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