In the midst of a full-on rock revival, Nashville, Tennessee’s MODOC has established itself as one of the most irresistibly and undeniably fearless new acts to emerge from Music City, USA. Having turned out two blistering, full-length albums of potent, unvarnished rock in little less than 18 months, the hard-hitting four-piece is turning heads and earning favor with many of the city’s industry heavyweights, not to mention fans. Managers, producers, publishers – even network television – have taken notice of one of the smartest, most original sounds to come out of Nashville in a long time.
At a towering 6’7”, the Philadelphia-born Ray Benson is considered a giant in the industry. However, it’s his contributions to music history, not his height, that have made him a dominant figure on the music scene since 1970. Ray Benson is the front man and founder of the world-renowned Western swing band – Asleep at the Wheel. For forty years, Ray has been the driving force behind “The Wheel” and has overseen the release of more than 25 albums, countless tours, and has won nine GRAMMY™ Awards. 2009’s CD release of Willie & The Wheel with collaborator Willie Nelson garnered another Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album. Last year’s It’s A Good Day with famed Texas Playboy Leon Rausch is earning critical acclaim and legions of new fans for the genre.
Darden Smith has long transcended traditional singer-songwriter boundaries, and his varied, fascinating musical legacy continues to evolve. Following unexpected paths has been a constant force in his 28-year career as a musician, and his work of the last 15 years has led him both further afield than ever, and also brought him full circle to where he began.
The sound of the Portland, Oregon's Foghorn Stringband could have come barreling through the grille-cloth of those big console radios in the living rooms of the 1950's, when the traditional sounds of rural America were still on the minds of young musicians transferring the old-time music to a distinctively modern age. Their tight intstrumental work and line-up - fiddle, banjo, mandolin, bass and guitar - is reminiscent of early bluegrass, but their powerful approach is whole-heartedly old-time, centered largely by the fiddle. Devoted to the interpretation and performance of American stringband music, their style encompasses early country music, the fiddle repertoire of the Southern Appalachians and the Midwest, and the stringband sounds of the Piedmont region.
Singer-songwriter-instrumentalist Phoebe Hunt just can’t stay planted in one spot for long, and that insatiable wanderlust drives everything she does — from exploring her own musical styles to living the gypsy life of a touring musician. An Austin-to-Nashville émigré, she recently made the leap to the Big Apple — but not before heading back to Austin in March to record her new album, LIVE AT THE CACTUS CAFÉ. The latest in a long line of artists to record at the iconic University of Texas listening room, the vocalist/fiddler/rhythm guitarist showcases her musicianship and sultry voice — the main elements of her award winning folk-pop sound, on 16 tracks performed with her band before an enthusiastic audience. It’s a fitting follow-up to her self-titled 2012 debut EP, created in Los Angeles with producer Matt Rollings.
In the early 1970s, Rolling Stone Magazine called Michael Martin Murphey “one of the best songwriters in America.” Since that time, Murphey has left an indelible mark on the American Music Landscape crafting and recording such iconic hits as “Wildfire,” “Carolina In The Pines”, “Geronimo’s Cadillac”, “Cowboy Logic,” “Cherokee Fiddle”, “Boy From The Country” and more. In the process, he has topped the Pop, Country, Bluegrass and Western Music charts, earned six gold albums and multiple Grammy nominations.
Doug and Telisha are based out of East Nashville, the new Bohemian Mecca of the South. They’re a restless sort, though, and more than anything, they call the road their home. The past few years have been filled with hundreds of shows and thousands of miles for Doug and Telisha. They’ve traveled from Florida to Alaska and Michigan to Texas, hitting 47 US states and six Canadian provinces. They’ve played with some of their most beloved heroes - Lucinda Williams, Darrell Scott, Charlie Louvin, and Joe Ely – and been on stage at Anderson Fair, The Birchmere, The Carolina Theater, Godfrey Daniels, Madison Square Park and Floydfest.
