Jack White, founding member of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather, a 12-time GRAMMY® Award-winner and 36-time nominee, and Third Man Records founder, is set to release his fourth and fifth solo studio albums in 2022. FEAR OF THE DAWN (Third Man Records), featuring his latest single “Taking Me Back,” will be released on April 8th, 2022 and ENTERING HEAVEN ALIVE (Third Man Records) will follow on July 22, 2022. In addition to writing global anthems such as The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” and The Raconteurs’ “Steady, As She Goes,” all three of White’s acclaimed previously released solo albums – 2012’s RIAA gold certified solo debut, BLUNDERBUSS, 2014’s LAZARETTO, and 2018’s BOARDING HOUSE REACH – debuted at #1 on the SoundScan/Billboard 200 along with a variety of other charts. Among his myriad of international honors, White’s long run of career GRAMMY® awards and nominations saw BLUNDERBUSS earning five nods over two years, including “Album of the Year,” “Best Rock Album,” “Best Rock Song” (for “Freedom At 21”), “Best Rock Performance,” and “Best Music Video” (the latter two honoring the single, “I’m Shakin”). LAZARETTO proved equally popular with GRAMMY® voters, scoring a nomination as “Best Alternative Music Album,” while its title track received the 2015 GRAMMY® Award for “Best Rock Performance” as well an additional nod as “Best Rock Song.” Praised by NME as “wild, mysterious and unlike anything else around…a full, lush sounding thing packed with personality and life,” BOARDING HOUSE REACH proved among White’s most unique works, topping a variety of charts in the US and Canada while drawing applause around the world. “The spirit of freaky free-play is thrilling and refreshing, a worthy end unto itself,” wrote Rolling Stone. “Like nearly all of White’s work, it manages to feel fresh, original, and still deeply rooted in history.” In 2020, White released The White Stripes Greatest Hits (Third Man Records/Legacy) and, more recently, unveiled jackwhiteartanddesign.com, as well as opened the doors to Third Man Records London – the third Third Man Records location and first internationally.
Since their debut in 2003, Kings of Leon (Caleb (guitar/vocals), Nathan (drums), Jared (bass) and Matthew Followill (guitar)) have released seven albums (Youth & Young Manhood (2003), Aha Shake Heartbreak (2004), Because of the Times (2007), Only by the Night (2008), Come Around Sundown (2010), Mechanical Bull (2013), WALLS (2016), sold over 20 million albums and nearly 40 million singles worldwide. The multi-platinum selling band has had five singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, all seven of their studio albums on Billboard’s Top 200 list and two singles that reached #1 on Modern Rock radio. With the release of WALLS, the band garnered their first-ever number one album debut on the Billboard Top 200. In addition, they have had eight Grammy Nominations, three Grammy Award wins, three NME Awards, two Brit Awards, and one Juno Award. They have toured all over the world, playing at top venues and headlining major festivals such as Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, and Glastonbury. Kings of Leon most recently released their eighth studio album When You See Yourself on March 5th, 2021 to critical and fan acclaim.
2020 officially marks 30 years of Pearl Jam performing live. Eleven studio albums, hundreds of unique live performances and official live concert bootleg releases later, the band continues to be critically acclaimed and commercially successful — with over 85 million albums sold worldwide. Pearl Jam was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. Their latest album Gigaton is out now.
Kentucky-born Chris Stapleton is a 5x Grammy, 14x CMA and 9x ACM Award-winner and one of the country’s most respected and beloved musicians. In the midst of yet another monumental year, Stapleton was recently profiled on CBS’ legendary program, “60 Minutes,” and is nominated for three awards at the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards: Best Country Album (Starting Over), Best Country Song (“Cold”) and Best Country Solo Performance (“You Should Probably Leave”). Additionally, he recently led winners at the 55th Annual CMA Awards with six awards: Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year (Starting Over, as artist and producer), Song of the Year (“Starting Over”) and Single of the Year (“Starting Over,” as artist and producer) and took home Album of the Year at the 56th Academy of Country Music Awards. Once again recorded at Nashville’s legendary RCA Studio A with Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb, Starting Over is a record that examines life’s simplest joys and most serious struggles and received widespread critical acclaim from NPR Music, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Esquire, Vulture, The Tennesseanand The New York Times, who praises, “lands precisely where country meets Southern soul: with grit, details, clarity and ache.” Moreover, the Associated Press declares, “a sure-footed masterpiece…one of the year’s finest albums” and GQ proclaims, “mixes beautifully stark songwriting with blues, country, and rock melodies, allowing Stapleton’s sturdy, propulsive vocals to carry the show.” His fourth studio album, Starting Overfollows Stapleton’s quintuple platinum breakthrough solo debut, Traveller, as well as his two #1 albums from 2017: From A Room: Volume 1(certified platinum) and From A Room: Volume 2 (certified gold). Adding to his triumphant career, Stapleton is currently in the midst of his extensive “All-American Road Show” tour with upcoming stops at Washington State’s Gorge Amphitheatre and University of Kentucky’s Kroger Field among several others.
Bio: Since 1995, Alanis Morissette has been one of the most influential singer-songwriter-musicians in contemporary music. Her deeply expressive music and performances have earned vast critical praise. Morissette’s 1995 debut, “JAGGED LITTLE PILL,” was followed by 9 more eclectic and acclaimed albums. She has contributed musically to theatrical releases and has acted on the big and small screen. Outside of entertainment, she is an avid supporter of female empowerment, as well as spiritual, psychological and physical wellness. In 2016, Alanis launched Conversation with Alanis Morissette, a monthly podcast that features conversations with a variety of revered authors, doctors, educators, and therapists, covering a wide range of topics extending from spirituality to art. In May 2018, Alanis’ “JAGGED LITTLE PILL” made its musical debut at the A.R.T. She is currently working on new music and penning a book. For more information see www.alanis.com.
“Brandi Carlile defies categorization — she is country, she is pop, she is Americana — but most of all, she’s out to make the world a better place.” – The Cut
Only a global pandemic could have forced Brandi Carlile to hit pause. After two hard-fought decades-in-the-making, Carlile was in the midst of experiencing the biggest highs of her acclaimed career thus far. From a show-stealing debut at the 61st GRAMMY Awards, to her first sold-out arena show at Madison Square Garden, to an ever-growing number of awards and accolades, all-star collaborations and countless other staggering achievements.
Finding herself stuck at home outside of Seattle in the rural foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Carlile had no choice but to slow down, reassess and realign her priorities. Luckily for Carlile, home happens to be a 90-acre compound shared with not only her wife, Catherine, and two daughters, but also her chosen family: longtime collaborators and bandmates Tim and Phil Hanseroth as well as her cello player Josh Neumann among an ever-growing contingency.
It was during this time that In These Silent Days took shape. Inspired by the mining of her own history while writing her #1 New York Times Best Selling memoir Broken Horses, the new ten-song record chronicles acceptance, faith, loss and love and channels icons like David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Elton John and Joni Mitchell — the latter two who, by some sort of cosmic alignment of the stars, have turned out to be close friends in addition to being her biggest heroes and inspirations.
Reuniting with producers Dave Cobb and Shooter Jennings, the album takes Carlile’s voice, which The New York Times says, “sounds like an element of nature,” and pushes it to even greater heights and dramatic peaks. From the anthemic first single “Right On Time” to the intimately romantic “You and Me On The Rock” and the blistering “Broken Horses,” the songs tell a story of connection and empathy in the midst of distance and estrangement and showcase an artist continuing to push herself and widen her arms around an inclusive, ever-growing island of misfits.
In three years, Greta Van Fleet went from touring the grimy rock bars of Detroit and Saginaw to headlining shows on five continents with audiences triple their hometown’s population. The band that once attracted crowds of teens to improvised forest concerts, have now sold over one million tickets worldwide. Stadiums in Italy are a far cry from a field strewn with pick-up trucks, framed by the canopy of tall coniferous trees, where they learned to love an audience. Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheater is a world away from the tiny Midwestern bars where they got their start (before they were even of legal drinking age). From Frankenmuth to a tour bus across America, then their first ever flight to Europe, their newest album The Battle at Garden’s Gate, released April 16, 2021, is a reflection of their journey into the present.
So many have been positioned as the future, we’ve forgotten how to recognize the real thing. Expectations may run high, but Greta Van Fleet is indifferent to opinion. The band doesn’t have to say a certain thing or act a certain way to convince anyone of their capacity. All they have to do is play.
For over four decades, The Doobie Brothers have been known for delivering mind-blowing, roots-based, harmony-laden, guitar-driven rock and roll – all of which recently led to the band’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Boasting one of the most loyal fan bases in music, selling more than 48 million albums, and winning four GRAMMY® Awards, The Doobie Brothers continue to write and record new material and tour the world. Their No. 1 singles “Black Water” and “What a Fool Believes,” both gold, lead a catalog of indelible songs that include: “Listen to the Music,” “China Grove,” “Jesus Is Just All Right,” “Rockin’ Down the Highway,” “Long Train Runnin’,” “Take Me In Your Arms,” “Takin’ it to the Streets,” “Minute by Minute,” “You Belong to Me,” “The Doctor” and more. In all, the Doobies have tallied up five top 10 singles and 16 top 40 hits. Beginning with their multi-million-selling sophomore collection Toulouse Street, the Doobies have 3 multi-platinum, 7 platinum, and 14 Gold albums. Best of the Doobies has sold more than 12 million copies – a rare “diamond record.”
Father John Misty returns with Chloë and The Next 20th Century, his fifth album and first new material since the release of God’s Favorite Customer in 2018.
Chloë and the Next 20th Century was written and recorded August through December 2020 and features arrangements by Drew Erickson. The album sees Tillman and producer/multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Wilson resume their longtime collaboration, as well as Dave Cerminara, returning as engineer and mixer. Basic tracks were recorded at Wilson’s Five Star Studios with strings, brass, and woodwinds recorded at United Recordings in a session featuring Dan Higgins and Wayne Bergeron, among others.
Chloë and The Next 20th Century features the singles “Funny Girl,” “Q4,” “Goodbye Mr. Blue,” and “Kiss Me (I Loved You),” and will be available April 8th, 2022 worldwide from Sub Pop and in Europe from Bella Union.
Jason Isbell has established himself as one of the most respected and celebrated songwriters of his generation. The North Alabama native possesses an incredible penchant for identifying and articulating some of the deepest, yet simplest, human emotions, and turning them into beautiful poetry through song. Isbell sings of the everyday human condition with thoughtful, heartfelt, and sometimes brutal honesty. Isbell broke through in 2013 with the release of Southeastern. His next two albums, Something More Than Free (2015) and The Nashville Sound (2017), won Grammy Awards for Best Americana Album & Best American Roots Song. Isbell’s song “Maybe It’s Time” was featured in the 2019 reboot of A Star Is Born.
His most recent full-length album, Reunions (2020), is a critically-acclaimed collection of ten new songs that showcases an artist at the height of his powers and a band fully charged with creativity and confidence. In April of 2021, it was announced that Isbell would appear in the upcoming Martin Scorsese film, Killers of the Flower Moon.
In October 2021, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit released a special new covers album, Georgia Blue. Created to celebrate Georgia’s role in the 2020 election, the record consists of new versions of thirteen songs with ties to the state, including tracks originally recorded by Georgia natives R.E.M., Drivn’ N’ Cryin’, James Brown, Cat Power, Precious Bryant, Otis Redding, The Black Crowes, Indigo Girls, Now It’s Overhead, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Allman Brothers Band and Vic Chesnutt. All proceeds will benefit three non-profit organizations: Black Voters Matter, Fair Fight and Georgia STAND-UP.
Hailed in a 4-star Rolling Stone review as “a mutant strain of retro pop steeped in New York lore,” Daddy’s Home, the sixth album from Annie Clark a/k/a St. Vincent, is the latest facet of an ever-evolving artist widely regarded as the most consistently innovative and intriguing presence in modern music. In the winter of 2019, as her 2017 masterpiece MASSEDUCTION’s title track won the GRAMMY for Best Rock Song and the album won Best Recording Package, St. Vincent’s father was released from prison. She began writing the songs that would become Daddy’s Home, closing the loop on a journey that began with his incarceration in 2010, and ultimately led her back to the vinyl her dad introduced her to during her childhood. The records she has probably listened to more than any others. Music made in sepia-toned downtown New York from 1971-1975. Gritty. Grimy. Sleazy. The first full broadcast from St. Vincent’s synthesis of this came in the form of “Pay Your Way In Pain” and “The Melting Of The Sun” played live before a crowd for the first time during her recent return to Saturday Night Live—highlighting Clark’s ability to shred both vocally and on the debut appearance of the newest model of her signature Ernie Ball Music Man guitar. In the weeks since, the grit of 1970s vinyl would meet the grain of 1970s celluloid with “Down,” the infectious third and final offering in advance of Daddy’s Home’s May 14 release. The reaction to the full album was immediate and ecstatic, with raves including “In an industry crowded with artists who claim singularity, there is perhaps no musician more deserving of the label than St. Vincent” (INTERVIEW), “St. Vincent’s sound is more electric than ever” (LOS ANGELES), “St. Vincent has gotten to the point where we can’t look away, because there’s just nobody in indie pop quite like Annie Clark” (PASTE) and so many more. St. Vincent is now taking 2021’s most talked-about record on the road—don’t miss out on the invitation to spend a night with Candy Darling in the world of Daddy’s Home.
The Always Sunny Podcast is an unofficial look back on the past 15 seasons of the hit show, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” hosted by Glenn Howerton (Dennis), Charlie Day (Charlie), and Rob McElhenney (Mac). Starting with the first episode, they watch every season and give a deep dive into their memories of creating the show, reveal how they first met, and discuss how they formed a lasting partnership that has endured the better part of two decades. That is if they can remember any of it. #sunnypodlive
Since 1998, NEEDTOBREATHE have quietly emerged as a dynamic force in rock music, topping the charts, selling out historic venues, and generating hundreds of millions of streams to date. The band have gathered one platinum single, four gold singles, and a gold album. Along the way, “Multiplied” notched their first GRAMMY® nomination. Simultaneously, they performed to sold out crowds at arenas and amphitheaters coast to coast. In addition to garnering two nods at the Billboard Music Awards, they’ve attracted acclaim from People, Rolling Stone, Forbes, and many more. In 2020, they sowed the seeds for rebirth with Out of Body. It bowed in the Top 5 of three Billboard charts and reeled in acclaim. Within weeks of its release, the quintet—Bear Rinehart [vocals, guitar], Seth Bolt [bass, vocals], Josh Lovelace [keys, vocals], Randall Harris [drums], and Tyler Burkum [guitar]—stole away to an old historic house in Columbia, TN where they lived together, ate together, laughed together, and recorded together for three weeks in the fall of 2020. They returned home with their eighth album and documentary Into The Mystery [Elektra Records]. It’s the kind of record that could only be made by a band who has been through it all and still has enough faith to keep encouraging one another. It’s NEEDTOBREATHE.
Chart-topping rock band The Revivalists had been grinding for 10 years when their now platinum-selling single “Wish I Knew You” took off, setting a record for most single-week spins ever at Alternative Radio and becoming a mainstream phenomenon spending 9 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. Now, their new hit songs from fourth studio album Take Good Care, including #1 Triple A and Top 5 Alternative single “All My Friends,” and #1 Triple A and Top 15 Alternative hit single “Change” (their third Mediabase Triple A #1 in a row) – have become instant fan favorites and are adding to their more than 410 million total streams. The band has performed on numerous television shows including Austin City Limits, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert , Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!, Ellen, TODAY, and garnered major media attention from the likes of Rolling Stone, NPR, Billboard, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, Forbes, Salon, HuffPost, Grammy.com, Alternative Press, Paste, UPROXX, Flaunt, Nylon, Interview, and more. They made a big statement in support of the anti-gun violence movement with their powerful song “Shoot You Down” which they performed during their debut at Lollapalooza, opened for the Rolling Stones, were nominated for a Billboard Music Award and two iHeartRadio Music Awards, were named Billboard’s Top New Rock Artist of 2017, and between sold-out shows at their biggest venues yet, including Beacon Theatre and Red Rocks, the band has also ignited festival stages at Bonnaroo, Governor’s Ball, Lollapalooza, New Orleans Jazz Fest, Outside Lands, and Pilgrimage. Renowned for their live firepower, soulful alt-rock anthems, and their distinct mix of many of the classic styles of American music, the 8-piece ensemble of pedal steel guitar, unique two-drummer set-up, horns, and more is led by the incredible voice of front man David Shaw.
Most recently, the band released their Made In Muscle Shoals live studio EP and accompanying documentary, which was recorded and filmed at the legendary FAME Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and directed by Jay Sansone of Human Being Media. Capturing the essence of The Revivalists at this exciting time in their 10-year journey, the Made In Muscle Shoals EP features brilliant re-imaginings of the band’s hits “Oh No,” “You & I,” “Change,” and “All My Friends” from Take Good Care, as well as a soulful rendition of The Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody,” a gorgeous stripped down piano-and-vocal take of “Wish I Knew You,” and a never-before-released, brand new song “Bitter End.” The Revivalists also established their philanthropic umbrella fund, Rev Causes, which supports the essential work of organizations dedicated to reviving and investing in our communities, health, and environment. $1 from every ticket sold will be donated to a variety of organizations that are close to the band’s heart, including Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Everytown For Gun Safety Support Fund, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Songs for Kids Foundation, and Upturn Arts.
