AmericanaFest 2018 feat. Buddy Miller, Tommy Emmanuel, The War and Treaty, & more

AmericanaFest 2018 feat. Buddy Miller, Tommy Emmanuel, The War and Treaty, & more

Fri · September 14, 2018

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:30 pm

$75 Festival Wristband

This event is 18 and over

Friday Schedule

Cannery Ballroom

7:30pm - Jim Lauderdale
8:30pm - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
9:30pm - Tommy Emmanuel
10:30pm - Buddy Miller
11:30pm - The War and Treaty

Mercy Lounge

8:00pm - Logan Ledger
9:00pm - Ruston Kelly
10:00pm - Brandy Clark
11:00pm - Ron Pope

ONE

7:30pm - Ian Noe
8:30pm - Tom Freund
9:30pm - Waler Salas-Humara
10:30pm - Lee Roy Parnell
11:30pm - J2B2 (John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band)

The High Watt

8:00pm - The Josephines
9:00pm - Blackfoot Gypsies
10:00pm - Devon Gilfillian
11:00pm - Luke Winslow-King

Jim Lauderdale
Jim Lauderdale
Two-time Grammy-winning singer and master songwriter Jim Lauderdale is both a "songwriter's songwriter," who's written/co-written many modern classics for iconic artists, as well as an intuitive sideman, who's enhanced the music of a bevy of esteemed musicians. As a solo artist, since 1986 up until now, he's created a body work spanning 28 albums of imaginative roots music, encompassing country, bluegrass, soul, R&B and rock. Along the way he's won awards, garnered critical acclaim, and earned himself an engaged fan base. Now, on
September 25th, Jim treats his fans to a new adventure, exploring the redemptive traditional sounds of Memphis and Nashville with his double album, Soul Searching: Vol. 1 Memphis/Vol. 2. Nashville (Sky Crunch Records).

This profound entry in Jim's artistic continuum represents an immersive journey into the heart of Americana music different than any of Jim's previous work. Jim recorded each album in hallowed halls with some of the finest and most respected purveyors of these soulfully indigenous sounds. Both albums feature roots savants Luther and Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars playing. Vol. 1 Memphis was tracked at the legendary Royal Studios, home base for producer Willie Mitchell and Hi Records, and where classic Al Green songs such as "Tired Of Being Alone" and "Let's Stay Together" were cut, along with R&B smashes from Ann Peebles, Otis Clay, and Bobby "Blue" Bland. Jim produced the album with Luther and Boo Mitchell, calling on some of Memphis' finest musicians including Charles and Leroy Hodges, Alvin Youngblood Hart and others, to capture the city's unique sound. Vol. 2 Nashville, produced by Jim and Luther, was tracked at the historic Nashville Victor Studio A, a treasure of recording history; the site of iconic sessions by such artists as Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, George Jones, among many others. Jim's recording was a celebration of the studio being saved after a prolonged fight to keep its doors open. Soul Searching: Vol. 1 Memphis/Vol. 2. Nashville (Sky Crunch Records) is a 26-song release available as a double album, and, conveniently, as individual albums.

Throughout his three-decade career, Jim Lauderdale has helped pave the way for the current Americana movement, recording albums and writing songs that cross genres from country, rock, folk and bluegrass. Jim has written songs and worked with some of the finest artists in traditional and modern music, including Robert Hunter, Ralph Stanley, Elvis Costello, George Strait, Buddy Miller, Lucinda Williams, John Oates, Solomon Burke, Lee Ann Womack, Old Crow Medicine Show, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Blake Shelton, the Dixie Chicks, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, and Gary Allan among many, many others. He also co-hosts a weekly radio show on SiriusXM with Buddy Miller, "The Buddy & Jim Show," which NPR's Fresh Air described as "...highly entertaining..." He is also co-host of Music City Roots, the weekly live and radio, podcast and PBS series.

Last September, the documentary, Jim Lauderdale: The King of Broken Hearts, was released, celebrating Jim's unconventional career. In 2010, Jim was honored with the SESAC Inspiration Award. Most recently, he received the prestigious American Eagle Award from the National Music Council along with Kris Kristofferson.

Visit http://www.jimlauderdale.com/ for more information, like Jim on Facebook or follow him on Instagram and Twitter (#soulsearching).
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Nearing their 5th Decade together, the iconic and profoundly influential Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, often cited as a catalyst for an entire movement in Country Rock and American Roots Music, continues to add to their legendary status.

With multi-platinum and gold records, strings of top ten hits such as "Fishin' In The Dark" and "Mr. Bojangles", multiple Grammy, IBMA, CMA Awards and nominations, the band's accolades continue to accumulate.

Their groundbreaking "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" album has been inducted into the U.S. Library of Congress as well as the Grammy Hall of Fame. NGDB’s recording of "Mr. Bojangles" was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2010.

Today, NGDB (Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden, Bob Carpenter) continue their non-stop touring in their 48th year together. Their most recent studio release was the critically acclaimed album "Speed of Life" (2009, SugarHill Records) In 2013 Capitol/EMI reissued in its original form on Vinyl “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” for its 40th Anniversary.
Tommy Emmanuel
Tommy Emmanuel
Two-time Grammy nominee Tommy Emmanuel has a professional career that spans over four decades and continues to intersect with some of the finest musicians throughout the world. A household name in his native Australia, Tommy has garnered hundreds of thousands of loyal fans worldwide. Tommy's unique style - he calls it simply "finger style" - is akin to playing guitar the way a pianist plays piano, using all ten fingers.

Guitar legend Chet Atkins was one of the first to inspire Emmanuel to pick up the guitar as a child. Decades later, Atkins himself became one of Emmanuel's biggest fans. In 1999, Chet honored Tommy Emmanuel with the title of "Certified Guitar Player" for his lifetime contribution to the instrument, a rare honor shared by only three other people in the world (Jerry Reed, Steve Warner and John Knowles). Atkins eventually recorded with Tommy in 1996 on "The Day the Finger Pickers Took Over the World", for which Emmanuel received his first Grammy award nomination. This was also Atkins last recording.

After a recent recuperative rest, resulting from an exhausting touring schedule, Tommy is now completely rejuvenated and embarking on a full tour schedule in 2008. A new double live CD and DVD, “Center Stage” filmed in High Definition and recorded at the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, California will be commercially released in Spring ‘08. The DVD portion will also air on Public Television affiliates all over the United States. Every element of modern technology was used in the production of both the DVD and CD. Tommy’s record producer, Kim Person, recorded and mixed the audio tracks, while long-time Sierra Nevada video producer/director Peter Barlow tied the entire package together in state-of-the-art quality. It makes for a stunning package, both aurally and visually.

The double disc Live CD “Center Stage” contains many fan show-stoppers, including Emmanuel’s Beatles Medley, Mombasa, and Initiation – the aboriginal tribute song that has evolved over the years and never sounds the same on any recording – or during any show. Tommy also introduces four never-before recorded tracks, “Ruby’s Eyes”, “Lenny Bro’”, “The Jolly Swagman” and “Papa George” (inspired by George Harrison). Also, included are several arrangements of popular traditional tunes like “House of the Rising”, “Nine Pound Hammer”, “Amazing Grace” – and for his Japanese fans, “Sukiyaki” This new CD is a great mix of the rare, the new, the traditional and the favorites.

