Category Archives: Music News

Incoming: N.C. Cold Mountain Fest w/Calexico, Milk Carton Kids, YMSB

Third annual acclaimed event takes place May 31-June 1 in Canton, North Carolina.

By Fred Mills

With the festival season already in motion (the celeb clusterfuck known as Coachella not duly noted), here in the Tar Heel state – where BLURT is based – the concert-going denizens are gearing up. Literally in our backyard is the third installment of the Cold Mountain Music Festival, taking place May 31 and June 1 in Canton, North Carolina, at the undeniably gorgeous Lake Logan, and our magic 8-ball tells us that it promises to be a winner.

Allow us to quote from the organizers, and watch this space for updates and additional info.

With music as its centerpiece, Cold Mountain is pleased to be hosting a tasting board of artists ranging from the folk, funk, Americana, bluegrass and post-rock worlds, with highlights including a very special full band performance by Grammy-nominated outfit The Milk Carton Kids, critically acclaimed “desert noir” duo Calexico, crowd-favorite bluegrass ensemble Yonder Mountain String Band, fast rising troubadour J.S. Ondara, and “soul queen” Kat Wright, among others. With two full days of nonstop music, attendees can expect an immersive and balanced weekend of electric, hip-shaking tunes and swoon-worthy acoustic melodies. Also to note, daily schedules and single day passes have just been released, making it easier than ever for folks to curate their ideal festival experience.

Tying it all together is Lake Logan’s pristine 300-acre property surrounded by the Shining Rock Wilderness Area of Pisgah National Forest, where a variety of outdoor activities will be available, including paddle-boarding (on Cold Mountain equipment only), swimming, and fishing (with valid permit).

With music, food, sun and sand, Haywood County’s own Cold Mountain Festival is the ultimate weekend retreat. General admission weekend, single day, and youth passes are available at www.coldmountainmusic.org and range from $20-$100. For more information on camping, dining, and more, please visit www.coldmountainmusic.org/faq.

 

 

Boy Howdy! Creem Documentary Film Interviews

Director Scott Crawford and writer/co-producer Jaan Uhelszki talk about their documentary on the legendary rock mag. Check out a film teaser as well as an extended trailer following the interview.

BY ROBIN E. COOK

Creem was a zany, larger-than-life rock magazine that could only have emerged in Detroit in the late 1960s. The personalities behind Creem were equally colorful, such as founder Barry Kramer and writers Dave Marsh and Lester Bangs. The magazine’s history is told in Boy Howdy! The Story of Creem, with interviews from former staffers and rock star fans.

The documentary was screened last month in Austin during South by Southwest, and Blurt interviewed the film’s director Scott Crawford and writer/ex-Creem scribe Jaan Uhelszki. (Ed. Note: Crawford, incidentally, originally founded Blurt in 2008, following the demise of his popular music magazine Harp; he subsequently handed off the reins to current owner Stephen Judge to embark upon a career in film. Jaan Uhelszki, in addition to her storied career as a journalist, was a contributor to both publications. I was proud to work with both of them. Don’t miss this film, period.—FM)

Video Premiere: Holiday Gunfire “She’s Got A Machine”

Trippy track plucked from the group’s recently released debut on Cornelius Chapel. (Photo credit: Jackie Lo)

By John B. Moore

Less than two years after the Alabama-based Holiday Gunfire came together over fireworks, booze and BBQ, the group is already out with their self-titled debut LP. The record is a raucous, wildly diverse tour through the world of rock, drawing in influences across the spectrum from punk and garage to power pop and ’90s alternative.

Given that, BLURT jumped at the opportunity to host the trippy video premiere for the band’s latest single, “She’s Got A Machine.”

“The initial idea of the song happened when I was visiting the Hemingway House in Key West,” said Lester Nuby III. “I had the idea of an actual physical machine that someone could use to break someone’s heart. Destroy their life/Kill their spirit. What would that look like? Where is it kept? And over time, the person that uses it also is destroyed. A true uplifter! Enjoy!”

With that in mind: enjoy!

Holiday Gunfire’s self-titled album is out now on vinyl, CD, digital and streaming formats via Cornelius Chapel Records

 

Video Premiere: Luther Russell “At Your Feet”

Track taken from the rocker’s recent album, Medium Cool.

By Fred Mills

You know the name Luther Russell: the L.A.-based singer songwriter adept at navigating multiple genres all at once, from power pop to indie rock to twangy Americana to classic ’70sesque rock. He’s also one-half, along with Big Star’s Jody Stephens of Those Pretty Wrongs, and he recently turned up at the Wild Honey Foundation’s Kinks tribute concert.

