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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.

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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.

 

Connect Beyond Festival 2019 returns to Asheville in April

This year’s 3-day event in the North Carolina mountains to feature award-winning authors, musicians, filmmakers, and more.

By Fred Mills

One of the highlights of 2018, for me, was attending the Connect: Beyond The Page Festival & Conference, held at multiple venues in downtown Asheville, NC. The multi-day event featured a host of cultural luminaries, almost like a mini-SXSW – among my favorites was a presentation by NPR Music’s Bob Boilen, and North Carolina’s own Sylvan Esso band.

This year should be no exception, and the festival has been announced for April 5-7. Below are some of the details that have been released thus far – it’s a no brainer for NC residents, and I suspect it will draw attendees from all over the United States and possibly from beyond. It’s curated by Echo Mountain Recording Studio’ own Jessica Tomasin (read about Echo and other regional studios in this story by longtime BLURT contributor Bill Kopp; Tomasin is also co-founder of the Asheville Music Professionals organization) and produced by Crissa Requate of Mason Jar Media.

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Connect Beyond Festival has revealed the first round of participating panelists and performances for the 2019 event. Performances include book readings from award winning authors such as Tim Z. Hernandez (All They Will Call You), and David Rowell (Wherever The Sound Takes You: Heroics and Heartbreak in Music Making); musical performances including Nick Lowe’s Quality Rock & Roll Revue starring Los Straitjackets’ and more; and panel topics such as “social media revolution,” “fake,” “art of adaptation,” with film screenings and additional programming to be announced soon.

For more information:  https://www.connectbeyondfestival.com.

WHAT TO EXPECT:
 

INSPIRING SPEAKERS AND THOUGHT PROVOKING PANELS
Do you consider yourself an NPR junkie? Are you fascinated by storytelling and are curious about your community and beyond? Connect Beyond Festival is a living, breathing version of your favorite podcast. We’re bringing together some of the most distinctive minds of today to explore what it takes to be a catalyst for change, and how we as individuals can act on what matters to us.

 

CAPTIVATING FILMS AND DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKERS
First run documentaries that resonate. Short films that profile amazing people doing extraordinary things. Stories that implore you to expand your horizons. Connect Beyond Festival and Social Construct films have hand-selected some of the most gripping narratives of the last century and are serving them up all weekend long. Plus, dive deeper into the makings of a great film with the Q&As and presentations we have on the docket.

 

CUTTING-EDGE MUSIC CONVERSATIONS AND PERFORMANCES
We know you want more out of your weekend, so Connect Beyond Festival invites you to rise up, sing out, and dance along with us. Between fireside chats with your new favorite songwriters, and a wide-ranging lineup of guest performances, we promise you’ll get your live music fix at Connect.

 

COMMUNITY AND CONNECTIONS
Connect Beyond Festival attendees share a common desire to be challenged and inspired. To build connections and leave the world a better place. To attend a festival not just for the music, film, and art, but for the engagement and discourse. So, invite those around you into your world, and be open to entering theirs.

#metoo, Long Overdue for Rock World, Finally Arrives – for Ryan Adams

Longtime music biz open secrets about the erstwhile Whiskeytown wunderkind being a not-so-nice kinda guy break nationally.

By Fred Mills

For anyone who had been waiting for the #metoo shoe to drop in the rock biz, it was either a validation or a moment of psychological reckoning: The artist to be called out for sexual misconduct was not the Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin, but industry darling Ryan Adams.

In an explosive New York Times investigative report,”Ryan Adams Dangled Success. Women Say They Paid a Price,” the subhead essentially tells the whole story: “Several women say Adams offered to jumpstart their music careers, then pursued them sexually and in some cases retaliated when they spurned him. He denies the claims.”

Adams, late of alt-country legends Whiskeytown and a prolific solo artist in his own right, has long been known for his acting out, both in public and private; on that latter count, his off- and back-stage exploits are the stuff of legend, as the BLURT coverage of journalist David Menconi’s biography and former Whiskeytown road manger Thomas O’Keefe’s memoir offer ample testimony.

The current allegations from Adams’ former wife, actress/singer Mandy Moore, musician Phoebe Bridgers, and others (including a woman who, if her NYT quotes are accurate, was under the age of 16 when her online sexual affair with Adams commenced) all paint the rocker as a dominating, manipulative individual who used his industry status to exploit multiple females over the years. Keep in mind, however, that allegations are not proof, and that the story is still unfolding at the time of this writing.

But also keep in mind that Ryan Adams has long been the subject of music industry whispers – that “bad boy” reputation was never restricted to just drinking a lot before going on stage and yapping about audience members shouting out “Summer of ’69.”

There’s been wall to wall media coverage of the story ever since it broke, and Adams has not only lost some key gear endorsements in the process, his label has yanked an Adams album that had been planned for April from its release schedule – some might say that’s the chickens coming home to roost for the musician.

At any rate, two stories that are must-reads for you, as they offer a much-needed perspective on what the Adams situation means for fans as well as the larger rock culture, not to mention how it is deeply relevant in the #metoo era. Please take the time to check out both of the essays:

Ryan Adams and the Betrayal of Teenage Girls,” by Anna Held (BuzzFeed News)

Ryan Adams Was Hiding in Plain Sight,” by Maria Sherman (Jezebel)

Watch Film Trailer for Upcoming Mojo Nixon Documentary

As we have said many times in the past, sometimes the news just writes itself, and we don’t need to add superfluous commentary…. Above photo by Kent Thompson, taken at a show during the ’80s at Charlotte’s Milestone Club that I also covered for some music magazine back in the day.

By Fred Mills

Yes indeed, the rumors are true: 2020 will bring a rock doc on the inimitable Mojo Nixon, indie rock hero, Tipper Gore scourge. (For a fun BLURT read involving Mojo, go HERE.) The long-overdue “The Mojo Manifesto”  is reportedly now-due from one Freedom Records & Films, and to cement that accusation, er, assertion, there is an official trailer.

Check it out: