Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I'm not the only one to notice the song. The Tennessean's Peter Cooper wrote, "We'll empty your spit-valve for life if you find us anything more stunning than 'Colfax,' [Kevin Gordon's] undeniably superb song that could only have come from one mind, and from one person's experience. It's ostensibly about a kid in the marching band but winds up being about the heart of American darkness and the steel that it takes to move beyond."
Then after such a moment, it segues into a second line gospel song: "Step In Time." The song gains a banjo, a horn section, and gospel singers, imaging the real-life teacher Mr. Minifield's thoughts that day. "Step In Time" has its musical roots in the Civil Rights Movement and it's such a determined ending. Here's a reason why some have compared Gordon to a southern Springsteen.
"I'd tried to write about this experience for years, to more of a '2-beat' hill country blues groove. Only when I straightened it out did it work; I had 90% of those lyrics within an hour."
Music Fog taped Kevin and his band doing a live version of the track which you can view here. Jessie Scott writes, "He is a natural resource, harnessing the energy of rocking and rolling instead of the sedentary life of poetry."
Though I know that we're all super-busy so I usually try to keep my press releases short, it would be a shame to excerpt lyrics in this case. Here are the complete lyrics to "Colfax":
I played trumpet in the band
In 7th grade, blasting out songs
At football games and fall parades
We’d ride the bus
To the small towns like Winfield,
Downsville, and Colfax—
In purple jackets and white slacks
We were the Braves—
We were the Jack Hayes Braves
Named after a dead administrator
And the noble ideal
Of the young Native American male--
Of popular song and good will
Was our director, skin the color
Of a brown paper sack, he was black
Trying to teach us white kids to play
But confronted every baton-breaking day
By juvenile delinquents, like Danny Amos
Who locked himself into Minifield’s office,
With my Ted Nugent double album;
Playing “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang”
Full-blast over the bandroom speakers
And I remember Minifield, just sitting there
Staring out into the air
From the podium, smoking a camel
Looking straight ahead
Somewhere else, I’d guess
Where he’d be getting paid
More for less B.S.
We’d be marching through
What’s ahead from what’s behind
Just another step in time
13 going on 35, sexy
In a hard way, like a 1st cigarette,
Bourbon spilled on a bare thigh--
(you could say she was ahead of the game)
She’d barely speak to me
So that 2-hour ride
Felt like an all-day tense erotic dream,
Staring out at the pine trees and red clay,
And the country stores where inevitably
An old dough-faced man would be standing outside--
Staring at us like his life going by
And was that her leg, was that her leg
Just brushing against mine?
Riding on the bus
Sitting next to Valerie Thrash
Between what’s ahead, what’s behind
Just another step in time
The morning was cold
The silver bell of my horn shining back
Convex reflections of faces and hands
And the yellow smear of the bus
While I blew out my spit valve,
Put the wax on my braces--
We were getting ready to play,
Standing in line, moving in formation.
First up, a Stevie Wonder song called Sir Duke,
About Ellington (I didn’t know that then),
Chameleon by Herbie Hancock--
Jungle Boogie by Kool and the Gang,
K.C. and the Sunshine Band—
Get Down Tonight--
That’s when I saw them at the end of the block
Imperial Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
In their white dunce caps
And robes with red crosses
Like gilded leaves on an automatic rifle
Or an image of the suffering Christ
Airbrushed on the side of a missile
In broad daylight;
Donald Lovelady said
He thought they only came out at night—
Like an apparition,
Blood-real in the silver sun—
Between what’s ahead, what’s behind
Just another step in time
They were handing out tracts
To the Caucasian mothers and daughters
And fathers and sons of Colfax--
Laughing and joking, kneeling down,
Placing a gentle hand on a child’s blonde head
Like santa claus, or the pope
Like this was normal, like this was okay
Another doo-dah day down in dixieland
He didn’t say a word,
Minifield didn’t turn his head--
Just kept marching
Looking straight ahead
Looking straight ahead
Like there was somewhere better
He was going
But this was the only goddamned way to get there
Today, with his baton in the air
Looking straight ahead
Straight ahead . . .
Monday, November 21, 2011
CAITHLIN DE MARRAIS' "ATMOSPHERIC DREAMSCAPES" (ALTERNATIVE PRESS) COMING TO GLASSLANDS GALLERY DEC 2
Caithlin De Marrais – former Rainer Maria singer and bassist and acclaimed Brooklyn artist – will create "atmospheric dreamscapes" (Alternative Press) at Glasslands Gallery December 2. Her sophomore solo album 'Red Coats' (End Up Records) has earned a four-star (out of five) review in Alternative Press. Jason Schreuers writes, "'Red Coats' could propel De Marrais alongside the likes of PJ Harvey, Bjork, and Tori Amos… De Marrais' second solo album sounds like the score to a quirky foreign firm or the soundtrack to a particularly funky dream."
