Herbivore was born from group of friends in a 3-day recording session. The instant chemistry in the group led them to believe there was something more possible than just a simple weekend to hang out, have a few brews, and record some music.
Field Report with Special Guest Campdogzz - Presented by Opus One & 91.3 WYEP
There is no sweet spot upon our delicate balances, just cheap footing and heights that will make your eyes water. The wires are everywhere, strung over the infield of a racetrack, taut across our backyards, between skyscrapers and canyons, between people, or just positioned for us to get from one morning to that coming evening light, unhit, not discombobulated. It could be that a tiny word at a meal, or the faintest of looks over wine will topple us from down below, sending us reeling, arms whipping wildly through an air that's dead set on ripping us right through the safety net, to splatter for fate's janitor to clean out of the lawn or carpet.Â
Cold wars come in a few sizes, but the warm wars -- the ones that burn and give off a fair amount of long stares and result in exasperation and quivering faces - are the ones that Christopher Porterfield of Field Report worries about on the Milwaukee, Wisconsin band's third album, "Summertime Songs." They're suntanned and wind-swept. They've been crying and they've been drinking. These warm wars are the result of chaffing, of friction and boredom. They're caused by everything and nothing at all, just guts deciding to act on a foggy and cowardly, oftentimes mistaken heart's behalf. Some people give up and some people are given up on.Â
This is an album comprised of songs that are exactly what you think they might be if you'd assumed they would consist of all the nuance and cold shouldering, all of the behind closed doors dramatics and silences and all of the clusterfuckery that two people who used to love each other so madly all too often get to producing. There are no swimming pools and there's no lemonade. There's not even any sunblock, just the rawest of burns. There are no country club couples or tee times to deal with, but rather the kinds of nobodies we ourselves are and are surrounded by and we have to figure out how the work's gonna get done, how we're going to keep our clothes on, how we're going to get someone to want to randomly take our clothes off or what can be said to put all of the pieces back together so that some form of happiness can return home.Â
The difference between "Summertime Songs" - recorded at Wire & Vice, in the same Milwaukee neighborhood where 3/4ths of the band resides - and 2014's brilliantly autumnal feeling "Marigolden" and 2012's more chilly and intense self-titled record is that we hear Porterfield at his most honed and pure. He's more direct and effective with his writing, and in doing so, the scene is even more expertly set. It's sharper and more captivating. The character sketches that he creates with these mostly toasty and soaring hooks gluing them together are robust and stark like a Hemingway line, but with that keen eye for all of the subtle details that always made up the sad couples in Raymond Carver's stories.Â
Every song for this album was written before the 2016 presidential election, all while Porterfield was anxious about the arrival of he and his wife's first child, but it's easy to multi-purpose some of those anxious moments for the white-knuckler that the country's been experiencing for over a year now. He plies us with songs about marital strife and letting that someone slip away (or watching them voluntarily pack up everything they have and get the hell out), but they're also vehicles for a dialogue about the fragility of America and many of the ideals that it has supposedly stood or fought for for so long.Â
There's a lot of that fragility to sort through these days as many of us grapple with which version of panicky cold sweat we're dealing with each day. But where these stories take us is quite personal and not at all a conversation about all that we can't control. These stories remind us of all that we do or did control that WE let slip away. It's our fault usually, and we KNOW it.Â
Porterfield shares with us many episodes involving his problematic former days as a heavy drinker and we see those boozing buddies here, up to those old, head-banging, creme de menthe breath-reeking, tree-plowing tricks. There are the copouts and the scapegoats and the promises for change. Elsewhere, there are lovers and best friends who have been brought to places in their relationships through recklessness and abandon, blindly and selfishly finding that other body that they thought they wanted or needed more, but both parties knew all about that bag that one had packed, waiting in the closet. There's one foot in and one foot out so often that it seems like normality. In all circumstances here, there's a body calling for that other body not to leave, just not to leave it.Â
Field Report will grab you by the short hairs and make you see yourself. It will get you close enough to smell your salt and you'll know immediately that it's your salt, your grime -- the detritus of you. You'll get up to that mirror and you'll feel your breath bouncing back, hot and present, slapping you invisibly, eerily with real texture and a physicality, like it could push you back a couple inches with the next attack. You'll recognize it and this time, you can dance and thrash through it to get out to the other end. There's a voyeur in our midst, but they're performance notes, constructive and hopeful, as if there's an eye toward the remake or the redo. We've been watched closely and the police may have even been dialed once, but there could be something salvageable in all of our jettisoned or banged up arrangements, if only we could find our way through this quiet jitters and past our rotten tendencies to give in so easily when everything gets a little hard.Â
Twisted Pine with Special Guests Sweetheart of the Barricades and Sam Stucky
The phenomenal Boston song machine TWISTED PINE delivers a cabinet of inventions with its self-titled summer of '17 debut release [July 14, 2017] from Signature Sounds Recordings. The all-original album showcases a new force in Americana: four versatile players and singers writing and improvising across forms in bluegrass, folk, funk, jam, and vintage radio pop. With festively unpredictable live shows, Twisted Pine follows Americana masters Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers on a genre-bending, limitless trajectory.
Twisted Pine's album expands on the early life of the ensemble, which formed around a common obsession with the American bluegrass repertoire. The group rose fast in Boston, in the urban incubator of conservatories and Back Bay venues that produced label roster-mates Lake Street Dive and Crooked Still, plus Sarah Jarosz, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Esperanza Spalding, and Annie Clark (St. Vincent). Twisted Pine took an extended residency at the Cantab Lounge, the Mass Ave. dive bar in Cambridge where the raging Northeast bluegrass scene coalesces on Tuesday nights. The players, most of whom were still at Berklee College of Music, built those first set lists with deeply satisfying bluegrass interpretations. They ventured out during school-year summers to play festivals, and won first place in the prestigious band competitions at MASS MoCA's FreshGrass Bluegrass Festival and Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Special. Their resume grew: Joe Val Bluegrass, Green River Festival, Otis Mountain Get Down, RockyGrass (where they were runners up in a wicked sudden death band competition), Musikfest, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Ossipee Valley Music Festival, Celtic Connections (Glasgow), Club Passim's Down Home Up Here Bluegrass Festival, and many more. With a festive, anything's-possible stage presence, Twisted Pine built a reputation for stellar musicianship, string virtuosity, and luminous harmonies, all of which remain their hallmarks.
Twisted Pine evolved into something more than an interpreter of vintage American works; the band began to arrange bluegrass treatments of pop covers like Blondie's "Heart of Glass", and a mashup of Bill Monroe and Vulfpeck - which went viral when Vulf re-posted the video. A certain inventiveness, combined with a compelling and growing list of each player's originals, caught the attention of Signature Sounds.
"As soon as we learned that Signature Sounds was interested, we made a conscious decision to focus on writing and arranging our own original music," said Dan Bui, Twisted Pine mandolinist. "As a group we had never done that, and there was a bit of a growing phase where we were learning how to write together and seeing what came out. There was kind of an unspoken understanding that stylistically it was going to be a bit different, but we never sat down and said we were going to write in any particular style, like we were going to write poppier songs or whatever. What came out was just us finally being able to express ourselves, drawing from all of our musical and personal influences."
The influences on the ensemble are vast - as all four have studied music from childhood, and traveled widely - but the most obvious are these: Dan Bui (mandolin, vocals) is a devotee of virtuoso picking and experimental bluegrass and jazz. Kathleen Parks (fiddle/lead vocals) was raised in a household of Celtic music and jazz, which set deep roots for her insane fiddling, velvet film-noir vocals, and a roving interest in pop song forms. Chris Sartori (bass, vocals), frequently seen around Boston on electric bass in funk, jazz, and R&B settings, is arbiter of the deep pocket and the improvisational grooves. Rachel Sumner (guitar/lead vocals) is a student of the song: an omnibus of British ballads, obscure folk tunes, avant garde orchestral work, and radio pop. Her vocals have the crystalline clarity of Appalachian field recordings.
