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THIS WEEK'S RAR
Listen by clicking on the links or covers below.
Yours truly is offering up a little
Jazz-Pop confection, with all admiration for the ancient Greeks, who
knew a thing or two about winging it philosophically.
Use this link or click on
poor Democritus below to hear "A Simple Explanation".
Oh perversity at the county fair! I'm
sure involvement with the Future Farmers of America has ruined more than
a few young boys, what with all the glamour and all, and the exposure to
link or click on the good people below to hear another in a nauseating
string of RAR originals - "(You Do) That Thing That Sets Me Free".
Yours truly has been all about myself of
late, which is why I am behind on record reviews and most everything
else, but I do have a new batch of recordings, starting with
"Betty from Memphis", a tribute to stable types such as
my actual Aunt Betty (Olita) in Memphis (not shown here), as well as to
all those weary road warriors out there playing the soundtracks to
everybody else's movies.
"creative destruction", like Mitt Romney does.
Walty's Dead" is a cowboy yarn about a villain -
personified by the late and wonderful Warren Oates (below) - who
has left an unfortunate legacy for himself (see chorus...). Walty is my
metaphor for early 21st Century predatory capitalism, a force that must
be dealt with so that honest souls can carry on.
Glory be unto Angie Omaha, whoever
she is, pictured below on the cover to my next- generation version of
of Your Dark Eyes", introduced several years back
as a tune about "the dark side of loving a dark soul". Our girl Angie
may not let me exploit her in this way for long, but as long as she does
isn't she perfect? I mean, for this song?
Minutes" comes from a few years back, and from the same
box as "The Glow of Your Dark Eyes", but the versions provided below
come much closer to my ambitions for this story of a booze-fueled
cuckold speeding toward a crime of passion and revenge. The song is
almost entirely played around the single chord of E, with occasional
transitions through A-B, for those keeping score. The "psycho" version
was the original inspiration, but the Nashville chicken-pickin' version
has some nice qualities. Unfortunately it also shows that as a guitar
player I am no Randy Barker, though I hope to be when I grow up.
(Randy Barker played with Michael Woody and
the Too High Band, which in the end gave him way too little
exposure, but those who heard him play remember it even 30 years later
as something special.)
IN THIS EDITION
New Releases on
Leonard Cohen; "Sweetbread"
Mobile Disco and "Keep You"
off the Chronicle movie
"Goodbye to Love" from
October Dawn; Trouble in Mind 2011
Black Box Revelation Live on
Minnesota Public Radio;
Apteka "Striking Violet";
Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get
Along"; Dana deChaby's
|"The Musical Meccas of the World"
Compositions and Select Covers
►Fiction and Non-Fiction
Bonnie Bramlett - Beautiful As Always
Tennessee - One of RAR's all-time favorite singers,
Bonnie Bramlett, is back "on tracks" with her new CD release
Beautiful (Rockin' Camel Music), the title tune from
which is composed by another of our favorite singer-songwriters,
Bonnie Bramlett has played a
major part of rock 'n' roll history. At 16, she became the first
-and only white Ikette with the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. In the
late '60s, she and then-husband Delaney formed Delaney & Bonnie
& Friends, the first real rock 'n' roll traveling road show,
whose onstage members included George Harrison, John Lennon,
Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Dave Mason, Gram Parsons, Leon
Russell and Rita Coolidge. She co-wrote "Superstar," a hit for
Karen Carpenter and nominated for a Grammy. Her new CD,
"Beautiful," reunites her with producer Johnny Sandlin and such
musicians as Randall Bramblett, Scott Boyer, David Hood, Bill
Stewart and the Muscle Shoals Horns.
"This new disc is, pure and
simple, a gem," wrote Steve Morse in The Boston Globe. "Bramlett
can still belt with bravado. This is a wonderfully mature record
that shows Bramlett still has a relevant touch." In the same
review, Morse wrote "But the standout is the title song (written
by Conn) in which she exposes her vulnerability: "I need some
love/And I need someone to tell me I'm beautiful."
Bonnie Bramlett will be
interviewed with Bob Edwards will air on XM Satellite Radio's
Channel 133 on Thursday, June 12 at 8:00 AM Eastern Time, with
encore presentations immediately following at 9:00AM and 10:00
AM Eastern, as well as 8:00 PM Eastern that night, plus a replay
of the show the next day (June 13) at 7:00 AM Eastern Time.
You can also listen to the Bonnie
Bramlett interview by clicking on the following link and
submitting for a free trial subscription to XM Satellite Radio:
Part Pink Floyd,
part Dr. John, maybe a little Bob Dylan, some "Crazy Horse" Neil
Young and John Fogerty and a little Clash meets Ray Wylie
Hubbard, LA-Nashville Producer
put together a 12-piece band, complete with horns, to record his
own LP, S.O.S.. Tracks from the LP became an immediate
hit on MySpace, scoring thousands of hits per day, and the tune
"The Whole Thing Is Going Down" shot to the top of Internet play
Dennis Logan's music is lyrically smart, extraordinarily current
(as in current events) - he has been quoted as saying "The
folk rock artist is the town crier of music. It's music
for the heart and soul. You're delivering a message about
society" - and phenomenally catchy. Six-time Grammy award
winning Producer Tom Pick helped put the LP together and in May
Logan started supporting the LP with club dates.
Logan came to the
attention of Producers through
Shaolin Records call for submissions of original
folk-rock material, and his stuff truly stands out. One track
after the next is radio friendly, upbeat even when reporting
some truly downbeat stories, and utterly absorbing. He sounds
like what radio sounded like when he was a kid: honest, free of
artifice, and filled with musical joy.
