Americana

Michael & The Lonesome Playboys

We are thrilled to share the new album from Michael & The Lonesome Playboys, Bottle Cap Sky.

Buy this album HERE ON AMAZON or HERE ON ITUNES.

Michael and the Lonesome Playboys Keep Country Real–“Bottle Cap Sky” is a record for fans that want an alternative to a slick pop country sound

There’s an underground scene in every city and for Los Angeles, that scene is Americana/Roots music. Old and Young, there is no generation gap; everyone is pulled together by a common thread–good music and musicians that know how to play it.

One of these musicians is Michael Ubaldini of Michael and the Lonesome Playboys. Disillusioned with the pop slick sounds that mainstream country music has been churning out, Ubaldini has written an antiphon to this music called, “Bottle Cap Sky”. The 15-song record is rooted in the traditional sounds of honky tonk, rock n’ roll and blues, but with 21st Century lyrics and an attitude of early Dylan and Kerouac and the influences of Hank Williams and the Clash. (Joe Strummer was actually a fan of Ubaldini’s and would show up for his LA gigs when able.)

Dylan and Kerouac are heavy names to be throwing around, but backing up these lyrical claims is the fact that Ubaldini has written a book of poetry, “Lost American Nights: Lyrics and Poems” which is now in its 2nd edition. Along with strong lyrics, Michael and the Lonesome Playboys recorded “Bottle Cap Sky” live without auto-tuning or a lot of tracking, so what you hear are musicians that have mastered their instruments or, as Ubaldini likes to joke, “My records have no Botox.”

His band on the record includes two members of his live performance band, Rob King on bass and Gary Brandin on pedal steel and dobro. Michael plays lead guitar and acoustic and adds blues harmonica to the mix. Guest musicians include Candy Girard on fiddle (Jerry Garcia, Mason Williams) and Jeremy Long on piano. Jim Doyle (Charlie Terrell, Jesse Harris) is Ubaldini’s new live drummer, but on the record several guests keep the beat: Micky Wieland, Kip Dabbs, Jerry Angel and Mitch Ross.

The songs on “Bottle Cap Sky” were influenced by Ubaldini’s life, a few of them written from a hospital bed in 2010 where he was fighting for his life from endocarditis. (CNN did a news story on Ubaldini during this period about his recovery.) They are full of characters from what he calls his “circus style” of existence; outlaws, Texas oil tycoons, crooked lawmakers and false prophets. “Basically, my wild life and the road to its salvation.” explains Ubaldini.

“Walk Through Fire” is a kicking Memphis blues tune that is both soulful and has a groove. It’s about facing down death with a strong will to survive. “Moon Dog Mad” is a honky tonk Armageddon of a song where you find your toes conversely tapping to the lyrics, “there’s blood on the moon and things are looking real bad.” The gears shift for the ballad, “Lonesome When You’re Gone” and “Three Cheers for Heartache” is a melodic rock n’ roll song with a country feel and the lyrics saluting the outcasts of the world. “Rosewood Night” is a haunting country tune about betrayal, and yet hope holding out for a love’s return.

Whether it’s love, betrayal, sex, rebellion, sin or salvation, Michael Ubaldini’s got it covered. “The songs all men something to me,” he says, “I’m usually jacked up on caffeine in an all-night diner or cheap motel when I’m writing them. I try to be in the moment, so the story or sense of place is in the songs. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t gone through what I had to write a particular song, but if it helps someone out in their own dire situation and can give hope, well, that means a lot to me.”

Los Angeles and Nashville have been taking notice–recently Dwight Yoakam hand-picked the band to open for him on a Southern tour and they are in their 6th year of traveling to the famous Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, where they are annually asked to play. Ubaldini’s last record, “Last of the Honky Tonks” garnered rave reviews stateside and entered the Mojo Magazine charts at #6 and it topped the CMP charts in the UK.

When asked about his core fan base, Ubaldini says, “We tend to get a lot of hard-core Americana music fans and people I would call outcasts. And by outcasts I mean the current generation of country music listeners who are displaced. There are a lot of young people who are exploring traditional country music and also looking for something fresh.” He continues, “I have kids coming up to me all of the time and telling me they like my music. I feel proud when they say it made them look at the genre of honky tonk and roots music in a new light.”