Emmanuel's music and life are legendary in Australia. He began playing guitar at age 4, by learning to play by ear without any formal instruction. Emmanuel and his older brother Phil were child prodigies, starting their professional career in the 1960s. By the age of six, Tommy was already working as a professional musician. Shortly after his father's death in 1966, the Emmanuel family was approached by Australian country music star Buddy Williams, who took the family on the road until they were forced by the Australian child welfare department to stop traveling. The Emmanuel children were then sent to a regular school. During these years, Tommy was playing in "The Trailblazers" (with siblings Chris on drums and Virginia on slide guitar) on weekends. He also taught guitar and made numerous television appearances in musical competitions. Emmanuel's first brush with fame came when The Trailblazers won two televised talent contests and produced an EP. He and his siblings worked hard to create the family's sole income for several years. In his early teens, Tommy left home and moved to Sydney to pursue a professional career as a guitarist. Playing in clubs all over the city, Emmanuel soon found himself in high demand as a session player for some of the era's most popular performers. During the mid 70s through the early '80s, he joined one of the decade's biggest, Dragon, recorded thousands of commercial "jingles" and played on recordings for Air Supply, Men at Work and dozens of other popular artists. In 1987, Dragon toured with Tina Turner on her "Break Every Rule" tour.




In addition to his storied career, which includes 16 music and instructional recordings, Tommy is also an accomplished record producer and musical arranger. He is also well regarded for mentoring students by offering guitar workshops and master classes on tour. Other accolades include his 2007 Grammy nomination for “Gameshow Rag’ from “The Mystery” CD, induction into the Thumb pickers Hall of Fame in Muhlenberg, Kentucky (the only non-American so honored), and Acoustic Guitar Magazine readers’ poll for placing in the top 3 favorite artists. Emmanuel was voted Rolling Stone (Australia) Magazine's "Most Popular Guitarist" for two consecutive years. He has earned four Platinum and Gold albums, two consecutive "Golden Guitar" awards (2006, 2007) at the CMAA Awards in Australia. Another stellar career highlight was Tommy’s performance (with his brother Phil) at the Sydney 2000 Olympics Closing Ceremonies, viewed by over 2 billion people around the world. Emmanuel has set sales records that have yet to be broken and performed with hundreds of musical legends including Chet Atkins, Les Paul, Keith Urban, Eric Clapton, Sir George Martin, Tina Turner, Joe Walsh, Stevie Wonder, Nokie Edwards (of the Ventures), Hank Marvin, the Lexington (Kentucky) Philharmonic, the Dortmund (Germany) Symphony, and the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra. In addition, Tommy hosts several annual "TommyFest" concerts, where other stellar internationally recognized musicians are invited to share in a four day all-out celebration of music.

As a solo performer, Tommy’s dazzling performance, flawless guitar skills and voluminous repertoire never fail to amaze and engage his legions. From the wilds of Australia's outback to bustling major cities throughout the world, Emmanuel's flair and unforgettable showmanship have created an enviable fan base that continues to grow even larger every year.
Buddy Miller
Buddy Miller
Until he paints his masterpiece…

Pop stardom has, for many years, attuned listeners to the arrival of shining new faces filled with vital new ideas, to which attention must be paid. Instantly. Briefly, for the most part.

It says here that there is another path, at least if what one cares about is music, and not celebrity. The steady lines in Buddy Miller’s face, the passions which abide within his voice, and the effortless inflection of his guitar…all matched against words given shape by and with his wife, Julie, her writing and singing voice twining against his…they speak, as well, to the arrival of genius. Just not clothed in the baggage of youth.

It works like this: Malcolm Gladwell (the brilliant and best-selling synthesist of the varied research which seeks to explain how our brains work) recently summarized the research of a University of Chicago economist named David Galenson, who has been studying the age at which genius presents itself to the world. Two paradigms emerge. The precocious Pablo Picasso arrived as daunting and fertile talent in his early 20s, while the meticulous Paul Cézanne did not have an exhibition of his paintings until he was 57. Gladwell has also been advancing the thesis that it takes 10,000 hours to acquire mastery of any given skill.

This explains the slow, steady career arc of Buddy and Julie Miller.

Buddy will be 56 when Written in Chalk hits stores, though his work has been on regular exhibit since his wife, Julie (who is somewhat younger), began recording in 1990, and more so since he finally started making his own records in 1995. If his genius has not yet been widely recognized, no matter; the other musicians, they know. (There was a reason the final print edition of No Depression magazine proclaimed him to be artist of the decade, and it was not simply the mercurial humor of the magazine’s two editors. It was the music.)

He has been a singer, and the successful writer and co-writer of songs other people sang, many of them country stars, including the Dixie Chicks, Lee Ann Womack, and Brooks & Dunn. He has been a multi-instrumentalist and harmony singer for a succession of acclaimed performers, beginning with Julie, and then in prompt succession Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams. And, most recently, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. And he has produced records – in the studio he built in their home — released separately under his name and Julie’s, and bearing their names together (as with Written in Chalk). That same living space has produced acclaimed albums by Solomon Burke, Allison Moorer, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

For some years it was Julie who stood center stage, first back in Austin, Texas, where they met (she didn’t want the band to hire him), then in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and, finally, Nashville, where they settled in 1993, a short drive from Music Row. Along the way the Millers became close friends and supporters of Shawn Colvin, Jim Lauderdale, Peter Case and Victoria Williams, played in bands with guitarists Larry Campbell and Gurf Morlix, and drummer Don Heffington.

Worked on their art, slowly, surely. Perhaps uncertainly, but working, always. Beginning in 1990 Julie released four albums within the Christian market, and then two on the now shuttered roots label HighTone. Her last one, Broken Things, came out in 1999. Buddy has so far made five proper long players under his own name, though Julie’s singing and writing voice is ever-present throughout. And then, at last, in 2001, they finally, formally released an album under both names.

Eight years later, one of the most respected creative teams in Nashville — and beyond — has returned with a new suite of songs.

All things being equal, it’s a remarkable accomplishment. Both the album, and its making. Julie has had a tough time of it. Some years back she was diagnosed with fibromylgia (which is characterized by muscular pain, fatigue, and sleep deprivation), and so has had to cope with the ravages of a chronic illness. Five years ago her brother, Jeff Griffin, was struck by lightning while mowing their parents’ yard. She is a woman who feels deeply, and there is a careful emotional raggedness to many of the songs she unveils here. (And an unexpected helping of humor and joy, and abiding faith, too.)

And Buddy…he’s just been busy. In the two weeks he had set aside to finish this album last spring — originally simply to have been another Buddy Miller album — he was also trying to learn several dozens of songs he would be playing on tour with Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. And to remember how to play the steel guitar he’d agreed to bring along for that gig. In between lining up production gigs, and the like.

It didn’t get done. Or, rather, Written in Chalk didn’t get finished during that particular two-week slot, though he tried. But instead of simply meeting a deadline and turning in what he had finished, Buddy set the album aside and went back onto the road. This left time and room for a duet with Robert Plant (which they played publicly for the first time as part of the Americana Music Association’s 2008 Honors & Awards last September), and the additional gestation time seems to have emboldened Julie to become a full partner in the process. (Indeed, Buddy has only one co-write, and the balance of the album, save his well-chosen covers, comes from Julie’s pen.)
Buddy was born near Dayton, Ohio, to an Air Force family, and mostly raised in Princeton, New Jersey. Julie Griffin was born and raised in Waxahachie, Texas. They met, in 1975, in Austin, when he auditioned for a band she was in. She didn’t take to him right off, but they’ve been married a long time.

