Signature Sounds Presents: Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys at The Parlor Room
Tuesday, February 21 Doors 6:30pm / Show 7pm
Tickets: $20 adv / $25 door On sale now: ticketf.ly/2jvm6bi
www.mamouplayboys.com The band is called Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. The guy in the middle holds a button-box that squeezes like an accordion, but shouts hallelujah like a big brass band. The fiddle cracks wise and warm, the guitar falls off the edge of the earth, and the rhythm section is purring rumble like a Coupe DeVille of shark-fin vintage. It all flows as a liquid-smooth groove, topped with three heartfelt voices harmonizing in 17th-century French from the steamy sub-tropics.
Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys began over twenty years ago with a reputation for excellence. Their stunningly clean and cohesive performance of Cajun French music from the backwaters of Southwest Louisiana propelled them into the world music limelight early on, and by their third release had garnered them a Grammy nomination in the worldwide field of traditional folk music, another in 2004, and then another in 2009.
From the day they started, they have gone from strength to strength. Never before in Cajun music has a comparable wealth of skills been brought to the same table.
When all that heart and all that skill focus on the revelry of a hot two-step, then turn on a dime and deliver an a cappella ballad, then play something that sounds like Howlin' Wolf fell in lust with a Creole girl, you've found the most Cajun music you can find in any one spot. You've found Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys.... See MoreSee Less
After nearly two decades and more than 3,000 live shows, Gaelic Storm — the chart-topping, multi-national Celtic band — is looking sharper than ever with their latest release, Matching Sweaters. The new album mixes traditional Irish music with modern influences, creating a sound that's as wide-ranging as the band's own audience. From bluegrass fans and country cowboys to Deadheads, rock & rollers and Celtic fanatics, Gaelic Storm has built one of the most diverse fan bases in modern music. Matching Sweaters helps explain the broad appeal. Rooted in the songwriting of founding members Patrick Murphy and Steve Twigger, the album moves from drinking songs ("Another Stupid Drinking Song") to energetic instrumentals ("The Narwhaling Cheesehead") to rootsy pop/rockers ("Whiskeyed Up and Womaned Out"), gluing everything together with the spark and spirit of a band that's spent close to 20 years on the road. "We're a touring band," says percussionist Ryan Lacey, who joined the lineup in 2003. "That's how this band works. Matching Sweaters is one of the most complete albums we've done so far, because it taps into every facet of our live show."... See MoreSee Less
Academy Youth Production presents the musical "Singin' in the Rain, Jr.," on March 2 & 3, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets $5, plus box office fees. Tickets available www.aomtheatre.com or Academy Box Office 413.584.9032 x105.... See MoreSee Less
Signature Sounds Presents: SHIRA and HOME BODY at The Parlor Room
Thursday, March 2 Doors 6:30 / Show 7pm
Tickets: $8 adv / $10 day of show On sale now: ticketf.ly/2ikr2Af
www.officialshira.com In Hebrew SHIRA means song and poem. Born in Israel, living in Brooklyn, SHIRA is a songwriter, producer, poet and visual artist. Over a live mix of sampler and electric guitar her haunting voice and visceral, tender lyrics captivate. She was appropriately dubbed a "Renaissance person" by Deli Magazine, who recently named her one of NYC's Best Emerging Artists of 2016. Currently unsigned, SHIRA self-released her latest album 'Subtle Creature' to acclaim. As a writer, she is a three time Pushcart Prize nominee and her work can be found in The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed Reader, PBS Poetry, The Massachusetts Review, BUST, Bitch Magazine and The Baffler, among others. She was awarded a writing residency by the Millay Colony, the James Merrill Fellowship by the Vermont Studio Center, and most recently, the Visions of Wellbeing Focus Fellowship at AIR Serenbe.
"An out-of-body experience" - BUST Magazine
"These songs are a shot of adrenaline to anything else on the radio...Her musical vision is immersive and enthralling." - BITCH Magazine
"SHIRA mixes genres like soul, folk and electronic pop with a painter's touch, allowing for bold creations while not losing any of the character of the individual components. Her poet's side makes its way into the music as well, as she injects each track with richly contemplative and abstract lyrics." - The Deli NYC
“Vibrantly alive and defiantly human” - Telegram
--- www.hellohomebody.com Fever-pop duo Home Body ignores convention with their vivid blend of new wave, avant-pop, and electronic music, performed from the gut with wild abandon and art-school-cool theatricality. Synthesist Eric Hnatow balances textured layers of glitzy synthesizers, focused rhythms, and tectonic bass with Haley Morgan's strong, stormy femme vocals, creating a visceral sonic landscape that feels equal parts cosmic, fleshy and electric. Emerging from the vibrant Western Mass music scene, Home Body plays with form and improvisation while retaining a strong pop sensibility and demanding presence. Live, the duo punctuates their sound with animated movement and manual light manipulation, reaching beyond their performance to create a high-vibration spectacle that is physically and emotionally moving.
Initially meeting and falling in love at Hampshire College in 2005, the duo has gone on to become a strong presence on the New England underground music circuit, impressing audiences with their spirited live performances and chewy, engrossing sound. In addition to releasing their debut album In Real Life on Feeding Tube Records in 2012 and a follow up EP Guts in 2014, the duo had scored fashion shows and dance performances and has made music for films and commercials. Home Body is currently working on their second full length album, to be released Spring 2017.