We’re stoked to be able to premiere a video of a track from Russell’s new album Medium Cool (issued Feb. 22 on Fluff & Gravy ) titled “At Your Feet,” so take a look below. It was directed by NYC musician Luke Rathborne, who was also behind videos for Those Pretty Wrongs. Our own John B. Moore, in his review of the album, enthused how Russell shuns “trendy musical fades for a timeless set of guitar-driven, strong narrative songs that could have come out at any time over the past 40 years.”

“For me,” says Russell, “the key to this song is in the bridge. ‘Hear the rose parade / marching through town / The new pom-pom girls / Make the same old sound’. The old guard switches to the new, and that goes for love and its inevitable fog of war. We’ve all had the feeling where the one we need most sees all but you, lying pale and impaled at their feet.

“Jason Hiller brings a rolling understanding with his bass after the bridge and all the colors refracted by the rain bleed down the windshield. Count it as a loss, but a bittersweet one.”

 

Yours truly reviewed Russell’s 2018 anthology, Selective Memories, writing, “Although he’s not quite a rock ‘n’ roll Zelig, Luther Russell has reared his head in enough disparate settings — from the Bootheels (with Jakob Dylan, no less) in the late ‘80s and the Freewheelers in the ‘90s, to myriad solo incarnations (that found him in the company of such talents as Marc Ford from the Black Crowes and Ethan Johns) and, most recently, guesting at the Wild Honey Orchestra tribute concert – to presume that his music industry Rolodex is pretty damn fat. The songwriter and multi-instrumentalist also finds time to team up with Big Star’s Jody Stephens as Those Pretty Wrongs, so he’s got pretty damn good taste, too.”

So what are you waiting for? Check out Russell’s latest and prepare to be amazed.
 

 

Bourbon and Beyond, Louder Than Life, Hometown Rising Festivals for Louisville in Sept.

 

Mark your calendars for September 2019…

By Mark Jackson

Danny Wimmer Presents held a news conference recently for a huge announcement. Louisville, Kentucky, has always been the home for Louder Than Life and Bourbon and Beyond held at Champions Park, but 2019 will bring a new country festival as well and a new location for all three back to back to back weekends in September starting on September 14th.

As you may know the 2018 Bourbon and Beyond festival was interrupted by the major storms and led to the cancellation of the Louder Than Life Festival. In hopes to avoid the potential of the flooding happening again Danny Wimmer and the city of Louisville came together to move the festivals to the Highland Festival Grounds at the Kentucky Expo.

The new country festival will have such headliners as: Tim McGraw, Little Big Town, Dwight Yoakam, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Jake Owen, and many more. No word yet on Bourbon and Beyond or Louder than life as of yet, but Presale is will open February 15th for all events.

Louder Than Life will be extended to a three-day festival this year and if last years lineup is any indication of what this year will bring, this will be one of the hottest rock festival tickets of the year. I’m excited to see the new event site and how the event moves to the next level for these three festivals.

 

Sara Romweber (Snatches of Pink, Let’s Active, Dex Romweber Duo) 1963-2019 R.I.P.

“You just had to see her play once, and you’d never forget her”: One of the best damn rock drummers ever. Above: brother Dex Romweber with Sara. Scroll down to check out some video and audio.

By Fred Mills

The full details have not been disclosed yet, but what we do know is that Sara Romweber, the kit-crushing drummer for North Carolina’s Snatches of Pink, Let’s Active, and Dex Romweber Duo, has passed away at the age of 55, reportedly from cancer. As I write this the tributes from fans, friends, and fellow music critics are pouring forth on Facebook, testimony to how much she was respected in the music community – and loved in general.

I first met Sara in the early ‘80s when she was the diesel engine helping power Let’s Active  (pictured above, with Mitch Easter and the late Faye Hunter), and she was both hilarious and deliberately weird, full of offbeat jokes and muttered nonsequiturs. Sometime later, after leaving the band, she got together with Michael Rank, Jack Wenberg, and Andy McMillan in Chapel Hill to form garage/trash/twang renegades Snatches of Pink, a true rock ‘n’ roll antihero outfit whose uncompromising style and attitude had a way of creating a loyal fanbase even while club owners would sometimes be aghast at the group’s “unprofessional” behavior. Yours truly, writing in a 2015 essay titled “Why Snatches of Pink Was the Greatest North Carolina Band of the Late ‘80s and Early ‘90s,” observed, “Booze clearly fueled this band, which had slimmed down to a trio, McMillan having assumed the bass position (and sharing vocals with Rank) for 1989’s Dead Men. This LP, along with next year’s 4-song mini album Deader Than You’ll Ever Be, which was cut live at CBGB as a promotional radio release, is what solidified their image as a hard-drinkin’, unrepentantly badass group who clearly did not give a shit what folks—and, significantly, club owners and bookers—thought about the band as long as they came out to the show.” (Below: Snatches of Pink.)