The excitement of Twisted Pine's live show - Parks and Bui's neo-jazz interplay, Bui and Sartori's funky rhythm section, Sumner and Parks' astral harmonies - comes through in the big pop sound of Twisted Pine, which was co-produced by the band and Dan Cardinal [Josh Ritter, Lori McKenna, Darlingside, Ballroom Thieves] at Dimension Studios.
"Dan Cardinal was able to pick up on our vibe instantly, and really steered us in the right direction," says Dan Bui. "His biggest influence on the album can be heard sonically. Dimension has kind of been a go-to spot for making records in the Boston bluegrass/folk scene lately, but Dan also brings in a wider sonic sensibility that he tastefully put to use on our record. Crunchy Wurlitzer piano, distorted guitar amps, and a swirling Leslie speaker all found their way onto the record. But he was always very thoughtful of what the song needed and was calling for and he provided invaluable advice and feedback throughout the process."
The New York Times called Willie Nile "one of the most gifted singer-songwriters to emerge from the New York scene in years." His album Streets Of New York was hailed as "a platter for the ages" by UNCUT magazine. Rolling Stone listed The Innocent Ones as one of the "Top Ten Best Under-The-Radar Albums of 2011" and BBC Radio called it "THE rock ân' roll album of the year."
Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend, Lou Reed, Lucinda Williams, Jim Jarmusch, and Little Steven are among those who have sung his praises. His album, American Ride, won "Best Rock Album of the Year" at the Independent Music Awards. It appeared on over one hundred year-end Top Ten lists for 2013 and Bono called it, "One of the great guides to unraveling the mystery that is the troubled beauty of America."
In November 2014 he released an album of piano-based songs, If I Was A River, to universal critical acclaim. "One of the most brilliant singer-songwriters of the past thirty years" said The New Yorker. No Depression raved "Willie Nile's artistic renaissance continues unabated."
His 2016 album World War Willie appeared on numerous year end top ten lists as did hid his live shows. As American Songwriter said "Nile cranks up the volume and tears into these tunes with the same hunger, passion and exuberance he displays in his legendary sweat-soaked shows." World War Willie was voted "Album Of The Year" by Twangville Magazine and the song Forever Wild was named "Coolest Song In The World" by Little Steven's Underground Garage.
Willie has toured across the U.S. with The Who and has sung with Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band. As the induction program from the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame says: "His live performances are legendary." In the summer of 2017 Willie Nile released his 11th studio album Positively Bob â Willie Nile Sings Bob Dylan to rave reviews. He is currently bringing his electrifying live show to audiences worldwide.
Cigarettes After Sex front man Greg Gonzalez had a clear vision for his bandâs debut album, a gorgeously cinematic work released via Partisan Records on June 9th, 2017. After the phenomenal online break-out success of 2015âs reverberant beauty âNothingâs Gonna Hurt You Babyâ from the early Cigarettes EP (âI.â) from 2012, the Brooklyn transplant (originally from El Paso) wanted to project his worldview on to a bigger screen, a broader canvas. As Greg explains, âThis is like the novel or feature-length version of Cigarettes. I wanted it to feel like a complete work, where some of the imagery repeats â like itâs all in the same world. Itâs very much a fulfilment of the feelings in the short works.â
That sense of fulfilment is richly felt on Cigarettes After Sex, which unspools like the most achingly romantic of movies: immersive, cohesive and transporting. Swooning in the spirit of influences such as Mazzy Star and Red House Painters, its sumptuous songs of love elevate Cigarettes to the ranks of those acts who create worlds of their own, exciting the most devoted kind of following â for Gonzalez, The Smiths were a reference point.
Right from the off, Gonzalezâs ability to set a scene and sustain a mood reels you in deeply. On album opener âK.â, a tale of blossoming love etched in tiny details luxuriates over chiming guitars; on the hymn to romantic compulsion of âEach Time You Fall in Loveâ, the suspended animation of Angelo Badalamentiâs heart-stopping Twin Peaks music is echoed. âSunsetzâ and the gently lilting âSweetâ, meanwhile, showcase Gonzalezâs ability to weave impressionistic snapshots of romance into melodies that haunt like memories of past loves, all coalescing around his melting vocals.
Elsewhere, Gonzalez mounts movies in miniature with the photographic references of âFlashâ and Fitzcarraldoechoes of âOpera Houseâ, a song so lovingly languid it could, conceivably, soundtrack a man hauling ships over mountains for love. And, just as every good film-maker knows the need for a killer finale, so Gonzalez closes the album with the retro-romantic swing and teasingly filthy put-downs (the âsucking cockâ lyric isnât as barbed as it seems, just friendly joshing) of âYoung & Dumbâ, which brings the album to a close with good, timeless advice: âDrive your car to the beach with the song on repeatâ¦â.
If the result is the spirit of pop-noir romanticism distilled, itâs also grand pay-off for Gonzalezâs bandâs slow-burn gestation. Although Cigarettes seemed to spark into life over one breakthrough weekend in 2015, Gonzalez ignited the project in 2008. Early iterations nodded to 1980s-vintage New Order, Erasure and Madonna, before Gonzalez harkened back to darker influences such as Joy Division for a band makeover. A commitment to confessional, sexualised lyrics stuck early; Leonard Cohenâs âChelsea Hotel No 2â numbered among Gregâs reference points. Meanwhile, an amorphous band line-up began to solidify as keyboardist Phillip Tubbs became more of a permanent member.
For some of the bandâs early years, Gonzalez studied music at the University of Texas, El Paso. He dropped out but his time there was not wasted. Attracted by the âecho-yâ sonic potential of a university stairway, he recorded an EP there which, he says, âended up being something specialâ. Indeed, Cigarettesâ 2012 EP was so special Gonzalez struggled to follow it. When his patient perfectionism bore fruit with âAffectionâ, the online response took his breath away, he recalls. âThere was this big flood of support over, like, a weekendâ¦ It was fairly emotional for me, because Iâd been waiting for that since I started writing music.â
Post-university, Gonzalez had moved to Brooklyn, where he bided his time working as a musician and managing a cinema, the Beekman Theatre on Manhattanâs Upper East Side. If his memories of holding private screenings with friends there sound romantic, so do his favourite films. The âstrange mysteryâ and âhazyâ romance of AntonioniâsLâAvventura was one influence; so was the âautumnal beautyâ of Kieslowskiâs The Double Life of Veronique.
To mirror their woozy romanticism in music, Gonzalez rejected conventional studio routes for his band, which numbers Randy Miller on bass, Jacob Tomsky on drums and Tubbs on keyboards. Taking influence from The Cowboy Junkiesâ The Trinity Session (recorded in a church, single microphone), Cigarettes recorded most of the album in three days at the Sweatshop rehearsal space, Bushwick. The exception is âEach Time You Fall in Loveâ, which was recorded in the Beekmanâs stairway after hours, the ghosts of screen lovers channelled in every warm note. Like the best movie, Cigarettes After Sex holds you in a hell of a spell.
Brent Cobb & Them - Ain't A Road Too Long US Tour 2018 with Special Guest Savannah Conley
Brent Cobb didn't set out to write an album that feels and sounds like the place he grew up. But now that the grooves have been cut in his debut LP, Shine on Rainy Day, there's no denying the people, the places and the vibe of his southcentral Georgia home infuse almost every song.