- "Superbly talented...Haley Morgan and Eric Hnatow rewrite the basic DNA of electro-pop for their own nefarious purposes...creating purely original vistas of possibility." Byron Cooley - “Home Body – Part musical show, part performance art, a Home Body gig is one you'll never forget. Armed with an arsenal of keyboards, pedals and other musical gadgetry, Eric Hnatow creates a cosmic dance atmosphere that frames vocalist Haley Morgan's powerful voice and words perfectly. Both members of this this post-techno duo move and dance like no one is watching, which, of course, makes everyone watch with intrigue.” - MassLive - "Morgan dances, crawls around, and manipulates a light show while she sings, creating a seamlessly integrated expression of each song’s moods." The Montague Reporter - "Intelligent approach to construction that never surrenders to the impulse to be merely clever." The Wire -“...theatrical, art-pop glitch without unnecessary weirdness...” The Noise... See MoreSee Less
Signature Sounds Presents: Rhiannon Giddens & Dirk Powell at the Shea Theater Arts Center
Thursday, March 2 Doors 6:30pm / Show 7:30pm
Tickets: $44.50 / $33.50 ADV // $50 + $37 Door On sale now: ticketf.ly/2j9a4Fi
www.rhiannongiddens.com | www.dirkpowell.org American music has at its core an affirmative language that unites all of us as brothers and sisters. Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell are masters of this language.
With roots in North Carolina and Kentucky, their musical heritage springs from places where the mix is particularly potent. Rhiannon brought African-American stringband traditions a new and beautiful vitality through The Carolina Chocolate Drops, and has launched a versatile solo career that confirms her status as a major American artist for this day and age. Dirk has championed the Appalachian music of his grandfather and the Cajun/Creole sounds of his Louisiana family since his teenage years, becoming a central figure in the revitalization of both traditions, while recording and performing with artists like Eric Clapton and Joan Baez.
To quote producer T Bone Burnett, with whom both have worked closely, Rhiannon is “next in a long line of singers that include Odetta, Mahalia Jackson, and Rosetta Tharpe.” And about Dirk, Burnett enthuses, “He’s got great subtlety, tremendous feel, and is modern in the best sense of the word.” Both artists have Grammy wins in several contexts, in categories ranging from Folk to Alternative Rock to Blues to Country. But, these aren’t the things that equate to success for them.
Rhiannon and Dirk create with the intent to reach the hearts of those listening. Whether with banjos and fiddles, grand pianos framing deeply soulful vocals, or Creole accordions laying down bayou grooves beneath melodies sung in French, the duo’s music may in moments take a path through the mind, or perhaps through dancing feet…. but in the end, they are out to reach hearts, and in each other have found a unique partnership in which to do so. Their musical range touches on all of what makes American music the resonant force that it is, including fearless original songs written with the conviction to open and heal the wounds of racism and other forms of prejudice that continue to haunt us. They could be seen as possessing a rare multilingualism, but are, in the end, speaking one highly evolved American language; in their performances, audiences are included in a conversation that is spirited, emotional, masterful, and, in the end, transformational.... See MoreSee Less
Signature Sounds presents: River Whyless with Mikey Sweet Music at The Parlor Room
Saturday, March 4 Doors 7:30pm / Show 8pm
Tickets: $12 adv, $15 door On sale now: ticketf.ly/2g6ZIbC
www.riverwhyless.com When River Whyless set out to write We All The Light (out August 26th on Roll Call Records), its three original members – O’Keefe, Anderson and McWalters – were already accustomed to “collaborating” with each other. Collaboration is a word often used to glamorize a much less appealing process: compromise. By definition, compromise requires mutual concessions. It means one must listen at least as much as one speaks. It’s a give and take, a back and forth, an amendment of individual visions for the sake of something greater. With We All The Light, River Whyless bought into that process.
In O’Keefe and Anderson the Asheville, NC band already had two accomplished songwriters. In McWalters, an idiosyncratic percussionist. They were accustomed to the slog of progress, to the necessary but often arduous give and take that ensures only the very best ideas survive. But when Shearin joined the band in 2012, River Whyless acquired not only an accomplished bass player and multi-instrumentalist, but also a third singer/songwriter. The new dynamic added yet another strong personality to an already potent lot, and the result was a period of creative gestation wherein the band’s four distinct musical voices struggled to coalesce into a single vision. In short, River Whyless worked for three years to compile a couple albums’ worth of songs that everybody liked, but not everybody loved.
It wasn’t till the band decamped to Maine in the summer of 2015 that We All The Light began to take shape. Set up in a woodshed, the only objective was to start fresh. New songs, new ideas. The slate was clean, and their minds, coerced by creative desperation, were open. Every morning, before entering the woodshed, they helped Joe, their host, haul cedar logs across the property. Joe was building another shed. It seemed an apt metaphor. The logs were large, and it took four people to haul them, and the ground was uneven. But it wasn’t complicated, as long as there was communication. One log at a time, piece by piece. This made sense to them. There was a newfound clarity. Compromise developed into actual collaboration.
In an attempt to further explore the virtues of collaboration, the band enlisted, for the first time, an outside producer.
Enter Justin Ringle, a musician and producer who was, ironically, accustomed to running his own show. Having written and self-produced five successful albums as the lead singer/songwriter behind Horse Feathers, Ringle had every right to expect a certain level of autonomy while working on We All The Light. But what proved Ringle’s greatest asset, aside from the obvious musical prowess his resume displays, was not necessarily his ability to impose his own creative vision. Rather, it was his ability to listen, to adapt and improvise, to effectively apprehend the level of complexity with which a band comprised of three songwriters and one discriminating percussionist tends to express itself. Ringle, embracing the collaborative spirit, understood that his job involved as much emotional orchestration as it did musical. He recognized how much love the band members had for each other and for their craft, and how that love, more than anything else, was the band’s greatest weakness; how the care and concern, expressed in different ways, was the thing that so often impeded their progress.
Ringle and the band worked with engineer Kevin Ratterman (who also mixed the album) in La La Land, a studio in Louisville, KY, where the album’s sonic foundation was recorded to tape. Then the group decamped again, this time to Ringle’s home in Astoria, Oregon, where they built a studio in the living room. Here is where they explored what Ringle recognized as the band’s strongest common denominator: its growing interest in global music. At its core, We All The Light is still very much a folk album. The global music influence is subtle, but significant in that it ties the record together, if not sonically, then spiritually. Which is not to say We All The Light is a religious album. It’s not that explicit. But it was music created outside the United States—of Africa and India and Asia—that inspired the band to experiment, to explore, and, most importantly, to have some fun. In “Kalangala,” for example, a track that includes tabla and kalimba, the band’s three songwriters sing in unison: “Here we are unbound,” a line that seems an apt encapsulation of the album’s musical and emotional attitude.
