Charlie Parr is an incorruptible outsider who writes novelistic, multi-layered stories that shine a kaleidoscopic light on defiant, unseen characters thriving in the shadows all around us. He hasnât moved to LA or Nashville; heâs stayed in the cold grey north of Minnesota, because thatâs his home. Charlie makes his Smithsonian Folkways Recordings debut with âLast of The Better Days Aheadâ, out worldwide July 30, 2021.
Dead Horses isnât a band in the conventional sense. Rather, itâs an intimate, folk-inspired conversation between two close friends. At its core, the participants are guitarist/singer Sarah Vos and bassist Daniel Wolff. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based pairâs dialogue continues with an eclectic five-song EP, Birds (released February 7), which includes the band's previously released singles "Family Tapes," "Mighty Storm," and "Birds Can Write The Chorus."
Dead Horses weave together a vibrant patchwork of classic and contemporary influences that span trad roots, indie- folk, and other experimental musical idioms. Through it all, the union of Sarahâs emotive songwriting with Danâs intrepid bass playing transcends the singer-songwriter-with-backup-musicians paradigm.
To date, Dead Horses has released three studio albums, an Audiotree Live Session, three singles, and a two-song EP. Along the way, the duo has charted on the Americana Top 50 radio charts, accrued over 20 million spins on Spotify, and earned placements on several Spotify, Amazon and Apple Music âAmericanaâ playlists. A Rolling Stone âArtist You Should Know,â Dead Horses has received profiles from Billboard to Noisey, and have toured extensively, including appearances at Red Rocks Amphitheater and an invitation to open for legendary UK rockers The Who.
Annie Hart with Special Guests The Natvral and Jane Herships
Annie Hart is a New York City-based composer, songwriter, and performer. She came to renown in the early 2000âs as a member of synth trio Au Revoir Simone, a favorite of director David Lynch, who featured the band in several episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return. Since the groupâs hiatus, Annie has released two solo albums of âsumptuous synth-popâ (Vogue) that explore the fringes of new wave, minimalism and ambient. Hartâs reputation as a unique master of composition for analog synthesizers has led her to compose the score for two feature films released in 2020: Olympic Dreams (IFC), starring Nick Kroll and Alexi Pappas, and Banana Split (Universal), featuring Dylan Sprouse and Hannah Marks. Her new work for 2021 is Everything Pale Blue, an ambient album released on Orindal Records that is "both meandering and meditative, with Hart crafting a whole new world of her own through the gently lapping synthesizer explorations that absorb the listenerâ (Gold Flake Paint).
On this special tour, Annie will be touring her favorite small, selected spaces and projecting visuals to create a dreamy atmosphere as a backdrop for her new ambient works performed on a carefully curated set of vintage synthesizers. As the set progresses, sheâll add in old favorites from earlier albums and bring her bandmate Jane Herships (Spider) to sing and play multiple instruments. This is a rare chance to experience beautiful soundscapes in an intimate atmosphere filled with community ties and a warm, comforting energy. The shows include an opening set from Pains of Being Pure At Heartâs Kip Berman performing a lush solo set on electric guitar as The Natvral.
Over the last decade, New England native Stephen Kellogg has performed more than 1500 concerts around the world, raised thousands of dollars for causes close to his heart, been named Armed Forces Entertainer of the Year, and penned singles for artists like platinum selling rock band O.A.R and American Idol winner Nick Fradiani. Stephenâs most recent writing work with legendary guitarist Robert Randolph, led to a 2017 Grammy nomination for "Best Contemporary Blues Record." He's also had his songs covered by international major label acts and released ten studio albums of his own yielding hundreds of thousands of ticket and record sales.
