Wednesday, July 26, 2017

VOCAL POWERHOUSE BETTE SMITH TRACES BED-STUY ROOTS BACK TO DEEP SOUTH SOUL & GOSPEL HEADWATERS ON JIMBO MATHUS-PRODUCED DEBUT LP ‘JETLAGGER,’ OUT 9/29 VIA BIG LEGAL MESS

STREAM LEAD VIDEO "MAN CHILD" VIA BILLBOARD HERE: http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/7874090/bette-smith-jetlagger-debut-interview

Brooklyn soul dynamo Bette Smith will release her debut album, ‘Jetlagger,’ September 29 via Fat Possum subsidiary Big Legal Mess. Recorded in Mississippi with producer Jimbo Mathus—who’s played on records by everyone from Valerie June to Elvis Costello—the album finds Smith reconnecting with the Deep South roots of the gospel, soul, and blues music she grew up singing in New York’s rough and tumble Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. The record also fulfills a deathbed promise Smith made to her late brother, Junior, that she’d keep on singing no matter what.

“He told me, ‘I want you to sing; don’t give up,’” remembers Smith, who wears yellow onstage to honor his memory. “It’s all for Junior, now.”

In a premiere and feature, Billboard's Elias Leight writes, "A rugged, chugging southern soul record... Like Betty Davis or Betty Wright before her, she's imbues tracks with shingly, sawtoothed texture, capable of breaking off a high note with a throaty cry or scraping so low and wide that she threatens to put her bass player out of work."

‘Jetlagger’s ten tracks bring together obscure deep cuts, vintage classics, and originals written specifically for Smith, who counted late icon Ray Charles among the fans of her raspy and riveting voice. From a simmering take on Isaac Hayes’ “Do Your Thing” to a feverish rendition of the Staple Singers’ “City In The Sky,” the album showcases Smith’s fiery, mesmerizing delivery, rich with emotion and bruising in its honesty. Mathus dug deep into the Mississippi and Memphis soul bags for material, unearthing hidden gems like the moving “Flying Sweet Angel of Joy” by Famous L. Renfroe, while originals like the raucous soul-rocker “Man Child,” spare and funky “Shackles & Chains,” and Blaxsploitation soundtrack-esque “Durty Hustlin’” draw on Smith’s defiant and wild personality, as well as the hard-won perspective she gained growing up poor in Bed-Stuy. The deeply soulful title cut “I Will Feed You” and the rollicking title track were chosen from over a hundred songs that Smith wrote. First-call Memphis horn players Marc Franklin (Robert Cray, Lucero and Kirk Smothers (Don Bryant, Melissa Etheridge, Cyndi Lauper, Buddy Guy) were summoned to complete the album’s sound.

“Everything was recorded live,” recalls Smith, who cites her church choir director father and gospel-loving grandmother among her earliest influences. “I do well when I’m performing like that. There’s New York aggressiveness and passion. I get to a fever pitch. I’m gone. I’m not even there anymore. Something else takes over.”

‘Jetlagger’ follows Smith’s 2016 EP, which earned her international tour dates and rave reviews. Bitch Magazine compared her to Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu, praising her “stunning voice,” while Soul Tracks hailed her music as “steaming,” and No Depression exalted her as “a woman with the blues power of both Big Mama Thornton and Bessie Smith, the smooth classiness of jazz/blues singer Joe Williams, the dynamics of Koko Taylor, and the energy of Janis Joplin all wrapped up tight in a relevant Billie Holiday look.”

Smith will perform in NYC’s Riverside Park on Sunday, Sept 10 as part of the West Side County Fair presented by the Parks Department’s Summer On The Hudson series. Stay tuned for additional tour dates and details to be announced.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

APPLEWOOD ROAD – TRIO OF AMY SPEACE, EMILY BARKER, & AMBER RUBARTH – EARNING ACCLAIM FOR AMERICAN RELEASE OF SELF-TITLED DEBUT

Applewood Road – the trio of songwriters Amy Speace, Emily Barker, and Amber Rubarth – are earning raves for their self-titled debut album, out this month on Gearbox Records. The trio’s “My Love Grows” was featured on Spotify’s Folksy Love playlist. Here’s what we’re reading:

“Impressed me with their close harmonies.”
- Paste Magazine

“Lovely… near perfect folk album… I was mesmerized.”
- No Depression

“The harmonies of the three women… shine.”
- Glide Magazine

“Serendipity.”
- Mother Church Pew

“Musical magic.”
- The Alternate Root

Radio add date: August 21

“Losing My Religion” live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IL8-4ayvZQ0

UK praise:

“****… a stunning country showcase of three gorgeous but markedly different voices.”
– Q

“Flawless set that has to be the most haunting release of the past year... Unfailingly seductive and wistful.”
Sunday Times

“*****… There’s a moreish magic to the harmonies of this country-folk trio that recalls the vintage appeal of the Everlys and the Andrews”
– Telegraph

“Truly gorgeous…”
– Maverick Magazine

“*****… full of style, allure and artistry… likely to be in my top five albums this year.”
– R2

“****… Sometimes things just seem meant to be… honey-harmonied wonder… magic.”
– Record Collector

Monday, July 24, 2017

“BRILLIANT” (POP MATTERS, BOSTON GLOBE) KRIS DELMHORST RELEASES HAUNTING NEW ALBUM ‘THE WILD,’ ON SEPTEMBER 22

FIRST COLLABORATION WITH HUSBAND JEFFREY FOUCAULT PRESENTS A DARKLY HOPEFUL, FIERCELY WISE COLLECTION CENTERED ON THE WORK OF LOSS AND RETURN, ALIENATION AND HOMECOMING.