Click here to go to
Logan's MySpace. His LP S.O.S. is available at CD
Baby, CD Universe, and elsewhere.
the vast majority of musicians and songwriters, success is all about
figuring out what the successful are doing and emulating it. The record
companies like that and it is part of why pop music tends to run in waves
of sameness, cycling from one "sound" to the next. You get the
avatar and the hordes of sound-alikes (which are even categorized and made
available under many music services, like Musicmatch).
is why when you hear someone doing signature work it tends to stop you in
your tracks, particularly when it is delivered with clarity and self
assurance; authenticity. So it is with MINTON
SPARKS, the brilliant spoken
word artist out of Nashville.
whose name is an amalgam of family names ("Minton is my grandmother's
maiden name, Sparks is her married name"), has been adjunct Professor
of Psychology at Tennessee State
University for the past 15 years. She has also taught Women's Psychology
at Middle Tennessee State University. In 1991 she was awarded a "Leonard
Bernstein Fellowship" and used the funding to teach poetry within the
Tennessee high school system. She has a degree in Psychology along with a Master's
of Education in Human Development Counseling.
background shines a fascinating light on Minton's songwriting and
performance style. Imagine if Raymond Carver were born in the Mississippi
delta, married Eudora Welty, gave birth to Flannery O'Connor and had her
grafted to Lucinda Williams. There you have Minton Sparks, a poet/performance artist who naturally portrays the sound, even the soul of the
underbelly South. She is an observer who understands the subtext of each
of her subjects' actions, and she is an "empath,"
fly-on-the-wall in narrative but fixed-to-the-heart in feel. Her
carefully crafted language is selected for its "music," which
coming through her rustic filter has rending powers of sorrow, sadness
and violent banality. When she off-handedly references some
indiscretion it at first lights on the ear as mere information,
then dawns like a smart bomb. Minton connects on a deep, deep
level that is more than a little scary. You really need to want to explore
humanity and its nature when you sidle next to her, because that's where
she's going. And you've got to love that about her - that she is
going someplace of her own volition and in her own way.
- " In 2006, Sparks unique brand of poetry and music was featured nationally
on the NPR's All Things Considered and internationally on the BBC's
Harris Show, along with the syndicated Woodsongs' Old Time Radio
Sparks was thrilled to open for John Prine this year. She performed at the
2006 Americana music festival MerleFest, receiving a thunderous reception.
This spring she wrapped up a four part Tennessee Performing Arts Series,
Minton Sparks and Friends featuring Jessi Colter and Rodney
played to sold-out houses and rave reviews each night."
Sparks has several MP3 clips on her site. Listen to them and hear one of
the most uniquely powerful artist on the music scene today. You can also
listen to a couple tracks from her MySpace site at www.myspace.com/mintonsparks.
released Middlin' Sisters in 2001, This Dress in 2003 (and
there is something about the way this woman wears a dress-RAR),
and, in 2006, sin sick. "Sin Sick Soul" features the
piano work of Links friend Steve
Conn, who has been
a collaborator of Minton's. They played recently at TPAC, "Nashville's
primary venue for theatrical and musical productions."
been none other than the stories of my friends and relatives that have
convinced me of the validity of relativism. Determining what’s right and
what’s wrong oftentimes “depends”. “Thou shalt not kill”…well…unless
it’s a “just” war. My prayer in recording “Sin Sick” is that we
will never let the idea of absolute truth strong arm us back into dark
ages of feeling powerless to question, individually and collectively, the
rules and regulations that some are always trying to mount on stone
tablets. Be ye a questioner. Break open rigid rules and holding them in
the hand of experience discover a guideline.
–Minton Sparks, from her
liner notes to sin sick
NOTE: Minton has done an interesting thing with her EPK. She
has included the camera ready version of her jacket for her sin sick
CD, and it is wonderfully revealing, as artists liner notes occasionally
are. Minton is married and has two children, referenced in the following.
As you might expect, her word choices say much about who she is. It's
cool, just like her. Her liner notes:
WHEN WE INEVITABLY STUMBLE AND FALL…HERE’S TO THAT
IS BOTH SIN-SICK AND REDEEMED AMONG US AND WITHIN US.
I thank my family, especially John, Jonas, and Liza. May you always wind
up wandering home into your very own Promise-land. Thanks so much to my
live foil—fabulous guitarist, John Jackson. For the brilliant landscapes
you painted here, thanks a million to Steve Conn, and to mandolin-ist
extraordinaire, Chris Thile, who can play outside time and space…thanks
to each of you for catapulting the musical
with these poems to places I only hoped existed. Special thanks to
manager, Kristin, and friends Nikki, Kelly, and George for helping me hear
the undersong of these stories, those that I didn’t hear by myself—couldn’t
have done it otherwise. Extra special thanks to Gary Paczosa for lending
his ears, hands, heart and precious time to this project. Engineered and
mixed by: Gary Paczosa. Recorded at: Minutiae Sound Studio, House of
David, and Omni Studio in Nashville, TN. Produced by: Minton Sparks and
Gary Paczosa. Assistant engineering, Brandon “Heber” Bell. Mastered by
Don and Eric at Independent Mastering. Photography, Mary Beth Cysewski.
Graphic design by the wonderful Christa Schoenbrodt. *Chris Thile appears
courtesy of Sugar Hill Records,
Welk Music Group Company.
With the Stars
Jack Clement's Home Movie Release
BLESSED ARE THE GOOFY:
In 2005, the "home
movies" of "Nashville's legendary Cowboy Jack Clement" were
packaged into a film titled "Shakespeare Was A Big George Jones
Fan," which was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival and in
Nashville. In what Elvis Costello calls "one of the funniest and most
touching music films that I've ever seen...” Clements featured such
friends Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings,
George Jones, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, and Bono performing
Now Austin-based Sin
City Social Club is promoting the DVD of the film, which will be available
for popular consumption September 4, and their press release quotes Kris
Kristofferson as explaining - “Jack would like to make a circus out of
life.” Kristofferson also appears in the film. The Grammy-nominated
filmmaking team of Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville spliced together the
film in which Shakespeare romps through private rehearsals and rowdy sound
stages, stands next to John Prine and Waylon Jennings as they create
songs, and captures unlikely stars goofing around in unlikely roles. In
his ode to Jack, Johnny Cash hearkens, “Come along and ride this brain.”