"It just is Georgia," Brent says in his musical drawl. "It's just that rural, easy-going way it feels down there on a nice spring evening when the wind's blowing warm and you smell wisteria, you know?"
It's quiet down there where he's from in Ellaville â "population 1,609" - laid back and forgotten in the shadow of Atlanta and Savannah. The people have blue-collar values and believe in treating your neighbor like you want to be treated. They believe in curses and the dark finger of Fate and wield a sharp, dark sense of humor that sustains them through the hardest of times. Distant radio stations, roadside honkytonks made of cinderblock and back-porch picking sessions heavy on the backbeat predominate under Spanish moss-strewn live oaks and loblolly pines.
It was the perfect place to grow up.
"Lord, when I die, let's make a deal," Brent sings on the album's swirling thesis statement, "South of Atlanta," "lay me down in that town where time stands still."
Shine on Rainy Day is an album Brent's been trying to make for a decade, enlisting his cousin and fellow Georgian, Dave Cobb, the Grammy Award-winning producer whose Elektra Records imprint Low Country Sound is home to the album.
Brent wanted to record an album that felt Southern, though not the kind of Southern you might expect. Neither Southern rock nor mainstream country, the sound sits somewhere on the wide bandwidth that exists between the two. Cousin Dave helped him find the right vibe, full of blue-eyed soul, country funk and the kind of swamp boogie sounds that predominated pop in the 1960s and early 1970s. There's a reason Georgia was always on Ray Charles' mind, after all.
"I don't mean to get weird and be into, like, deep shit, but it really has got to be blood," Brent said. "When I write songs, it's almost like I didn't write them. You know it's just like this is happening right now and it just comes out. He's the same way in the studio. He's like, âPut this right here and play it like this,' and you're like why? And he's like, âI don't know, it's just the way it's supposed to go.' That's exactly how I write songs."
Brent finds it a strange sensation to be so closely linked to someone. Though cousins, the Cobbs didn't know each other growing up. Dave's a little bit older than 29-year-old Brent and his father was the one brother who left the area and moved away â to an island off the coast from Savannah. So when they first met â as adults at an aunt's funeral â Brent was wary. And a little bit of an ass.
"We're standing around outside and I was like, âMan, we hear you're producing in L.A. What you produced?' just kind of like a jerk, really," Brent said with a laugh. "He told me Shooter Jennings' 'Put the O Back in Country,' and that floored me, man. Because me and my buddies working at a tree service, we'd get off work, somebody would get a 12 pack, we'd get stoned and listen to 'Put the O Back in Country,' man. We knew it was the cool country. We knew it was for real. Man, I mean it was the shit."
Brent's dad shamelessly slipped Dave a disc of six acoustic songs Brent recorded as he left town. Dave didn't really want to listen to it, but his wife, Lydia, convinced him to stick it in the car's player on the way to the airport. Not long after Jennings called and invited Brent out to Los Angeles.
He spent four months there, but after living through an earthquake, a drought, a near car-jacking and a drive-by shooting he returned home where he lived for about four months before an old acquaintance from the area, Luke Bryan, called out of the blue. Bryan invited Brent to stay with him and his wife for a week to write and get to know Nashville.
Not long after he returned for good and recorded a well-received EP that led to 3Â½ years on the road, touring with a band and opening for every big player in country. He decided that wasn't what he was looking for either, and began to focus more deeply on songwriting. He landed several cuts â most notably Miranda Lambert's "Old Shit," Kenny Chesney's "Don't It" and Bryan's "Tailgate Blues"- while working on his own songs and searching for a direction for his long-delayed debut.
Meanwhile, Dave left L.A. for Nashville and began building a reputation as one of music's most exciting producers for his work with Chris Stapleton, Jamey Johnson, Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell. As part of his deal with Elektra, he conceived of a concept album called Southern Family and thought it only right his "bitch ass little cousin" have a part. "So I was like, âI'll be there,'" Brent said. He contributed "Down Home" to the album and also mentioned the project to Lambert, who wanted in and sang the Brent-written "Sweet By & By," a standout on an album full of them.
It was during these sessions that the Cobbs began to notice a real connection in the way they would approach songs during the recording process. "It just felt like home, you know?" Brent said. "I made the comment, âDude, let's just do it.' So we did."
From the Nashville slice-of-life narrative of "Solving Problems" to the delicate and powerful interplay of acoustic and electric guitars on the stunning closer "Black Crow," the album feels like the people, places and sounds of Brent's life.
The album carries something of a Southern Gothic narrative, alternating between dark visions and self-deprecating scenes of black humor that bubble up in laugh-or-cry moments. He chose the album's title after a friend heard "Shine on Rainy Day" following a family tragedy and mentioned how powerful it was to him.
"When you have a bad storm that hits, the next day the trees are in full bloom and the grass is greener and lightning cleans the air up," Brent said. "My friend called me up out of the blue and said that song hit him so hard. It's talking about a rainy day, they're going through a real life rainy day."
Like "Shine on Rainy Day," the album alternates between light and dark. In "Black Crow," a doomed soul argues with a laughing crow sitting on a fencepost, "Black crow, I ain't a joke no more!," before earning a prison sentence in a corner store robbery. "Lord," he sings, "I can feel those spirits carrying me down" before Jason Isbell unleashes a devilish slide guitar line that feels like a Neil Young guitar solo.
The deliciously self-deprecating "Diggin' Holes" has that giddy AM radio/Gram Parsons feel with dancing music accompanied by dark lyrics that are both funny and painful. "I ought to be workin' in a coal mine/Lord knows I'm good at diggin' holes."
"Down in the Gulley" is a sour mash-flavored short story with a first line worthy of Faulkner or O'Connor: "My granddaddy was a good man â no matter what the papers said." The dread-filled "Let the Rain Come Down" opens with visions of doom, a rattlesnake strung from a tree and a witch's curse: "She put a curse on me/Another on the river/And now my crops won't grow no more."
"Solving Problems" was written sitting on a balcony overlooking an especially historic corner of historic Music Row while thinking about Kris Kristofferson's "To Beat the Devil," which has a spoken word section that feels lifted right from the Row.
"The energy just feels crazy around here," Brent said. "I loved how Kristofferson would capture the present moment of his Nashville during that time. Nobody does that anymore."
"Country Bound" is the only song on the album not written or co-written by Brent. Instead, the song was written by his father and uncle in a far-off place called Cleveland.
"It was the first song I ever witnessed being written in my life," Brent said. "I was 5 years old and it was the first time I ever saw snow, too. We were up in Cleveland for Christmas. My uncle had been through this breakup and he was wanting to get the hell out of Cleveland and go to Georgia."
Brent knows the feeling, and after listening to Shine on Rainy Day, he hopes you get it, too. He has never been more proud of his work. After 10 years of searching and struggle, the LP sounds and feels exactly how he wants it to. Like home
"It's not as good as it's going to get," Brent said. "But if it's the last thing that I ever do, if I died the day after it came out, then thank God I was able to record it because the songs and the production, it was everything I wanted to say. Finally."
JD McPherson with Special Guest Jake La Botz - Presented by Opus One & 91.3 WYEP
âI was having nightmares every night, thinking, âWow, theyâre going to hate this,â says JD McPherson.
When he talks about his new album, Undivided Heart & Soul, thereâs no glimmer of self-adulation, or even the confidence one might expect of a veteran artist. Instead, thereâs a snapshot of McPhersonâs creative process bringing the record to life, a journey filled with fear and change, then boldness, and, eventually, catharsis.
The best rock music has a story to tell. This record chronicles a series of upheavals, frustrations, roadblocks, and kismetâa cross-country move, failed creative relationships, a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity, and learning to love making music again by letting go.