I have more than a few memories of hanging with Sara, Mike, and Andy before and after shows, and Sara was just as hilarious as ever, yet in getting to know her a little better, I was struck by her intensity when it came to talking about favorite films and, especially, books. (One has plenty of time to read books when one is in a touring band.) In between tossing back shots we had a number of discussions about great – and even not-so-great – authors.

Later, during the late ‘00s and well into the current decade, Sara joined brother Dexter as the Dex Romweber Duo (above). I’ll never forget working at Schoolkids Records in Raleigh, NC, during the 2012 Record Store Day blowout: the Duo was scheduled to play a set that afternoon, and when Dex and Sara finally rolled up I went over to greet them. “Fred!” Sara shrieked, and gave me a huge hug – due to my moving around quite a bit, it had probably been 20 years since we’d seen each other, and it was a wonderful feeling to know that even after all that time she instantly recognized me and remembered some of the, uh, misadventures I had shared with the Snatches gang.

My deepest condolences to the Romweber family and to everyone who knew and loved Sara. May she rest in peace. Below are a few remembrances that have just been posted online that I feel are well worth sharing.

***

Stephen Judge, Schoolkids Records: “All of us at Schoolkids at devastated to hear this news today of the passing of a good friend, Sara Romweber. Sara was an amazing drummer and an even better person. Always lit up the room with her smile and charm. She loved coming to the shops on Record Store Day and she and her brother Dexter played our shops many times over the years. She was an inspiration to us all.”

Michael Toland, Austin Chronicle/Blurt: “One of the best rock & roll drummers to ever beat the skins. I saw SOP (when they were going by the name Clarissa) at the Electric Lounge one night and she was astonishing – precise, grooving and, above all, powerful. One of the unsung rock drumming greats.”

Michael Plumides, former owner of Charlotte’s 4808 Club: “The last show was performed by Snatches of Pink two nights later. No one showed up because the entire city thought we were out of business. They had revoked our ABC permit that day. That afternoon, Sara Romweber brought me a little hand-painted black bat on a string that she said she made for me. I adored Snatches of Pink but Sara especially and frankly, I was one of the few people in town who would book them.”

David Menconi, 2019 Piedmont Laureate and former music critic at Raleigh’s News & Observer: “Whenever I’d see Sara Romweber onstage, I would ask myself: How does she hit those drums so hard? Because even though she was slightly built and soft-spoken, Sara could bring the thunder. Sarah did not seem like one to call attention to herself. But you just had to see her play once, and you’d never forget her.”

 

 

 

 

Track Premiere: Peyton Brock “Loser”

Young indie-folk chanteuse has got the right stuff.

By Fred Mills

Everyone, by now, has contended – and sometimes dueled – with suggestion engines and bots. You know, those oftentimes annoying boxes that appear on your screen below something you’ve been browsing on the web, as in “similar items,” “you may also like,” “other shoppers liked these,” etc. Here in the music biz, the strategy even predates Amazon in the form of the once-ubiquitous “RIYL” notations (aka “Recommended If You Like”) that would typically accompany an album review.

But whatever happened to the old-school “hey man, you gotta check out this artist/band/record, it’s right up your alley, and it’s just plain awesome!” that your friends or coworkers came rushing up to you on a Monday morning? Or, for that matter, whatever happened to us just reading record reviews and trusting the reviewer’s judgment?

Please allow me to “suggest,” then, indie-folk artist Peyton Brock who was recommended to me by a friend whose musical taste I can definitely trust. Ms. Brock is 13 years old and she lives in Georgia. On my initial listen I could hear elements of a young Mary Lou Lord, possibly a touch of lo-fi era Liz Phair, and – given the singer’s age – indie female singer-songwriters here in the contemporary era. The music is relatively minimalist, giving her sweet vocals an open sandbox within which to dance, and she is very, very cool. I predict that with time and experience, she’s also going to blossom into someone very, very special to a lot of people.

