Thursday, March 30, 2017

Jalopy Records Releases Newly Discovered Live Show by Old Time Country Music Legend Clarence Ashley; Recorded in Greenwich Village in 1963

‘Live and In Person’ Out April 28
 







(Click for high res)

On April 28, 2017, Jalopy Records, the record label of Red Hook's Jalopy Theatre, is releasing Clarence Ashley: Live and In Person, the first all-new album in over 50 years by the legendary singer and banjo player who helped introduce old time country music to audiences throughout the nation. April 28 also marks the kickoff of the Brooklyn Folk Festival.

Clarence Ashley (1895-1967) recorded for Columbia Records in 1929, was featured on Harry Smith's “Anthology of American Folk Music” in 1952, and toured the US in the 1960s. The title was gleaned from Bob Dylan, who told Rolling Stone in 2001, "You could hear the actual people singing those ballads. You could hear Clarence Ashley, Doc Watson, Dock Boggs, the Memphis Jug Band, Furry Lewis. You could see those people live and in person." Dylan recorded a number of songs associated with Ashley, including “Corrina, Corrina,” "The House Carpenter," "The Coo Coo Bird" and “Little Sadie.” Dylan also played Ashley’s version of "Little Sadie" on his Theme Time Radio Hour on SIRIUS XM.

Jalopy's vinyl-only release was produced in 2016 by Peter K. Siegel, from tapes he personally recorded in 1963 at the Greenwich Village folk club Gerdes Folk City.

John Cohen, founding member of The New Lost City Ramblers, wrote the liner notes and provided never-before-seen photographs of Ashley in Greenwich Village. A 16-page illustrated booklet includes additional notes by Siegel and Eli Smith.

Ashley, born in Bristol, Virginia in 1895, toured the medicine show circuit and recorded extensively in the 1920s and ‘30s until his career was curtailed by the Great Depression. He was rediscovered during the folk boom of the 1960s, and went on to tour the country and record for Folkways Records. The IBMA Hall of Famer and seven-time GRAMMY Award winner Doc Watson began his career as Ashley's accompanist. Ashley performed at Carnegie Hall, NYC’s Town Hall, and Newport Folk Festival and is featured on Harry Smith’s ‘Anthology of American Folk Music’ (Folkways). He passed away in 1967.

Live and In Person is Clarence Ashley's first and only live album. He is accompanied on the album by guitarist Tex Isley, a member of Charlie Monroe's Kentucky Partners.

Jalopy albums are distributed by Mississippi Records, Portland Oregon.

A celebration of the album's release will be held at the Brooklyn Folk Festival in April 2017. The event will include performances of Ashley's songs by a number of prominent folk and country artists.


Clarence Ashley 'Live And In Person' Track Listing:

SIDE A:

1 Dark Holler Blues
2 The Wreck of the Old 97
3 Omie Wise
4 Bully of the Town
5 Wild Bill Jones
6 Rude and Rambling Man
7 I'm the Man that Rode the Mule Around the World

SIDE B:

1 The Coo Coo Bird
2 I Had But Fifty Cents
3 The House Carpenter
4 Shout Little Lulu
5 May I Sleep in Your Barn Tonight Mister?
6 Ain't No Use to High Hat Me
7 The Little Hillside

(Click for high res)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

ASSOCIATED PRESS, PASTE, ACOUSTIC GUITAR MAG LAUD PETER MULVEY’S NEW ALBUM, 25TH ANNIVERSARY AS RECORDING ARTIST

NEW ANI DIFRANCO-PRODUCED ALBUM ‘ARE YOU LISTENING?’ OUT NOW ON RIGHTEOUS BABE RECORDS

Music press is embracing Peter Mulvey’s new album ‘Are You Listening?’ – out last week on Righteous Babe Records and produced by Ani DiFranco – and Peter’s 25th anniversary as a recording artist. Paste Magazine posted a video session yesterday.