Some have likened the film to "riding
the trail between Monty Python and Blazing Saddles."
Cowboy Jack is noted for many accomplishment in the music industry,
including recording Elvis Presley and U2. He was Sam Phillips’
right-hand man and is credited with discovering Jerry Lee Lewis, Charley
Pride and Townes Van Zandt.
Cowboy Jack is still around
as the host of “The Cowboy Jack Clement Show” on Sirius Outlaw Country
(Saturdays from 2 pm – 6 pm EST).
He was a recent artist in residence at the Country Music Hall of Fame, and
he received the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award
in 2004. Writes Sin City's Shilah Morrow of Jack - "His home, The
Cowboy Arms Hotel And Recording Spa, is always open to his friends, who
drop by at all hours. With all his rooms wired for recording and filming,
and a swimming pool in the yard, visitors know that the coffee’s always
on and a good time is ready to be had." The photo (left) was taken
when Cowboy Jack played with The Sin City All Stars during the AMA
conference of 2004!
could hardly have hit the ground running any faster than MINDY SMITH
did back in 2004. Before releasing her debut album, she got a booking on
"The Tonight Show" and appeared on the Lifetime Network’s
"Women Rock" special. She had a video in top rotation on CMT.
And she had the lead-off single on the acclaimed Dolly Parton tribute
album, Just Because I’m a Woman, putting her in the company of
Norah Jones, Sinéad O ’Connor, Melissa Etheridge, Alison Krauss and
others. Her rendition of the Parton classic "Jolene" got special
notice from Dolly, who tagged her an artist to watch.
adopted daughter of a preacher, Mindy's residence on the Nashville Links
is circumstantial. She was raised on Long Island in New York but in 1998
relocated to Tennessee, with her father, following the death of her
musically talented mother. Still trying to figure out who she was to be,
she attended college in Cincinnati for a time before electing to move to
Nashville and give songwriting her all. A reception was waiting, as it
turned out. She took first prize in the 2000 Tin Pan South songwriting
competition, which helped land her a writing staff position with Yellow
released One Moment More in 2004, which included her version of
"Jolene" and yielded her first hit in "Come to Jesus."
That tune, which sounds more "evangelical Christian" than it
really is, received airplay on country, Christian, AAA rock and adult
contemporary radio, climbing to #32 on Billboard's Adult Top 40
with those successes, one gets the feeling the still evolving Mindy didn't
feel satisfied with that freshman effort. Her 2006 release, Long
Island Shores, feels more individual and assured. Mindy has a voice
that is smooth and easy to listen to, and a polished radio-friendly sound.
Long Island Shores has been
well received by critics. It hasn't yielded
a big hit, though the single "Out Loud" has gotten airplay on
AAA radio and CMT. Mindy has been back on national television of late,
playing the Tonight Show again in January.
Smith's MP3s can be heard at www.myspace.com/mindysmith.
Long Island Shores
One Moment MOre
Made Me Stay"
McClain and The Trailer Park Troubadours
things happen along the road to American modernity. Yesterday's
"dream catchers" morph into today's standard appliances. So it
is now with the mobile phone, which 40 years ago represented the
achievement of an elite class and today are as common as dirt. So it has
also been with that most powerful artifact of American mobility, the
"trailer" or "mobile home" (the "caravan" in
the Airstream, the little silver art deco trailer designed to be pulled
behind one's car, was introduced in America in 1931, it was one of the
more portent-laden moments in American manufacturing history. Coming out
of the economic expansions of the 1920s, Americans were flexing
"new" muscle in machinery, factories and the revolution of
standardized mass production. The term "conspicuous
consumption," coined in an 1898 treatise (The Theory of the
Leisure Class) by economist Thorstein Veblen, became commonly known
and understood. Previously unimagined wonders such as radio became
a part of this new world, and motion picture theaters proliferated.
Electric appliances started to become available, and the automobile became
more generally affordable. The stock market crash of 1929 seemed a blip in
1930, as Wall Street rebounded to pre-"crash" levels, but the
world economy had been staggering since 1928 and the U.S. wouldn't realize
the bottom until 1933. When the Airstream arrived in 1931, a great number
of Americans could still imagine open roadways of opportunity stretching
most it was a chimera, and by the 1950s fewer people were pulling vacation
trailers around the country behind their cars, and more and more were
living in them, permanently on blocks. The more spacious "mobile
home" started to be manufactured in greater number, then came
"double-wides" and finally today's "manufactured
housing." In 1980, about 5 percent of all households in America were
situated in what could broadly be defined as "mobile home
parks." By 1990, that number had climbed to 7 percent. In their 75
year history, "trailers" have gone from being an early entry in
high-end consumer high-tech luxury and convenience to becoming ironic
symbols of economic immobility, their residents often derided as
on the link below to hear Antsy McClain and The Trailer Park
Troubadours at MySpace:
McClain and The Trailer Park Troubadours: Antsy
McClain grew up in trailer parks around Kentucky and knows those
communities well. Now a Nashville resident, Antsy has fashioned a
multi-veined career out of exploring the subculture of his childhood.
Written in his "folkabilly" style, Antsy and his crew have
produced seven Trailor Park Troubadour albums. The most recent of which, Trailercana,
features tracks by such notables as Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac),
Bobby Cochran (Steppenwolf), comedian/folk musician Tommy Smothers, and
the legendary vocalist Bonnie Bramlett (Delaney & Bonnie).
show, samples of which can be seen on YouTube (click here),
is a musical theater romp in the form of a tight rockabilly band. Antsy
uses his rich baritone to deliver a steady stream of anecdotal insights
into the under class in all their eccentric ways. What makes a concept
that seems so fraught with pitfalls (the possibility of mean-spirited
political incorrectness, not to mention cliché) come across so well is
that Antsy is sincerely funny, upbeat and clever, and wry without being
cynical. He doesn't disrespect his subjects, and he writes good songs.