In this culture of reality television where artists beg to be approved by a panel of judges, Ubaldini is a breath of fresh air. Citing Blake Shelton as an example, Ubaldini claims that country music has “devolved not evolved”. “People should pay attention to the call of the music and not kowtow to industry insiders,” he says. “Just Imagine if the Beatles let any suits convince them that guitars were on their way out, or if Dylan listened to the critics who told them he can’t sing. I just love to write and I love music–that’s what drives me–the drive to create. It’s what I do. I just go where the wind and the music take me.”

Michael and the Lonesome Playboys will celebrate the release of “Bottle Cap Sky” opening for David Allan Coe on August 10th at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, CA.

Randall Bramblett #1321

Randall Bramblett’s latest solo album, The Bright Spots, highlights his songwriting and the long-term musical collaboration with Davis Causey–going back before Bramblett’s time with the Allman Brothers, well before their collaboration with Chuck Leavell in Sea Level. Bramblett is known as much for his collaborations as he is for his own songwriting, working in multiple incarnations with overlapping musicians and bands. He’d be perfect for a musical Venn Diagram. To only know his playing with other bands, though, leaves a false sense of who Bramblett is as a musician. His solo records stretch across genres, ebbing and flowing–but always growing. None of his work is nostalgic. The Bright Spots is a great example of continued growth, always looking to cover new ground, not beat a path to a doorway that has already been entered.

Liner Notes

  • Randall Bramblett The Bright Spots
  • Bonnie Raitt Used To Rule The World Bramblett composed this tune and also toured with Raitt.
  • Gregg Allman with Cowboy (Tour & Recording). This tour brought together some Capricorn Records greats from Macon, Georgia, including songwriter Tommy Talton and Scott Boyer’s band, Cowboy, to work with Gregg Allman. This tune, in the middle of Allman’s set, includes Bramblett on organ and sax, Allman on organ, & Chuck Leavell on electric piano, among others. The CD was re-released by Polydor.  Time Will Take Us – Cowboy This set is surprisingly un-Allman Brothers Band sounding. If you’ve never heard it, you should get the album here The Gregg Allman Tour.
  • Sea Level Long Walk On A Short Pier

    from Allmusic.com: “…a bad*** Bramblett blues-rocker with hot guitar from Jimmy Nalls”

    Sea Level took its name from Chuck Leavell, and although it shared many members with different iterations of the Allman Brothers Band over time, the players had known each other in different pairings before their associations with ABB. Think of it more like lots of big fish swimming in a small pond.

  • Driftwood Wanderlust Davis Causey produced this little-known, fantastic record, and played quite a bit on it. If you did not follow this program in its early days, you may have missed our feature of Driftwood and Causey’s instrumental role in bringing that concept record to life. It’s a fabulous album that you really ought to buy.
  • Michael Rhodes played with The Notorious Cherry Bombs The Notorious Cherry Bombs, as well as zillions of other projects. You might remember them as one of Rodney Crowell’s bands, and their infamous tune, “It’s Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chew Your A$$ Out All Day Long.” Yes, that’s a real song.

Video

SteelDrivers #1320

How does a band survive when its founder leaves — and their lead vocalist moves on? The SteelDrivers demonstrate their resilience as a band with Hammer Down, their latest album with their current lineup. Bass player, Mike Fleming, shares his own musical path to bluegrass, shaped by The Beatles and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and the influences of the other band members that keep The SteelDrivers on the edges of their genre and bring in audiences who otherwise do not care for bluegrass — even attracting such notable fans as Adele.

LINER NOTES

VIDEO

PODCAST
Download here or on iTunes.

Monkeygrass Jug Band


Recorded by Bronson Tew with his mobile Record-o-van at the home of Eli Truett in Winterville, GA.

Mixed by Bronson Tew and Matt Patton at Dial Back Sound, Water Valley, MS.

Cover art by J.C. Teague.

Gospel Plow, Little Maggie, Don’t Ease Me In and Cold Rain and Snow – traditional, arranged by the Monkeygrass Jug Band.

