Some of y’all have been with us since our early days in 2010, as a food blog with a side of music and travel, to a music blog with a side of travel and food, to an online streaming radio station, to a weekly radio program, and then dropping all the side-projects to just focus on the weekly radio show. Well, somewhere along the way, we amassed over 200 interviews, only some of which have been available in our archives for the last year or so. Many of these conversations hold up well, and the bands have only gotten better, which is how we decided to bring you our conversation from early 2011 with Allen Thompson, following his acoustic solo record, 26 Years. Since then, the Allen Thompson Band released a fantastic full band album called Salvation In The Ground that needs to be in your collection. I still listen to both records weekly, which is saying something, considering how much new music I listen to, as well.
Please excuse my exuberance and goofiness. I had not quite figured out how to express my enthusiasm without stepping on people’s words at the time. I think I know why my friends describe me as “delightfully dorky” when I listen to programs like this… –Sloane Spencer (Host)
Listen to the entire radio program right here.
Andrew Leahey first rolled across my computer in a by-line. I did not even know he was a musician, but he has interviewed hundreds of songwriters, singers, and players and was a co-editor of the go-to site All Music Guide. Leahey also happens to be a Julliard-trained musician who played Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center before he even made it to Nashville. Leahey’s latest EP, Summer Sleeves, is laying the groundwork for his move towards Americana and away from the more pop sound of his previous record. You can check out his showcase at Americana Fest in Nashville in September 2013.
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Andrew Leahey & The Homestead EP Summer Sleeves on Amazon or on iTunes
Zach Lupetin advertised for some bandmates on Craig’s List, and from that post, Dustbowl Revival formed. Over the years, this collective of musicians (it’s not exactly a fixed band lineup and not a revolving door, either) has released several records refining their sound from stringband to to multi-instrumental roots swing with drums, horns, and nearly every stringed instrument you can imagine! With influences ranging from Stevie Wonder to opera to the Rolling Stones, you can imagine the challenge of creating a cohesive vision for their own songs and the traditional songs they arrange. Dustbowl Revival’s latest album, Carry Me Home, most fully embodies the energy of their live shows without becoming a chaotic mess of instrumentation. Have fun and dance in your car to this one!
Fresh off of a noted set at the Calgary Folk Festival, Samantha Martin reflects on life as an independent musician in Toronto, sharing many of the same challenges that DIY bands in the States experience. From club gigs where attendees complain about the $5 door charge to trouble crossing the border, to searching out record shops while on tour to find a last taste of local flavor in the music, Samantha Martin and The Haggard are forging their way in the wild frontier. With a debut album that samples their breadth, nearly every fan of roots music will find one song to like on this “roots and roll” record.
Tea Leaf Green considered renaming themselves after their original membership changed, when their bass player and founding member, Ben Chambers, abruptly left the band. Six years and two albums after that realignment, Tea Leaf Green have redefined themselves, continuing to create their own sound honoring the song and lightening their sound. In The Wake is not sparse, by any stretch, but rather than full instrumentation every moment for each song, their is a more careful addition of sounds, guided by producer, Jeremy Black. In The Wake includes more additional sounds than just the members of the band, yielding a lush, clearly “studio” album, rather than a “live,” jamming vibe. Shaking up their previous recording methods forged an entirely different process and product with this album; it was the first time they recorded separately in the studio and did not road-test songs prior to recording. Their CD release party was the first time they played all of the songs live–giving a new kind of energy to this noted, vibrant (jam) band.
Lissy Trullie Producer Jeremy Black played drums on much of this album.
Jacob Fred Jazz Oddyssey Walking With Giants Reed Mathis’s previous band.
Rebirth Brass Band Do Whatcha Wanna have a residency at the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans right now.
Whitey Morgan Sucking the 70’s: Back in the Saddle Again. You probably need Volume 1, too: Sucking the 70’s — not to be confused with the Stones album of nearly the same name, Sucking in the Seventies This is a “loose association” connection; I discovered that Josh Clark worked on a song for this compilation and sang on a track, but my Google fu was not adequate to determine which track, so I chose one that most clearly shows the intent of this compilation–take songs from the 70s and make them your own, which Whitey Morgan clearly did on this one.
Jeffrey Foucault rocked Lisa Olstein‘s poetry in their second album as Cold Satellite, Cavalcade. Calling it “their” album is misleading, in a way, though, since Olstein delivers her poetry to Foucault and then he turns them into lyrics and creates the music based on a “feel” he gets from the first line. Like asking a painter what her painting means, the answer might be, “I don’t know.” Similarly, Foucault and Olstein cull entirely different meanings from their composite work, including a funny take on a song written about pregnancy! To hear Foucault describe their process from poetry to song, you begin to understand the appeal of his Cold Satellite project from a creative perspective–not just because the album rocks.