The Steelism tapes may have just as well been unearthed at 926 East McLemore Avenue—a relic from a not-so-forgotten past. Songs like “Mint Julep” and “9 to 5 Jive” would have made Atlantic and Stax record execs giddy, circa 1962. But Steelism, for all its vintage chops, is happening now. It’s the project of Jeremy Fetzer and Spencer Cullum, Jr., guitarists who share a classical education in Steve Cropper licks, ELO synthesizers, and a dog-eared copy of Bill Keith and Winnie Winston’s seminal Pedal Steel Guitar book.
Bobby Rush is a blues great. He has garnered recognition from music lovers from far and wide for his own deep-rooted appreciation of music, and much more. Rush was nominated for the Blues Music Award in the category of Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year 13 times in 14 consecutive years. His signature suits, swagger and strut have become widespread marks of distinction which characterize the charismatic entertainer, and he continues to work hard as a musician, entrepreneur, chef and boss.
Singer-Songwriter Amos Lee's newest studio album, Mountains Of Sorrow, Rivers Of Song; out October 8th, 2013 on Blue Note Records. For his fifth album, Mountains Of Sorrow, Rivers Of Song, Lee took a different path for the recording; he worked in a new city with a new producer, while, for the first time, he brought his touring band into the studio with him. The twelve songs that resulted—the follow-up to 2011's chart-topping Mission Bell—bring Amos into new sonic territory, while retaining the trenchant impact of the scenes, characters, and stories in his writing.
Fatback funk, blistering blues, uptown horns and low-down grooves: Blinddog Smokin’ renders millions of miles and thousands of gigs into a deep American repertoire of profound authenticity. The music emanates from the rotating community of players and echoes across the legions of folks who have communed with the band at 200 - 320 gigs per year for well over two decades. Blinddog Smokin’ has played every conceivable venue, from Mississippi juke joints to high mountain roadhouses; across Europe and the Mediterranean all the way to the main stage at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas, an event that attracts upwards of 100,000 attendees. Traveling by bus to 42 of the continental United States – plus international tours – they have been rightfully crowned “Ultimate Road Warriors,” by Southland Blues Magazine.
Way down in lower Alabama, almost every weekend for the past two years, folks have been coming together for a music gathering called The Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm. One part house concert, one part Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble, the affair has hosted some of the country’s finest songwriters, pickers, bluesman and troubadours ranging from Mary Gauthier to Alvin Youngblood Hart, Malcolm Holcombe to Randall Bramblett, Sergio Webb to George Porter, Jr. It was here that frequent encounters between reoccurring artists—Grayson Capps, Will Kimbrough, Corky Hughes and the duo Sugarcane Jane featuring Savana Lee and Anthony Crawford—led to the birth of a band, the aptly named Willie Sugarcapps.
The Westbound Rangers met as students attending Belmont University, but most of their education occurred outside the lecture halls and labs, when the four musicians studied their own version of “string theory” in dorm room jam sessions. In the five years since, the acoustic quartet—Graham Sherrill, Mike Walker, Read Davis, and Wes Burkhart—has evolved from a recreational string band to one of the most exciting up-and-coming acts on the roots music scene. With the June 14 release of their third album, Gone for Way Too Long, the band stands poised to have a breakout year.
From the foot-tapping instrumental "Sheepherder" to the emotional ballad "Thunder" and everything in between, these roots music newcomers have assembled quite the collection here, both old songs and new, offering something for everyone.
Country singer Ashley Monroe was already a seasoned show business veteran when she released her self-titled album in 2007 at the tender age of 19. Born in Knoxville, TN, Monroe was born into a family with a great love for country music -- she's kin to Carl Smith and members of the Carter Family on her father's side -- and she developed a passion for music at an early age, taking her first piano lessons when she was only seven. At age 11, Monroe won a talent contest in Pigeon Forge, TN (home to Dolly Parton's resort Dollywood), singing Patsy Montana's western classic "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart"; she brought home a $100 prize, and she was soon a regular performer at a theater in Pigeon Forge. However, Monroe's world was turned upside down when her father died in early 2000, and 13-year-old Ashley began writing songs to help her deal with the tragedy. A few years later, Monroe began making trips to Nashville to perform her music in clubs along the fabled Lower Broadway district, and before long she pulled up stakes and moved to Music City.