Here’s what we’re hearing:

“Mulvey has been honing his craft for many a decade, and it shows. He can play some badass guitar, sing to touch your heart, and write a song that will knock you down, and by knock you down, I mean lift you up.”
- Ani DiFranco

“Plenty of clever twists… This singer-songwriter marches to his own drum, even when there isn’t one... With ‘Are You Listening?” it’s hard to stop.”
- Steven Wine, Associated Press, March 14

“Goodness gracious, Peter Mulvey sounds great.”
- Paste Magazine, March 24, 2017

“Timely and important… a true musical craftsman.”
- Sarah Zupko, Pop Matters, March 22, 2017

“Dynamic.”
- Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, Acoustic Guitar, December 19, 2016

“Wry, sly.”
- Peter Chianca, Gatehouse Media, March 22, 2017

“Life affirming.”
- Elmore Magazine, March 28, 2017

“Poignant.”
- Courtney Devores, Charlotte Observer, January 20, 2017

Peter Mulvey Tour Dates

April 1 - Beal House - Kingston, MA
April 2 - Nelson Odeon - North Cazenovia, NY
April 5 - Once Ballroom - Somerville, MA (Multi-Artist ACLU Benefit)
April 6-8 - Club Passim - Cambridge, MA
April 21-22 - Yellow Cab Tavern - Dayton, OH
April 23 - the Kentucky Center - Louisville, KY (Tibetan Freedom Concert)
April 27 - The Ark - Ann Arbor, MI
April 28 - Szold Hall at Old Town School Of Folk Music - Chicago, IL
April 29 - COLECTIVO COFFEE - Milwaukee, WI
April 30 - Brink Lounge - Madison, WI
June 1 - Hezekiah Stone's Coffeehouse - Leicester, MA
June 3 - Flying Cat Music - Phoenicia, NY
June 4 - Sellersville Theater 1894 - Sellersville, PA
July 28 - Woodwalk Events Barn and Gallery - Egg Harbor, WI