“Brilliant” (Pop Matters, Boston Globe) singer-songwriter Kris Delmhorst marks two decades of a life in music with the release of 'The Wild,’ on September 22. The arc of the album describes "losing the path, finding the path: losing your connection to your lover, to the muse, to your sense of self, and dead reckoning the way back," says Delmhorst. The record juxtaposes a wide open sonic template - dark washes of electric guitar and pedal steel, bright layers of acoustic guitars underlined by cello and keys - against lyrics that travel from deep melancholy to the joy of inspiration and connection. Miles Davis famously said, "Music is the space between the notes. It’s not the notes you play; it’s the notes you don’t play,” and Delmhorst uses that philosophy to create an uncluttered embrace of mystery and questioning.

‘The Wild’ is her first studio collaboration with her husband and fellow songwriter Jeffrey Foucault (“Contemporary and timeless,” NY Times), who co-produced and contributed lead guitars and backing vocals. Additionally 'The Wild’ features Foucault’s rhythm section of bassist Jeremy Moses Curtis (Booker T. Jones, Twinemen) and drummer Billy Conway (Morphine, Treat Her Right), veteran players and longtime associates in the course of Delmhorst's career. The result is an album that brings together all the threads of a life in music, and a rare intimacy between players. Of the process of recording with such a close-knit group, Delmhorst reflects, “The best moments in the studio are the ones that feel like a bunch of kids working on a sandcastle, with a dead serious teamwork devoted to something that's essentially play.” Delmhorst and Foucault will tour together in the fall of 2017, taking turns fronting the band, and playing on each other’s sets in a rare confluence of the two respected artists’ paths.

‘The Wild’s highlights include the darkly rollicking Americana of “All The Way Around,” an urgent, simmering meditation on the poles of loss and return; the searching, Faces-inflected “Rules To Games”; and the uptempo longing of “Foolish Blood," reminiscent of Wildflowers-era Tom Petty.

Title track “The Wild” explores the animal self buried under the detritus and nonsense of culture, a haunting lament for what we've lost, both inside and out. “I Don’t Need to Know It All” celebrates the elemental mystery of existence. “We have a whole lot of data at our disposal, and all of it adds up to no more than a rickety little raft on which we attempt to ride a vast, deep sea of things beyond our ability to understand.” The closer, “The Light In The Hall,” ends with an eye to the road forward, making an elegiac plea to stay awake to life and everything it brings.

All Music said, “Captivating and very intriguing… This artist is subtle in her approach with music that comes up behind you and a voice that breathes through the speakers.”

Tour Dates (all double-bills with Jeffrey Foucault):

October 20 - Stone Mt Arts Center - Brownfield ME
October 21 - Once Ballroom - Somerville MA
October 22 - Higher Ground - Burlington VT
October 25 - Gypsy Sally’s - Washington DC
October 26 - Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2 – New York, NY
October 28 - Shea Theater - Turners Falls, MA
November 2 - Ballard Homestead – Seattle, WA
November 4 - Old Church – Portland, OR
November 7 - Arcata Players Theater – Arcata, CA
November 8 - Palms Playhouse – Winters, CA
November 9 - Freight & Salvage – Berkeley, CA
November 10 - Don Quixotes – Felton, CA
November 11-  McCabe’s - Santa Monica, CA
November 12 – Soho - Santa Barbara, CA
December 1 – The Ark - Ann Arbor, MI
December 2 - Seven Steps Up - Spring Lake, MI
December 3 - City Winery - Chicago, IL
December 5 - CSPS - Cedar Rapids, IA
December 7 - Cedar Cultural Center - Minneapolis, MN
December 8 - Stoughton Opera House - Stoughton, WI (Madison area)
December 9 - Collectivo - Milwaukee, WI

‘The Wild’ Track Listing

1.     All The Way Around
2.     Temporary Existence
3.     The Wild
4.     Rules to Games
5.     I Don’t Need To Know It All
6.     Magnolia
7.     Color of the Sky
8.     Foolish Blood
9.     Lonely West
10.  Hollow
11.  Tracks in the Snow
12.  The Light in the Hall

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ponderosa Stomp artist bios (by Michael Hurtt unless noted)

Gary U.S. Bonds: Down The Mississippi, Down In New Orleans
What can you say about the beatific bombast that is Gary U.S. Bonds? The all time conquering barbarian of Beach Music, along with his sax-honking sergeant-at-arms Daddy G, stormed the Eastern shores beginning in 1961 with such dance hall war cries as “Quarter To Three,” “Twist, Twist Señora,” “Dear Lady Twist” and “School Is Out” — not to mention the shamanistic unreleased masterpiece “I Wanna Holler (But The Town’s Too Small.” And he’s bound to coup the room with Los Straitjackets laying down the sonic blast behind him.

From Houston, Texas, He Can Sing and He Can Dance, He’s Archie Bell
There’s Gonna Be A Showdown! Known for doing the “Tighten Up,” Houston’s Archie Bell will leave you slack-jawed with some of the sweetest soul sides ever to come out of Bayou City. Do whatever you gotta do to see this must-see show and remember Archie’s command that you can “dance just as good as you want.”

Mystical Harp Blues Master
The Blues: you dare not utter the word without mentioning the name Billy Boy Arnold within the confines of the same breath. Transcendent and mystical, Arnold is a snake charmer for the hips, a re-animater of the soul and a lyricist unparalleled, whose hypnotic harp drones and shamanistic rhythms will teleport you to the truth of this much-misunderstood musical art form. Like his former band mate Bo Diddley, Billy Boy helped draft the blueprints of the British Invasion with the stop-time “I Wish You Would,” which the Yardbirds promptly covered. But there’s no substitute for the original.

