1SunApril 1, 2018
With five previously self-released albums including a newly released album "White Noise", Jasmine Cain has sold over 30,000 albums worldwide. She holds 8 JPF awards-- the most awards ever to be awarded to any one artist from the JPF Association. Her performances are stadium-quality rock shows to audiences of 1,000-5,000 on average.
Jasmine Cain encompasses what a true artist is meant to be, taking the reins as the songwriter, lead vocalist, and bassist for her band. Her songs are emotional, raw, and timeless. Her voice is a mixture of strong, aggressive, soul-filled attitude, while allowing you to feel a slight vulnerability that takes you on an emotional, super-charged ride. You can hear your own life story in every raspy note.
3TueApril 3, 2018Layne
"Music has always been the constant in my life," says Layne Putnam. "It's always been there for me, and it always will be. It's always been my purpose and reason and the one thing that no one could ever take away from me. Growing up until now, it's been my power, my identity, and my best friend." As with any genuine artist, age begets change, and for Putnam that meant a life transforming, cross-country relocation to her new and current home in Los Angeles. There, through a casual encounter in a coffee shop, Putnam would meet drummer Alexander Rosca, a transplant session player from Portland, OR. They would bond over similar tastes in music, style, and similarities in the places they once called home. It's in the City of Angels where these messengers of music found and perfected their crafty and heartfelt take of indie pop powered by moody, emotion-laden rock.
6FriApril 6, 20188:00pm $8.00Pundamonium is a slam-style pun contest. One by one, 15 contestants make puns based on prompts. Then they do it again.
Each contestant is immediately judged by five members of the audience, who have been selected before the show to be judges. They rank each punner on a scale of 1 to 10, often with hilariously long decimals and other commentary.
The top four contestants go head to head in a final pun-off.
Want to compete? Just show up! It's first come, first served.
7SatApril 7, 2018
Back in 1988, Semi-Twang thought they'd taken their best shot with Salty Tears, their Warner Brothers debut. That record generated tons of critical acclaim but little in the way of sales. Soon after its release, other opportunities beckoned and the band members went their separate ways. Friendships survived, but the band was history. For John Sieger, the songwriter and main vocalist, Nashville, TN seemed like a good idea. Dwight Yoakam was one of many artists who found Sieger's songs and producers like Pete Anderson and Jerry Harrison were finding slots for his tunes. Mike Hoffmann stayed busy producing other artists and the other fellows in the band, all great players, were soon scooped up by other groups around town.
After the '09 Shank reunion, the band decided a new recording was in order...the one they should have made first. Unlike their debut, (a major label project with a budget just this side of a NASA launch) the band recorded on the sly, mostly at Hoffmann's House Studio and Sieger's Room w/a VU -- both Pro Tools equipped, comfy and cozy. The pace was relaxed with sessions every few weeks for most of 2010. The atmosphere was loose but unwavering in its vision - get in, make the best record you've ever made, get out -- what's so hard about that?
In March of 2011, Wages Of Sin, their first album in 23 years, was released to overwhelmingly positive response - glowing critical reviews, over-the-top fan praise and lots of local airplay. Semi-Twang had always harkened back to classic artists like Dylan, The Beatles and The Band. This approach paid off handsomely on Wages, an album that dares you to to put a time-stamp on it. Songs like the title cut Wages of Sin and When The Wind Kicks Up sound like the kind of country music Nashville might be making if producers and record companies weren't trying to own the middle of the road. Nervous Energy and Move It Or Lose It recall iconoclasts like Dave Edmonds and Nick Lowe in full-tilt mode. Then, there are songs like Just A Train and It's That Time Again that harbor a very distinctly Semi-Twangian Thang... You can imagine, somewhere down the road, some young band trying to reproduce that unique feel.
Which brings us to 2013: On March 23 of this year, the band has released their third project, The Why & The What For, a recording that ups the stakes in a very entertaining way. It is topical and personal with a bit more R&B soul influence that includes a few throwbacks to the duckwalk days of Chuck Berry. Oh, and you'll also be rewarded with one or two of those unclassifiable yet familiar songs you've come to expect from Semi-Twang. The Why & The What For will be getting heavily promoted to the press and radio here in the states and in the UK by Pavement Media.
Sam Llanas (formerly of the BoDeans) is an iconic American singer, acoustic guitarist, and songwriter. Best known for his unique and distinctively soulful voice, Sam's fiery vocals fueled many of his former band's finest songs including their biggest hit "Closer To Free." It was Llanas' voice that supplied the trademark vocal on Robbie Robertson's "Somewhere Down the Crazy River."