Friday, March 17, 2017

Jake La Botz bio

Jake La Botz’s story seems entirely too cinematic to be true – a film with shades of Merle Haggard and Tom Waits and Charles Bukowski and Mark Twain and Sid Vicious and David “Honeyboy” Edwards and Jim Jarmusch and Boxcar Bertha and Jack Kerouac all wrapped into one. And all of these experiences play into his new album ‘Sunnyside,’ out May 12 on Hi Style Records, a record that shows that his imagistic songwriting, storytelling range, and recounting of his experiences are just as deep as the aforementioned list of greats.
A juvenile delinquent in the early ‘80s discovering punk music and drifting. A high school dropout who works odd jobs. A subways and street busker taken under the wing of grizzled, wise bluesmen in Chicago. Avid reader who charts a self-education in a public library while falling under the spell of music, tattoos, sunshine, cheap motels, and drug addiction in southern California. Film actor. Gospel musician in all-black church. Buddhist. Meditation teacher. Then, through innumerable gigs with his Chet Baker looks and his large-bodied guitar, he finds friends and admirers in J.D. McPherson and a whole new crop of Americana musicians in his new abode in Nashville. This is Jake La Botz’s true story.
Prologue: A young La Botz sitting on the floor, listening to his grandfather Jinx Putnam, who grew up in Wyoming to a father who was a homesteader and a gambler. Jinx had been a bootlegger during prohibition, hobo’d during the Great Depression, and had worked on boats, served in World War II, and been to Cuba and Alaska and Australia. La Botz says, “He was strange but well read, a country throwback, not at all connected to the modern world.” La Botz was transfixed and enchanted. “Jinx was an incredible storyteller. All my life, I just wanted to be around old guys with great stories.” he adds. The stage is set.
Roll title credits.
Scene: a 15-year old boy in Chicago makes friend with an older kid at a local punk show. La Botz recounts, “Amongst the criminal types, there were artistic people. My friend did criminal activities as a type of performance art.” The two steal a car and drive to Detroit. Another time, they drive cross-country in another stolen car, sleeping at hobo camps, hanging at punk venues. La Botz recalls, “The punk rock community was my refuge. If you had a weird haircut and a leather jacket, you fit in there.” They make it as far as Denver.
Scene: La Botz back home, drops out of school, starts working odd jobs in Chicago, roofing, writing obits, and driving medi-cars. A fan of reggae and punk music, he checks out blues at Maxwell Street Market and connects with elder bluesmen like Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis. “Until then, the blues was the feeling I had but not yet the soundtrack,” he says. As a teen, La Botz sneaks into a Chicago bar to see David “Honeyboy” Edwards, the Delta bluesman who played with Robert Jr. Lockwood and Robert Johnson and recorded a side for Alan Lomax before settling in Chicago. “By 16 or 17, I knew that I wanted to play music,” he says.
Scene: La Botz in his early 20s, in Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis’ projects apartment, both drinking heavily. La Botz befriends Honeyboy and Homesick James (a relative of Elmore James) as well, gleaning what he can of their wisdom and guitar licks. Meanwhile, Honeyboy always carried a gun. La Botz says, “I learned some of their guitar techniques and other gimmicks through osmosis, on an unconscious level. I would watch their hands every time they played. Davis learned guitar from John Lee Hooker and they played in a gospel group together. He played on Maxwell Street regularly. He used to be in the Rabbit Foot Minstrels and danced on broken glass in a grass skirt. I learned a lot from him about how to perform.”
“Honeyboy was one of the greatest storytellers of all time,” he says, citing the oral history book The World Don’t Owe Me Nothin’. He continues, “He completely brings you in and makes you a part of the story. He’s a really welcoming person. He would also request old Delta blues songs for me to play on guitar for him. We became very close.” Shooting the shit and working with these men offered another connection to his hometown of Chicago as well. “The blues is an African-American art form and also an American art form. It's part of our collective unconsciousness. Part of the landscape here. And it can take us to another world,” he says.
Scene: La Botz tries his hand at the game he learns from the bluesmen, opening shows for them and playing on the street and in the subway. “I felt like a subterranean creature, some kind of rodent,” he says, recalling two years of playing blues and gospel during both rush hours on Chicago subway platforms as well as in San Francisco, New Orleans, and at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, AR. “In the subway, there’s a new audience every five minutes! I would sometimes find one person and focus on them and then the rest of the crowd would follow in behind that person’ energy,” he exclaims. He finds the cultural plurality of busking rewarding, connecting to all walks of people as well as a training ground on how to sing from your heart in a public space. He recounts these experiences in the new song “For Nickel and Dimes” with its chorus, “Pouring out your soul for nickels and dimes.”
Scene: the late ‘80s, La Botz moves to LA, into the American Hotel downtown, has a drink at iconic punk dive Al’s Bar. These experiences inspired one of the highlights of the new album, the vivid “Hotel.” “They say write what you know,” he laughs, continuing, “Well, that’s a place to start. I shot dope with a guy at the hotel whose girlfriend was turning tricks to support his habit. My neighbor was just out of prison. There may have been one or two artists floating about.” He spent a year and a half living there. He started a performing residency at the hotel bar, playing every Friday from 5pm to 7pm during the “Unhappy Hour,” in exchange for a free room. “Trees In Cali” offers another perspective on addiction and “Hard To Love What You Kill” portrays a man seemingly on the verge of suicide.
Scene: Underground again, this time in a basement library in downtown LA. La Botz pours over books about hoboing such as “You Can’t Win” and “Boxcar Bertha.” Through over 100 degrees out, it is cool in the library on one of the three underground floors.
Montage: La Botz performing his songs nationwide on an annual tour of tattoo parlors, which he has done by now eight years. “It started out of necessity,” La Botz explains. He began playing in Gil Monty’s shop in the late ‘90s, then known as a hangout for hair metal bands. “I was drawn to tattoo parlors because of an artistic camaraderie. Tattoo artists, like musicians, are itinerant people... maybe because they can be,” he says. The shows themselves are often unique. “I never know what I’m getting into,” he laughs, describing everything from playing for one-percenter bike clubs to art-school dropouts.
He revels in tattoos as both initiation and ritual. Of La Botz’s many tattoos, his first was done with a sewing needle as a young teen. “It’s a part of the world of mysticism, a dark art, using images that relate back to mythology. It’s ancient civilization stuff.”
Scene: a different kind of needle, back in a grungy hotel room.
Cut to: La Botz talking with a fan after a show about his close to two decades of sobriety. “You never know who you might help out,” he says of these interactions.
Scene: La Botz on the red carpet of a film premiere. This year, La Botz made his first title role in a film appropriately titled The Grace of Jake. He says, “The Grace of Jake was written with me in mind. I was playing guitar in an African-American Baptist church in south central Los Angeles and I was the only white member. The director had just moved to LA from the Arkansas Delta and he started writing a movie script that was a link to home for him. The character is a mixture of me and something back in Arkansas.”
“Acting is great work if you can get it,” he smiles. His friend Steve Buscemi had previously written a part in the film Animal Factory specifically for him and he appeared in Buscemi’s infamous “Blues Hammer” scene of Ghost World. Beyond that he's had roles as divergent as playing a hillbilly-satan character called "the Shape" in the Stephen King/John Mellencamp/T-Bone Burnett stage musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County and a lead role as a mercenary in Stallone's last Rambo movie.
Scene: La Botz opening for McPherson. To him, blues and gospel are a jumping off point for his music on ‘Sunnyside,’ as a foundation for the stories he tells in his own music and for his own, individual brand of Americana music.
“Hobo” recalls his kinship with Jinx and also his admiration for a new generation of kids who are willing to live life outside of the expectations of others, to embrace the possibilities and prices of freedom. He also uses the term metaphorically for the freedom that he’s found through meditation practice.
With the refrain, “Can you cry like you want to?,” repeated, the song “Sunnyside” asks fundamental questions about the divergence of greed with peace of mind. “People striving for happiness through getting what they want is somewhat questionable. Who’s doing the wanting? These themes also show up in the humorous “Inflatable Duck.”
Ultimately, for La Botz, all of his own seeking has led him to a position where gratitude for his life and expressions allows him contentment. He talks about the deep ties between meditation and creativity, “To be human is to be creative, to explore who we are. Seeing stories all around us unfolding, expressing that. I want to be open to the source.” ‘Sunnyside’ finds him drinking from the wellspring.

