THE LEGEND OF THE ACTUAL WOLF: There are outlaws, and there are outlaws. Some practice the pose and cultivate the image, though seldom dirty their soft, bourgeois hands with anything actually outside the law. When they do, it is often despicable, irresponsible or just plain mundane. The Actual Wolf (aka Eric Pollard), however, is a real outlaw and has pled guilty to it. Between the bust and before the trial AW recorded a pair of EPs, each showing ‘another side of the Wolf’. It is one of the most obvious statements of existence: everything takes time, and the truly good, well crafted things in life take more than the rest. If the world has had to wait a while for another full-length release from Actual Wolf, it is only due to craft and cure.
Faded Days has been cultivated, cut and cured with the same patience as that of the grower. Written over two years in a spectrum of locations that the artist has called home at one point or another– Duluth (Minnesota, not Georgia), Brooklyn, Nashville and currently Oakland—The rich oils and aromatics– resting in darkness and appropriately aged to bring them to a perfect state. the album is subtly informed by that breadth of different atmospheres as much as it is richly colored his array of collaborators (Al Church, Steve Garrington, Jake Hanson and Jeremy Hanson) in a year-long distillation by engineer Brad Bivens in Minneapolis.
After all of that time, Faded Days is ready. Its distinctly emotional alkaloids are blissfully intoxicating, palliative and healing. And now that it is finished, a sort of finely crafted goodbye to the Faded Days of all of those other places and those people and events, it will only be a matter of time before Actual Wolf cultivates and distills the more recent days of his current Oakland existence, though who knows how long this will take: you cannot put a timeline on true craft.
Grammy nominated guitarist, singer and songwriter Bill Kirchen first gained national recognition as a founding member of Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen. They recorded seven albums for Paramount and Warner Brothers, one of which (Live From Deep in the Heart of Texas) rightfully made Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Best Albums of All Time.” The original band established its place in the infancy of the Americana movement by being one of the first and only rock ’n’ roll bands to infuse their honky-tonk sound with pure, blood-and-guts country roots and Western swing. It’s Kirchen’s indelible guitar licks that define their top-ten charting hit, “Hot Rod Lincoln,” a song that eventually took on a post-Cody life of its own.
He has released a dozen CDs under his own name, and recorded and/or played guitar live with a who’s who of Americana and Roots Rock ‘N’ Roll, among them Gene Vincent, Link Wray, Bo Diddley, Hazel Dickens, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Narada Michael Walden, Doug Sahm, Hoyt Axton, Emmylou Harris, Maria Muldaur, Dan Hicks, Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello.
Before Bill Kirchen ever picked up a Telecaster he was a classical trombonist. That’s what he was studying as a teenager at Interlochen Center for the Arts in the early 60’s when he first fell for the guitar, in part due to the blossoming “folk scare” [his words] and in part thanks to his guitar-playing cabin counselor, Dave Siglin (founder of The Ark in Bill’s hometown Ann Arbor, Michigan). Just turned 16, Bill rescued his mom’s old banjo from the attic, got a copy of Pete Seeger’s How to Play the 5-String Banjo book and hitch-hiked to the 1964 Newport Folk Festival. Kirchen: “I witnessed stuff that knocked me out – Lightnin’ Hopkins, the Kweskin Jug Band, Son House, Johnny Cash, the Staples Singers, my original guitar hero Mississippi John Hurt. The top of my head flipped open and it’s never shut. It ruined me for normal work.” His strikingly powerful Dylan covers are staples of the live show.
Bill still keeps up an intense international touring schedule, recording and playing 200+ days a year.
His latest recording Transatlanticana, released in North America on Red House Records, went immediately onto the Americana Top 40 Radio chart and stayed for 5 months, cracking the Top 10 in 2016.
Don’t bother asking The Mastersons where they’re from. Brooklyn, Austin, Los Angeles, Terlingua; they’ve called each home in just the last few years alone. If you really want to get to know this husband-and-wife duo, the better question to ask is where they’re going. Perhaps more than any other band playing today, The Mastersons live on the road, perpetually in motion and always creating. Movement is their muse. On tour, in the unpredictable adventures and characters they cross, in the endless blur of skylines and rest stops and dressing rooms and hotels, that’s where they find their greatest inspiration, where they hone their art, and where they crafted their brilliant new album, Transient Lullaby.
“When you travel like we do, if your antenna is up, there’s always something going on around you,” reflects guitarist/singer Chris Masterson. “Ideas can be found everywhere. The hardest thing to find is time.”
For the last seven years, The Mastersons have kept up a supremely inexorable touring schedule, performing as both the openers for Steve Earle and as members of his band, The Dukes, in addition to playing their own relentless slate of headline shows and festivals. It was Earle, in fact, who pushed the duo to record their acclaimed debut, Birds Fly South, in the first place.