The Revivalists are: David Shaw [lead vocals, guitar], Zack Feinberg [guitar], Andrew Campanelli [drums], George Gekas [bass], Ed Williams [pedal steel guitar], Rob Ingraham [saxophone], Michael Girardot [keyboard, trumpet], and PJ Howard [drums, percussion].
Four albums into her career, Courtney Barnett remains one of the most distinctive and compelling voices in indie rock. Her sprawling-but-intense live shows oscillate between intimate folk-balladry to glorious, feed-back heavy jams. Armed with a back-catalogue of gems as well as some of her best and most musically adventurous new work to date, Barnett will bring her thunderous rhythm section back to North America for the first time in almost three years.
Barnett’s enigmatic and introverted character is made all the more compelling by the honesty and brutal self-reflection laid bare in her writing. With countless awards in her home of Australia as well as Grammy and BRIT nominations, fawning press and an adoring audience, Barnett’s rise to global prominence feels both unprecedented and important. Music fans have rarely witnessed the breathless acclaim and superlatives that comprised reviews of Barnett’s debut album “Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Think” – Rolling Stone praised her as “one of the sharpest, most original songwriters around—at any level, in any genre”. 2017 saw the release of the wonderful album “Lotta Sea Lice”, an introspective but beautiful album of duets with Kurt Vile while we awaited the release of 2018’s fierce sophomore solo album “Tell Me How You Really Feel”.
Barnett has a brand-new album due for release in late 2021.
Crowded House is a long standing and much loved vehicle for the song writing talents of Neil Finn. Formed in Melbourne Australia in 1985 out the ashes of New Zealand’s Split Enz by Neil, Paul Hester and Nick Seymour, their eponymous self-titled debut album on Capitol Records went on to global success with the hits Don’t Dream It’s Over and Something So Strong. Those songs and many that followed are still resonating with audiences today, the former in particular being one of the most covered songs of the last 20 years. The bands first incarnation lasted from 1985 through 1995 with 4 studio albums and enjoyed much success worldwide, becoming particularly beloved for their freewheeling and interactive live shows. This lineup said Farewell to the World on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in 1996 with a now legendary performance in front of 150,000 people.
In 2005 following the tragic death of Paul Hester, Neil and Nick felt emotionally compelled to bring Crowded House back, to put some more good history, as they described it, into the story of the band. Drafting in new drummer Matt Sherrod and with long time touring member Mark Hart they released the album Time On Earth to critical acclaim and toured the world. Another album, Intriguer, was recorded in 2009 and Crowded House was inducted into the Aria Hall of Fame in 2016, at the same time reprising its Farewell shows at the Sydney Opera House with 3 nights of stunning performances.
Following Neil’s surprise star turn and a very successful world tour with Fleetwood Mac, Neil and Nick have been energized and inspired to begin a new chapter in the Crowded House story. Much like Fleetwood Mac, a new generation seems to have grown up and connected with their songs and now want to experience the band live. Crowded House will be kicking off the next chapter of their story by appearing as a headliner at the Byron Bay Blues and Roots festival with an exciting new lineup, which will include a special guest appearance by Crowded House producer and respected keyboardist Mitchell Froom.
On their earthy, jubilant new album, the Columbus, Ohio, band Caamp examine those in-between days that make up a life—not the best or most eventful days, certainly not the worst or most tragic, but those full of small pleasures and forgotten disappointments. Taylor Meier, the group’s singer and primary songwriter, came up with the phrase Lavender Days to describe them—a phrase that struck him out of the blue, “like a coconut out of the sky,” he says with a laugh. Why lavender? “It’s nostalgic. It can remind you of your grandmother’s perfume or maybe the air freshener in your mom’s car. It can summon up all of these incredible memories and transport you to those in-between days, which I think everybody remembers with more clarity than the big events.”
Caamp have been writing and singing about those lavender days—in tender love songs tinged with melancholy and determination—ever since Meier played his first notes with bandmate Evan Westfall more than a decade ago. They met as students at Ohio University in Athens, playing local coffeehouses and growing more committed to this extracurricular project. With the addition of Matt Vinson on bass and Joseph Kavalec on keyboards, they built up a grassroots following well beyond the Buckeye State based on the inventiveness of Meier’s songwriting, the exuberance of their live performances, and their tireless dedication to touring as much as possible.
From their self-titled 2016 debut album to their most recent releases of By and By in 2019 to Live From Newport Music Hall, “Fall, Fall, Fall”, and “Officer of Love” in 2020 the band has amassed over 590 million streams globally as well as achieved multiple #1’s at AAA radio. The band has headlined sold out shows and performed at major festivals around the world including Firefly, Shaky Knees, Forecastle, Outside Lands, Austin City Limits, Great Escape and many more. They have also performed on national TV on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, CBS This Morning Saturday and Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Their new album Lavender Days will be released via Mom + Pop records on June 24th.
From the moment she began writing her new album, Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner knew that she wanted to call it Jubilee. After all, a jubilee is a celebration of the passage of time—a festival to usher in the hope of a new era in brilliant technicolor. Zauner’s first two albums garnered acclaim for the way they grappled with anguish; Psychopomp was written as her mother underwent cancer treatment, while Soft Sounds From Another Planet took the grief she held from her mother‘s death and used it as a conduit to explore the cosmos. Now, at the start of a new decade, Japanese Breakfast is ready to fight for happiness, an all-too-scarce resource in our seemingly crumbling world.
How does she do it? With a joyful noise. From pulsing walls of synthgaze and piano on “Sit,” to the nostalgia-laden strings that float through “Tactics,” Jubilee bursts with the most wide-ranging arrangements of Zauner’s career. Each song unfurls a new aspect of her artistry: “Be Sweet,” co-written with Wild Nothing’s Jack Tatum, is a jagged, propulsive piece of ‘80s pop that’s followed by a sweetly melancholic ballad in “Kokomo, IN.” As she rides a crest of saxophones and synthesizers through “Slide Tackle,” a piece of nimble pop-funk run through a New Order lens, Zauner professes her desire to move forward: “I want to be good—I want to navigate this hate in my heart somewhere better.”
In the years leading up to Jubilee, Zauner also took theory lessons and studied piano in earnest for the first time, in an effort to improve her range as a songwriter: “I’ve never wanted to rest on any laurels. I wanted to push it as far as it could go, inviting more people in and pushing myself as a composer, a producer, an arranger.” She pours that sentiment into the album from the very beginning, weaving a veritable tapestry of sound on the opening track “Paprika.” To build such an anthem of self-actualization, Zauner maxed out the technical limits of her recording rig, expelling her anxieties and egoism with layers upon layers of triumphant horns and marching snares. “How’s it feel to be at the center of magic? To linger in tones and words?” she ponders, conjuring the widescreen majesty of Kate Bush. “I opened the floodgates and found no water, no current, no river, no rush!”
Later, on “Savage Good Boy”—a kooky, terrifyingly prophetic jam co-produced with (Sandy) Alex G—Zauner reduces the excess of modern capitalism to an emotional level, sarcastically imagining the perspective of a billionaire trying to convince his lover to join him underground as the apocalypse unfolds. “I want to make the money until there’s no more to be made/And we will be so wealthy, I’m absolved from questioning/That all my bad behavior was just a necessary strain/They’re the stakes in a race to win.”
“I don’t want to weave politics into my music in a way that feels cheap, but I couldn’t make something that doesn’t comment on the reality we live in,” says Zauner. “I think that you need to push yourself to care, and that’s part of what this album is about: If you want change, in anything, you need to go to war for it.”
At the end comes “Posing for Cars,” one of the longest, most visceral Japanese Breakfast songs to date. In its muted opening, Zauner quietly re-embraces impassioned facets of youth—wistful daydreaming, fierce loyalty—atop a bed of slowly-strummed guitars. Those same feelings pour out of her fingertips as she erupts into a cathartic, nearly three-minute-long solo to close out the record, with gradual swells of distortion that evoke the arena-sized guitars of bands like Wilco or Sonic Youth.
Jubilee is an album about processing life and love in the quest for happiness, and how that process sometimes requires us to step outside of ourselves. “Savage Good Boy” isn’t the only time Zauner takes on a persona; On the cavernous masterpiece “Posing In Bondage,” she imagines a woman left behind in the confines of an empty house, traversing the blurred lines between domesticity and dominance as she sings to an absent lover. Meanwhile, “Kokomo, IN” was written from the perspective of a small- town Indiana boy, forced to say goodbye to a girlfriend who’s shipping off to study abroad. But throughout Jubilee, Zauner is hardly fictionalizing her lyrics, instead pouring her own life into the universe of each song to tell real stories, and allowing those universes, in turn, to fill in the details. Joy, change, evolution—these things take real time, and real effort. And Japanese Breakfast is here for it.
One of the finest, in-demand rock ‘n’ roll ensembles working today, Lukas Nelson & POTR are bringing their powerful, joyous live show to concert stages in spring 2022. The live shows promise well-known POTR hits alongside new favorites, with a recent review proclaiming “[their] set was nothing short of inspired”.
Fresh off the band’s enormous success with 2019’s Turn Off The News (Build A Garden), in 2021 their widely acclaimed studio album, A Few Stars Apart — with standout singles “Perennial Bloom (Back To You)” and “Wildest Dreams” — once again catapulted POTR to #1 on the Americana Albums charts for seven non-consecutive weeks.
Declared “His best album, yet” by Rolling Stone, A Few Stars Apart is Lukas Nelson’s testament to finding a human connection: between close family and friends, as well as one’s own heart. “The game, for me, is to find a unique way of expressing something that we all feel,” says Nelson. “In spite of being influenced by so many different types of music and musicians, country music, in particular, seems to pull the strongest. Country songs can really get you in the gut, you know? And the simplicity on the surface, with the underlying complexity, fascinates me.”
Lukas Nelson & POTR (bassist Corey McCormick, drummer Anthony LoGerfo, percussionist Tato Melgar, and multi-instrumentalist Logan Metz) have wowed audiences and won fans with their fiery stage performances and singular sound, which smoothly straddles rock and roll, country, soul, folk and R&B. Since their debut over a decade ago, the band have toured relentlessly, playing countless sold-out one-night shows and festivals around the world, and occasionally serving as Neil Young’s road band. Nelson also co-produced the GRAMMY-winning music for 2018’s lauded A Star Is Born film.
For nearly 15 years, Nathan Willett and Cold War Kids have fielded the shifts in the music landscape’s seismic activity as well as the ebbs and flows in their own camp while simultaneously sticking to their game plan. Over the course of a dozen releases on majors and indies alike, non-stop tours and the festival circuit’s biggest stages, massive radio and streaming successes as well as a few lineup changes, Cold War Kids have become a major part of the modern scene.
Coming off of the high water marks of 2014’s Hold My Home with its smash single “First” and the Capitol Records-backed LA Divine in 2017 feeling mostly satiated, Willett began to hone in on what was most exciting and integral to him in both the Cold War Kids recipe as well as in the current music climate as he began to write new material. He obsessed over the seemingly never-ending stream of Kanye West-produced records released in the summer of 2018, enamored of their breezy compactness and fresh feeling, which excited him to explore a new working relationship with his own producer of favor, Lars Stalfors (St. Vincent, Foster the People). The pair entered the studio to write a very specific, of-the-moment type of album, encouraged to take the doors off of the idea of what the band was in order to see where it could go.
Willett and Stalfors incorporated some pieces of the core CWK sound while stripping away the rafter-reaching production of their past records, aiming for leaner, tighter tunes. And, taking inspiration from a slogan on a T-shirt made by the band’s bass player and resident visual artist Matt Maust, Willett had the project’s title, lyrical themes, and structure in mind even before any songs had been completed — three unique eight-song volumes called New Age Norms.
Writing from urgent, of-the-moment perspectives in order to respect and reflect the day’s normative behaviors and climate, Willett focused on a bird’s eye view of the current values he was observing all around him — the new norms of class, gender, race, and power that are creating our modern world. The first volume’s eight songs explore the connective tissue apparent to him in the landscape, with the sense of optimism and uplifting positivity he feels necessary to approach any issue, or song.
One such line — “Don’t sit around and complain about it” — provided the focal point for the first song on and written for New Age Norms, “Complainer,” a call to do something constructive rather than dwell on all the things that might drag us down. Co-written with the pop writer Bonnie McKee (Katy Perry, Rita Ora) and Electric Guest’s Asa Taccone (whose drummer, Matthew Compton, plays drums throughout New Age Norms), “Complainer” sizzles with its fresh mix of modern production and stand-by CWK sonic influences like Can and Talking Heads. The next song, “Fine Fine Fine,” recalls The Jam meets Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life,” a bouncy rock-and-roller featuring female backup singers and a youthful raging against aging and maturing; “Waiting for Your Love” would sound right at home on an Emotional Rescue period
Rolling Stones record, but with an update of Mick Jagger’s explicit stray cat strut to a version suitable for our times.
“Beyond the Pale,” co-written with Mikky Ekko (Rihanna, Clams Casino), is a piano ballad that features Willett at his most emotionally bare as he shares the universal tale of a life spent on the road away from his family, while “Dirt in My Eyes” is another Cold War Kids first: the petulant, reactionary, pissed-off breakup song. “4th of July,” with its slowed-down, strutting, 1970’s Stevie Wonder vibe, is a song about the mixed feelings Americans can encounter while celebrating patriotic holidays without a context of appreciation. “Calm Your Nerves” is a slow-building anthem about the tendency therapy-givers have to neglect themselves that climbs to its peak while a high-pitched guitar line paves its way. The record ends with “Tricky Devil,” an icy, Joy Division inspired tune that asks one of New Age Norms’s biggest questions: how can we remain optimistic in this world that has made people so cynical?
The key, as the record exhibits, in in the approach. Two future New Age Norms volumes are set to be recorded soon, with the second part featuring production work by Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, The War on Drugs) and the rest of the band (Maust, David Quon, Matthew Schwartz, and Joe Plummer) playing live in the room; the third will likely be a combination of styles. For Willett and Cold War Kids, even as today’s norms continue to shift at lightning speed — in daily life, in rock and roll, and beyond — the band’s dedicated approach to its art remains steadfast as it delivers messages of positivity while pursuing new values and a better world.
Multi-platinum, award-winning recording artist Elle King has enjoyed over 1.5 billion streams worldwide. Her most recent single release has her reuniting with Miranda Lambert on the infectious collaboration “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Rock and Country Digital Song Sales Charts. Co-written by Elle King with Martin Johnson, who also produced the track, “Drunk” was recorded in Nashville and New York pre-pandemic. This is the second time the two female platinum-selling powerhouse performers have recorded together with their first release “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” (along with Maren Morris, Ashley McBryde, Tenille Townes and Caylee Hammack) going on to win the 2020 ACM Award for “Music Event of The Year.” Elle also was a special guest on Miranda’s 2019 Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars tour. To accompany the track, King and Lambert met up in Nashville to film an 80s-inspired wedding video starring Elle as the bride and Miranda as her Maid of Honor complete with a cameo from Elle’s real-life fiancé as the groom. The video was shot in January by directing duo Running Bear using strict COVID protocols.
Elle’s latest EP Elle King: In Isolation was released in summer of 2020 and is a collection of raw demos/songs she’s recorded acoustically while quarantining at home in Los Angeles.
Her debut album Love Stuff featured her breakthrough single “Ex’s & Oh’s,” which earned her two GRAMMY nominations and is certified 4x times platinum. The breakthrough single hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs Chart, topped the AAA, Hot AC, and Alternative Radio charts, leading King to become the second female artist in 18 years to reach No. 1 at the latter format. Her 2016 collaboration with Dierks Bentley on “Different for Girls,” also scored a No. 1 on the Country Airplay charts and won the CMA Award for “Musical Event of the Year.”
Her single “Shame,” featured on her second studio album Shake The Spirit marked King’s fourth radio #1 single and marking Elle the only act in history to have scored No. 1 singles on the Adult Pop Songs, Adult Alternative Songs, Alternative Songs and Country Airplay charts. Rolling Stone wrote “Elle King is a little bit country, a little bit rock n’ roll, but ultimately, she’s punk as fuck.” Variety wrote “…King churned the clotted cream of punkish country, raw R&B, crotchety rock and deep blues into rich, buttery musical drama…(she) belted, crooned, purred, sauntered and swaggered her way through a tautly rocking set…one thing became very clear: nearly every song was equally contagious, catty-cool, and hit-worthy.”
A 25-year-old Grammy nominated innovative songwriter and performer, Marcus King can simultaneously switch from swaggering rock to supersonic soul, having written songs and performing onstage for half his lifetime. All five members of the band—drummer Jack Ryan, bass player Stephen Campbell, trumpeter/trombonist Justin Johnson, keyboard player, and sax player Chris Spies —create a blistering, yet soulful unit that has honed their synergy through endless touring.
