Monday, June 29, 2015

"JUKE-JOINT PROFESSOR EMERITUS" (ROLLING STONE) KEVIN GORDON BRIDGES SWAMPY ELECTRIC AND POETIC ACOUSTIC SOUNDS ON NEW ALBUM 'LONG GONE TIME' (OUT SEPT 4)

LUCINDA WILLIAMS: “HE’S WRITING SONGS THAT ARE LIKE SHORT STORIES”

Hailed by The New York Times as "part Muddy Waters and part Carl Perkins," erudite, swampy southern songwriter Kevin Gordon will release his new album 'Long Gone Time' on September 4. His first release since 2012's critically acclaimed 'Gloryland,' 'Long Gone Time' is half-acoustic and half-electric, bridging Gordon's introspective, detailed Southern poetry (he has an MFA from the prestigious University of Iowa Writer's Workshop) with his biting, boozy, honky-tonk shuffle and swagger. Produced by multi-instrumentalist and Dove Award-winner Joe McMahan (Mike Farris, Freedy Johnston, Allison Moorer), it's an intoxicating blend of the intellectual and visceral delivered with sticky-sweet guitars and barroom piano.

The album opens with "All In The Mystery," a loping come-on loaded with sexual innuendo like Elvis Costello on a road trip south of the Mason-Dixon. Rich with visual detail, "GTO" tells the story of his father's stolen car, while "Letter to Shreveport" is a haunting stream of consciousness punctuated with ominous slide guitar, and "Walking on the Levee" evokes the magic and the loneliness of an early-morning trek along the edge of a memory-filled town still "sleeping off what they drank at the bar." On "Goodnight Brownie Ford," Gordon poignantly pays tribute to the rodeo-riding country singer, and the bittersweet "Shotgun by the Door" paints vivid portrait of lingering racial tension. Later in the album, Gordon and his crack band morph into rollicking roadhouse rockers with "Church on Time" before closing out the record with the subdued, vivid character studies of "Cajun with a K."

Praised by NPR, The NY Times, USA Today, and more, 'Gloryland,' marked the end of a six-year hiatus for Gordon, whose work has been covered by everyone from Keith Richards and Levon Helm to Ronnie Hawkins and Todd Snider. In his illustrious two-and-a-half decade career, Gordon has shared stages with Snider, John Prine, Leon Russell, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, and the Blind Boys of Alabama among others, played the storied New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and earned the respect and admiration of his peers and a slew of musical icons. Lucinda Williams raved that "he’s writing songs that are like short stories," while Buddy Miller said "it reminds me why I love music," and renowned author and biographer Peter Guralnick described the music as, "John Lee Hooker tied to the hard, imagistic poetry of William Carlos Williams."

Stay tuned for more information and tour dates to be announced.

'Long Gone Time' Track List (Note That LP Track List Different):

1. All In The Mystery
2. GTO
3. Letter to Shreveport
4. Walking on the Levee
5. Shotgun Behind the Door
6. Crowville
7. Goodnight Brownie Ford
8. Immigrant
9. Church on Time
10. Cajun with a K
11. Following a Sign (CD- and LP-only bonus track)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

EILEN JEWELL CONFIRMS WNYC LEONARD LOPATE PERFORMANCE/CHAT JULY 13 AND CITY WINERY SHOW JULY 14

‘SUNDOWN OVER GHOST TOWN’ (SIGNATURE SOUNDS) STAYS STRONG AT #7 ON AMERICANA RADIO CHART FOLLOWING NBC NIGHTLY NEWS APPEARANCE

Eilen Jewell – the Idaho-born Americana songwriter who was recently profiled by NPR Morning Edition – has confirmed a concert at City Winery July 14 and a performance/chat on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate on July 13. Jewell sold out a City Winery concert February, 2015. Meanwhile, 'Sundown Over Ghost Town' (Signature Sounds) has stayed strong at #7 on the Americana Music Association radio chart. NBC Nightly News aired a segment on Apple Music Monday night and included an interview with Eilen. Here’s NPR’s profile: http://www.npr.org/2015/05/27/409698844/eilen-jewell-the-half-broke-horse-of-idaho-returns-home

Jewell has earned spotlights from Entertainment Weekly, Mother Jones, American Songwriter, CMT Edge, The Boot, and beyond. Her vivid portraits of life and culture in Idaho have earned her best-of-career notice. Most recently, The Boston Globe called  'Sundown Over Ghost Town' “remarkable.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer said, "She's always been one of the most arresting of Americana singer-songwriters, and here she weds vivid imagery to similarly spare and evocative music."

