Archive for November, 2010

Weekend YouTube: Robert Plant

Posted in Robert Plant on November 28, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

I’m starting to work this week on compiling my list of my twenty favorite albums of the year.  I’ve narrowed it down to about 25 albums so far and am working on culling it down to the final list.

Some of the discs (especially those near the top) have been locked into their spot for a while now.  But as I’m going back and re-listening to this year’s output, some others are still moving their way up.  One of those discs is Robert Plant’s Band of Joy.  I always really liked it, I just didn’t get to spend much time with it initially upon its release.  Now I’m catching up.

Here’s the video for the lead single, “Angel Dance.”

…and another video featuring Plant talking about the album.

ReviewShine Wednesday: Cornucopia Edition

Posted in Girl Haggard, Leland Sundries, Lucinda Black Bear, Marcus Hummon on November 25, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Every Wednesday, I feature a brief review of at least one album that has been submitted to me through the ReviewShine website. I have cleverly titled this recurring segment “ReviewShine Wednesday. This week, I’m offering (a little late) several quick reviews to serve up a Thanksgiving feast of music and help clear out my inbox a bit.

Given their name (and it is a great name), you’d be forgiven for thinking Girl Haggard was an all girl Merle Haggard cover band.  While they do draw on some of the same themes you’d find in Merle’s music, Girl Haggard is something else entirely.  The band features Nashville vocalist Mandy Allan singing in front of a trio of musicians from Providence, RI in a punk and country style that draws easy comparisons to The Knitters or Those Darlins.  If you really want to know where this band is coming from, just look at song titles like “Providence and Bourbon,” “Hungover/Pissed Off,” “Thinkin’ About Drinkin’,” and the tender duet featured here, “Drunk, Broke, and In Love (The Hank Shuffle).”

Girl Haggard: Drunk, Broke, and In Love (The Hank Shuffle) (Buy Album)

Up next is a five piece band from New York City called Lucinda Black Bear.  I first discovered the band a few years ago when they were featured on the NPR podcast, All Songs Considered.  I was intrigued by their sound, but I never took the time to follow up on what I heard in the podcast.  When I saw their new album Knives in my ReviewShine inbox, I knew I didn’t want to miss out on this one as well.  The lushly arranged and produced album contains elements of pop, indie-rock, and alt-country (heavy on the “alt”) and at times recalls anyone from Spoon to Arcade Fire. A different sound for this site… but a nice sound nonetheless.

Lucinda Black Bear: Suffocation Blues (Buy Album)

Another New York artist (from Brooklyn) is a project fronted by songwriter Nick Loss-Eaton called Leland Sundries.  I have always known Eaton as a promoter of music more than a maker of music.  He also works for a publicity agency and has been responsible for sending more than a few quality artists to my inbox.  Now he can count himself among them.  These five songs form a promising debut from an artist with a literate approach to songwriting and a deliberate vocal delivery that echoes a modern day Lou Reed.  The laid back folk musings of The Apothecary EP could prove to be quite an addictive drug.

Leland Sundries: Elegy (Buy Album)

Finally… We close with an album that I’ve been meaning to fit into this space for some time now, but just never got around to featuring.  Marcus Hummon is a Grammy winning songwriter from Nashville who is best known for writing hit songs like “Cowboy Take Me Away” (Hummon’s version appears here) and “Ready to Run” for the Dixie Chicks.  In fact, Hummon has three number ones to his name, even if it’s a name you haven’t heard before.  With his obvious songwriting chops, it’s not surprising that his new album Rosana focuses on the bare essence of the songs with Darrell Scott’s production placing most of the emphasis on Hummon’s words and voice.

Marcus Hummon: Rosanna (Buy Album)

Weekend YouTube: Michael Nesmith

Posted in Michael Nesmith on November 21, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Had former Monkee Michael Nesmith on the brain today for some reason… enjoy.

ReviewShine Wednesday: Rusty Belle — On the Blue Plate Special Today

Posted in Rusty Belle on November 17, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Every Wednesday, I feature a brief review of at least one album that has been submitted to me through the ReviewShine website. I have cleverly titled this recurring segment “ReviewShine Wednesday.

Today we take a brief look at the band Rusty Belle from Amherst, Massachusetts.  At the heart of Rusty Belle are the brother and sister team of Matt and Kate Lorenz.  The Lorenz siblings are joined by multi instrumentalist Zac Trojano.  All three band members write, all three band members sing, and (what makes them truly unique) all three band members play some sort of percussion.  Though he also plays slide guitar, Zac would most easily be labeled the “drummer” of the band, but Kate will often play a washboard (also accordion) while Matt keeps time with any number of home-made instruments (also nylon stringed guitar).