The live band includes Josh Kaufman (Yellowbirds, Rocketship Park), who co-produced 'Red Coats.'
Stream the album at Magnet Magazine.com.
WHO: Former Rainer Maria singer/bassist Caithlin De Marrais on a bill with Owen
WHAT: Concert of songs from the album 'Red Coats'
WHEN: 8:30pm, December 2
WHERE: Glasslands Gallery
TICKETS: $13 in advance, $15 at the door
The Village Voice said, "The former Rainer Maria frontwoman has a new solo album coming next month, Red Coats, and it reduces her old band’s emo-rock blare to a quieter roar, surrounding de Marrais’ uncommonly expressive singing with tense little clicks and buzzes, slyly destabilizing where Rainer Maria once aimed to knock off socks."
The NY Times said, "Ms. De Marrais, the former lead singer of the breezy indie-rockers Rainer Maria, offers sparse, elegiac pop in solo repose."
Time Out NY calls her an "effortlessly stylish indie crooner."
In addition, Polyvinyl recently announced details to reissue three EPs (Rainer Maria, Atlantic, Ears Ring) by the "indie rock icons" (SPIN) Rainer Maria on vinyl, with the collection simply titled 'Rainer Maria.'
De Marrais will share the bill December 2 with Owen.
Caithlin De Marrais tour dates here.
Music video, bio, press photo here.
Friday, November 18, 2011
GEORGE W. BUSH LAMPOONED IN LAUGH-OUT-LOUD FUNNY NEW SONG "W" BY COLORADO FINGERSTYLE GUITARIST CARY MORIN
Music Maker Relief Foundation artist Cary Morin's laugh-out-loud funny new ragtime song "W" appears on his new album 'Sing It Louder,' out December 6 on Music Maker Relief Foundation with the refrain "A beer in my hand is better than two in the Bush." Other verses take the point of view of the former president.
Morin says, "The song explored the possible explanation for how things went so terribly wrong with that administration: what if he really was drinking the whole time?
Hear it here.
Here's a postable mp3.
'Sing It Louder' highlights Morin’s deft fingerstyle guitar talents and distinctive songwriting style and showcases Morin’s decades of music experience. A staple of the Fort Collins, CO music scene, the Native American Morin is a stellar songwriter.
The town of Fort Collins recently created a public mural in celebration of local musicians, including Morin, serves as testament to Morin’s impact on music in the area.
Part of Music Maker Relief Foundation’s “Next Generation Artists,” Morin began working with MMRF in 2011. Through these Next Generation partnerships, MMRF is able to foster the continuation of Southern traditional music.
Music Maker Relief Foundation keeps our culture vital by directly supporting senior (over 55) American roots musicians in need. We provide for basic life essentials while expanding their professional careers so that our rich musical heritage can be shared with the world and preserved for future generations.
Since the organization’s founding in 1994, Music Maker has assisted hundreds of musicians who represent the traditions of Blues, Gospel, Old-Time String Band, Jazz and more.
Music Maker’s programs ensure the talents of these cultural treasures are accessible through hundreds of US and international live performances, multi-media documentation and outreach initiatives.
Music Maker Relief Foundation, Inc. is a tax exempt, public charity under IRS code 501(c)3.
Download an mp3 of "Sing It Louder."
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Of De Marrais, The Village Voice said, "The former Rainer Maria frontwoman has a new solo album coming next month, 'Red Coats,' and it reduces her old band’s emo-rock blare to a quieter roar, surrounding de Marrais’ uncommonly expressive singing with tense little clicks and buzzes, slyly destabilizing where Rainer Maria once aimed to knock off socks."
'Rainer Maria' track listing
- There Will Be No Night
- Soul Singer
- Ears Ring
- Summer and Longer
- I Love You Too
- Rain Yr Hand
- Made In Secret
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
A one-off group of master folk musicians – including Carolina Chocolate Drop Rhiannon Giddens; Laurelyn Dossett whose song "Anna Lee" was covered by Levon Helm; master mandolin player Mike Compton whose credits include Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, John Hartford, and Elvis Costello; North Carolina banjo player Joe Newberry; and New York upright bass man Jason Sypher will perform their only New York concert December 17 at City Winery.
Of the album, Larry Campbell said, "The combination of heart and intimacy on 'The Gathering' feels like a warm wood-smoke fire on a cold North Carolina winter's night."
Metromix has already called the album "a welcome departure from the usual acoustic holiday fare."
Stream "Light In The Lowlands" here.
Check out video from the NC woods.