The Boogie Woogie Country Girl, Linda Gail Lewis
Linda Gail Lewis got her start singing magical duets with her old brother Jerry Lee, including the honky-tonk anthem “We Live In Two Different Worlds,” but her melancholic mayhem couldn’t be contained as a mere harmony singer, and she broke out on her own in 1969 with the Smash Records LP The Two Sides Of Linda Gail Lewis. From piano pounding rock ’n’ roll tempest to country soul chanteuse, Linda Gail Lewis is a stylist whose musical moods encompass all of the intertwining and bittersweet sounds of the South.

Willie Knows How
From the far-flung coastal towns along Bayou Lafourche to the musical boiling point of New Orleans, Willie West is an unsung hero of South Louisiana rhythm and blues if there ever was one. His earliest sides on the Rustone label, such as the smoking dance floor favorite “Willie Knows How” and the eternal swamp pop hit “It’s No Use To Try,” are just the beginning of a career that found him recording with Allen Toussaint, singing in Deacon John’s legendary Electric Soul Train and cutting the wistful funk classic “Fair Child” with the Meters, for whom he was also a vocalist.  

Warren Storm: King Of The Dance Halls
The Soul of the Gulf Coast and the Hardest Working Man In Swamp Pop,  Warren Storm is truly “Cajun Cool,” as he sung during one of his many career high points with Jo-El Sonnier. Along with fellow drummer Jockey Etienne, Warren was the back beat of J.D. Miller’s legendary integrated studio band in Crowley, playing drums on records by Slim Harpo, Lazy Lester, Rocket Morgan and his own 1958 hit “Prisoner’s Song.” His vocalizing continued throughout the sixties in the swamp rock ’n’ roll band the Shondells, formed with fellow South Louisiana star Rod Bernard, and he remains, to paraphrase another one of his hits, the “King Of The Dance Halls.”

Frankie Miller: True Blue Papa
“Well, I was born in a cave/ I was raised in a den/ My chief occupation’s taking women from the men/ I’m a true blue papa/ Gonna have a ball tonight…” When these lyrics came booming out of jukeboxes across Texas on the flip side of Frankie Miller’s hit “Black Land Farmer,” you knew you were hearing the penultimate in hillbilly music. Recording for the renowned Starday label, in “True Blue” Miller scored the imprint one of its biggest hits, and even more importantly, burned the honky-tonk ouvre into the minds of millions worldwide. The song wasn’t one of the best, it was the best.

Concentrated Texas TNT: Roy Head
The horns! The drums! The Screams! Stomping out of the Golden Triangle with one foot in Texas and one foot in Louisiana, the boss prophet of blue eyed soul hath but a single commandment: Treat Her Right! But beyond the explosive show stoppers, Roy’s quadruple threat musical DNA of country, soul, R&B and rock ’n’ roll was recently showcased through his son Sundance’s stunning performance on television phenomenon The Voice. Roy’s entire career is worth a deep dive, beginning with the Gulf Coast Grease of his early TNT sides, compiled masterfully by Norton Records on Live It Up!

That Driving Beat: Don Bryant and the Bo-Keys
Rising through the R&B ranks as the singer in Willie Mitchell’s band, Memphis’s multi-faceted Don Bryant has long been a favorite to soul insiders, and his coveted classics “Doing The Mustang” and “That Driving Beat” have filled dance floors and thrilled listeners for decades. A noted Hi Records songwriter, Bryant penned “Can’t Stand The Rain” for his wife Ann Peebles; John Lennon claimed it as his favorite record. Bryant’s brand new album with Memphis soul brothers and Stomp favorites the Bo-Keys is blowing minds coast-to-coast and worldwide.

Doug Kershaw: The Return Of The Original Louisiana Man
After a career that made him a fiddle-sawing country superstar, the swampland’s prodigal son returns to re-ignite the bayou fire which first took flame with Rusty and Doug’s Cajun rock ’n’ roll classics “Hey Mae,” “Love Me To Pieces,” “Hey, Sheriff” and “Louisiana Man.” It took a mind-melting meet-up with his illegitimate stepchildren Dave Stuckey and Deke Dickerson to convince Doug to revisit these trailblazing Hickory Records sides but there’s no stoppin’ ‘em now: stepping on the swamp gas, fiddle to the floor, like a streak of southern lightning and a bolt of bayou heat, these Cajuns will indeed rage!

Last of the Texas T-Bone Guitar Slingers: Roy Gaines
Direct from the T-Bone Walker school of Lone Star Guitar, Roy Gaines’ first exposure to show business came via his brother, Grady Gaines, noted sax player in Little Richard’s backing band the Upsetters. Roy started out doing sessions for Houston’s Duke/ Peacock Records before hitting the trail to Los Angeles where he became turban-wearing R&B star Chuck Willis’s band leader. Gaines cut his own wild rockers, “Skippy Is A Sissy” and “What Will Lucy Do” before backing artists as varied as Ray Charles and Billie Holiday and later even joining the Jazz Crusaders.

The Crying Man: Gee Gee Shinn
One half of the Boogie Kings’ powerhouse vocal duo the King Brothers (along with Jerry “Count Jackson” LaCroix), blue-eyed soul singer Gee Gee Shinn formed his first band, the Flat Tops, in Franklin, Louisiana in 1956. He joined the Boogie Kings in 1963, and — despite talented alumni such as Tommy McLain and Clint West — immediately became the true voice of this legendary and long-running Gulf Coast institution. The piece de resistance was the album Sam Montel Presents…the Boogie Kings, featuring Gee Gee at the helm of the band’s killer version of “Harlem Shuffle,” the heart breaking favorite “The Crying Man” and the bluesy “Devil Of A Girl,” penned by South Louisiana rocker Vince Anthony. The latter was coupled with the Kings’ Shinn-led treatment of Little Willie John’s “Fever” for a single, and became a huge influence on New Orleans garage band the Royal Pendletons three decades after it was first released. Aside from the Boogie Kings, Gee Gee did a stint with his own band the Rollercoasters on Huey Meaux’s Shane label that resulted in one single as well as a legendary album for Putt Putt Golf Courses in the early seventies on which he did all arrangements and played his first instrument, the trumpet. Nearly ageless, Shinn still possesses the sharp vocal verve and effortless intensity that he did when he was slaying the juiced-up teenage crowd (including a young Janis Joplin) at the Big Oaks Club in Vinton, Louisiana back in the early sixties.