That last part can be lost amid all the clever image and wordplay: Antsy's
melodies represent a strong body of professional work.
Public Radio's "All Things Considered" did an interview with
Antsy that can be heard by clicking here.
RAR would encourage everyone to have a listen. The segment includes
several entertaining song clips, plus Antsy comes across as a thoughtful,
seriously silly guy.
the NPR spot did not go into is Antsy McClain's other talents, which
include a solo career - he produced a well-received album (Time-Sweetened
Lies), the publication of three humor books (most recently It
Takes A Trailer Park), and his work as a visual artist "whose
drawings and paintings have appeared nationally in magazines and books..."
(from his MySpace site). Click here
to see Antsy's work as a visual artist.
up in Nashville doesn't necessarily restrict a kid's vision to the country
music the city is famous for. Witness Be
Your Own Pet, a "jungle punk-rock" (this being their
MySpace self description) unit made up of youngsters who have gone from a
garage band to a unit whose members, while still in their teens, are
playing some of New York City's most high profile music clubs, such as
Pearl is the band's front person, and she reminds many of Kathleen
Hanna of Bikini Kill, while the band as a whole trends more toward the
sound of The Buzzcocks. They are, in short, your standard issue 21st
Century punk rockers, not to be confused with their more authentic
predecessors, but not to be dismissed either. Be Your Own Pet is a
"mature" act in terms of execution. They take pride in their
professionalism and have earned the respect of some of the music business
toughest critics. (See the note to the right on the Sasha Frere-Jones
review of the band in The New Yorker.)
Jonas Stein provides the thrash metal sound, but the engine of the
band is really bassist Nathan Vasquez and drummer Jamin Orrall.
Your Own Pet started out playing low profile gigs around Nashville under
the name the "Night Shift Nurses." Drummer Orrall's brother was
playing bass in the band at first, before giving way to Vasquez, the tall
guy with the Afro in the picture on the right. He turned out to have the
concept they needed. The band produced some MP3s, one of which ("Damn
Damn Leash") caught the attention of Zane Lowe of BBC Radio One, and
off they went. London-based XL Recordings released the track, gaining
further distribution for the band, who made strong appearances at the CMJ
showcase in NYC and at the South by Southwest festival in 2004. Those
exposures led to recording of an LP, produced by Steve McDonald of Redd
Kross. The result was titled damn dman leash.
The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones
reviewed Be Your Own Pet in a July 2006 issue (Pop Notes in the Goings On
About Town section), which can be read at http://www.newyorker.com/goingson/recordings/articles/060710gore_
YOUR OWN PET MP3S:
Your Own Pet MP3s can be heard from their MySpace site at www.myspace.com/beyourownpetmusic.
From garages and pizza parlors to NYC limos in the course of a few years.
Be Your Own Pet may have trouble surviving for much longer without a hit.
They have recorded with Infinity Cat Recordings, an indie label managed by
drummer Jamin Orrall's family. Jamin has recently turned his attention to
another band, "Jeff," which he has formed with his bassist
brother Jake. He hasn't completely abandoned BYOP, who just played NYC
Pink Spiders are one of the nicer things to happen to power
pop-punk for awhile, joining Jet, Fratellas, and other of a new wave of
uptempo urban libertines. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Matt Friction
(pictured left) is just so right as a purveyor of this sound. This music
has been around long enough for there to be a recognizable quality of
timelessness when performed with a certain gusto and precision that
Friction and his mates do well.
the kids in Be Your Own Pet, profiled above, the Pink Spiders surfaced out
of Nashville as a wild counterinsurgency that seemed in spirit to be more
coastal than Bible Belt. They arrived with a concept derived from some
gauche European sensibilities informed by the French New Wave cinema of
their parents' (maybe even grandparents) generation. Posers? Well, if they
are they are doing it right. Their posted response to that ridiculous
MySpace "Sounds Like" category is "the Pink Fucking
Pink Fucking Spiders are still very "new," having only surfaced
in 2004 with the release of their EP The Pink Spiders are Taking
Over! There first LP, Hot Pink, was released a year
later. Geffen Records signed them in 2005 and in 2006 they were named one
of the "100 Bands You Need to Know" by Alternative Press.
Graffiti, their first Geffen release, was produced by Cars' front man Ric
Pink Spiders Hot Pink release was decidedly retro graphically, with
a cover that, for people of a certain age, will bring to mind Dino, Desi
and Billy. Pop as they are, The Pink Spiders don't profile that middle of
the road. They enjoy taunting their audiences, spewing beer on them and
flipping them the bird, and they get a lot of practice, touring
extensively behind their debut LP. Teenage Graffiti includes songs
from Hot Pink, but with the Ocasek touch. Some have found that
touch a little heavy, Ocasek accused by some of having ripped the edge
from the sound the band had on Hot Pink. The Pink Spiders aren't
really a musically edgy band. In fact, they are all ages in that regard.
The Pink Spiders are singer/guitarist
Matt Friction, drummer Bob Ferrari, and bassist Jon Decious. So who's the
kid on the Squier strat?
Pink Spiders have MP3s on their MySpace site at
and the Dissonance began in the early months of 2006 after
Jeremy, who had been working on recording a solo album for Vickisue, began
playing percussion for her on recordings and at shows. Months later, while
working on their debut release Everyone is Welcome, the two asked
Shane to put down some cello tracks for the album. After a couple
practices, Shane was offered a full-time position. Currently the band is
playing shows around Nashville and the surrounding metropolitan areas,
promoting their debut release, and working on their second album in their
influence from everything between Bjork and Jeff Buckley, Vickisue and the
Dissonance will challenge your ears and your views, all while making you
feel welcome in their world. Vickisue and the Dissonance's debut release,
Everyone is Welcome is now available at their shows, as well as for
Internet purchase at the link below. It will also be available for
download from iTunes, Napster, Real Rhapsody, eMusic.com, etc., and
special order through your local record store, within the next couple of
months."-from their website
and the Dissonance is: Vickisue
Gunderson - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar,
Shane Minter - Cello,
- Drums, Percussion, Noise, Piano and Keyboard, Electric Guitar.
to see a couple other big-time L.A. acts featured among Vickisue's MySpace
friends: award-winning folkie Elke
Robitaille and the outrageous
country-punk artist Jason Punkneck. See the L.A. Links for information on
AND THE DISSONANCE MP3s:
Vickisue and the Dissonance
MP3s can be heard on their MySpace
Vickisue and the Dissonance released
their CD Everyone is Welcome in 2006.