Friday, March 10, 2017

I Got A Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival clips

Paste feature (February, 22, 2017)

American Songwriter excerpt (May 18, 2017)

Pop Matters review (April 17, 2017)

Providence Journal feature (June 1, 2017)

Consequence of Sound excerpt (May 24, 2017)

Parade item (June 5, 2017)

The Bluegrass Situation playlist (June 19, 2017)


The Last Poets bio


Revolutionary rap pioneers


“The Last Poets were the first real hardcore rappers.”
--Ice Cube


Those who believe that there are no second acts in American lives ought to consider the career of post-apocalyptic urban griots The Last Poets.  Hailed for the fiery intensity of their politics and their poetry from the moment they emerged in the late Sixties, The Last Poets spit forth a series of brilliant albums in the Seventies, split up and nearly guttered out in the Eighties, and have re-emerged in the Nineties into the embrace of a new generation of word-intoxicated rappers who recognize that the Poets’ fire and intelligence are more necessary than ever.  For the first time in over twenty years, original members Umar Bin Hassan and Abiodun Oyewole (aka Dune) reunited under The Last Poets banner and released HOLY TERROR, an album as vital and relevant today as any work by the Poets in the 70’s.  Produced by Bill Laswell, HOLY TERROR features additional lyrics and vocals by Grandmaster Melle Mel, and fat, funky grooves from Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell.  The album also features a bonus remix track with guest vocals by George Clinton.

Born on Malcolm X Day in 1968, The Last Poets took their name from a poem by South African poet Willie Kgositsile, who posited the necessity of putting aside poetry in the face of looming revolution.  “When the moment hatches in time’s womb there will be no art talk.  The only poem you will hear will be the spearpoint pivoted in the punctured marrow of the villain,” he wrote.  “Therefore we are the last poets of the world.”  They established their reputation with their first two albums, THE LAST POETS (1970) (which included “Niggers are Scared of Revolution”) and THIS IS MADNESS (1971), both of which are recognized today as classics.