Marcus started learning guitar at age three or four. He has played professionally since he was 11 and always knew he wanted to make music his life. A fourth-generation musician, Marcus has followed in his family’s footsteps. His grandfather was a country guitarist, and his father continues to perform live. This year he launched a Signature Gibson custom guitar modeled after the ES-345 his grandfather used to play.
From the start, Marcus earned rave reviews for his kinetic musicianship with The Washington Post describing him as a “guitar phenom.” His debut solo album, El Dorado topped the Americana radio charts and has received critical acclaim from the likes of NPR, Rolling Stone, American Songwriter, and Rolling Stone, who described him as an “electrifying rock performer.” Marcus recently completed a string of dates with Chris Stapleton, who called him “one of his favorite artists” when he joined him onstage.
Marcus King continues to re-write his fast moving and surprising story. You can hear change in the wisdom of his lyrics and deeply soulful vocals, bringing sheer musical command to every performance.
“It’s a paradigm shift.”
And as simply as that, Yola encapsulates the giddy expansiveness, stunning emotional breadth, and exponential musical growth of her sophomore album Stand For Myself, out July 30. She may only be saying four words, but it’s a whole new world.
Everything about the album—musically, lyrically, spiritually—explores the epiphany that making decisive choices leads to freedom. If her critically acclaimed 2019 debut Walk Through Fire was an exhilarating exercise in country soul, Stand For Myself explores the concept of genre. The album features a fluidity of sound that defies categorization weaving elements of symphonic soul, mellifluous pop melodies, disco grooves, rootsy rawness, and ecstatic gospel power into a package with instant appeal.
For those who fell in love with the singular British artist on Walk Through Fire—and the love affair was fierce with both critics and the Recording Academy which recognized Yola with four Grammy nominations— listening to Stand For Myself is like stepping out of Kansas into Oz. Home may have been cozy and full of great songs, but it’s time to take the Yola ride in full Technicolor. And there’s no place like Stand For Myself.
“The album is like a window into my mind, my life experiences, my politics, my hopeful and sentimental sides, and my hope for humanity at large,” she says of the 12-track collection that covers a wide swath of ground in its 45 minute-plus running time. At her most melodically and lyrically free, it is an album of both artistic freedom and subtle social commentary, that Yola hopes will connect personally with anyone who has experienced being made to feel “other.”
Yola makes exciting new vocal choices on Stand For Myself. While her gale force power remains undiminished, she probes the layers of her instrument. “So often people come out all guns blazing and they don’t navigate nuance,” she says of her purposeful vocal approach. “I thought, do you know what? Instead of punching out of the gate with absolutely everything I have, I’m going to really try and navigate nuance.”
The results show themselves in glorious fashion as she pushes herself to both higher and lower registers, modulates her attack with laser-like precision and generally explores new textures on songs like the transporting title track, the addictive “If I Had To Do It All Again” and the slow-burning “Great Divide” which deftly balances grit and light.
Lyrically, she explores the difference between surviving and thriving (the languid R&B soul-searcher “Barely Alive”); inventively imagines new outcomes grappling with mortality (the inventive “Break The Bough”); frolics in the intersection of sentimentality and sexuality (the deeply sensual “Starlight”); recognizes the value of allyship (“Be My Friend” featuring vocal contributions from Brandi Carlile); and takes control of her own destiny on the anthemic title track. In examining and embracing the various elements of her identity: black, female, empathic, creative, erotic, bawdy, sophisticated, curious, intelligent, and more, Yola takes listeners on a journey to self-actualization that they might not even realize they’ve been on until the album ends.
“That’s it,” she says accompanied by one of her deeply infectious laughs. “I want to trick people into empathy and self-actualization!”
On the title track, she urges the listener to stand for themselves and those around them by challenging biases that fuel bigotry, inequality and tokenism which have deeply impacted her personal life and professional career. “It is about how people continue to bury their heads in the sand to hide from inconvenient truths that create a profound need to change how they think,” she says.
Her own journey to Stand For Myself was a somewhat circuitous route, for which, in hindsight, Yola could not be more grateful.
As the anniversary of her debut album approached in February 2020, the artist was intended to embark on opening dates in arenas and stadiums with Chris Stapleton, headline and festival gigs, and a journey to Australia to play Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s untitled Elvis biopic starring Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker and Austin Butler as Elvis. Second album recording was to happen sometime in and around all of that. She got in one show with Stapleton before COVID-19 derailed those plans and headed home with an eerie sense of the unknown looming in front of her.
Finding herself in lockdown back in Nashville allowed Yola to have something she hadn’t experienced in a year, time.
“I wasn’t seeing anybody and I was just staying up until five o’clock in the morning until my brain was really fuzzy and hazy and then ideas would just jump out,” she says. “I studied my creative process to the point where I knew what kind of state my brain needed to be in to generate ideas and knew what time of day my ideas turn up and so the whole process was ‘Okay, I’m going to start writing some things now explicitly for this record.’”
Over the course of some weeks she brought her early morning visions to life, alongside song ideas she had been germinating for the last decade. Pandemic-penned ideas were developed with Joy Oladokun, Ruby Amanfu, fellow Highwoman Natalie Hemby, Bobby Wood, Pat McLaughlin, and more. She headed back into the studio for a week in October 2020 with Walk Through Fire producer Dan Auerbach and a fresh band of collaborators including Dap-King bassist Nick Movshon (Sharon Jones, Amy Winehouse), drummer Aaron Frazer, who plays with Durand Jones and the Indications and is an emerging artist in his own right, and in-demand session percussionist Sam Bacco (Sheryl Crow, Johnny Cash), among others.
The pair got the work done quickly thanks to Yola’s own prodigious studio work, her new sense of purpose and the ability to work with a creative partner who understood her in a new way. “Walk Through Fire was a collaboration, in the truest sense of the word,” she says of the album that grew out of her personal story of literally and figuratively surviving harrowing experiences that spawned fan favorites like the title track and “Faraway Look.” “It was a getting-to-know-you record.” She says, “Dan and I talked about the music that we had in common, and then we found that middle ground.”
After a year of touring, learning, writing, and introspection Yola was able to record Stand For Myself as the person she has known herself to be for years because what wasn’t new about the album was her innate sense of self. She wanted to show her vulnerability, her hope, her intricacies, and to ultimately uncover all of those things for the listener.
“I want people to feel like they know a dark-skinned black woman, a little better,” she says. “I could be the first, and all with an English accent and a chocolate bar skin tone. I will be an example of nuance that one can reference that someone might not have had, because the media does not want to portray us in a way that is nuanced.”
If, she says, the first record was about introducing a person who, at a low point, recognized the need to ask for help, this second one illuminates that “I’ve been proven through this fire and I’m back to where I started, the real me. I kind of got talked out of being me and now I’m here. This is who I’ve always been in music and in life. There was a little hiatus where I got brainwashed out of my own majesty, but a bitch is back.”
It’s a classic rock & roll story: the chance encounter that becomes collaboration, then a band; the gathering of players and like-minded spirits that tightens and grows in songwriting, rehearsals and club dates; a debut album that finally arrives after all of the labor and waiting; the follow-up that beats a new set of odds and jumps ahead in vision and drive, proving the first record was no one-shot deal.
For Mike Campbell, External Combustion – the second album by his first band as a leader, the Dirty Knobs – is proof that lightning can strike twice. Campbell experienced all of the above and more with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – riding shotgun with his friend and captain as lead guitarist, co-producer and, at times, co-writer – when he met guitarist Jason Sinay at a session in Los Angeles in 2000. “I didn’t like him at first because he had a green guitar and a mohawk,” Campbell recalls with a laugh. “But when we started playing together, I realized he had good rhythm, good sound. And he worked really well with me.”
It wasn’t quite a mohawk, Sinay claims. “But I had done this thing with my hair, and I think it freaked Mike out.” Sinay had his own case of nerves. “Mike liked how I played, but he is one of my heroes. I couldn’t even breathe.” Even so, “a couple of days later, my phone rang. It was Mike asking me to come to his house and work on music with him.”
That call turned into the Dirty Knobs, named after a faulty amp dial (with bonus double entendre) and originally including bassist Ron Blair and drummer Steve Ferrone of the Heartbreakers. “We would go into the studio for fun and occasionally get a bar gig to try the songs out for people,” Campbell explains. “Then I thought, for my own identity, I should have a different rhythm section. And I lucked out” – in 2004 – “when these two guys walked in who were amazing.” Recommended by Sinay and Campbell’s longtime guitar tech Steve “Chinner” Winstead, drummer Matt Laug and bassist Lance Morrison were friends who often worked together on tours and sessions. “With Jason,” Campbell says, “that became the band.”
Campbell claims he was never offered a solo deal in his four decades with Petty and the Heartbreakers, although he wrote and produced for other artists such as Roy Orbison and Don Henley. “I wouldn’t have known what to do with it,” he adds quickly. “I was Tom’s partner. Lyrics and singing – he could always do it much better. But I was writing and recording more music than Tom could deal with. That’s when I got the Dirty Knobs, which gave me a chance to try singing. So I started woodshedding. And then when my life changed” – with Petty’s death in October, 2017 – “it was, ‘Time to do this now.'”
The Dirty Knobs’ debut album was ready to go in the spring of 2020 along with their first-ever tour. The pandemic blew out the latter. But Wreckless Abandon – released that November and co-produced by Campbell with George Drakoulias – delivered the good times in every other way: the psychedelic spell of the title track; the late-Sixties British-blues fire in “Sugar” and “Loaded Gun”; the brawling country rock of “Pistol Packin’ Mama” with guest Chris Stapleton. Wreckless Abandon was Campbell’s first album as the featured writer and singer. But, he says, “I wanted it to sound like four guys having fun.”
“The first album was about the boogie,” affirms Drakoulias. But External Combustion – which he also co-produced with Campbell – “threw the net wider.” Country firebird Margo Price sings backing vocals in “Cheap Talk,” a bluesy march in smokey orchestration, and duets with Campbell in the country-soul ballad “State of Mind,” decked out with strings and brass in the frontier-symphony image of the Band. That’s the distinctive glam-Dylan bite of Mott The Hoople singer Ian Hunter in the second verse of “Dirty Job,” while Heartbreakers pianist Benmont Tench brings the Jerry Lee Lewis in “Lightning Boogie.”
And in “It Is Written,” Campbell conjures ghostly wisps of Bob Dylan-like harmonica in a topical urgency that turns into a reflection “about the devotion to one person,” Campbell says – his wife Marcie. “It’s a true story about coming out to California, her taking me in.” But that’s not a harmonica – it’s a piano riff run backwards.
The Dirty Knobs made External Combustion in three weeks over the summer of 2021, “a few days at a time,” Drakoulias says. “Everything was coming off the floor – whatever they were playing, whatever felt good.” That speed and raw commitment comes right out of the starting gate in the garage-rock torpedo “Wicked Mind”; jumps to a Howlin’ Wolf-style shuffle in “Brigitte Bardot”; and is there at the finish in “Electric Gypsy,” a blaze of guitars in waltz time that Campbell began writing in the morning and showed to the band in the afternoon. The Knobs cut the song – named after one of Campbell’s guitars, a gorgeous instrument with a mosaic finish in mother-of-pearl and abalone – the same day in one pass.
“Mike doesn’t like to do a lot of takes,” Morrison observes. There were times on External Combustion “where Mike was showing us the song as we were recording,” Laug says. “That became the take.” Sinay contends that Campbell “loves it when the band doesn’t totally know the songs. Wide-eyed, freaking out, ears open – that’s the magic.”
“The band became this spontaneous type of combustion – to borrow a word,” Campbell says. “The longer we played, the more intuitive it got. If I say, ‘What about this song?,’ maybe they’ve heard it, maybe they haven’t. They just follow me, and they’re tight. I’m lucky to have them.”
* * * * * *
When Drakoulias first met Campbell during the recording of Petty’s 1994 solo album, Wildflowers, “My first impression was awe,” he says. The second was “How am I going to get this guy to talk to me? He was so quiet, not a typical lead-guitar guy.” At the time, Drakoulias was a staff producer at Rick Rubin’s American Recordings; Rubin was co-producing Wildflowers with Petty and Campbell. Drakoulias later worked with Petty and the Heartbreakers on the 1995 box set, Playback, and co-produced the 2002 album, The Last DJ.
“There was so much there,” he says of Campbell. “People didn’t give him the props for the writing in some of those songs. And he’s such a tasteful player. It’s not just ‘Turn me up,’ although he’s perfectly capable of blasting away. It’s more like ‘Let me get inside the song.’ He wants to play off the lyric, the way it’s sung.”
That was always Campbell’s way as lead guitarist and counsel for Petty in the Heartbreakers and, before that, in their first band together, Mudcrutch. “There’s never been a time,” Petty said of Campbell in one of our interviews, “when he wasn’t giving back to me more than I was asking him to give . . . That’s the mark of a really great musician.”
Sinay points out that two tracks on Mojo, the 2010 album by Petty and the Heartbreakers – the Southern-rock juggernaut “First Flash of Freedom” and the grinding closer “Good Enough” – began as Campbell tunes played with the Dirty Knobs. “I always wrote with the hope that Tom would hear something he liked,” Campbell acknowledges. “But I was gonna write what I feel in the moment with no preconceptions.”
External Combustion, in turn, has “a couple of cool songs I completely forgot about,” Campbell says, going as far back as the 1980s. “Cheap Talk” and “State of Mind” both “popped up” on tapes from his vault. For the latter, Campbell not only kept the original backing track but his vocal as well “because it sounded right. It had the honesty of the guy.” “Rat City” is another vintage item “left on a tape somewhere,” Campbell says. Laug remembers it from “way before” Wreckless Abandon “when we were doing fun gigs between Heartbreakers tours.” The drummer laughs. “It’s too many songs to keep up. It’s amazing how many songs Mike writes and forgets.”
“The thing about Mike,” Sinay says, “is that he keeps writing. Sometimes I fall in love with something, and he’s moved on from it. But he’s the one who has to sing it, to sell the song. We’re there to make sure he gets what he’s after.”
Born in Los Angeles, Sinay caught an early break as a guitarist, working for an uncle who was, he says, “one of the top jingle guys” in L.A. studios. By 2000, Sinay was a regular on recording dates for Don Smith, an engineer and producer who worked with Petty and the Rolling Stones. “He invited me to a session one day – and there was Mike Campbell.” Sinay remembers “playing Dylan covers and some Grateful Dead” on his first visit to Campbell’s home studio. “And there were songs Mike was working on that he wanted to hear fleshed out with a band. It wasn’t a solo session, more like a workshop.”
Laug was born in Florida, growing up in Jacksonville – Campbell’s hometown – and South Carolina before moving to L.A. where he got into session work and met Morrison, a Texas native who landed in L.A. after finishing college in Virginia. “We played really well together,” Laug says. “From that, we became best friends,” recommending each other for jobs. They were the rhythm section on Alanis Morissette’s 1995 blockbuster, Jagged Little Pill (an album that, coincidentally, has Benmont Tench on organ). And when Chinner called Laug, asking if he’d like to audition for Campbell, the drummer replied with a question of his own: “Does he need a bass player? I’ve got one.”
“I felt like I was back in high school with my buddies,” Morrison says. “We were in Mike’s pool house, jamming and learning songs. He kept pulling these songs out. I’d think it was some Neil Young thing I hadn’t heard. But it was always an original song he’d written, and they just kept coming.” At the sessions for Wreckless Abandon, “there would be a list of songs we were thinking of cutting. But Mike would come in with two or three ideas he’d written that night, and we’d warm up with those.”
The Dirty Knobs have now been a band for nearly two decades – and played about 20 gigs, by Laug’s count, mostly “in the cracks between Heartbreakers tours.” But Drakoulias says it was at the early club shows that Campbell became “a real bandleader with the patter, telling stories, communicating. That motivated him to work on the singing – to dig down, take it seriously.
“Both he and Tom – being in a band was what they really loved,” the producer adds. Campbell now has “guys he loves playing with. He’s trying to find his own world, one that feels like him. And he’s achieving that.”
“We’ve all been tripping on it, haven’t we?” Campbell says of the last two years. “But I had my home studio, everybody was comfortable and the sounds were ready to go.” External Combustion “was just a matter of ‘One, two, three, four – here’s how it goes. Okay, next song.’
“I never gave up,” he insists. “The band’s too good – I want people to hear it. And now we have two albums to promote” when the Dirty Knobs finally open their first tour in March, 2022.
“Mike told me the other day: ‘No matter what happens, we’re going’ – that’s what I wanted to hear,” Sinay says. “It’s definitely Mike’s turn to go out and do it
The prehistory of Shakey Graves exists in two overstuffed folders. Inside them, artifacts document an immense era of anonymous DIY creativity, from 2007 through 2010 — the three years before Roll The Bones came out and changed his life.
