Archive for October, 2009

Random Weekend Post: WDVX Fund Drive This Week… Lots of Folks Stopping By

Posted in Band of Heathens, Jill Andrews on October 31, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

The upcoming week is a big one for me. Wednesday marks the beginning of the 2009 Fall Fund Drive at WDVX, and we have a few special treats up our sleeves. I’ll try to keep you updated on some of the bigger guests and happenings as they occur. For now, though, let’s just focus on the opening day of the drive.

It all starts Wednesday at noon (Eastern) when the Band of Heathens appear on the Blue Plate Special (which I’ll be hosting) and continues Wednesday night at 6:00 when I’ll be joined in the studio by Jill Andrews. The Heathens will be playing songs from the current #1 album on the Americana Airplay Chart, One Foot in the Ether. Jill will be sharing songs from her new self titled EP.

Here’s a taste of each artist…

Jill Andrews courtesy of

And The Band of Heathens courtesy of Music Fog

I don’t want this post (or any of the upcoming fund drive related posts) to be intrusive. I just think if you like what goes on here at the blog, you might like WDVX as well. You can listen to a live stream of the station or make a tax deductible donation to the station at our website.

I have never asked for reader contributions to help cover the costs of the blog, but WDVX is a listener supported station that counts on listener contributions to stay on the air. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Samantha Crain in the Studio & a New Song

Posted in Samantha Crain on October 29, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Last night I had the pleasure of being joined in the studio by Samantha Crain just a few hours before she took the stage for a performance on Tennessee Shines. Samantha has been out on the road for some time now promoting her debut album Songs in the Night. She’ll get to rest a bit now as last night was her final show on her current tour.

If you missed her this time around though, don’t worry. Samantha says she hopes to get back in the studio soon to begin work on a new record for 2010. I’m sure more shows will follow then.
Samantha Crain played a couple of songs for me in the studio last night… including a brand new song called “Blueprints” that does not yet appear on any of her records. You can hear that song around the eleven minute mark in the interview.
Samantha Crain at WDVX (Buy Samantha’s Music)

Tennessee Shines October Edition: Dave Alvin, Sara Watkins, Tyler Ramsey, & Samantha Crain

Posted in Dave Alvin, Samantha Crain, Sara Watkins, Tennessee Shines, Tyler Ramsey on October 27, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

It’s that time once again…

Wednesday night at 7:00 (Eastern), WDVX and will broadcast this month’s edition of Tennessee Shines live from the Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville. This month’s lineup is a pretty solid one featuring Americana stalwart Dave Alvin, former Nickel Creek fiddler Sara Watkins, Band of Horses guitarist Tyler Ramsey, and up and coming Oklahoma songwriter Samantha Crain.

Obviously, the biggest name on this month’s bill is Dave Alvin, who will be appearing with a few members of his backing band, The Guilty Women. Dave has been around since the early 1980s when he fronted the pioneering roots-rock outfit The Blasters along with his brother Phil. For the last several years though Dave has become a highly respected solo artist known for his heartfelt songwriting and monstrous talent on the guitar.

I saw Dave play a show at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville a few years ago. Even as I felt my eardrums exploding due to sheer volume, I could not bring myself to step away from the front of the stage during his set. I had to be right up front so I wouldn’t miss a note. His playing is that captivating. Wednesday night, Dave will be playing selections from his latest project Dave Alvin & The Guilty Women.

Dave Alvin & The Guilty Women: Marie Marie (Buy Album)

Next, we move on to former Nickel Creek (it still pains me to write “former” in front of “Nickel Creek”) fiddler Sara Watkins. Sara is best known for her time with Nickel Creek but has also kept busy over the years with several side projects such as The Mutual Admiration Society, The Watkins Family Band, and her newest project The Works Progress Administration (with Sean Watkins, Luke Bulla, Glen Phillips, & others). Earlier this year, Sara Released her first solo project, a self-titled album on Nonesuch Records.

Sara never wrote as many songs as the other members of Nickel Creek (Sean Watkins & Chris Thile), which is probably why it took her this long to release her first solo record. Even though she did pen a few of the songs on this album herself, her strength (not unlike fellow fiddle playing songbird Alison Krauss) has always been finding the right song, and interpreting it to make it her own. A perfect example is her reading of John Hartford’s “Long Hot Summer Days.”