With three superlative singers and songwriters in O’Keefe, Anderson and Shearin, River Whyless consciously worked to blur the designation of a lead singer on We All The Light, deftly blending the three voices throughout the record. The trio’s vocals intertwine and layer together with gorgeous harmonies, rarely working alone. The vocal synergy is in many ways another instrument on We All The Light, adding additional colors and textures to the sonically adventurous mix.
The band’s music has already gained fans in the press. NPR Music’s Bob Boilen says the "immensely talented band from Asheville, N.C., was my favorite discovery at this year's Americana Music Festival. River Whyless builds its music around fiddle, guitar and harmonies, with imagination and textures that set the band apart from many of its acoustic and folk-based peers." Paste called their self-titled EP one of the best of 2015, saying "sometimes it can be hard to stand out in the crowd when you're producing experimental folk rock. Plenty of groups are capable of harmonizing well and turning simplistic rhythms into infectious anthems, but it's rare to find artists who can evoke as much emotion as River Whyless." River Whyless will make their Newport Folk Festival debut this summer, and also return to the Americana Music Festival in Nashville.
We All The Light is an album about heeding the need to adapt, to change, and, yes, to relinquish. It’s about submitting to the pains of compromise in order to honor the belief that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s about taking to heart the virtues of equality and learning how much more complicated that can be in practice than in theory. But also how rewarding.... See MoreSee Less
Give a listen to “Old Photographs,” the closing track on Tommy Emmanuel’s It’s Never Too Late, and you’ll hear the distinctive squeak of finger noise as he runs his hands across the frets of his Maton Signature TE guitar. Many musicians would edit those imperfections out, but to Emmanuel, those imperfections are perfect.
A master technician, Emmanuel started professionally at age 6, rising through the ranks as a studio player and member of several Australian rock bands before he set off on a solo career. One of only five musicians handpicked by his mentor, Chet Atkins, as a Certified Guitar Player (CGP), he’s piled up numerous accolades,including two Grammy nominations, two ARIA Awards from the Australian Recording Industry Association (the Aussie equivalent of the Recording Academy) and repeated honors in the Guitar Player magazine reader’s poll.
A noted fingerstyle guitarist, Emmanuel frequently threads three different parts simultaneously into his material, operating as a one-man band who handles the melody, the supporting chords and the bass all at once.His talents, which translate in any language, carry him to the far corners of the globe, but Emmanuel never plays the same show twice, and he improvises big chunks of every date. That leaves him open to those technical imperfections, though they also provide some of the humanity to an other-worldly talent.
“It’s all about the feeling of the music,” Emmanuel says. “And it has to make me feel something. I’m still playing for myself, you know, because I figure if I please me, then I’m pretty sure I’m gonna please you. And that’s not an arrogant statement, it’s just quality control.”... See MoreSee Less
About: Kick off The Back Porch Festival with Willie Nelson Night! Join Dietrich Strauss, an all-star house band and very special guests for an evening of Willie Nelson songs. The show will include a The Red Headed Stranger sing a long and surprises.... See MoreSee Less
Pat Benatar: she's always been a rule-breaker and a trail-blazer, a bold and distinctive artist on stage and on record. After more than three decades in rock 'n' roll, she's a bonafide living legend with songs like "Love is a Battlefield", "Hit Me with Your Best Shot", "Heartbreaker", "Promises In The Dark" and "We Belong" as unforgettable now as they were at the dawn of MTV, when Pat emerged, fearless, fighting and forging a path for other female rock stars around the world. Neil "Spyder" James Giraldo, has been a professional musician, producer, arranger and songwriter for over four decades now, changing the face of the pop charts throughout the 1980s with his collaborator, muse and wife, Pat Benatar. More than just an explosive steel-bending guitar player, Giraldo's innovative vision helped him create the signature Benatar sound, from its inception.... See MoreSee Less
www.blindboys.com The Blind Boys of Alabama have the rare distinction of being recognized around the world as both living legends and modern-day innovators. They are not just gospel singers borrowing from old traditions; the group helped to define those traditions in 20th century and almost single-handedly created a new gospel sound for the 21st. Since the original members first sang together as kids at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in the late 1930s (including Jimmy Carter, who leads the group today), the band has perserved through seven decades to become one of the most recognized and decorated roots music groups in the world.
Touring throughout the South during the Jim Crow era of the 1940s and 1950s, the Blind Boys flourished thanks to their unique sound, which blended the close harmonies of early jubilee gospel with the more fervent improvisations of hard gospel. In the early 1960s, the band sang at benefits for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and were a part of the soundtrack to the Civil Rights movement. But as the years passed, gospel fans started to drift away and follow the many singers who had originated in the church but were now recording secular popular music. And the Blind Boys, who refused many offers to ‘cross over’ to secular music, also saw their audiences dwindle. However, the Blind Boys persevered and their time came again, starting in the 1980s with their starring role in the Obie Award-winning musical “The Gospel at Colonus,” which began a new chapter in their incredible history. It’s almost unbelievable that a group of blind, African-American singers, who started out touring during a time of of whites-only bathrooms, restaurants and hotels, went on to win five Grammy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Grammy, be inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and to perform at the White House for three different presidents.