WHO: Signature Sounds artist Eilen Jewell and her band
WHAT: Headlining NYC concert
WHERE: City Winery
WHEN: 8pm, July 14, 2015
TICKETS: http://www.citywinery.com/newyork/tickets/eilenjewell071415.html

TED DROZDOWSKI’S SCISSORMEN PLAN NASHVILLE TAKEOVER


NEW ALBUM ‘LOVE & LIFE’ (JULY 31) RECORDED IN “GREEN” STUDIO IN TENT ON MOUNTAIN TOP NEAR NASHVILLE


Nashville-based psych/roots band Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen will be a steady presence in its hometown this summer as the slide-guitar driven ‘Love & Life’ nears release July 31. Among its plans:

+ Opening slot this Saturday for the Baseball Project at City Winery to celebrate the release of the song “Josh Gibson” on the vinyl compilation album ‘The Semi-Pro No-Show’ with Todd Snider and others.

+ Album preview and tour kick-off celebration at the Basement on July 26 as part of the Sunday Night Post series.

+ Early set at the Bluebird Café August 9 at 6pm.

+ A full-band in-store at Grimey’s on August 13 in the Grimey’s Too/Howlin’ Books space at 6pm.

+ A ‘Love & Life’ album release and benefit concert for the family of Mighty Sam McClain, a guest on ‘Love & Life,’ at the 5 Spot. Sam, an American soul music treasure and legend who sings on ‘Love & Life's’ "Let's Go To Memphis," passed away last week after a fight with cancer and a post-surgery stroke.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

KINGSLEY FLOOD TO RELEASE SECOND OF THREE 2015 ALBUMS WITH JULY 17 ‘TO THE WOLVES’ EP

ACCLAIMED BOSTON AND DC-BASED “FOLK-PUNK” SIX-PIECE
CONTINUES COLLABORATION WITH PAUL KOLDERIE

PLAYING NASHVILLE’S AMERICANA FEST IN SEPTEMBER

The Boston and Washington, DC-based six-piece Kingsley Flood celebrates the mid-point of an ambitious year with the July 17 release of the four-song EP To The Wolves. Building on the band’s “Billy Bragg-like folk-punk sound” (Washington Post), To The Wolves follows January’s highly acclaimed EP To The Fire, and anticipates the band's full-length release, due this fall.

To The Wolves continues songwriter Naseem Khuri’s obsession with stagnation in our lives, and exploring why things don’t change.  While To The Fire chronicles his own experience as a wide-eyed first generation Palestinian American wanting to change the world, To The Wolves suggests greater change is harder when we can’t even change ourselves.

The title track looks at the big dreams and small circumstances of an outsider on the inside. "Blind" finds him back home plotting an escape, but this too is a dream that never manages to leave his bedroom. "All Night Dynamite" asks just how much choice we have in our choices, a theme carried over to "Salt of the Sea," where a child sees in his own path a mirror of his father's.

To The Wolves continues Kingsley Flood's ongoing collaboration with producer Paul Kolderie (Pixies, Radiohead, Morphine) and 1867 Recording Studio, the onetime Masonic temple in Chelsea, MA where To the Fire was created. The results showcase the band's signature and wide-ranging dynamics, from the scorched-earth guitar riff anchoring the title track to the contrasting plaintive violin and hard rock release of the deceptively upbeat “Blind,” the frenetic punk drive of “All Night Dynamite” and the pensive intimacy of “Salt of the Sea.”

To The Wolves follows January’s To The Fire, which earned praise from NPR’s World Café, the Wall Street Journal, Relix, PopMatters, the Boston Globe, and more. After a run of sold-out shows in early 2015, the History Channel featured their track “Waiting On The River to Rise” in an ad for a new series “Mississippi Men,” triggering close to 200,000 plays on Spotify and YouTube.