Sara Watkins: Long Hot Summer Days (Buy Album)

That brings us to Tyler Ramsey, a singer/songwriter/guitarist from Asheville, NC. Tyler made a name for himself in the musician laden town of Asheville by crafting his own intricate style of finger picked guitar. He marries his gentle melodies to dreamy vocals and arrangements to stirring effect. When he isn’t touring and recording on his own, Tyler is also a member of indie rock buzz act The Band of Horses. You can witness Tyler’s guitar skills on the title track to his solo album A Long Dream About Swimming Across the Sea.

Tyler Ramsey: A Long Dream (Buy Album)

Finally, we come to the artist I might be the most excited to hear on Wednesday night, Samantha Crain. I first became familiar with Samantha’s music by reading about her in several posts over at Payton’s site, This Mornin’ I Am Born Again. When I saw her debut full-length album Songs in the Night sitting in my program director’s office at WDVX, I immediately grabbed it, gave it a listen, and started playing it on the air.

To me, her music inhabits the same sonic territories as Brandi Carlile and Sarah Borges. She brings folk-flavored rock with a dangerous edge and just enough pop hooks to become ingrained in your brain. Her backing band, The Midnight Shivers, is responsible for helping to shape and hone that edge in her sound. They deserve a mention here even though they won’t be with Samantha on Wednesday night. Even without the band, I’ll be very excited to hear some of these songs stripped bare on their own. Here’s one (with the band) from Songs in the Night.
Samantha Crain & The Midnight Shivers: Devil’s in Boston (Buy Album)
As a special bonus… Samantha Crain will also be dropping by the WDVX studios before the show Wednesday night to chat with me about her album and her sound. Check it out around 5:30 (Eastern). You can listen at… and feel free to leave any questions you may have for Samantha in the comments.
Tennessee Shines will air live on WDVX and Wednesday night at 7:00.

Random Weekend Post: Scott Miller’s New Single

Posted in Knoxville Music, Scott Miller on October 24, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Last week, I told you about Scott Miller’s new single “Lo Siento, Spanishburg WVa.” Scott is selling downloads of the song on his website to help raise funds for his next studio recording. This is the first in what should be a series of such downloadable tracks.

Scott has also created a video for his new song. You can watch it here and see more of Scott’s videos on his YouTube page.

A Little Knox Music – Expatriate Edition: Robby Hecht

Posted in Knoxville Music, Robby Hecht on October 22, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

I’m bringing a little bit of a twist to this installment of “A Little Knox Music.” The artist I’m featuring today claims Knoxville as his original home, even though he has moved on from our fair city in recent years.Today, I feature the music of Robby Hecht

Robby has spent most of his musical life away from the shadow of the Sunsphere, but he was born and raised in Knoxville. That’s enough for me to include him here.

Robby’s first foray into songwriting came when he was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also spent time in Paris and San Francisco before settling in Nashville where he worked on his debut album Late Last Night. The album is textured and melodic, and filled with great songs (Hecht wrote nine of the album’s ten tracks)… a very mature offering for a debut disc that shows why Hecht was named the winner of the 2008 Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Competition.

Of course, talent attracts talent, and Late Last Night boasts an impressive list of guest stars. The angelic voices of Mindy Smith, Jill Andrews, and Sarah Siskind all grace the album. Robbie is also joined on select tracks by Thad Cockrell, Andrea Zonn, and Jeff Coffin from Bela Fleck & The Flecktones. At no point, though, do the guests overpower the record. Robby keeps you squarely focused on his voice and his words.

Here’s a track from the album that features vocals from Mindy Smith (herself a former Knoxvillian).

Robby Hecht: Freight Train Lady (Buy Album)

Random Weekend Post: Rosanne Cash

Posted in Rosanne Cash on October 17, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

I’ve been listening lately to Rosanne Cash’s new album The List. It’s a lovingly produced album made up of songs from a hand written list her father first gave her over 35 years ago. The list was 100 songs that Johnny Cash held dear and felt his daughter needed to know. The song featured here is not on the album… but I feel it captures the spirit of it quite well.

Notes: Kontest Winner, New Scott Miller,

Posted in Annie and the Beekeepers, Knoxville Music, Kris Kristofferson, Scott Miller on October 15, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

First of all, in case you missed the comment in the contest thread… I want to say congrats to Rory, the winner of the Kristofferson Kontest. Rory won a Deluxe Edition copy of Kris Kristofferson’s new album Closer to the Bone. I want to say thank you to everyone who entered the drawing (nearly 20 of you), and a special thank you to New West Records for providing the prize for the contest.

I’ve really enjoyed these first two contests (Kris & Porterdavis), and I know my wife has enjoyed being in charge of picking the lucky winners out of the hat. Keep your eyes peeled. If I come across any more cool prizes, I’ll certainly try to do more of these giveaways.