Few would have expected them to still be going strong—stronger than ever, even—so many years after they first joined voices, but they’ve proved as productive and as musically ambitious in recent years as they did in the beginning. In 2001, they released Spirit of the Century on Peter Gabriel’s Real World label, mixing traditional church tunes with songs by Tom Waits and the Rolling Stones, and won the first of their Grammy Awards. The next year they backed Gabriel on his album Up and joined him on a world tour, although a bigger break may have come when David Simon chose their cover of Waits’ ‘Way Down in the Hole’ as the theme song for the first season of HBO’s acclaimed series The Wire. Subsequent Grammy-winning albums have found them working with the likes of Ben Harper, Aaron Neville, Mavis Staples, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Willie Nelson.
In 2013 the band worked with Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver) to release I’ll Find A Way, a powerful collection of gospel and spiritual songs new and old, featuring some of the Blind Boys’ most fervent vocals as well as contributions by a new generation of Blind Boys fans, including Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, Patty Griffin, and Justin Vernon himself.
Their most recent album, Talkin’ Christmas!, a collaboration with Taj Mahal, continues the band’s streak of creating original and interesting work. It includes new versions of Christmas standards, covers of hidden gospel gems, and seven brand-new holiday songs - six of which are the first Christmas songs ever penned by the Blind Boys themselves. The new original songs include the title track ‘Talkin’ Christmas!,’ a funky tribute to the power of Christmas featuring Money Mark on keyboards, and the compassionate ‘What Can I Do?,’ which features Taj Mahal on vocals and is one of two songwriting collaborations with Stax Records soul legend William Bell. The album also features a hand-clapping rearrangement of the usually-slower classic ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ and a refreshingly intimate, acoustic version of ‘Silent Night.’
The Blind Boys' live shows are roof-raising musical events that appeal to audiences of all cultures, as evidenced by an international itinerary that has taken them to virtually every continent. The Blind Boys of Alabama have attained the highest levels of achievement in a career that spans over 75 years and shows no signs of diminishing. “We appreciate the accolades and we thank God for them,” says Jimmy Carter, a founding member and the Blind Boys’ current leader. “But we’re not interested in money or anything other than singing gospel. We had no idea when we started that we would make it this far. The secret to our longevity is, we love what we do. And when you love what you do, that keeps you motivated. That keeps you alive.”... See MoreSee Less
--- www.sarahjarosz.com "I really like that word," Sarah Jarosz says of the title of Undercurrent, her fourth Sugar Hill album. "If you look up the definition, it's 'an underlying feeling or influence' or 'a flow of water moving below the surface.' To me, that really encompasses the feeling behind this record."
That evocative imagery is appropriate for Undercurrent, whose 11 original songs seem to reveal new lyrical depth and sonic nuance with every listen. A gifted multi-instrumentalist, a singularly expressive vocalist and a songwriter of rare insight, Sarah Jarosz has been described by The New York Times as "one of acoustic music's most promising young talents: a singer-songwriter and mandolin and banjo prodigy with the taste and poise to strike that rare balance of commercial and critical success."
Although it's her fourth album, Undercurrent is a milestone for Jarosz in more ways than one. It's her first release since graduating with honors from the New England Conservatory of Music, and her first since relocating to New York City.
"This is the first record I've made since being out on my own and experiencing a lot of changes, and I think that that's reflected in the songs," Jarosz explains. "It's also the first record I've ever made that feels to me like a complete thought, with a beginning, a middle and an ending. It's also the first time I've made an album that doesn't have any covers on it. I wanted it to feel like the rollercoaster ride that is life, so I put a lot of thought into sequencing the songs. It was important for me to start with light, and then go through darker times, and stubbornness and strength and weakness, and then end up on a hopeful note."
Undercurrent is a sublimely resonant song cycle anchored around a haunting quartet of songs written and performed solo by the artist: "Early Morning Light," "Everything To Hide," "Take Another Turn" and "Jacqueline." The album features several numbers co-written by Jarosz with a variety of collaborators who also contributed to the recordings, including Luke Reynolds ("Green Lights"), Jedd Hughes ("House Of Mercy"), Parker Millsap ("Comin' Undone") and Aoife O'Donovan ("Still Life"). The latter track features O'Donovan, of Crooked Still fame, as well as Nickel Creek co-founder Sara Watkins, Jarosz's bandmates in their extracurricular trio I'm with Her. Undercurrent also includes two songs co-written with the Milk Carton Kids’ Joey Ryan, including the nostalgic “Back Of My Mind”.
"When I visualize this record, I think of the Central Park reservoir, where I spent a lot of time getting inspiration and thinking about the album," Jarosz notes, adding, "It was the most focused I had ever been, in terms of trying to write every day and having a grander idea of what I really wanted to write, so I was able to enjoy the process of writing more than ever.
And it was a luxury to go to Nashville for two months to work on the record, because in the past I was always running back and forth between school, touring and the studio."
While Undercurrent is a creative landmark for Jarosz, she's been making music for most of her life. Growing up in Wimberley, Texas, she began singing in early childhood. Receiving a mandolin for Christmas when she was nine years old, she worked tirelessly to master the instrument, and learned to play guitar and clawhammer banjo along the way. When she was 11, she performed at her first bluegrass festival; over the next few years, she gained an impressive reputation as a young phenom on the festival circuit, absorbing a world of traditional influences while honing her own highly original songwriting sensibility.
www.timobrien.net Born in Wheeling, West Virginia on March 16, 1954, Tim O’Brien grew up singing in church and in school, and started playing folk and rock music on guitar at age 12.
After seeing Doc Watson on TV, he became a lifelong devotee of old time and bluegrass music. He started making his living as a musician at age 19 in Chicago and in Jackson, Wyoming eventually relocating to Boulder, Colorado in the fall of 1974.
O’Brien found work there as a fiddler with local bluegrass bands and as a member of the Ophelia Swing, recording with them and with Pete Wernick in 1977. In those early Colorado years, he started playing the mandolin, and studied guitar and music theory with local jazz great Dale Bruning.