Loretta, Whiskey in the Moonlight, Ramblin Hearted Blues by B. McCoy

Saratoga, Hammer and the Anvil, Odell’s Down Cards by D. Auber

copyright 2013 BMI
credits
released 09 December 2012
Don Auber – guitar, vocal
Brandon Nelson McCoy – mandolin, vocal
Patrick Morales – banjo
Adam Poulin – fiddle
Bronson Tew – upright bass

The Delta Saints #1316

The Delta Saints hail from Nashville, not the Delta, but their “New Orleans Rock and Roll” heats up dance floors, even in the notoriously non-dancing Music City. After two self-funded EPs, the band turned to crowdfunding to finance a full-scale, cohesive album with the luxury of several days in the studio to complete Death Letter Jubilee. Since the release, The Delta Saints have had two extensive tours in Europe to promote the album as well as scores of US dates. The band tours constantly, playing fun, dance-filled shows for exuberant fans.

Liner Notes


Podcast

Bex Marshall #1311

Bex Marshall’s latest album, House of Mercy, reflects both the songs on this record, and the actual name of her home-recording studio-record label-life. She is a noted slide guitar player, who also loves the resonator (dobro) and banjo, and manages to bring in those sounds to a cohesive, roots rock record.  I am always interested when a British musician melds what we think of as American sounds into music that becomes its own, rather than being imitative.  Marshall’s songs and production combine for a rollicking  album, and her reflection on what led to it–heard in this week’s radio program–is worthwhile for anyone seeking a lifetime playing music, or fans who like it real.

Click HERE to listen and buy this record, or here to buy on iTunes.

Liner Notes

  • Bex Marshall House of Mercy House of Mercy is not just the title track and album, it’s also the name of the house where Bex and Barry live, their record label and recording studio, radio station and more.  Marshall lives a life of music.
  • I was not able to find a legal mp3 to purchase of Bex’s “Uncle David’s” band, The Marauders’ minor hit, “That’s What I Want.” I also was not able to confirm whether “Uncle David” is known as “Charlie Harper” of the UK Subs or not. If you have more information, please clarify! I think this is a video for the correct band. I did find a song on a garage rock compilation by a band of the same name, but I cannot confirm if it’s the same people or not. It’s a pretty cool tune, though, and a fantastic compilation. Storm in the Garage on Amazon
  • Brigitte de Meyer Rose Of Jericho on Amazon
  • Joan Armatrading Greatest Hits on Amazon One of the best British blues vocalists around. I used to listen to “Drop the Pilot” on WRAS Album 88 all the time.
  • Hayseed Dixie Nicotine and Alcohol on Amazon Hayseed Dixie are not just the beloved bluegrass covers of AC/DC tunes or tributes to hillbilly love, they are also noted players and the sons of Don Reno, of Reno and Smiley.
  • Stevie Ray Vaughn live The Essential Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble on Amazon doing “Superstition.”  A great example of amazing blues working well with other styles of music.
  • Israel Nash Gripka Barn Doors and Concrete Floors on Amazon

Podcast

Sam Doores #1309

Sam Doores collaborates in recording and performing, making creative and practical decisions that allow his songs to reach as many audiences as possible. Whether Doores is playing solo, with his band, in a duo setting with a stompbox, or as part of Hurray for the Riff Raff, the versatile musician and songwriter is adding more to his professional toolbox. Doores’ influences range from Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie, to knowledge by necessity with a weekly four-hour gig just off Bourbon Street in New Orleans–fusing the music of Allen Toussaint, old R&B, swamp pop, and traditional country with Irish barroom tunes. Such a diverse setlist allowed him to develop his own skills and sounds as he crafted and improved his own songwriting.

Liner Notes

Podcast

Chicago Farmer #1307

Chicago Farmer plays Mid-Western folk music celebrating the work ethic and community support of the small towns dotting the flatlands. As the musical persona of Cody Diekhoff, his roots in a tiny town form a strong foundation for the art he continues to create as he has moved back and forth across Illinois, to Chicago and back, repeatedly–moving 12 times in 10 years! “Backenforth” consequently, is the mythical town that holds together the songs in his current record, Backenforth, IL. He was not escaping his small town early on, as much as he was being launched into the wider world with all 25 of the residents behind him.