Only a couple of such confidence and competence could chance the emotional honesty of Written in Chalk. Only musicians of such renown could round up collaborators like Larry Campbell (who has played with Dylan, Levon Helm, and one or two others), keyboard player John Deaderick (Dixie Chicks, Mindy Smith), drummer Brady Blades (Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle), and singers like Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, and that guy who used to be in Led Zeppelin.

But, in the end, only Buddy and Julie Miller could make a record this good.

—written by Grant Alden
The War and Treaty
The War and Treaty
The duo that call themselves The War and Treaty: the name itself represents the pull between trauma and tranquility, music inspired by darkness and despair that ultimately finds a higher spiritual purpose. It’s a sound manifest on the group’s upcoming EP, Down to the River.

For Michael Trotter Jr., the journey began in 2004, when he arrived in Iraq, an untested soldier stricken by fear and self-doubt. His captain made it his personal mission to see to Trotter’s survival. The unit was encamped in one of Saddam Hussein’s private palaces, and in a forgotten corner in its basement, they found a black upright piano that once belonged to the dictator himself. When Trotter shared the fact he could sing, he was encouraged to teach himself to play piano on that confiscated keyboard. “I wrote my first song after that captain was killed,” Trotter recalls. “I sang it for his memorial in Iraq.” Soon after it became his mission to sing at the memorial services for those that had fallen. For the next three years, he sang songs that brought solace and comfort to the members of his unit. His efforts eventually garnered wider recognition as well. He came in first place in “Military Idol,” the army’s version of “American Idol,” during a competition held in Baumholder, Germany. Following his discharge, he was featured on the Hope Channel program “My Story, My Song.”

Then he met Tanya Blount. Blount's musically influences include Mahalia Jackson, Sister Odette and Aretha Franklin. The two fell in love, got married and used the experiences they had gained to create a new musical collaboration.

The couple then secured the services of musicians whose skills add a distinctive sound to The War and Treaty’s blend of roots music, blue grass,folk, gospel and soul. Recorded in Albion, Michigan, Down to the River boasts a sound that’s both stirring and sensual, driven by joy, determination and an unceasing upward gaze. The music is visceral but never morose, flush with emotion but void of despair… a style that touches on a variety of genres, but never finds itself confined to anyone. The arrangements are uncluttered– harmonies, basslines, guitar and mandolin licks, settle drum patterns and keyboards create an immensely moving soundscape — but the sentiments and emotions are fully realized and soar with a steady, chilling assurance. “The recording process wasn’t like anything I ever experienced,” Tanya recalls. “This EP has allowed me to breathe musically. I feel like all I have wanted to express for the past ten years has come forth with what we’ve done. The combination of heart, soul and the overwhelming amount of love that Michael and I have for one another comes across in this record. “

"I was sitting on the banks of the Euphrates River in Baghdad dreaming about one day being able to play and sing professionally for people all around the world,” Michael reflects. “As we recorded our music, I constantly had flashbacks of those desert dreams. I thought to myself that this is actually the perfect ending to usher in a new beginning in my life.”

That beginning can be heard in the album’s first single “Hi Ho,” a WMNF hit that is now being heard on radio stations throughout the country. Still, for all their optimism and initial intent, The War and Treaty, knows that as their name suggests, perseverance is key to success. They continue to tour, their five year old son in tow, hoping to share songs of reconciliation and humanity.
Ruston Kelly
Ruston Kelly
Ruston Kelly writes and performs the kinds of songs that inspire novels and movies. You could call him a bastard disciple of Kurt Cobain and Townes Van Zandt, and he’d be totally cool with that. He’s just as comfortable wearing a cowboy hat as he is in a Slayer t-shirt. His story so far twists and turns through heartbreak and triumph, an overdose and rehab, empty dive bars and packed venues, living everywhere from South Carolina to Brussels, and as he puts it, “finally getting my shit together and proposing to the love of my life.” It’s this unbelievable experience that informs his singular style—a gravelly patchwork of folk lyricism, grunge attitude, country heart, Americana spirit, and rock energy. Not only has he penned songs for Tim McGraw (“Nashville Without You”), Josh Abbott Band (“Front Row Seat”), and more, but his independent solo debut EP Halloween earned acclaim from KCRW, Consequence of Sound, RELIX, Apple Music, and more. “Poison” racked up over 516K Spotify streams, while “Black Magic” soundtracked the Season Finale of the CBS series Scorpion. He logged countless miles on the road sharing the stage with the likes of The Lumineers and Robert Earl Keen in addition to performing at Bonnaroo and Wakarusa. Signing to Washington Square Music / Razor & Tie and gearing up to record his full-length debut in 2017, Ruston holds nothing back.
Brandy Clark
Brandy Clark
"Ain't we all the stars playing the leading part in our own soap opera?" Brandy Clark belts out that question to kick off Big Day in a Small Town, positing the premise of not just the opening track ("Soap Opera"), but all 10 songs that follow it. The towns that anchor Clark's new album may be small enough to warrant only a single blinking light, but the lives lived in them are anything but... and neither are the hopes and dreams that rise from their backroads and bedrooms.

When you grow up in a small town, oftentimes, your dreams are all you have. Whether it's to become a football star or a father, a homecoming queen or a hairdresser, your dreams might be the only thing that keep you going. For Clark, the dream she harbored in her small hometown of Morton, Washington, was to be a country singer. Sure, once she moved to Nashville, she had successful cuts as a songwriter [The Band Perry's "Better Dig Two," Miranda Lambert's "Mama's Broken Heart," and Kacey Musgraves' "Follow Your Arrow" which won the CMA Song of the Year Award in 2014], but being an artist in her own right was a dream she had stopped dreaming until three years ago when her first album, the stunning 12 Stories, debuted.

At the time, it was a passion project, more than anything... a passion project that went on to become a GRAMMY- and CMA-nominated release that topped a myriad of "Best Albums of 2013" lists; earn her opening slots on tours with Eric Church, Jennifer Nettles, and Alan Jackson; land her performances onThe Ellen DeGeneres Show , Good Morning America, The Late Show with David Letterman, and a much-talked about collaboration with Dwight Yoakam on the 2015 GRAMMY Awards in recognition of her nomination in the all-genre Best New Artist category; and win her a Warner Bros. Records deal. Now, as she gears up for her sophomore set, the alternately feisty and poignant Big Day in a Small Town, Clark has much higher hopes.

"When I made 12 Stories, I think my dreams were a lot more realistic, in that I didn't expect a lot to happen... then it did," she says. "This time, my dreams are very much what they were when I was going to Vince Gill and Patty Loveless concerts and decided I was going to move to Nashville. Right now, my dreams are as big as when I was naïve enough to really dream them."

Produced by Jay Joyce [Little Big Town, Eric Church], Big Day in a Small Town tells the stories of the football star, the father, the homecoming queen, and the hairdresser because those are the stories and people that Clark grew up knowing. "All these songs, there's some little truth in them, somewhere, that resonates with me or that is about me," she confesses. Explaining the genesis of "Soap Opera," she offers, "When I would get worried about what people thought of me or what was going on with me, my mom would always say, 'You know, we're all the star of our daytime drama. We're just bit players in someone else's. Nobody cares that much about what's going on with you. They'll only care until there's something juicier going on with somebody else two weeks later.'"