Alter-ego of “Too Slim,” (bass player, face player, and all-around nutcase for Grammy-winning western music and comedy stars Riders In The Sky) “Say No More, It’s Freddy LaBour” is a wacky, one-man, guitar-playing, wise-cracking, original song-singing folk superstar best known for his hit “Who Offed Hoffa?” which topped the charts of the University of Michigan’s student cafeteria in 1971. He delights unsuspecting audiences with songs ranging from the trucker’s lament “My Load Shifted,” to his feel-good sing-along “The Prozac Polka (La-La Song).”
With its bold new brand of acoustic music, Joy Kills Sorrow pushes right through the envelope and out the other side. The Boston-based stringband brings a decidedly modern sensibility to an old-world sound, channeling the prodigious talents of its individual members into elegant arrangements and well-crafted songs. While the group pays due homage to its Bluegrass roots—its name refers to one of the first radio stations to broadcast the music of Bill Monroe—the band truly excels in its rich and textured treatment of more contemporary material. Boasting a full arsenal of original songs, Joy Kills Sorrow plumbs the entire spectrum of its spare instrumentation, effortlessly merging influences as diverse as folk, rock, pop, and jazz. The songs that emerge are dark and often funny, ruminating on modern life and love with eloquence and wit. The result is a radical new strain of folk music, one that bravely breaks with tradition even as it salutes the past.
Escondido is Nashville, TN based artists Jessica Maros and Tyler James. Recorded live in a single day, their 10-song debut album was released Feb. 26, 2013. Their sound is a washed out desert landscape steeped in American roots music. “We wanted it to be like Clint Eastwood playing pop songs at one of the honky-tonks downtown,” James mused. “But we’ve been told it sounds like desert sex.”
Memories & Moments is the second studio album from highly regarded writer/singer/multi-instrumentalists Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott, released on their newly formed Full Skies imprint, a compound of O’Brien’s Howdy Skies and Scott’s Full Light labels. Comprising five songs apiece from O’Brien and Scott plus one memorable collaboration in their timely “Turn Your Dirty Lights On,” along with a pair of chestnuts from Hank Williams and George Jones and a spirited rendition of the John Prine classic “Paradise,” with its author guesting on guitar and vocals, Memories & Moments is a face-to-face record by design.
Fresh on the scene, Cooper brings a fiery spirit and a massive voice to the turn table. She performs with a power and tenacity that is difficult for most young women to muster. Backed by her extraordinary 11- piece soul band, this firecracker knows how to put on a show.
Born in Louisiana and raised in Missouri, Folk remembers watching his Dad pick the country blues on a 1966 D35 Martin guitar, the same guitar he plays today. He listened to Bluegrass and Country music from a young age and got his first guitar at age 14. After High School, he traveled to South America for a year where he played and sang from the streets of Argentina to the mountains of Chile. When he returned home to Missouri, he headed west on his motorcycle, chasing pretty girls to the mountains of Carbondale, Colorado.
Pete Anderson is a multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning Producer and groundbreaking guitarist, who melds blues and country to forge a style all his own. Known as a pioneer in the roots-rock genre and an early champion of the Americana movement, he had a hand in introducing the world to artists such as Michelle Shocked, Lucinda Williams, Jim Lauderdale, Rosie Flores and perhaps most famously, his musical partner of 20 years, Dwight Yoakam.