Relocating inspires Chicago Farmer to write, hence his frequent moving as he developed his songwriting and performing. After a decade as a folk musician playing the upper Mid-West circuit, his new album is the one that he hopes will bring his songs to wider audiences. With lyrics that play well to a barroom singalong, yet have a depth of reflection on the regular life of hard-working people that can easily be overlooked, Chicago Farmer’s music focuses on accessible folk songs.

With influences ranging from Hank Williams to Great American Taxi, Chicago Farmer has logged thousands of miles and hours honing his songs. For Backenforth, IL, he gathered his Hired Hands band, and recorded in affordable sessions, one or two songs at a time, then he would hit the road to earn some money, return and record another song or two, and repeat until the album was finished. For the first decade as a musician, Chicago Farmer was a full DIY solo venture, but he has recently added both management and a booking agent, freeing him up to play and write. One of the biggest advantages to finding management for him, was knowing that someone else with knowledge of the business always “has his back.”

Free song download here.

Liner Notes

Podcast

Old Man Luedecke #1305

Old Man Luedecke may be new to US audiences, but the Canadian folk songwriter is well-known and lauded north of the border.  As his photo indicates, he is not old, but the music that captures his interest and influences his writing is old.  Luedecke references traditional music from the Smithsonian Folkways series, like the Red Clay Ramblers, but sounds more like a folked-out Paul Simon to me.  (Interestingly, Simon is never referenced, but I cannot get the vocal comparison out of my ears with this record.)

Despite obscure literary references, Tender is the Night, is solidly present.  Although F. Scott Fitzgerald or even Jackson Browne may come to mind, Luedecke has never read that book nor has he heard to catchy tune of the same name–although his mandolin player sings it to him often.  (Luedecke says he is referencing Melville’s Billy Budd who is referencing Keats and a reflection on Thomas Payne’s “Rights of Man.”)  Despite the heavy influences, the music is simple and accessible–producer, Tim O’Brien, gently decorated Luedecke’s songs.

While much more folk-y than most of the music we cover, the connection to the history of folk music and a modern reflection of it, tie  these songs to the rest of the catalog.  Luedecke’s use of humor and the absurd, Biblical topics and modern life, demonstrate how traditional lyrical subjects continue to engage listeners.

Liner Notes

Podcast

Rich Mahan #1304

Rich Mahan blames Bobby Bare for his slightly naughty, humorous songs, but really, he just wants you to have fun and enjoy the music.  Mahan’s debut solo record, Blame Bobby Bare, creates an auditory party–even if it’s just a quick escape from your workday and stresses of life by cranking up the music.  Go ahead and dance around the office if you want.

Mahan’s own musical journey began with a middle school talent show, leading him to play guitar with bands ranging from jamband to Texas rock, and find a way to be in the music field in some way at all times.  The deconstruction of smaller imprints of major labels sent him from Los Angeles to Nashville, where Mahan found other creative communities forging their own DIY path apart from the current music mold.

This independent trajectory, and intense pool of exemplary players and persons in the music industry, made Mahan’s album possible.  From the analog recording and mixing choices, to the top-notch musicians who joined the project, Blame Bobby Bare represents not just where Mahan is now, but how his history has led him to this day–fun, slightly inappropriate, but something most people can relate to and enjoy–even if your mother never found…you know…in your room!

Liner Notes

  • Rich Mahan Blame Bobby Bare [Explicit]  From his days of contributing songs to Dr. Demento to now, Mahan’s songs are fun, embracing some of life’s bad decisions with gusto.  Please note that there are drug references in many of these songs.
  • Shurman Still Waiting For The Sunset  A record from the Country Fried Rock alums, now out of Texas.  When they were all in Los Angeles, Rich Mahan was part of the band and contributed to several songs even when he was no longer in the band.
  • Rainbow The Best Of Rainbow  Great big rock and roll.
  • Bobby Bare Bobby Bare Sings Lullabys, Legends And Lies (And More) “Dropkick Me Jesus” This was a tough decision, as I really wanted to select one of the songs written by Shel Silverstein, “Qualudes Again,” but there wasn’t enough time.
  • The Standells The Very Best Of The Standells “Dirty Water” I chose the original album version instead of the spruced up version you occasionally hear on classic rock radio.
  • The Who Quadrophenia [Explicit]  “The Real Me” The most serious song in this week’s radio show, but the emotion contrasts nicely with all the silly, fun, party music of the rest of the show.
  • Boo Ray Bad News Travels Fast  This is a record from a Country Fried Rock alum, one that really should be part of a roots music collection.