Peters is really
the whole package: brains; a voice that sounds crossover classic, fitting
comfortably in country but capable of other genres (check out her website
for the list of artists who have covered her tunes) and with a feeling
that connects - I relate to Gretchen Peters when she sings, I feel
her; and, finally, she is a superior crafting songwriter, the real deal.
all makes perfect sense, who Gretchen is. I encourage you to go to her
website and read her bio, which I'm sure was written by her because it is
really good. She is the progeny of a writer (poor thing), and you can hear
a certain informed upbringing in her work. (Class will tell, some
might say.) I hear qualities in Gretchen that I also heard in another
upper middle class songwriter - Gram Parsons. Both found their gifts
early. Both mine some pretty blue territory using more than minor chords.
And both range from tender ballads to saloon stomp. Gretchen seems the more
introspective of the two, and maybe that's why she has lasted.
the KBCO Songwriting Competition
story in the Archives for more information on Gretchen's background
as a songwriter.
WINE, WOMEN & SONG: (Left to
Right) Matraca Berg, Gretchen Peters and Suzy Bogguss perform in Glasgow,
Day - Gretchen's breakthrough hit - a modern country classic about
Aviator's Song - a beautiful exploration of turning points in life
and how choices made impact those who love, and need to be loved by, the
A Bus to St. Cloud - live performance of the song Gretchen lists
as her favorite among all the songs she has written - the search for the
Gretchen Peters, all rights reserved
left): Gretchen Peters releases - Trio (2005), the European
released Halcyon (2004), and the re-release of The Secret of
Life (2001) that included the bonus track "Independence
LEFT: Gretchen Peters (2000) and
the original release of The Secret of Life (1996).
Select Nashville Songwriter...
Peters FolkWax Artist of 2007
from March 2008 Artist News page
FolkWax Magazine, the largest subscribed
weekly in the singer-songwriter genre, announced today that their readers
have selected Links favorite Gretchen
Peters as FolkWax Artist of the Year 2007 and her album Burnt
Toast & Offerings as FolkWax Album of the Year 2007.
Through the month of December, Folkwax
readers and contributors nominated artists and albums for a final ballot
of five artists and five albums. The final ballot for FolkWax Artist of
the Year was: Patty Griffin Matt & Shannon Heaton, Gretchen Peters,
Josh Ritter and Eric Taylor,
Write the editors of FolkWax - "What a
stellar group of some of the best singer-songwriters in the world! We
congratulate each one for being nominated. With record voting in both
categories again this year, you have selected Gretchen Peters as FolkWax
Artist of the Year. Peters has continued to impress with her heartfelt
songwriting and performing. We tracked down Gretchen Peters via email and
she had this to say: 'I just walked offstage from the last date of our
latest U.K. tour and am getting ready to come home tomorrow. I am simply
overwhelmed. This is the first award I have ever won as an artist and it
is such a full-circle moment for me; to have received the honor from fans
of a genre, which really ignited my passion for music from the very
beginning. This has been an amazing year for me and this is the icing on
from the Heart and Head
Nashville, Tennessee - Texas singer-songwriter Tom
Russell and Nashville's Gretchen Peters have teamed to produce a
new CD, One to the Heart and One to the Head. The CD
features western themed works written by an interesting group,
including Barry Walsh, Mary McCaslin, Bob Dylan, Ian Tyson,
Townes Van Zandt and Jennifer Warnes, among others. Boulder,
Colorado songwriter Rebecca Folsom gets a credit on one track.
San Francisco Bay Area readers of
RARWRITER.com may remember Tom Russell, who graduated from the
University of California-Berkeley, as a member of the popular
1970s duo Hardin & Russell, who played the San Francisco clubs
regularly. Russell moved on to New York, after he and Patricia
Hardin split, but re-established himself on the east coast,
particular through association with Grateful Dead veteran Robert
Hunter. Russell eventually moved on to Texas, continuing to
expand his musical legacy while maintaining a correspondent
relationship with outsider L.A. writer Charles Bukowski, who
influenced so many romantics and bohemians. Russell recorded
rock, folk and blues LPs over the years, electric and acoustic,
solo and with the Tom Russell Band. His tunes have been
covered by including Joe Ely, Suzy Bogguss, Dave Alvin and Jerry
Jeff Walker. His song "Outbound Plane" was aTop Ten
country hit for Suzy Bogguss.
Gretchen Peters is a RARWRITER favorite, a
singer-songwriter of exceptional power and insight whose song
"Independence Day" gave her a spot in the Country Music Hall of
The CD was recorded at Congress House Studio,
in Austin, Texas, which is owned by
whose musical associations with Gretchen Peters go back to 1970s
Colorado. Gretchen has a video of the making of the CD on her
The CD is available at gretchenpeters.com and
CDBaby and download will be available through gretchenpeters.com
and iTunes. There is a release party planned for One To
The Heart, One To The Head on February 28 at the Swallow
Hill Music Association in Denver, Colorado. For tickets, go to
Links page contains a lot of talk about the Boulder, Colorado music
community of the 1970's and early '80s and about the amount of optimism
that existed there. One of the people for whom that optimism was founded
was Cactus Moser, who for the last 20 years has been at the heart
of the revolutionary Nashville country-rocker band Highway 101.
had star quality as a member of Michael Woody and the Too High Band. (You
can hear a track of the Too Highs below.)
Tall, blond, handsome, athletic, and not lacking any in personality,
he was a force behind the kit and at the mic - Cactus can sing.