Roll Me, Tumble Me, the Deadly Gentlemen's third album and Rounder Records debut, boasts ten winsome examples of their playfully irreverent, vibrantly rootsy songcraft. Although the Boston-based quintet employs acoustic guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin and double bass—a lineup that's usually associated with traditional bluegrass—their music defies conventional genre restrictions, filtering a bottomless assortment of influences through their own decidedly distinctive songwriting sensibility and uncanny instrumental rapport. The result is timelessly resonant music that's rooted in tradition, yet effortlessly contemporary and boundlessly entertaining.
Raised in Columbia, SC, Ricky Young has traveled a long and winding road to Nashville. As a former University of South Carolina alum and baseball player, he spent five years in the minor leagues.
It’s said that a great band is like a gang or perhaps a family, united by music, sweat, passion, and blood. That is certainly the case with Matrimony, an exhilarating new band whose interpersonal connections run far deeper than your average combo. Fronted by the husband and wife duo of Ashlee Hardee Brown and Jimmy Brown, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based band are accompanied by Hardee Brown’s talented brothers, Jordan and CJ, resulting in an intuitive collaboration that is both immediately affective and utterly their own. “MONTIBELLO DRIVE,” the band’s eagerly anticipated debut album, takes its title from the Hardee family abode, a bucolic homestead where multiple generations of friends and family all sang and played together. Fraught with collaborative chemistry and determined artlessness, songs like “Last Love” and “Obey Your Guns” ring out with Matrimony’s astonishing communal spirit, their tight harmonies and intuitive musical telepathy born of true love and a shared lifetime.
This is Joel King's first solo release. From the Effects to the Wild Feathers, Joel has been writing and performing for years. "Shadowland" is a creation from Joel's Nashville home. Produced, recorded, and mixed by Joel; he also plays every instrument on the track. There will be a full length album released later in 2012.
“When people hear John Mark Nelson's music for the first time, there's often a sense of disbelief. With arrangements that recall the work of veteran songwriters, the 19-year-old Minnetonka, Minn., native has been recording sophisticated compositions since he was 14.
After listening to Same Trailer Different Park, the Nashville-based singer-songwriter’s first album for Mercury Records, it’s clear that this is a girl who has something to say. A true language artist, Kacey nimbly spins webs of words to create the quirky puns, shrewd metaphors, and steely ironies that fill the record.
For Miss Tess and her band, the Talkbacks, it seems the best name was one that didn't mean much of anything too concrete. The Brooklyn-based singer and her band make swinging, jumpin' modern vintage music that nods to the traditions of saloon jazz, country swing, early rockabilly, and New Orleans second line, yet somehow maintains a unique and personal sound.
The highest caliber of artistry is often intertwined with the deepest sincerity. As is the case with rising star Angel Snow, whose music is the truest and most honest reflection of her life. Her story plays out in self-penned songs, where detail by detail she lets the listener in on her innermost thoughts, hopes, and dreams.
The Gibson Brothers were voted 2013 Entertainers of the Year at the IBMA World of Bluegrass 24th Annual Awards Show in Raleigh, N.C. We also won the Vocal Group of the Year, Song of the Year ("They Called It Music") and Eric was named the Songwriter of the Year.
Jim Lauderdale is a multi-talented performer and songwriter, with successes in both country and bluegrass music. His roots stem from the Carolinas, yet his career has taken him all over the United States and abroad, making him an international recording artist with an ever-growing fan base. Jim won "Artist of the Year" and "Song of the Year" at the first "Honors and Awards Show" held by the Americana Music Association in 2002. Subsequently, he has hosted this same show for the last seven years.
With his roots in Texas, singer and songwriter Andrew Combs has been steadily growing his branches in Nashville. In essence, he is a storyteller. His sharp, southern voice carves out stories and carries you through the ridges, making you feel as if you whittled out this story from your own past. When accompanied by fellow singer and song- writer Heidi Feek, the contrast is deep, dark, and beautiful. Her tranquil and smokey style pairs with Combs' reflective exuberance like a cold glass of whiskey and a long cigarette on a sunny day.