Johnny Knight: The  Epitome of Hollywood Rock ’n’ Roll Cool From Outer Space
Like a blazing comet that scorches the earth every fifty years, Johnny Knight is as enigmatic as he is just plain rare. Appearing out of the shadows of time, he came, he went, and for a brief moment, he is here again. First appearing in 1959 with his blasting ode to the six string, “Rock ’n’ Roll Guitar,” he then vanished only to reappear as the mysterious frat rock phantom the Gamma Goochee Himself during the next decade. Simply not bound by the time/ space continuum of most mere mortals, it would be wise to catch Knight this time around or wait until 2057.  

Midnight Run: James Hand
A late bloomer with an early pedigree, James Hands’ roots were in the right place from the moment he stepped onstage at age twelve in 1964. His dyed-in-the wool brand of hard-edged Lone Star honky-tonk music — and poetic songs such as “Midnight Run” and “Don’t Depend On Me” — has built a devoted and cult-like fan base of artists and critics alike that includes fellow Texan Willie Nelson.

Darrell McCall: The Nashville Rebel
Darrell McCall arrived in Nashville from Ohio in 1958 along with his childhood pal Johnny Paycheck, then still known as Donny Young. Like Paycheck, McCall lent his flawless country vocal harmonies (and bass playing) to Lone Star State sons Ray Price and George Jones as well as Louisiana luminary Faron Young. After a brief foray into rock ’n’ roll with the Benny Joy-penned “Call The Zoo,” Darrell commenced a tour-de-force of honky-tonk brilliance that included standouts such as “This Old Heart,” “Excuse Me (I Think I Have A Heartache)” and “Fallen Angel,” singing the theme song for the countrified cinematic masterpiece Hud in 1963 and appearing in the low budget milestone, Nashville Rebel, alongside Waylon Jennings in 1965.


T.K. Hulin: The Bayou State Tearjerker
If most every great swamp pop song is about a man crying — and indeed they usually are —T.K. Hulin’s eternally epic South Louisiana smash I’m Not A Fool Anymore is a tear-shedding anthem. Backed by the mesmerizing simplicity of his band the Lonely Knights, Hulin delivers his lyrics in the key of heartbreak, just as he does on follow-up tearjerkers (As You Pass Me By) Graduation Night and That’s Why The End Must Begin. Hullin can also rock with the best of ‘em, as he proved with his first record “Little Bittie Boy” and his ‘80s coonass jukebox hit “Alligator Bayou.”

Barbara Lynn: Gulf Coast Guitar Queen The Soul of the Golden Triangle
Discovered by swamp pop king Joe Barry and recorded by his manager Huey “The Crazy Cajun” Meaux, only Barbara Lynn’s left hand can conjure up the mystical swamp mist that fills the room with sounds as sweet as southern starlight on a sultry southern night. With a wise-beyond-her-years songwriting style and Barry’s bayou-ruling band the Vikings behind her, Lynn laid down “You’ll Lose A Good Thing” at Cosimo Matassa’s French Quarter studio in New Orleans in 1962. She followed it with a musical avalanche of stirring sides that included the unforgettable groover “(Oh Baby!) We Got A Good Thing Goin,’” which was soon covered by the Rolling Stones and the intense minor-key dance floor killer “I’m A Good Woman.”

The Master of Reverberation, the Creature With The Atom Brain, the original Thirteenth Floor Elevator: Roky Erickson
From the moment fifteen-year old Austin, Texas rock ’n’ roll misfit Roky Erickson channelled Little Richard and James Brown though his telepathic teenage brain to come up with the primitive acid punk two-sider “You’re Gonna Miss Me” and “We Sell Soul” in 1965, something seismic shifted in the world of music. Released in tiny quantity with his band the Spades on Zero Records, this was truly a disc of epic proportions, from the wild careen of the harmonica, to the clanging reverb of the guitar chords, to the desperation of the vocals, to the transcendence of the screams. Forming the Thirteenth Floor Elevators with electric jug player Tommy Hall, the psychedelic shit-kickers soon arrived in Dallas to record their debut LP. Studio engineer (and former Louisiana Hayride sound man) Bob Sullivan was impressed: “Hell, I’d pay to see anyone play an electric jug!” Other instant devotees were Billy Gibbons and a flabbergasted Jerry Garcia. “Wow, you guys really do play on acid!” he exclaimed upon witnessing the Texas wild men in San Francisco. Their albums The Psychedelic Sounds of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators and Easter Everywhere are still blowing minds to this day, cutting across genres from punk to psychedelic to heavy metal. Having himself legally declared an alien, Roky hooked up with fellow Texas wild man Doug Sahm for the timeless 1975 single “Two Headed Dog”/ “Starry Eyes,” which pointed the way toward a singular output that included the unforgettable autobiographical cult classics “I Walked With The Zombie,” “Don’t Slander Me” and “If You Have Ghosts,” to name only a few! And the future lies unwritten…