ABOUT KINGSLEY FLOOD & TOUR DATES

Kingsley Flood is a six-piece band from Boston and Washington, DC. Its songs have been featured in Rolling Stone, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, Paste, American Songwriter and Esquire.  The band has played the main stage at the Newport Folk Festival, and won three Boston Music Awards, including Album of the Year (Battles).  The Boston Herald calls it “the best live band in Boston” and “a Rolling Thunder revue with a punk rock sneer.”

Kingsley Flood will take its “signature high energy” (Rolling Stone) on the road this fall, including as a featured artist at September’s Americana Music Conference in Nashville, which also features Lee Ann Womack, Los Lobos and Patty Griffin. Tour dates available at: http://kingsleyflood.com/shows/

PRESS ON TO THE FIRE EP

"It cannot be overstated how difficult it is to do what Kingsley Flood makes look so effortless: create the kind of music that is both instantly likeable and rewarding of deep scrutiny.” - WBUR

"a big, thick, glossy glob of pop and roll” - Relix

"sharp, shiny, and supremely catchy.” - Boston Globe

" If you’re looking for something to raise your spirits, this might just do the trick.” - JamBase

"Autumnal and evocative, the track is ripe for a powerful live performance.” - PopMatters (song premiere)

"an up-tempo jam with a propulsive beat and a punk-rock attitude, laced with a catchy chorus full of 'ooohs.’” - Wall Street Journal (song premiere)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Remembering the great Mighty Sam McClain

By Ted Drozdowski

Mighty Sam McClain, the last of the truly great red clay soul voices in American music, died on Monday, June 15, at the age of 72 after a fight with cancer and related complications. Sam led a remarkable and rich life, full of struggle and beauty. He left his home in Monroe, Louisiana as a teenager to escape an abusive stepfather and rose to the pinnacle of his art, touring the world, creating a legacy of albums that define the character of the human spirit, and continuing to grow and evolve as an artist and man until the very end. For the last decades of his life, he lived in Epping, New Hampshire with Sandra McClain, his devoted wife and business partner.

The songs Sam wrote and chose to sing — whether soul, spiritual music, R&B, blues, funk or the cross-cultural love duets he recorded in recent years with Iranian vocalist Mahsa Vahdat — were transformed by the elemental properties of his voice, which seemed as strong, natural and enduring as a redwood, as deep and swirling as the Mississippi, and as clear in its messages and ability to bear witness as a prayer.

Sam was a man of faith, and often his songs — even hits like “New Man In Town,” which he recorded for his 1997 album Journey and was prominently featured in the TV series Ally McBeal — were directed to or from the spiritual realm. That number, in particular, announced the arrival of God in his life, in a renewed and inspiring way. But even his first hit, the 1966 recording of “Sweet Dreams” – the Don Gibson composition made famous by Patsy Cline in 1963 – that propelled Sam onto the national R&B scene and the stage of the Apollo Theater, was infused with the spirit of the music he first sang in church as a child. For Sam, the “you” in the line “sweet dreams of you” was his Maker, not a woman.

Samuel McClain was born in Monroe, Louisiana in 1943. His father left when Sam was two years old, and he began singing in his mother Emily’s Baptist church at age five. Even at that age, he knew he had a gift and determined to use it. Sam began to sing professionally in elementary school, when his physical education teacher put a backing band together and began booking him at kids parties and dances. But at age 13, after years of abuse from his stepfather, he’d had enough. He considered shooting the violent man with one of his own hunting rifles. Instead, Sam left home, sneaking out through a window at night, and did not see his beloved mother for four decades. He carried the pain of that experience throughout his life.

Initially Sam followed local R&B guitarist “Little Melvin” Underwood along the Chitlin Circuit, first as his valet and, by age 15, as Underwood’s featured vocalist. “I didn’t care about money,” Sam said. “I wanted to be around music and I would do anything to do that.” Sam got his first taste of performing for large audiences then, but not under his own name. Underwood was notorious for putting together phony versions of the Drifters, the Chubby Checker band, the Phantoms and other hit-makers of the day, and mounting tours that sometimes took the faux outfits into theaters and arenas. Sam was a member of Underwood’s pseudo-Phantoms.