And he can also write songs.
101 was a "Nashville" sensation, though they were formed in Los
Angeles, primarily as a unit to back charismatic vocalist Paulette
Carlson. Cactus was recruited by manager Chuck Morris when the
band had only a development deal to release singles. That stage didn't
last long. The band's 1986 release of "The
Bed You Made For Me” earned an album
deal with Warner Brothers and their
"eponymously" titled 1987 album paved the way for the modern
country revolution of the '90s that created crossover superstars like
Garth Brooks. Highway 101 scored two #1s on the country charts
("Somewhere Tonight" and "Cry, Cry, Cry"), and two
other top five hits. That year they played the Country Music Association
awards show with Hank Williams, Jr. Their 1988 release Highway 101,
Vol. 2 scored them another #1 hit with "(Do You Love Me) Just Say
Yes," and the Top Ten hits "All the Reasons Why,"
"Setting Me Up," and "Honky Tonk Heart." Highway 101
soared to #1 again in 1989 with "Who's Lonely Now."
then the band has gone through personnel changes, losing and then
regaining Paulette Carlson, and has been unable to duplicate the hurricane
waves of success they had in that late-80s period. They remain on the
boards, though, and continue to be one of Nashville's big music machines.
Cactus Moser, October 2005, looking very much like a guy who would
hit you with a stick.
before this update of the Links Tim O'Brien made news winning two
2006 IBMA Awards: Male Vocalist of the Year and Song of the Year
("Look Down That Lonesome Road").
of course, was/is a member of the
contemporary bluegrass legend Hot Rize, which just about bottom
lines it for you when it comes to talking about musical talent. Formed in
1978, Hot Rize was a super group engineered in reverse - Tim, Pete
"Dr. Banjo" Wernick, guitarist Charles Sawtelle and
multi-instrumentalist Nick Forster hadn't come together from
previous super groups, they were all just heavy dudes right out of the
box - and then they started innovating. They were smokin' traditional bluegrass
and they were western and comic as Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers.
Hot Rize was the International Bluegrass Music Association's first Entertainer
of the Year in 1990, and in 1993, O'Brien took his first IBMA Male
Vocalist of the Year honor.
moving to Nashville, Tim has branched out still further to become a hit
songwriter, having charted a couple Hot Rize tunes - "Walk
the Way the Wind Blows" and "Untold Stories" - with Kathy
then established himself as a collaborative songwriter, working with Darrell
Scott to write "When No One's Around," the title
cut of Garth Brooks' critically acclaimed 1997 album.
from Tim's CD releases Fiddler's Green (left) and Cornbread
just keeps expanding his musical realm. Back in the '80s he worked with
his sister Mollie doing antique country tunes, cowboy songs and western
swing. More recently he has gone back to his Irish roots to record
well-received LPs recorded with Ireland's top musicians. I would encourage
you to visit his website for more information.
continues to perform with Hot Rize, who played the recent IBMA awards but
don't work together regularly any longer.
used to know a guy in Boulder whose favorite thing to do socially was get
all his redneck friends and their wives together and go see The Dan
McCorison Band. This was one top-flight professional country
unit, which featured Junior
(see profile in the Austin section) on steel
guitar. I used to join this rowdy crew occasionally, but it was typically
more intense of a country experience than I really wanted. There were a
lot of good bands around Boulder in those days, but McCorison's unit was
way at the top end of the spectrum - pretty serious business, musically.
They tended to attract some pretty serious country folk. I tended to think
of them as the serious country side of Dusty Drapes and the
McCorison is a Denver native who teamed with Steve Swenson to
front Dusty Drapes and the Dusters, the heralded western swing band
whose theatrical premise skewed toward the high, more than the country
life. Big McCorison fan Peter Rodman remembers Dan and the Dusters
this way - "Dan sang lead in the Dusters, sharing the spotlight with
Dusty (Swenson). While Dan's deep
baritone skewed towards trucker romance, Dusty's 'howdy' demeanor and song
selections were determinedly 'Western Swing.' Where they
intersected was in the jazz core of the music."
there it is - Dan McCorison is a really sophisticated musical entree.
Continues Rodman - "To this day,
Dan McCorison uses jazz chords as creatively as anyone I've ever seen. He's
as likely to toss off a complete Larry Carlton arrangement as he is Gordon
Lightfoot's 'Cold On The Shoulder.'"
McCorison first appeared on the national music scene in 1974 with two Hot
100 single releases - "I Carry Your Smile" and "Diamond
From Your Heart." He co-wrote "Playing the Fool" with Chris
Hillman for Hillman's Clear Sailin LP, which was produced by Jim
Mason, also in 1974. Then in 1977 MCA released his Bernie
Leadon/Chris Hillman-produced LP titled Dan McCorison, off
which came two more singles - "Don't Forget the Man" and
"That's the Way My Woman Loves Me." As Dan recalls it -
"...I was 'discovered' by Chris Hillman who took me to LA and got me
signed to MCA. I did an album for them (self titled) that Chris produced.
It was a critical success but suffered from lack of support from
Nashville and management issues. We had great players on it including James
Burton, Al Perkins and even Steve Cropper among others."
moved to Nashville many years ago and has continued to have success as a
songwriter. He co-wrote
"Don't Come Back" with former Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
singer Chris Darrow for Darrow's Slide On In LP. He has also
contributed to several country gospel LPs (see Christian Nation
"If maple syrup itself sat
next to a fireplace with a suede-fringe jacket on, it could not sound more
cozy or romantic than Dan McCorison - a true Boulder classic" -
Peter Rodman in his other role as Journalist
I listen to Dan McCorison's songs (hear the MP3s below) I am taken by two
things - first, how traditional country they are. They harken back to the
golden period of country music in their gentlemanly manner and their
respect for song craft. They put me to mind of early Willie Nelson
compositions. The other thing that I am taken by is just what a wonderful
singer Dan McCorison is. I'm with Rodman on McCorison. - RAR
||Working out of
Davlen Studios - another "link" in that Jim Mason (see the
"At Large" section) and Poco recorded in that L.A. facility -
Dan charted two singles in the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974. In 1977 MCA
released the Dan McCorison (left) LP. Two country singles were
released - "Don't Forget the Man" and "That's The Way My
Woman Loves Me." The LP is now a sought after collector's item.