A father of four and married to his high school sweetheart, filmmaker Peter Harding was so moved by the everyman nature of Kellogg's story that he made a documentary called "Last Man Standing" which went on to become an Amazon exclusive film. In recent years, Kellogg has added authorship and speaking to his resume as well. He delivered a TEDx Talk on job satisfaction, the key note speech for the prestigious photography summit WRKSHP, and was invited to speak to the students at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO on the topics of social justice and 'finding your voice.â He has appeared as a contributing author in several publications and in 2019, will be publishing his first full length book entitled âObjects in the Mirror: A Storytellerâs Take On What Matters Most.â
Kelloggâs newest studio album, âObjects in the Mirrorâ, was recorded over the course of a single week in Nashville, TN. Produced by Will Hoge and featuring twelve songs that explore American life in 2018, the decision was made to track the band live, keeping the results in tact with minimal overdubs. âI wanted to make an album that sounded and felt like the ones I grew up loving; Bob Seger and Cat Stevens, Tom Petty and Rod Stewart. Emotional records where the songs relate to each other and the lyrics are front and center. Thatâs my true north.â Kelloggâs emotion has never been in question with one music blogger succinctly describing his music as âa beautiful display ofâwell, his heart.â And as for the lyrics, Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz can lately be heard singing their praises on his âUnderwater Sunshineâ podcasts.
While Stephen Kellogg may have remained underneath the radar for some in the mainstream, he has succeeded in building a meaningful career alongside many of the best in the business. Heâs sung duets with Sara Bareilles, Josh Ritter, Rosanne Cash, and Pat Monahan of Train and participated in the 2018 âGarden Of Dreamsâ concert at the Beacon Theater. His music has found its way onto the Billboard charts and been featured in numerous films and TV shows. Whether performing solo or with a band, Kelloggâs soul and energy fuel one of the most dynamic shows anywhere. âWith beautifully written songs and an engaging personalityâ, The Michigan Daily reports, âKellogg appears as if he was born on stage, taking the spotlight and using it to his advantage, but never letting go of his connection with the audience.â A master storyteller in his prime, he will spend much of 2019 where heâs always been at homeâ¦the road.
MisterWives with Special Guest Frances Forever - Presented by Opus One & PromoWest North Shore
This show has been rescheduled from July 12, 2020 and February 10, 2021 - All Tickets honored.
Dar Williams has always followed her muse. When she was up in Somerville, Massachusetts in the early nineties, knowing that she wanted to pursue music or theater, she worked backstage at the Opera Company of Boston and wrote plays on the side. But she was in Boston, and the muse led her into the myriad open mics and tip jar gigs of booming folk revival. She opened a trunk of old songs and started writing new ones.
She went to three or four open mics or song circles a week and recorded two cassettes. Yes, cassettes. When she felt like the noise of Boston was getting to be too much, the muse led her to the cornfields and college towns of Western Massachusetts where she sat on her futon and wrote the songs that would become The Honesty Room, her first CD, which she recorded in the basements and back woods studios of Amherst. She hoped the songs she was writing, with titles like When I Was a Boy, Youâre Aging Well, and The Great Unknown, would lead her into an idiosyncratic part-time music career.
Little did she know that the coffeehouse scene and the beginnings of internet communities were building to a crescendo and eager to receive her warm, witty songs. By the end of 1994, when The Honesty Room came out, she had rock-solid management, the best booking agency in the country for singer-songwriters, and a career-making slot at the Newport Folk Festival. She also signed with Razor & Tie records and penned the material for her next album, Mortal City.
The mid-nineties were a heady time, and Dar did her best to keep up with an exciting mix of concerts in forty plus states, Canadian festivals, and her first British dates. With the release of Mortal City came an invitation to play throughout Europe and the United States with new friend and folk legend, Joan Baez, a tour that changed everything, as Dar was quick to discover by 1997 when she released End of the Summer. She wrote the title track in hotel rooms down the west coast on her tour with Joan. She continued to write about all the eclectic things that inspired her, never questioning the muse. Psychotherapy, veterans with PTSD, and late night radio DJs among other themes.
Booked in large theaters, she went out with her first band on her first tour bus with The End of Summer, playing more colleges and festivals, including Lilith Fair, for which one of her songs became part of the festivalâs gold-selling CD.
Her good friend Richard Shindell joined the official End of the Summer album tour. Somewhere around Portland, Oregon, they decided to make an album that would showcase all the great writing that was happening in their tightknit musical community. They invited Lucy Kaplansky to join them and Cry Cry Cry was born in 1998, with a short tour that kept getting longer, stretching out for over a year and a half. For all three artists, dubbed a Folk Supergroup (not by them), it was both a musical education and huge life adventure.