After a show in Pensacola, Florida, Underwood announced that he was leaving for Wisconsin. Sam stayed behind. He adopted the name “Good Rockin’ Sam” and worked out of the area for a decade, building a strong reputation in clubs and roadhouses with a bristling, powerhouse voice that equaled those of his heroes, who included Clyde McPhatter, Little Willie John, B.B. King and, primarily, Bobby “Blue” Bland. One night Sam was erroneously billed as “Mighty Sam” on a gig at Pensacola’s Tom’s Tavern, and the name stuck.

Eventually Sam signed a production contract with Pensacola disc jockey “Papa” Don Schroeder, who took him to Rick Hall’s Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. There, Sam cut “Sweet Dreams” and 17 other sides over a two-year period. After “Sweet Dreams” broke, he began playing larger stages in a triangle from Florida to Chicago and Detroit to New York City. He was backed by King Curtis’s band on his second appearance at the Apollo in Harlem. In 1966 Sam brought his friends James and Bobby Purify to Schroeder’s attention, and as their star climbed with “I’m Your Puppet” and Shake a Tail Feather,” his own career plummeted.

“Boom! Quick as it happened, the bottom fell out,” he recalled. “And Don became too important to even talk to me.” After two unsuccessful singles for Atlantic Records and another for Malaco, Sam was foundering. By 1975 he’d moved to Nashville,
hoping that Music City would rekindle the spark. Instead he turned to selling marijuana and, after narrowly missing arrest when his home was raided by police —Sam said he had a vision that warned him of the raid, so he relocated his stash — he took a job at International House of Pancakes. His luck did not improve, and by 1982 he was living in New Orleans in an abandoned car. “I slept on the streets,” Sam said. “I sold plasma.”

Slowly, he began to rebuild his career, playing all-night gigs at the tourist clubs along Bourbon Street. He also met producer/record label owner Carlo Ditta, who took him into the studio to record an EP that included Sam’s blues hymn “Pray.” New Orleans musicians and booking agents began to take notice of his astonishing vocal abilities. A chance encounter with a Japanese tourist visiting the Crescent City led to a tour of Japan and a live album in 1987 that raised his profile. The same year he appeared on Hubert Sumlin’s Blues Party, an album organized by guitarist Ronnie Earl for the then-high-profile US blues label Black Top. The four songs Sam sang on that album began getting him consistent airplay in the US for the first time in nearly 20 years.

In 1990 Sam organized and headlined the Southern Soul Revue tour, which put him, North Carolina blues shouter Nappy Brown and New Orleans’ famed “Tan Canary” Johnny Adams along with blues guitar innovator Wayne Bennett in a van together for a month of one-nighters. McClain headlined and proved his mettle with heart-rending versions of “Pray,” the Sam Cooke hit “A Change Is Gonna Come” and songs from his own catalog. Encouraged by several musicians who spent their time between New Orleans and Boston, Sam relocated to that city’s Fenway neighborhood the next year.

During all those years, Sam had been honing his songwriting skills. In 1993 he signed a contract with the AudioQuest label and recorded the brilliant and deeply soulful Give It Up To Love, which featured nine original songs and put him in the spotlight of the international blues, soul and R&B scene. Quickly he was headlining clubs and appearing at festivals in the U.S. and abroad.

Sam released four more albums on AudioQuest plus Joy and Pain — Live in Europe on Germany’s Crosscut Label before signing with the larger Telarc Records in 1999. His next two Telcarc recordings, Blues for the Soul and Sweet Dreams, garnered his first Blues Music Award nominations.

The 1990s were a dynamic and life-changing period for Sam. He started to crystallize a new vision for his music. His writing began to weave together the spiritual and the secular, and the stories in his songs became compelling parables from everyday life and from his own experiences that made keen observations about faith, dignity, race, oppression, freedom and social responsibility. He was rewarded by the many letters he regularly received from fans around the world who said their lives had been changed for the better by his music.

In a typical display of his willpower, he gave up drinking one day, literally, after deciding it was interfering with his goals and his personal life. Most important, he married Sandra, affirming their deep romance, which would last throughout the remainder of his life. Through her and her children, he also found the loving family connections that he had craved for so many years. In 1995 Sam also formed a musical partnership with his bandleader and guitarist Pat Herlehy, who would also become Sam’s co-arranger, engineer and co-producer. They remained close friends for 20 years and recently created two more albums, Undiscovered — Diamond in the Rough and Up From the Dust, which have yet to be released.