Evie Sands: The Original Angel Of The Morning
“She’s got silver bells in her voice and you’d think she’s got electricity in her fingers the way she plays that guitar left-handed and upside down.” So said Johnny Cash of Brooklyn-born chanteuse Evie Sands, a singer whose oeuvre truly deserves reappraisal. Evie’s recording career started off on a promising note with producer/ songwriter Chip Taylor, and she was soon on the road with the Shangri-Las. A test pressing of her first single, “Take Me For A Little While,” was stolen, resulting in a cover version by Jackie Ross hitting the street before Evie’s original and garnering the lion’s share of airplay. Her next single, “I Can’t Let Go” was lost amongst the chaos and the Hollies’ cover version rose to the top of the charts. Finally, the Chip Taylor-penned “Angel Of The Morning,” had the misfortune of coming out just as Cameo-Parkway Records was going bankrupt and though the song was a radio hit, the records just weren’t available. Finally, in 1969, the stars aligned and Evie hit with Taylor’s “Any Way You Want Me.” A true unsung hero, Evie’s impressive discography goes well past the near-hits and near-misses, and contemporary Dusty Springfield has called Sands her favorite singer.

Winfield Parker: Mr. Clean

Originally a sax player in the Imperial Thrillers, Baltimore’s Winfield Parker was too good of a singer to sit at the back ground, but not before the group was handpicked by Otis Redding to go on the road with him. Moving to the front lines, Parker cut the rural R&B magnum opus “Rockin’ In The Barnyard,” following it up with a slew of singles on Ru-Jac and other labels, including the deep soul masterpiece “A Fallen Star” and the grinding dance floor salute to America’s favorite bald-headed back door cleaning man, “Mr. Clean.” Rising to the top of Parker’s formative recorded works is his biggest hit, a standout version of Edwin Starr’s “S.O.S. (Stop Her On Sight)” with Philly soul star Dee Dee Sharp singing background, but his deep and rewarding discography deserves full immersion.
The Mummies PIONEERS OF BUDGET ROCK are the founders of BUDGET ROCK! Their lo-fi stylings have resonated with thousands of fans worldwide, including the likes of Billy Childish and Jack White. For this year's Ponderosa Stomp they will be making their first ever appearance in the American South! The gauze covered wonders will be performing such "hits" as "(Your Ass) Is Next In Line", "(You Must Fight To Live) On The Planet Of The Apes" and "Stronger Than Dirt". They are brutal and savage and that is what their friends say about them!
-Todd Abramson


The Stompin' Riff Raffs JAPANESE MASKED INSANITY might be the wildest band we've ever seen! Come see A Man and Three Chicks wreak complete havoc! Their interpretations of Stomp approved wonders like Floyd Dakil, Ron Haydock and 2017 Stomp performer Johnny Knight are a sight to behold. Their originals are on par with the great rockers they cover. Hailing from Japan, The Stompin' Riff Raffs style and profile like no other!


-Todd Abramson

DAVID WAX MUSEUM’S ‘ELECTRIC ARTIFACTS’ TOUR CELEBRATING TEN YEARS OF MUSIC MAKING, AND THEIR 1000TH SHOW

This fall, with their two young children in tow, Mexo-Americana pioneers David Wax Museum will embark on the “Electric Artifacts” tour – celebrating their 10th anniversary as a band, and featuring their 1000th show.

The Electric Artifacts tour spans ten cities and explores the roots of David Wax Museum. Beginning with a series of house shows in Washington, DC that feature duo performances from David Wax & Suz Slezak, the tour explores many of the markets that helped propel the band to the national stage over the past decade. With full band shows, featuring a horn section, the tour winds its way from current hometown Charlottesville, to their previous hometowns of Northampton and Boston, with stops along the way in Baltimore, Thomas WV, Philadelphia, Saratoga Springs, and New York City. The 1000th show of their career will be a secret show on September 22, at a location to be announced.

The roots of David Wax Museum stretch back nearly a decade, and all the way from New England to Mexico. As a student at Harvard, Wax began traveling south of the border to study and immerse himself in the country's traditional music and culture.

Back in Boston, he met fiddler/singer Suz Slezak, whose love of traditional American and Irish folk music fused with Wax's Mexo-Americana into a singular, energetic blend that captivated audiences and critics alike. Their 2010 breakout performance at the Newport Folk Festival made them the most talked-about band of the weekend, with NPR hailing them as "pure, irresistible joy." They released a trio of albums that earned escalating raves everywhere from SPIN and Entertainment Weekly (who described them as sounding "like Andrew Bird with a Mexican folk bent") to the New York Times and The Guardian (which dubbed the music "global crossover at its best"). They earned an invitation to return to Newport, this time on the main stage, as well as dates supporting The Avett Brothers, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Buena Vista Social Club, and more.

It was on the road over these past few years as the band and audiences grew, though, that Wax could feel their exuberant live show evolving beyond its formative roots.

"I felt empowered to start the band because of my time in Mexico studying folk music," Wax explains. "In Boston, the term 'Americana' or 'folk' was just this catchall to describe what everyone was doing. It was helpful to use that to talk about our music at first, but we've found that our hearts feel most shaken, and the band fires on all cylinders, when we're putting on a rock show. What we've tried to retain about our folk origins is the warm sound of people playing acoustic instruments together in a room."

Acoustic Duo Shows:

September 6 – Washington, D.C. – House Concert
September 7 – Washington, D.C. – House Concert
September 8 – Washington, D.C. – House Concert
September 9 – Washington, D.C. – House Concert
September 9 – Alexandra, VA – House Concert
September 11 – Washington, D.C. – House Concert

Full Band With Horns:

September 10 – Baltimore, MD – Creative Alliance
September 14 – Charlottesville, VA – The Southern
September 15 – Thomas, WV – The Purple Fiddle
September 16 – Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s
September 17 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Caffe Lena
September 20 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
September 21 – Boston, MA – City Winery
September 22 – 1000th Show – Mystery Location TBA
September 23 – Northampton, MA – The Parlor Room

David Wax Museum bio

“Suz and I started this band as friends,” says David Wax, “but now we’re married and have a child and have our family on the road with us. The stakes are different.”