WHO: Rhiannon Giddens, Laurelyn Dossett, Mike Compton, Joe Newberry, and Jason Sypher
WHAT: A one-time only celebration of Christmas music from 'The Gathering'
WHEN: December 17, 2011
WHERE: City Winery, 155 Varick Street New York, NY
TICKETS: $25 in advance, $30 at door via City Winery box office or CityWinery.com
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
FROM JOHN HARTFORD TO T BONE BURNETT, MIKE COMPTON IS STAR OF MANDOLIN, GRACES BEAUTIFUL NEW CHRISTMAS & WINTER ALBUM
John Hartford once said that Mike Compton knows more about Bill Monroe-style mandolin than the Father of Bluegrass himself. Now Compton has joined a remarkable album of Christmas and seasonal music with Rhiannon Giddens (of the GRAMMY-winning and Newport-headlining Carolina Chocolate Drops), Laurelyn Dossett (songwriter of "Anna Lee" from Levon Helm's 'Dirt Farmer' album), and others on the new album 'The Gathering.' The CD features his interpretations of "Old Ebeneezer Scrooge" and Hartford's "On Christmas Eve" as well as his mandolin across most of the songs.
Born in Jimmie Rodger's hometown of Meridian Mississippi, Compton has recorded with Hartford, T Bone Burnett, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Doc Watson, Bill Evans, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Dolly Parton, Gregg Allman, Elvis Costello, and Willie Nelson.
He spent over a decade and six albums with Hartford and performed as a member of the Nashville Bluegrass Band, with the likes of Lyle Lovett and to a sold out crowd at Carnegie Hall, and backed artists as diverse as Bernadette Peters and Clint Black.
Compton also played the mandolin on two GRAMMY Award-winning projects produced by T Bone Burnett: the multiplatinum 'O Brother Where Art Thou? Original Motion Picture Soundtrack' and its companion 'Down From the Mountain.' He was featured prominently on Dr. Ralph Stanley's recent work and participated in the soundtrack for the film "Cold Mountain," also produced by Burnett.
The Mississippi State Senate honored Mike in March of 2002 with State Resolution No. 45 commending his accomplishments. On the Senate floor, it was shortly thereafter followed by renditions of Bill Monroe's "Old Ebeneezer Scrooge" and "I'll Fly Away." which prompted the senators to sing along.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
SONGWRITER KEVIN GORDON BRINGS AFRICAN-AMERICAN QUILTER TO LIFE WITH "PECOLIA'S STAR" FROM FORTHCOMING ALBUM 'GLORYLAND' (FEB 14 / CROWVILLE MEDIA)
When master songwriter Kevin Gordon read folklorist and University of North Carolina professor William Ferris' book "Local Color," he was particularly struck by the oral history of Yazoo City, MS quilter Pecolia Warner. "Things she says in there about creativity, art and the spirit, really got to me," he says.
Warner was born in 1901 in Rose Hill, MS, only some 250 miles from Gordon's birthplace in northern Louisiana.
Gordon chose to tell her story in the first person in his song "Pecolia's Star," named for her favorite quilting design, in some cases using her words and phrases for his lyrics. He draws out the metaphors of a quilt in creating community, tying together kinship bonds, and the comfort of faith for a woman who faced economic struggles as a sharecropper.
"I was raised up in the fields, hard work
Was just like breathing
Knowing nothing else
Wanting nothing more
Like morning brings the day, summer sun
Brought the cool of the evening
I’d watch the women sew and sing
Behind an old screen door…
Yes, I’ve been on that hill, a long time
I don’t never want for nothing, or nowhere
Stay right here with my people
Just give me Mississippi
You can have all the rest
As long as I can see, I’ll be
Trying to thread that needle
With my mind on the Maker
Working to do my best"
"Pecolia's Star" isn't Gordon's only interaction with folk art. He also curates the Gordon Gallery in Nashville, TN, focusing on folk and outsider artists. Gordon says, "I found this work, with its immediacy, inventiveness, and singular power, being made outside of an academy or career track, to be a source of renewal and revelation after two years of graduate study in poetry at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop."
The Bug Music artist – the southern rock and roll songwriter who has been covered by Keith Richards, Levon Helm, and Irma Thomas and who has recorded a duet with Lucinda Williams – will release 'Gloryland' (February 14 / Crowville Media), his first new album in 7 years.
Of Gordon's music, Buddy Miller said, "It reminds me of why I love music. I get transported to a beautiful, strange, familiar place. It's where the best music comes from. Deep and soulful." No Depression has called Gordon's music “dirty and beautiful." All Music Guide said, "Kevin Gordon has earned the reputation as a storytelling leader." Entertainment Weekly said, "He evokes the scorching guitar intensity of Springsteen."
