at www.RARWRITER.com      

--------------------"The best source on the web for what's real in arts and entertainment" ---------------------------

Volume 1-2016






Use this link to add your email address to the RARWRITER Publishing Group mailing list for updates on activities associated with the Creative Culture and Revolution Culture journals, and other RARWRITER Publishing Group interests.


ABOUT RAR: For those of you new to this site, "RAR" is Rick Alan Rice, the publisher of the RARWRITER Publishing Group websites. Use this link to visit the RAR music page, which features original music compositions and other.

Use this link to visit Rick Alan Rice's publications page, which features excerpts from novels and other.


(Click here)

Currently on RARadio:

"On to the Next One" by Jacqueline Van Bierk

"I See You Tiger" by Via Tania

"Lost the Plot" by Amoureux"

Bright Eyes, Black Soul" by The Lovers Key

"Cool Thing" by Sassparilla

"These Halls I Dwell" by Michael Butler

"St. Francis"by Tom Russell & Gretchen Peters, performance by Gretchen Peters and Barry Walsh; 

"Who Do You Love?"by Elizabeth Kay; 

"Rebirth"by Caterpillars; 

"Monica's Frock" by Signel-Z; 

"Natural Disasters" by Corey Landis; 

"1,000 Leather Tassels" by The Blank Tapes; 

"We Are All Stone" and "Those Machines" by Outer Minds; 

"Another Dream" by MMOSS; "Susannah" by Woolen Kits; 

Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and other dead celebrities / news by A SECRET PARTY;

"I Miss the Day" by My Secret Island,  

"Carriers of Light" by Brendan James;

"The Last Time" by Model Stranger;

"Last Call" by Jay;

"Darkness" by Leonard Cohen; 

"Sweetbread" by Simian Mobile Disco and "Keep You" fromActress off the Chronicle movie soundtrack; 

"Goodbye to Love" from October Dawn; 

Trouble in Mind 2011 label sampler; 

Black Box Revelation Live on Minnesota Public Radio;

Apteka "Striking Violet"; 

Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get Along";

Dana deChaby's progressive rock




"Music Hot Spots"




























Rick Alan Rice (RAR) Literature Page


CCJ Publisher Rick Alan Rice dissects the building of America in a trilogy of novels collectively calledATWOOD. Book One explores the development of the American West through the lens of public policy, land planning, municipal development, and governance as it played out in one of the new counties of Kansas in the latter half of the 19th Century. The novel focuses on the religious and cultural traditions that imbued the American Midwest with a special character that continues to have a profound effect on American politics to this day. Book One creates an understanding about America's cultural foundations that is further explored in books two and three that further trace the historical-cultural-spiritual development of one isolated county on the Great Plains that stands as an icon in the development of a certain brand of American character. That's the serious stuff viewed from high altitude. The story itself gets down and dirty with the supernatural, which in ATWOOD - A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliveranceis the outfall of misfires in human interactions, from the monumental to the sublime. The book features the epic poem "The Toiler" as well as artwork by New Mexico artist Richard Padilla.

Elmore Leonard Meets Larry McMurtry

Western Crime Novel











I am offering another novel through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service. Cooksin is the story of a criminal syndicate that sets its sights on a ranching/farming community in Weld County, Colorado, 1950. The perpetrators of the criminal enterprise steal farm equipment, slaughter cattle, and rob the personal property of individuals whose assets have been inventoried in advance and distributed through a vast system of illegal commerce.

It is a ripping good yarn, filled with suspense and intrigue. This was designed intentionally to pay homage to the type of creative works being produced in 1950, when the story is set. Richard Padilla has done his usually brilliant work in capturing the look and feel of a certain type of crime fiction being produced in that era. The whole thing has the feel of those black & white films you see on Turner Movie Classics, and the writing will remind you a little of Elmore Leonard, whose earliest works were westerns. Use this link.



If you have not explored the books available from Amazon.com's Kindle Publishing division you would do yourself a favor to do so. You will find classic literature there, as well as tons of privately published books of every kind. A lot of it is awful, like a lot of traditionally published books are awful, but some are truly classics. You can get the entire collection of Shakespeare's works for two bucks.