In 1978, Tim co-founded the bluegrass group Hot Rize with Pete Wernick, Charles Sawtelle, and Nick Forster. Hot Rize and Western Swing alter-egos Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers eventually recorded ten albums and toured the US, Europe, Japan, and Australia. The group was named Entertainer of the Year 1990 by the International Bluegrass Music Association, and their Colleen Malone was named IBMA’s Song of the Year in 1991. He won IBMA’s Male Vocalist of the year in 1993, and again in 2005, when he also won song of the year for Look Down That Lonesome Road.
Solo recordings started with 1982’s Hard Year Blues, and other projects included three duet albums with his sister Mollie O’Brien. Folks in Nashville started noticing Tim’s songs, and he had top ten country hits in 1989 and 1990 with Kathy Mattea’s versions of Hot Rize songs Walk The Way The Wind Blows and Untold Stories. Other notable covers by New Grass Revival, Nickel Creek, Garth Brooks, and the Dixie Chicks followed. Hot Rize went dormant in the spring of 1990, after which O’Brien performed and recorded on his own, eventually releasing fourteen solo recordings, as well as collaborations with Dirk Powell (Songs From The Mountain) and with Darrell Scott (Real Time). Landmarks solo releases include a Grammy nominated set of bluegrass Dylan covers – Red On Blonde, the Celtic/Appalachian fusion of The Crossing, and 2005’s Grammy winning Fiddler’s Green.
Tim toured and recorded with Steve Earle’s Bluegrass Dukes in the early 2000’s, and with Mark Knopfler in 2009 and 2010. Other recent collaborations include another CD with Darrell Scott (Memories and Moments), a track with Steve Martin (Daddy Played The Banjo), a family band set of Roger Miller songs (Reincarnation), and the reunited Hot Rize’s When I’m Free. A collaboration with Jerry Douglas, Sean Camp and others -The Earls Of Leicester - won both a Grammy as well as IBMA’s Record of the Year in 2015.
Tim has produced recordings for Laurie Lewis, Mollie O’Brien, the Yonder Mountain String Band, the Infamous Stringdusters, Cahalen Morrison and Eli West, and Old Man Luedecke. He has recorded and performed with The Chieftains, Joan Baez, Dierks Bentley, Bill Frisell, and the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra. He contributed to the movie soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou? as well as those of Cold Mountain, and The Blob. He is a former president of the International Bluegrass Music Association, and currently serves on the board of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame. O’Brien formed his own record label, Howdy Skies Records, in 1999, and in 2015 launched the digital download label Short Order Sessions (SOS) with his partner Jan Fabricius. SOS releases two new tracks every month. He has two sons, Jackson (33) and Joel (25), and has lived in Nashville since 1996. Hobbies include cooking, skiing, and playing traditional Irish music.
Tim’s newest CD, Pompadour, came out in October of 2015. It features six new songs and four covers, including a banjo driven version of James Brown’s Get Up Offa That Thing.
www.tonytrischka.com (United States Artists Friends Fellow-2012) is considered to be the consummate banjo artist and perhaps the most influential banjo player in the roots music world. For more than 45 years, his stylings have inspired a whole generation of bluegrass and acoustic musicians with the many voices he has brought to the instrument.
A native of Syracuse, New York, Trischka's interest in banjo was sparked by the Kingston Trio's "Charlie and the MTA" in 1963. Two years later, he joined the Down City Ramblers, where he remained through 1971. That year, Trischka made his recording debut on 15 Bluegrass Instrumentals with the band Country Cooking; at the same time, he was also a member of America’s premier sports-rock band Country Granola. In 1973, he began a three-year stint with Breakfast Special. Between 1974 and 1975, he recorded two solo albums, Bluegrass Light and Heartlands. After one more solo album in 1976, Banjoland, he went on to become musical leader for the Broadway show The Robber Bridegroom. Trischka toured with the show in 1978, the year he also played with the Monroe Doctrine.
In 1978, he toured Japan and recorded with Peter Rowan and Richard Greene. In the early 1980s, he began recording with his new group Skyline, which released its first album in 1983. Subsequent albums included Robot Plane Flies over Arkansas (solo, 1983), Stranded in the Moonlight (with Skyline, 1984) and Hill Country (solo, 1985). In 1984, he performed in his first feature film, Foxfire with Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy and John Denver. Three years later, he worked on the pre-recorded music for the off-Broadway production of Driving Miss Daisy that featured Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. Trischka produced the Belgian group Gold Rush's No More Angels in 1988. The following year, Skyline recorded its final album, Fire of Grace. He also recorded the theme song for Books on the Air, a popular National Public Radio Show, and continued his affiliation with the network by appearing on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, From Our Front Porch, and other radio shows. Trischka continued his recording career with 1993's World Turning, 1995's Glory Shone Around: A Christmas Collection and 1999's Bend. New Deal followed in 2003.
Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular, featuring appearances by Steve Martin, Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Tony Rice and many other luminaries, came out four years later. For this recording he went back to Bluegrass and reinvigorated the double banjo tradition. In October 2007, Tony was given an IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) award for Banjo Player of the Year 2007. Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular received IBMA awards for Recorded Event of the Year, Instrumental Album of the Year and a Grammy Nomination.
With his fearless musical curiosity as the guiding force, Tony Trischka's critically acclaimed release, Territory roams widely through the banjo's creative terrain. Nine selections partner Tony with fellow banjoists Pete Seeger, Mike Seeger, Bill Evans, Bill Keith and Bruce Molsky. Twelve all-Trischka solo tracks explore a panorama of tunings, banjo sounds, and traditions; tapping the creative potential of America's signature musical instrument.
Tony is not only considered amongst the most innovative of banjo players, he is one of its most respected and sought after instructors creating fifteen instructional books as well as a series of DVDs. In 2009, he launched the groundbreaking Tony Trischka School of Banjo, an advanced, interactive, online instructional site that is the banjo home for students from around the world.