But Clark cares enough about all of these characters to tell their stories: the aging beauty of "Homecoming Queen" who wonders what happened to the life she always wanted... the tempted exes of "You Can Come Over" who do all they can to not get burned by the flame that flickers between them... the heartbroken heroine of "Daughter" who wishes a bit of karmic justice on her ex in the form of a daughter who's "just as sweet as she is hot"... the defiant wild child of "Girl Next Door" who refuses to fit her lover's misguided notion of womanhood.

"'Homecoming Queen' is really real for me — I know that girl. 'You Can Come Over' is very real for me and 'Daughter' and 'Soap Opera'..." Clark's voice trails off as she thinks about the tales she tells. What about "Drinkin' Smokin' Cheatin'" with its pondering of ways to navigate the sometimes rocky waters of a relationship? Game plan? Wish list? "That's a total daydream," she says with a laugh. "I think we all have that daydream."

One of the most heartfelt moments on Big Day in a Small Town is the one that closes it, "Since You've Gone to Heaven." The song addresses the aftermath of losing someone close to you and it's one that Clark has wanted — and attempted — to write for years. "My dad was killed in a work accident the July before 9/11," she says. "When all that 9/11 stuff was going on and everyone was glued to the TV ... I thought right then, 'Since you've gone to heaven, the whole world has gone to hell.' But I sat on it for years and years because it seemed so bleak." As with all of Clark's compositions, there's some truth in it, just not necessarily the whole truth. "It's definitely not the story of my family in that song. I'll stress that," she says. "But I do think, a lot of times, when somebody dies, it blows things apart more than it brings things together."

While the lyrical themes echo those of 12 Stories, Clark pushed her vocal and musical boundaries on Big Day in a Small Town. Instead of building the songs from a simple guitar/vocal performance, Joyce brought the players in for five days of rehearsals before tracking live with the band. "A lot of those rehearsals became what the record was," Clark says, explaining that the recorded version of "You Can Come Over" includes her one-take, scratch vocal. "I wanted to fix a few things, but Jay wouldn't let me because he felt like it would lose emotion. He's about the heart of music. He's not about making it perfect."

"He is out to serve the artist and the song," she adds. Throughout the process, Joyce insisted that this be a "Brandy Clark record" not a "Jay Joyce record" because she was the one who would be performing it night-after-night even as he moved on to his next project. "If I didn't like something, he'd be the first person to change it. I think this project means nearly as much to him as it does to me."

Though Neil Young's Harvest was the only musical reference point the two discussed before heading into Neon Cross Studios, Clark and Joyce each brought their influences along — including Clark's long-standing love of classic country and Joyce's well-documented affinity for edgier rock. "He and I definitely come from different places, musically, which I think is probably good," she offers. "On 'Daughter,' he started to play an organ part and I said, 'That sounds like [Patsy Cline's] "Back in Baby's Arms."' He said, 'What's that?' He didn't know it."

Along with Sturgill Simpson, Ashley Monroe, Chris Stapleton, and Kacey Musgraves (who provides guest vocals on "Daughter"), Clark is part of a new vanguard in country music — one that tips a hat to tradition, while not eschewing its evolution. "I see what's happening right now and I feel this groundswell of people who love... I would say 'country' music, but I'll take it a step further and say 'real' music. I feel like there are people who are starved for that," she says. "The only music I've ever made is country music. The only music I've ever really listened to consistently is country music. And I want to keep that alive, so there's a responsibility in that, for me."

But, for Brandy Clark, that responsibility is a dream come true.
Ron Pope
Ron Pope
Fifteen years and seven studio albums into a career hovering at the edges of the music business, fighting for a seat at the table, Ron Pope is now in the midst of flipping that table over. It took a decade to become an overnight success. Hundreds of millions of streams, millions of singles sold, concerts packed out into the street all over the world; all of a sudden Ron Pope is part of the discussion. “At the very least, now I don’t really have to give a shit what anyone in the business expects from me. That’s pretty liberating. It’s like ‘Everyone’s making music that sounds like such and such this year’ and I can say ‘Cool. I don’t give a fuck; my fans just want me to do something good and they’ll stick with me as long as what I record is real and honest and full of songs that are worth listening to. So I’m just gonna keep doing what I do.’ That’s the freedom that holding onto my independence for so long and finding real success has bought me” Pope says from the East Nashville office of Brooklyn Basement Records, the label he runs alongside his wife and manager, Blair Clark.

For his newest album “Work,” Pope once again co-produced with Grammy Award winner Ted Young (The Rolling Stones, Grace Potter, Sonic Youth). The duo decided to record in Nashville at Welcome to 1979, an analog-centric studio. For Pope, this album marked his first recorded to tape. “It forced us to make choices. Digital recording allows you to do a limitless amount of takes. In the past, we could do five or ten takes of everything and pick and choose, but on this record, if we wanted to record another take of something, we often had to erase what was already there. Those decisions influenced us to play like we meant it on every take. Our friend Charles Ray, who’s my favorite trumpet player, came in to help on the record and what you hear on ‘Dancing Days’ is his first take, no editing, no fixing, no reconsidering. That’s just what he played and we all just yelled ‘Next’ and moved on! The spontaneity and looseness flavored this album in a way that feels really exciting and new to me.”

“On some of these songs, you can hear Nashville. On others, we’re walking down the street in New Orleans giving away beers to strangers, or I’m down on the Florida panhandle at 19 arguing with a frat boy when my blood ran a little hotter than it does now, or I’m back home in Georgia playing the bars I grew up in or singing quiet songs in my bedroom, looking back and looking forward; you find us a lot of places on this record.”

The concept for this album came into existence one afternoon in Texas. “The boys and I were playing a daytime party in Austin, packed into the corner of this little bar on the east side of the city. Everybody was on top of each other, sweating through our boots, amps turned up, day-drunk. The horn players were almost touching the drummer; the stage was so small that the guitar players and the keys were on the floor. We only played for about an hour, but we murdered that gig! I was playing guitar solos on my tiptoes, dancing with the people who were standing in front of me; they were sweating on us, we were sweating on them, it was madness! It felt like when I was back playing the bars as a kid. The only difference was, we were just playing my songs (and people actually wanted to hear them). I wondered what it would be like to make a record that was driven primarily by those kind of songs, tunes that your favorite bar band could play, that felt new but somehow also familiar. And that’s what this new record ‘Work’ is all about.”

“All of the best characters from my own life pop up on this record; girls who burned me down and threw the ashes out the window as they drove away, the 7th grade teacher who told my mother that I’d end up in prison, my father who usually speaks in parables like the Bible, Grandpa who’s taught me a lot about how to grab life by the throat, different versions of me, both from today and as a much younger, more dangerous version of myself, my stupid friends of course, my brother who keeps me honest…the gang’s all here. Some of it is serious, some of it is playful, but all of it is honest. Whether I’m screaming over booming Memphis flavored horns or whispering an acoustic love song, I’m just trying to tell you who I am and what’s on my mind without any bullshit.”

"We ended up using a bunch of the rough mixes that I put together in the studio; they just captured the vibe right and I didn't want to over-mix and ruin it. Sometimes ‘better’ is the enemy of ‘good’ or whatever that expression says,” Ted Young commented.