Derek Hoke has crafted a collection of equally endearing and infectious songs for his long awaited sophomore release – Waiting All Night. Out August 21, 2012 on Electric Western / Thirty Tigers, Waiting All Night picks up right where Hoke left off with his first release Goodbye Rock N Roll. There is a significant difference here though. If Goodbye Rock N Roll was slow crafted, simmered in Hoke’s brain on low, and came to life on a lazy saw dust floor one night in town, then Waiting All Night was born under the lights on stage. It’s clear that Hoke and his band have been affected by the past years of playing week after week. Nashville has a way of doing that to a singer. A way of molding a voice around the lingering smoke and whiskey hanging in the air night after night. And first and foremost, Derek Hoke is a singer. The songs, even the ballads, reach out and yearn for a late night in a dark room. It’s the same feeling you get when you leave the house at 2am to catch last call…because if you don’t you might miss something. You might miss the steel guitar or meandering piano solos and telecaster riffs. Well, get out of the house, because you won’t want to miss a tune on Waiting All Night.
Internationally recognized as the world's most renowned Dobro player, Jerry Douglas undoubtedly ranks amongst the top contemporary maestros in American music. Douglas has garnered twelve GRAMMY® Awards and numerous International Bluegrass Music Association awards, and holds the distinction of being named "Musician of the Year" by The Country Music Association (2002, 2005, 2007), The Academy of Country Music (11 times), and The Americana Music Association (2002, 2003). In 2004, the National Endowment for The Arts honored Douglas with a National Heritage Fellowship, acknowledging his artistic excellence and contribution to the nation's traditional arts, their highest such accolade.
Dubbed by NPR as the “Empress of the Unexpected,” singer/songwriter Susan Werner confirms her reputation as an artist changeable as the weather with her newest recording Hayseed. Paying tribute to American agriculture and to her Iowa farm roots, Werner again keeps her audiences guessing and laughing simultaneously, lending her wry humor and passionate voice to subjects such as farmer’s markets, agrochemicals, climate change, drought, longing for a sense of place, and the movement towards sustainable agriculture. The characters and perspectives are varied and colorful, the lyrics are sharp as thistles, the music is handmade and hoppin’, and with Hayseed Werner continues her reign as one of the most bold and creative forces on the acoustic music scene today.
Jason is on the road over 200 days a year playing to crowds in every setting, from clubs to amphitheaters and many corporate sponsored events. Jason D. is unique, talented and full of raw energy. This is one act you have to see and hear to believe.
MilkDrive, the Austin alt-folk-progressive acoustic string band, has put the finishing touches on its debut studio album, ROAD FROM HOME, produced in Nashville with Bil VornDick (Alison Krauss, Bela Fleck, Bob Dylan, Ralph Stanley) that will be available in April 2011.
SARAH JAROSZ is a 22- year-old, Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who hails from just outside Austin, TX. A recent graduate from the prestigious New England Conservatory, she will release her third album, Build Me Up From Bones, for Sugar Hill Records on September 24th. Over the past four years, Jarosz, who musically fits comfortably where contemporary folk, Americana and roots music intersect, has covered a remarkable amount of ground thus far. She has toured the United States extensively, as well as Canada and the UK, taped Austin City Limits and the BBC Series The Transatlantic Sessions and appeared on A Prairie Home Companion. Her two previous records (Song Up In Her Head and Follow Me Down) received high praise from outlets including Rolling Stone, New York Times, USA Today, Paste, Mojo, Acoustic Guitar and American Songwriter, and she has received multiple Grammy and Americana Music Association nominations.
Cleveland-born David Wilcox was inspired to play guitar after hearing a fellow college student playing in a stairwell. His lyrical insight is matched by a smooth baritone voice, virtuosic guitar chops, and creative open tunings, giving him a range and tenderness rare in folk music. He released an independent album in 1987, was a winner of the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk award in 1988, and by 1989 he had signed with A&M Records. His first release on the label, ‘How Did You Find Me Here’, sold over 100,000 copies the first year largely by word of mouth. Now, 17 albums into a career marked by personal revelation and wildly loyal fans, David continues to find and deliver joy, inspiration, and invention.