McCorison operates McCorison Homes home-construction business in Nashville. If you want to see some
nice homes, take a look at his company site at www.mccorisonhomes.com.
Carry Your Smile - originally titled "Hackensack"
Diamond for Your Heart
Dan McCorison 2007. All rights reserved.
Notes: "A couple of years ago I did a project here
in Nashville A Diamond for Your Heart which is where "El
Norte" came from. I wrote all the material and I produced it along
with my buddy Scott Neubert. That was me on guitar on the
basic track for El Norte with Scott playing the beautiful lead stuff.
Scott is a local session player and producer and a very good friend.
Whenever I play out I drag him along. We had some other great people
on that cd including Cactus Moser on percussion and Andy
Leftwich on fiddle and mandolin. Andy's currently playing in Ricky
Skaggs' band, Kentucky Thunder and just released a solo album.
I also had Bryan Grassmeyer on bass who played recently with
Michael Woody at the Too High Band reunion."
those of us who don't live in Nashville forget, Music City is near the
geographic center of the Bible Belt and gospel music has always been
central to the region's life style, culture and spiritual nature. As long
as there has been a country music industry there has been a branch devoted
to worship LPs (think Elvis).
is some irony, at least to my mind, that some of the baby boomers whose
music was at the center of the '60s revolution(s) are in truth profoundly
"conservative" people who have been very active in gospel.
Former Byrd-Flying Burrito Brothers Chris Hillman is a case in
point. He produced a series of gospel LPs in the early '80s, working
primarily with his core group of Bernie
Leadon, Al Perkins, David Mansfield and Jerry Scheff.
Richie Furay, of the seminal band Buffalo Springfield and
later with Souther-Hillman-Furay, is another.
McCorison has co-written and contributed tracks to various of these
releases. Dan is something of a Chris Hillman protege, Hillman having
taken Dan to L.A. to record his first album. Their music relationship, and
Dan's relationship with the Leadon-Perkins consortium, extended on in to
the gospel arena. Here are examples:
God Loves Country Music -
Original release: 1981. This is a
Leadon-Perkins effort. Richie Furay and Bob Bennett
contributed "Search Me, O God," Furay "Psalm 5," Chris
Hillman "Create In Me A Clean Heart" and Dan
McCorison "Freely, Freely."
Various Artists: Country Praise
Original release: circa 1981-1983.
Leadon-Perkins formed the core band. Dan McCorison contributed
"Clear My Mind," co-written with Cindy Baxter. Two
other interesting names here: Maria Muldaur, of "Midnight
At the Oasis" fame and (along with her brother Geoff Muldaur)
a special place of honor in San Francisco Bay Area music history, and Bonnie
Bramlett of Delaney and Bonnie fame. Eric Clapton, who played in
the Delaney and Bonnie band credits his learning to sing to time spent
listening to Bonnie Bramlett.
Gospel Cannonball - Original release: 1984.
Leadon-Perkins again. Dan McCorison sang the title track as
well as "Our God Reigns." Richay Furay's "Search
Me, O God" showed up again. You also get a vocal from Steve
Hill, who would later become Chris Hillman's hit making writing
partner with the Desert Rose Band.
Woodys are another example of the Christian influence in the country
music community. They have both become licensed
ministers of Religious Science International.
Woody and the former Dyann Brown were prominent on the Boulder scene when I
lived there. Michael won local songwriting competitions and both fronted
happening bands. They are now husband-wife and a major force in Nashville
is an interesting account, on The Woody's website, of how Michael and
Dyann's vocal compatibility resonated with big-time country producer Brian
Ahern. He is a big Everley Brothers fan and had long been looking for
a duo with that kind of chemistry. Dyann took a tape and Michael and her
singing together and Ahern heard what he'd be listening for. The Woodys
have an interesting, creative website, and I would encourage you to take a
Michael penned a hit for
and the Desert Rose Band a few years ago in "He's Back and I'm
Michael also created "Message
From Michael" from an open, cautionary letter written by dying Byrds
drummer Michael Clarke (see above) intended to warn teens of the
dangers of alcohol abuse; an eerie and important classic.
the KBCO Songwriting Competition
story on the Colorado Links for more on Michael Woody.
The Woody's performing in
2005 at The Sutler in Nashville
The Woodys, rights reserved
Woodys are licensed ministers in Religious Science International, which as
their website explains "... is a metaphysical,
spiritual teaching that studies the truth found in all major religions,
the wisdom of great philosophical thinkers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, and
the laws of science as applied to human needs and aspirations. Religious
Science does not tell people what to think, but rather it teaches people
how to think. Dr. Ernest Holmes, the founder of Religious Science and
author of the textbook 'Science of Mind' influenced such notables as
Norman Vincent Peale." Go to http://www.SpiritualLivingCenterOfFranklin.com
for more information on this new calling.
Dyann Woody, rights reserved
Woody's solo release Softer Side features 11 songs she either wrote
or co-wrote, plus well-chosen covers. Ranging from soft jazz to blues to
folk-rock it has received strong reviews and demonstrates the fine range
of this "country" chanteuse. Michael Woody co-produced
and played trumpet on the CD.
WOODY AND THE TOO HIGH BAND
Michael recently (June 2006) held a reunion of his Too High Band,
which featured such luminaries as drummer Cactus Moser (Highway 101),
guitarist Randy Barker, and bassist Bryan Grassmeyer.
Too High Band's LP has been re-released and is available through The
The Too Highs playing a
25 year reunion show at the Taos Solar Fest
by the Moon
Michael Woody and the Too High Band, rights reserved
BEVERLY HILLS BROTHERS*: It is interesting the way this Everley Brothers theme
resides within the Michael Woody story (see The Woodys profile above).