“Paul Hammer and I sat down to write but we’d gotten as drunk as two shithouse rats the night before and were the worst versions of ourselves that morning. He looked like he might cry or fall asleep at any moment and I could barely sit upright. We started talking about how we can’t really drink like we used to, but we’re not ready to hang up our dancing shoes just yet and before you know it, ‘Dancing Days’ was born. There’s lots of little snapshots like that, from different moments in my life all over this record. Like the song says, I’m just gonna keep on dancin’. I’m dying to put these songs on wheels and get out on the road to work up a sweat with the fans every night.”
Ian Noe
Ian Noe
Ian Noe is a singer/songwriter out of Beattyville, Ky.
Tom Freund
Tom Freund
Over the course of his career, singer/songwriter and Americana artist Tom Freund has released more than a dozen records, collaborated with legends such as Elvis Costello and Jackson Browne, pulled a half-decade stint on bass for alt-country pioneers The Silos, and has shared bills with everyone from Matthew Sweet to Guided by Voices. Freund’s intimate, heartfelt new solo album, East of Lincoln, chronicles a personal journey along the path from self doubt to enlightenment. “Time to take the wheel and turn this thing around / Time to make a deal and see what’s going down,” he affirms on “Runaround.” Freund takes his time and lets these new songs simmer, and that—along with memorable guest spots from longtime friend and collaborator Ben Harper and an all-star cast of session players—is a big part of the record’s charm.
Quietly reveling in its unhurried pace, East of Lincoln sticks in the mind long after listening. Within the record’s framework, Freund tackles progress, hope, and the corporatization of his beloved Venice Beach, which he captures as a bittersweet vortex of vanishing beauty and possibility. “I know I’m no saint, but I know when something is good and when it ain’t,” he sings on the title track, mourning Venice’s fading allure while basking in its once-electric atmosphere. The album dances on the edge of a stark duality: the sun-drenched SoCal beach town’s demise and Freund’s own eventual growth arc. “Better start swimming toward the shore,” he urges on “Abandoning the Ship.”
Much of the record—co-produced by Freund and Sejo Navajas (Smoke Season’s Gabrielle Wortman, Vintage Trouble)—is devastatingly raw. The primarily acoustic arrangements are livened up with some spectacular drumming from Matt Johnson (St. Vincent, Jeff Buckley) and Michael Jerome (Toadies, John Cale, Blind Boys of Alabama), pedal and lap steel from Ben Peeler (Dawes, Shelby Lynne, Father John Misty), keys from Rami Jaffe (Foo Fighters, Ryan Adams) and Chris Joyner (Sara Bareilles, Rickie Lee Jones) and violin from Jessy Greene (Wilco, The Jayhawks). But even with all these studio heavyweights on call, Freund is front and center on the record, singing and playing an eclectic mix of instruments including guitar, mandolin, ukulele, synth and his signature upright bass.
Ben Harper, who produced Freund’s 2008 record Collapsible Plans, lends his vocals to “Abandoning the Ship” and supplies steel guitar to ethereal closing track, “Dream On (Believe in Yourself).” Grammy-winning mixer Jim Scott, known for his work with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Wilco, Ron Sexmsith, Alejandro Escovedo, Lucinda Williams and many more, steps in for several sterling moments as well, leaving his sonic stamp on title song “East of Lincoln,” dreamy standout “Homer Simpson’s Clouds (Day of the Locust)” and dusky saloon romper “Poached Eggs.”
In many ways, Freund’s entire life and career have been leading up to this moment. He’s spent much of his time traversing genres, melding whatever sounds have happened to catch his whimsy with his unmistakable, earthbound songwriting. Back in high school, Freund played bass in the jazz ensemble and performed in productions such as Swing. A few years later, he enjoyed a brief stint in the off-Broadway scene and took classes at Columbia University in New York, later transferring to Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., but when music came knocking again, Freund answered.
His very first album was 1992’s Pleasure and Pain, a duo set with Ben Harper. For the next five years, he also toured and recorded with The Silos before releasing North American Long Weekend, his 1998 solo debut on Mercury Records. Moving ahead into the new millenium, Freund churned out several additional records while also assisting with projects from Mandy Moore, Rachael Yamagata, Graham Parker and other notable artists. From a handful of EPs to his 2007 kids record Hug Trees and 2011’s The Edge of Venice to his appearance playing alongside Parker in 2012 Judd Apatow comedy This is 40, Freund’s career has been a dynamic affair, and that includes plenty of work in film and TV.
His songs have been featured on series such as Better Things, Parenthood and One Tree Hill, and for his latest television project, forthcoming Amazon show Pete The Cat, Freund has co-written, sung and played songs with Elvis Costello, KT Tunstall, Dave Matthews and Diana Krall, and has also co-written the show’s theme song with creator Swampy Marsh (Phineas and Ferb). Costello takes lead vocals on each episode’s opening theme with Freund handling backing vocals and most of the instruments. Freund also co-wrote and sings the show’s end-credits song, "Go Pete Go." All 14 episodes of the animated series are scheduled for release this September.
East of Lincoln builds on Freund’s legacy while pushing beyond his comfort zone. “Angelus” is a groovy, organ-doused opener, and “Freezer Burn” a vulnerable mid-tempo affair reflecting on personal flaws in the wake of a breakup. “I was running on hope and fumes,” he sings. And where “London Bound Lady” is feathery and sweet, “Broke Down Jubilee” is gutting and mournful, glimmering with tears and silver-lined strings.
Freund’s new record is a potent reminder that life is measured not just by our successes, but by how we choose to grow from our failures.
East of Lincoln is out Sept. 7 on Surf Road Records.
Walter Salas-Humara
Walter Salas-Humara
A Cuban-American whose parents fled Castro’s Havana with him still in the womb, Walter Salas-Humara was raised bilingual just across the Florida Straits in Fort Lauderdale. College at University of Florida in Gainesville and a residency with the Vulgar Boatmen left him with a lifelong habit of Mudcrutch/Tom Petty-style crunchy guitar riffs. Chasing the punk prairie fire to New York just in time to sift through the ashes, he formed The Silos in 1985 with guitarist Bob Rupe and violinist Mary Rowell, plugging the main cable of American rock idiom into the jerry-rigged soundboard of Velvets-era feral experimentalism. The unlikely result, as evidenced by About Her Steps (1986), the seminal Cuba (1987) and their RCA debut The Silos (i.e., The One with the Bird on the Cover, 1990) was a loose-limbed conceptual country-rock that in turn influenced (if not outright inspired) the alt-country No Depression movement just around the corner. The band was voted Best New American Band in Rolling Stone Magazine's Critics' Poll of 1987 and appeared on Late Night with David Letterman in 1990.

With this apocalyptic agrarianism safely encoded in his band's name, Salas-Humara moved on once that lineup had run its course -- taking with him not the country revisionism that by now could have sustained him in an endless holding pattern, but rather the Lower East Side’s fervid avant-gardism, that high-test mixture of aggression and dissonance the neighborhood wears like a jailhouse tattoo. He forged connections in Austin, another lost outpost tailor-made for his particular set of influences, where he formed the poor man’s supergroup the Setters with songwriters Michael Hall of the Wild Seeds and Alejandro Escovedo of the True Believers. Moving to Los Angeles, he recorded and toured with Tom Freund, Manny Verzosa, Jon Dee Graham, Gary Sunshine and Darren Hess. Those middle records – Hasta la Victoria! (1992), Susan Across the Ocean (1994), Heater (and its remixed mutant twin Cooler) (1998) validated the early acclaim and expanded Salas-Humara’s reputation as one of the finest songwriters working in the American vernacular. In 1998, Salas-Humara moved back to New York and formed Silos 3.0, with Konrad Meissner on drums and Drew Glackin on bass and guitar.