Those stakes are what lie at the heart of David Wax Museum’s fourth and boldest studio album to date, Guesthouse (to be released October 16 on Thirty Tigers). It’s the sound of a band reconciling the accountability of marriage and parenthood with the uncertainty and challenges of life on the road; of coming to terms with the limitations of the “folk” tag that launched their career and pushing past it into uncharted musical territory; of reimagining their entire approach in the studio to capture the magic and the bliss of their live show. In typical David Wax Museum fashion, the songs on Guesthouse are simplistic and sophisticated, elegant and plainspoken all at once. Rather than succumbing to the weight of the newfound responsibilities that landed on their doorstep, the band has leaned into the challenges to capture a brilliant portrait of the messy beauty of it all.

The roots of David Wax Museum stretch back nearly a decade, and all the way from New England to Mexico. As a student at Harvard, Wax began traveling south of the border to study and immerse himself in the country’s traditional music and culture. Back in Boston, he met fiddler/singer Suz Slezak, whose love of traditional American and Irish folk music fused with Wax’s Mexo-Americana into a singular, energetic blend that captivated audiences and critics alike. Their 2010 breakout performance at the Newport Folk Festival made them the most talked-about band of the weekend, with NPR hailing them as “pure, irresistible joy.” They released a trio of albums that earned escalating raves everywhere from SPIN and Entertainment Weekly (who described them as sounding “like Andrew Bird with a Mexican folk bent”) to the New York Times and The Guardian (which dubbed the music “global crossover at its best”). They earned an invitation to return to Newport, this time on the main stage, as well as dates supporting The Avett Brothers, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Buena Vista Social Club, and more.

It was on the road over these past few years as the band and audiences grew, though, that Wax could feel their exuberant live show evolving beyond its formative roots.

“I felt empowered to start the band because of my time in Mexico studying folk music,” Wax explains. “In Boston, the term ‘Americana’ or ‘folk’ was just this catchall to describe what everyone was doing. It was helpful to use that to talk about our music at first, but we’ve found that our hearts feel most shaken, and the band fires on all cylinders, when we’re putting on a rock show. What we’ve tried to retain about our folk origins is the warm sound of people playing acoustic instruments together in a room. But, by embracing more of an indie rock approach, we’ve colored this record with synthesizers, layers of percussion, and adventurous sonic processing. The mental shift of it helped us feel like we could do anything we wanted. There were no rules that we had to follow in terms of what was ‘authentic.'”

Part of the inspiration for the shift was the presence of guitarist and producer Josh Kaufman, who sat in with the band on tour and added new sounds and textures that the they’d never experimented with before. When it came time to record Guesthouse, the band knew he had to helm it in the studio.
“The songs entered this Technicolor, 3D world with Josh,” explains Wax. “Aside from his contributions to the arrangements, he really wanted us all to be in a room playing the music together live so that the groove would be central. We brought in two other drummers, and there was a real focus on having as much percussion happening at the same time as possible. We gravitate towards that naturally because of the Mexican influences, all of the syncopations and 6/8 dance rhythms and the energy that that gives us, but we really embraced it this time around.”

That emphasis on groove sucks you in from the opening seconds of the kickoff track, “Every Time Katie,” a whispered come-on that roils and pulses like an anxious heartbeat and features gorgeous call and response vocals from David and Suz. It’s followed by “Dark Night Of The Heart,” which pushes the sonic envelope further than any previous David Wax Museum track, blending chamber strings, psychedelic vocal filters, explosive drums, and swirling synthesizers.

Written partially in Mexico and partially in western Massachusetts, the lyrics on Guesthouse find Wax writing with more direct, personal honesty than ever before.

“I had felt really reluctant to talk about personal stuff in the past,” says Wax. “I was writing personally, but there were lots of things I was obfuscating or filtering through a character to protect myself from putting too much out there. But it got to a point where it was taking a lot more energy than it was worth to maintain that privacy. When we had our daughter, Calliope, it felt like this sudden release because talking and singing about our lives was becoming more and more integral to what we were doing as artists and who we were as people.”

The title track, which draws on several traditional Mexican songs for musical inspiration, is a tongue-in-cheek reflection on the life of a traveling musician hunting for a free place to crash, while “Lose Touch With The World” faces down the reality of living a life far removed from that of your friends and family, and “Young Man” is an earnest musing on growing older.

“It’s about being a parent and coming to terms with what your ambition is,” explains Wax. “What part of that is essential to who you are, and what part can you let go of? We have to check in with ourselves and ask what we’re doing and why we’re doing it more often now because we’re not just us putting ourselves through the mental and physical sacrifices of touring anymore,” he continues. “Now Calliope is going through it with us, and Suz’s dad and my cousin Jordan are going through it with us on the road. And because we’re constantly checking and making sure we’re doing this for the right reasons, that we feel honest in our hearts about it, I think that’s brought new life to what we’re doing and a new energy and a new level of commitment.”