I’ll spare any more of my hype, and just let you check her out yourself. I suspect you’ll be playing it over and over….

Song Premiere: Money For Rope “Picture Us”

Aussie rockers’ new album drops next week.

BY JOHN B. MOORE

 

For their third effort, Picture Us, the Melbourne-based five piece Money For Rope opted to produce, mix and master the entire record on their own. And it’s hard to argue with the results: a record brimming with energetic garage and surf rock, punctuated with strong moments of soul and psych.

You can hear for yourself with the Blurt premiere of the trippy title track.

 “When I was young and left home alone along with my brother, I was surprised by my parents, who had returned home from holidays early; possibly as an act of deserving untrustworthiness,” said singer/songwriter/guitarist Jules McKenzie, describing the song. “I was rapidly cleaning up from a party, and wearing what was, unaware to me, dad’s best suit.

“It seems that when you are young you long to be older, and I wonder if when I am older, I will long to be young again. I wonder if there is a point in the middle where it crosses, and how I will feel about love. We recorded this through walkie-talkies we had as kids, where there was a ledger above a large orange button that gave the alphabet in morse code.”

The album, set for release next week, on Friday, March 8 ,on Cheersquad Records & Tapes, was recorded over the course of one long hot Australian summer.

More details and tour dates: http://www.moneyforrope.com.au
Follow ’em on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/moneyforrope/

Track Premiere: Jonny Polonsky’s “The Same Song”

 

This ace track from the rocker’s recent demos/rarities compilation “was like trying to scratch a squid’s back while blindfolded”—but indeed, the band managed to turn it into something! Watch the lyric video, below. And check out our 2018 interview with Mr. Polonsky as well.

BY JOHN B. MOORE

While it may have appeared like Jonny Polonsky was taking it pretty easy in the 22 years since his amazing debut, Hi, My Name is Jonny, came out, it turns out he was pretty busy all along. Aside from the  handful of EPs and LPs he’s put out, Polonsky had been hording a slew of unreleased songs and demos (18, at least).

He recently put these lost goodies out on vinyl and CD under the title UNRELEASHED: Demos and Rarities 1996-2018, which arrived back in November.

When Polonsky asked us to share the video for ‘The Same Song,’ we jumped at the opportunity. Well, not literally jumped, but did give an enthusiastic ‘Fuck, yeah!’. Again, not literally out loud, but in our heads.”

“I wrote the chorus to ‘The Same Song”’sometime in the late ‘90s and had it lying around for a long time. I knew it was strong but it just lay around like a head without a body for a long time and I figured that was that.

“In 2002 I moved to Los Angeles and reconnected with Lyle Workman, who I had met when he played guitar in a Frank Black’s band. Lyle is a great guitarist and a really nice guy, and he had a home studio so I thought it would be fun to work on a track.

“I played him the chorus and he helped me figure out a verse. I would play and sing some ideas, he’d say, ‘go up, no, go down, less movement’—it was like trying to scratch a squid’s back while blindfolded, but we managed to turn it into something.

“We brought in Nick Vincent, another Frank Black alum, who had played drums on the original FB-produced demos that had gotten me signed. Nick did a great job, I laid down guitars, bass and vocals, and we finished the entire thing in a day.”

Connect with JP: https://www.facebook.com/JonnyPolonskyMusicPage/

This Week: Kinks’ ‘Village Green’ @ Autism Think Tank Benefit

By Blurt Staff

In a worthy benefit concert for the Autism Think Tank this Saturday, Feb. 23, the Kinks’ 1968 klassic “The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society” gets performed in its entirety at the Alex Theater in Glendale. It’s the latest in Paul Rock and the Wild Honey Foundation’s concert series in which key albums from rock’s rich tapestry are memorialized.

As usual, Rob Laufer will helm a stellar house band, and featured guests include guitarist-singer Elliot Easton; drummer-singer David Goodstein; bassists Derrick Anderson, Robby Scharf and Dan Rothchild; keyboardists Chris Price, Willie Aron, Jordan Summer and Danny McGough; guitarists Andrew Sandoval and Rob Bonfiglio; percussionists Nelson Bragg and Jim Laspesa; multi-instrumentalist Probyn Gregory; and string players Kaitlin Wolfberg and Lyn Bertles.

Check out BLURT’s previous coverage of the WHF’s 2018 tribute to the Buffalo Springfield, and their 2017 tribute to The Band, both photographed by our Los Angeles photographic wizardress, Susan Moll.