NOTE:  There are references to drug use in the 1960’s and 1970’s  in this conversation and some of these songs, specifically, a bit about Jimi Hendrix using drugs before the Monterey Pop Festival and by the musicians in The Last Waltz.  Some of the song lyrics also reference drugs, as evidenced by their titles.

Podcast

Country Fried Rock Best of 2012

Click to page 3 to listen to the Best of 2012.

Click the titles to purchase on iTunes.  Click the album covers to purchase on Amazon.

25 The Shovel vs. The Howling Bones – Lincoln Durham

Lincoln Durham started playing violin at age 4 via the Suzuki Method of instruction. By 8, he was hiding on stage facing the wall playing fiddle with the Osceola Opry–a loose association of players who met monthly in an old wooden schoolhouse to cover Hank Williams and Bill Monroe songs for the gathered farmers and country folk. Durham picked up the guitar in his early 20′s, which captivated his interest more than the fiddle ever had. Wandering through a period of singer-songwriter expression, Lincoln still felt pulled by something different in music, but had not been able to define it for himself, let alone have it clearly expressed in music. CONTINUE

24 Michelle Malone: Day 2

This album is currently only available directly from Michelle Malone HERE.
Michelle Malone was part of the Atlanta music scene that evolved from the Indigo Girls’ success, enjoying national attention for the music of Shawn Mullins, Tinsley Ellis, and Drivin N Cryin, with her band at the time, Drag the River. The confluence of blues-tinged Southern music at the time made for an exciting music scene, that was later replaced by the still-dominant hiphop scene. Atlanta is a weird place filled with temporary residents who are not from the area, but it is also a collection of neighborhoods with their own identities and people who are part of the arts culture and give different places their distinct vibes. It is from the latter community that Michelle Malone emerges, not as an ingenue, but as the definition of the Atlanta rock sound–Southern, blues-touched, guitar-driven, but still about the song. CONTINUE

23 Sweat Like the Old Days – Holy Ghost Tent Revival

Holy Ghost Tent Revival took their lowest point in the last five years and used it as a reason to find a new sound and revive their music. It’s not any easier to pigeonhole their work than it was before the departure of their bass player and harmony vocalist, but their music is definitely easier to dance to now than it was before. Despite having almost nothing in common with bluegrass music, they are often lumped in there with old time bands–great for a festival lineup, but inaccurate in categorization. Think of the Avett Brothers with a horn section, and you are much closer to the sound of Holy Ghost Tent Revival. CONTINUE

22 Two Step Silhouette – The Corduroy Road

The Corduroy Road‘s fans sounded alarm bells when the band left their life on the road for a long hiatus, but after nearly an eight-month break, the core of the band emerged with some new players in the lineup, refreshed and ready for the next phase of the band. The Corduroy Road musically balances between Americana and bluegrass in the dance-able area we refer to as “upbeat string band.” Their songs make you move, and you might even miss the weight of some of their lyrics, such as a hunter stumbling upon a meth lab in the woods where the meth-farmer and sheriff are in cahoots. Southern Gothic lyrics to outsiders, perhaps, but just another day in the country to some of us enmeshed in baffling small-town alliances. CONTINUE

21 Death of a Decade – Ha Ha Tonka

Ha Ha Tonka records flow thematically, bound together by a premise or idea, but not so tightly as to be concept albums. Initially, the themes were obvious, like Buckle in the Bible Belt, moving towards historical, as evidenced in the album artwork for Novel Songs of the Nouveau South, but for their recent record, Death of a Decade, the idea that emerged from which these songs began surprised me: Michael Jackson’s death. As Brett Anderson explains, every decade their seems to be some iconic political or entertainment figure who passes away, somehow creating endpoints for their times by their death. Jackson was a controversial figure in life, but even his greatest detractors accede that he was one of the greatest entertainers of our era. With Michael Jackson’s passing, it was the death of a decade. CONTINUE