“Before we hit the road with him in 2010, Steve said, ‘You’d better have a record ready because I’m going to feature you guys during the show,'” remembers fiddler/tenor guitarist/singer Eleanor Whitmore. “We didn’t even have a band name at the time. We were going through all these ideas and Steve suggested, ‘Why don’t you just be The Mastersons, and that was that.”
Upon its release in 2012, Birds Fly South was a breakout critical hit on both sides of the pond, with Uncut awarding the album 9/10 stars and Esquire dubbing The Mastersons one of the “Bands You Need To Know Right Now”. Two years later, they followed it up with Good Luck Charm, premiered by the NY Times and praised by Mother Jones for its “big-hearted lyrics, tight song structures, and sweetly intertwined harmonies.” Pop Matters ranked it “among the top Americana releases of 2014,” while American Songwriter called it “a perfect soundtrack for a summer of warm nights and hot, lazy days,” and the Austin Chronicle praised the band’s “spunky wit and rare measure of emotional maturity.” The album earned The Mastersons slots on NPR’s Mountain Stage and at festivals around the world, from San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass to Australia’s Byron Bay Bluesfest.
With endless touring came new levels of comfort and confidence, and when it was time to record Transient Lullaby, The Mastersons knew they wanted to take a different approach than their first two releases. The band set up shop at Arlyn Studios in Austin, TX, where Chris shared production duties with longtime friend and collaborator George Reiff (Ray Wylie Hubbard, Band of Heathens). Together, they chased a sound that was subtler and more evocative, deeper and more contemplative.
“A lot of what we listen to when we have some rare time off is what we consider late night music,” explains Chris, who previously played guitar with Son Volt and Jack Ingram among others. “The last record was bright and jangly and we wanted this one to be vibey and dark. A lot of the stuff is very performance-based and not at all fussed with. We’ve grown so much more comfortable in our skin that we really weren’t trying to sound like anyone other than ourselves this time around.”
“We’ve had a lot of time and a lot of miles to refine our sound and our style of singing,” adds Eleanor, whose resume includes work with Regina Spektor and Angus & Julia Stone. “I think the depth of our songwriting has really grown, too. Part of the time we’re writing on a tour bus with Steve Earle, and the bar for poetry is pretty high when you’re within earshot of one of the greatest songwriters alive.”
Rich with Eleanor’s stirring string arrangements and Chris’s masterful guitar work, the songs on Transient Lullaby more than live up to the challenge. The album opens with “Perfect,” a loping duet written partially in Washington, DC, and partially in Newcastle, England, that paints a portrait of two broken lovers who still manage to find a strange optimism in this challenging world. Spare and affecting, the song puts the spotlight on the duo’s intoxicating vocal harmonies and makes for an ideal entry point into an album full of characters facing down difficulty and darkness with all the grit and humility they can muster. “Fight,” written in a downtown Cleveland hotel, is a wry wink at the battlefield of marriage (“I don’t wanna fight with anyone else but you”), while the fingerpicked “Highway 1” twists and turns on a California road trip through an emotional breakup.
“Life’s not easy,” reflects Chris. “It’s hard for everybody, and I don’t see it getting any easier. All you can hope for yourself is grace when walking through it, and someone to prop you up when you need a little help.”
Though it’s a deeply personal album, Transient Lullaby is not without its political moments. The Mastersons found themselves on tour in Lexington, KY, during the height of Kim Davis’ obstinate stand against the Supreme Court’s same sex marriage decision, and so they penned the infectious “You Could Be Wrong” in a dressing room before taking the stage with “Love Wins” draped across their guitars. “This Isn’t How It Was Supposed To Go”—a cosmic country duet written in Cologne, Germany—has taken on new layers of political meaning in 2017, while “Don’t Tell Me To Smile” is a tongue-in-cheek feminist anthem, and the gorgeous, slow-burning “Fire Escape”—which came to life in a hockey rink locker room in Alberta, Canada—suggests that the only solution to a polarized world of fear and distrust is to find strength and guidance in our loved ones.
“As we look at the world political landscape, global warming, a refugee crisis and the uncertain times we’re all living in, rather than lose hope, we look to each other,” Chris says. “It’s a little brighter than Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, but not much.”
Ultimately, the road is at the core of everything The Mastersons do. “Happy When I’m Movin'” reflects their constant need for forward momentum, both physically and emotionally, and the title track paints the pair as “pilgrims of the interstate” on an endless voyage. “No I don’t unpack my bag / Traveling from town to town,” they sing in beautiful harmony. “Set ’em up and knock ’em down / Where there’s work and songs to sing / You’ll know the place where I’ll be found / If you don’t want to be alone / Then come along.”