It’s a sentiment brought beautifully to life on “Everything Changes,” as Wax and Slezak sing, “Everything changes / when two becomes three.” The song was written in response to all of the good-natured warnings about what having a child would mean for the couple, the freedom and sleep and sanity they might lose out on. Instead, they choose to focus on everything they’ve gained: a beautiful daughter, a stronger bond with their families and fans than ever before, and without a doubt, the most exciting album of their career. For David Wax Museum, the stakes may be higher, but that just means the rewards are even bigger.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

David Wax Museum photos

Click for high res. Credit for all: Steve Depino



Great Eastern Music Festival images

Click for high res versions

Above: Sam Outlaw
Above: Sarah Jarosz
Above: The Seldom Scene

Above: Dustbowl Revival




Above: Dustbowl Revival




Above: Dustbowl Revival




Above: Dustbowl Revival

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Great Eastern Music Festival

The Montauk Historical Society brings its inaugural Great Eastern Music Festival to the world-famous Montauk Lighthouse, located at the easternmost tip of Long Island. The idyllic setting provides 360 degree views of Block Island, the Atlantic Ocean and beyond. A full day of today’s foremost music acts on two stages, with craft food + beverage, vendors and more. The 2017 lineup includes The Dustbowl Revival, Sarah Jarosz, Seldom Scene. Sam Outlaw, Tall Tall Trees, Miles to Dayton, Eastbound Freight, Buddy Merriam & Back Roads, Gravity Jazz Quartet, Gene Casey, M2D Trio, Pluck & Rail, Bill Scorzari, He-Bird, She-Bird, Kirsten Maxwell and Hank Stone.

Tickets are $65 for general admission, $25 for children ages 6 – 12, and free for kids ages 0 – 5.​ Tickets can be purchased at http://www.greateasternmusicfestival.com/​ Parking is available at the Montauk Point State Park lots with overflow parking at Camp Hero State Park and other off-site locations. Shuttle bus service will be provided between parking lots and venue. Please check the website for more information. Parking is limited, so please arrive early for the best parking.

The Montauk Lighthouse was built from 1792-1796 and commissioned by George Washington in 1797. The Lighthouse Committee of the Montauk Historical Society is dedicated to the protection, preservation and educational development of this national historic site. Through programs, exhibits, publications and special events, the story of this site will be conveyed to the public. For more information, please visit: www.montaukhistoricalsociety.org and www.montauklighthouse.com

Monday, July 10, 2017

DEATH OF THE ALBUM? NOT SO FAST SAYS “COMPELLING” (AMERICAN SONGWRITER) SUSAN CATTANEO, WHOSE NEW DOUBLE ALBUM ‘THE HAMMER & THE HEART’ COMES OUT AUGUST 25

SPECIAL GUESTS THE BOTTLE ROCKETS, MARK ERELLI, DUKE LEVINE, AND BILL KIRCHEN JOIN COMMUNAL PROCESS

“Ultimately it’s rare to find an artist so willing to invest her psyche so fully into her songs, but the return on Cattaneo’s commitment also makes for a compelling set of songs.” -American Songwriter

“She rocks with the best of them and also sings ballads so sweetly and lovingly that it can bring tears to the eyes of those listening.” -No Depression

Told by music business experts that the album was dead, singer-songwriter Susan Cattaneo decided to double down on it, literally. Her new double album ‘The Hammer & The Heart’ comes out August 25 on Jersey Girl Music. “Musicians make albums because albums allow you to tell a bigger story,” she says, “and this is the story of how I went from almost giving up to rediscovering the joy of making music – thanks to a wonderful community of musicians and friends.”

Cattaneo self-produced the album, calling on a large number of those friends to collaborate on it, 41 of them to be exact. They range from national stalwarts of the Americana/roots rock scene, like The Bottle Rockets, the Titan of the Telecaster Bill Kirchen, and singer/songwriter/guitarist Mark Erelli (Lori McKenna, Paula Cole), to British guitar virtuoso Davy Knowles, to ace players like first-call guitarist Duke Levine (Peter Wolf, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Garland Jeffreys), Kevin Barry (Roseanne Cash, Peter Wolf, Marc Cohn), Jim Henry (Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tracy Grammer), Marco Giovino (Robert Plant, Tom Jones, Buddy Miller), and Stu Kimball (Bob Dylan), to some of the best artists from the Northeast Folk and Americana music scenes like Jennifer Kimball, Nancy Beaudette, Amy Fairchild, Todd Thibaud, to Susan’s own bandmates The Boxcar Lilies.

“In The Grooves” music video (OK to share): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYWN4MxqXLU

Originally from New Jersey before embedding herself in the cauldron of Nashville, TN’s Music Row and now settled in Boston, MA as an artist, songwriter, and professor of songwriting at Berklee College of Music, Cattaneo posits that ‘The Hammer & The Heart’ includes all sonic aspects of that journey. It ranges from straight-out rockers like “Lonely Be My Lover”; the boot-scooting, honky tonk ode to vinyl “In The Grooves”; as well as tender ballads like “Ordinary Magic” and “Fade To Blue.” The key song of the album is titled “Work Hard Love Harder” and serves as the manifesto of the record: a musical reminder to focus on the things that really matter in life. Two different versions of the anthem headline the two records: The Hammer, the electric side, and The Heart, the acoustic side.

As she has established herself deep in the New England folk and roots community, she found herself collaborating with a new peers, both on stage and in the studio. She has co-written songs by many New England favorites, including Dennis Brennan and Jenee Halstead who returned the favor and appear here. Those collaborations culminated when she joined established folk trio The Boxcar Lilies, a project that she is pursuing in parallel with her solo activity.

‘Haunted Heart,’ from 2013, saw outlets like CMT.com, American Songwriter, No Depression, and WUMB embrace her. In the past three years, Susan has been a finalist and performed at the most prestigious songwriting competitions in the folk circuit: The Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Contest, The Falcon Ridge Festival Emerging Artist stage and The Wildflower Festival.

The Hammer & The Heart took form over several years of work. “I heard Bruce Springsteen talk about recording his double album, ‘The River.’ In his interview, he said that after emerging creatively out of the intensity of recording ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town,’ he felt the need to make a record that represented the full experience of his live shows; both the serious songs and the fun party songs. I was struck by the parallel to my career. I came from recording ‘Haunted Heart,’ which was the record where I let all of my skeletons out of the closet, to this group of songs, and I realized that I wanted to create an album that could capture both my upbeat rockers and my slower ballads.”