You do not need to buy a Kindle to take advantage of this low-cost library. Use this link to go to an Amazon.com page from which you can download for free a Kindle App for your computer, tablet, or phone.

Amazon is the largest, but far from the only digital publisher. You can find similar treasure troves atNOOK Press (the Barnes & Noble site), Lulu, and others.





2012 Archives

Mandy Barnett

Could music ever be this good again?

In November 2013, Tennessee-born singer Mandy Barnett released an album's worth of Don Gibson songs, with the support of Rounder Records and the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store chain, who featured her recording for distribution through their stores. “Don, his wife Bobbi, and I became good friends a few years before he passed away,” said Barnett, at the time of the record release. “He asked me to consider recording an album of his songs, and of course I said yes. He wrote some of the most-loved songs in country music -- who wouldn’t want to record a Don Gibson song?" In the track below, she sings the classic "Blue, Blue Day", with harmony tracks provided by Allison Krauss. It is perfect, an old school gem that is a striking tribute to Don Gibson, and makes you wish music was this good again. Mandy Barnett was brought up to be a singer, encouraged through talent competitions and stage shows from the time she was school-aged. As a teenager, she starred in a Patsy Cline stage show and she is in total command of that precise, controlled emotion that characterized that golden period in female country music. Absolutely beautiful. Recorded in Nashville, I Can't Stop Loving You: The Songs of Don Gibson features legendary musicians and Country Music Hall of Fame members Harold Bradley, Hargus "Pig" Robbins, and Charlie McCoy, who also played on some of Don Gibson’s original recordings of these songs. -RAR


Great American Taxi

Produced by Todd Snider, recorded in East Nashville, TN,
third studio album is “electrified folk music for our times”

The lead track, “Poor House,” came to them in a peculiar way while the band was playing in Oklahoma City. They received a call from their songwriting friend Benny Galloway, who had no idea that GAT was in Oklahoma. By coincidence, he called to say he was driving through Woody Guthrie’s hometown of Okemah, OK, knowing that the Taxi boys were big Guthrie fans. Galloway showed up about an hour before the show and ran “Poor House” by them as a potential song they could play together that night. Galloway obliged the band’s desire to include the track and dropped off a demo version weeks later while all were back home in Colorado. 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Produced by East Nashville’s critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Todd Snider, Great American Taxi’s third album, Paradise Lost (released October 11, 2011) continues to occupy a top-ten Americana Airplay chart position. The new release is described as “a mixture of country, blues and rock blurred together,” notes keyboardist/singer and album executive producer Chad Staehly. “Taxi moves along the tradition of playing what is really electrified country folk music of the common man.”

“It’s hard to imagine someone not liking Great American Taxi. In their bone structure and general jiggle, GAT is a modern equivalent to Little Feat, Los Lobos and the Grateful Dead — i.e. bonhomie-rich, barroom-ready rockers with a healthy facility with twangy stuff, all anchored to quality songwriting, playing and presentation. The Taxi is the whole dang package,” Dennis Cook recently wrote in Jambase.

Great American Taxi is Vince Herman (vocals, guitar, mandolin), Chad Staehly (keys, vocals), Jim Lewin (guitar), Chris Sheldon (drums) and Brian Adams (bass). On Paradise Lost, the band enlisted master folk musicians Tim O’Brien, Barry Sless and Elizabeth Cook to tackle songs about working class, blue-collar issues while maintaining Taxi’s signature upbeat, country-, bluegrass-, rock-infused, Americana-without-borders feel.

“I believe in the power of music and songs that can generate the energy to do something,” explains Herman. “Politics should be in music; everything’s politics, especially music. Songwriting can draw attention to appropriate issues of our times.” The band holds no bars in confronting current issues like mountaintop removal, nuclear energy, poor economic conditions, or a soldier returning home from war.

“Taxi’s latest release has shed the jamming and gone for the throat with focused song writing and tight musical arrangements,” adds Staehly. “The album combines ‘folky’ elements with straight ahead bluegrass that was propelled by Tim O’Brien playing fiddle, banjo and mandolin on several numbers mixed with equal parts rock ’n’ roll — think early-’70s country-rock Rolling Stones.”