For The Mastersons, all that matters is where they’re headed, and the songs they’ll write when they get there.
Over the past several years, Davina And The Vagabonds, have been building an audience around the globe. Their shows are filled with New Orleans charm, Memphis soul swagger, dark theatrical moments that evoke Kurt Weill, and tender gospel passages. Singer/pianist Davina Sowers’ presence is indelible, while her voice defies simple categorization. Evoking comparisons as diverse as Etta James, Amy Winehouse, Billie Holiday and Betty Boop, she is simply a true original, presenting a personal vision that celebrates a century of American music.
In 2011, Davina And The Vagabonds released her first full length, all original album Black Cloud. It was named one of the ten best releases of the year by their hometown daily the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and awarded 4 ½ stars from Downbeat Magazine. Their 2014 release, Sunshine, hit number 13 in the Billboard Blues Chart, which led to a performance on the famed BBC show, Later with Jools Holland. This past summer the band released the live set Nicollet and Tenth. In 2017, Davina and The Vagabonds will present their Red House Records debut studio album.
Watch Davina and The Vagabonds perform “Red Shoes” live on Later with Jools Holland: https://vid.me/5Jxz
Featuring The Wailin’ Jennys, Dale Watson and His Lonestars, Jorma Kaukonen, John Gorka, Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, Davina & The Vagabonds, The Pines, Bill Kirchen & Austin de Lone, Charlie Parr, Robin & Linda Williams, Heather Masse, and Suzzy Roche.
We at Red House Records, based in the nation’s icebox of Minnesota, have a lot of experience with below-zero temperatures and dark, snowy nights. Oddly enough, we’ve never put out a collection to mark the holidays. Until now, with Christmas on the Lam and Other Songs from the Season, set for release on October 14, 2016. A request for wintry songs brought out the best from Red House veterans and newcomers alike, with new recordings by Jorma Kaukonen, Davina & the Vagabonds, Charlie Parr, Dale Watson, The Pines, Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams and Bill Kirchen nestled against chestnuts by the Wailin’ Jennys, Suzzy Roche, John Gorka and Robin & Linda Williams.
Bluesy vamp and jazz pianist Davina and The Vagabonds give Elvis a Dixieland twist on Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me. “Titan of the Telecaster” Bill Kirchen finds St. Nick hoping to get lucky on the good and greasy Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’.
A Prairie Home Companion favorite Heather Masse of the Wailin’ Jennys gets warm and sexy herself with Mittens, while folk great John Gorka gets out of the cold with the ghost of Buddy Holly in Holed Up in Mason City.
Ethereal indie folk trio The Pines deliver a haunting rendition of Gordon Lightfoot’s classic, Song for a Winter’s Night, while New York City’s Suzzy Roche goes bluegrass with Cold Hard Wind. The unrivaled king of Texas honky tonk Dale Watson takes us home for the holidays with Christmas to Me” and the first couple of Americana, Grammy-winner Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, give us their own turn on Elvis with their heartbreaking version of Blue Christmas.
We find veteran folk and bluegrass artists Robin & Linda Williams snowed in and loving it on Together All Alone, while raucous blues legend Charlie Parr gives us a picture from life’s dark side with Slim Tall’s Christmas on the Lam. Appropriately, Christmas on the Lam closes with two spirituals: Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer Jorma Kaukonen contributes a gentle finger-picking acoustic guitar and vocal rendition of the West Indian carol, The Baby Boy, and The Wailin’ Jennys close with the uplifting, banjo-driven Glory Bound.
No clichéd holiday standards here, but rather a carefully curated group of songs that, like the holidays themselves, deal with love, loneliness, lust, spiritual gratitude, long wintry evenings and one of those untranslatable Scandinavian words used to describe the coziness concept that gets us through the long winter. Cheese-free and heartfelt, Christmas on the Lam… is a folksy, offbeat collection of tales about the winter and the season that aims to add a little shot of somethin’ somethin’ to your nog of choice.
An artist who can plumb the depths of sadness in a single note, then release it in the very next breath, Chastity Brown melds folk, pop and soul on her Red House debut, Silhouette of Sirens, weaving together a poet’s lyrical ear and a soul-laid-bare quality. The album’s 10 original tracks introduce us to a new voice – a songwriter of power and conviction who isn’t afraid to bare her heart as she sings of heartbreak, need and love. Brown premiered the first single, “Wake Up,” with KCMP The Current, which has officially added the song.