Dar says, âWe were trying to get this one line for the last chorus of Sweet Sir Galahad that we were going to sing with Joan [Baez]. The bus was careening down the highway from Denver to Aspen, and we spent hours trying to find the perfect notes. We were in heaven. The bus driver was in hell.â
All of this time steeped in the music of her fellow musicians inspired many of the songs for The Green World, Darâs fourth studio album, recorded with seasoned musicians and future bandmates in Woodstock and New York City.
On her return from the ten-week Green World Tour, Dar got a letter from Scholastic books, inviting her to an open-ended lunch discussion about a possible young adult or childrenâs book. Dar said she couldnât imagine it, but the muse said, âJust have lunch.â By the end of the meeting at a Mexican restaurant, where there may or may not have been sangria, Dar was already brainstorming Amalee, a young adult novel about a girl whose fatherâs eccentric friends come forward in all their strange glory when he gets sick. Infused with magical realism and Darâs well-remembered youth, Amalee and the muse took a winding path of creation from 2002-2003.
City living and time spent with the Green World musicians provided the a whole new palette of imagery, and an opportunity to collaborate with Rob Hyman of the Hooters, that became The Beauty of the Rain, released in 2003, her most successful album to date, named People magazineâs album of the week when it came out, and she started her tour with a performance for PBSâs Soundstage. Her song, Closer To Me, written with Hymen, doubled the number of commercial stations that played her music is it went up Billboardâs Heatseekerâs chart, while songs from the whole album were in heavy rotation on Americana stations throughout the United States and Canada.
The following years saw a return of the Green World crew with My Better Self in 2005. While out on tour, Dar edited a sequel, Lights, Camera, Amalee for Scholastic for a 2006 release, which led to a whirlwind two years of concerts, readings, and school visits.
In 2008, Dar headed to Electric Lady studios to record Promised Land. Dar set out with a trio that included keyboardist and jazz composer Bryn Roberts, with whom sheâs been touring ever since.
In 2010, after seven studio albums, Dar released a greatest hits retrospective called Many Great Companions, produced by Gary Louris, with touring companions of the previous fifteen years, including Mary Chapin Carpenter, her best friends Nerissa and Katryna Nields, and Sean and Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek.
It was now that the muse started pointing in some new and unexpected directions. As Dar was writing songs for In the Time of Gods, her eighth album, she was asked to create a college course to teach at her alma mater, Wesleyan University. She toured with In the Time of Gods in the spring of 2012, followed by teaching Music Movements in a Capitalist Democracy in the fall. Teaching a university course was one of the happiest moments of Darâs career. A friend advised her to lead a songwriting retreat. Dar said âI would only lead a retreat if it were called, âWriting a Song That Mattersâ, focused on the process of writing a song, not the industry that brings it to the public.â In 2013, Dar led her first Writing a Song That Matters retreat at The Garrison Institute in the Hudson Valley of New York. It was another highlight of Darâs life and career. The next year, she added another retreat at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. All the while, as Dar wrote songs for the album Emerald and prepared 20th anniversary tours for both The Honesty Room and Mortal City, the mists were swirling for a project that was both a departure and arrival point\in her career.
In the decades that Dar had been touring, she had been seeing how towns and cities, like people, had been coming into their own, becoming more resilient, unique, and prosperous. While so many people said that towns and cities were âdeadâ, she had been seeing them come back to life. She realized that the key ingredient in the success of these places was what she called âPositive Proximityâ, where there was an understanding that living side by side with other people was a good, constructive thing. Positive proximity was a civic state of being that could be built and sustained, and Dar was collecting stories and notes to support her growing theory. She said, âSomeone should write a book about this.â And the muse said, âYouâve written fiction books, you interviewed people for your green blog at Huffington Post, youâve written about towns and cities in your songs since day one. The person who should write this book is you.â
In the spring of 2015, just before setting out on the tour for her ninth studio album, Emerald, Dar signed a contract with Basic Books, now Hachette Publishing Group. In September, 2017, she started touring new venues, speaking in bookstores and at city planning conferences in support of her book, What I Found in a Thousand Towns, a Touring Musicians Guide to Rebuilding American Communities One Dog Run, .... At A Time. 2018 was a time to deepen her connection to these themes of town and city building and planning as Dar gave keynote speeches at the Boise Downtown Association, the Vermont ..., the Southern New England Planning Association conference, and the Congress of New Urbanism, among others. It was also the year for a very emotional and exciting reunion of Cry, Cry, Cry, where the trio returned to sing songs by newer songwriters. Dar still loves every minute of her job and always advises folks to âfollow their muse.â She still goes wherever the muse leads her, which, presently, is right back on her couch, coffee on the coffee table, guitar in hand, writing her next batch of songs.