The personal history of the group comprises “a tangled story,” as the Washington Post’s David Mills has noted.  “Seven men in all have recorded as The Last Poets, though never at the same moment.  They have feuded among themselves almost from the beginning.”  After feuds splintered the original group in the mid-seventies, both Umar and Dune turned to the streets.  Dune traveled to the South where he took Willie Kgositsile’s message to heart.  He put down the pen and picked up a gun, and soon found himself convicted for armed robbery.  “I thought being a Last Poet was being a fake revolutionary,” he said of his motivation at the time.  “I wanted to be a real revolutionary.”  He served four years in a North Carolina prison, eventually returning to New York where he has spent the last fifteen years as a creative writing consultant to the New York City school system.  Umar, meanwhile, spent years battling crack cocaine addiction in cities up and down the East Coast.  Responding to the current generation of rappers’ renewed regard for the spoken word, Umar and Dune reunited for the first time under Umar’s name to make BE BOP OR BE DEAD for Laswell’s Axiom label in 1993.

HOLY TERROR is a worthy addition to The Last Poets’ canon.  The Poets tackle everything from the reality and the legacy of slavery (“Homesick” and “Pelourinho”) to the horrors of cocaine (“Men-tality”) to a sympathetic but chilling portrait of today’s young black men (“Black Rage”) to a self-help chant (“If We Only Knew What We Could DO”) and a celebration of funk (“Funk”) that manages to expand the definition of the term to include virtually every enjoyable human activity.  Grandmaster Melle Mel lends his powerful writing and rapping to three tracks (“Homesick”, “men-tality” and “Funk”), while driving rhythms are provided courtesy of Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell, in partnership with Senegalese drummer Aiyb Dieng and bassist Laswell.  After hearing the finished album, George Clinton offered to add his inimitable vocals to the fray, and Laswell immediately organized a remix session of the song “Homesick.”  The resulting bonus track, “Black and Strong (Homesick),” features Melle Mel and percussionist Don “Babatunde” Eaton (who joins the Poets in live performance).

The re-emergence of The Last Poets has not only helped today’s young scholars to put the contributions of the Poets into historical perspective, it has allowed young rappers, poets, and movie makers to work with these living masters, who may indeed be (as Motorbooty’s  Mike Rubin put it) “older than Old School [but who] still have a timely message to impart to the new-jack generation.”  They performed in John Singleton’s “Poetic Justice” (1993), and played 13 dates on the Lollapalooza tour during the summer of 1994.  They updated and re-recorded “This Is Madness” with Pharoah Sanders, a track featured on STOLEN MOMENTS (RED, HOT & COOL), and AIDS-awareness album aimed at the black community, which was named 1994 Album of the Year by Time magazine.

Now in their fifties, Umar and Dune feel on top of their form.  “I’m older, wiser and a little sharper,” says Umar.  “I’ve learned a lot of things about human nature and about myself.  Day by day I love a little more and I have a little more to say.”  For his part, Dune says: “We’re no more ‘godfathers of spoken word’ than the man on the moon; it comes in a package from the motherland.  But we accept there is work out there that we can do.  People need to see a focal point, a beacon, and we don’t have no problem with shining.  We don’t walk away from the fight.”

Asked recently whether he thought there is more madness today than when The Last Poets started, Umar said, “Much more.  ‘Niggers Are Scared of Revolution’ is more relevant now than it was in 1969.”  Gesturing with his arm as if to encompass the entire landscape of contemporary American society, he concluded, “If this ain’t madness, what is?”

Thursday, March 9, 2017

THE SUITCASE JUNKET LAUNCHES 36-DATE TOUR AS NEW VIDEO OF “BETA STAR” PREMIERES WITH OTHERWORLDLY, TWO-TONE THROAT SINGING INTRO

SHOWCASES MARCH 22 IN NYC & APRIL 3 IN NASHVILLE PLUS TIFT MERRITT SUPPORT DATES & OTHER HEADLINING SHOWS
 
The Suitcase Junket will get in the car for a tour that kicks off in NYC March 22 at Rockwood Music Hall, stage 2; Nashville April 3 at the Family Wash as sponsored by American Songwriter and Reverb Nation; and then brings him to 35 more shows by summer. He’s already taking off, with over a million Spotify spins to date and a session for NPR in 2015: http://www.npr.org/event/music/447200083/folk-alley-presents-the-suitcase-junket-earth-apple
 
The car is also where he perfected his South Indian-inspired throat-singing technique, that allows him to sing in a low drone and a high overtone at the same. This sound kicks off the song for the new single “Beta Star,” for which he has released a new video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TtotODQuzQ
 
The Suitcase Junket’s stellar songwriting with earworm choruses and muscular, gritty sound puts him in a company of shining lights of Americana and rock & roll like Shovels & Rope, M. Ward, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, Flat Duo Jets, and The Record Company (for whom he has opened shows).
 