There are stencils, lyrics, drawings, prototypes for concert posters, and even a zine. The latter, which Graves — aka Alejandro Rose-Garcia — wrote and illustrated, tells the tale of a once-courageous, now retired mouse who must journey to the moon to save his sweetheart. At the time, he envisioned the photocopied storybook as a potential vessel for releasing his music.
“There was a lot of conceptualizing going on — trying to figure out what I wanted stuff to look like, sound like, and be like,” Rose-Garcia recalls, shuffling through the physical files on his second-story deck in South Austin. “And, honestly, a lot of trying to keep myself from going crazy.”
In this lode of unreleased ephemera, CD-Rs are the most bountiful element. There are dozens of burned discs with widely varying track lists, loosely resembling what would become the Austin native’s 2011 breakout debut Roll the Bones. For Rose-Garcia, who’s long loved the incongruous art form of sequencing strange mixtapes for friends, his own record was subject to change every time he burned a disc for somebody. Consistency didn’t matter, he asserts, because there was no demand or expectations.
Thus Roll the Bones was by no means a Big Bang creation story, rather a years long process of metamorphosis where literally hundreds of tracks were winnowed down into ten. As the album took shape, he began manufacturing one-off editions of the CD, stapled to self-destruct in brown paper, with black and white photographs glued upon them, and an ink pen marking of the artist’s enduring logo: a skull struck by an arrow.
“I liked that if they were opened, you couldn’t close them again,” he smiles. “Sometimes I’d spray paint the CD so they looked good and people would stick them in their car stereo and it would fuse in and never come out. They’d tell me, ‘You’re lucky I like this record because it’s the last one I’ll ever be able to listen to in my car.'”
In the shadows self-doubt that surrounds any artists first record, Rose-Garcia had a fantasy: he releases Roll the Bones, only ten people hear it, it’s rediscovered a decade later by Numero Group, hailed as before-its-time, and finds an audience as a lost treasure. He still plays that scenario through his mind like an alternative reality.
Of course, that’s far from what actually materialized. Roll the Bones was released on the first day of 2011 without a lick of promotion advancing it. It was simply thrust into the world as a decapod of perplexingly memorable, narrative-wrapped songs with a mysterious cover and no information about the artist… only available on the relatively new platform of Bandcamp.
That year, an editor at Bandcamp made it a featured album for a month and from there it stayed in the website’s top selling folk albums evermore. The record has since seen well over 100,000 units sold — even while being available for free download. In the “Supported By” section of the Roll the Bones Bandcamp page, you can endlessly click “more” and squares of avatars will keep showing up until you grow tired and stop.
“If you discover something for yourself, it will always hold more water because it’s tied to memory and coincidence,” Rose-Garcia reasons as to why he never pushed Roll the Bones onto a wider marketplace. “It gives you a sense of ownership as a listener.”
Now fans can obtain Roll the Bones as their own physical artifact. Through Dualtone Records, Shakey Graves will release a Ten Year Special Edition double LP with a black and gold foil re-arting of the taxidermied cow head cover. Separate iterations, hitting record collections on April 2, offer the 180g vinyl in a black and gold combination or two marbled “galaxy gold” discs. The lovingly assembled packaging includes handwritten deep explanations of every song, offset with original photography.
Along with its deluxe vinyl emergence, Roll the Bones today becomes available through all digital service providers — Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, et all. For the last decade, the songs have lived exclusively on Bandcamp. This full-spectrum digital release arrives concurrent with Shakey Graves Day, which was minted on February 9, 2012 by Austin Mayor Steve Adler. Year one, Rose-Garcia spent what he calls his “alter ego’s birthday,” as an excuse to go play laser tag. Ever since, he’s used it as an occasion to stage intimate pop-up shows and open up the attics of his discography — making all of his albums, plus hundreds of unheard songs temporarily available for free.
“I’ve used Shakey Graves Day as a challenge to myself,” he assesses. “I make so many random songs throughout the year that I either forget about or I’m too nervous to put on an album and it becomes a clearinghouse for that. It surprises me when people tell me that something released that day is their favorite of my stuff. In a larger sense, it builds off what I initially did with Roll the Bones – which is give it away for free.”
Accompanying Roll the Bones anniversary pressing are 15 additional tracks comprising an Odds + Ends LP, which stands as an essential document of Grave’s early era. Highlights include the mandolin imbued “Chinatown,” which sounds like it could be dubbed off a 1930’s silver screen soundtrack, and “Saving Face” — a seminal version of what would become Roll the Bones title cut. The crown jewel, however, may be the first ever proper recording of the trifling love song “Late July,” a version that’s drastically different than the live rendition that’s racked 14 million views on YouTube.
Prepping Roll the Bones thoughtful 2021 edition gave Rose-Garcia an opportunity to take a new look at the person.
“I hear someone who felt really trapped,” he reveals. “In a lot of ways, it was a breakup record. My first serious relationship had fallen apart and I was wanting to break up with my life — run away, be transient, and figure out who I was in the world. I can hear myself blaming the girl and trying to support myself, like maybe it’s okay to be dirty and crazy and have blinders on. Then, at the end, everything’s zooming back in and I’m saying ‘I guess I just got hurt and I’m in a bit of pain and, you know, it’s going to be okay.'”
Claiming he’s “further confused” listeners with each release, Rose-Garcia believes this purge of early output will provide some needed framing for his discography. It’s his genesis story before he had the studio time to make the shiny And the War Came or the full-band cohesion to make the painstakingly dense Can’t Wake Up. To him, it’s a scrappy effort, but the most intentional work he’s ever produced — and, a decade later, he wouldn’t change a thing.
“It’s a record that sounds like my years of exploration and influence, funneled through my abilities at the time — and it all became something bigger,” he muses. “If you would’ve offered to me: ‘Let’s do exactly what you want, right now” Roll the Bones wouldn’t have come out like this… and I’m happy that’s the case. Total control is an unhealthy myth, it leaves out the emotional side of how all the accidents come together. This record’s a period of time smashed into a single product and, in my own heart, it’s a moral compass: to always get back to feeling like this about the songs I make.”
DBT is finally back on the road after the year and half pandemic lockdown. Just in time to celebrate our 25th birthday.
The band had just released its 12th studio album in January 2020. The Unraveling was mostly recorded in Memphis at Sam Phillips Recording Service – nine new songs detailing the horrific state of MAGA America in songs that addressed white supremacy, school shootings and the opioid crisis.
The album earned excellent reviews (including later being named “Album of the Year” by Rolling Stone in France) and we set out on the road playing shows up the east coast including NYC, Boston and DC. Unfortunately, the pandemic happened and we only completed one three-week leg of what was supposed to be a 15-month tour.
In lockdown, we all did what we could. Cooley, Jay and I played numerous virtual shows from our respective homes. Matt Patton built up his already successful studio (Dial Back Sound in Water Valley, MS) and album productions including acclaimed records from Bette Smith and Jimbo Mathus. Jay Gonzalez released his third excellent solo album Back to the Hive.
I wrote two new songs inspired by the BLM protests occurring around the country and the federal occupation of my adopted hometown of Portland, OR. We combined them with some tracks we had already recorded in Memphis and released The New OK.
Its nine songs picked up where The Unraveling had left off, continuing the themes of an unraveling country, but also breaking away on a more personal front. It included the title cut single (which had a very moving video centered on the Portland protests) and the song “Tough To Let Go” which displayed a poppier side of the band than is usually mentioned. It got stellar reviews and ended up in UNCUT Magazine’s Top 5 at the end of the year.
With the lockdown ending and shows starting up again, DBT is excited to reactivate in a big way. I have solo dates, Cooley and I are going out to play some Dimmer Twin dates including three shows in NYC and an appearance at the Newport Folk Festival. DBT will begin playing out in late July with a full-on tour beginning in August that will take us across the USA and our long delayed UK/European Tour next spring.
DBT will also begin work on our 14th studio album; one that should take us in some new directions. On tour, we‘ll be playing songs from all of our albums as well as surely premiering some new ones. As usual, we won’t be using a set list so anything goes.
Turn it up loud and see you at the Rock and Roll Show!
Jukebox the Ghost formed in college in 2006 and has been a steadily growing cult favorite and a globally touring band ever since. Composed of Ben Thornewill (piano/vocals), Tommy Siegel (guitar/bass/vocals) and Jesse Kristin (drums/vocals), they have played over 1,000 shows across the country and around the world over the course of their career. In addition to countless headlining tours, they have also toured as openers alongside Ingrid Michaelson, Ben Folds, Guster, Motion City Soundtrack, A Great Big World and Jack’s Mannequin, among others. In addition to festivals like Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, Bonnaroo, and Bottlerock, Jukebox the Ghost has also performed on The Late Show with David Letterman and Conan.
In true Texas fashion, four-time Grammy-winner Jimmie Vaughan has helped breathe new life into the music that has been his lifeline all these decades, becoming a hero to those who cherish America’s real gift to musical history.
“When I talk about country and blues, they’re the same thing,” Jimmie Vaughan says. “Muddy Waters and Hank Williams, Webb Pierce and Jimmy Reed. When I was a kid, I didn’t understand the difference. Everybody was always asking me, ‘Why do you want to play blues? Why don’t you play country?’ But I would listen to the country guys and they would be doing a Jimmy Reed song. They’re playing the same lick. And Ray Charles, Little Milton, Guitar Junior, Lonnie Brooks, B.B. King–they all did country songs. Is Bob Wills country blues or jazz? And the answer is, it’s American music. I’m tired of trying to pigeonhole everything. I want to bring it together; it comes from the same place.”
As a young teenager in Oak Cliff, Texas, his father told him to take guitar lessons if he wanted to really learn the instrument. But when Vaughan’s teacher told the guitar student it wasn’t going to work because the student “was too far gone” to learn from the lesson books, Jimmie Vaughan knew he was on his own. Which was perfect for him, because the blues would be his teacher for life. For those who find themselves living inside this true American music, it becomes a way of life, and a musical force to follow forever.
Jimmie Vaughan became possessed by his instrument while listening to the blues on the Black radio station in Dallas, and it has been that way ever since. When something this strong takes over, there is no way out—the pursuit just keeps going deeper.
Jimmie Vaughan has been playing the blues he hears in his head and feels in his heart for over a half-century.
When he first heard songs like Phil Upchurch’s “You Can’t Sit Down,” The Nightcaps’ “Wine, Wine, Wine” and B.B. King’s many hit songs in the early 1960s, he knew he had found his music. And ever since then, it’s been a constant quest to play the blues, whether it was in early 1970s Austin bands like Storm and then the Fabulous Thunderbirds, or later with brother Stevie Ray Vaughan on their FAMILY STYLE album, and on his own releases throughout the 1990s and in 2001.
Then the solo albums stopped, until in 2010, Vaughan had an idea to start recording The Great American Blues Songbook. He assembled the kind of band most musicians can only dream about, and began recording his dream set list at Top Hat and Wire Studios in Austin. Never one to back down from a great idea, in 2011 Vaughan and band went back into the same studio and recorded a second collection of some of his favorite songs, zeroing in on that music’s ability to light a fuse wherever it was heard.
Last fall, to help celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the first of the BLUES, BALLADS AND FAVOURITES albums, THE PLEASURE’S ALL MINE compiled both albums as a collection, and was released alongside a Vinyl reissue of 2016’s JIMMIE VAUGHAN TRIO featuring Mike Flanigin LIVE AT C-BOY’S release, which featured songs recorded at the venerable Austin nightspot that Vaughan and crew call home when they are in town.
In 2019, his newest release, BABY, PLEASE COME HOME brought him back into the spotlight with yet another Grammy nomination, and a Blues Foundation Award for Best Male Artist.
This year, he celebrates his life in the blues and on the road with THE JIMMIE VAUGHAN STORY, a special limited-edition box set and book including over 200 photos covering his life and the breadth of his remarkable career. And yet, Vaughan still feels like he is just getting started, devoted to making sure he is able to give back to the music that has given him so much. The blues is in Jimmie Vaughan’s blood, has been there since the start, and will stay there forever.
“It’s not heavy metal, but in our guts, it feels a bit like Heavy Metal,” says Michael Trent of the band’s new album, Manticore due Feb. 18. Next year, 2022, will mark ten years since Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent released their debut album O’ Be Joyful, the first formally billed as “Shovels & Rope.” That decade included the release of six full-length albums, three collaborative covers albums (Busted Jukebox Volumes 1-3), a curated music festival in their hometown of Charleston, SC (High Water), a musical film (Shovels & Rope: The Movie) and countless dynamic live performances all over the planet. But it was in the rear courtyard suite of the Decatur St. house belonging to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans where Michael and Cary Ann began polishing up the songs that became Manticore. There was a piano in the room and a little desk. There were piles of scattered and folded papers lying on the bed and copious digital ideas in the form of voice memos. And despite the pounding parades in the surrounding streets, it was quiet in the afternoon.
Months of relentless touring, partnering and parenting had left them threadbare, and the New Orleans stay was intended for finding time to think while renovations were happening at their house on Johns Island, SC. That time coincided with the last Mardi Gras before the world shut down and went into hiding. Sitting at the piano amid the pile of finished and unfinished lyrics, there was a bittersweetness and exhausted peace that belied the coming tribulations. The Decatur St. house would be the last stop on the year-long assembly line of songwriting on the fly. An image here and a rhyme there, scratched into a note pad for later. The next stop was The Whip, the home studio that was a refuge workspace in their backyard. They got back, put the laundry on, digested the news that the world was closed, the tour was canceled indefinitely, and the only thing to do was go inside. Inside the house, inside the studio, inside your mind and inside your time.
The songs and stories that make up Manticore are visceral, bold and at times deeply personal. And while all those adjectives could be used to describe the duo, this time around it rings true in a way that hits differently – or at least harder. Perhaps everything hits harder for everyone these days. And while most of these songs were written before the pandemic, they were all recorded at a time when everyone was inside. It takes aim at the human experience and does so without pulling a single punch: reflections on idol worship, homelessness, social justice, the experience of fierce parental love and marital strife are all on the menu here; and in true American fashion, the helpings are plentiful.
Manticore was initially intended to be a stripped back affair. The songs were written with the expectation that they would feature almost nothing but acoustic guitar, piano and their two voices. But with the time afforded to the band by the complete stalling of their industry, they returned to the recordings and indulged the opportunity to expand the sound of the album with no pressures or expectations regarding the calendar. The most extended amount of time off the road since the band’s inception coupled with the creative outlet and subsequent work/life structure the album demanded created an anchor to some kind of sanity in a world that seemed to be truly losing its mind around them. “I was grateful to have something to work on, to go into the shop every day for a few hours, get into something, exercise parts of my brain and feel excited about something when there really wasn’t a whole lot to feel excited about at the time,” Michael Trent recalls of the process.
The stark personal musings of the songs on Manticore are somewhat contrasted by the opening track “Domino,” with its sleazy menace laced through a pulsing drum beat and Motown piano. It’s a rapid-fire lyrical collage of iconic American imagery depicting the death of James Dean, America’s reaction to it and Dean’s ghost’s puzzled bewilderment to that reaction. However, like all the best Shovels & Rope songs, there is a thematic duality on display, as it celebrates the playful elevation of rock’n’roll culture while exposing some of the ridiculousness of ‘celebrity’. “Collateral Damage” finds Cary Ann Hearst writing from the perspective of a woman who is openly musing about her role and identity as a woman in the modern world and as a mother in a modern family. As we’ve grown accustomed to, in some of their finest storytelling moments, the characters in these songs are often vehicles for their own deeply personal questions and feelings about the world around them. To that end, Manticore, is also unique in the Shovels & Rope catalog as some of the songs directly address their own marriage. “The Show” is an exaggerated version of a real-life discussion in New York City on separating real life from ‘stage’ life, and perhaps nowhere is this laid bare more than in one of the album’s emotional standouts, “Divide & Conquer.” Jokingly referred to as “Bummerham” in the early days of album tracking, the song does what ‘Birmingham’ did so well before in its embellished version of real-life recollections, but “Divide & Conquer” takes it a step further in openly imagining a fictional alternate reality where things don’t work out, and the children are divided between divorced parents. Dark to be sure, but the thought exercise concludes in a particularly touching self-awareness of how real and honest their partnership is and the desire to come back to that love and consistent force in each other’s lives. ‘Come back to me, here is my armor.’ That directness in addressing challenges in their own relationship for the first time wasn’t on accident. Cary Ann Hearst recalls of those songs, “it was like…no more mister nice guys, the polish is off, the humanity is in…the shiny perceptions or previous ideas of what we are, or are expected to be, are being mildly challenged in some of these songs in a different kind of way. In some ways it’s funny that we are addressing it now because our marriage is stronger than it’s ever been.” Perhaps the most raw and untamed outpouring of deeply personal feelings is in the album cornerstone, “Bleed Me.” Quite simply a love letter to their children, the song holds nothing back in its dramatic display of yearning, unfathomable love, exhaustion and, most of all, gratitude for the transformative experience of parenthood and the gifts that singular experience can bring to a person’s life. “I love how heavy-handed it is, a little bit like screaming at the top of your lungs….My heart breaks every time we sing ‘you are the best part.’ That lyric means everything,” Hearst says of the song.