McPherson calls moving his family from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, to East Nashville a decision based âon opportunityâ and one he was reluctant to make but notes the profound influence the city has had on his new crop of songs.
âUp to this point, I thought I knew what I was doing with songwriting, that I donât do this or that,â McPherson says. âWriting with people who co-write for a livingâ¦maybe I saw myself as John Henry, and them as the steel-driving machine.â
Along with collaborations with fellow Oklahoman Parker Millsap, Butch Walker, and Aaron Lee Tasjan, McPhersonâs selections for Undivided Heart & Soul include many deeply personal themes: âLetâs Get Out of Here While Weâre Youngâ shares writing credits with longtime bandmate Ray Jacildo and McPhersonâs wife Mandy. He also delved into character profiles, both fictional and based on real-life experiences, stories McPherson has held onto but never thought of as fodder for songwriting, such as the Las Vegas bus station interlude detailed in âStyle (Is a Losing Game).â
âThat seems like a pretty normal thing for a singer-songwriter to do, to write about personal experience, but I really have never done that,â McPherson says. âIt felt great but it also was tough at the same time. The thing is, John Henry is trying to beat the machine because heâs in awe of it. It was a lot of me saying, âYouâre really good at this, and I have a hard time doing it.ââ
With a group of soul-baring tracks taking shape, McPherson and crew scheduled studio time to help force the issue. It quickly became apparent that these sessions were not going to work, bringing McPhersonâs momentum to a halt.
To clear his head, he flew to Los Angeles at the invitation of friend and longtime supporter Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, who was also recording at the time. McPherson, Homme, and his Queens bandmate Dean Fertita played around with some songs, with Homme pushing McPherson outside of his comfort zone in a no-stakes environment.
âHis thing was, âIâm going to throw all kinds of crap onto your songs that youâre not going to want to hear, and youâre going to play ridiculous stuff you wouldnât normally do,â and Dean was kind of the calming presence,â McPherson says.
McPherson calls the getaway âthe most fun Iâve had since I was 15 years oldâ and returned to Nashville with a clear head, internal filters successfully stifled, ready to move forward.
That fresh perspective in tow, McPherson learned that the long-shot âbackupâ studio, the legendary RCA Studio B in Nashville, was willing to host his band for the making of the record. RCA Studio B was fundamental to the creation of the âNashville Sound,â and the ghosts of some of the greatest songs in history live within its walls: Dolly Partonâs âI Will Always Love You,â and Elvis Presleyâs âAre You Lonesome Tonight?â among them.
Artists who choose to record at Studio B are met with a rigorous list of requirements, including using a recording method appropriate during the studioâs heyday. Since the studio is a working museum by day, the entirety of McPhersonâs workspace had to be reset at night: Load in all equipment in the late afternoon, work until 3:00 or 4:00 a.m., and leave no trace nightly. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
âThose rules would probably turn a lot of bands off, but they turned us on, 100 percent,â McPherson says. âI really love walking into a classic studio as much as I love getting my hands on a really old guitar. I like knowing that something was used for a long time and has good things in it.â
But this isnât an old Nashville record, by any measurement, nor is it the record McPherson set out to make, with credit due to co-producer Dan Molad (also the drummer for Lucius).
âThereâs a pretty broad gap in our tastes, what we do and what weâre into,â McPherson says. Where heâs as likely to lean on The Cramps as he is Irma Thomas for inspiration, Moladâs left-field production suggestions included a Casio synthesizer and running a Fender Rhodes through a tape delay. (McPherson nixed the former; the latter became the signature sound of one of the recordâs tracks.) âWe ended up learning a lot from each other, and he did a lot of stuff Iâd have never thought to do.â
During the song âLetâs Get Out of Here While Weâre Young,â JD sputters the line âWeâve worn out all the songs weâve sung.â This is not a statement McPherson takes lightly.
âThis record was difficult for me to make, difficult to write, difficult to record. It took a lot for me to say that I canât force these songs to be the way people are expecting,â McPherson says.
Undivided Heart & Soul is a statement record, one that asserts McPherson as he is now, battle-weary but stronger than ever.
(Early Show) Burning Bridges Festival and Opus One Comedy Present Underwear Comedy Party
Clean Bandit have defied expectations from the very beginning. Their experimental fusion of electronica and classical mustâve seemed like odd bedfellows back when they first played at their own National Rail Disco while still studying at University, but they immediately recognized their potential mass appeal.
Such resolute self-belief was vindicated in awe-inspiring style. Their debut album âNew Eyesâ raced to 1.6 million sales, and was propelled by 12 million sales of their omnipresent global hit âRather Beâ which was the worldâs second biggest-selling track of 2014. The awards soon followed: a Grammy for âBest Dance Recordingâ and then two Ivor Novelloâs wins for the bandâs multi-instrumentalist/producer, Jack Patterson, for âBest Contemporary Songâ and âMost Performed Workâ.
The inevitable question that chases such success is simple â how do you follow it? Clean Banditâs answer was a back-to-basics approach.
âItâs about being able to recognize that a song works as a piece of sheet music and a chord structure â like how a jazz standard has a chord structure, a melody and lyrics,â explains the bandâs dominant creative force Jack Patterson. âYou can that produce and render that however you want. Itâs making sure that all of the songs have that solid foundation.â
âItâs a total contrast to how we made the first album, where it was all produced as it was written,â adds cellist Grace Chatto. Itâs an approach that was particularly evident with âTelephone Bankingâ, in which their collaborator Love Ssega wrote the lyrics during its video shoot.
This creative process resulted in Clean Banditâs anthemic 2016 comeback single âTearsâ, which evolved from a minimalistic piano / vocal composition into the richly layered production which became their fifth domestic Top 5 hit when it was released earlier this summer; the single has reached over 80 million streams and is one of the most successful single releases of this year.
Written by Jack and Sam Romans, an early version of âTearsâ found its way to Simon Cowell who called Jack to ask if his X-Factor winner Louisa Johnson could perform it. His initial reticence was countered by Graceâs enthusiasm for Louisaâs talents, and soon both Jack and drummer Luke (the younger of the two Patterson siblings) were enthralled by her performance.
Always eager to collaborate with new vocalists, Clean Banditâs second new track - the dancehall-tinged âRockabyeâ - featured an especially striking presence in the shape of Sean Paul.
âWhy? Because weâve always wanted to with him,â smiles Grace. ââTemperatureâ and âBreatheâ were such big songs for me growing up. Jack and I went to his gig in Shepherdâs Bush in 2013 and gave him our first EP. We both wanted to do something, but weâve literally been on tour for three years and heâs been really busy as well. Eventually he and Jack got together, and Sean Paul recorded an amazing verse for it.â
Its story of a single mother battling to do her best for her child resonated with many people who lived through similar experiences. Also featuring the soaring vocals of Anne-Marie, âRockabyeâ has provided the bandâs second UK #1 almost three years after âRather Beâ had first conquered the charts. Moreover, aside from X Factor alumni, the single is the first UK #1 by a UK act in 2016 and now heralds Clean Bandit as one of just two UK artists to land two UK Top 5 singles this year.