The band crafted a batch of 12 songs that follow a script of sorts, focusing on America in the new millennium. The theme started to develop in 2010 when they spent time in Nashville. Later that year, while on tour with Snider in Denver, lightning struck: Snider and the band decided to work together to create Taxi’s third album, which was to explore what “paradise lost” means to all of us, individually and collectively. Paradise Lost takes on issues such as loss of childhood, loss of innocence, lost loved ones — even the loss of the record industry.

The release wraps up a trilogy, the band realized while working on Paradise. Their three albums loosely sketch out three periods in American history. People came to this country to carve out their Streets of Gold (GAT’s first release in 2007), got caught up in a bunch of Reckless Habits (2010) and have ended up with a sense of Paradise Lost.

When work began on Paradise Lost, Snider wanted the lyrics first before anything else. All five band-members contributed. Snider helped them edit and whittle down the catalog of songs to about fifteen tunes before they shored up the music and headed for East Nashville in April of 2011. There they arrived at Eric McConnell’s house (where Snider cut his acclaimed release East Nashville Skyline and where Jack White produced Loretta Lynn’s Grammy-award winning release Van Lear Rose).

Staehly recalls, “The house definitely has a certain vibe to it, maybe it’s all the old analog gear or McConnell’s approach, but this new album from Taxi hearkens to the sounds of both of those albums. It’s a bit raw with all kinds of warmth and vibe to it that helps bring home these workingman songs. Paradise Lost has an everyman’s aesthetic to it that evokes a reminder of how things ought to be for those in search of the elusive American Dream.”- Cary Baker





Due out February 7 on In The Black, album captures dynamic concert
recorded in Wimberley, Texas.

By Cary Baker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In conversation and in public, Mary Gauthier comes off as a practical, no-nonsense woman. Stoic, even. Which wouldn’t seem unusual, except for the fact that her songs carry so much emotional punch, they can leave you staggering. She has a way of burrowing into that hole so many of us carry inside our souls, and emerging with universal truths that show we aren’t so alone after all.

Gauthier knows where our exposed nerve endings lie because she’s probed her own so deeply, finally learning to unlock the fear and loneliness that controlled her escape-seeking trajectory for so long before songwriting — and the sobriety that drew it forth at age 35 — gave her a steadier flight path.

But even though her six albums have received countless accolades (2005’s Mercy Now earned her the Americana Music Association’s New/Emerging Artist of the Year title, and 2011’s The Foundling was named the No. 3 Record of the Year by the L.A. Times), Gauthier felt she needed to rack up her pilot hours, so to speak, before she could hit another major milestone: recording a live album. When she was ready, she captured Live at Blue Rock (In the Black Records) at a concert at the Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio in Wimberley, Texas, outside of Austin. It’s set for release on February 7, 2013.

“People have been asking for a live CD for a long time and I just knew that I wasn’t ready yet,” admits Gauthier. “It took 10 years of trench work. Of bein’ out there, banging my head against all the things an artist has to bang against. Indifference. Poor attendance. Situations that are over your head. Every night, curve ball, curve ball, curve ball. But stagecraft cannot be taught. You have to be onstage to learn it. So after ten years of doin’ it, I got good at it.”

Louisiana native-turned-Nashville resident Gauthier (it’s French; pronounced Go-SHAY), whose songs have earned praise from Bob Dylan and Tom Waits, and been recorded by Jimmy Buffett, Blake Shelton, Boy George and many others, is not bragging, just explaining, in that practical way of hers. It’s the same way she discusses experiences that led to some of the extraordinary songs she performs on the album. Renowned songs, such as “I Drink,” “Drag Queens in Limousines” and “Karla Faye” — which addresses the famous fate of that convicted killer, but starts out with lines that undoubtedly reference their author as well: A little girl lost, her world full of pain. He said it feels good, she gave him her vein.