When Matt Lorenz, aka the Suitcase Junket was in college, he took a south Indian cooking class. He remembers, “Some of the dishes were named by what linguists call retroflex Rs and Ds. I was driving around in the car and tried out this new mouth shape and heard a really quiet overtone. I was fascinated. Where the hell did that come from?” He discovered that it was relative to a low note the he hummed and that he could control it, practicing in the car for about five years. Learning it on his own, without a teacher or even a YouTube video, is part of what makes Matt the Suitcase Junket and it’s in keeping with the way that he builds his other instruments from found objects. Here’s a video in which he demonstrates the technique and talks about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmnvG1hY6nU
 
He says, “When I figured out how to do, I joined this old club. People have been doing as long as there’ve been fires to sit around. The technique functions a lot like a solo instrument in the rig, sort of like a harmonica or an electric guitar or something. The lines that I’m doing are a fair bit simpler than if I was doing harmonica or guitar.”
 
“But there’s a lot more that I can learn. I’m still practicing it and trying it out, trying to get better at it.” So when he’s driving from gig to gig, you know what else he’ll be doing.
 
THE SUITCASE JUNKET TOUR DATES
 
March 22 - Rockwood Music Hall  - New York, NY                                  
March 29 - Capital Ale House Music Hall - Richmond, VA           
March 30 - Cat's Cradle - Carrboro, NC                  
April 1 - Crawdebauchery Food & Music Festival  - Pompano Beach, FL
April 3 – The Family Wash – Nashville, TN           
April 5 - The Ark - Ann Arbor, MI (w/ Tift Merritt)
April 6 – Space - Evanston, IL (w/ Tift Merritt)
April 7 - Shank Hall - Milwaukee, WI (w/ Tift Merritt)
April 8 - Cedar Cultural Club - Minneapolis, MN (w/ Tift Merritt)
April 9 - Reverb Lounge - Omaha, NE          
April 13 -  Gasa Gasa – New Orleans, LA
April 15 – Saturn – Birmingham, AL
April 18 – Avalon Theater – Easton, MD
April 19 – Gypsy Sally’s – Washington, D.C.
April 21 – The Shea Theater – Turner Falls, MA
April 28 – The Linda – Albany, NY
April 29 – The Narrows – Fall River, MA
May 8 - The Musical Instrument Museum - Phoenix, AZ (w/ Tift Merritt)
May 10 - Bootleg Front Room - Los Angeles, CA (w/ Tift Merritt)
May 11 - Swedish American Hall - San Francisco, CA (w/ Tift Merritt)
May 12 – Vintage Wine Bar – Redding, CA
May 13 - Mississippi Studios - Portland, OR (w/ Tift Merritt)
May 14 - The Triple Door - Seattle, WA (w/ Tift Merritt)
May 16 - The Soiled Dove - Denver, CO (w/ Tift Merritt)
May 18 – The Turf Club – St. Paul, MN
May 24 – The Purple Fiddle – Thomas, WV
May 25 – The McNemar House – Buckhannon, WV
May 26 - Jewel City Jamboree - Huntington, WV
May 31 – The Sinclair – Cambridge, MA
June 14 – CafĂ© Nine – New Haven, CT
June 16 - Stone Mountain Arts Center - Brownfield, ME                
June 17 - Clearwater Festival  - Croton-On-Hudson, NY
July 2 - Great Blue Heron Music Festival - Sherman, NY    
July 14 - Red Wing Roots Music Festival  - Mount Solon, VA
July 27 – FloydFest – Floyd, VA
July 28 – FloydFest – Floyd, VA

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

2017 Brooklyn Folk Fest preview video

JALOPY RECORDS TO RELEASE ITS FIRST LP BY THE DOWN HILL STRUGGLERS APRIL 28

TDHS HAVE PLAYED AT THE NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL, KENNEDY CENTER, AND MORE

Jalopy Records, the record label of Red Hook's Jalopy Theatre, is proud to announce the release of Lone Prairie, the first LP from The Down Hill Strugglers on April 28.