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
'The Gathering' is both a song cycle of the prodigal daughter's return on a North Carolina winter night in the mountains and a story of six remarkable folk musicians coming together for a one-time only collaboration and finding uncommon personal and musical kinship.
The aggregation came together because Dossett (who wrote "Anna Lee" from Levon Helm's GRAMMY-winning album 'Dirt Farmer' and the new 'Ramble At The Ryman' album); Mike Compton (of Elvis Costello & The Sugarcanes, The Nashville Bluegrass Band, The John Hartford Band); Rhiannon Giddens (a member of the GRAMMY-winning and Newport headlining Carolina Chocolate Drops), famed old time musician Joe Newberry, and engineer and bassist Joe DeJarnette had all taught at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV. Laurelyn has long been a mentor for Giddens as they are neighbors in Greensboro, NC. Bassist Jason Sypher (Irma Thomas, Clarence Gatemouth Brown) was a late but necessary addition to the crew.
The chemistry between musicians was immediately apparent when they gathered in the North Carolina woods to rehearse and record during a five-day period in August. Laurelyn Dossett says, "This record should not really have worked, but there were six on-the-job collaborators in one room. That we had not really played together and didn't really know the material was secondary to the fact of their incredible talent and true hearts."
Check out video on the making of the album.
Stream the song "Lights in the Lowlands."
Many of the musicians were introduced to the material, centering on a six-song cycle by Dossett commissioned by the North Carolina Symphony, the same day as they recorded it live in one room and virtually without overdubs.
New York-based bassist Jason Sypher said, "We have never all sat down knee to knee and played together and it was immediate chemistry from the first note on." He continues, "Respecting the music and each other created an atmosphere of warmth and fun that you can hear and feel on the final record. Recording live can be a little nerve wracking, but the immediacy of the music is worth the extra tension."
Engineer Joe DeJarnette observed, "This record captures the magic moments of true discovery, where everyone is listening closely and responding to each other in real time. The record feels as though you have the finest stringband pickers and singers in your living room sharing music, stories, and life at a holiday gathering. It was a rare and delightful opportunity to work with such talented creative musicians who were willing to just go for it live."
Roots music star Larry Campbell responded to both elements, saying "The combination of heart and intimacy on 'The Gathering' feels like a warm wood-smoke fire on a cold North Carolina winter's night."
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
ON WAVE OF ACCLAIM FOR SOLO ALBUM 'RED COATS' (END UP RECORDS), FORMER RAINER MARIA SINGER/BASSIST CAITHLIN DE MARRAIS PLANS TOUR
"Beguiling." – The New Yorker
"Sparse, elegiac pop." – New York Times
"It reduces her old band’s emo-rock blare to a quieter roar, surrounding de Marrais’ uncommonly expressive singing with tense little clicks and buzzes, slyly destabilizing where Rainer Maria once aimed to knock off socks." – Village Voice
"A crawl of brittle guitar on 'Birds,' a shivering synth on 'City Girl,' de Marrais' shyly pretty voice -- are given a chance to gleam, as they cluster shyly around her more forceful, composed bass lines." - SPIN
"Most tracks meld lush strings with catchy pop hooks that bring to mind the best of Rainer Maria." –New York Post
CAITHLIN DE MARRAIS TOUR DATES
12/02 - Brooklyn, NY @ Glasslands Gallery
12/03 - Philadelphia, PA @ North Star Bar
12/04 - Allston, MA @ Great Scott
01/18 - Riverside, CA @ The Barn at UC Riverside
01/19 - West Hollywood, CA @ The Troubadour
01/20 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Check out "Hot Day" on MTV Hive.
Hear the entire album streaming at Magnet's website.
"The primal yell in there is about running away from responsibility," Caithlin continues, "'Horses' was destined to be in my record collection. I loved Mapplethorpe, Blondie, Talking Heads and hanging out in the Village as a teenager. Now I relate to 'Horses' totally differently. It sounds old and wise to me, like a force of nature that won't be silenced."
Simultaneously "Hot Day" was influenced by soundtracks to 1970s era crime dramas "The French Connection," "Taxi Driver," and "Dirty Harry." Caithlin's Wurlitzer and Ray Saperstein's cornet pay homage to those moody, dark masterpieces.
New Yorkers: Caithlin is playing tonight at Union Hall at 10pm. Please let me know if you'd like to be on the guest list.
Advance praise for the new album:
"The former Rainer Maria frontwoman has a new solo album coming next month, Red Coats, and it reduces her old band’s emo-rock blare to a quieter roar, surrounding De Marrais’ uncommonly expressive singing with tense little clicks and buzzes, slyly destabilizing where Rainer Maria once aimed to knock off socks." -- The Village Voice
"Beguiling." – The New Yorker