The results are often unique and always interesting as different songs play with elements of blues, folk, and gypsy swing.  It should be very interesting to see what surprises the band has in store today when they appear on the WDVX Blue Plate Special.  You can hear the performance Wednesday at Noon (Eastern) on the WDVX website.

Rusty Belle: Rearview Mirror Sunrise (Buy Album)

A Little Knox Music: Scott Miller’s Christmas Gift

Posted in Scott Miller on November 16, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

I know it’s not quite the Holiday season yet… and I generally don’t like to get into Christmas music until after Thanksgiving… but today is the release date for Scott Miller’s new holiday disc Christmas Gift.  New music from Miller is a great gift no matter when it is shared, and I wanted to share this one with you now.

On this EP Miller wraps up seven tracks ranging from the original to the traditional with a few classic covers thrown in for good measure and places each one under the tree with care.  It’s a short set, but each song delivers, and there are no lumps of coal in the stocking.

The set begins with “Kingdom Has Come” a duet of sorts between Miller and Knoxville’s own R.B. Morris as well as a juxtaposition between a Miller original and a reading of T.S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi.”  Morris reads from Eliot’s verse about the Three Wise Men’s trip to Bethlehem as Miller sings of a similar journey.  Miller had originally asked Morris to read from The Book of Luke, but Morris suggested the Eliot piece instead.  It’s a beautiful combination.

The disc proceeds with the much punchier “Yes Viriginia,” the only other Miller original in the set.  Miller then tackles a tune from one of his heroes, John Prine’s “Christmas in Prison,” before diving into an upbeat bluegrass working of the traditional “Joyful, Joyful.”  The instrumental plays as a cross between Handel’s Messiah and “Dueling Banjos.”

After paying tribute to two more of his favorite songwriters with Roger Miller’s “Old Toy Trains” and Neil Young’s “Star of Bethleham,” Scott Miller closes out the disc with another traditional tune.  This time, it’s a sombre harmonica and piano instrumental reading of the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

As I said, it still feels a bit early to be talking about Christmas music, but early Holiday greetings are at the heart of this project.  Miller says his wife’s family has a tradition of trying to say the words “Christmas Gift” to each other as early as possible on Christmas Day.  He says releasing this EP in November is his way of beating the entire family to the punch.  It’s a welcome early stocking stuffer.

Scott Miller w/R.B. Morris: Kingdom Has Come (Buy Album)

Weekend YouTube: Tim Lee 3

Posted in Tim Lee 3 on November 15, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Maybe you already saw this in the comments on Wednesday’s post. If you didn’t, here’s the video for “Get There First” by Tim Lee 3.  Lots of familiar Knoxville faces in this one.

Friday Notes: Peter Cooper, etc…

Posted in Peter Cooper on November 12, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

*Country Standard Time has posted my review of Peter Cooper’s new CD, The Lloyd Green Album.  It’s a great mix of originals and wisely chosen covers from Nashville’s favorite music critic. Lloyd Green’s steel guitar is the perfect instrument to bring Cooper’s songs to life.

Fans should also check out the new collaborative release from Eric Brace and Peter Cooper called Master Sessions.  It also features Green along with Seldom Scene dobro master Mike Auldridge.

Peter Cooper: Champion of the World (Buy Album)

*A website called Best Online Colleges has posted a list of “The 25 Best Blogs for Folk Music Fans.”  Somehow, this site came in at #4 on their list.  I don’t know who these people are, or what their criteria was, or if this is even a legitimate thing… but it made me feel nice for a little while and seems to have brought a nice spike in traffic to the site.  That’s probably worth something.

*Back in May, I told you that Over the Rhine was headed into the studio to record an album with producer Joe Henry.  I did my part, and pre-ordered the album back then to help fund the project which will see official release in February.  As a thank you for ordering early, I just got my link to download an early copy of the disc.

I can’t share it with you yet, and I’m only listening to it for the first time as I type this… but I’ve already heard enough to recommend it to everyone when it comes out.  I just heard Karin Bergquist sing with Lucinda Williams.  I think I can die now.

*Scott Miller appeared on The Writer’s Block on WDVX Wednesday night.  He has a new Christmas EP (which I promise to review as we get closer to the season) available on his website, and stopped by to share a few early holiday presents.