Throughout the new millennium, the Silos have continued to release an admirable body of work. Laser Beam Next Door (2001) and Come on Like the Fast Lane (2007) are fierce power trio albums that burst with the crackling intensity of proto-punk legends the Velvet Underground and Television. When the Telephone Rings (2004) and
Florizona (2011) are intricately crafted productions, densely layered with glittering detail. With the passing of Drew Glackin in 2008, and the addition of Rod Hohl (bass and guitars), Bruce Martin (keyboards) and Jason Victor (guitar), the band has entered a new phase. Walter Salas-Humara and Silos present and past have marshaled the best of America -- our wide tradition, focused innovation and unfettered optimism. Embrace them as a national treasure.

2014 brought the release of a new Walter Salas-Humara solo album, Curve and Shake. Rolling Stone editor Anthony DeCurtis describes the album - “That sense of being untethered from certainties, of floating, permeates Curve and Shake. The feeling is gentle, not quite scary, but with an element of unease. Letting go of expectations combines aspects of sadness, freedom and even wonder. Like so many great singers, Walter communicates as much by what he doesn’t say as by what he does. His raspy tone provides a rich counterpoint to the genial surrealism, the offhand magical realism, of so many of his lyrics. His words are presented as if they’re describing straightforward events, but they speak a rich, associative poetry that evokes emotions more so than facts. His guitar playing is similarly adaptable – raw and stinging one moment, dreamy and droning the next.

2016 brought the release of 2 albums. Work: Part One, an acoustic rendering of Walter's best songs written in the 80s, is the first in a series of acoustic albums defining Walter as a singer/songwriter. It is produced by guitarist extraordinaire Richard Brotherton and includes familiar Silos Mary Rowell on violin and Amy Allison on supporting voice. Explodes and Disappears is an album of new songs, the follow up to Curve and Shake. Walter sings witty songs about modern life, rocks a sweet Spanish melody on guitar, swings a sexy jazz number, and then reaches deep for a soulful expression of values in a troubled world. He tops it all with a funky number chronicling 3 American misfits searching for peace of mind and headed for disaster on the shores of Mexico -- all skillfully blended into a seamless flow.

2017 has seen the release of Work: Part Two, the continuation of the acoustic series produced by Rich Brotherton. Walter is currently working on an electric album of songs in both Spanish and English to be released in the Spring of 2018. He is already singing many of these songs on tour.

Walter Salas-Humara has shared the stage with the following greats: Wilco, Lucinda Williams, Matthew Sweet, American Music Club, Chris Whitley, Hootie and The Blowfish, Violent Femmes, The Jayhawks, Yo La Tengo, Certain General, The Reivers, The True Believers, The Wild Seeds, Victoria Williams, Willard Grant Conspiracy, Mark Ribot, Ryan Adams, Jon Dee Graham, Alejandro Escovedo, Let's Active, Young Fresh Fellows, Miracle Legion, Living Color, Souled American, The Minus 5, Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3, Jon Langford, The Waco Brothers, Chuck Prophet, Jerry Joseph, Caitlin Cary, Anders Parker, Tom Freund, Centro-Matic, Spottiswoode and his Enemies, Lynyrd Skynyrd, …to name a few.
Lee Roy Parnell
Lee Roy Parnell
Lee Roy Parnell is part of a long line of Texas roots-music eclectics and is among the elite few who can be identified as a triple threat. An ace guitarist, as well as a distinctive singer, and hit songwriter, his music runs the gamut of diversity. Combining the influences of Blue-Eyed Soul, Delta Blues, Road House Rock, Southern Boogie, Texas Swing, and Gospel, Parnell’s sound defies conventional classification. He draws from a broad range of musical sources and combines them with seamless dexterity and, unlike many other hard-to-pigeonhole artists, Parnell has enjoyed a run of success on the country and blues charts. He reflects, “I am a writer, guitarist, vocalist & a performer. Every skill set feeds the next. I’ve never been able to separate one from the other. It all starts with the song and when writing I’ve found that nothing is stronger than the truth. It is from that wellspring that my singing and playing are born…performing, too. My goal is to keep it honest and let the listener feel what I’m feeling. No matter our different walks in life I believe that most of us experience similar emotions. I’m tapping into you as much as you are tapping into me.”

From the start of his career through today, Parnell has approached all aspects of his life with a keen sense of protecting his integrity. He offers, “The people I most respect and relate to musically or in life have been people who stood up for what they believe in and stuck to their guns, no matter what. I guess I’m what could be considered a ‘lifer’ and in it for the long haul. I’m still growing and developing with every year, every album, every song. I am what I am because of what I have experienced and survived. What tomorrow brings will be as much a surprise to me as whoever is reading this. Mine has not been a fast nor an easy walk, but I wouldn’t change it. I am who I am today because of every road I’ve traveled. Anybody who knows me well will tell you that.”

Midnight Believer, Parnell’s new album encompasses a realized vision that reflects the cumulative essence of who Lee Roy Parnell is today. He states, “One of the best things about gaining some maturity is you finally find out ‘Who You Is and Who You Ain’t.’ That said, I’d have to say that the song ‘Too Far Gone’ best describes me as an artist, now. It’s clearly a Blue-Eyed Soul ‘Beat Ballad’ as Barry Beckett (of The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and my first producer) would call it. Barry really taught me how to make records. He taught me about groove, soul, vocal delivery and how to make every note count! The message here is in life and love we ebb and flow. We have good days and tough days. What counts is going the distance (or at least as far as you can.) I would be remiss not to give credit to ‘Sunny Days.’ That song is a real gift. The message is one of survival. ‘At least I lived long enough to know, that the rainy days, they make the flowers grow.’ It took me a long time to get that vocal…not because it was too ‘range-ey’ but because the lyric really hit home for me, and I’m not alone. I have countless people come to me after we’ve done a show with tears in their eyes saying, ‘Man…that song slayed me!’ I reply, ‘I know…me, too.’”

Musically, Parnell presents some of the best performances of his career on Midnight Believer. He approached this release with the intention of letting the music and performances speak. There is a level of organically-delivered emotion through his playing that took the path of not over-producing every track. He reflects, “Well, it’s funny…most folks think of me primarily as a slide guitarist, and to some degree that is true, but I played ‘regular lead guitar’ long before I played slide. On the song ‘Hours In Between’ what you’re hearing is one continuous lead guitar track from me…one pass going down with my band and no fixes. Not to say I didn’t want to, but they all threatened to walk out on me if I did! Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t get the chance to fix anything.”

On the songwriting side, Parnell collaborated solely with Greg Barnhill on the record, co-writing all 10 of the tracks together. Parnell offers, “When Greg came to me with the idea of us getting together to write, I was experiencing something of a dry spell. I hadn’t written anything in months and hoped the fog would lift but when you’re in a dry spell you always wonder, ‘What if the words don’t come…where is my ability to come up with fresh musical ideas?’ Greg saw through all that, lit a new fuse and just like that, we were off to the races. The songs were literally coming faster than we could write them down. Sometimes you just need a little help from a friend, and I certainly got lucky with Mr. Barnhill’s enthusiasm and encouragement.”