20 Come Home to Me – The Famous

The Famous bring together a punk influence with traditional country, yielding music that seems to emerge only from California. I always imagine skateboarders who listen to country, not for the irony, but for the cool-factor. In the case of The Famous, though, their music is as much a product of the craft brewing scene as anything else. From brew pubs to brew fests–even a song in homage to their favorite beer–The Famous have found a well-heeled, selective audience for their music in the greater San Francisco Bay region. CONTINUE

19 Waiting All Night – Derek Hoke

Derek Hoke left rock and roll in the dust years ago, finding a new sound, which he dubbed “Quietbilly,” a gentle, sweet rockabilly, now twinged with some Southern blues. His previous album, Goodbye Rock and Roll, clearly cemented Hoke’s distinguishable sound, but his recent release, Waiting All Night, explores a wider variety of rhythm, while still being a Derek Hoke record. Producer and childhood friend, Dexter Green (of Sea Lab Sound), partnered with Hoke on the project, taking their time to call upon friends to play on songs between their own touring schedules. The list of guests reads like a Who’s Who of East Nashville and legendary sidemen, and reflects on Derek’s ability to make his peers feel at ease. CONTINUE

18 Bird In The Tangle – Brett Detar

When Brett Detar ended his band, The Juliana Theory, he was not sure he would ever play music again. Seeking a change, he became the customer service department and chief stain remover for his wife’s vintage clothing shop. Detar fully escaped music, trying to evade his self-doubt about his ability to write songs or be an artist at all. During these years, every scrap of paper of a lyric or theme crammed into a box, waiting for Detar to make them into music. CONTINUE

17 Slowburner – The District Attorneys

The District Attorneys live across north Georgia, ranging from Atlanta to Athens, managing to bridge the musical divide of these very different cities–one that is much wider than the lanes of I-85.  With two homemade EP’s (which you can download for free from the band) and their first full-length record on This Is American Music, The District Attorneys have already refined their sound, bringing bare bones indie-pop together with twangy Georgia roots, as if they are the new representatives of Southern jangle pop.  Slowburner solidly places this band in with the list of best debut albums in roots music this year.  (So, I am biased. I love this record.) CONTINUE

16 Gloryland – Kevin Gordon

Kevin Gordon’s album, Gloryland, explores the blues side of roots music, with lyrics that would make the Drive-By Truckers jealous.  Gordon grew up in Monroe, Louisiana, and although he has been away for decades, the reality of life there and the people he knew bring grit to rural life without glorification.  Glorylandis not about redemption or salvation, and definitely not about glossing over the seamy and sadistic side of life in the deep South. CONTINUE

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Henry Wagons #1303

Henry Wagons must have watched a few too many Las Vegas television specials growing up. How else would the Australian songwriter developed a fascination with the showmanship of Tom Jones and Elvis? Add to the mix (literally) Wagons’ obsession with vintage reverb sounds like the songs of Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra, and you end up with a record full of noir duets that is both retro and ethereal–without becoming too trippy.

Henry Wagons’ band, Wagons, reached Australian success, and roots music first-adopters may have heard either Wagons’ tune “Willie Nelson” or “I Blew It.” His album of duets with a variety of beautiful voices, Expecting Company, is his first with a wide-scale American release. Sonicly, this record maintains the over-the-top vibe of much of his songwriting, but the contrast with gorgeous singing from Jenn Grant, Sophia Brous, and Alison Mosshart (among others) brings this record to a new plane.

Wagons’ theatrics on stage and expansive recordings mirror his personality, as well. He is quite entertaining to interview, regaling tales of his cooking skills, his vision for music videos (some of which are extremely conceptual), and his love for ELO, the Electric Light Orchestra. While some people might tell these tales on themselves for the amusement alone, Wagons manages to share his genuine passion for these over-the-top antics, reflecting his love for them, not sarcasm, snark, nor superiority. Henry Wagons repeatedly mentions how thankful and grateful he is for the success he has had, in spite of his drive to fulfill his “egomaniacal vision.” Just another self-deprecating line from Wagons himself!

Liner Notes

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Check out some live video of Henry Wagons as a trio in Atlanta recently, as captured by Atlanta Music Examiner:

Podcast