If you see Scott at a show sometime soon… be sure to ask him about Bruce Pearl’s wedding cake.  I swear that man has a story for every occasion.

*Finally… The original Blaster, Dave Alvin, celebrated a birthday yesterday.  We’ll close today with one of my favorite Alvin tunes.

Dave Alvin: Nine Volt Heart (Buy Album)

ReviewShine Wednesday/A Little Knox Music: Tim Lee 3

Posted in Knoxville Music, Tim Lee 3 on November 10, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Until I got the link for their new album Raucous Americanus Tim Lee 3 was just another one of those Knoxville bands that I had always heard good things about but had never really taken the time to hear for myself.  I’m not sure why that is, but I’m here to tell you that I’ve been missing out. Maybe you have too.

The band’s front man and namesake Tim Lee gained some notoriety in the ’80s as a member of the jangle pop band The Windbreakers.  By the beginning of this decade, however, Lee had become tired of the business side of the music business and moved to Knoxville with is wife Susan with the thought of putting music behind him.  Luckily, things didn’t go exactly as planned, and Tim Lee 3 was born four years ago with Tim on on vocals and guitar, Susan on bass, and Rodney Cash on drums.  Cash was replaced by Matt Honkonen last year.

The band releases its third album next week… a double disc affair featuring 21 tracks of solid rock and roll.  Susan’s role has expanded on this album to include writing credits on half of the songs and lead vocals on several others.  Susan’s voice provides a nice contrast to Tim’s rougher sounds and helps the extra long set avoid the monotonous ruts that trouble most double albums.  But the real highlights come when the two sing together.  In their most rocking moments, they bear more than a passing aural resemblance to John Doe and Exene Cervenka of X.

Tim Lee 3 will play the WDVX Blue Plate Special this Friday at noon (Eastern).  I’m gonna be there, and you should listen in.  Don’t put off listening to this band as long as I did.

Here’s one song with lead vocals from Tim… and one with lead vocals from Susan.

Tim Lee 3: What I Have Not Got (Buy Album)
Tim Lee 3: Dig it Up (Buy Album)

Weekend YouTube: Peter Cooper

Posted in Eric Brace and Peter Cooper on November 7, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

I’m working on a review of Peter Cooper’s new CD for Country Standard Time. In the meantime… here are a couple of video’s of Cooper and his music.

Here’s Cooper’s version of a song he co-wrote with Todd Snider.

And here’s one that appears on his new album with Eric Brace.

Friday Notes: Parsons, Adams, & WDVX Birthdays

Posted in Chris Stapleton, Gram Parsons, Ryan Adams, WDVX on November 5, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

*Gram Parsons was born November 5, 1946 in Winter Haven, Florida.  He passed away in September of 1973 following an overdose in Joshua Tree, California.  One year after Parsons’ death, Ryan Adams was born on November 5, 1974 in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Parsons was one of the most influential artists of the Country Rock movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s thanks to his solo work and his time with The International Submarine Band, The Byrds, and The Flying Burrito Brothers.  Adams was one of the most influential artists of the Country Rock movement of the 90’s and 2000’s thanks to his solo work and his time with the band Whiskeytown.

Parsons called his sound Cosmic American Music.  Adams helped carry the flag for the Alt-Country and Americana labels.

Parsons sounded great singing with Emmylou Harris.  Adams sounded great singing with Emmylou Harris.

Anyone believe in reincarnation?

Gram Parsons: In My Hour of Darkness (Buy Album)
Ryan Adams: Oh My Sweet Carolina (Buy Album)

*Today is also the day we celebrate the birthday of WDVX and thirteen years of bringing great Americana music to Knoxville and East Tennessee.  We’ll be celebrating all day today in our downtown studios at the Knoxville Visitors Center. You can stop by anytime help to us celebrate, pick up your premium item from the Fall Fund Drive, or make a donation to help keep the music going.

The celebration culminates tonight with Ferd’s Friday beginning at 6:00.  Ferd Moyse from the Hackensaw Boys and some of his friends will perform a free concert at the Visitors Center to help us celebrate.  Portions of the performance will be broadcast live on WDVX and WDVX.com.

*Finally, a note for those of you wondering what Chris Stapleton has been up to since leaving The Steeldrivers earlier this year.  Stapleton did an interview with the Houston Press where he talks about his songwriting and his current rock band, The Jompson Brothers.

It’s funny.  I distinctly remember listening to the Hootie and the Blowfish album Cracked Rear View with Chris back in high school.  Now he’s co-writing #1 Country singles with Darius Rucker.