2011 saw “Give Me the Banjo” aired on PBS stations nationwide with Tony as the Musical Director and Co-Producer of the documentary. It was subsequently released on DVD. He produced Steve Martin’s Grammy nominated Rare Bird Alert (Rounder), which features performances by Paul McCartney, the Dixie Chicks and the Steep Canyon Rangers.
In the summer of 2012, Tony continued to broaden the reach and influence of the banjo as performer and Band Leader for the Shakespeare in the Park, NYC performances of “As You Like It”, placing the banjo in even newer ground.
In December of 2012, Tony was awarded the United States Artists Friends Fellow in recognition of the excellence of his work.
On Tony’s latest album Great Big World (Rounder Records - released February, 2014) his instrumental expertise and boundless imagination are as sharp as ever. One of the most ambitious and accomplished of his career, the album is a deeply compelling showcase for his expansive instrumental talents, far-ranging musical interests and distinctive songwriting skills, as well as his sterling taste in collaborators. With contributions from his band Territory, Steve Martin, Michael Daves, Noam Pikelny, Ramblin’ Jack Eliot and many other special guests the 13-track set finds Trischka embracing all manner of possibilities, while keeping one foot firmly planted in the traditional bluegrass roots that first inspired him to make music.
Tony continues to maintain a national and international touring schedule with his band of extraordinary musicians.
www.lulawiles.com If you ask Lula Wiles about their self-titled debut album, they’ll be quick to tell you it was a long time coming. The album’s eleven original songs were written over the course of the preceding four years, tested and lived in on stages and in bedrooms and backyards in Maine and Boston, and reborn in November and December 2015 through the band’s collaboration with producer/ guitarist Adam Iredale-Gray and drummer Sean Trischka. Self-released on May 27, 2016, the album is Lula Wiles’ first creative statement, an exploration of their sound. The band is deeply rooted in traditional folk music, but equally deep is their devotion to modern songcraft. The songs span from heartbreak-drenched acoustic ballads to honky-tonk swagger to contemporary grit and back again, all anchored by rich vocal harmonies. Their lyrics are fiercely honest, littered with reinvented folk tropes and evocative images – a rainy field of daisies, a dusty bar lit by Christmas lights, an unmade bed. Acclaimed singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan calls the record “a stunning collection of self-penned songs about love, loss, and drinking – the perfect blend of modern and timeless.” The three band members swap instruments and frontwoman duties, with six songs penned and sung by fiddler/guitarist Ellie Buckland, four by fiddler/ guitarist Isa Burke, and one by bassist Mali Obomsawin. Onstage, the band gathers tightly around a single microphone for a spirited live show that resonates like a whiskey-slap to the heart.
Though the band is young, all the members of Lula Wiles have spent their lives grounded in songs. Born in Maine to musical families, they began playing music together as kids at Maine Fiddle Camp, and eventually each made their way to Boston to study at Berklee College of Music. Isa and Ellie began performing as a duo in 2013, and Lula Wiles was born when Mali joined the band a year later. When Lula Wiles performs, the band’s many years of friendship are clear from their effervescent vocal blend and electrifying musical chemistry. Now based in Boston's thriving and close-knit roots music community, Lula Wiles have performed at premier festivals and clubs throughout the East Coast, including Club Passim, the Sinclair, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Fresh Grass Festival, and Green River Music Festival. They were also selected as Official Showcase Artists for the 2016 Folk Alliance International conference. Roots authority No Depression predicts Lula Wiles “will be a huge force on the Americana scene for years to come.” All proficient vocalists, multi-instrumentalists, and songwriters, the three women of Lula Wiles are each uniquely powerful in their own right; but combined, they are a force to be reckoned with.... See MoreSee Less
--- www.lorimckenna.com Lori McKenna puts a magnifying glass on un-championed lives. She doesn’t just notice the quiet and ordinary, she delights in it – effortlessly transforming the average to extraordinary. The result is over a decade worth of songs filled with honest stories and melodic depth, and her latest release is no exception.
Produced by Dave Cobb, McKenna’s tenth studio album, The Bird & The Rifle revels in the routines and events that may seem mundane but are the most important, transcendent moments of our lives. McKenna says with a laugh. “But that is where our greatest conversations happen––sitting in the front seat of someone’s car in the driveway when we should have gotten out 15 minutes ago.”
While Nashville has become an important artistic and business hub, Stoughton, Massachusetts has remained home. A married mom to five kids, McKenna explains that leaving Massachusetts just never made sense. “My whole family is here,” she says. “I don’t think it changes your growth as a writer, where you are. I think you will grow no matter what, as long as you put the work into it.”
Her commute between the two cities hasn’t held her back in the least. Nearly a decade since receiving her first album cut through superstar, Faith Hill, McKenna is one of the most sought after songwriters in the industry with her songs recorded by top artists including Reba, Alison Krauss, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and Keith Urban. McKenna’s songwriting credits include the 2x Platinum Billboard No. 1 hit, “I Want Crazy,” by Hunter Hayes and radio favorites like Little Big Town’s “Your Side of the Bed” and “Sober.” She penned the 2015 massive Little Big Town hit, “Girl Crush,” which reached 11 weeks on the Billboard’s Hot Country Songs and netted McKenna a CMA Award, NSAI Songwriters and her first Grammy. Billboard recently spotlighted McKenna for bringing the solo songwriter back to No. 1 with her Tim McGraw hit, “Humble & Kind.” The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart marking the first time in more than four years a song written by one writer topped the chart.
As an artist, McKenna has now recorded a total of 10 albums. Rolling Stone named Numbered Doors, a stunning collection of her gritty, pensive songs, one of the “40 Best Country Albums of 2014.” Massachusetts, released the previous year, introduced McKenna to an even wider audience, hungry for something real, while 2012’s Heart Shaped Bullet Hole and 2011’s Lorraine were also breakthroughs, adding New York Times praise to her long list of fans including American Songwriter, Paste, and CMT.