Michael used to work in a duo called "The Beverly Hills Brothers" with
another singer/songwriter, Robert Anderson. They sang Everley
Brothers and Buddy Holly songs. See more on Robert Anderson in the Catseye
story on the Colorado Links.
and Michael Woody
Michael Clarke's Cautionary Story
Nashville, Tennessee - "I
am doing an educational presentation on alcoholism at the school
where I am a counselor," singer-songwriter Dyann Woody
wrote recently in an email to friends. "I put this video
together to tell Michael Clarke's story - it was his dying wish
to get this message out to kids. Woody (singer-songwriter
Michael Woody, her husband) & I wrote the song to tell the
The story is that of Rock'n Roll
Hall of Fame drummer Michael Clarke (pictured right), who rose
from being a San Francisco street urchin to become a member of
one of the seminal acts in rock history, The Byrds.
Michael was the son of artist
parents and a guy who seemed fated to high profile success,
which he achieved at a young age with The Byrds, then continued
with the Flying Burrito Brothers, Firefall and other bands. It
was a pretty extraordinary run for a guy who was supposedly just
recruited into The Byrds on the strength of his looks, which
closely paralleled those of Rolling Stones founder and '60s
heartthrob Brian Jones. Michael was a bongo player when he first
joined McGuinn and boys, but over time morphed into a real power
drummer. Go to the RARWRITER archives
for additional info on Michael Clarke and the impact he had on
those he met. Look for "Others We Miss".
Michael was extremely accessible
and those who met him, but didn't know him well, may have
mistaken his bawdy exterior nature for being the entirety of who
he was - he was like Ready Teddy in the energy department, a
24/7 kind of animal . This would have been wrong, for Michael
was extraordinarily sensitive and artistic beneath all the
bluster, bravado and partying life style.
Sadly, Michael Clarke died in
1993 at 47 years of age, the result of liver disease caused by
decades of excessive alcohol consumption. It was too early for
him to go and he knew it, asking on his death bed for his story
to be told so that maybe young people would hear it and temper
their ways. This is what The Woodys have done with this video,
which can be viewed by clicking here or
going to their site at
RAR NOTE: This Henry
Diltz/CORBIS photograph from 1972, titled "Michael Clarke
Smoking a Cigarette", looks like the Michael Clarke I knew back
in Boulder, Colorado in the 1970s and early '80s. Michael was an
undeniable presence, a "force of nature" to re-employ a cliché
that is apt in this case. He was really rather beautiful, almost
iconic of a period, and Diltz' photograph captures that. So does
The Woody's wonderful tune, "Message from Michael," and I would
encourage you all to watch this video.
BLUE CHIP RADIO REPORT
The Blue Chip guys provide links to a wide range of
resources of relevance to Nashville and Austin-based music people,
including information on agents, manager, publishers, record companies,
lawyers and lists of chart topping songs and their writers, among many
transplant JACK INGRAM sold 30,000 CDs on his own label before moving to
Nashville. Jack's music is raucous country along the lines of early Gram
Parsons. He is bold and testosterone-laden, a little prone to reach in
wordplay, but he's got a double-lead guitar sound that rocks. He also has
an interesting promotions team. They are enlisting local advocates to do
media outreach and get the word out about young Jack.
Ingram has a number of full-length songs you can hear on his website, plus
MP3s for download. Worth checking out. Jack
is a lot of young buck up-tempo country rock fun.
Peake was a top drummer on the Boulder music scene of the late
'70s and '80s. He was in Chris Daniels band Spoons and with Sam
Broussard in Catseye, the greatest band that never was before
becoming part of the great exodus from Boulder in the '80s and moving to
Nashville to become an in-demand session and touring pro. Andy's major act
touring credits include Don
Williams, Nicolette Larson, Gary Burr, Lee Roy Parnell, Delbert McClinton
and Kathy Mattea. The Delbert McClinton gig got Andy an opportunity
to appear on the Conan O'Brien show, performing with Jim Horn and Becca
studio work has included Walt
Disney Records' The Best of Country Sings the Best of Disney
CD, which featured many major artists performing the Disney songbook. Allison
Krauss received a Grammy nomination for her version of "Baby Mine"
from that LP. Andy also played on the
critically acclaimed "Love Slave" album for Ms. Marshall Chapman
on "Margaritaville/Island" records the year after touring with
Marshall as Jimmy Buffet's opening act for the summer of 1995.
has shown additional stage chops, appearing as a role actor and member of
the onstage band in the
Ryman Auditorium's very successful production of "Always" Patsy
Cline featuring Mandy Barnett and Tere Myers.
Recently, Andy appeared as
a member of the rhythm section for the Nashville Chamber Orchestra's Ryman
Auditorium CD release performance backing up artists like Amy Grant and a
host of others.
has produced a number of CD releases with his Big Little recording
studio, and he has served as sound engineer at Nashville's Acts Music
Hall. The hall hosts acts ranging from the Nashville Chamber Orchestra
and Gospel Choir to Tim McGraw.
| Andy is proud to endorse Vater
drumheads, Pearl drums, Zildjian cymbals and Peavey audio products.
|Former Byrd, Manassas,
Hillman-Souther-Furay member Chris Hillman is rarely mentioned
among top songwriters, though he is credited with co-writing the Byrds'
classic "So You Want to Be a Rock'n Roll Star." How many times
has that been covered? And how about this string of hits he and Steve
Hill wrote for the Desert Rose Band:
- Love Reunited - #
6 - 1987
- One Step Forward - #
- Summer Wind - # 2
- I Still Believe In You - # 1
- Start All Over Again -
# 6 - 1990
- In Another Lifetime -
13 - 1990
- Story Of Love - #
10 - 1990
- Will This Be The Day -
37 - 1991
A NASHVILLE LINKS ARCHIVE
Alan Rice (RAR),