The Down Hill Strugglers is a string band composed of Eli Smith, Walker Shepard and Jackson Lynch, who play at various times; fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin and harmonica.  They have been playing together for five years and have performed at the Newport Folk Festival, the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, the Brooklyn Folk Festival and many other places.  In 2013 they were featured on the soundtrack to the Coen Brothers film, "Inside Llewyn Davis" produced by T-Bone Burnett. The Down Hill Strugglers band formed while hanging out at the home of their mutual friend Peter Stampfel of the Holy Modal Rounders, where they also met friend and mentor John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers.

The album features 13 all new recordings from the band and liner notes by Amanda Petrusich, contributing writer for The New Yorker, Pitchfork and a contributing editor at The Oxford American.  Her music and culture writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Spin, BuzzFeed, and she is the author of “Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records”.  Petrusich has written that “The Down Hill Strugglers are, to my ears, the very best interpreters of traditional material presently going.”

From the liner notes:
“Lone Prairie was recorded in the spring of 2016 at the Jalopy Theatre in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  The band used two microphones, and played directly into a mono Nagra one-quarter-inch tape machine. They either ducked away from or leaned toward the mic to get their sound levels right. Then they stopped monkeying with the recording altogether, which is surely part of why it feels so pure and urgent. It is energizing in the way that looking at a river is energizing.”

“So what does it mean for a young band to make music like this right now? Our cultural moment certainly allows for (if not encourages) gratuitous elevation of the Self above all – but the Down Hill Strugglers think about their work differently. Each of these tracks takes inspiration from the rural visionaries of the early twentieth century, from the melodies and expressions that once guided and sustained whole communities in the Mountain South, the Deep South, and Way Out West. Lone Prairie is an earnest monument to the rural artists and songs this band loves: the Mississippi Possum Hunters, the Skillet Lickers, Bill Shepherd and Dock Boggs, the Carolina Tar Heels, Frank Blevins, George Pegram, Wilmer Watts, and many others. Using lovingly excavated 78 r.p.m. discs as source material – Walker, Jackson, and Eli disappear inside these tunes. In this way, the Strugglers become part of a continuum. Their performance is less about ardent self-expression and more about empathy, of finding a way in to other people’s anguish and elation: understanding it, bodying it anew, respecting it, and carrying it on. They pay homage to and remake in equal measure, as artists have been doing for centuries. This, I believe, is the best and most useful work a folk musician can hope to do.”

Lone Prairie will be released in conjunction with the Down Hill Strugglers April 30th appearance at the Brooklyn Folk Festival.  The album will be released as an LP, as well as on CD and via digital download.

The band will be touring in support of the album in May, June and September of 2017. Tour dates at http://www.DownHillStrugglers.com

More Quotes About The Down Hill Strugglers:

"Many string bands have the tunes but not the chops. Some have chops and tunes, but can't achieve lift-off, marching along politely like so many historical reenactors. But the Down Hill Strugglers hit the trifecta, pulling their bows deftly across the best numbers in the old-time songbook with more grit and style than just about any group fiddling away today."
- Nathan Salsburg, Curator, Alan Lomax Archive.

 “The Down Hill Strugglers bring back the true spirit of Old Time Music, where every singer invented his own performance. Besides being excellent musicians on fiddle, banjo and guitar, pump organ, harmonica, etc., they sing with the high voices that echo the sounds of young artists heard on the old 78s, evoking the spirit of the “Golden Era” of recording, and the mystery of their own identity.

They have built their repertoire from some of the best music of the past and they keep it alive and lively. They have found resonance with the intensity of rural music, while delighting in the nuances that preserve the individual uniqueness of the genre. This is music that will keep your mind dancing.

The Down Hill Strugglers are reaching for new musical highs, and they play the kind of music I want to hear.”
- John Cohen, New Lost City Ramblers.