In 1997 Llanas founded the band Absinthe. As Absinthe Sam released one album, 1998's critically acclaimed A Good Day To Die. In 2011 Sam Llanas left the BoDeans and released 4 A.M. (The Way Home) on Inner Knot Records. In 2013 he released the live retrospective 4/5 Live - Vol I.
In 2012 the music from 1998's A Good Day To Die was incorporated into a collaboration with playwright Doug Vincent and producer Gary Tanin in the production "A Day for Grace." By 2013 the play had evolved to include multi-city tours and multi-week runs in New York City.
On November 18th, 2014 Llanas is set to release The Whole Night Thru an all new studio record produced by longtime collaborator Gary Tanin. It features 9 new Llanas originals. The Whole Night Thru is Llanas' first studio outing after parting ways with the band he co- fronted for over a quarter century. Shedding new light on a multi-decade career Sam returns to his roots adding a refined rock sound complimented by a full band, all veterans of both studio and live performance. Behind his lone-wolf image and tuffness, Llanas continues to hone his skills. A master craftsman that feels most at home in the city he's always called home, Llanas has set the stage for fans to embrace his new identity.
8SunApril 8, 2018
Born out of fierce friendship and a mutual affection for melody, Chicago's Ratboys -- anchored by the partnership of Julia Steiner and Dave Sagan -- aims to 'write songs that tell stories and honor the intimacy of memory,' according to Steiner.
GN, the group's second full-length album via Topshelf Records, offers a bevy of tales, laments and triumphs, which recount near-tragedies by the train tracks, crippling episodes of loneliness, remembrances of a deceased family pet with freezer burn, and on and on. The songs shift and breathe as worlds all their own, tied together by the group's self-proclaimed 'post-country' sound, which combines moments of distortion and a DIY aesthetic with a devotion to simple songwriting and ties to the Americana sounds of years past.
Drawing influence from the down-to-earth sincerity of late-90s Sheryl Crow and the confessional confidence of Kim Deal and Jenny Lewis, the songs on GN (aka 'goodnight') "largely detail experiences of saying goodbye, finding your way home, and then figuring out what the hell to do once you're back,͟" says Steiner. The songs chosen to close both sides of the record -- the slow-burning 'Crying About the Planets' and quizzical 'Peter the Wild Boy'-- unpack the respective journeys of two real people who were quite literally lost and found. "'Crying' tells the survival story of Antarctic explorer Douglas Mawson from a first-person perspective, and 'Peter' reflects on the life of a feral child in Germany who was eventually adopted by the King of England," according to Steiner. "Writing as and about these people is the best way I can attempt to empathize with them and really just wrap my mind around these bits of history that otherwise might not get talked about. And it helps me understand my own experiences a little bit better," she says.
Certain personal stories -- the tour adventures recapped in 'GM,' the struggle to learn to show affection as divulged in 'Molly' -- find Ratboys just as eagerly exploring subject matter that comes from within, and then illustrating the highs and lows with soaring hooks and plaintive ones. Even in the moments that lie somewhere between bliss and misery, a tension persists between Steiner's sweet vocal delivery and Sagan's physical, almost-off-the-hinges guitar playing that lends each song a deeper sense of color and movement.
Steiner and Sagan felt the impulse to make music together from the get-go -- they first met as university students, quickly put out an EP together, and started performing as an acoustic two-piece in dorm rooms and backyards. During the next few years, the friends traveled separately, eventually reunited, and recorded what would become the first Ratboys record, AOID, which the folks at GoldFlakePaint describe as a "gleaming, joyous, raucous display of melodic indie-rock."
After a year and a half of touring the US and Europe as a plugged-in full band (featuring the additions of drums, bass, and trumpet), the members of Ratboys returned to Chicago and holed up at Atlas Studios for two weeks to record with engineer Mikey Crotty (who had previously worked with the group on the songs 'Not Again' and 'Light Pollution'). "This time around, we were lucky enough to feature the talents of friends who play the pedal steel, accordion, cello and violin to give the songs an extra something," says Steiner. "Dave finally got to show off his ridiculous skills on the pocket piano, and the whole thing felt like one big loving experiment."
Those good times and long days yielded the 10 songs that make up GN, which Evan Hall of Pinegrove calls "a delectable chapter in the Ratboys story."