âIâm really into dancehall music at the moment, so âRockabyeâ is really special and I want to make more songs like that,â declares Grace, adding that sheâs appreciative of co-writer Ina Wroldsenâs contribution to the track. âIt also has a super-hot sweet Scandinavia sound with a reggae element thatâs reminiscent of a lot of the early nineties music that I love.â
The trio have strived to incorporate fresh sounds and textures into Clean Banditâs emerging songbook. In addition to Graceâs love of dancehall, Jack has been inspired by the âconfident, pure and very boldâ production of Frank Oceanâs âBlondeâ album, while both Patterson brothers have experimented with modular synthesizers and acoustic sax techniques. âThose ideas have to work within a coherent album,â asserts Jack. âThereâs no point in just throwing that in for the sake of it.â
Thematically, the rest of the new tracks follow the deeper themes that were presented in âRockabyeâ. As Grace observes, âThe lyrics are a lot darker but the music is full of full and joy, whereas the first album was often the other way around â particularly with âRather Beâ, the lyrics are so pure and happy, but you can hear sadness in the music. Weâve always been interested in juxtaposing different feelings within the music.â
Itâs a stance reiterated with the upbeat âDisconnectâ which features Marina and the Diamonds. Grace interprets the song within the context of a break-up. âYouâre constantly on the phone, looking up the person and wondering what theyâre doing. You need to let go and disconnect from a relationship, but itâs so hard.â
âIt feels very relevant,â opines Jack. âItâs talking about young people who seem to be completely consumed by technology to the extent where itâs suffocating them.â
While the bandâs debut album âNew Eyesâ magnified the attention on a range of rising talents, most notably Jess Glynne, the new songs boast a plethora of big names. Thereâs Sir Elton John, who introduced himself at a party by serenading his new friends with âRather Beâ; they all praise Craig Davidâs almost supernaturally precise vocal gift; and Zara Larsson provides the exuberant energy of musicâs current breed of talent.
One person who isnât present, however, is founding member Neil Amin-Smith who recently quit the band after a decade together. âWe knew something wasnât quite right,â states Luke. âBut it was a major shock when it happened,â interjects Jack. âI felt sick and really sad.â
Grace: âIt was a decision that he didnât take lightly, but he was always one to do other things. After ten years, it was his time to do something else. Heâs definitely irreplaceable.â
His exit is undoubtedly a blow, but itâs also one that has precedence in Clean Bandit history. The departure of vocalist Love Ssega felt like a devastating blow at the time, but it set Clean Bandit on a path towards collaborating with a variety of different singers. Indeed, as Ssega has recently returned for live shows, it feels as if the door will remain open should Amin-Smith want to return in some capacity in the future.
In the hectic life of a working band â shows, promotion and the myriad range of other activities that come unexpectedly along the way â moments of triumph can arrive in spectacularly mundane circumstances. News that âRather Beâ had topped the charts was received by text as the band drove back from a gig in Manchester. For Jack it felt like a âweird, Christmas-type feelingâ, but it was a lot for the then 21-year-old Luke to come to terms with.
âI just really wasnât ready for it,â he admits. âIt was never my goal. It was something that had happened that was completely out of my control and I was quite scared.â He soon adjusted to the situation. âIt wasnât so bad in all honesty,â he says with a glint in his eye, âbecause itâs not so bad being number one!â
As their reputation expanded exponentially from continent-to-continent, their world became ever stranger. Grace remembers a surreal moment being recognized in a small shop in Tokyo, and Luke is still struck by arriving in Jakarta to find so many fans waiting for them that they needed a police escort in order to get to their hotel â where what they thought was going to be straightforward interview instead turned out to be a press conference that recalled the mania of The Beatlesâ heyday.
Fast-forward to Los Angeles: February 2015. Itâs the Grammy Awards and Clean Bandit have just won Best Dance Recording from a Britcentric list of nominees which includes their old friends Disclosure and Basement Jaxx. And yet â as anyone can see â the award has been accepted by someone who most definitely isnât Clean Bandit.
âWe had no idea that we were going to win it, it felt like an absolute long shot,â recalls Jack. âAnd then Wes Clark, a mix engineer, ran up and accepted the award for us because he thought we werenât there, even though we were like ten meters away from him.â
âIt was quite chaotic,â summarizes Luke, before Jack corrects him: âIt was quite annoying!â
Nonetheless, such an accolade means that itâs time to cut loose. Clean Bandit DJed at wild, celeb-packed scenes at the official Warner party at Chateau Marmont before heading to Sam Smithâs bash in the Hollywood Hills where Luke was the last man standing. âIâve never seen you look such a state in my whole life,â chuckles Jack as Luke looks as sheepish as he surely did the next morning.
As well as representing a landmark achievement for years of dedication, a Grammy forecasts a glowing future for Clean Bandit in which anything is possible. Theyâre keen to keep pushing themselves, as evidenced by both their excitement for the expansion of their live band and by Grace and Lukeâs passion for directing their videos. Clean Bandit have carved their own distinct niche in music, and fans the world over have embraced their individuality.
SOLD OUT - (Early Show) M. Ward with Special Guest Laura Veirs
M. Ward returns with a stunning new album, More Rain, for release on Merge Records on March 4, 2016. Ward has released a string of acclaimed solo albums over the past several years, along with five LPs with Zooey Deschanel as She & Him and a 2009 collaborative album with My Morning Jacketâs Jim James and Bright Eyesâ Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis under the moniker Monsters of Folk. In addition to his celebrated work as a musician, Ward is an accomplished producer, handling those duties for such luminaries as Mavis Staples, Jenny Lewis, and Carlos Forster as well as his own musical projects.
M. Ward knows how to live with rain. Having spent the last decade-and-a-half based in the perennially damp Portland, Oregon, the singer-songwriter and producer has learned how to shine through the soggy gloom by simply embracing its inevitability. For Ward, there is inspiration in a dark sky and harmony in foreboding winds. And with his new album More Rain, he has made a true gotta-stay-indoors, rainy-season record that looks upwards through the weather while reflecting on his past.
âI think one of the biggest mysteries of America right now is this: How are we able to process unending bad news on Page One and then go about our lives the way the style section portrays us?â says Ward. âThere must be a place in our brains that allows us to take a birdâs-eye view of humanity, and I think music is good at helping peopleâmyself includedâgo to that place.â
This album, Wardâs eighth solo affair, finds the artist picking up the tempo and volume a bit from his previous release, 2012âs A Wasteland Companion. Where that record introspectively looked in from the outside, More Rain finds Ward on the inside, gazing out. Begun four years ago and imagined initially as a DIY doo-wop album that would feature Ward experimenting with layering his own voice, it soon branched out in different directions, a move that he credits largely to his collaborators here who include R.E.M.âs Peter Buck, Neko Case, k.d. lang, The Secret Sisters, and Joey Spampinato of NRBQ. The result is a collection of upbeat, sonically ambitious yet canonically familiar songs that both propel Wardâs reach and satisfy longtime fans.
More Rain begins with an actual rainstorm, then throughout the album, guitars chime, chug, and riff with Wardâs unmistakable earthy tone, while layers of atmospheric reverb and skittering drums climb and clip in equal measures. As the cloud of noise rolls in, the layers part ever so slightly to make way for Wardâs voice, which can play wispy and whimsical in one moment (âPirate Dialâ) or crackling and smoky in the next (âTime Wonât Waitâ) just as well as it can climb to clear-sky clarity (âConfessionâ) then drop down to smooth, soulful crooning (âIâm Listeningâ), each one after the other. âGirl From Conejo Valleyâ is a nostalgic trot through people he used to know and a place he used to be, and âSlow Driving Manâ is sweeping and lush in its orchestral climb towards confident heights.
As the album ends with the self-assured swing of âIâm Going Higher,â voices join together in a chorus of rising âahâs and, for just a second, it seems the storm outside has slowed, making room for a ray of hopeful sunlight. As Ward knows, the rainy season is sure to return, but for now, More Rain is here to help us with our perspective.