Based in Minnesota, but with roots in Tennessee, Chastity grew up surrounded by country and soul music. In the full gospel church of her childhood, she played saxophone and drums and found her singing voice and a passion for music. Her first show was in Knoxville, TN, and then it was on to Minneapolis. Since then, she’s been featured on NPR’s “Favorite Sessions,” CMT, American Songwriter, The London Times, Paste Magazine and others. Chastity has toured the US and abroad, appearing on the UK’s Later…with Jools Holland. For much of 2016, she toured alongside folk icon/ activist Ani Difranco.
“What I’ve realized is that the personal is political,” Brown said in a recent interview. “Just by me being a bi-racial, half-black, half-white woman living in America right now is political. Just being a person of color, a queer woman of color, for that matter, is freaking political. My focus, as far as this record, I guess it’s really been psychological. I’m really intrigued by the perseverance of the human spirit and the complexities and contradictions that we embody as human beings.
“I grew up in a trailer park in Union City, TN, with an incredible mother, brother and sister and a very abusive stepfather. There have been times throughout my life since leaving home when I experience debilitating flashbacks both while waking and asleep. Music has been my lifeline. A week after an episode, my long-time writing partner, Robert Mulrennan, sent me the music for the song now titled ‘Carried Away.’ I wrote the song over the course of that following week. It is as though some of these songs have come from a portion of my psyche that would not allow my thinking mind to filter through it.
“Silhouette of Sirens is comprised of snapshots of memory, both lived and imagined. Some are love/sex/relationship-inspired, which in my opinion make the pain one might experience more bearable. In James Baldwin’s essay, ‘The Artist Struggle for Integrity,’ he says, ‘I tell you my pain so that I might relieve you of yours.'”
Light is a central character on Silhouette of Sirens. Even the title speaks to this push and pull between danger and safety, shadows and shiny lights, and the things we can reach out and touch as opposed to the things we only hear in the distance. “What is even happening? One can only guess,” Brown sings in the opening track “Drive Slow,” embracing an uncertainty and sense of wonder from the beginning of the record. By the third track, she’s carrying us along with her on a journey inward. Like many masterful songwriters, she has the ability to make her stories feel intensely personal yet open-ended; even in “Carried Away,” it’s hard to tell whether she’s singing about a romantic rift, an abusive friendship, or the havoc that anxiety and depression can wreak on an unguarded mind.
“Don’t leave me here all alone / For so long you’ve been my light in the dark,” Brown sings on the album’s centerpiece, “My Stone,” while the sexy, Prince-channeling acoustic funk jam “Whisper” beckons the listener to come closer, to dance with her in the dark, to “whisper in my ear all that you need.”
“I think it’s about different types of heartbreak, and how one deals with it,” Brown says of the album. “And not the heartbreak of a coupled relationship; just living life, and the experiences that break your heart. There are these moments on the album where it’s like, ‘this is intense.’ And then hopefully, there are moments where it’s alleviated — as I feel like life is. Life is hard. Every tree, every plant, everything you see in the natural world, just through a growth process, you see how hard it is to grow and bend towards the light.
“I write for and from the marginalized experience,” Brown says. “For the truly triumphant spirit that’s been through some shit, and has fought her/his way through it to maintain a sense of dignity and peace of mind.
“My hope is like that of Alice Walker’s, ‘Where there are tears, there will be dancing.’”
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T.S. Eliot
“There’s only two kinds of music – ‘the Star Spangled Banner’ and the blues.” – Willie Nelson, quoting renowned fiddler Johnny Gimble
For Americana godfather David Bromberg, it all began with the blues.
His incredible journey spans five-and-a-half decades, and includes – but is not limited to – adventures with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jerry Garcia, and music and life lessons from seminal blues guitarist Reverend Gary Davis, who claimed the young Bromberg as a son. A musician’s musician, Bromberg’s mastery of several stringed instruments (guitar, fiddle, Dobro, mandolin), and multiple styles is legendary, leading Dr. John to declare him an American icon. In producing John Hartford’s hugely influential Aereo-Plain LP, Bromberg even co-invented a genre: Newgrass.
Add in a period of self-imposed exile from his passion (1980-2002), during which he became a renowned violin expert, and Wilmington, Delaware’s cultural ambassador; top that off with a triumphant return to music-making, and you have an amazing tale leading back to one place: the blues.
Now, with The Blues, the Whole Blues, and Nothing But the Blues, his first release for Red House Records, Bromberg and multi-Grammy-winning producer/accompanist Larry Campbell (Dylan, Levon Helm, Paul Simon) focus on the music David discovered in high school, when, circa late 50s, he was introduced to a friend’s dad’s collection of blues 78s. He’d only just taken up guitar as a means to pass the time while in bed with the measles.