11WedApril 11, 2018
Stephen Jay's bass-driven funk is an exotic blend of world influenced polyrhythmic grooves seasoned with elements of jazz and rock. His combination of ethnic and modern instruments and styles results in unique, richly textured musical images. Steve's songs assault you with intricate complexity, assuage you with timeless melodies, and offer an oasis for the soul. Stephen has been voted one of "Today's 20 Top Bassists" by International Musician and Recording World magazine.
Jim "Kimo" West is recognized as one of the world's top practitioners of the art of traditional Hawaiian "slack key" guitar. Based on a variety of open tunings, slack key, like the waters of his second home of Hana, Maui, washes over you. He is a recent winner of the Hawaii Music Awards, a nominee for the Na Hoku Hanohano (the Hawaiian "Grammy"), and a two-time winner of the LA Treasures Award for his contributions toward the perpetuation of ki ho'alu (Hawaiian slack key music).
12ThuApril 12, 2018
13FriApril 13, 2018
14SatApril 14, 2018
Undaunted, he formed the quirkily-named Spock's Beard with his brother, Alan. They recorded The Light with what money they could scrape together. Against all odds, it was a breakout success, sending shockwaves through the small genre's community.
Over the next 10 years, Spock's Beard released 10 critically acclaimed CDs and 2 DVDs, ascending to the top of the prog world. Neal also released 6 CDs and 3 DVDs with Transatlantic, the heralded prog supergroup comprised of the genre's best musicians.
The proverbial wayward son, Neal had finally found the success he sought. On the outside he seemed to have it all. On the inside, however, something was missing.
Morse came to realize that for him, embracing the Christian faith was the fulfillment of his spiritual quest. His walk was at once gradual and sudden--and as with so many, completely unexpected. As he continued, his path increasingly revealed more of what his heart had sought all along. Yet he also began to find his career growing at odds with his faith. The rising spiritual tension and increasing commercial success finally came to a head with the release of Snow (2002), the group's magnum opus...and swan song with Morse.
The extraordinary 2-CD rock opera, composed by Morse, was widely acclaimed as the group's finest. But it was the end of the era. Neal felt God calling him out of his former musical life and into the unknown. He made the agonizing decision to leave both Spock's Beard and Transatlantic. Despite having finally achieved the success he had long sought, Morse had to begin all over again; musically, emotionally and spiritually.
Neal then embarked upon the most ambitious musical project of his career. Entitled Testimony (2003), it chronicles his spiritual and musical journey in words and music. The 2 CD set spans over two hours as one continuous piece of music. In genre, it ranges from a gospel choir to hard rock; from symphony orchestra to contemporary pop. Testimony was also Neal's first of many albums with drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater). A deftly woven musical tapestry, Testimony takes the listener on a fascinating journey as unique as the man behind it.
The ensuing world tour was captured on one unforgettable night for the 2-DVD set, Testimony Live (2004). Morse was recognized as a remarkably passionate and engaging performer by Britain's Classic Rock Magazine, who included him in their "100 Greatest Frontmen of Rock" listing. The tour was awarded "Best Rock Tour" from the popular Dutch website, DPRP, besting nominees Peter Gabriel, Radiohead, RUSH and others.
Morse's next studio album was a conceptual, progressive rock album entitled One. Mike Portnoy returned to perform on drums (in what is regarded as perhaps his finest performance), with up-and-coming bassist Randy George. They were joined by legendary guitarist Phil Keaggy. The result was a band-focused sound, harkening back to Neal's Transatlantic work. Continuing in the tradition of Snow and Testimony, One proved epic in scope and sublime in nature.
For Morse's third progressive rock album, he took a new approach, artistically. On Question (2005), Morse weaves a compelling storyline that owes as much to C.S. Lewis as Indiana Jones. His journey is a timeless quest--to find the biblical dwelling place of God. Joining Neal are more of prog's brightest stars, including Mike Portnoy and Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Roine Stolt (Flower Kings, Transatlantic) and Steve Hackett (Genesis).
Bringing Question to the stage required an outstanding tour band. Fusing technical wizardry with musical nuance, a young band of unknowns proved themselves in the fire of Question's musical roller-coaster. The audience responded with energy and passion, with the experience captured on CD. Unrestrained, raw, and magnificent, the resulting 2 CD set Question: Live (2007) was fitting as Neal's first live album.