(Late Show) Burning Bridges Festival and Opus One Comedy Present Liza Treyger
Liza Treyger is a Chicago-bred standup comic who now resides in NYC. She really
misses alleys, her favorite bartenders, and her Russian parents. Lizaâs Half Hour and first album will be released by Comedy Central in August 2015. She recently performed at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal and has appeared on Adam Devine's House Party on Comedy Central, Chelsea Lately and is a cast member on MTV2's Joking Off. She was thrilled to be a part of the New York Comedy Festival 2012 as one of Comedy Central's Comics to Watch (where she got to watch shows and eat cake balls with two professional wrestlers!). Check out her super cool web series How Many Questions.
The Afghan Whigs & Built To Spill with Special Guest Rituals of Mine - Presented by Opus One & 91.3 WYEP
"Divination/Cleromancy/Comes the card that I refused to see"
- The Afghan Whigs, "Oriole"
"Cleromancy" isn't a word one normally finds in rock lyrics. Then again, In Spades-- the forthcoming album by The Afghan Whigs, from which the new song "Oriole" hails -- is defined only by its own mystical inner logic. The term means to divine, in a supernatural manner, a prediction of destiny from the random casting of lots: the throwing of dice, picking a card from a deck. From its evocative cover art to the troubled spirits haunting its halls, In Spades casts a spell that challenges the listener to unpack its dark metaphors and spectral imagery. "It's a spooky record," notes Greg Dulli, Afghan Whigs' songwriter and frontman. "I like that it's veiled. It's not a concept album per se, but as I began to assemble it, I saw an arc and followed it. To me it's about memory -- in particular, how quickly life and memory can blur together."
On the one hand, In Spades is as quintessentially Afghan Whigs as anything the group has ever done -- fulfilling its original mandate to explore the missing link between howling Midwestern punk like Die Kreuzen and HÃ¼sker DÃ¼, The Temptations' psychedelic soul symphonies, and the expansive hard rock tapestries of Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd. At the same time, this new record continues to push beyond anything in the Whigs' previous repertoire -- another trademark, along with the explosive group dynamic captured on the recording.
Indeed, the chemistry of the lineup -- Dulli, guitarists Dave Rosser and Jon Skibic, drummer Patrick Keeler, multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson, and Whigs co-founder/bassist John Curley -- set the tone for In Spades' creation. When it came to follow up the band's triumphant return to recording -- Do To the Beast (Sub Pop 2014), which was the band's first ever Top 40 album, -- the die was cast. "This is the first time since Black Love [the Whigs' 1996 noir masterpiece] that we've done a full-blown band album," Dulli says. "As the last tour wound down, Greg and I realized we wanted to keep the momentum going and roll that energy into making a record," Curley explains. "I'm old school in that way. Having a band seasoned in playing together was how we made [classic Whigs albums like] Gentlemen and Congregation and it just felt right."
In fact, In Spades' crushing closing track "Into The Floor" had actually evolved out of an onstage jam that concluded Whigs fan favorite "Miles Iz Dead" every night. "People would ask all the time why don't you record that?," Dulli says. "One day we were like, 'Well, why don't we?' And we nailed it in one take."
Material continued to come fast and furious. Two months after the Whigs' 2015 tour concluded, the band members reconvened at Nelson's studio Marigny Sound in New Orleans; within a week, half of the ten songs that would make In Spades final tracklist were laid down. Something heavy clearly hung in the air. Standout "Copernicus" rocks with a thump evoking T. Rex meets Jesus Lizard, while "Arabian Heights" exudes the gutbucket exoticism of Houses of the Holyand Physical Graffiti writ large, driven by Keeler's bravura, muscularly tribal cadences. "Rick [Nelson, who engineered the album] got incredible drum sounds, and what Patrick does on that song is a master class in drumming," Dulli says. "It was like watching a Formula One racer move through the gears. And the combination of Rosser's Southern grease and Skibic's guitar acrobatics kept astounding me. Skibic is a master of atmosphere: the sounds he makes on 'Oriole' are like a cosmic smoke machine."
The Afghan Whigs' soul side also rises to new heights on In Spades, largely inspired by the lush productions of R&B genius Norman Whitfield for The Temptations and Undisputed Truth. Throughout his oeuvre, Dulli has employed horn sections to tantalizing effect since 1965, the 1998 swan song LP from the Whigs' first incarnation -- and yes, that's a young Kamasi Washington playing on "Esta Noche" off of Dulli's post-Whigs outfit The Twilight Singers' 2003 opus Blackberry Belle. However, on In Spades he truly harnesses their soul power on songs like "Toy Automatic." "I brought the horns in on 'Toy Automatic' for emotional devastation," Dulli explains. "The horns pulling those long lines gave me so much power: when they come in, the song takes off, and I sing with everything I have. It might be the most unbridled vocal I've ever done. Every record I have a favorite child, and 'Toy Automatic' is that here.
In Spades also reveals a new, brutalist minimalism to Dulli's wordplay: lines like "Don't you cum when they come for me" and "Taste your fear/They rely on volunteers" (both from "Arabian Heights") succinctly distill the vivid, paranoiac eroticism he's become famed for. "Greg's reached a place where he can now say more with less," Curley says. "The lyrics stand on their own as written, even on the page, separate from the song." A renowned lyricist, here Dulli revels in the play of phonetics, letting the sounds lead to imagistic, often surreal wordplay, like the provocative couplets enlivening "Copernicus": "Listen in the distance/As the sky begins to fall/Raining down like crystalline/Apocalypse in thrall."
According to Dulli, his recent lyrical obsessions reflect the period spent "writing these songs alongside some of the most peculiar upheavals in history" -- both personal and global. Mortality was never far from his mind: "I Got Lost" was written in the wake of Dulli learning that longtime collaborator Dave Rosser had been diagnosed with inoperable colon cancer. As well, Dulli found himself profoundly affected by the recent passing of many of the icons that inspired him to make music in the first place. "It was a year of unrelenting death," he says. "The reaper was hungry in 2016. Prince's passing perhaps affected me the most. He was my North Star. Watching him upped my quality control, and opened my eyes to the absolute joy and necessity of self-evolution."
As such, while tracks like "Light As a Feather" exude the rhythmic tension and psychosexual aura of signature Whigs numbers like "John the Baptist," other songs fearlessly enter completely uncharted waters. "The way the album sounded as it took direction was a surprise, but then with Greg, it always is," says Curley.
In Spades in fact features some of Dulli's catchiest material yet -- yet pointedly eschews simple verse-chorus-verse structures for ambitious arrangements and soundscapes laced with irresistible hooks, riffs, and textures. On "Arabian Heights," Rosser thrillingly mirrors Dulli's vocal melody with winsome slide guitar; elsewhere, "Into the Floor" suggests "The Boys of Summer" chopped and screwed with shoegaze's lysergic sway. Most startling, though, prove the innovations of widescreen piano ballad "I Got Lost" and especially of album opener "Birdland," with its jazzy, syncopated changes and Jimmy Scott-influenced vocal melodies.
In name and aesthetic alike, "Birdland" seems to pay homage the iconic New York jazz club that provided a crucial venue for greats like Charlie Parker and Lester Young. However, its title actually serves as a literal reference to a neighborhood in Ross, Ohio where Dulli went to school in his youth, so named because all the streets are evocatively named after birds: Finch, Cardinal, Oriole, and so on. "Birdland" commences In Spades with the line "I was a child," placing the listener firmly in primal psychological territory. It's a zone that Dulli has explored previously: "If I Were Going" off Gentlemen refers to a book of the same name that piqued his childhood imagination to other worlds, and Do To the Beast explored this theme as well. In Spades, however, goes even further, probing the unconscious self to its fullest metaphysical extent. "There's a difference between nostalgia and connecting with your past," Dulli notes. "For the last few years, I've been in touch with the younger me: I clearly don't want to get too far away from that kid. I had a lucid dream about my childhood: I was watching myself as a boy in Birdland, playing basketball with my friends. I knew exactly where I was, and when I woke up from that dream, I wrote 'Oriole.' I thought a lot, too, about these distinct memories of when I used to ride my bike through a field near the river. I would see a place I didn't understand, or know where it was -- but I'm in that place now. I was here before I got here; I was already waiting for me."