Barnhill and Parnell’s dear friend, Etta Britt, sang all background vocals with the exception of the mighty voices of the The Fairfield Four who sang the “Keep On Walking” line repeated in the bridge of “Sunny Days.” Parnell recalls, “Some of you might remember our version of ‘John The Revelator’ for which we got a CMA Vocal Event of the Year nomination back in 1999. You can’t hear these four men sing together without feeling the Spirit move you. ‘Sunny Days’ would not be the same without them.”

Two bands entered the studio in Nashville and offered their performances for the sessions that would become Midnight Believer. First, Lee Roy’s ensemble who he has performed with for 20 years featuring Steve Mackey (bass), Kevin McKendree (keys), and Lynn Williams (drums), along with guest guitarist Tom Bukovac. The second band was comprised of friends Lee Roy has known for many years, including Rob McNelly (guitar), David LaBruyere (bass), Michael Rojas (keys), and Chad Cromwell (drums).

Parnell offers, “I love many different styles of music…but for me it all goes back to The Blues. Blue-Eyed Soul, Jazz, Rock n Roll and Country all have the same Daddy and that Daddy is The Blues. As long as it’s soulful, I’m in. Muddy Waters was right — ‘The Blues had a baby and they called it Rock n Roll!’

Parnell continues to live every day with the mantra to keep on keeping on, producing material and playing shows he is proud of. He reflects, “Only now do I feel like I’m truly hitting my stride. Lifers don’t quit, you know. I’d like to keep making a record every 18 months of so…record with some friends of mine again. I want to keep making music that comes straight from the heart.”
J2B2 (John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band)
J2B2 (John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band)
John Jorgenson is perhaps best known for his guitar work with bands such as the Desert Rose Band and The Hellecasters
John Jorgenson born July 6, 1956 in Madison, Wisconsin, is perhaps best known for his guitar work with bands such as the Desert Rose Band and The Hellecasters. Jorgenson is also proficient in the mandolin, mandocello, Dobro, pedal steel, piano, upright bass, clarinet, bassoon, and saxophone. John Jorgenson, known for his blistering guitar and mandolin licks and mastery of a broad musical palette, has earned a reputation as a world-class musician, as evidenced by his collaborations with Earl Scruggs, Bonnie Raitt, Elton John, Luciano Pavarotti, Bob Dylan and many others.

First coming to national attention in the mid ‘80s as co-founder of successful country-rock act The Desert Rose Band, an eclectic array of artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Bob Seger and Barbra were drawn to add Jorgenson’s artistry to their own recordings. While a member of the Desert Rose Band, Jorgenson won the Academy of Country Music’s “Guitarist of the Year” award two consecutive years.

In the ‘90s The Hellecasters gave audiences a chance to experience John’s fretboard fireworks in an unrestrained venue and the trio’s three original albums remain favorites of guitarists everywhere. Having been a fan of the Desert Rose Band, Elton John invited Jorgenson to join his band in 1994 for an 18 month tour that stretched into a six-year stint of touring, recording and TV appearances with the British superstar, in addition to collaborations with other artists including Sting and Billy Joel.

2010 marked the 100th birthday of the great gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. Since discovering Django in 1979, Jorgenson has become “the US Ambassador of Gypsy Jazz” which is quite an honor given the distinctly European slant of the music’s heritage. Over the years Jorgenson has continued to honor the legacy of Reinhardt by bringing his unique brand of Gypsy Jazz to the masses with his John Jorgenson Quintet.

Jorgenson continues to expand his dynamic range of musical offerings, exploring new elements of world music, bluegrass, rock and classical as he captivates and enlightens fellow musicians and listeners along the way. Touring with multiple musical configurations such as the John Jorgenson Quintet, the John Jorgenson Electric Band, the John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band and the Desert Rose Band. Jorgenson annually plays dates across the U.S. and Europe. Each permutation allows him to make prodigious use of his mastery of many instruments; no matter which band Jorgenson is playing with, his brilliant guitar work leads the way with music that is a combination of groundbreaking playing full of soaring melodies and driving rhythms.

His contribution is utterly one of a kind by not only Jorgenson’s skillful guitar playing, but also his solo clarinet, bouzouki, and vocal performances as well.

At performances of the John Jorgenson Quintet, audiences are awestruck by not only Jorgenson’s skillful guitar playing, but the solo clarinet and bouzouki as well. Djangobooks perfectly articulates, “If he comes around, don’t miss him. The show is golden. The music soars.”

Legends like Elton John, Earl Scruggs and Duane Eddy along with fellow guitarists such as Tommy Emmanuel, Peter Frampton and Brad Paisley have sung Jorgenson’s praises, and the best way to find out what they already know is to check out this artist who is leaving a lasting legacy in the art of guitar performance.
The Josephines
The Josephines
The Josephines are a rag tag group of rock n roll drenched country hoodlums from Bowling Green, KY. Made up of singer Brad Tabor, lead guitarist Zach Lindsey, bassist Josh London and steel guitarist Alex Lindsey, the Josephines are the embodiment of the country rebel spirit. Formed in 2017 in a bid to "have fun, make some cash & raise a little hell," the boys have been doubling down on that mission statement since day one. Combining dense, smooth harmonies ala Midland and the Eagles, moody story telling reminiscent of Tom Waits or Blaze Foley, a dash of pop songwriting sheen courtesy of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers & all the rock n roll energy of the best Foo Fighters show, the Josephines are on a path all their own and invite everyone to join the ride.
Blackfoot Gypsies
Blackfoot Gypsies
The Blackfoot Gypsies have unleashed a set of original roadhouse rockin' tunes with To the Top, on Plowboy Records. The Nashville, Tennessee based powerhouse quartet demonstrate raucous energy and soul on this collection delivering their take on white-knuckled rock'n'roll.

Across the 15 tracks of To the Top, the Blackfoot Gypsies fuse their influences -- swamp blues cool, downhome hillbilly funk and homegrown punk panache -- into a lean, mean machine invoking such classic musical malcontents as the Rolling Stones, the Faces and Mott the Hoople, while sparking and spitting 21st-century fire. It's the type of record that could only come from a band that learned to rock the old-fashioned way -- one sweaty, full-throttle live performance at a time.

The band's brew of rock, hillbilly and blues began in 2010 when Oregon native, guitarist and singer Matthew Paige moved to Nashville and hooked up with drummer and Music City native Zack Murphy. The pair wanted to form a full band, but the urge to rock could not wait.

"We were doing just what we wanted to do," Paige says, "but making enough noise to fill out the sound was a challenge. I started playing through two amps to make the most sound."

The pair spent the next two years building a reputation through raucous live performances and two self-released EPs, Blackfoot Gypsies (2010) and Dandee Cheeseball (2011), and their first LP, On the Loose (2012). Hard touring followed the album's release as the duo bashed across the US through hard-won club dates. After three years, they were ready to expand their sound.

"There's really only so much you can do with a two-piece," Murphy says. "You have to do everything in extreme. I think we were too much for some people -- just a violent onslaught of noise."

They soon completed their expanded line-up when bass player Dylan Whitlow and harmonica master extraordinaire Ollie Dogg arrived within weeks of each other. Whitlow, a Gettysburg, Pennsylvania native and a veteran of several Nashville rock bands, had crossed paths with Paige and Murphy before, but Nashville native Ollie Dogg was new to the rock 'n' roll scene. He was a longtime veteran of Nashville's blues community and a regular at many blues jams, but joining a band full time was a new experience.