Sloane Spencer Interviews Jeffrey Foucault of Cold Satellite
Cold Satellite Cavalcade The “composite” album of Lisa Olstein’s poetry and Jeffrey Foucault’s music.
Redbird One of Foucault’s previous collaborative projects, in which he joined with other noted songwriters, Kris Delmhorst and Peter Mulvey, to cover songs written by everyone from Greg Brown to R.E.M. to Tom Waits.
Riding The Range Songs of Townes Van Zandt This tribute album was a great excuse to include one of Foucault covering TVZ.
Fishing Music II Ben Winship and David Thompson There are 2 albums in this series, “a collection of folk, blues, & swing” according to the tag line. Both are a fun collection of variations on a theme, with volume 2 including Foucault’s tune, Mayfly–this time performed by Winship and Thompson. It is also available on Foucault’s own recordings.
The NationalTrouble Will Find Me Another recent album to come from the noted Clubhouse recording studio in Rhinebeck, NY.
Hayward Williams A noted songwriter in his own right, Williams is also part of the Cold Satellite band.
Alex Culbreth & The Dead Country Stars’ latest album, Heart In A Mason Jar, has sent the Virginian across the country on a long-term DIY tour, playing any venue he can find in hopes of seeing the country and sharing his songs. With influences from other songwriting troubadors like Woody Guthrie and Townes Van Zandt, and fellow DIY songwriters known only to small circles, Culbreth writes songs that are finding a path for himself and seeking out fans. He writes a lot of music and records much of it, yielding a wide range of projects for someone whose name is still mostly unknown. As he tours and plays, he refines his work, in search of the right song to play for you. Culbreth has just been added to the lineup for the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, one he mentions in our conversation.
Normally, I write a blurb about how great the latest record from our featured artist is, in hopes that you will listen and like their songs, too. This week, however, I am reprinting Kevin Russell’s post after driving through the aftermath of the Oklahoma tornadoes. — SS
Shinyribs on the Moore, OK Tornadoes The night of the harrowing Oklahoma tornadoes, Shinyribs came face to face with the destruction:
We were traveling on our way home that day from St. Louis at the end of a tour. Being aware of the severe weather threat in the region we checked radar before leaving and saw nothing. By the time we got on the other side of Tulsa things changed rapidly. Suddenly there was a line of Severe storms pulsing across central Oklahoma right where we were headed. We were able to get local TV coverage on our phone just as the Moore twister was touching down. And in utter disbelief we watched and listened to the surreal play by play of that horrific event. We were able to stop in northern OKC to get our wits about us and figure out what to do. We thought we might could get behind the storms by taking I-44 toward Wichita Falls. But, the bridge over the Canadian River was damaged and traffic was at a stand still. The best strategy for us at that point became to get a hotel and hunker down for the night. Watching the local news coverage of the ongoing rescue was sobering and sad. Driving through the debris field down I-35 was even worse the next day. We were fortunate and grateful to be able to drive the rest of the way back to our homes. But knowing many had lost their homes and loved ones in that storm made us, like many, want to do something to help . Over the next few days I pondered on this experience and kept up with the latest news. Without warning one afternoon a song surprised me as I sat at the piano. Had it been a mediocre song I might have just taken what good I could from it and moved on. I often write this way for myself to process the griefs and stresses of life. But, this song turned out to be a significant tune that I felt had value. And therefore it could be helpful on some level to the effort to help those most in need. I sent it to my friends (Oklahoma natives) Cody and Shannon Canada to get their opinions about guiding this song toward its most beneficial place. And now things are progressing towards this goal of recording it and making it available to the public as a means of raising much needed funds. Just trying to do our part and make it as meaningful as possible. – Kevin Russell
Catch the latest solo record, Gulf Coast Museum, from the front man for The Gourds, Kevin Russell AKA Shinyribs HERE.
Shinyribs Gulf Coast Museum
Neil Young & Crazy Horse (live)
No Show Ponies
Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
Band of Heathens (live)
From my favorite online festival, CXCW AKA Couch By Couch West:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Musicians Against Childhood Cancer Life Goes On or on iTunes.
Gary Nichols & John Paul White (of The Civil Wars) co-wrote a song on this album and for many other country artists, continuing that Muscle Shoals connection. Look for some upcoming connections with White in other Country Fried Rock radio shows.