Unsatisfied with his business dealings within the music industry, Sam started Emily’s Son Publishing in 1996 and then launched McClain Management with Sandra. He also began producing his own albums and in 2003 created his own label, Mighty Music, with the release of One More Bridge To Cross. That album was followed by Betcha Didn’t Know in 2009 and 2012’s Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey), which garnered more Blues Music Award nominations.

Sam’s social consciousness, his time living on the streets and the hardships he endured in childhood made him a perfect fit for the 2008 benefit compilation Give Us Your Poor, which was dedicated to raising funds to fight homelessness. Rock star Jon Bon Jovi duetted with Sam on Sam’s original song “Show Me the Way,” co-written with his saxist Scott Shetler. Touring behind the project, Sam appeared onstage at Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center.

The next year Norwegian guitarist and songwriter Knut Reisersrud invited Sam to make an album of love duets with Iranian folksinger Mahsa Vadhat. The album, Scent of Reunion: Love Duets Across Civilization, was an effortlessly beautiful bridge that transcended cultures and ideology to speak in the language of the heart. It reached number six on the European world music charts and was nominated for a Grammy in Norway. They recorded an equally remarkable sequel in 2012 titled A Deeper Tone of Longing, which followed a 2011 soul-blues collaboration between Sam and Reisersrud called One Drop Is Plenty. Sam also lent his voice to the theme song for filmmaker Ernest Thompson’s 2013 drama Time & Charges.

In recent years, Sam’s recordings became more rhythmically driving and intense, with Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) at times evoking the classic funk of James Brown and Sly Stone thanks to Sam and Herlehy’s arrangements and the raw, focused power of his road-honed seven-piece band. The unreleased Up From the Dust showcases Sam and Herlehy blending yet another element into Sam’s music – ’60s rooted, groove driven psychedelia.

While Sam never achieved the fame of his idols like Bland and King, he did share bills with them and even sang with Bland on stage at a California festival, which he recalled as a highlight of his career.

Sam’s importance within the cultural and artistic realms of American music was largely misunderstood by the music business establishment and even by many fans. He was a living bridge between the deep historic roots of African-American gospel music, the old-school sounds of rhythm and blues, soul and funk, and the cutting edge, which is reflected in the body of his work.

Sam was a reasonable man and artist with a glorious musical gift, driven by self-determination and a respect for himself, his considerable accomplishments, his family and his art. And in the music business, those qualities are not always welcomed by the paternalistic power structure. Sam openly shared his feelings about that with both his friends and his fans.

His perspective was also shaded in part by his experience growing up in the Jim Crow south. He told a story about having an Alabama promoter cancel one of his late-’60s shows because he arrived at the gig with his then-wife, who was white. The week before a local African-American man had been shot to death for marrying a white woman in the same town. Nonetheless, Sam went to his death believing that his musical legacy would live on and some day find a greater audience than it did during his life.

Sam declared that “to me, making music is all about freedom. I believe I have a gift from God and I’ve worked hard all my life to pursue my own vision of it. This is what I do, and I’m going to keep doing it as long as God gives me breath.”

— END —

Mighty Sam McClain photos





SIGNATURE SOUNDS 20TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL PERFORMANCES SET FOR FOUR FESTS, INCLUDING AMERICANA MUSIC ASSOCIATION FESTIVAL, GREEN RIVER FESTIVAL

Signature Sounds – one of the leading folk and Americana labels that is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015 – will be feted during four special events at festivals this year, each with multiple artists from the imprint. The Signature Sounds artists playing at Green River, Amourasaurus, Rhythm & Roots, and Americana Music festivals show the diversity of an impressive roster from indie rock to string band music and from western Americana to the northeast songwriters of the label’s origins. Stream 'Signature Sounds 20th Anniversary Collection: Favorite and Rarities from the Second Decade’ at Billboard: http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6487399/signature-sounds-20th-anniversary-collection-exclusive-rarities

+ Friday July 10 - Green River Festival – Greenfield, MA

Produced by Signature Sounds and celebrating 29 years, this festival has recently been featured in Rolling Stone, USA Today, and NY Times and runs July 10-12 and also features Steve Earle, the Punch Brothers, Antibalas, TuNe-YaRds, J. Mascis, and Langhorne Slim.