“I loved those 78s so much,” says David, “I taped them on a portable reel-to-reel, so I could listen at home and learn.”
That love is evident in The Blues, the Whole Blues and Nothing But the Blues. The album is both blues primer and an opportunity to witness a master embracing this distinctly American music with passion and grace.
“There’s a lot of different types of blues on there,” Bromberg notes. “We decided to start it off with a dyed-in-the-wool blues [Robert Johnson’s “Walkin’ Blues”], but there’s also country blues [“Kentucky Blues”], and gospel-influenced blues [“Yield Not”].”
Bromberg, a onetime sideman himself, is quick to give props to his long-running road-and-studio cohorts: Butch Amiot (bass), Josh Kanusky (drums), Mark Cosgrove (guitar), Nate Grower (fiddle), and Peter Ecklund (cornet). Of producer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, fellow Reverend Gary Davis acolyte, and old friend Larry Campbell, he says, “To use a baseball analogy, Larry is like a star at any position in the infield, because he can play them all.”
Since meeting in the early 80’s, Campbell and Bromberg had crossed paths many times. They finally worked together in Levon Helm’s studio for David’s 2013 return-to-form Only Slightly Mad. “He wanted to do a Chicago blues album then,” Larry says. “But we decided to remind folks of what he does better than anyone: the whole gamut of Americana, the full Brombergian. And we got some new fans. For this one, we went back to the blues, and made use of David’s great vocabulary in all veins of the genre.”
Bromberg’s guitar work remains a marvel; amped electric lead – both slide and fretted – and delicately powerful acoustic fingerpicking propel these songs with the same force that made him the go-to guy for acts ranging from the Eagles to Link Wray to Phoebe Snow. This is a man who can go full-on Chicago gutbucket with “You Don’t Have to Go” (a Bromberg original), then slay with the jazz inflections of Ray Charles’ “A Fool for You,” rendered here intimately solo. Although Bromberg points out he’s not the same guitarist he was before his two decades away from performing and recording. “I play differently,” he says. “I can’t play as fast, but playing slower gives me more time to think about what I’m doing.”
“He’s always able to plug into the emotion of a song,” Campbell says. “He’s incredibly inventive as a player. Sometimes restrictions can be good.”
Listeners can actually hear what the years have given Bromberg in the spartan, acoustic “Delia.” Bromberg originally covered this traditional nugget on his 1972 self-titled debut – a live, solo rendition with a spoken-word break. The new version features Campbell and Bromberg in the studio, revisiting Bromberg’s live arrangement from their occasional duo tours. It is mesmerizing, with gravitas only experience can bring. “Larry and I have played ‘Delia’ a lot,” Bromberg says. “I love what he does on it.”
Longtime fans will notice another difference: Bromberg’s voice; he’s really singing. The vocals cover a broad range: impassioned, vibrato-laden testifying; pew-jumping soul shouts; soft, confident, crooning; and, of course, his peerless raconteur chops (particularly in “You Been A Good Old Wagon”).
“When I first started,” Bromberg says, “singing was something I did between guitar solos. But during the period I did so little performing, I took some voice lessons, and now, I know more what I’m doing. I love singing now. Love it.”
Larry Campbell was impressed at the newfound vocal chops, too. “He is a better vocalist than ever,” he says. “He’s strong, and present. None of the songs took more than three takes. And he was able to take the old folk song ‘900 Miles’ [a “railroad song” made famous by Odetta and Woody Guthrie], and turn it into an electric blues that’s a real high point of the album for me.”
Although he remains the proprietor of the beloved David Bromberg Fine Violins in Wilmington, Delaware – “I love my shop,” he says – Bromberg makes time to tour with his quintet, and he’s already included every song in his live repertoire (save “Yield Not,” which requires a choir), from The Blues, the Whole Blues and Nothing But the Blues. As ever, he brings his characteristic devotional intensity to the music, invigorating his surprise third act with the same passion he felt as a teen, spinning those blues 78s, just before the road called.
Bill Kirchen and Austin de Lone team up for a hands-across-the-Atlantic collection with their new studio album, Transatlanticana. This long-overdue release unites the pioneers of two major musical movements: Kirchen co-founded the original “Americana” band, Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen, and his trademark Telecaster licks drove their hit “Hot Rod Lincoln” into the Top 10 in 1972. De Lone dropped out of Harvard to start Eggs Over Easy, moving to London and recording with Jimi Hendrix’s producer/manager and The Animals’ bass player Chas Chandler in 1970. The Eggs are the progenitors of British pub rock, the first link in the chain to punk rock, new wave and beyond. Backed by both their all-star British and American bands, Transatlanticana finds Kirchen and de Lone trading songwriting credits and lead vocals on this soulful and rocking collection. They kick it off with the timely “Hounds of the Bakersfield,” a tribute to the late Merle Haggard and the Bakersfield, CA sound.