The album closes with the somber reflection of “Human Race”, a despairing ode to life in a troubled headspace. Appropriately, the song is more than just an album closer; it serves as a reminder of what still makes Shovels & Rope wholly unique, even ten years later amidst a sea of their peers. They are still master commentators of the human experience and maintain a rare gift that allows them to address the most gnarly of life’s lows while always keeping an eye on hope, compassion and community. The album’s title, Manticore, at its most simplistic, is a playful combination of a Leo and a Scorpio combined into one beast. A simple google search of the word will bring up depictions that are comical, fantastical, intimidating, aggressive, playful, beautiful and even mildly terrifying. At their best, all of these can be said of Shovels & Rope, but no matter which adjective feels most appropriate in a given song, show or album, it is always powerful. Thankfully, Manticore finds them at their (weary) best. It feels like a hard-won summation of the band’s first act, shedding away notions the public may have had of them or that they had of themselves. The second act of Shovels & Rope looks beautifully weathered and wiser – shining a bright light at the end of this very dark tunnel.
A fever dream in sonic form, St. Paul & The Broken Bones’ new album The Alien Coast represents the most adventurous and original output yet from an ever-evolving musical powerhouse. In a profound shift for the Alabama-bred eight-piece—Paul Janeway (vocals), Jesse Phillips (bass), Browan Lollar (guitar), Kevin Leon (drums), Al Gamble (keyboards), Allen Branstetter (trumpet), Chad Fisher (trombone), and Amari Ansari (saxophone)—the band’s fourth full-length and first for ATO Records strays far from the time-bending soul of past work like their 2014 debut, arriving at a convergence of rock & roll, R&B, psychedelia and funk. At turns explosive, elegant, and unhinged, that sound makes for a majestic backdrop to St. Paul & The Broken Bones’ visceral exploration of the strangest dimensions of the human psyche.
Produced by Matt Ross-Spang, The Alien Coast is the first album St. Paul & The Broken Bones have ever recorded in their hometown of Birmingham. In creating the ultra-vivid dreamscape threaded throughout The Alien Coast, the band’s chief lyricist drew inspiration from such disparate sources as Greek mythology, dystopian sci-fi, 17th century Italian sculpture, and colonial-period history books.
Houndmouth is an American alternative blues band from New Albany, Indiana formed in 2011, consisting of Matt Myers (guitar, vocals), Zak Appleby (bass, vocals), and Shane Cody (drums, vocals).Houndmouth formed in the summer of 2011. After playing locally in Louisville and Indiana, they performed at the SXSW music festival in March 2012 to promote their homemade self-titled EP. Geoff Travis, the head of Rough Trade was in the audience and offered a contract shortly after. In 2012, the band was named “Band Of The Week” by The Guardian. In 2013 Houndmouth’s debut album, From the Hills Below the City, was released by Rough Trade. This led to performances on Letterman, Conan, World Cafe, and several major festivals (ACL, Americana Music Festival, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Newport Folk Festival). SPIN and Esquire.com named Houndmouth a “must-see” band at Lollapalooza, and Garden & Gun said, “You’d be hard pressed to find a more effortless, well-crafted mix of roots and rock this year than the debut album from this Louisville quartet.”
On their new album Good For You, Houndmouth share a collection of songs set in places as far-flung as the Alamo and the Hudson River, each populated by a motley cast of characters: fairy-tale princesses and vampires, parking-lot lovers and wanna-be beauty queens. The fourth full-length from the Indiana-bred band—vocalist/guitarist Matthew Myers, drummer/vocalist Shane Cody, and bassist/vocalist Zak Appleby—the result is a lovingly gathered catalogue of those wild and fleeting moments that stay lodged in our hearts forever, taking on a dreamlike resonance as years go by.
Produced by Brad Cook (Waxahatchee, Hiss Golden Messenger) and mixed by Jon Ashley (The War on Drugs, B.J. Barham), Good For You came to life at Houndmouth’s longtime headquarters, a 19th-century shotgun-style house decked out in gold wallpaper and crystal chandeliers. “It was my grandparents’ place, and after they passed we kept it the exact same, full of all their old stuff,” Cody explains. Over the course of a year spent holed up at the so-called Green House, Houndmouth slowly shaped the warm and unhurried sound of Good For You. “Except for the first EP we’d never recorded in our own space before,” says Myers. “It was perfect because we all felt so comfortable, and there were no time constraints on anything.”
In a departure from the shambolic spirit of past work like Little Neon Limelight (Houndmouth’s 2015 breakout, featuring the platinum-selling “Sedona”), Good For You bears a hi-fi minimalism that beautifully illuminates its finespun storytelling. “From working with Brad and Jon we learned to go for the simplest parts that best support the melody, and to let the frequencies take up more space in the songs,” says Myers. On the album-opening title track, Houndmouth bring that approach to a sweetly languid breakup song set against the surreal backdrop of the Kentucky Derby (“I wrote that before Covid, but at the time I was sort of emotionally going through a pandemic,” Myers points out). On “Miracle Mile,” Houndmouth pay homage to the many misfits they’ve met on the road, including a woman they’ve nicknamed after the Greek god of wine and ritual madness (“Sweet Dionysus/She never really liked us/Hangs on and stays too long/And then supplies us all with vices”). One of the most heavy-hearted moments on Good For You, “McKenzie” looks back on an ex-girlfriend of Cody’s and spins a tender portrait of wasted longing (“Everybody’s coming over/To smoke and go nowhere/Once a steady conversation/Just a bunch of hot air”). And on “Cool Jam,” Houndmouth eulogize a doomed romance, embedding their lyrics with so much broken wisdom (e.g., “Ain’t no heaven when you’re having a good time”).
On its closing track “Las Vegas,” Good For You shifts into a far rowdier mood, offering up a freewheeling anthem that once again reveals Houndmouth’s ability to build a novel’s worth of tension in just a few lines (“You wore makeup for three days straight/Half a Xanax for the holidays/By the look on your face/You’re rolling eights the hard way”). Working from a demo they’d laid down years before, the band produced “Las Vegas” on their own in the frenetic final session for the album. “We had a mic at one end of the hallway, and we were all just screaming the harmonies together from the other end,” Myers notes. In assembling the tracklist for Good For You, Houndmouth nearly withheld the song due to its outlier status, but ultimately found its joyfully unhinged energy well-suited to a world waking up from a year of grief and isolation. “I love how you can hear the difference between Brad really anchoring us down on all the rest of the album, and then the chaos of us handling that one ourselves,” says Cody.
For Houndmouth, the making of Good For You allowed for a major leap forward in their songwriting and sound while recalling the pure abandon of the band’s early days. “I remember the first time I ever came to the Green House and saw what was happening here and I thought, ‘I’m never leaving this place,’” says Myers, who met Appleby and Cody in high school and started collaborating with them in college. “This album felt like being back in that time again, only now everything’s a little more dialed-back and cared-for. It was like a return to the way we fell in love with playing music together.”
The album cover you’re looking at might lead you to conclude Charley Crockett is on one hell of a roll. You wouldn’t be wrong. Ten records in six years is some kind of prolific. The latest, a double LP, suggests the artist has some songs worth paying attention to. It’s clear that he’s invested as much time in the studio, recording storytelling songs, and making storytelling videos, as he has barnstorming around the United States and Europe playing live shows.
Not bad for a thirty-seven-year-old late bloomer.
Charley Crockett has been a fairly remarkable artist to follow. He’s got a sound. He’s got something to say. He has a look. And there’s a gauzy veil of mystery surrounding him suggesting he knows more than he’s letting on.
All those records in such a short amount of time have come with a “No Two Alike” guarantee, particularly the last three releases: the darkly prescient Welcome to Hard Times; the semi-autobiographical, hard-core country-roots of The Valley; and 10 for Slim, his tribute of songs by the obscure and wholly authentic Texas honky-tonk maestro James Hand.
And still, despite his penchant for pearl snaps and western hats, Charley Crockett has managed to elude being pigeon-holed. Call him neo country-western if you’d like. It’s true that few contemporaries present themselves as part of a lineage harkening back to Hank Williams and George Jones like Charley does, and even fewer can pull it off convincingly.
Call him a bluesman, if you prefer. One of Charley’s first recorded songs “Trinity River,” about that “dirty river” in North Texas, is the perfect bookend to “Trinity River Blues,” the first 78 issued by Oak Cliff blues guitar giant T-Bone Walker 92 years ago. Charley knows where genuine music comes from and doesn’t hesitate to mine each vein he digs up.
His voice is one-of-a-kind. His distinctive, plaintive vocals crack unapologetically with emotion, and he phrases his lines around the beat like a jazz singer, while he expounds upon personal relationships and the world beyond.
So, who is Charley Crockett?
Which one are you talking about?
The Lil’ G.L.’s Blue Bonanza Charley, or the Lil’ G.L.’s Honky Tonk Jubilee Charley? Or the Homeric “Jamestown Ferry” Charley? Is that new artist who graced the stage of the Grand Ole Opry the same cat who played the Newport Folk Festival?
Best just to call Charley his own man.
However one may strain to describe such an enigmatic figure and his equally enigmatic music, it’s pretty obvious Charley transcends stereotype. Whatever you might think he is or isn’t, he’ll change your mind with his next song. That’s part of the fun riding shotgun with Charley Crockett. You know he’s a skilled driver familiar with all the roads. You just don’t know exactly which one he’s taking, or where he’s taking you, only that the journey will be a pleasurable one.
Now comes Charley’s tenth album in his six-year career. In the Crockett tradition, it is as ambitious and ground-breaking as each piece of recorded music he’s put out so far. And it’s not just an album. It’s a double LP of Charley Crockett originals, each song going the distance to further define this singer-songwriter-performer-artist who came out of the proverbial nowhere.
Nowhere in Charley Crockett’s case would be San Benito, the largely Hispanic farming community in the Rio Grande Valley of extreme south Texas, his birthplace. He grew up poor in a trailer surrounded by cane fields and citrus groves, raised by a single mom. Fortunately for him, music was in the thick, humid Gulf air, because the Valley has a serious musical streak running through it. There’s a museum in San Benito honoring the father of conjunto accordion, Narciso Martinez. The likeness of Tex-Mex superstar and hometown hero Freddy Fender (nee Baldemar Huerta) graces the municipal water tower. Nearby Los Fresnos was hometown of Simon Vega, who served in the Army with Elvis Presley and built the Little Graceland shrine in tribute to his GI buddy.
That Valley was a perfect petri dish for a little kid with wide eyes and good ears. He could be anyone he wanted to be in this remote part of the world. When his family moved to Dallas, city life was not so kind to the kid who looked and talked different. This was where he learned the hard way how impoverished his family really was. His escape was going to live with his uncle in New Orleans, where as a teenager he developed skills free-styling and rapping, and first began performing in the streets. That led to busking on the streets of New York once he was out on his own.
He hustled hard to survive, living a transient life, taking whatever he needed, whenever he needed it, and hoping he wouldn’t get caught. He sold weed to get by, at one point working the harvest in clandestine marijuana fields in the northwest. Twice, he was convicted of a felony crime. Music provided the way out.
At thirty-two, he got serious. Even then, he chose the more difficult path, releasing his records on independent labels and inventing and reinventing his persona with carefully crafted, well-produced music videos. That top ten hit record may still elude him, but he’s built quite a fan base on his own, all his own, touring as relentlessly as he makes records, investing considerable time and money in companion videos that cumulatively add up to close to 50 million views online.
Charley has endured the collapse of the recording industry, no money, petty crime, societal ennui, the Covid-19 pandemic, open heart surgery, one-night stands, long distance rides in a van, loud truck stops and diners serving stale lukewarm coffee to get to where he is now.
His reward – and yours – is this collection of Charley Crockett originals.
Sad, uplifting, hard, and sweet, complex and delicate all at once, his songs are like life its ownself, just like the songs’ creator: like nothing you’ve heard or seen before, a genuine Texas original.
JP Saxe has always invited the world to eavesdrop on his internal dialogue. The GRAMMY® Award-nominated singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist transforms his innermost thoughts into eloquent and engaging pop, underscored by unfiltered songwriting and cinematic production. The Toronto-born and Los Angeles-based troubadour unassumingly crafted the soundtrack to this generation’s most uncertain moment with “If The World Was Ending” [feat. Julia Michaels]. Produced by six-time GRAMMY® Award winner FINNEAS, the emotionally charged duet picked up a platinum plaque in the United States, went quadruple-platinum in Canada, generated over one billion-plus streams, and received a 2021 GRAMMY®Award nomination in the category of “Song of the Year.” It also set the stage for his Hold It Together EP. In its wake, Time praised JP’s “tender, heart-on-your-sleeve way that turns his acoustic ballads into gently crushing conversations.” Captivating audiences worldwide, he performed on JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Live with Kelly & Ryan, and The Late Late Show With James Corden. At the same time, further praise came from Vulture, People, Rolling Stone, Billboard, and many more. He opened up like never before on his 2021 full-length debut album, Dangerous Levels of Introspection. In support of the album, JP performed on The Today Show, Ellen, and made his debut on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, featuring John Mayer on guitar. JP’s “Feelings Are Stupid” Tour ran October 2021 through April 2022, with dates throughout the US, and Canada. This summer, JP will continue to release music and tour supporting artists including Lewis Capaldi and Ben Rector.
Robert Randolph took a step outside when it was time to record his new album, Brighter Days, choosing to work with producer Dave Cobb. Cobb is best known for his work with new country stars like Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Brandi Carlile, and Jason Isbell. Looking beyond anyone’s expectations or his own preconceptions helped Randolph circle back to where it all began for him: church music.
The first three songs of Brighter Days are a full dive back to Randolph’s gospel roots, starting with lead track “Baptize Me”, a joyous romp of a song that makes a direct connection between religious and musical ecstasy and salvation.
“Dave Cobb is just a guy who likes to record good music and good songs,” says Randolph. “He wanted to do something that was fun but it also gives you a gospel feeling. He knows the history of our band, coming from church and giving that fun church feeling to people.
“We wrote ‘Baptize Me’ the first day in the studio. It’s really a love story, about an all-round love: for each other, for our audience, for our church background, for the music we love and for our fans. All of these songs kind of harken back to how we started, to being known as this musical family band that comes from the church and appeals to rock, blues, gospel and soul music audiences. We wanted that good gospel, blues, R&B feel, because that’s where we started and it’s good to not only remind people of that but to actively remember it ourselves.”
Randolph grew up playing sacred steel music – basically gospel played on pedal steel guitar – in the House of God church in Orange, New Jersey, and began taking his joyous, gospel-infused music out to clubs, backed by family members who shared not only backgrounds, but blood.
“The Family Band” Is not just a name meant to evoke connections of togetherness. They are an actual family; the group that supports Randolph is anchored by his cousins, bassist Danyel Morgan and drummer Marcus Randolph and his sister, vocalist Lenesha Randolph.
“That whole thing sort of gets lost,” says Randolph. “People are always wondering, ‘are these guys really a family?’ Yes we are! And it’s another thing we wanted to remind everyone of with this album.” Given his goals for the album, it’s fitting that the lone cover song Robert selected for the collection comes from Pops Staples and the Staple Singers, one of gospel’s greatest musical families, who seamlessly crossed over to secular R&B success with inspirational songs like “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There.” Their “Simple Man” is a deep, contemplative blues, its pensive nature amplified by Randolph’s signature weeping pedal steel guitar lines.
Producer Cobb is renowned for his vocal work and has often said that the voice comes first for him so it’s no surprise that he helped coax out some of Randolph’s best, deepest, most nuanced singing on the nine songs where he takes the lead. It is a little surprising, however, just how simple Cobb’s “secret” really was: just be yourself.
“Often when you do vocals a producer can really focus on tuning, and have an attitude of cutting things down and creating a vocal performance word by word or line for line,” Randolph recalls. “Dave just said, ‘Let’s get into the character of the song and sing it on down.’ It’s all about a character, breathing and relaxing. He told me to relax, feel the song, get into and be who I was. He had some good tips, like when to get close to the mic and when to back off, but really he was just focused on being myself and conveying the song as I heard it. And that was the attitude of this whole album: Let’s be ourselves and show the world who we are.”
“When you think about Stax music and a lot of music from the 70s, especially like the Staple Singers, it was inspirational and you danced you had a good time. That’s what we really wanted to hone in on here: let’s sound good and have a natural good time that will bring listeners along. All of the music that we played in the beginning was what we would play in church. We just turned it into long jams.
“Over the years I’ve learned how to write these songs that make you feel kind of spiritual and have the gospel roots, just like the great music of people like the Four Tops, Temptations and Ray Charles. It all comes from the same place. We don’t want to sound like them – or like anybody – but that’s the feeling we want to evoke.”
F*ckin’ REIGNWOLF is invading the streets unleashing throaty soulful howls, bleeding guitars plugged into smokey half stacks, and stomping on a vintage Ludwig bass drum. Joined by the low end of brother Stitch, and drum destroyer, Texas Jo.