Then there’s “Blood on Blood,” from her last release, 2010’s The Foundling, which plumbs the particular hell of children given up to closed adoption. With a cinematographer’s eye and a lyrical economy that suggests far more than her 15 years of songwriting experience, she chronicles an always-present sense of rejection and rootlessness, the nagging “whys” and “what ifs,” the endless search of every face for a possible resemblance. I don't know who I am I don't know who I'm not/I don't know my name I can't find my place, she sings, her voice rising from a whisper to a wail. She’s not just offering a vein here, she’s cutting several wide open. Like all of her songs, “Blood on Blood” takes on even more power when performed live.

“As a songwriter, I’m always trying to go to the deepest possible place inside of me. Past the navel-gazing, past the self-conscious, to get to that ‘we,’” Gauthier explains. “’Cause deep inside of all of us is the universal. And that is an artist’s job, to transcend the self. I’m in there, but then hopefully, it goes past that and it hits something far, far bigger and more important than me. That’s what I’m aimin’ for every time I write.”

She’s proud that The Foundling opened the floodgates for thousands of fellow orphans who had never heard anyone articulate their pain with so much insight. Gauthier reports therapists are now using the album to better understand the adoptee experience. It’s also resulted in several reunions between children and their birth parents — though Gauthier’s birth mother declined that option after Gauthier made contact five years ago. And she understands that decision, even if she’ll never have the full closure she sought.

Sometimes, life just goes that way — particularly for the outsiders with whom Gauthier has always identified most. They populate Live at Blue Rock, which also contains covers of three songs by fellow poet/philosopher (and recent “Tin Can Caravan” tour leader) Fred Eaglesmith, another master at illuminating the sympathetic sides of characters society is not used to regarding kindly, if at all.

“I find the stories I want to tell are the stories of characters who may or may not make it,” says Gauthier. Though she’s no longer dangling on that precipice, she adds, “I believe in redemption. I needed redemption; I continue to need redemption.”

Luckily, she sometimes finds it onstage, in front of an audience. And just as audiences change from night to night, so do her accompanists.

When Live at Blue Rock was recorded, she had fiddle and percussion adornment. But she’s experimenting with different configurations all the time, which means the songs also take on new identities nightly.

“They’re living things,” Gauthier says of her work. “You record ’em one way, but that’s just the way you played it that day. Some words change, the tempo changes. It has to go with the flow of the room and the flow of the night.”

Gauthier, a teen runaway who attended college in Louisiana and operated a Cajun restaurant in Boston before getting sober, long ago learned how to go with the flow. And to be patient. Because it takes time to get good enough to wing it.


Covering Little Feat with...

Big Shoes

"Big Shoes", referring to the Nashville-based band that covers the "Little Feat" catalog, is reconvened and active these days, and for those who enjoy that funky southern-fried back beat they would be a pleasure to catch. The band is comprised of top players in the industry (some briefly profiled below), who love this dixie chicken and nail it with delightful crackle. As a side project, the name "Big Shoes" - which is sort of like the opposite of "little feet", were that the name of that other band - is probably not the best indicator of this band's actual quality and value. (These aren't really marketing guys.) They may not have originated the music they perform, but as musicians they are in a league with Lowell George and Bill Payne, the Little Feat founders who met through mutual associations with Frank Zappa. They were sophisticated dudes, which wasn't always apparent from their lyrical content and general vibe, but was way noticeable in their music. (Along those lines, I always found it odd that Little Feat, which is closely associated with the decidedly blue collar ethos of "Southern Rock", was actually a Los Angeles band that achieved its greatest heights after becoming more attuned to funky New Orleans blues.) My point is, don't be fooled by the cornball moniker, "Big Shoes" is high-end stuff, with clever compositions performed by players up to the task of making them sizzle.

Andy Peake is an old friend of RARWRITER.com, dating back to the 1970s when he and the publisher of this mess met in Boulder, Colorado. Andy was among the top tier players in Boulder at that time (He played on several of my recording projects in that period), before moving on to a successful career in Nashville as a studio and touring pro. Andy, who attended college on a music scholarship, is known for his studious approach to his instrument, which he plays like a true sensitive; certainly among the most nuanced and versatile drummers I have ever known. He is a great listener, which as most musicians will tell you is the key. One has to take in all of the parts being played and collaboratively expand the landscape of sound by contributing another "right" part at exactly the right time, and playing it with the right feel. These are the skills that separate mere musicians from great musicians, and the guys in "Big Shoes" are established masters at this neat physical/emotional/intellectual trick, which makes them special, rather like musical alchemists.