Kirchen and de Lone cut the album in Austin and London, capturing on disc the best of their 30-year collaboration. Kirchen is Austin-based; de Lone is in the San Francisco Bay Area, but both artists have longtime ties with the UK scene: Kirchen has toured as a guitarist with Nick Lowe and put out three albums on UK label Proper Records; de Lone has toured as keyboard player for Lowe and Elvis Costello and put out his first solo album on UK label Demon Records.
They first collaborated in the mid-1970s, writing together as The Moonlighters: “We sent Nick Lowe a bunch of songs for Rockpile, but unbeknownst to us they had decided to break up,” Kirchen says. What de Lone got back was a letter from Lowe that began, “Dear hero o’ mine. There’s not many of us left…” Lowe then offered to produce them in London, and the resulting Moonlighters album, Rush Hour, came out in 1983 on the Edsel label. Since then, Bill and Austin have teamed up with with Lowe and Costello many times: de Lone has worked with Lowe, Paul Carrack and Costello on several tours and Kirchen held the guitar chair for Lowe’s critically acclaimed Impossible Bird disc and tour. In 2008, Costello borrowed the title cut from Kirchen’s album Hammer Of The Honky-Tonk Gods for his band name at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco featuring de Lone, Kirchen, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welsh and Jim Lauderdale.
The songs of Transatlanticana represent the core elements of Americana music – R&B, country, rock and even a gospel track. Butch Hancock duets his song “Oxblood” with Kirchen. It’s a meaty slice of Texas boogie recorded with the Austin contingent. “I guess they used to color concrete with ox blood; I thought it was just an old shoe polish color” says Kirchen.
Spirited and served up with wit and humor, Transatlanticana is a gem –- a ringside seat to these transatlantic sessions by a group of like-minded, top-of-their-game players enjoying each other’s musical company. For tour dates and more info go to www.billkirchen.com.
While I’m Here is a 2-CD celebration of the late Theodore Bikel, the legendary Austrian-born, American artist whose 70-plus-year career encompassed stage and film acting, songwriting and performance (folk and Broadway), with albums on Elektra, Reprise, and other labels. Known for his talent and stamina, he played Tevye in Fiddler On The Roof in over 2000 performances. Along with co-founding the Newport Folk Festival and mentoring generations of younger folk artists such as Judy Collins and Peter Yarrow, Bikel was a passionate human rights advocate, labor leader, Jewish activist and supporter of Israel.
Disc one is entirely spoken word and is dedicated to Bikel’s reflections and remembrances of his rich and eventful life. Disc two is a 17-song career musical retrospective spanning his early work through his last recordings made during his 90th birthday concert in 2014 at the Saban Theatre in Los Angeles. Most of the recordings are exclusive to this release with some songs previously unreleased, some newly recorded, and some obtained from obscure and long out-of-print sources. There are tracks in Yiddish, Hebrew, English and French, including the classic “Edelweiss,” written specifically for Bikel when he originated the Captain von Trapp role on Broadway in The Sound of Music.
Produced by Michael Stein, Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer and Eric Peltoniemi, While I’m Here includes a lavish 22-page color booklet with extensive liner notes, interviews and photos. This collection, truly a labor of love, provides the latest, definitive recordings of the artist whom President Obama lauded, stating that Bikel “captivated audiences and (his) advocacy has brought people together.”
After a lifetime of performing and recording, these days Suzzy enjoys singing on the road with her daughter Lucy Wainwright Roche (lucywainwrightroche.com) Lucy & Suzzy recorded their first CD Fairytale and Myth which won the popular vote for best singer/songwriter album of the year for the Independent Music Awards 2014. Suzzy is also currently performing with The Wooster Group (thewoostergroup.org) in: Early Shaker Spirituals ~ a record album interpretation ~ Cry Trojans! ~ based on Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, and The Room by Harold Pinter.
Suzzy has recorded two solo projects released on Red House Records, Holy Smokes and Songs from an Unmarried Housewife & Mother, Greenwich Village, USA (named “Album of the Week” by The New York Times). Suzzy has also performed with the infamous Wooster Group throughout Europe and in New York City and she starred opposite Amy Irving in Crossing Delancey.
Suzzy is a founding member of the singing group The Roches
She has written two books; a novel Wayward Saints, and a children’s bookWant To Be in a Band?