Neal's next prog epic was his most daring, stirring passions and controversy. On Sola Scriptura (2007), Morse tells a compelling and sometimes macabre tale of the darkness that inevitably falls when humankind tries to elevate itself to God. Focusing on the Church in the Middle Ages, Morse is unflinching in his description of its abuses. Neal frames the issue as just one example of faith separated from its true foundations. The album closes not with an end but a beginning--for us to consider our world, and feel called to illuminate it.
Question and Sola Scriptura were received as Neal's best to date, and the ensuing tours were captured on film. The ensuing release, Sola Scriptura & Beyond (2008) was an extraordinary live concert 2-DVD set that brought both albums to life. Also included were generous selections from One and Testimony, a Transatlantic selection, five songs from Spock's Beard, and an hour of behind-the-scenes tour footage.
Less than three months later, Neal completed Lifeline (2008), his next studio album. Unlike his other releases, Lifeline wasn't a concept album. Free from this constraint, Neal stretched out in all directions. He revisited early Spock's Beard, Snow, Transatlantic, his solo releases, and launched into new territory. Joining him once again were Mike Portnoy and Randy George.
A Transatlantic reunion had been the dream of many fans, and after ten years, a seemingly quixotic one. On April 16 of 2009, though, they were surprised to hear of a new album from the prog supergroup. The album began with Neal's work a 45 minute composition, "The Whirlwind". As he progressed, Neal, who felt it was taking on the attributes of a Transatlantic piece. He shared it with the band, and they agreed. Each band member brought material to the eight days of writing/recording sessions; by the end, they'd written a completely new album. Retaining Neal's original title, The Whirlwind went on to be the group's highest charting album to date.
Meanwhile, Neal had been touring in North America and Europe. Several shows from the end of 2008 were recorded to multitrack, and saved for future release. On November 16, 2010, the 3-CD set So Many Roads was released, presenting an astonishing 3.5 hours of new live music.
Later in 2010, Transatlantic embarked on their biggest tour yet, with dates in 11 nations across Europe and North America. The London, UK show was immortalized for the double-live DVD, Whirld Tour 2010: Live in London.
Neal next progressive rock studio album was Testimony II. Mike Portnoy and Randy George returned to revisit the trio's unique and powerful chemistry. As usual, special guests (including Spock's Beard) were on-hand. Simultaneously, Morse released his autobiography, appropriately entitled, Testimony, in a print, digital, and audiobook (read by Neal) editions.
Neal's largest ever tour followed, over the summer. The original Testimony 2 studio band (including Mike Portnoy) performed in North America, and his veteran european band (led by Collin Leijenaar) played in Europe. The tour was immortalized in the combined 2-DVD/3-CD release, Live in Los Angeles.
Looking ahead, Neal continues development on his unnamed rock opera and a major new collaborative mainstream rock project. In 2012, Neal shines brighter than ever with the next remarkable chapter in his musical and spiritual journey.
15SunApril 15, 2018
Ike is most recognized for his involvement in Zappa records such as playing Joe in Joe's Garage, providing vocals on Tinsel Town Rebellion, You Are What You Is, and The Man from Utopia, and as the title character and narrator in Zappa's off-Broadway-styled conceptual musical Thing-Fish.
Grammy Award Winning Guitarist, 5 Time Native American Music Award Winner, multi-platinum selling artist, Micki Free American Horse.
His "Tattoo Burn Redux" release is currently burning up the Roots/Blues charts, and has been since its release in May.
Besides being a Prince Protégé', Grammy Award winning multi-platinum guitarist for Shalamar, and part of the dynamic duo Beauvoir/Free in Crowns of Thorns, Micki has release 3 incredible blues records which is where his true passion has always been, including a 3 song EP with Bill Wyman including a DVD with Micki and Bill at Hard Rock Calling.
Free was a member of the R&B super group Shalamar who spawned countless top ten hits, including the "Dancing In The Sheets" from Footloose, and "Don't Get Stopped In Beverly Hills", for Beverly Hills Cop II.
Micki Free co-star of the Dave Chapelle show Charlie Murphy's true Hollywood story skit!... Fondly referred to as "Micki Free is not a girl"
16MonApril 16, 2018
However, that shroud is slowly lifted in Liberty. As the narrative unfolds in this concept album, a central character emerges -- one who finally sheds the darkness of her past and emerges into the light. As melodies and tempos change throughout Liberty, her journey carries her steadily forward. Listen closely and you'll find Ortega's experiences in the lyrics too.