"My cousin told me about the band," Ollie Dogg says. "I met them a couple of weeks later, and played with them. They just told me to be loose. That's how I like to play, loose -- just take it and make it work. I've been playing with them ever since."

With the line-up complete, they entered the studio and laid down ten tracks of butt-shakin' country-blues rock. Released in April 2015 by Plowboy Records, Handle It delivered a mix of juke joint blues, front porch pickin' and snotty-nosed rock 'n' roll, positioning the group as inheritors of a fine pedigree, from Bo Diddley to the Black Crowes. Long nights tearing up the road followed as the band shared bills with the Alabama Shakes, Drivin' N' Cryin', the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Trampled by Turtles and many others. They toured throughout the US and wowed European audiences on their first international tour.

After sharpening their sound through hundreds of live performances, the band headed for Electric Kite Studio in Madison, Tennessee. Working with engineer Matt Stager and armed with 15 original tunes, the Blackfoot Gypsies self-produced their new album, To the Top. They also recruited some notable musical assistance from some of Nashville's finest musicians, including backup vocals from red-hot country queen Margo Price, Spencer Cullum, Jr. (Steelism) on steel guitar, Micah Hulscher on piano, Alexis Saski on background vocals, Taylor Powell and Shannon Pollard assisting on drums, and Paul Thacker, Diego Vasquez and Joe Hunter supplying horn section support. The album was mixed by Joe Funderburk at Creative Workshop.

To the Top wastes no time making it perfectly clear that the Blackfoot Gypsies are locked and loaded to rock. The album opens with a powerful statement of purpose in a trio of pedal-to-the-metal rockers. "I'm So Blue," "Everybody's Watching" and "Promise to Keep" all roar with an explosive energy worthy of the early ' 70s Rolling Stones or the Faces, while demonstrating that the Blackfoot Gypsies wear their inspirations on their sleeves without falling into the trap of pointless imitation.

The band slows things down a bit with "Potatoes and Whiskey," a rough -- cut slice of honky-tonk featuring Margo Price on backing vocals. Next they hop on a sanctified express train for the balling-the-jack anthem "I Had a Vision," followed by the Big Easy groove of "Back to New Orleans," a song perfect for second-line dancing anytime or anyplace.

Hitting their stride midway through the record, the Blackfoot Gypsies alternate rockers ("Lying Through Your Teeth," "I Wanna Be Famous," "She Was Mine" and "Warning") with songs demonstrating the band's versatility, with the hillbilly swing of "Velvet Low Down Blues," the Dylan-esque country ruckus of "Woman Woman" and the sublime juke joint jam of "I Got the Blues."

Wrapping up with the primal kick and Bo Diddley beat of "Gypsy Queen" and the lightly glam-seasoned back-to-basics haymaker "Why Should I Try," the disc is a complex and masterful blend of rock, blues and hillbilly stomp sure to please the most discriminating palate and send the most reluctant feet to the dance floor.
Devon Gilfillian
Devon Gilfillian
Devon Gilfillian fires twin barrels of gospel-blues and southern soul on his debut EP. Fueled by groove, guitar, and the powerful punch of Gilfillian's voice, the songs shine a light on a young songwriter who grew up outside of Philadelphia, absorbing everything from the R&B swagger of Al Green and Ray Charles to the rock & roll heroics of Jimi Hendrix. Now based in Nashville, Gilfillian puts a personalized stamp on those childhood influences, rolling them into five original songs that showcase not only his songwriting and singing, but also his talent as an instrumentalist.

Raised by a musical family, Gilfillian grew up singing. He took up the electric guitar at 14 years old, kickstarting a fascination with classic rock and other sounds from an older generation. By the time college rolled around, Gilfillian was playing three-hour shows in a local cover band, performing songs by the Meters one minute and the Beatles the next. The gigs allowed him to explore the full range of his influences, but Gilfillian wanted to play his own music, too. With that in mind, he moved to Nashville, eager to chase down his own muse.

Released in May 2016, the self-titled Devon Gilfillian finds him stepping into the spotlight as a solo artist. He recorded the songs with a small group of friends and collaborators, tapping drummer Jonathan Smalt and slide guitarist Jesse Thompson as co-producers. Equal parts swampy, funky, and enthralling, the record finds Gilfillian planting one foot in the classic sound of his influences, with the other foot pointing somewhere new and uncharted. After all, he's no revivalist. No nostalgia act. No retro wannabe. Instead, Gilfillian is a classic artist for the modern age, discovering new life in soulful sounds that have been making people dance for decades.
Luke Winslow-King
Luke Winslow-King
Luke Winslow-King’s latest album is an example of craftsmanship at the highest level, radiating a warmth and timeless elegance. Adept at mixing country, blues, R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, and folk influences intuitively and masterfully, Luke shapes a mood from many sources and shepherds it to a unifying place of acceptance and hope. Blue Mesa is both stately and approachable, manifestly proficient but deeply personal.

What sets this album above the singer and guitarist’s previous work is how he’s absorbed the offerings of a life in music. Born and raised in the Northern Michigan town of Cadillac, he moved to New Orleans at 19 and spent the next 15 years fully immersing himself in the musical waters that flow through there. Now that he’s moved on, it is the larger world, and the people and places in it, that enthralls him. From these travels and friendships comes a deeper and richer perspective on the American musical traditions he fell in love with at an early age.

From the first track, Luke effortlessly draws the listener into his genre-expansive, dynamic world. “You Got Mine,” co-written with friend and legendary local musician “Washboard” Lissa Driscoll (who passed away in September 2017), enchants with its laid back grace. Delicate touches of Paul Simon and Robert Cray color this paean to unconditional friendship and camaraderie. With crisp guitar lines evoking Mike Campbell, the gospel-tinged call-to-action “Break Down the Walls” and the easy country amble “After the Rain” sit astride the solemn and the uplifting. The subtle Stax-inflected soul of the title track casts a disintegrating relationship against the inspirational scenery of the desert Southwest. “Farewell Blues,” a song written after he found out about his late father’s cancer diagnosis, has a resolute drifter’s wandering heart to guide it.

But no matter where he goes, the current of the Crescent City still tugs at Luke’s music. The sweaty riffs of “Thought I Heard You” are as hot as the beer is cold and the syncopated horns on “Chicken Dinner” are a big, playful flirtation. The psychedelic swamp boogie of “Leghorn Women” brims with charm, both suave and sinister, while the Tom-Petty-on-the-levee vibe of “Born to Roam” makes it a classic-in-the-making road trip anthem.

Blue Mesa was recorded across the globe in the Tuscan fortress village of Lari, Italy and features long-time collaborator and Italian blues guitar dynamo Roberto Luti, Chris Davis of King James and the Special Men, and Mike Lynch (Bob Seger, Larry McCray) on organ, among others.

Luke Winslow-King has collaborated with New Orleans legends and wunderkinds alike, including Dr. John, John Boutté, Luti, Little Freddy King, Washboard Chaz, and Meschiya Lake. In addition to holding down residencies at numerous venues and releasing four studio records over the course of nine years, he has toured extensively in North America and Europe, appearing on notable stages such as Austin City Limits, New Orleans JazzFest, Azkena Rock Festival (Spain), Paradiso (Netherlands), Maverick Festival (UK), and countless more.
Venue Information:
Mercy Lounge
1 Cannery Row
Nashville, TN, 37203
http://mercylounge.com/