The Reignwolf experience is best summed up by one of his lyrics – “I gave you my soul, and I can’t give you anything more”… and onstage Reignwolf undoubtedly gives “it all”.
After the most tumultuous period of their lives both personally and professionally, Australian band, Boy & Bear are back with a world tour and triumphant new single, ‘Hold Your Nerve’, their first new music since 2015’s Gold-selling Limit of Love.
The band’s position in the music industry was firmly cemented in 2011 after their debut album Moonfire reached platinum sales, won Boy & Bear five ARIA awards and saw three songs make it to triple j’s Hottest 100 of 2011. Two years later came the release of their highly anticipated sophomore album Harlequin Dream, which debuted at #1 on the ARIA Albums Chart, spent five consecutive weeks in the top 10 and has since gone Platinum. In October 2015 Boy & Bear put out Limit of Love, debuting at #1 on the ARIA Albums Chart, making it their second consecutive number one debut.
The band also received ARIA nominations for Best Group, Best Rock Album, and Producer of the Year with Wayne Connolly; as well as a J Award nomination for Australian Album of the Year. Singles ‘Southern Sun’ and ‘Harlequin Dream’ both made it into the 2013 Hottest 100 countdown, taking the 41st and 55th spots.
They’ve completed multiple world tours, including a performance on Conan O’Brian and two sold out consecutive Sydney Opera House shows. As a result, the band received an ARIA nomination for Best Australian Live Act for the 2014 annual awards ceremony.
Boy & Bear will reintroduce themselves to fans with a run of home town shows before heading to North America in September and the UK and Europe in early 2020.
With its sharp storytelling and bursts of electric guitar, Who Are You Now is Madison Cunning- ham’s coming-of-age record — a diverse album that’s modern, melodic, and rooted in the 21 year-old’s observations of her own fast-changing world.
“The past year was a largely transitional one for me. It felt like all at once I was living in a new city and a new era of my life, trying to find where I fit, what I believed, and who my people were. It doesn’t matter how many great examples you have to look up to, when it’s your turn to face adulthood, you feel like you’re scrambling for the right tools. Writing this record really forced me to take an honest look at where I came from, what my dreams and fears were, and who I was becoming as a result.”
Cunningham began searching for answers during her childhood in Orange County, California. A guitarist since the age of 7, she began performing alongside her father — a worship pastor and lifelong musician — at a local church. By 15 years old, she was writing her own songs and exploring her own voice as a musician. Playing an integral role in that process was Tyler Chester, a multi-instrumentalist and studio guru who’d worked with artists like Jackson Browne, Blake Mills, and Andrew Bird. Later, after leaving home and moving to Los Angeles, Cunningham’s list of champions grew to encompass the likes of Sara Watkins, Chris Thile, and the Milk Carton Kids’ Joey Ryan.
“When I met 15-year-old Madi and she played one of her early songs for me, it struck me with- in the first 15 seconds that I was witnessing one of the most purely musical human beings I would ever meet,” says Chester. “She was young and her skillset unrefined, but already at her core was that same unteachable magic that you hear amplified in her today.”
By 2018, magazines like Rolling Stone were taking note of Cunningham’s sound, calling it “a new spin on West Coast folk-rock, with classical tendencies, electric guitars, jazz-school chord changes and alt-rock strut all living beneath the same roof.” She hit the road that same year as the Punch Brothers’ opening act, using the opportunity to test her newest songs in front of a live audience. She stood out — not only for her unique melodies, elastic voice, and deft ap- proach to the electric guitar, but also for her honest storytelling.
Recorded at Sonic Ranch — a remote studio in El Paso, Texas, located on a pecan farm — Who Are You Now finds Cunningham contemplating her life after big changes. These 14 songs are filled with sharply-detailed observations about romance, relationships, self-reliance, and the pursuit of her muse. On the moodily cinematic “Something to Believe In,” she delivers words of assurance to her husband. On “Plain Letters,” she uses Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” as the launchpad for a song about anxiety and self-empowerment. “Pin It Down” sets a lovers’ quarrel to a funky sound- track of pop hooks and rotating time signatures, while “L.A. (Looking Alive)” finds Cunningham maintaining a sense of perspective and humility, even as her music career continues to ascend.
“Doesn’t it feel good to laugh at yourself, turn your back on the business and leave it to sell its own worry?” she sings during the latter song, accompanied not only by her Fender Jazzmaster, but also by contributions from Tyler Chester, drummer Abe Rounds and bassist Alan Hampton. The four-piece recorded more than a dozen songs during a week’s worth of tracking sessions at Sonic Ranch, with Cunningham serving as their bandleader. They emphasized the raw, real appeal of live performances, too, keeping overdubs to a minimum and tracking everything to analog tape. Cunningham’s vocals and amplified guitar led the way, resulting in an album that mixes sweet, contemplative moments with the unhinged punch of songs like “Trouble Found Me.”
“‘Who Are You Now’ was the title of a song that never reached the finish line,” she explains.
“It became a reoccurring question, an unrelenting pressure touching every part of my life and work. I didn’t have the words for it at the time. It was just a feeling I woke up with every morn- ing — the feeling of jumping into a lot of change in a short amount of time and not always knowing what was propping me up. The songs came from a place of feeling challenged and so they embody that same challenge in the stories they tell. A challenge to myself, as well as the characters in them, to know where they’ll land when the branch that holds them breaks.”
The musicians allowed themselves room to experiment and explore during the recording process, too. Some songs were tracked outdoors, with the rural sounds of the El Paso land- scape ringing in the background. Others were partially recorded inside a local water tower, to mimic the effect of a reverb chamber. Throughout the process, Cunningham pulled triple duty as the album’s songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist, driving each song forward with a unique pick- ing style that focuses on hooks rather than virtuosic solos. Even so, it’s her songwriting that shows the true depth of Cunningham’s musical approach.
“Madi ascended to another level at Sonic Ranch,” Chester adds. “She arrived at the ranch an uber-talented, young singer-songwriter-guitarist, but she left that week a young master, in total control of her musical identity and skillset. Even as someone who’s watched her progress for the last six years, it was breathtaking to witness.”
With Who Are You Now, Madison Cunningham traces her own path from SoCal teenager to in- dependent adult, setting that paradigm-shifting transition to a soundtrack of honest, heartfelt music. It’s a revised spin on the singer-songwriter format, as well as a jolt of electric energy in a genre often ruled by acoustic instruments. Thanks to Cunningham’s autobiographical writing, Who Are You Now also answers the question posed by the album’s title, introducing a young musician who’s learned to balance the fresh with the familiar.
New Zealand born singer/songwriter, GIN WIGMORE, first came to our attention after winning the International Songwriting Competition at 18 years old. She was the youngest and first unsigned artist to win the Grand Prize. She also became the first New Zealand artist signed to Island Records and has now released four albums to critical acclaim.
Gin’s first album release “Holy Smoke” is currently certified at 4x Platinum and her second ”Gravel & Wine” 2x Platinum. Many of her best-known tracks (Kill Of The Night, Black Sheep, Written In The Water, Girl Gang) have been featured in numerous commercials, and Film and TV shows around the world.
Gin is now in Los Angeles writing and recording songs for her next album planned for released in late 2022. In the meantime she has released a new single “Hand Over Heart” in memoriam of her recently departed canine best friend, Indiana. After the devastating loss of her faithful companion, Gin wanted to write a fitting tribute. “Hand Over Heart” is a piano ballad about the deep love and affection we have for those who are closest to us and who share the good and bad times with us.
Currently living in Los Angeles with her family Gin recently sold her hotel in Desert Hot Springs, became a US citizen, and added two more members to her family with canine companions Boogie (whom she adopted from Maeday Rescue) and rescue puppy, Alabama.
Since his earliest infatuations with guitar, Buffalo Nichols has asked himself the same question: How can I bring the blues of the past into the future? After cutting his teeth between a Baptist church and bars in Milwaukee, it was a globetrotting trip through West Africa and Europe during a creative down period that began to reveal the answer.
“Part of my intent, making myself more comfortable with this release, is putting more Black stories into the genres of folk and blues,” guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist Carl “Buffalo” Nichols explains. “Listening to this record, I want more Black people to hear themselves in this music that is truly theirs.” That desire is embodied in his self-titled debut album—Fat Possum’s first solo blues signing in nearly 20 years—composed largely of demos and studio sessions recorded between Wisconsin and Texas.
Born in Houston and raised in Milwaukee’s predominantly Black North end, the guitar was Nichols’ saving grace as a young man. The instrument captured his fascination, and provided him with an outlet for self-expression and discovery in isolation. While other children chased stardom on the field, court, or classroom, Nichols took to his mother and siblings’ music collections, searching feverishly for riffs to pick out on his instrument. Sometimes, this dedication meant listening to a song 200 times in order to wrap his mind around a chord; as a teenager, it even routinely meant staying home from school to get extra practice.
It would’ve required a more than arduous journey across town to find a secular circle to jam with in a city still reeling from redlining and segregation, so despite a lack of a religious upbringing, Nichols went sacred. A friend invited the teenage guitarist to church for a gig and the opportunity proved to be Nichols’ much-needed breakthrough to music circles in the area. But over the following years, he began to feel overextended, and abandoned the demanding grind of a supporting role in nearly ten Milwaukee scene bands, none of which bore his vision as a lead performer. “I was happy with all the stuff that I was doing, and I was learning, but I wasn’t playing anything that was very creatively fulfilling,” Nichols says. “I needed the time and space. I was overwhelmed.”
Stints in college and in the workforce led him overseas, where the appreciation of African-American folkways lit a renewed spark in Nichols. It was the bustling of jazz in places like the working class areas of Ukraine, or in Berlin cafes where expatriate Black Americans routinely treat fans to an enchanting evening of blues, that would lead to his a-ha moment. Nichols returned home to America, meditating on his own place in the music that holds the country’s truest values and rawest emotions between bar and measure. “Before this trip, it was hard for me to find that link between all these blues records I heard and people who are living right now. I figured out it’s not a huge commercial thing, but it still has value. So, I came home and started playing the blues more seriously, doing stuff with just me and my guitar,” Nichols says.
Nichols admits that anger and pain are realities that color the conversations and the autobiographical anecdotes behind his observational, narrative-based approach to songwriting. However, with his lyricism on Buffalo Nichols, he intends to provide a perspective that doesn’t lean heavily into stereotypes, generalizations or microaggressions regarding race, class and culture. The album sees Nichols wrestling with prescient topics, such as empathy and forgiveness on the poignant, ever-building melody of “How to Love;” regret and loss on moving, violin-inflected “These Things;” and the pitfalls of lives lived too close to the edge on the smooth, dynamic “Back on Top.” On the tender, aching album opener and lead single “Lost & Lonesome,” he gives listeners what he describes as a “glimpse into the mind of that traveler looking for a friend and a place to call home;” inspired by his years traveling alone, looking for a place for his passions to fit in, even if temporarily, the track is an ode to exploration and the creative ingenuity of isolation. At the forefront of each song is Nichols’ rich voice and evocative, virtuosic guitar-playing, augmented on half of the nine tracks by a simple, cadent drum line.
While acknowledging the joy, exuberance and triumph contained in the blues, Nichols looks intently at the genre’s origins, which harken back to complicated and dire circumstances for Black Americans. With this in mind, Nichols says there is a missing link, which he’s often used as a compass: Black stories aren’t being told responsibly in the genre anymore. To begin changing that, Buffalo Nichols gets the chance to tell his own story in the right way.
Gary Brewer & The Kentucky Ramblers are a family band with roots dating back six generations, having traveled the road performing in all 50 states, Canada and Europe extensively since forming in 1980. Today, GBKR takes the stage performing a fusion of American-Roots style music all their own called “Brewgrass.”
Despite being over four decades into his career, Gary Brewer is currently experiencing a new peak following the release of his 2020 album, 40th Anniversary Celebration. In addition to receiving critical acclaim from top publications including American Songwriter, Thrive Global, Medium, Authority Magazine, Country Rebel, The Boot, and countless others, it was also a huge hit on the Billboard charts. In total, it spent an astonishing 16 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Bluegrass Albums Chart, additionally being the No. 3 best-selling project overall in 2021 (only behind two Sturgill Simpson projects). The album was also listed between mainstream artists Ariana Grande and Rob Zombie on the all-genre ‘Top Current Albums Sales’ year-end chart. It was supported by an innovative tour that saw the group strategically navigating through the pandemic era.
The band is carrying the momentum into 2022 with a new single, “Pass Along The Good”; co-written with multi-GRAMMY award-winning Americana Music Icon, Jim Lauderdale. The track was written and recorded at the Brewgrass Entertainment Studio. Released to widespread attention, “Pass Along The Good” was No. 1 on the Global Radio Indicator Americana/Grassicana chart as the top downloaded/played track of the entire month of January 2022 and is currently in heavy rotation on Sirius XM’s Outlaw Country (ch 60). “Pass Along the Good” adds to the proliferating career of GBKR, who was up for “Best New Artist” on the initial round ballot in the 64th GRAMMY awards and recently featured in Billboard magazine’s 2022 GRAMMY contenders issue. Saving Country Music credited GBKR along with Billy Strings, Sturgill Simpson, Molly Tuttle, Sierra Hull, and Bela Fleck as the groups who have brought bluegrass back into the mainstream!
At 24-years-old, Hannah Wicklund channels the fresh spirit of rock and soul with raw talent developed through a lifetime of creative expression.
“Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram represents the next generation of great American blues artists.” –PBS NewsHour
“Ingram plays guitar with dramatic, searing tone and sure- handed authority. And that’s just in the studio; he’s even scarier live.” –NPR Music
“Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram is the future of the blues, singing and playing with edge, verve and vitality. Stinging guitar…sweet and melodic vocals.” –Guitar World
Since the release of Kingfish, his Grammy-nominated 2019 Alligator Records debut, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Christone “Kingfish” Ingram has quickly become the defining blues voice of his generation. From his hometown of Clarksdale, Mississippi to stages around the world, the now 22-year-old has already headlined two national tours and performed with friends including Vampire Weekend, Jason Isbell and Buddy Guy (with whom he appeared on Austin City Limits). He was interviewed by Sir Elton John on his Apple Music podcast, Rocket Hour, and recently released a duet with Bootsy Collins. In January 2021, Ingram was simultaneously on the covers of both Guitar World and DownBeat magazines, and graced the cover of Living Blues in late 2020. Rolling Stone declared, “Kingfish is one of the most exciting young guitarists in years, with a sound that encompasses B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix and Prince.”
In the two years since Kingfish was released, there have been major events that have altered his life both personally and professionally. “There has been much change, happiness and despair in my life,” Ingram says of his last two years. Right as his career was taking off, he lost his mother and biggest champion, the late Princess Pride Ingram. Christone toured for 13 months non-stop, until the pandemic halted live performances and forced him to take stock. As he was thinking about the man he was becoming and the new directions his life was taking, he began writing songs for his next album, 662. The number 662 is the telephone area code for Ingram’s northern Mississippi home, and it first came into use the same year he was born—1999.
The world was introduced to me with Kingfish,” Ingram says of his chart-topping debut. “Now with 662, I want the world to hear and meet a different, more personal side of me.” The album—recorded in Nashville and co-written and produced (as was Kingfish) by Grammy-winner Tom Hambridge—features 13 songs displaying many sides of Ingram’s dynamic personality, as well as his one-of-a-kind guitar and vocal skills. According to Ingram, “662 is a direct reflection of my growth as a musician, a songwriter, a bandleader, and as a young man. This album was written during the pandemic, shortly after I returned home from a whirlwind year and a half of touring and promoting Kingfish.
It was an incredible time of change and growth, moments both good and bad, and I am a better and stronger person for it.” 662 is the next chapter in the still-unfolding story of Christone “Kingfish” Ingram. He describes 662 as his own personal journey, a story that sits upon the legacy of his influential blues elders. The songs—reflecting his life in and away from his home in the Delta— speak to universal truths, as well as to similar experiences shared by his large and growing multi-generational, multi-cultural fan base. From the blistering, hometown title track, 662, to the irresistible She Calls Me Kingfish to the slow, soulful and poignant Another Life Goes By to the funky truth-telling Too Young To Remember, 662 overflows with hard-hitting songs, jaw-dropping guitar work and deep, soul-possessed vocals. NPR Music says Ingram’s playing is “astounding…it’s almost like he’s singing through the guitar.”
Ingram’s journey began in the 662 in the city of Clarksdale, in Coahoma County, Mississippi, just ten miles from the legendary crossroads of Highways 61 and 49. Born to a musical family, he fell in love with music as a small child, initially playing drums and then bass. At a young age, he got his first guitar and quickly soaked up music from Robert Johnson to Lightnin’ Hopkins, from B.B. King to Muddy Waters, from Jimi Hendrix to Prince, but all the while developing his own sound and style. He progressed quickly, making his stage debut a few months later at Clarksdale’s famous Ground Zero Blues Club, playing behind one of his mentors, Mississippi blues icon Bill “Howl-N-Madd” Perry. Perry gifted the young musician with a new stage name, “Kingfish.” He performed at the White House for Michelle Obama in 2014 as part of a delegation of student musicians from the Delta Blues Museum. By age 16 he was turning heads and winning awards, including the 2015 Rising Star Award, presented by The Rhythm & Blues Foundation.