"I think the most important thing for me was that I ended on a very positive note because I've had so many people tell me that my songs helped them through really hard times in their life," Ortega says. "That struck a chord for me, because just like everybody else, I have had hard times in my life, and continue to have pockets of difficult moments here and there. If I can provide some sort of solace with my music, then that gives me every reason to make music. I wanted this record to be all about helping people through the darkness."
The melodies and arrangements of Liberty draw on the epic work of Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone, who became one of Ortega's musical obsessions during the writing and recording of Liberty. Moreover she enlisted Nashville producer Skylar Wilson (Justin Townes Earle, Rayland Baxter) when she discovered their shared passion for Quentin Tarantino movies. It is fitting that NPR's All Things Considered has described Ortega as "genre-defying in both her music and her personal style."
"I've never had a cohesive album like this before," she says. "This record's quite different in that I'm actually taking a bit of a step back, being softer, having more nuance in the way I'm singing, and it's been a welcome challenge. I went into this creating songs with unpredictable chord changes, which allowed for it to sound more musical and interesting to me."
During the sessions at Battle Tapes studio in East Nashville, Ortega and Wilson scaled back the boot-stomping, throwback country approach that she's known for, instead polishing a set of music that reflects her lineage. Her father is Mexican; her mother is Irish. Ortega cites Linda Ronstadt's album Canciones de mi Padre (translated as Songs of My Father) and her mother's vinyl collection of '70s country songwriters like Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson as major influences in her music today. The sonic landscape of Liberty is enhanced by Nashville band Steelism, known for their dramatic blend of pedal steel guitar and electric guitar, as well as Country Music Hall of Fame member Charlie McCoy on harmonica.
"I wanted to do something musical and cinematic. It was really important for me to expand my horizons and pave new ground for myself," she says. "This is my first time singing in Spanish. I have always wanted to write chorus for a Spanish chorus for an original song. I won't claim to have the most perfect diction in the world with it. But I can say that I gave it my all, and that I felt very proud to be able to do that, because I'm a huge fan of Mexican culture. It's very different than anything I've done before and I find that really exciting."
As the album progresses, the listener gets the sense that the protagonist is leaving behind her past, whether it's a crowd of unsavory characters in "You Ain't Foolin' Me" or perhaps a lost love from childhood in "Until My Dying Day." Grief turns to desperation in "Nothing's Impossible" and "The Comeback Kid." The tides begin to turn on "Darkness Be Done." About halfway through, with "Forever Blue," the character makes a choice to follow the light.
Meanwhile the song "Pablo" is inspired by her new husband, Daniel Huscroft. With a lilting melody and clever lyrics, "Lovers in Love" showcases Ortega's skillful songwriting. For Liberty, she composed roughly half of the songs alone. On the remaining tracks, her co-writers include Aaron Raitiere, Bruce Wallace and John Paul White (The Civil Wars).
Throughout her career, Ortega has remained committed to putting on a good performance for her audience. Most nights, she will come out after the show to sign autographs, take photos, and just visit. When she shared her stunning wedding photos on social media, she admits that her followers were quite alarmed. They expressed their concern that the flow of sad songs would come to an abrupt halt. After hearing Liberty, those listeners will realize there was no need to worry.
"When you have experiences that are dark, you can always draw from that well. You don't forget it. You don't erase it -- I don't ever want to erase it because it makes me who I am," Ortega says. "And it helps me relate to other people who have similar experiences. You can't truly appreciate happiness in life unless you've understood what it's like to feel the opposite way."
Ortega concludes the album with "Gracia a la Vida" from the pen of Chilean composer Violetta Parra. The title translates as "Thank you to Life."
"Even though I always tried to have a silver lining, whether it's by making my songs tongue-in-cheek, or writing some dark lyrics to happy music, there's always been an element of balancing light and dark on my previous albums," Ortega explains. "But this is a full story, and I want everybody to be able to take something away from it at the end of the day."
Lost + Found is an apt title for Hugh Masterson's first solo effort, set for a June 2, 2017 release on Rock Ridge Music. The six songs cover a heartfelt journey through surviving loss and life changes while gaining self-awareness through experience. His self-deprecating way of viewing himself is endearing, and his songs are deeply personal. "I use songwriting as therapy," he says. "I think other people will relate to these songs. Finding happiness daily is not an easy thing."