The Patron Saint of A Fifty Cent Lighter & A Whiskey Buzz, Mr. Scott Miller, has a new project cooking over at his website. If you remember, last year, Scott sold 1,000 copies (complete with original artwork for each copy) of a demos project called Appalachian Refugee to raise money for his first self-released studio album For Crying Out Loud.

This time around, Scott is again looking to fans to help fund the creation of his next record. Starting this week, Scott will be releasing a series of songs on his website that will be available for paid downloads. The first song, “Lo Siento, Spanishburg, WVa” went live yesterday. For those of you like me who don’t speak Spanish, the title translates to “I’m Sorry, Spanishburg, WVa.” You can purchase the song and become an investor in Scott’s new record here.

Last month, I posted a link to several videos over at the Music Fog website that were recorded on the Music Fog bus during the Americana Music Conference in Nashville. One of the videos I linked to was for a song called “Again & Again” by Annie Lynch & the Beekeepers. The video was contained in a post titled, “For the Love of God, Please Watch This!!!” So I did… and you still can.

What I heard was a true melancholy folk masterpiece from songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Annie Lynch, bassist Ken Woodward, and cellist Alexandra Spalding. The trio met while attending the Berklee College of Music a few years back and have just released their second EP, The Squid Hell Sessions. The studio version of “Again & Again” appears on the EP and was just included on the sampler CD in the newest issue of Paste Magazine. You can hear a whole lot more at their myspace page.
Annie & The Beekeepers: Again & Again (Buy Album)

Andrew Bird: Live at the Bijou Theatre

Posted in Andrew Bird on October 13, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Going to see Andrew Bird tonight… I’m pretty excited.

Cleaning Out the Old INbox: Chuck Prophet, Boca Chica

Posted in Boca Chica, Chuck Prophet on October 12, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Don’t forget the Kristofferson Kontest… I’ll draw the winner tonight after work.

Now… a couple of quick hitters to clear a few tracks out of my “to blog” file.

First up is the upcoming release from rocker Chuck Prophet. Let Freedom Ring! is set for release October 27th from Yep Roc records, and promises to deliver the same style of genre-bending rock that made me such a big fan of his 2007 release Soap & Water. It’s the same blending of roots, pop, and punk that Prophet brought to the table as a co-writer and guitarist for all thirteen songs on Alejandro Escovedo’s Real Animalmy favorite album of 2008.

I should mention that I haven’t heard the entire record yet, but the four tracks I have heard leave me very excited for the full product. I’m sharing the title track with you here as well as a YouTube video where Prophet explains the process behind recording the album he calls, “A love and sex comedy in twelve parts.”

Chuck Prophet: Let Freedom Ring! (Buy Album)

Next we have Lace Up Your Workboots from Boca Chica, an indie-folk outfit fronted by Pittsburgh songwriter Hallie Pritts. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I have a distinct weakness for femme-folk artists such as Crooked Still, The Be Good Tanyas, Madison Violet, etc… You can now add Boca Chica to that list, as the group shares some common ground with all of those artists.

Of course, they probably wouldn’t have caught my ear as much as they did if didn’t delineate a bit from the standard folk fare. Influences here come from all over the musical map and include artists as diverse as Gillian Welch, Andrew Bird, and Fleetwood Mac. Just try listening to “Shake Your Party Dress” without hearing echoes of Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham.
There are other surprises here as well. A lonesome steel guitar drives the album’s title track and creates a tune that would fit nicely alongside Neil Young on any playlist. A vibraphone comes along for the ride on the banjo and cello driven album opener “Lake Erie.” The unusual instrumentation gives the track, which is a meditation on mortality, an etherial quality that takes it just a notch beyond your standard folk song. And that’s what makes the album as a whole such a compelling listen. It is folk presented in an unfamiliar form… and well worth checking out.
Boca Chica: Lake Erie (Buy Album)
Boca Chica: Shake Your Party Dress (Buy Album)

Random Weekend Post: Carolina Chocolate Drops

Posted in Carolina Chocolate Drops on October 10, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

I really hope some of you tuned in to the Blue Plate Special yesterday to hear Jill Andrews and The Carolina Chocolate Drops. Jill’s new songs and band sounded amazing, and the Chocolate Drops had the crowd worked into quite a frenzy.

Here’s a video from the last time the Chocolate Drops appeared on the BPS. They’ll be back in town Sunday night for a performance at the Bijou Theatre.