The Glorious Sons with Special Guest Brother Elsey - Presented by 105.9 The X, Opus One & PromoWest North Shore
By most fifth LPs, the bandâs sound is pretty set. Parameters established. Refinement dissipated. You get a to-formula execution of whatâs worked in the past. Fair enough. All Them Witches go a harder route.
In 2017, the Nashville four-piece offered what mightâve otherwise become their own template in their fourth album (second for New West), Sleeping Through the War. It brought a larger production value thanks to oversight from producer Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Shooter Jennings, etc.), found them using choral vocals, expanded arrangements, bigger sounds than anything theyâd done before.
They couldâve easily fallen into a pattern of watered-down clones of that record. Easily.
So naturally in a year theyâve thrown it all to the Appalachian wind, turned the process completely on its head and gone the other way: recording in a cabin in Kingston Springs, about 20 miles outside of Nashville on I-40, with guitarist Ben McLeod at the helm. Self-produced. Take that, expectation.
The result, mixed by Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith, Kurt Vile), is the most intimate, human-sounding album All Them Witches have recorded and another redefinition of who they are as a band. Introducing keyboardist/percussionist Jonathan Draper to the fold with McLeod, bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Parks, Jr., and drummer/graphic artist Robby Staebler, All Them Witchesâ ATW isnât self-titled by mistake.
Itâs the band confirming and continuing to develop their approach, in the devilâs boogie of âFishbelly 86 Onions,â the organ-laced groove and masterful flow of âHalf-Tongue,â the build of âHJTCâ and the fluid jam in closer âRobâs Dream.â You can hear it in the mellow patience of that last track, never lost but always wandering, and in â1st vs. 2nd,â where they turn from a frenetic shake to some purposefully metal-ish riffing while still holding onto gut-tightening tension.
And what do they do with that? Some overblown payoff? Hell no. They cut it short, drift into noise and then dig into âHalf-Tongueâ ahead of the moodier âDiamond,â which, true to its name, seems to turn any light that touches it into a prism. This is a band who delight in the exploration, in finding new rules to break, and in continually learning new ways to do so.
ATW is a reaction to being a âbiggerâ act. To playing bigger shows, bigger tours, etc. From the sustained consonants in Parksâ vocals, to the sleek basslines that play off the canât-sit-still-wonât-sit-still swing in Staeblerâs drums, to McLeodâs commanding slide in âWorkhorseâ and drifting melancholy at the outset of âHarvest Feast,â ATW is their laying claim to the essential facets of their identity.
And most crucial to that identity is its shifting nature. All Them Witches didnât get to this point by resting on laurels, and if anything, the urgency of these tracks â fast pushers and sleepy jams alike â is among their greatest strengths.
Itâs a rawer delivery, as stage-ready as the band itself, and it captures All Them Witches in this moment. Is ATW who theyâll be tomorrow? Who the hell knows? Check back in and weâll find out together. Thatâs the whole idea.
mewithoutYou - âBrother, Sisterâ 15 Year Anniversary with Special Guest Dominic Angelella
A very old saying goes that no one saves us but ourselves. Recognizing and breaking free from the patterns impeding our forward progress can be transformative - just ask Bully's Alicia Bognanno. Indeed, the third Bully album, SUGAREGG, may not ever have come to fruition had Bognanno not navigated every kind of upheaval imaginable and completely overhauled her working process along the way.
"There was change that needed to happen and it happened on this record," she says. "Derailing my ego and insecurities allowed me to give these songs the attention they deserved."