Recorded at Key Club Recording Co. in Benton Harbor, Michigan, the album was co-produced by Masterson and Bill Skibbe, best known as engineer for The Black Keys, Dead Weather, The Kills, and many others. The duo succeeded in bringing Masterson's own unique perspective to the Americana music he makes, his sound boasting a Midwestern bounce and jangle coupled with Nashville wail and grit. It's easy, it's familiar, it's twangy-goodness, pedal-steel Southern rock; it's a dusty ride down a road winding through rural Wisconsin or backwoods Tennessee.
Growing up in Butternut, Wisconsin, Masterson lived a very rural life in a tiny town: population (as of 2013) is 372. "There were no businesses, really, besides the gas station, a bakery, bars and taverns," Masterson explains. "The bar was the meeting place. The parents would take the kids there so people could socialize and listen to whatever music was playing on the jukebox." Their dad's ultimate favorite was The Band, which was a constant in the Masterson household, along with the Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, along with John Hiatt and Lucinda Williams.
The first single, the title track "Lost + Found," tells the story of Masterson getting mugged one night in Milwaukee. He was hit in the head with a tire iron and his jaw was broken in two places. I got beat up just walking around town/Hold my head up high still on the ground/ Don't know why I came here/Don't know what I'm fighting for. Masterson explains: "It's about when you feel like you're not sure why things happen to you. You're not sure how to navigate life the best way that you possibly can, because you're not seeing the signs that you need yet."
Several years after the mugging, and following the death of his mother, Masterson made the move from Milwaukee to Nashville. Unbeknownst to him, this move would end up being the catalyst for the breakup of his band, Hugh Bob and the Hustle, who were starting to enjoy both industry and fan attention. Masterson was set on leaving Wisconsin while the rest of his band decided to stay put. "I had planned on moving to make a better opportunity for all of us," Masterson says. "I just assumed everyone else was going to come with me... that was the plan. Then I got here and no one else showed up. Life changed."
Masterson took quickly to the East Nashville music community, befriending a number of artists with whom he's toured recently, such as The Lone Bellow, Margo Price, Nikki Lane, Anderson East and several others. Additionally, he's drawn attention from the Americana Music Association, CMT, KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic," Rolling Stone, World Café, and South by Southwest.
Even though he always felt music calling, Masterson is also a skilled woodworker, which is his creative and rewarding day job. "I've always liked working with my hands," he explains. "Growing up where I did, if something broke, you fixed it. You figured it out somehow. I feel really calm when I have stuff to do with my hands."
Masterson plans to hang up his woodworking tools long enough to hit the road to bring his intensely personal songs to a live audience later in the year. "Playing solo, I feel a responsibility to be captivating and keep people's attention. I'm just trying to be entertaining, to have a decent message people can relate to, and to play good music." With Lost + Found, Masterson is poised to achieve his goal of helping other people by sharing his own experiences. "I hope people can find something in these songs they can relate to, whether it be fun times or hardships."
19ThuApril 19, 2018The Lilacs
Ball Turret Gunners
John Packel left the fold after that release and was replaced by yet another Glenbrook North alum, Arthur Kim. The next record, THE LILACS HATE YOU, contained Kurson's syruppy opus "Baby Tells Me," as well as a Levinsky-penned rager called "The Knife." The group went into Idful Music to record their full-length CD, THE LILACS RISE ABOVE THE FILTH. Produced by Brad Wood, who would soon become well known for recording fellow Chicagoan Liz Phair, the CD was met with wide praise and much college radio play. Ira Robbins describes it as "witty, post-adolescent, rock and pop originals" in Trouser Press noting that "the spunky and unpretentious Rise Above the Filth contains attractive examples of Kurson's sprightly '70s-styled youth-pop."
The group's masterpiece, released in 1992 by Dead Dog Records (a play on the fake record label from the television show Wiseguy) was the PENELOPE single, which featured "Have I Told You" and Levinsky's
"Pointless." Recently reunited to perform at the Metro in Chicago and the Cavern in England as part of the International Pop Overthrow festival, The Lilacs are playing select venues in the Midwest in 2018. Don't miss the rare opportunity to see and hear The Lilacs perform "their melodic, buzzing pop-rock songs..." as described by Greg Kot of Sound Opinions and The Chicago Tribune from their "...potent legacy of recordings."