Andy Peake has worked with Nicolette Larsen, Tanya Tucker, Don Williams, Delbert McClinton, Lee Roy Parnell, Kathy Mattea, and Amy Grant. He has also shown his musical-theatrical side through two stints in the stage production of “Always Patsy Cline”, performing in the band and the acting troupe. His work with Amy Grant has been as a member of the Nashville Chamber Orchestra.


Will McFarlane is singer/slide guitarist in "Big Shoes" and he has recently recorded with Alicia Keys and Joss Stone, but he cut his musical teeth playing with Bonnie Raitt. That is former Bonnie Raitt-bassist Freebo with McFarlane in the photograph left. McFarlane's musical history is long and extraordinary and RARWRITER.com would encourage you to visit his Website for additional information. He is one of those industry stalwarts not that broadly known outside of music industry inner circles, and yet he is a major contributor to the soundtrack of our lives, and has been for years.


Mark T. Jordan, shown left with Journey drummer Craig Krampt, is another industry insider who has played with seemingly everyone, including: Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Boz Scaggs, Dave Mason, Taj Mahal, Olivia Newton-John, Lyle Lovett, Edgar Winter, Delbert McClinton, Rita Coolidge, Nicolette Larson, Steve Cropper, Lee Roy Parnell, Wynononna Judd, Hank Thompson, Patti Page, Maria Muldaur, Carly Simon, 10cc, Buddy Guy, T. Graham Brown, and David Lee Murphy.

Jordan was a child prodigy on piano, and besides being a go--to studio musician and touring pro, he has had a long and successful career as a songwriter and producer. Among the hit tracks bearing his keyboard signatures are Morrison's "Tupelo Honey", Muldaur's "Midnight at the Oasis", Mason's "Feelin' Alright", and Larson's "Lotta Love". He won a Grammy in 2002 for his work on Delbert McClinton's Nothing Personal LP. - RAR


Flat River Band

Brothers in arms, joined at the nut and the saddle...just for the sake of musical euphemism... How else could you get this tight?


Brothers Chad, Dennijo and Andy Sitze grew up playing together in a family musical act, and it shows. They have the kind of cohesive musical expression that can only be achieved among family and close childhood friends. Check out the video above and the naturalness of their precision performance. They are probably just a songwriting acquaintance away from breaking out following a long apprenticeship in Missouri and Tennessee playhouses such as Dollywood and Silver Dollar City, and countless fairs and festivals throughout the South and the Midwest. - RAR


Steve Conn Releases Video
from Beautiful Dream


Buddy Miller

What more need be said. Some guys feel the things they sing and Buddy Miller feels deeply.




I'm Kinda With Stupid...

Dyann Woody Doesn't Understand Why JD Myers Is Not Signed to a Major Label

Dyann Woody, the Nashville-based songstress who runs a musical ministry with her husband singer-songwriter Michael Woody, has been wondering aloud why Elvis Presley-sound-alike JD Myers does not have a major record deal. In truth, I wonder the same thing, as apparently does another Elvis-inspired singer-songwriter, country superstar Waylon Jennings. Jennings and Michael Woody both contributed tracks to Myers' new album. A long sampler from that LP is provided below, which is worth listening to for numerous reasons, not the least of which is that it is a sampling of its genre performed at very high levels, and in that it is exhilarating. Myers is great in terms of delivery on talent, though his Achilles Heal is no doubt that he sounds too much like an impersonator (not only Elvis, but Waylon, too, on one track) and not enough like the authentic talent that one suspects he really is. "It's all got to sound the same...if you're not rolling with the flow you've got a hard way to go..." he sings on one track. It could be that being a working musician dealing with the narrow realities of the commercial markets have crafted him in ways both good but, ultimately, nullifying as a solo recording artists. This LP is filled with dissatisfactions and lacerating insights into the truth about being a musical whore, which coming from Myers', sounding a lot like Elvis - and don't get me wrong, he is a spectacular Elvis - has some weight of poignancy. The LP is pretty smart, so one suspects this aspect of the work was no accident. Nothing about this excellent work sounds accidental.