In addition to recording numerous albums with The Roches, Suzzy has recorded two solo albums, and an unusual collection of musical prayers,Zero Church (with Maggie Roche), which was developed at the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at Harvard University
Suzzy has taught performance at NYU graduate and undergraduate schools and at Princeton University in the Atelier Program
ABOUT HEATHER MASSE
Singer-songmaker Heather Masse is a rare artist with “lush velvety vocals, capable of melting butter in a Siberian winter” (All Music). She grew up in rural Maine and was trained at the New England Conservatory of Music as a jazz singer, she is steeped in the jazz tradition, which informs her distinct approach to singing folk, pop and bluegrass.
A member of the Billboard-charting folk group, The Wailin’ Jennys, she has performed at hundreds of venues across the world. She has been a frequent guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion,both as a solo performer and as a member of The Jennys. On the show, she has collaborated with artists such as Elvis Costello, Wynton Marsalis, Sheryl Crow, Renee Fleming, and Emmylou Harris.
Heather has performed with the contemporary bluegrass band The Wayfaring Strangers, fiddle virtuoso Mark O’Connor’s Hot Swing, and in 2006, recorded an album with Joy Kills Sorrow, a contemporary stringband. She also released Tell Me Tonight with the Brooklyn-based collaboration Heather & the Barbarians.
In 2008, Ms. Masse released Many Moons, an EP of jazz-inspired folk duets with pianist Jed Wilson. She followed that up with her first full-length solo album, Bird Song. Her solo debut on Grammy-winning indie label Red House Records, the album showcased her luscious alto voice and her superb songwriting. The title track “Bird Song” won her 1st prize at the International Acoustic Music Awards, and in 2012 she also won a prestigious Juno Award for Bright Morning Stars, her latest recording with The Wailin’ Jennys.
Masse returned to her jazz roots in 2013 with Lock My Heart, an album of standards she recorded with piano legend Dick Hyman.
Masse continues to perform with the Wailin’ Jennys and can often be heard joining Garrison Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion.
ABOUT ROSWELL RUDD
Roswell Rudd, aka THE INCREDIBLE HONK, is proudly of the tradition that has given us such jazz trombone greats as Jack Teagarden , Kid Ory, J.J. Johnson, and Joseph Nanton. One of the most imaginative, stimulating players, Rudd is known for his work with groundbreaking groups and musicians like Herbie Nichols, the New York Arts Quartet, Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Carla Bley, and Steve Lacy.
His musical range has expresssed itself in extraordinary musical collaborations and subsequent recordings with musicians from Mali (Toumani Diabate), Mongolia (Buryat Band), the great Puerto Rican cuatrista Yomo Toro, and the brilliant Cuban guitarist/singer David Oquendo.
In 2000 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in composition. In August 2010 he was voted #1 in the Downbeat Critics Poll. In 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2010 he was voted Trombonist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association.
His trailblazing on the trombone has influenced an entire generation of trombonists who hear his extroverted gut bucket stylings as the modern incarnation of the New Orleans style. He has equally a passionate lyricism in the tradition of American folk songs and ballads.
Roswell Rudd has received international recognition as a performer, and for his compositions and arrangements ranging from large scale music dramas to instrumental jazz suites. His jazz operas BLUES FOR PLANET EARTH and GOLD RUSH have achieved cult status from their performances in the 1960s.
From 1999 to the present have been his Soundscape years marked by his collaboration with Verna Gillis. He continues to co-lead an ensemble with Archie Shepp, as well as touring with MALIcool, the Mongolian Buryat Band, as well as being a featured guest with a myriad of musicians.
Rudd is one of the giants. His active playing force is to be greatly welcomed, with his larger-than-life individualism.
GALES OF NOVEMBER Featuring: Prudence Johnson, Ruth Mackenzie, Claudia Schmidt & Eric Peltoniemi
This album is a gathering of all of the songs from “Ten November,” the critically acclaimed musical drama by composer-lyricist Eric Peltoniemi and playwright Steven Dietz.
Compelling and imaginative, the play and its music explore the mystery and controversy surrounding the now famous Fitzgerald tragedy and remind us how tenuous and precious are our ties to those we love in the awesome power of nature. At the heart of it is the Great Lake Superior: a serene beauty, a fearsome force, a giver and taker of life. The CD includes the bonus track, “White Caps in the Ditch,” from an early draft of the play, but not included in the final version of the score.
Richard Dworsky is one of those rare musicians who is so well rounded he can’t easily be categorized. He’s a classically trained pianist and composer who rocks, swings, plays great Blues and Gospel, tears it up on Hammond B3 organ and keeps up with world class pickers playing his unique “Bluegrass piano” style; who composes classical, theater, and film music; writes exquisite jazz ballads; and has the amazing ability to improvise compositions on the spot in virtually any style.