SUGAREGG roars from the speakers and jumpstarts both heart and mind. Like My Bloody Valentine after three double espressos, opener "Add It On" zooms heavenward within seconds, epitomizing Bognanno's newfound clarity of purpose, while the bass-driven melodies and propulsive beats of "Where to Start" and "Let You" are the musical equivalents of the sun piercing through a perpetually cloudy sky.
On songs like the strident "Every Tradition" and "Not Ashamed," Bognanno doesn't shy away from addressing "how I feel as a human holds up against what society expects or assumes of me as a woman, and what it feels like to naturally challenge those expectations."
But amongst the more dense topics, there's also a lightheartedness that was lacking on Bully's last album, 2017's Losing. Pointing to "Where to Start," "You" and "Let You," Bognanno says "there are more songs about erratic, dysfunctional love in an upbeat way, like, âI'm going down and that's the only way I want to go because the momentary joy is worth it.'"
The artist admits that finding the proper treatment for bipolar 2 disorder radically altered her mindset, freeing her from a cycle of paranoia and insecurity about her work. "Being able to finally navigate that opened the door for me to write about it," she says, pointing to the sweet, swirly "Like Fire" and slower, more contemplative songs such as "Prism" and "Come Down" as having been born of this new headspace. Even small changes like listening to music instead of the news first thing in the morning "made me want to write and bring that pleasure to other people."
An unexpected foray into the film world also helped set the table for Sugaregg when Bognanno was asked to write songs for the 2019 movie Her Smell, starring Elisabeth Moss as the frontwoman of the fictional rock band Something She. "It got me motivated to play music again after the last album," she says. "I loved reading the script and trying to think, what music would the character write? People asked if I'd play those songs with Bully but the whole point was for
them to not be Bully songs. It was nice to get my head out of my own ass for a second and work on a project for someone else," she says with a laugh.
A highly accomplished engineer who ran the boards herself on the first two Bully albums, Bognanno was ready to be free "from the weight of feeling like I had to prove to the world I was capable of engineering a record, and wanted to be content knowing for myself what I can do without needing the approval of others to validate that."
So for SUGAREGG, she yielded recording and mixing responsibilities to outside collaborators for the first time and trekked to the remote Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, Minn., an unexpected return to her home state. Behind the console was John Congleton, a
Grammy-winner who has worked with everyone from St. Vincent and Sleater-Kinney to The War on Drugs and Modest Mouse. "Naturally, I still had reservations, but John was sensitive to
where I was coming from," Bognanno says. "He was very respectful that I'd never worked with a producer before."
The studio's rich history (classics such as Nirvana's In Utero, PJ Harvey's Rid of Me and Superchunk's Foolish were recorded there) and woodsy setting quickly put Bognanno's mind at ease. Being able to bring her dog Mezzi along for the trip didn't hurt either. "I had never tracked a record in the summer, so waking up and going outside with her before we started each day was a great way to refresh," she says.
SUGAREGG features additional contributions from longtime touring drummer Wesley Mitchell and bassist Zach Dawes, renowned for his work on recent albums by Sharon Van Etten and Lana Del Rey. Dawes and Bognanno met at Pachyderm to work on parts just two days before tracking, "but it ended up being so much less stressful than I had expected and I loved it," she says. "Zach wanted to be there to help and make my vision happen."
With 14 songs on tape, Bognanno and friends left Pachyderm thinking SUGAREGG was done. But once back home in Nashville, she realized there was more to be written, and spent the next five months doing exactly that. Moving to Palace Studios in Toronto with Graham Walsh (Alvvays, METZ, !!!), Bognanno and Mitchell recorded "Where to Start" and "Let You," which proved to be two of the new album's key tracks.
Ultimately, SUGAREGG is a testament that profound change can yield profound results - in this case, the most expressive and powerful music of Bognanno's career. "This is me longing to see the bigger picture, motivated and eager for contentment in the best way," she says. "I hope the happy go lucky / fuck-it-all attitude shines through some of these songs because I really did feel like I was reentering a place I hadn't been to in a while and was excited to be back there.â
Start Making Sense - A Tribute to Talking Heads with Special Guest Ruby Dear