All that said, I laugh aloud at the opening of this sampler, which is profane (cotton the ears, kids) and the most authentic bit of vocalizing on the LP. Our guy JD sounds just like a guy who makes his living in the unsettling world of honky tonk, and sometimes it is just all too much. - RAR

RAR REVIEW - JD Myers' Rough Mixes:




Mindy Smith
Considering Deeply with Splendid Emotion

Mindy Smith shot to the attention of the world in 2003 when she covered the Dolly Parton classic "Jolene" with a cameo from the song's writer and iconic warbler. It was a perfect match due to the overtone's in Mindy's voice, which align beautifully with Parton's vibrating intonations, like a phase shifter set to where the blend is smooth. The song came off with a sort of mystical clarity, a kind of torch passing of the musical spirit, and Mindy Smith was awarded Best Emerging Artist by the Americana Music Association. One liked the graciousness perceived to be at work with the older woman, and the respect that we perceived to be shown by Mindy Smith, who nailed her part. But what do you do for a follow up? The torch that was passed was of the spiritual variety and did not include a complimentary package of radio hits for future use. For the adopted daughter of a Pastor and his wife, this probably felt about right for Smith, who carries a sort of world weary aspect about her that is both revealing and fetching. She seems smart and burdened by sensitivity, all of which was on display in the video provided below. Mindy Smith toured the west coast earlier this year, reminding those on the left side of the continent that this Long Islander turned Nashvillian is still around. In a world full of people whose influence on the world around seems properly minimal, one tends to wish that Mindy Smith would catch another rising star just so she stays around. She seems like a real deal that could contribute for a long while to come, like a forbearer of a coming age, where people consider things deeply and sing of their feelings with splendid emotion.- RAR



Time Can Change, due out June 19, embraces a stripped-down approach.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In the three years since his last album, Seth Walker moved to Nashville from Austin, wrote songs with friends new and old, and played many, many shows. And just like most people, he thought about life, about love, and about the changes you experience if you move away (both geographically and philosophically) from those people and places you know so well to try your hand at something new. His latest recording, Time Can Change (out June 19, 2012 on Roe Records, distributed by RED Distribution), is a culmination of these experiences — the sound of an artist moving beyond his comfort zone and challenging himself to walk new creative ground.

“The album is a snapshot of movement in my musical journey of sorts,” states Walker. “A culmination of the continuing search for a way to write, sing and record in a new way.”

Change isn’t the order of the day when you grow up slow. Seth’s childhood in rural North Carolina was spent largely on a two-family commune, with music as the backdrop to an unrushed way of life lived outside the city limits. Both his parents were classically trained musicians: his mom a talented violinist, his father an accomplished string player. Music was an integral part of each day: the soundtrack could run from Willie Nelson to J.S. Bach and everything between. Seth was exposed to, and subsequently absorbed, a sonically rich expression of life with all its inherent joy and pain. Although he started sawing on a cello by the age of three, it was the guitar that would ultimately be his true love. A musically inclined uncle introduced Seth to the blues, and in those raw, honest songs was the inspiration to begin trusting his own voice and his desire to express himself.

Upon moving to Austin, Texas in his early 20s, Walker recorded his first album in 1997. By the time he released his eponymous fifth LP in 2008, he had developed into an accomplished guitarist and an even better singer, distilling the soul of Ray Charles, the Southern boy roots charm of Delbert McClinton, and an uptown blues turn of phrase (à la Percy Mayfield) into his own distinct voice.

Seth also began to write with other musicians, an endeavor that led to a fruitful collaboration with Gary Nicholson, a prolific songwriter and record producer based in Nashville. The two co-wrote most of the songs on Leap of Faith, with Gary also onboard as producer. Released in 2009, Leap of Faith was Seth’s most accomplished album to date, successfully weaving together a diverse blend of influences and styles. As Geoffrey Himes wrote for Nashville Scene, it was “one of the year’s more interesting Americana albums, because its notion of roots music drew not just from the country-folk tradition but from blues and R&B as well.” Leap of Faith was in the Top 10 of the Americana charts for nine weeks and received praise from No Depression and Blues Revue, among others.