Ingram’s appeal beyond blues was immediate. Even before he cut his debut album and while still a teenager, many of Ingram’s YouTube performance videos garnered millions of views. He performed two songs in Season Two of the Netflix show Luke Cage after the series’ lead producer saw one of his videos. Both songs appear on the official soundtrack album, which introduced him to a young audience, many of whom had never heard Ingram’s brand of blues before. As part of Luke Cage promotion, Ingram performed in an NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert with rap legend Rakim, who also appeared in Luke Cage, and, in 2020, Ingram hosted his own Tiny Desk (Home) Concert.
Upon its release, Kingfish debuted on the Billboard Blues Chart in the #1 position, and remained on the chart for an astonishing 91 weeks. In addition to receiving a Grammy Award nomination, it was declared the #1 Best Blues Album Of 2019 by tastemaker UK music magazine MOJO. NPR Music included Kingfish in their list of Best Debut Albums. Outlets including The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Guitar World, The Washington Post and many others shared the joy of their musical discovery with their audience. Radio stations around the world played his music at all hours. In 2019, Ingram’s first single, Fresh Out (featuring Buddy Guy) was the most played song on Sirius/XM’s highly regarded Bluesville channel. Kingfish was also #1 on the Living Blues Radio Chart’s Top 50 Albums Of The Year.
In 2020, Ingram won five Blues Music Awards, including Album Of The Year, Contemporary Blues Album Of The Year, Best Emerging Artist Album, Contemporary Blues Male Artist Of The Year and the coveted Best Guitarist award. He also won four Living Blues Awards, including Album Of The Year and Artist Of The Year. In February 2021, Ingram guest hosted Spotify’s popular In The Name Of The Blues playlist, which featured the young bluesman as a seasoned blues fan, talking about and listening to some of his favorite songs. No Depression calls Ingram, “a young bluesman with an ancient soul and a large presence in the here-and-now.”
Ingram has twice headlined his own national tours (“Fish Grease” and “Fish Grease 2”), performing multiple times at clubs, concert halls and festivals across the U.S. and Canada, including show-stopping performances at the Chicago Blues Festival,
the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, the Bonita Blues Festival in Florida, The Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, at sold out shows from New York’s Brooklyn Bowl to Austin’s Antone’s to San Francisco’s famed Biscuits & Blues to Los Angeles’ legendary Troubadour and El Rey Theatre. He’s performed in Europe repeatedly, including appearances at the Moulin Blues Festival in the Netherlands and the Blues Heaven Festival in Denmark.
During the time between Kingfish and 662, Ingram recorded and released three stand-alone singles. In February 2020, he unleashed his incendiary studio and live interpretations of legendary bluesman Michael “Iron Man” Burks’ Empty Promises. In July 2020, he released his emotionally riveting original song, Rock & Roll, a deeply loving tribute to his mother, Princess Pride Ingram (included as a bonus track on the 662 CD). And in November 2020, he gifted his fans with his first Christmas song, the instant holiday classic, Ghost From Christmas Past.
With his eye-popping guitar playing and his reach-out-and- grab-you-by-the-collar vocals, Ingram performs every song with unmatched passion and precision. While his new songs tell personal stories, they also tell of shared human experiences.
With 662, he creates contemporary blues music that speaks to his generation and beyond, delivering the full healing power of the blues. And he can’t wait to bring that power on stage. As he recently told DownBeat magazine, “You need that crowd to connect. You need that crowd to be there so you can tell their story to them. Somewhere, somebody has the blues.”
Eric Gales is a blues firebrand. Over 30 years and 18 albums, his passion for the music and his boundless desire to keep it vital has never waned, even when his own light dimmed due to his substance struggles. Throughout it all, he continued to reinvigorate the art form with personal revelation in his lyrics and bold stylistic twists in his guitar playing and songwriting.
Five years sober, creatively rejuvenated, and sagely insightful, Eric is ready for the fight of his career. Aptly, he calls his masterful new album, out January 2022 on Provogue/Mascot label Group, I Want My Crown. Here, Eric opens like never before, sharing his struggles with substance abuse, his hopes about a new era of sobriety and unbridled creativity, and his personal reflections on racism. The songs are delivered with clarity and feature Eric’s personal experiences and hope for positive change. In addition, the 16-track collection boasts his finest singing, songwriting, and his signature guitar playing that burns throughout. Produced by Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, this is Eric at his most boldly vulnerable, uncompromisingly political, and unflinchingly confident.
I Want My Crown was forged in tragedy but rises triumphantly. The day before Eric left Greensboro, North Carolina to Los Angeles, California to work with Joe and Josh, he heard the news about the George Floyd murder. As a Black man in America, he had a lot on his mind when he touched down in Music City to write songs for I Want My Crown.
“What made George Floyd any different than me?,” Eric asks. “As I began to chat about this to Joe and Josh during preproduction, raw and unnerved emotion came out of me, and Joe furiously scribbled down notes about it all. These songs came from those outpourings. They’re about my life, and what’s happening in the world right now. When it came time to sing, I had to take breaks between vocals to cry and let it out. I was sharing my experiences as a Black man, and my private struggles. This is me letting the world know what I’ve been through.”
Since 1991, the Memphis-born guitarist has blazed a path reinvigorating the blues with a virtuosity and rock swagger that have him being heralded as the second coming of Jimi Hendrix. He was a child prodigy with bottomless talent and fierce determination, and at just 16 years-old released his debut, The Eric Gales Band, on Elektra Records. He’s earned high praise by guitarists’ guitarist and household name axe men such as Joe Bonamassa, Carlos Santana, Dave Navarro, and Mark Tremonti. In addition, he has held his own with some of the greatest guitarists in the world, including Carlos Santana at Woodstock 1994, Zakk Wylde, Eric Johnson, and a posse of others as a featured guest touring with the Experience Hendrix Tour.
The story behind I Want My Crown dates back to the early 1990s when as teenagers Eric and Joe were both hailed as blues wunderkinds and torchbearers. Eric is three years older than Joe, and Joe used to open for Eric. The pair went on to very different lives and careers, but Eric’s full potential was hampered by his substance abuse issues. “While I was dealing with my affliction, Joe’s career skyrocketed. I put myself in the backseat through my drug addiction. The world knows me, but the world doesn’t know me,” he says. In 2009, Eric hit bottom and served jail time at Shelby County Correction Center for possession of drugs and a weapon.
Eric and Joe reconnected grandly in 2019 when Joe invited Eric to play with him onstage at a blues cruise encore performance. It was the first time the guys had played live together onstage in 25 years, and it has since been named one of the most explosive guitar duels ever, amassing over 3 million plays on YouTube.
“There was always a brotherhood with us. When we reconnected, Joe said to me, ‘You’re a badass guitarist; it’s your turn to get your seat at the table to wear your crown’,” Eric recalls. Shortly after their iconic face-melting jam, Eric approached Joe to produce him. Eric reveals: “We cried when we talked about it, he said ‘you have no idea how long I waited for you, now I am going to do my part to lift you where you’re supposed to be.’” I Want My Crown finds Eric stepping up to receive his due.
The record is eclectic but cohesive. With assured and authentic artistry, Eric conjures the expanse of the blues, rock, and beyond. The album bursts open with the supercharged “Death Of Me.” Here, Eric is out for blood, summoning Hendrix and futuristic and electrified Delta blues in an imaginatively arranged song that boasts sprays of fusion and blues-influenced soloing. On the horn-punctuated soul-rocker, “The Storm,” Eric’s vocals and his message are upfront. He asks the powerful and timely question: how could you love what he does as a musician and guitar player and dislike who he is as a man based on the color of his skin?
The first single off the album, the slinky “I Want My Crown (featuring Joe Bonamassa)”, opens with a fanfare of elegant lead guitar virtuosity before slipping into a funky groove. Here, with playful bravado, Eric sings about finally getting his due while also admitting his self-sabotaging past. Clean and focused with guitar in hand, he eyes the crown, and goes for it, battling powerhouse blues warrior Joe Bonamassa in a Rocky-like epic fight. Triumphant horns spur on the excitement as the pair unleash barrages of jaw-dropping blues-shred with each player’s passages feeling like the final fury of a July 4th fireworks explosion—the climaxes get hotter and hotter.
The smoldering, “My Own Best Friend,” is a self-reflective ballad about loving and respecting yourself to create positive change in your life. The song effortlessly touches on organ-drenched minor blues, soul-jazz, and gospel musicality with unmistakable Eric flair. His solos ease between stinging Albert King minimalism to fluid flights of Eric Johnson guitar fancy.
On “Take Me Just As I Am (featuring LaDonna Gales),” Eric showcases the powerhouse pipes of his wife, LaDonna, and lays into some stanky horn-driven funk behind her. The song is a female song of empowerment. “Black women have it really hard, contending with racism and sexism,” Eric says.
The record’s 16 tracks play out as 13 songs plus 3 instrumental vignettes—and these little jams are gems. Eric touches on the Texas shuffle with the instro “Had To Dip,” mind-melting Hendrix freak out blues-rock on the instro “Rattlin’ Change,” and funky fusion on the instro “Cupcakin’.” The album concludes like a sweaty and celebratory live show with the invigorating outro song, “I Gotta Go.” This percolating James Brown-styled jam showcases Eric and his Swiss-watch-tight band in all its post-show glory, recalling the pageantry of B.B. King’s legendary Live At The Regal with punchy horns and glorious crescendos.
The songs on I Want My Crown were co-written by Eric, Josh, and Joe, and feature contributions from LaDonna Gales, and ace songwriters such as Tom Hambridge, James House, and Keb Mo. The album was recorded at Sound Emporium Nashville, and overdubs were tracked at Ocean Way Nashville, and Earthtone Studios in Greensboro, NC.
The I Want My Crown album journey is exhilarating, and, much like Eric’s life, winds through moments of victory and vulnerability. Along the way, Eric shares his story and his feelings through the majesty of the blues. He says: “When I play, the core is always the blues, and on this album, we go through a theme park of the blues, exploring all kinds of blues. We visit the carousel, the bumper cars, the water rides, the concession stands, and we all come out with smiles.”
“No one escapes the marks left behind when it comes to love or the absence of it,” says singer-songwriter S.G. Goodman, describing the inspiration behind her sophomore album Teeth Marks. “Not only are we the ones who bear its indentations, but we’re also the ones responsible for placing them on ourselves and others.”
When the Kentucky native released her debut album, Old Time Feeling, she was rightly coined an “untamed rock n roll truth-teller” by Rolling Stone. The roots-inflected rock n’ roll record saw Goodman lending her gritty, haunting vocals to narrate the dual perspectives of her upbringing as the daughter of a crop farmer, and a queer woman coming out in a rural town.
Now with Teeth Marks, co-produced by Drew Vandenberg (Faye Webster, Drive-By Truckers, Of Montreal) in Athens, Georgia, she picks up the threads of Old Time Feeling. But where her critically acclaimed, Jim James-produced debut zeroed in on the South, reframing misconceptions in slough water-soaked tones, her latest album pulses with downtown Velvet Underground electricity, shifting its focus inward – though never losing Goodman’s searing and universal point of view. Teeth Marks is what you might get if Flannery O’Connor and Lou Reed went on a road trip.
Drawing influences from the aforementioned Velvets, as well as Pavement, Karen Dalton, and Chad VanGaalen, Goodman brings 11 powerful vignettes to life, with a sound that ventures deeper into indie rock and punk territory than she ever has before. Though Teeth Marks is a love album, Goodman doesn’t aim her focus on romantic relationships alone. Instead, she analyzes the way love between communities, families, and even one’s self can be influenced by trauma that lingers in the body. Teeth Marks is about what love actually is, love’s psychological and physical imprint, its light, and its darkness. It’s a record about the love we have or don’t have for each other, and perhaps, more significantly, the love we have or don’t have for ourselves.
In nature, wildflowers signify freedom. Nobody plants them. Rather, they blossom on their own. The same could be said of The National Parks. Since emerging in 2013, the Provo, UT quartet — Brady Parks [guitar, vocals], Sydney Macfarlane [keys, vocals], Cam Brannelly [drums], and Megan Parks [violin] — has quietly grown into an independent phenomenon with roots embedded in blissful pop, cinematic electronics, organic orchestration, and rock energy. Racking up over 90 million total streams, selling out headline shows on tour, and acclaimed by NPR, Paste, Atwood Magazine, PopMatters, and more, the group bloom like never before on their aptly titled independent fourth full-length, Wildflower.
“It was an umbrella theme for the album, because we feel like wildflowers in the whole landscape of music,” states Brady. “We do what we want to do, and nothing will stop us. All of these songs fit into our aspirations to grow and dream big. We wrote with a lot of heart. We didn’t chase any trends. We tried to create something beautiful, epic, and true to us. This is who we are.”
Over the past seven years, they also diligently worked towards making such a statement. As the story goes, Brady performed at open mics as a singer-songwriter around Utah and often hosted a show at his apartment complex. Sydney attended one of these homey gigs and reached out to jam shortly after. Right off the bat, the musicians recognized they found “a match made in heaven.” After meeting via mutual friends, Megan joined the fold—and eventually married Brady!
The National Parks introduced itself on 2013’s Young, staking out a spot in the Top 15 of iTunes Top Singer/Songwriter Albums Chart. A year later, the filmmakers of Love In The Tetons tapped the band to pen a companion single for the film. Their contribution, “As We Ran,” not only amassed over 12 million Spotify streams, but the first month of its proceeds benefited the National Parks Conservation Association. Following the release of Until I Live in 2015, Salt Lake City Weekly proclaimed them Utah’s “Band of the Year.” Joined by Cam behind the kit, they unveiled Places in 2017. Securing coveted placements on Spotify’s Pop Chillout, Indie Pop and Morning Commute playlists, the record yielded a series of fan favorites, including “1953” [2.8 million Spotify streams] and “Lights in the City” [1.1 million Spotify streams]. Along the way, The National Parks packed headline gigs, toured with Andy Grammer and Peter Bjorn and John and performed everywhere from KAABOO Del Mar and SXSW to Snowmass Mammoth Fest and Oyster Ridge Music Festival.
On the heels of Places, The National Parks kicked around initial ideas for what would become Wildflower. This time around, Brady simply “sat down with a guitar and let whatever was inside come out without worrying if it was catchy.” Allowing inspiration to take its course he wrote “for a cathartic emotional release, rather than chasing a sound.”
“That’s why I feel like it’s the best writing I’ve ever done,” he admits. “I let myself do what comes naturally. It’s a fresh start. At this point in our career, we wanted to show the world we can do a lot of different things. We pushed ourselves instrumentally. It isn’t just acoustic guitar or piano on every song. There’s a lot of variety, but we’re not pursuing trends. We focused on songwriting. We narrowed in and created a sound that is The National Parks.”
Produced by longtime collaborator Scott Wiley, the sound unfurls on the first single and title track “Wildflower.” A steady arena-size beat reverberates underneath Brady’s soaring vocals backed by a harmony from Sydney. Distorted electric guitar elevates the hypnotic hook — “I could be your wildflower” — before the whispered bridge pours into an ecstatic riff.
“It’s probably the most rock ‘n’ roll song we’ve ever done,” says Brady. “It was fun to step into a new energy. Lyrically, it’s about chasing our dream. We don’t fit into a certain mold, but we belong under the open skies and vast world.”
On “Time,” warm acoustic strumming wraps around a glitchy electronic beat as Brady and Sydney share verses before an emotional hook that urges “having patience and perseverance through struggle.” Meanwhile, the folk instrumentation of “Waiting for Lightning” gives way to a sunny chant “about putting yourself out there and waiting for your chance.” Maintaining the momentum, “Horizon” relays a story of “getting lost in the forest, but chasing a flickering light on the horizon, like a dream.”
Then, there’s “Painted Sky.” The track’s expansive soundscape evokes a Spaghetti Western- soundtrack and illuminates the sonic adventurism at the heart of the music.
“It’s got those over-the-top western vibes,” affirms Brady. “Sometimes, everything will be good, but you get lost under the ‘Painted Sky’. Things aren’t as great as you portray them or really want them to be. It’s about the journey.”
In the end, The National Parks follow a muse of creative freedom to the fruition of a dream.
“I’d love for listeners to be uplifted by the album and maybe inspired in some way,” he leaves off. “There are a lot of personal experiences in the record. I hope you walk away feeling the heart of it and The National Parks.”