In reality, many artists come and go, but when one comes around who mixes these two elements we’re often reminded about the way things used to be and we understand music as a form of expression and its ability to get down to the heart of the matter.
Musicians often claim they are “giving themselves” to their listeners, but it’s rarely as true as on Ben Sollee’s fourth album, Half-Made Man, a revealing, deeply moving album that explores a man trying to figure himself out, just as we all are. Known for his thrilling cello-playing that incorporates new techniques to create a unique mix of folk, bluegrass, jazz and R&B, Sollee possesses rough-smooth-smoky vocal stylings and a knack for intricate arrangements that has brought about comparisons to Sufjan Stevens. Sollee shares himself completely with his audience, whether it be by personal lyrics, or his commitment to the environment. Sollee can often be found riding a bicycle to his concerts (cello strapped to the back), which have become legendary for their intimacy.
Aaron Mortenson and Jay Rutherford set out to make their debut Los Colognes album in the mold of the great JJ Cale records of the ‘70s. Working Together is parched desert country blues at its best—full of relationships gone south, one-liners that make you think twice, and slow-burning boogie woogie.
Long before it got broken up into a million sub-genres, rock & roll was just rock & roll. Pure, true, organic. Six strings, booming harmonies and the call of the open road. It’s a singularly American tradition that Nashville’s The Wild Feathers are full-force dedicated to not only preserving but also – more importantly - evolving. Their sound melds the four unique voices of Ricky Young, Joel King, Taylor Burns and Preston Wimberly, taking inspiration from across the musical spectrum – country, blues, folk and rock – and spinning it into a roaring web of warm, cosmic melodies with vintage roots and modern tones. The Wild Feathers are a rock band that feels impossibly fresh with the air of having been here all along.
Seryn is a 6 piece band who calls Denton, Texas their home. When listening to the well layered textures of guitars, ukulele, accordion, bass, viola, banjo and various percussion, it's hard to imagine This Is Where We Are is the band's debut effort. The band's strength resides in their vast musical talent and understanding of dynamics. Their beauty is gracefully displayed through chilling harmonies. Each member and their voice carry the same importance. One is not complete without the other.
North Mississippi Allstars formed in 1996; the product of a special time for modern Mississippi country blues. Brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson soaked up the music of their father, Memphis legend Jim Dickinson, and absorbed the North Mississippi legacy while playing and shaking it down in the juke joints with their blues ancestors. R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Otha Turner and their musical families were at their peak, making classic records and touring the world. Eventually, Luther (guitar, vocals) and Cody (drums, vocals) formed the North Mississippi Allstars and pioneered their own brand of blues-infused rock and roll.
When the time came for the Steep Canyon Rangers to record the follow-up to 2012’s Nobody Knows You, they headed north to Woodstock, NY, to Levon Helm’s famed studio with Grammy-winning producer Larry Campbell and engineer Justin Guip. This was a departure from their previous albums, where they chose co-producers from within the bluegrass community. Instead of having Campbell co-produce, the band gave him full control.
2012–2013 has been a groundbreaking period for John Fullbright, and the Grammy nomination for From The Ground Up was just one of many highlights. Since its release in May 2012, Fullbright’s first studio album has garnered high praise from peers and pundits alike, making the young Oklahoman the most talked about young singer/songwriter in music today. In December, Jimmy Webb presented John with the prestigious ASCAP Harold Adamson Lyric Writing Award, calling John “one of the best writers I have heard in a long, long time.” Earlier in the year, John was invited to sing for the Chuck Berry Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Tribute. While the rest of the cast strapped on Fender guitars, John played “Downbound Train” on piano as Chuck sat twenty feet away.