in Portsmouth, NH

Tuesday, June 20th at Brillobox in Pittsburgh, PA

Wednesday, June 21st Beachland Tavern in Cleveland, OH

Thursday, June 22nd at Marble Bar  in Detroit, MI

Friday, June 23rd at Brass Rail in Fort Wayne, IN

Saturday, June 24th at Fountain Brewing Co. in Indianapolis, IN

Sunday, June 25th at MOTR in Cincinnati, OH

***

Visit The Ghost Wolves online at:

theghostwolves.com

facebook.com/TheGhostWolves

twitter.com/TheGhostWolves

instagram.com/theghostwolves

youtube.com/user/TheGhostWolves