Self-produced and unequivocally personal, Time Can Change is a distinct departure from its more polished predecessor. While fans will recognize the familiar rich tenor and bluesy guitar work, the new album trades the studio sophistication of Leap of Faith for a grittier sound and more intimate approach to songwriting.

“I never know what will be on the other side of a song or a session, but I sure do like what I have found in the corners of this album: a stripped down, intimate version of what I am as an artist at this point in my life,” says Walker.

Largely financed by Seth’s generous fans through a Kickstarter fundraising campaign, the album represents a rebirth of sorts, foregoing complex production techniques in order to more clearly focus on the song and performance at hand. The bluesy “Love Is Through With Me” sets the tone, featuring Steve Mackey’s supple bass playing and Derrek Phillips’ spare percussion. Along with Seth’s acoustic guitar groove, this configuration is at the core of the album’s warm, loose vibe. “Wait a Minute” captures the optimism and possibility of new love — a breezy, engaging song with Kevin McKendree’s tasteful organ work and playful background vocals courtesy of the McCrary Sisters. With all the makings of a classic soul ballad, “In the Meantime” is a plea for a temporary stay to the inevitable heartache of incompatible love. And with Nicholson back in the co-writer chair, the rollicking, light-hearted “More Days Like This,” with its catchy refrain, is an instant crowd pleaser.

“This is the purest, most honest recording I have ever done as a singer. I just sang and played,” maintains Seth. “Time can definitely change, and this album is a case in point for me.”

In addition to extensive national touring, Walker performed at last year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival and provided tour support for Raul Malo and the Wood Brothers. With a bluesman’s respect for roots and tradition, coupled with an appreciation for — and successful melding of — contemporary songwriting, Seth is one of a handful of artists who incorporate a wide range of styles with warmth and grace. Perhaps Country Standard Time said it best: “If you subscribe to the Big Tent theory of Americana, then Seth Walker — with his blend of blues, gospel, pop, R&B, rock, and a dash country — just might be your poster boy.”- Cary Baker


USA Today: Michael Roach and Randy Barker

RARWRITER.com was contacted recently by a reporter from USA Today who seemed to be on a personal mission to find out whatever became of two great but largely unknown guitar players: Michael Roach and Randy Barker.

The writer, a University of Colorado graduate who had been around in the 1970-80s to hear these guys, recalled them all these years later as being truly special, and he wondered what became of them. I think Gretchen Peters, a true Boulder success story who emerged in that same period, had suggested that we at RARWRITER might know about Roach.

Gretchen would know that Randy Barker has for many years been a jeweler in Nashville, which I believe may have been a family business that he has successfully continued. I was always under the impression that Randy hailed from eastern Colorado, so perhaps that business was relocated to Nashville when Randy relocated with Michael Woody, of Michael Woody and the Too High Band. This would have been the outfit that the USA Today guy would have heard, and it was truly impressive, a thoroughbred unit all the way. Michael Woody ("He's Back and I'm Blue", others for The Desert Rose Band, Steve Earle, Barbara Mandrell) was on his way to becoming a hit Nashville songwriter. Drummer Cactus Moser, whose engagement to Country singing star Wynonna Judd (the two are shown to the right) was announced around Christmas (2011), was on his way to fame with Highway 101. And Randy Barker was truly one of the most stunningly perfect live players anyone could ever have hoped to have heard anywhere. The guy was like a machine with feel.

Michael Roach is a far more mysterious story, and RARWRITER.com as well, apparently, as USA Today would be curious to know what became of him. My own personal vague recollections are that he was universally admired - in fact, inspired a level of awe out of fellow players who were not prone to such behavior - and that he was just a little bit scary. He was known to have mental disorders that may have contributed to his musical brilliance, his unique power based around moving through progressions in ways that others would not think to play, and doing it would natural flare.