Jon Stickley Trio is a genre-defying and cinematic instrumental trio who’s deep grooves, innovative flatpicking and sultry-spacy violin moves the listener’s head, heart, and feet. “It’s not your father’s acoustic-guitar music, Instead Stickley’s Martin churns out a mixture of bluegrass, Chuck Berry, metal, prog, grunge, and assorted other genres—all thoroughly integrated into a personal style,” -Guitar Player Magazine. Premier Guitar says, “Stickley’s trio… is not a traditional bluegrass group by any means… they are just nimble and ambitious enough to navigate EDM-style breakbeats as effortlessly as the old timey standard ‘Blackberry Blossom. With inspiration ranging from Green Day to Duran Duran, Tony Rice, Nirvana, The Dead, Grisman and beyond, the Trio is making waves with their unique sound. “In a time when a lot of instrumental music feels more like math than art, Jon Stickley Trio reminds us of the pure joy that can be created and shared through music,” -Anders Beck (Greensky BG)
Sierra Hull’s positively stellar career started early. That is, if you consider a Grand Ole Opry debut at age 10, called back to the famed stage a year later to perform with her hero and mentor Alison Krauss to be early. She played Carnegie Hall at 12; at 13 signed with Rounder Records and issued her debut, Secrets, and garnered the first of many nominations for Mandolin Player of the Year. She played the Kennedy Center at 16 and the next year became the first bluegrass musician to receive a Presidential Scholarship at the Berklee College of Music. As a 20-year-old, Hull played the White House.
It’s only a two-hour drive to Nashville from her tiny hometown hamlet of Byrdstown, Tennessee. Hull credits her family for paving the first few miles to Music Row. Her mother, holding her as a toddler, taught her to sing. She ran next door to hear Uncle Junior pick mandolin, and listened intently to the church choir on Sundays. Her Christmas gift – a full-sized fiddle- proved too daunting. While waiting for a smaller replacement, her father showed her some notes on the mandolin. Hull was hooked, soon known as the eight-year-old wowing the locals at bluegrass jams.
She found inspiration in Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, and Sam Bush. And, just as importantly, affirmed her own sense of identity in the album covers of Rhonda Vincent, the queen of bluegrass. She heard the words of her parents, prepping her for life’s big moments yet to come, repeatedly instilling the mantra: Hard work, more than anything, will get you somewhere. It certainly did.
In 2010, Hull captured her first IBMA award for Recorded Event of the Year. She was shedding the prodigy tag, turning virtuoso, and releasing her second album, Daybreak, with seven of her own original compositions. In Byrdstown, she hosted an eponymous annual bluegrass festival.
“There’s a voice in the back of my head telling me to keep working, to keep moving forward,” Hull says. “You have to keep progressing and introducing new things.”
By 2016, Hull had reached a more mature place in her life and in her art. She tapped legendary bluegrass musician Bela Fleck to produce her third album, Weighted Mind. A departure from her opening pair of records that blended progressive elements with traditional structure, Hull let go of whatever preconceptions existed- both hers and those of her audience- and birthed a Grammy-nominated masterpiece.
“I created from a more vulnerable, honest place by asking myself what kind of music will I make if I’m not at all concerned with genre,” says Hull. “What do I want to say with my music? What do I want to feel when I stand onstage and sing these songs? I needed to have a deeper connection.”
Enlisting bassist Ethan Jodziewicz (and Fleck on two cuts), and harnessing vocal contributions from Krauss, Abigail Washburn, and Rhiannon Giddens, Hull trusted her foundation of influences to support this artistic leap. Months later she was taking home the Mandolin Player of the Year. After a near-decade of consecutive noms, Hull broke that last glass ceiling, becoming the first woman to win the prestigious title. Of all the numerous awards and achievements Sierra Hull has earned, that one occupies a special place on the mantel. Then she took home a pair to join it, winning again in 2017 and 2018.
Hull has maintained a rigorous touring schedule, as well. Even when off the road, she is frequently guesting with friends and legends, joining such icons as the Indigo Girls, Garth Brooks, and Gillian Welch, and performing at the Country Music Awards with Skaggs, Brad Paisley, and Marty Stuart.
She says she’s ready, now, for something new. Currently in the midst of work for the follow-up to Weighted Mind, her next album will consist of all original songs. Beyond that, there are tantilizing ideas she won’t divulge for collaborations and, perhaps, an all-instrumental record. There is a plan, but not a timetable, which is just fine.
“I love playing music. It’s all I ever wanted to do. I don’t see it, necessarily, as a bad thing that I’m slow to make albums. I want my albums to be something I can be proud of.”
When Tarek Jafar and Justin Tessier formed The Blue Stones, they were facing uncertainty about who they were and where they were going. But they did know they wanted to make music together, and so they did, writing songs over time and eventually releasing their debut album Black Holes in 2018. As confident and self-assured as they are, that record was very much about the pair finding themselves, both musically and existentially, and deciding to pursue the rock’n’roll dream by jumping into a black hole of the unknown instead of choosing a more ordinary life-path.
“When we wrote that stuff,” explains Tessier, “we were both finishing undergrad degrees. That album was us trying to figure out who we were. These new songs are more about how we know who we are, but they’re also us learning to come to terms with the dark side of ourselves.”
The band drew the attention of producer, Paul Meany – the creative force behind alternative rock band Mutemath, and who recently worked with Twenty One Pilots, producing their fifth album, Trench. Needless to say, getting Paul involved provided the pair with a huge sense of validation.
“We jokingly suggested him,” chuckles Tessier. “We were shooting for the stars, but a week after our management approached him we found out he was into the band and into us as musicians.”
Working with Meany didn’t just lead to The Blue Stones exploring – and creating – music in a different way than they had before, but it also led Jafar to approach and tackle lyrics in an entirely new light. Combined with the band’s nuanced and layered approach to their sound, it makes these songs resonate with a powerful emotional intensity.
The band will release multiple songs as singles leading into their highly anticipated sophomore album release in 2020. The first of those is ‘Shakin’ Off The Rust’ – a song, as Jafar explains, that very much serves as a mission statement for their renewed sense of confidence and newfound identity.
“There were times along the way where I felt I wasn’t good enough, “ explains Jafar, “or that I didn’t deserve any happiness or success. This song is about battling those thoughts in your head that make you doubt yourself, and coming through with the confidence to make something great.”
That much is clear from listening to the songs that the pair have recorded so far. While ‘Shakin’ Off the Rust’ is probably the closest to the sound the band inhabited on Black Holes, it also represents a clear and profound evolution – it’s more textured, more layered and, yes, more confident than anything on the first record. That’s an idea the pair – Jafar on vocals and guitars, Tessier on percussion and backing vocals – have woven into the fabric of the other new songs. Take, for instance, the restrained, layered, hip-hop-inspired vibes of both ‘Careless’ and ‘Make This Easy’, two songs that would be hard to imagine the band that made Black Holes recording, but which make total sense in terms of their new outlook and approach. Although The Blue Stones were always more than a blues-rock duo, that’s especially true now.
“When we record,” says Tessier, “we really like to dive into a lot of different sounds and use a lot of different instruments that sort of break the boundaries of what a blues-rock duo is.”
“It’s not a conscious thing, though,” adds Jafar. “It’s more an amalgamation of listening to a lot of different types of music over years and years and soaking in that influence subconsciously. And that shows in the songwriting.”
One other difference with this record was Jafar’s lyrical approach – something that was inspired by Meany’s presence during the sessions.
“I never really focused on lyrics before,” admits Jafar. “They were secondary to the music, and I used them just to help the melodies, but now I’m focusing a lot more on what I’m saying and how it’s coming across. When we sent Paul the demos and we started to have a little bit of a conversation back and forth about it, he shined a spotlight on the lyrics and really opened my mind to the narratives of these songs. And I just took it and ran with it.”
The result was not just that The Blue Stones truly discovered who they were while writing these songs, but they’ve crafted something that shimmers with such purity and truth – musically and lyrically – that you can’t help but be swept up and carried off by these songs and what will eventually form the as-yet-untitled album. They’ve redefined who they are, but at the same time ensured they kept their identity intact.
“Even though some of these songs sound different,” says Jafar, “at the end of the day we stayed true to who we are as The Blue Stones. So even if the songs border on a different genre, you’re still going to get us, because it’s still us writing the songs and performing the songs. We have a vision that we’ve been focused on since we started this band and that hasn’t changed. I want the fans to really enjoy and connect with these songs.”
“We both just tried to serve the music the best way we could,” adds Tessier. “And that was by taking out the ego from them. I really want these songs to capture people’s attention. I want them to understand that The Blue Stones are a force.”
Staying true to tradition and maintaining a certain irreverent attitude are qualities that rarely go hand-in-hand. But, Hogslop String Band manages to walk that line, with their roots in old-time string band music, and their energy based in wild rock-and-roll, you could almost call them punk purists.
It’s an unlikely combination, but given the talents of singer and fiddler Kevin Martin; guitarist, harmonica player and singer Gabriel Kelley; mandolin player and singer Will Harrison; banjo player and singer Daniel Binkley; and bassist and all-round entertainer Pickle, they pull it off with natural ease. The name alone hints at their wacky ways, but catching them live will give you a true sense of these bizarre, seemingly contradictory descriptions.
Formed in 2009, the guys originally teamed up at a jam session at Nashville’s famed 5-Spot and then, in Pickle’s words, “started getting money, booze, and BBQ thrown at us…what did anyone expect to happen?”
That said, what happened may still have been unexpected. They entered — and won — nearly every major string band competition the South had to offer, and also began presiding over some sweat-drenched square dances taking place at such notable Nashville venues as the Cannery Ballroom and the Nashville Palace. They then went on to tour the States and Scandinavia with high-energy live performances that had them parading about like a band unhinged — Pickle flopping about as if terminally intoxicated while alternately mounting and coddling his stand-up bass, Kelley rallying the crowd to share in the revelry while the rest of the band do their best to make sure they don’t entirely run off the rails.
In 2017, the band began writing original material, but never veered away from their deeper devotion to the fundamentals of Americana and its certain folk finesse. They thrive on crossing boundaries and genres with a nimble assurance, negating any need to remain strictly bound to bluegrass or music of a strictly string band variety. In addition to their original material and foot-stomping traditional classics, the boys pepper in plenty of tasteful covers from similar genres and beyond.
The band’s upcoming album, Hogslop String Band: Sings & Plays (projected for release Spring 2022), offers an opportunity to experience Hogslop String Band in all their untethered glory. A follow-up to an eponymous 2019 release that boasted mostly original material, the new album offers a collection of popular barn-burning classics culled from the band’s live set. Recorded and produced by Gabriel Kelley at his Mobile Traveler Studios, it’s music that’s both celebrity and show-stopping in every way imaginable. Although it takes its cues from the masters of traditional music, each track also manages to reflect the group’s rowdy, rambunctious, off-kilter attitude, and, in the process, assures a populist appeal.
It’s clear that this is a band that’s going places, and has rapidly become one of the most unique and exhilarating outfits on the scene today. “It only gets weirder from here,” they often say from stage. They’re not kidding.
Tyler Boone grew up in the Lowcountry of Charleston, SC. Boone first became enamored with the small club rock scene and slowly started making his way headlining major music venues & gaining traction on the radio waves all across the United States. These past few years have led him to open for some incredible talent and becoming an official Taylor Guitars endorsed artist, with his non-stop touring schedule in the southeast, Midwest & West Coast as both a solo performer or with his band.
Founder of the award winning “Homegrown” Boone’s Bourbon label (available all weekend long at Bourbon & Beyond)
Bringing a perfect marriage of both Americana & Blues Alt Rock & has been self-releasing music since 2012. Whether it’s a blistering full band performance or an intimate songwriter showcase, Tyler’s music catalog is well equipped to over deliver the two. He’s never been the one to stick to trends and plans on always making it about his music first before being concerned about being told what to sing & perform about.
TYLER’S NEW SINGLE “WICKED GIRL” FEATURING PETER KEYS OF LYNYRD SKYNYRD
He’s had the pleasure of opening up for such acts as Grammy award winning artist Sheryl Crow, The Avett Brothers, Sublime with Rome, Christopher Cross, Hootie and the Blowfish, Old Crow Medicine Show, & others such as The Silversun Pickups, Robert Randolph, Will Hoge, Canadian songwriter Donovan Woods, Platinum selling artist Edwin McCain, Zach Myers of Shinedown, The Revivalists, The Marcus King Band, Sean McConnell, Dr. John, Rayland Baxter & also American Idol Winners David Cook & Lee DeWyze, just to name a few.
Think rock is dead? Meet Jocelyn & Chris. Two analog souls hell-bent on inciting a new rock revival.
Jocelyn & Chris and their band have charted four consecutive commercial radio singles in the Billboard AAA Top 40, taken two records to #1 on the Relix Jambands Top 30 Album Chart, and appeared nationally on NBC’s Today Show. The siblings, both recent graduates of Harvard University, have balanced college with performances coast to coast and recording seven records featuring special guests including Cory Wong (Vulfpeck), G. Love, Byron Isaacs (Lumineers), and Gov’t Mule’s Danny Louis. Jocelyn & Chris’s new single “Sugar and Spice,” released in July 2021, was lauded by American Songwriter as “pure American rock goodness” and was a Most Added US Radio Single for three consecutive weeks. The video for the track was also added to rotation on MTV. On August 9, 2021 “Sugar and Spice” debuted on Billboard AAA Top 40. Additional media coverage for Jocelyn & Chris includes Baeble, Hufﬁngton Post, NowThis, Paste, Daily Mail, Sirius XM, The Daily Beast, Cheddar TV, People, Jam in the Van, Hollywood Reporter, and numerous others.
GRAMMY® nominated Missy Raines was named 2021 International Bluegrass Music Association Bass Player of the Year, for the 10th time, more than any other bass player in the history of the organization. Missy Raines has proven herself without doubt as an iconic bluegrass instrumentalist. But with the success of her latest release, Royal Traveller, Raines has stepped into the spotlight as a songwriter and singer as well.
Royal Traveller was nominated for a GRAMMY® in 2020 and was produced by Compass Records co-founder and renowned banjoist, Alison Brown.
Currently, Missy is touring with her own band, Missy Raines & Allegheny, a bluegrass ensemble featuring banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and bass. With more than a nod to her deep bluegrass roots, Allegheny oﬀers Missy fertile ground to bring a together a lifetime of traditional inspiration along with her unique approach to string band music.
An experienced teacher, Missy has been teaching bass at workshops and music camps all over the world since 1998 and also heads the ArtistsWorks Academy of Bluegrass School of Bluegrass Bass, an online learning platform that features its’ trademarked Video Exchange technology
In 1998, Raines became the first woman to win IBMA’s Bass Player of the Year award.
Her album, Royal Traveller, highlights this particular piece of Raines’ history with the stand out track “Swept Away”, which features the first 5 women to win IBMA instrumentalist awards, Raines, Brown, Sierra Hull, Becky Buller, and Molly Tuttle.
“Swept Away” was named 2018 IBMA Recorded Event of the Year.
Missy’s version of the iconic Flatt & Scruggs “Darlin Pal(s) of Mine”, (from the same album), was named 2019 Instrumental Recording of the Year by the IBMA. The tune features Alison Brown on banjo, Todd Phillips on bass and Mike Bub on bass.
In 2020, Missy received the IBMA Song of the Year award along with co-writers, Becky Buller and Alison Brown for “Chicago Barn Dance”, a song written specifically for the Chicago-based band, Special Consensus.
Tray Wellington Band is a high energy acoustic Newgrass group led by banjo virtuoso, and multi-time IBMA Award winner, and 2019 Momentum Instrumentalist of the year Tray Wellington. This group pushes the bounds of bluegrass music, incorporating Bossa Nova, Jazz, and Blues elements, to their originals to create a unique, new exciting sound, as well as pay tribute to their Bluegrass heroes before them. They have opened for a number of premiere artists in bluegrass including Dan Tyminski, and Joe Mullins
Matilda Marigolds has been called New York City’s #1 Cowgirl, with a refreshing yet nostalgic sound that falls in the space between Phoebe Bridgers and Fiona Apple, with a sprinkle of Maren Morris. Matilda first fell in love with music as a young child, falling asleep in the back of bars or backstage at her father’s performances. As the daughter of a NYC-based drummer, it was almost inevitable Matilda would soon start to forge her own musical path. She is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist –including piano, bass, guitar, drums– as well as producer and engineer. Prior to releasing her debut EP, Union (2021), Matilda was invited to perform on RWQuarantunes –sharing a virtual stage with artists like Charlie Puth, and Rick Astley– and has been credited as one of the few emerging artists ever to be invited to perform on the platform.
She’s also shared the stage with pop-rock band Laundry Day.
Matilda’s music attracts listeners with her vulnerable storytelling and raw vocal delivery, and when asked who she creates music for, Matilda shared: “I started creating music as a therapeutic endeavor, one that was rooted in my own self-care. I want my music to heal others as it has healed me. But more specifically, I want it to foster a productive and growth-oriented inner-dialogue within my listeners that initiates a new kind of personal understanding and healing.” When she’s not in the studio or performing; Matilda enjoys giving hugs, eating twice her weight in strawberries, falling in love, and DJing. She is currently working on her sophomore album, and looks forward to releasing within 2022. Matilda’s music can be found on all streaming platforms.