Browan Lollar released For The Givers And The Takers, an EP of his songs backed by someone from each of the hottest bands in Alabama right now in the studio, then promptly joined St. Paul & The Broken Bones on-the-spot one week later. In the craziness that ensued with joining that fantastic band, Lollar’s EP may not have gotten the attention it should. As an artist, Lollar is more than a go-to guitar slinger, he also is a visual artist with many notable album covers in his portfolio. He prefers a complicated scratch-etch with colored India ink method that yields intense designs that lend themselves to graphic replication, and creatively, this allows him to distill the music he hears on an album into a visual thought that adds to the story. Although you may know him more for playing with some other bands, Browan Lollar’s EP demonstrates that he has a lot to offer of his own music as well.
Browan Lollar For The Givers & The Takers I don’t do track by tracks reviews, but I’ll give my impressions of some of these songs because I really like them.
“Freight Train Heart” reminds me of the Replacements a little bit. You know I love them times eleventy zillion.
“Cars” I don’t think they know each other, but this song reminds me of The District Attorneys.
“Hotel Bars and Ringing Ears” Mellow interlude.
“One In Every Color” Intro builds like something familiar? What is it? This song has the lyrics for the title, “For the givers and the takers,” a phrase used regularly by my best friend. This is a dark tune…
“30 Nails” A delicate duet about divorce, that has a shift midway and the instrumentation really spreads the mood. I’m struck by the comments made by BJ Barham of American Aquarium on one of their songs about Bill Corbin’s divorce, “This is a song about divorce and how much it sucks.”
Here’s a gallery of some of Browan’s album cover art:
Contact Browan Lollar for cover art work through Twitter @BrowanLollar
UPDATE: Marshall Chapman has a new record out next week, Blaze of Glory! Check out the world premiere of one of the tracks here. This interview from a few years ago was about her last record, Big Lonesome.
Author’s Notes: I’m really trying not to be a giggling schoolgirl when I interview some of my own heroes (see the Kevn Kinney interview), but my conversation with the gracious Marshall Chapman highlights my own excitement when chatting with people I have loved for years. Like a chameleon’s colors, my accent emerges when surrounded by other Southerners, without my control. I did not notice how significantly I do this until I produced this interview. Bless my heart…
Everybody in South Carolina knows Marshall Chapman, even if they don’t. While she left for Vanderbilt in the 1960’s and basically never returned to reside in the Palmetto State, her hometown of Spartanburg continues to celebrate the free spirit who “made it” in Nashville, although they would likely talk behind her back, given her history. Some boxes are just too confining.
Leave it to Chapman to release a book, an album, and a movie in the same year. As she says, most musicians of her experience began “phoning it in” years before. Her album emerged out of the grief over the death (she hates the word “passing” because it reminds her of gas–it’s okay to laugh) of her dear friend and frequent co-writer, Tim Krekel. Big Lonesome became Chapman’s love letter to a departed friend. When asked if she wishes she had interviewed him for the book, she starts to answer affirmatively, then stops, and says, “No, Tim was really Louisville (LOO-uh-vle), not Nashville. He lived here for a while, but he wasn’t Nashville.”
The musicians featured in They Came to Nashville range from newcomers with a traditional sound (like Miranda Lambert), to Americana icons (like Mary Gauthier (go-SHAY)), to real life friends like Beth Nielsen Chapman (who has possibly the funniest story I’ve ever heard about creative energy needing to find an outlet), to the long list of “old Texas guys” that Marshall Chapman cites as her influences (like Willie Nelson, Rodney Crowell, Kris Kristofferson). If you have never read Chapman’s essays in Garden and Gun magazine or her first book, you are missing a gem of Southern humor and precision. She asked each songwriter the same six questions, and includes the “incidentals” like Emmy Lou Harris’ dogs jumping on the tape recorder and her mama shuffling through the room with her walker, bringing the reader into the conversation like a peer. Contrasting sweet insight with raucous happenstance and her own real-life travails, Chapman writes the perfect “beach book” that even those who do not care for country music will adore.
Marshall Chapman wrapped up 2010 with a stellar character role in Country Strong–a film that critics panned, but movie-goers loved–and featured excellent cameos from many Americana stars likeTodd Snider and the ambient music of Hayes Carll. While comfortable on stage with a guitar, bringing performance energy to a scene on film proved to be a different creative demand. Chapman marvels at how the actors (she does not consider herself an actor) exude the light that makes them stars (summary of her words), while they showed that the “real” performance in front of a live audience was terrifying. Marshall Chapman is many things, and she is absolutely real.