The joys, sorrows, and upheavals of innocence and experience echo throughout In Spades: it powerfully documents where The Afghan Whigs have been, and where they might go next. For Dulli and Curley, it's a journey that has spanned decades -- from their origins as the first Sub Pop act to be signed from outside the label's Pacific Northwest base up through the present day, and beyond. Dulli notes they were barely in their twenties when they first started the band, and yet here they are, fulfilling dreams long held and frequently realized. "Having a break from the Whigs helped me remember what made it so rewarding," Curley continues. "When we broke up, we were burnt out and ground down, but I never stopped being friends with Greg. Over the course of a lifetime, there are constants, and there's also change. You see who's dropped off the vine -- who's going in reverse, and who's still by your side. It's interesting to see where life takes you, and where it doesn't. That's the journey and it hasn't stopped."
Burning Bridges Festival and Opus One Comedy Presents Joe DeRosa with Ed Bailey, Shannon Norman, Helen Wildy and Hosted by John Dick Winters
Writer, actor, and standup comedian Joe DeRosa has become a favorite on the comedy circuit. His brand of comedy, which mixes brutal honesty and frustration at the workings of the world, has won over comedy fans, radio listeners, and TV audiences nationwide.
In February 2013 Joe taped his second half hour special for Comedy Central, and in September of that year he released his third standup comedy album "You Will Die." His first two standup albums, "The Depression Auction" and "Return of The Son of The Depression Auction," were released on Comedy Central records in 2010 and 2011 respectively. A fourth album, "Mistakes Were Made: The B-Sides" was released in August of 2014.
Joe has also worked as a writer on a variety of projects, including Netflixâs highly anticipated Wet Hot American Summer TV series, Comedy Centralâs Jeff & Some Aliens, and TBSâ acclaimed The Pete Holmes Show, on which he was also a featured performer. Online, Joe created, wrote, and starred in Bedrocketâs 2013 web series We Should Break Up and the Warner Brothers web series What Are We Waiting For? In 2011 he directed and, along with
fellow comedians Bill Burr and Robert Kelly, co-wrote and starred in the short film CHEAT, which premiered at The Tribeca Film Festival that year. In October 2012, Simon and Schuster released a book based on the film, written by the three comedians themselves.
In recent years, Joe has been seen in a recurring role on AMC's Better Call Saul, and has made appearances on Comedy Centralâs Inside Amy Schumer, FX's Louie, HBO's Bored To Death, E's Chelsea Lately, and in the video game Grand Theft Auto V. This year, Joe released his first full televised hour special, You Let Me Down.
When he's not writing or acting, Joe headlines comedy clubs across the globe and has been featured at renowned festivals such as South By Southwest, Montreal's Just for Laughs, The Moontower Comedy Festival, The New York Comedy Festival, Gildaâs Laughfest, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and Bonnaroo.
***SOLD OUT*** An Evening With They Might Be Giants - Presented by Opus One & 91.3 WYEP
2018 just got a whole lot better! Brooklynâs Ambassadors of Love They Might Be Giants are back with a brilliant new studio album, I Like Fun; they're back with their Dial-A-Song service at www.dialasong.com; and they're back on the road with a new show with an expanded line-up of musicians. This new set will include all-time favorites, fresh rarities spanning their epic career, and spur-of-the-moment improvisations that will delight even their exhausted road crew. To be direct: this show is not to be missed.
They Might be Giantsâ has always been dedicated to keeping each performance a high-volume celebration of the bandâs original music. Itâs always spontaneous and occasionally ribald (that means just for adults, everybody! No kids admitted!), and now for the first time, theyâre on a full tour with show-stopping trumpet genius Curt Ramm (Nile Rogers, Bruce Springsteen). They Might Be Giantsâ is on a 50-city US tour with international touring booked for later in 2018.
An Evening With Mike Farris and the Roseland Rhythm Revue
There's a hallowed hall, deep within the recesses of the heart, where an amazing truth resides: The power in your life can only be experienced when broken open and shared with the people who come into it.
Back in 2005, Mike Farris cracked open the hallway door when, for the first time since the age of 15, he was clean and sober. Recording what would become the critically acclaimed Salvation in Lights (2007), a resurrected Mike eagerly anticipated the future. But with two ruptured discs, back surgery and the death of his beloved manager Rose McGathy all within a few weeks of the record's release, a rolling fog settled in. And with it, denial.
Nevertheless, Mike's career was picking up steam. He won an Americana Music Award for New/Emerging Artist in 2008, followed by a Dove Award in 2010. His live performances at Bonnaroo, SxSW, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, and others-were drawing rave reviews. Revered artists like Rodney Crowell, Buddy Miller, Patty Griffin, and Marty Stuart were struck by his incomparable voice, and Mike opened shows for Patti LaBelle, Mavis Staples, Blind Boys of Alabama, Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby.
By 2010, having released the award winning SHOUT! Live followed by an EP for Nashville flood relief efforts, Mike launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his next record, an independent release. His fans generously funded the project.
Serious invitations kept coming: first, to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame's 16th Annual American Music Masters concert honoring Aretha Franklin, then TEDx Nashville, and then to the inaugural Austin City Limits Hall of Fame with Double Trouble.
Mike's spirited, soul-gospel fusion had found an enthusiastic audience, but denial has a way of biting back. Compared to his former life, he thought he was fine, but truth be told, Mike had become addicted to pain medication. The new album would have to take a back seat to a gut-check, life-changing recovery. Mike went to rehab and finally began excavating the root causes of his addiction with the help of support groups at AA and NA. An isolator by nature, he struggled laying all his burdens on the table to complete strangers, but gained encouragement through the stories of others. Each honest step led to fertile, hopeful ground.
What eventually emerged from that fertile ground is Shine For All The People, the evolution of true sobriety, of finding a new identity as a servant, first as a man but also as an artist. "I'd been working on the record before my recovery, and then there was a pretty huge delay," explains Mike, who signed with Compass Records. "I had to back up, take time to grab the ground, to re-acclimate, to learn how to live now, truly sober for the first time since I was a kid."
This new normal included getting back to the process of creating new music, but there was a distinctive trajectory shift in Mike. "So many avenues of music flow through me, 100s of years of music, the music that I grew up with-from Blues, Rock, R&B and gospel-there had always been this pressure to try to force it into a box that would sell somehow. It's crazy and overwhelming at times, the weight of trying to meet expectations and make a living, but this time, that all fell away. I know now that this gift only exists to encourage people in their struggles, and if there's any power in it, it's not from me."
Released in September 2014, Shine For All The People pushes beyond Salvation in Lights in that it reveals hope not in any glory to come, but in the failures and suffering of the present. "My music has always been first and foremost for the downtrodden, the wayward...people who've had to go up the rough side of the mountain. Even when it's upbeat and inspiring, there's always been an element of pain, because truth be told, we're all flawed. Not everybody knows it, but we all are."
From the opening Cuban/St. Louis blues horns of "River Jordan," originally written and performed by Blind Willie McTell, to the divine salvation of J.B. Lenoir's "Jonah & the Whale," to the determined stance of the Rev. C.J. Johnson's "Something Keeps on Telling Me," a chorus/mantra that Mike fleshed out into a song in the months after rehabâ¦one listen, and it's clear there's something mystical in the waters here.