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

13th Annual Ponderosa Stomp poster


Bette Smith bio

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Born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Bette Smith reconnected with her musical roots in Memphis and Mississippi – and fulfilled a promise to her late brother in the process. Recording her debut full-length album in Mississippi brought her to the roots of the gospel she sang in the church and the soul music she heard on the block on hot summer nights music growing up on the corner of Nostrand and Fulton. The powerful ‘Jetlagger’ comes out September 29 on Big Legal Mess, a Fat Possum subsidiary. “The south came to me and grabbed me and pulled me down there. The southern migration came up and got me. My neighbors in Bed-Stuy influenced me,” she says.

She recalls that Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn was a very different place when she was growing up. “It was rough back then!,” she exclaims. “There was lots of gang activity. One gang came after my brother and my dad came out with a lead pipe to protect him. It was really hairy. My older brother Junior protected me from all of that. He would intimidate all of the other guys.”

She owes even more to Junior. Several years ago, on his deathbed suffering from kidney failure, he made her promise not to give up on a career as a singer. Those last days of his, she sang while he tapped his foot on the hospital bed at Kings County Hospital. “I didn’t know how else to comfort him,” she recalls. He told her, “I want you to sing; don’t give up” and she’s kept that promise, playing gigs from One Penn Plaza in New York to the Boogie Woogie Festival in Brussels, Belgium, always wearing yellow on stage to honor him. “It’s all for Junior now,” she affirms.

Jimbo Mathus produced the album at Water Valley’s Dial Back Sound and sent roughs to Bruce Watson, who swiftly signed Smith on for a full-length. He’s become a secret weapon for Fat Possum and Big Legal Mess Records; in addition to being a solo artist and a founding member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Mathus has also produced Shinyribs, Luther Dickinson, The Seratones, and played on records by Valerie June, Buddy Guy, and Elvis Costello. “You exceeded all expectations,” Mathus told her.

The trip was also Smith’s first to the deep south. She recalls, “It took me out of my comfort zone. I got lost in a swamp one time and kind of freaked out! I’m a quintessential city girl.”

Smith beams when talking about the sessions. “It was really wonderful. Everything was recorded live. I felt like I was Tina Turner and Etta James. I do well when I’m performing. It was a real performance that had never been captured before.” Anyone who’s ever seen her live knows how absorbed she gets on stage and these sessions put her in that same place. She continues, “There’s New York aggressiveness and passion. I get to a fever pitch. I’m gone. I’m not even there anymore. Something else takes over.”

Mathus dug deep into the Mississippi and Memphis soul bags, unearthing “Flying Sweet Angel of Joy” by Famous L. Renfroe, a song with which Smith particularly connected. “I believe in guardian angels. Jimbo picked up on that. I feel that I was giving voice for Famous. because he never really got a chance.” Mathus also picked Isaac Hayes’ “Do Your Thing,” which simmers with Memphis heat.

The raucous soul-rock of “Man Child,” the spare funk of “Shackles & Chains,” and Blaxsploitation soundtrack feel of “Durty Hustlin’” were all written or co-written by
Mathus specifically for Smith. She gets rough, wrestling the title track to the ground; the song captures the late nights and lack of sleep inherent in a musician’s life. First-call Memphis horn players Marc Franklin (Robert Cray, Lucero and Kirk Smothers (Don Bryant, Melissa Etheridge, Cyndi Lauper, Buddy Guy) were summoned to complete the album’s sound.

‘Jetlagger’s’ closer, the Staple Singers’ “City In the Sky,” connected her back to Bed-Stuy. She remembers, “My father was a church choir director. I was singing since I was five years old. I take it to church. I just break out, start speaking in tongues.” She also heard gospel around the house every weekend. “My grandmother listened to nothing but gospel,” she recalls, citing Mahalia Jackson and Reverend James Cleveland. “Every Sunday morning, she would get up and put on these records while dressing and praising the Lord. The furniture was plastic-covered. After lunch, it was more gospel music,” she says. Bed-Stuy block parties would also have revivalist-style gospel acts. “I’m steeped in it!,” she adds. Though a Seventh Day Adventist as a child, Smith is now a member of the Church of God in Christ.

Several years ago while singing in Los Angeles, Bette’s voice drew the attention of another artist who came up in the church – Ray Charles, who invited her to collaborate with him shortly before his passing. “It was the first inkling that I had greatness in me,” she says.

Reviewers have noticed, too. On the strength of a 2016 EP, Bitch Magazine compared her to Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu, praising her “stunning voice [and] powerful but pliable tone” saying that her songs “cut deep” and calling her music “remarkable.” Bitch continues, “[Smith’s] individuality keeps her story in her own hands and gives her firm ground from which to leap into her career. And with that voice, she can aim high.”

Soul Tracks said simply, “Steaming… That voice though!”

No Depression said, “Show stopper… Finally, a woman with the blues power of both Big Mama Thornton and Bessie Smith, the smooth, classiness of jazz/blues singer Joe Williams, the dynamics of Koko Taylor and the energy of Janis Joplin all wrapped up tight in a relevant Billie Holiday look… No lame, whiney female vocals here. It’s all confidence and power. The sexy slur and slide of Bette’s voice, her roll of syllables, the phrasing and intonation all on target, all polished with gratifying verve. But the true sting is in Bette’s ability to know exactly how to interpret a song -- her songs, or anyone else’s.”

She already can’t wait for her next trip down south, when she’s going to meet soul legends Al Green and Don Bryant. She says, “It feels like the circle is coming around. The gospel roots remain the same. This is timeless music – soul, rhythm and blues – Mississippi is the birthplace. When you’re down there, you feel something.”