McKenna’s determination to grow is obvious. While she started out undeniably strong in the late 90s, she’s only gotten better, topping herself even when it seemed impossible to do so. When she signed with Creative Nation for publishing and management in June of 2015, one of the first items of business was McKenna’s own new album. She remembers a conversation with Creative Nation’s co-founder, Beth Laird, that set the new record in motion: “Beth said to me, ‘Hey, would you ever think about Dave Cobb as somebody you’d want to work with?’ And literally, I had been wondering but afraid to ask her, ‘Hey, do you think Dave Cobb would ever want to work with me?’”
The Bird & The Rifle proves that the worlds of Cobb and McKenna were meant to overlap. The Grammy-winning producer behind albums from Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, and more, Cobb has emerged as a modern master of capturing the grizzled beauty in imperfection. “This record was made in a way that’s very different from anything else I’ve ever done,” says McKenna. “It’s very much me––this record and the songs. But it’s like I took the 10 songs and just got in someone else’s car and took a ride down the coast. I completely plugged into the world of Dave Cobb.”
Recorded live, the album invites close listening, achieving an intimacy that is comfortable but precise. Pared-down instrumentation including rolling guitar, blood-pumping bass, and soothing percussion creates room for McKenna’s lyrics and vocals to soar. Her voice cuts through not by overpowering, but with stark gentleness.
When asked how many of her songs’ characters are rooted in her own experiences, she acknowledges drawing on her own life in addition to imagining others’ realities and feelings. “I think if I just always wrote specifically about myself, I would get really sick of myself, and I think everybody else would too,” she says, laughing. “I think that might be because I’m the youngest of six from an Irish Catholic family. I’m not exactly sure where that comes from.”
“Wreck You” kicks the album off with room-shushing heartbreak. Written with Felix McTeigue nearly eight years ago, the song explores the pain of hurting someone else over sparse strings that evoke 70s-era Beatles. “Sometimes we all feel like, ‘Oh, I cannot do anything right,’” McKenna says. “I think your job as a songwriter is in the three and half minutes that you have, to exaggerate that feeling, take that little speck of a feeling and set it on fire.”
“The Bird & The Rifle” is an ideal example of the way McKenna acknowledges the complexity of relationships. She says that the song’s title and concept came from overhearing a joke on a Modern Family rerun airing in the background while she was folding laundry one afternoon. Characters were listing ideas for complementary tattoos that reflect and attract one another, like the moon and stars.
The character, Gloria, delivered the punch line, pairing tattoos of a bird and a rifle. “It came from a place that should be love, but it’s a destructive love instead,” McKenna says. “It floored me.” She wrote the song with Troy Verges and Caitlyn Smith at her house after holding the idea for a while and the result is frightening and raw, with a haunting tension conveyed in part by McKenna’s lilting vocals that slip into a refrain reminiscent of a bird crying in the backyard.
The album also features McKenna’s own recording of “Humble & Kind,” which Tim McGraw recorded and took to country radio this past January. McKenna wrote the song alone at home while her kids were at school. The song is a loving attempt to impart wisdom, layered over three chords. “I can say it’s one of my favorite songs, mostly because I had my kids in my head the whole time I was trying to write it,” she says. “My kids know that it’s theirs, and it’s nice in that way. It worked out pretty good.”
More than anything else, McKenna wants her songs to hit listeners wherever and whoever they are. “My husband always teases me and says I don’t really have the Boston accent I used to have,” McKenna says. “When I started traveling a lot, I started pronouncing my r’s, because they were nonexistent before that. And then when I sing, I have to sing in a way that people can understand my words. So my husband and I have this joke: He says, ‘It’s like you have no self-identity.’ But I figured it out. I’m not supposed to. I’m a songwriter. I’m supposed to be able to identify with these other characters and write songs about them. That’s my job.”
www.smither.com A profound songwriter, Chris Smither draws deeply from the blues, American folk music, modern poets, and philosophers. Reviewers continue to praise his dazzling guitar work, gravelly voice and songwriting. “Smither is an American original – a product of the musical melting pot and one of the absolute best singer-songwriters in the world.”—Associated Press.
Born in Miami, during World War II, Chris Smither grew up in New Orleans where he first started playing music as a child. The son of a Tulane University professor, he was taught the rudiments of instrumentation by his uncle on his mother’s ukulele. “Uncle Howard,” Smither says, “showed me that if you knew three chords, you could play a lot of the songs you heard on the radio. And if you knew four chords, you could pretty much rule the world.” With that bit of knowledge under his belt, he was hooked. “I’d loved acoustic music – specifically the blues – ever since I first heard Lightnin’ Hopkins’ Blues In My Bottle album. I couldn’t believe the sound Hopkins got. At first I thought it was two guys playing guitar. My style, to a degree, came out of trying to imitate that sound I heard.”
In his early twenties, Smither turned his back on his anthropology studies and headed to Boston at the urging of legendary folk singer Eric von Schmidt. It was the mid-’60s and acoustic music thrived in the streets and coffeehouses there. Smither forged lifelong friendships with many musicians, including Bonnie Raitt who went on to record his songs, “Love You Like A Man” and “I Feel the Same. (Their friendship has endured with Bonnie guest-appearing on Smither’s record Train Home. Over the years she has invited Chris to join her as support on concert dates, and most recently, lent her take on Chris’ “Love You Like A Man” for LINK OF CHAIN, a Chris Smither tribute CD.) What quickly evolved from his New Orleans and Cambridge musical experiences is his enduring, singular guitar sound – a beat-driven finger-picking, strongly influenced by the playing of Mississippi John Hurt and Lightnin’ Hopkins, layered over the ever-present backbeat of his rhythmic, tapping feet (always mic’d in performance).