* Eilen Jewell: https://eilenjewell.bandcamp.com/album/sundown-over-ghost-town

"Packed with vivid lyrics, steel guitars, and hot licks, Jewell’s Americana-driven brand of country music sounds tailor-made for sweltering, stagnant summer nights." – Eric Renner Brown, Entertainment Weekly

* Heather Maloney: https://heathermaloneymusic.bandcamp.com

 “Utterly gorgeous, visceral… if I’d closed my eyes it could have been Joni Mitchell.”
- Val Haller, The New York Times

* The Pine Hill Project (Richard Shindell & Lucy Kaplansky): https://pinehillproject.bandcamp.com/album/tomorrow-youre-going

"A joy from start to finish...They bring revelatory grace to the late David Carter’s ‘Farewell to Saint Dolores,’ possibly the best performance on an album filled with masterful singing and playing from all involved." - Pop Matters

+ Friday August 31 – Amourasaurus Festival - Look Park – Northampton, MA

The inaugural edition of this festival produced by Signature Sounds, features breakout artists Lake Street Dive, three stellar Signature Sounds bands, as well as special guest JD McPherson.
* Lake Street Dive: https://lakestreetdivemusic.bandcamp.com/album/bad-self-portraits

“Bad Self Portraits, is a fresh, knowing collection of tunes that split the difference between Motown soul, Sixties pop zip, and British Invasion swagger. With award-winning jazz vocalist Rachael Price as their secret ingredient, LSD boasts an unflagging collective charisma and sense of humor that will take them far." – Rolling Stone

* Winterpills: http://www.winterpills.com/music-1/#music

"Winterpills gradually builds elegant arrangements… While the gathered instruments offer some solace, the songs stay haunted.” - New York Times

* Parsonsfield: https://parsonsfieldmusic.bandcamp.com

"A mix of infectious Appalachian anthems and rustic, handcrafted ballads. It is a pop-ish bluegrass fury of well-worn guitars, danceable drums, and traded vocals balanced evenly with the haunting sounds of three-part harmonies... ultimately, it is the precision and polish of musicianship well beyond their years that pulls the audience fully in." - Pop Matters

* And The Kids: https://andthekidsmusic.bandcamp.com/album/turn-to-each-other

"Guitarist Hannah Mohan's striking vocals rival the vibrato and boldness of Siouxsie Sioux... [And The Kids] make music that's both fearless and entertaining." - NPR Music

* Dustbowl Revival: https://soundcloud.com/signaturesounds-1/sets/dustbowl-revival-with-a/s-aXNUM

"In a city like Los Angeles, home to musical stars in nearly every known genre, handing out the Best Live Band title is not easy. But the free-thinking local collective Dustbowl Revival's upbeat, old-school, All-American sonic safaris exemplify everything shows should be: hot, spontaneous, engaging and, best of all, a pleasure to hear. " - LA Weekly

Friday September 4th - Rhythm & Roots Festival - Charlestown, RI

*Lake Street Dive

*Eilen Jewell

*Dustbowl Revival

*Parsonsfield

*Miss Tess & The Talkbacks: https://misstesssongs.bandcamp.com

"I don’t know of anyone else right now touring in the Americana scene that has such an eclectic, jazzy, old school and interesting vibe. There’s an authenticity present in Miss Tess’ music. She is real. And she is rare." - No Depression

Wednesday, September 17 – Americana Music Festival – City Winery - Nashville, TN

* Pine Hill Project (featuring Richard Shindell & Lucy Kaplansky)

* Eilen Jewell

* Jeffrey Foucault: https://jeffreyfoucault.bandcamp.com

“One of our most truly poetic songwriters… Foucault’s singing is almost nakedly human in that he invariably reaches for the most open honesty of his feeling… The inherent warmth of his throaty delivery tempers the occasional strangeness of his poetic lyric, and invites you into its possibilities…” - No Depression

* Dustbowl Revival

* Miss Tess & The Talkbacks