Sometimes, as is the case with Randy Barker, people who are gifted in one area are also gifted in others and they simply keep evolving, branching out into other things and becoming familiar to different communities. We lose track of them, not because they've died but because they've continued to live. It is always interesting to learn what changes people have gone through over time, so if readers happen to have information on Michael Roach, in particular, please drop us a line (Rick@RARWRITER.com). - RAR


Welcoming Cactus Back

Sometimes life kicks like a f***in' mule

RARWRITER.com nicked this photograph of drummer Cactus Moser, critically injured in an August 18th motorcycle accident, from a Facebook posting of singer, musical entrepreneur, and Pastor Dyann Woody (of The Woodys, with husband Michael Woody, long ago of the Too High Band). Two days later, on August 20th, doctors amputated Moser's left leg above the knee. Earlier this year, Cactus married country star Wynona Judd (pictured with Cactus), for whom he has played drums (The Big Noise band) for some time, and this photograph shows his send-off on release day from the South Dakota hospital he was in.

Michael and Dyann Woody are among the enormously long list of people who have been connected in some way with 55-year old Cactus Moser and his long musical career. Michael and Cactus were together over 30 years ago in Michael Woody and the Too High Band, which developed in Boulder, Colorado. This site has many readers from Colorado, and many of those old enough to be around in the 1970s and early '80s know Cactus. He was a big, strapping blond-haired explosion of energy that seemed even then to be destined for big things. He was a large personality back then, and probably still is. Testimony to this may be found in Moser being cited for running into that car that scrapped his left leg and mangled his left hand. He received citations for crossing the center line of U.S. Highway 16/365 and not having a license to operate a motorcycle.

Cactus left Colorado for Nashville a little bit at a time, touring with Jerry Jeff Walker, and then joining RCA solo recording artist Paulette Carlson in the L.A.-based modern country band Highway 101.  They recorded for Warner Bros. Records Nashville, beginning in 1987, and over the next three years charted ten consecutive Top Ten hits on the Hot Country Songs charts, four of which went to Number One. Carlson hasn't been with the band since 1990, but Highway 101 has performed with another lead vocalist as recently as 2011. As drummer for The Big Noise, Moser was on tour with Wynona when the accident occurred around Deadwood, South Dakota. Wynona was on her own Harley Davidson.

RARWRITER.com wishes to send best wishes to Cactus and hopes for a speedy recovery.        092912

Gretchen Peters with New LP

Nashville singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters announces a staggered U.K./U.S.A. release of her new LP Hello Cruel World. "Hello Cruel World will be released in the UK & Europe on January 30, 2012. In the US the release will be on January 31, 2012. This is because the music charts are compiled differently in different regions," says Gretchen. "There will be a pre-sale at my website beginning November 14th, and we have some great extras in store for those of you who take advantage of the pre-release."

Gretchen has been blogging about each track on the LP: "I've been writing a little bit about each of the songs on Hello Cruel World since August. There'll be a new blog post approximately every two weeks, leading up to the release of the album in January 2012. If you haven't checked in lately, entries for the songs 'Saint Francis', 'Five Minutes', 'Idlewild', 'Natural Disaster' and 'Dark Angel' can be viewed at my website."

Minton Sparks' Fellowship of Southern Writers Award

The Fellowship of Southern Writers has announced that Minton Sparks (pictured right in a photo by Anthony Scarlati) will receive their first ever Spoken Word Award this April during the 2011 Conference on Southern Literature in Chattanooga, TN.

“The new award is given to an artist for a body of original work recognized for unique and powerful performance aspects as well as for intrinsic literary quality,” says novelist Dorothy Allison, a member of the Fellowship and sponsor of the award. “The award recognizes great storytelling and writing as performed by the writer/poet/storyteller. It was also created to honor spoken word artists and to counter the often dismissive approach to performance art.”

Founded in 1987 by 26 renowned Southern writers, The Fellowship of Southern Writers recognizes and encourages literature in the South with awards and prizes.

More than 50 Southern writers will take part in this year's conference, and Minton will give a special performance. To learn more about the event, click here.


The Nashville Links from 2006-2009 are archived, so if you are not finding the profiles you have seen on this page previously, you might either explore the following links or, probably better, use this link to go to the Links at RARWRITER Artist Index.

2006-2009 Nashville Links:

Nashville Links #1 Archive

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