For the last 20 years, he’s been the pianist /music director for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, a live radio variety show with an audience of over 4 million in the USA, as well as overseas audiences on England’s BBC, Australia’s ABC, and Armed Forces Radio. On the weekly shows, Richard provides original theatrical underscoring, leads The Guys All-Star Shoe Band, and performs as a featured soloist. A regular since 1986, he has accompanied Keillor and many of his guests including: James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, Chet Atkins, Emmylou Harris, Carole King, Elvis Costello, Taj Mahal, The Everly Brothers, Yo-Yo Ma, Brad Paisley, Renée Fleming, Jerry Douglas, Mark O’Connor, Kristin Chenoweth, Shawn Colvin, and Mark Knopfler. He has appeared on many of Keillor’s CDs (including five nominated for Grammys) and videos, and in TV specials on The Disney Channel, PBS, and the BBC. Richard frequently appears with Keillor in concerts throughout the United States and Europe as a duo, with orchestra, and with Keillor’s Hopeful Gospel Quartet. He made his on-screen film debut as pianist/bandleader in the 2006 Robert Altman film, A Prairie Home Companion, with an all-star ensemble cast including Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly, Lindsay Lohan, Kevin Kline, and Keillor. Behind the scenes, Richard also served as the film’s music director, arranger, and composer.
Dworsky’s original compositions for piano (and piano with ensemble) can be heard on his CDs So Near and Dear to Me and The Path to You. His solo piano piece A Morning With the Roses has become a worldwide New Age classic, selling nearly a million copies on such Billboard charting records as Windham Hill Record’s Piano Sampler, Windows-Windham Hill 25 Years of Piano, and Windham Hill Chill.
Richard was the pianist/co-producer of The Guys All -Star Shoe Band’s CD Shake It, Break It, and Hang It On the Wall, and in 2001 performed with the band, and special guests Garrison Keillor and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, on a German National Radio broadcast recorded live at Berlin’s famed jazz club The A-Trane.
Broadway/TV/Film star, Kristin Chenoweth recorded Richard’s song Goin’ to the Dance With You on her 2001 CD Let Yourself Go (Sony Classical); and performed it on PBS’s Evening at Pops with the Boston Pops Orchestra in 2004.
Richard (aka Rich or Richie) grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota and began classical piano lessons at the age of six. By age 11, he was studying piano at the University of Minnesota. In his teens, he began playing for theatrical productions and joined his first rock band. When just out of high school, Rich joined forces with jazz vocalist extraordinaire, Al Jarreau, for a two year stint in Los Angeles performing as a duo, and with a band, and writing and recording songs together. He toured with Warner Bros. country-rock group Mason Profitt and returned to Minneapolis to major in music at the University of Minnesota.
Beginning in 1975, he spent seven years at Minneapolis’ world renowned Children’s Theatre Company where he played piano, conducted, and composed scores for musical theater productions including The Marvelous Land of Oz (MCA Video; televised on Showtime). It was during this period that Richard developed his masterful theatrical improvisation technique which would later serve him so well on A Prairie Home Companion.
In addition to his own recording projects, Rich has played on albums with artists such as mandolinist/fiddler Peter Ostroushko, guitarist Pat Donohue, singer songwriters John Gorka, Robin and Linda Williams, his sister Sally, and many others.
He has performed solo for crowds of over 30,000 at inter-faith peace and unity conferences in India; has performed in concert with guitar legend Chet Atkins, the Turtle Island String Quartet, and harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy; has scored music for documentaries seen by millions on India’s Doordarshan and Zee TV; wrote and performed music for the animation A Joan Walsh Anglund Christmas narrated by actress Jean Stapleton; has written arrangements performed by Garrison Keillor and conductor Philip Brunelle with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Cincinatti Pops, Ravinia, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra; wrote PHC’s Guy Noir theme and Catchup theme (which he sings); and is heard daily on public radio playing the theme for The Writer’s Almanac.
He is also a synthesizer player, recording engineer, and producer ; and founded Inner Vista Records and Publishing Company.
Richard’s richly diverse musical experience has resulted in his unique eclectic compositional style, and has enabled him to easily go from conducting the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra on A Prairie Home Companion to playing with Cajun stars Beusoleil avec Michael Doucet, and then turn around and improvise music under author Frank McCourt reading from his Pulitzer Prize winning Angela’s Ashes, or author/anchorman Tom Brokaw reading from his Christmas memoirs. And when, live on the air, Garrison Keillor suddenly wiggles his fingers behind his back, signaling Rich to play some music off the top of his head (with millions of people listening), Dworsky, without hesitating, steps up and does what needs to be done.