Monday, March 6, 2017

LuxDeluxe bio

It all started when three cousins and two friends got together to play rock&roll in a poster-plastered basement in Northampton, Massachusetts, surrounded by stacks of NRBQ, JJ Cale, and Tom Petty records. Embedded in the Connecticut River valley that legends including DinosaUr Jr. and Pixies call home, LuxDeluxe builds on the valley’s history of musical innovation.  

Churning out high-octane shows that leave audiences sweaty, LuxDeluxe delivers a serious punch of supple Rolling Stones-y grooves, persuasive danceable hooks, and rock-solid old-fashioned craft.  Flaunting like Jagger, with all the sensuality of Bowie, lead singer Ned King creates a spectacle rarely seen since the heyday of rock&roll. 

As the band rapidly gains recognition for their live shows, they’ve been invited to share the stage with the likes of Deer Tick, White Denim, NRBQ, Reptar, Lake Street Dive, Rubblebucket, J Mascis, and Big Al Anderson.  The highlight of last year was warming up a crowd of over 10,000 for VT Senator Bernie Sanders.   

The band released its second album, “It’s a Girl,” last year, with the song “So Far Away” being chosen as Song of the Year on the tastemaker radio station, 93.9 The River as well as being reviewed and labeled a band to watch for by Pitchfork Magazine.  This has been an extremely prolific year.  The recently released one-shot visual EP “Midnight Snack” is only the start of the flood of new music to come from LuxDeluxe in 2017. 

With encyclopedic knowledge of vintage gear, from Gabe Bernini’s Clavinet to Jacob Rosazza’s “Beatle bass” to Caleb Rosazza and Jake Edwards’ collection of vintage guitars, amps, and drum kits, LuxDeluxe’s next release will be their third full-length album, “Let’s Do Lunch.” Comprised completely of songs tracked with vintage equipment on a Tascam Four Track Cassette Recorder and mixed at SpiritHouse Music Studios in Northampton, “Let’s Do Lunch” puts the listener amongst the band during late-night recording sessions, at the center of the synchronicity only family can create, and at the heart of their influences.

LuxDeluxe photos





LuxDeluxe - "I Love You, I Love You" video

The Suitcase Junket - Beta Star video

AFTER HELPING MUSICIANS IMPACTED BY RECORD FLOODING IN LOUISIANA, MUSIC MAKER RELIEF FOUNDATION SPONSORS 4TH ANNUAL BATON ROUGE MARDI GRAS FESTIVAL

The Music Maker Relief Foundation (Hillsborough, NC) -- created the Baton Rogue Musicians Fund (BRMF). The fund was created in partnership with the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation and will directly supported musicians impacted by the Louisiana Flood. The BRMF ended up raising over $62,000 for those impacted by the flooding.

Beginning August 12th a torrential downpour began over the state of Louisiana. Nearly 7 trillion gallons of water fell from the sky causing record-breaking flooding that has damaged more than 60,000 homes.

One of the damaged homes belongs to 91 year old blues pianist Henry Gray. Henry still tours both solo and with his band, Henry Gray and the Cats. Though he has travelled the world playing the blues with the Rolling Stones, Howlin' Wolf and countless others, Henry still lives in a humble home and like so many other working people, did not have flood insurance.

Music Maker founder and president, Tim Duffy stated, “When we heard that legends like Henry were impacted, we immediately reached out to send aid. Music Maker has been helping roots musicians in crisis for more than 20 years. In a situation like this, we first need to help stabilize an artist’s health and housing situation, then we can focus on getting instruments back in their hands and giving them access to stages so they can rebuild their livelihood.”

The floods impact can still be felt in many areas of Louisiana and with talking to the Baton Rouge community Music Maker Relief Foundation found that they were struggling to fund their annual Mardi Gras Festival. Music Maker, along with the Jazz Foundation of America, is sponsoring this festival on Saturday, February 25th at the North Boulevard Town Square, to give many impacted musicians a gig and to allow the people of Baton Rouge to celebrate this great Louisiana cultural tradition.

Contemporary artists around the world recognize the significance of roots musicians form the South. Grammy-winning artist Taj Mahal offered "These musicians are the foundation of all popular music in the world. When disaster turns on them it is not time to turn our backs. Let's show them the respect!"