Smither’s first albums, I’m A Stranger, Too! (1971) and Don’t It Drag On (1972) were released on Poppy Records, home of kindred spirit Townes Van Zandt. By the time Smither recorded his third album, Honeysuckle Dog with Lowell George and Dr. John helping out, United Artists had absorbed Poppy and ultimately dropped much of their roster, including Smither. Smither made his next record in 1985, when the spare It Ain’t Easy on Adelphi Records marked his return to the studio.
By the early ’90s, Smither’s steady nationwide touring and regular release of consistently acclaimed albums cemented his reputation as one of the finest acoustic musicians in the country. His 1991 album, Another Way to Find You, was recorded live in front of an in-studio audience with no overdubs or second takes. This would be the first of two albums with Flying Fish Records. His next recording, Happier Blue, was embraced by Triple A radio and received the NAIRD (now AFIM) award as Best Folk Recording of 1993. Up On The Lowdown (1995) marked the first of a trio of albums to be recorded with producer Stephen Bruton at The Hit Shack in Austin and his first of five albums with roots label HighTone Records. Up On the Lowdown rode the crest of the newly formed Americana radio format wave and sparked considerable interest abroad. A tour of Australia with Dave Alvin and extensive solo touring in Europe led to an expanding global interest in Smither. His song, “I Am The Ride,” from this album inspired the independent film, The Ride, for which Smither also composed the original score.
In early 1997 Smither released Small Revelations. It climbed the Americana and Triple A radio charts and led to concert dates with B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Nanci Griffith, and the hugely successful, original Monsters of Folk’ tour with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Dave Alvin and Tom Russell. Small Revelations also generated several film projects for Smither. Emmylou Harris recorded his song, “Slow Surprise,” for the The Horse Whisperer soundtrack on MCA. And his recording of “Hold On” was used in the indie feature film Love From Ground Zero. Smither also shared insight into his guitar style and technique on two instructional DVDs, available from Homespun Video.
His CD, Drive You Home Again (1999), garnered four-stars from Rolling Stone. And with it, Smither continued to tour world-wide. Shortly after, in 2000, Smither released his one-man-tour-de-force, Live As I’ll Ever Be. Recorded in-concert at various clubs and concert halls in California, Dublin, Galway, Boston, and Washington DC, it has proven to be a fan favorite, capturing Smither at what he loves to do: performing in front of an audience.
Train Home (2003) was Smither’s last record for HighTone and his first with producer David Goodrich. Over a six-week period, basic tracks for Train Home were recorded in the relaxed environment of Smither’s home near Boston. Working with new session musicians, the record is simultaneously sparse and assured. Lifelong friend and special guest, Bonnie Raitt, provided backing vocals and slide guitar on Smither’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row.”
In 2005, jazz great Diana Krall covered “Love Me Like A Man,” introducing what is now a blues standard to a whole world of jazz fans. Shortly after, Smither’s song “Slow Surprise” was included in the independent film, Brother’s Shadow. In addition, Smither narrated a two-CD audio book recording of “Will Rogers’ Greatest Hits.” Continuing to expand his creative horizon, Smither was invited to contribute an essay to Sixty Things to Do When You Turn Sixty, a 2006 collection of essays by American luminaries on reaching that milestone. In 2009, Melville House published Amplified, a book featuring 16 short stories by notable American performing songwriters. Smither’s story Leroy Purcell about a touring musician’s encounter with a Texas State Patrolman leads off the collection.
With the release of his 12th recording Leave The Light On (2006) on his own imprint, Mighty Albert, Smither began a new label relationship with the renowned acoustic and modern folk label, Signature Sounds. For the recording, Smither reunited with producer David Goodrich and session musicians Mike Piehl, Lou Ulrich and Anita Suhanin. As an added treat, Smither invited good friend and Grammy Award-winning multi-instrumentalist, Tim O’Brien, along with rising American roots stars, Ollabelle, to add their distinctive talents on several tracks. The song “Seems So Real” from the CD earned a Folk Alliance Award as “Song of the Year.” Smither followed this with Time Stands Still (2009), his most stripped down recording in some time, working with just two accompanists after the same trio had played a rare band performance – a non-solo setup required in order to play a Netherlands festival.
About the recording Smither says, “We’re the only three guys on this record, and most of the songs only have three parts going on. We had a freewheeling feeling at that festival gig, and we managed to make a lot of that same feeling happen in this record.” And always wanting to treat his fans well, in 2011 Smither put out two fan projects: a collection of live tracks from newly discovered concert recordings from the 1980s-1990s titled Lost and Found and the rollicking EP, What I Learned in School, on which Smither covered six classic rock and roll songs.
Smither followed these fan-projects with Hundred Dollar Valentine (2012), a ««««« (MOJO) studio record of all Smither-penned songs. With longtime producer David “Goody” Goodrich at the helm, this collection sported the unmistakable sound Smither has made his trademark: fingerpicked acoustic guitar and evocative sonic textures meshed with spare, brilliant songs, delivered in a bone-wise, hard-won voice.
The most recent recording project is Still On the Levee (2014) – a double-CD retrospective. Recorded in New Orleans at the Music Shed, this career-spanning project features fresh new takes on 24 iconic songs from his vast career – including Devil Got Your Man, the first song he penned, on up to several of his most recent originals.
Coming out at the same time as Still On the Levee, the book Chris Smither Lyrics 1966-2012 features his complete set of lyrics complemented by select images of Chris and performance memorabilia from his decades-long career. To commemorate his career to-date, Signature Sounds is releasing an all-star tribute record including a stellar list of artists offering their takes on some Smither favorites including Josh Ritter, Bonnie Raitt, Loudon Wainwright III, Dave Alvin, Peter Case, Tim O’Brien, Patty Larkin, and many others.
Honing a synthesis of folk and blues for 50 years, Chris Smither is truly an American original. As Acoustic Guitar magazine wrote, Smither sings about “the big things – life, love, loss – in a penetrating and poetic yet unpretentious way.”... See MoreSee Less