"When I first heard the Rev. C.J. Johnson's version, I could feel the air in that church get still, no music, only the sound of feet on the floor and hands in the air," Mike says. "I got such strength from it, I knew I wanted to add part of my story. With his words as the chorus, and with Brigitte DeMeyer helping me out, the song serves as a compass for anyone who has lost their way."
Mary Gauthier's soul-stirring "Mercy Now," one of the first songs Mike chose for the record, is clearly foundational to the whole. "The song just mystically appeared before me a few months before my Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer," he says. "Not only did it play a major role in just helping me deal with the year that followed, including his death, but brought comfort to my entire family."
Like other choice cuts on Shine For All The People, the songs simply arrived at the appointed time, Mike says. "There was a time when I carried all the songwriting on my shoulders, but then the ego gets in the way of what it should be. These days, I don't have to write everything. I just open the door and these songs show up...songs I need to hear in my struggle, songs I know people need to hear in theirs."
Whether rearranging songs of centuries past or infusing new lyrical life to half-songs, it becomes clear that Mike's vocal gift is simply the surface of a very deep well. Full-tilt originals include "Real Fine Day," a poetic account of the birth of Christian Blue Sky Farris that features some killer Kenny Vaughn guitar hooks-"easily one of the top three days of my life, that day," Mike says, and "Power of Love," an unforgettable, high-energy soul groove and already an audience favorite.
Shine For All the People, the 2015 Grammy Award winner for Best Roots Gospel album, bears witness to the determination of putting one foot in front of the other and to the power of music to get you there. "I've discovered that falling is a divine thing," Mike adds. "It's part and parcel of being human. The important thing is to keep the faith and keep moving on and on. Daring to be courageous enough to share our deepest burdens with each other is the greatest gift we can give."
Mountain Heart with Special Guests Annalise Emerick and Haywhacker String Band
Mountain Heart is the band that has been fearlessly revolutionizing the way acoustic music can be presented and played. The bandâs name has been synonymous with cutting-edge excellence in acoustic music circles since the groupâs creation. Widely known throughout the music industry for continually redefining the boundaries of acoustic music, the band has gained legions of loyal fans both as a result of their superlative musicianship and just as notably, their incendiary live performances.
Mountain Heart or members have been nominated for Grammyâs, ACM, CMA awards. The band has also been nominated for and won multiple IBMAâs. They have appeared on the revered stage of the Grand Ole Opry in excess of 130 times, and have shared the stage with acts ranging from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Montgomery Gentry, Merle Haggard, George Jones and Brad Paisley to Alison Krauss, Tony Rice, The Avett Brothers, Yonder Mountain Stringband, The Punch Brothers, Levon Helm, John Fogerty and many more.
Mountain Heartâs musical virtuosity â the band is comprised of top call studio pros at every position, unmatched energy, and a keen sense of entertainment dynamics have helped them to forge a highly unique sound and stage show which appeals to an ever-growing variety of musical tastes. From large outdoor Folk music, Americana, Jam and Bluegrass festivals, to sold-out shows opening for Southern Rock icons like The Marshall Tucker Band, The Tedeshi Trucks Band or Lynyrd Skynyrd, Mountain Heart always makes an undeniable connection with an audience. This rare combination makes Mountain Heart one of the more versatile musical acts ever assembled.
Throughout the bandâs storied history, members past and present have dedicated their time, talent, and creativity to the group, leading to their hard earned reputation as one of the most exciting and unforgettable live shows anywhere in the world. With a new team in place, Mountain Heart is beyond excited for this new beginning and journey ahead.
Multi-instrumentalist David Lindley performs music that redefines the word "eclectic." Lindley, well known for his many years as the featured accompanist with Jackson Browne, and leader of his own band El Rayo-X, has long championed the concept of world music. The David Lindley electro-acoustic performance effortlessly combines American folk, blues, and bluegrass traditions with elements from African,Arabic, Asian, Celtic, Malagasy, and Turkish musical sources. Lindley incorporates an incredible array of stringed instruments including but not limited to Kona and Weissenborn Hawaiian lap steel guitar, Turkish saz and chumbus, Middle Eastern oud, and Irish bouzouki. The eye-poppingly clad "Mr. Dave's" uncanny vocal mimicry and demented sense of humor make his onstage banter a highlight of the show.
David Lindley grew up in southern California, first taking up the banjo as a teenager, and subsequently winning the annual Topanga canyon banjo and fiddle contest five times as he explored the American folk music tradition. between 1967 and 1971 Lindley founded and lead what must now be seen as the first world music rock band, the Kaleidoscope. In 1971, Mr. Dave joined forces with Jackson Browne,serving as Jacksonâs most significant musical co-conspirator until 1981. In 1979, Lindley had begun working with old friend Ry Cooder on 'Bop Till you Drop' and 'The Long Riders' sound track, a musical collaboration that lasts to this day, and has spawned many recording projects and several world tours as an acoustic duo.
In 1981, Lindley created his own remarkable Band El Rayo-X, which integrated American roots music and world beat with a heavy reggae influence. 'El Rayo-X', 'Win This Record' and 'Very Greasy', as well as a live e.p. During this period he also came forth with a solo album,'Mr. Dave'.
Lindley and guitarist Henry Kaiser went to Madagascar for two weeks in 1991 and recorded six albums of indigenous Malagasy music (including two collaborative cd's, 'A World Out of Time' volumes one and two on Shanachie) which proved to have a major impact on the world music scene, both for the quality of the Grammy nominated music recorded, and the fair and ethical way the Malagasy musicians were dealt with. Throughout this long and distinguished career, Lindley has been one of Hollywoodâs most in demand session musicians, lending his skills to the recorded works of Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, Crosby and Nash, Warren Zevon, and many others.
In 1990 a chance meeting of Lindley and Jordanian born percussionist Hani Naser led to an impromptu jam and an instant decision that âwe should take this on the road.â David and Hani toured the world for the following six years. The duo recorded two self-released "Official Bootleg" compact discs, 'Live in Tokyo Playing Real Good' and 'Live All Over the Place Playing Even Better' on Pleemhead Audio.
At his expansive and eclectic live performances David Lindley consistently gives one of the most unique concert experiences available to adventuresome music listeners.
Tyrone Wells still sort of chuckles to himself when he thinks about the fact that making music is his âjob." He has been at this âjob" for well over a decade, and is just now beginning to shake off the discomfort and stress of the days when he had a real job (TJ Maxx - lead of the ladies department in Spokane, WA). As far as jobs go, Tyrone feels like he has won the lottery (in regards to his present âjobâ). He loves to create music. He loves to perform. He is a husband, and a father of 3 daughters. He has four sisters, so he feels right at home being completely outnumbered by the ladies in his present household (and also when he was the lead of the ladies dept at TJ Maxx). He believes that Jesus is for real. Heâs writing this bio. Heâs referring to himself in the third person. He knows that this bio has a ring of sarcasm, but he is dead serious. He feels extremely grateful. He jokes around, but he has worked very hard at making music his âjob." He has spent countless hours writing, recording, playing live, and traveling to play live again. He has spent time away from his beloved family to make this thing a reality. He has never really experienced much radio success, so his fans have been gained the old fashioned way, by pouring his heart out on a stage, and by word of mouth. He feels certain that he will make music until his dying day, as it is not only gratifying for him to create, but also therapeutic and necessary. He canât believe youâre still reading thisâ¦ if you are still reading this, he wants to thank you for taking the time to do so, and for supporting what he does. He knows it would be impossible without you