20FriApril 20, 2018
A quote from Trouser Press sums up Marshall Crenshaw's early career: "Although he was seen as a latter-day Buddy Holly at the outset, he soon proved too talented and original to be anyone but himself." All Music Guide captured Crenshaw's vibe perfectly: "He writes songs that are melodic, hooky and emotionally true, and he sings and plays them with an honesty and force that still finds room for humor without venom."
"His intelligence, integrity, and passion for the great song always show up in his music," wrote Robert Christgau in his Consumer Guide of Marshall Crenshaw. Over a span of 30 years, Crenshaw has released 13 albums, all of which have received the highest marks from critics and have earned him a fiercely loyal fan base.
"I wanted to think of a different way of working that would inspire me and keep me motivated," Marshall Crenshaw says of his newest endeavor: a subscription-only service that addresses the recent seismic changes in the music-industry landscape by cutting out the record-company middle man to distribute his new recordings directly to fans.
The subscription service, which the veteran singer/guitarist/songwriter/producer recently launched via a successful Kickstarter funding campaign, will provide fans with a steady stream of new Marshall Crenshaw music via a series of exclusive three-song 10-inch, 45-rpm vinyl EPs on Addie-Ville Records, six of which the artist plans to release over a two-year period. In addition to the vinyl discs, subscribers will also receive a download card for high-quality digital versions of the EP tracks.
Each EP will consist entirely of newly recorded, never-before-released material, encompassing a new original Crenshaw composition, a classic cover tune, and a new reworking of a time-honored favorite.
"I really do think that vinyl sounds best, and that playing a vinyl record is still the optimum listening experience," Crenshaw asserts. "And with the sound quality that you get at 45 rpm, I think that these things are going to deliver the goods, sonically."
The first subscription EP's A-side is the brand-new Crenshaw number "I Don't See You Laughing Now," recorded with longtime cohorts Andy York (John Mellencamp, Ian Hunter), and Graham Maby (Joe Jackson, They Might Be Giants). The record's double B-side features a memorable new reading of The Move's 1971 post-apocalyptic anthem "No Time," recorded with veteran New Jersey rocker and frequent Crenshaw collaborator Glen Burtnick; and a new version of "There She Goes Again," whose original version appeared on Crenshaw's eponymous 1982 debut album, recorded live with alt-country icons the Bottle Rockets.
All three tracks were mastered for maximum awesomeness by legendary engineer Greg Calbi, who will handle mastering duties on the entire EP series.
Earlier this year, fans made the subscription project a reality by pledging more than $33,000 to Crenshaw's Kickstarter campaign, above and beyond Crenshaw's original goal, in increments ranging from $1 to $5000.
Crenshaw is excited that his new subscription model allows him to embrace his love for singles, while allowing him to make music on his own terms, free of record-company politics and the emotional baggage that routinely accompanies the making of full-length albums.
"I've always put a great deal of care into the albums I've made," Crenshaw states. "But as a listener, I've always been a singles guy and an individual-tracks guy. I'm looking forward to creating a steady output of music in small batches, rather than being stuck in a cave for months and stockpiling a whole bunch of music and dumping it out all at once. Now, when I finish something, I get to put it out, instead of having to wait until I've got 12 more."
Over the course of a career that's spanned three decades, 13 albums and hundreds of songs, Marshall Crenshaw's musical output has maintained a consistent fidelity to the qualities of melody, craftsmanship and passion, and his efforts have been rewarded with the devotion of a broad and remarkably loyal fan base.
After an early break playing John Lennon in a touring company of the Broadway musical Beatlemania, the Michigan-bred musician began his recording career with the now-legendary indie single "Something's Gonna Happen," on Alan Betrock's seminal Shake label. His growing fame in his adopted hometown of New York City helped to win Crenshaw a deal with Warner Bros. Records, which released his self-titled 1982 debut album. With such classics as "Someday, Someway" and "Cynical Girl," that LP established Crenshaw as one of his era's preeminent tunesmiths -- a stature that was confirmed by subsequent albums Field Day, Downtown, Mary Jean & 9 Others, Good Evening, Life's Too Short, Miracle of Science, #447, What's in the Bag?and Jaggedland.
Along the way, Crenshaw's compositions have been successfully covered by a broad array of performers, including Bette Midler, Kelly Willis, Robert Gordon, Ronnie Spector, Marti Jones and the Gin Blossoms, with whom Crenshaw co-wrote the Top 10 single "Til I Hear It From You." He's also provided music for several film soundtracks, appeared in the films La Bamba(as Buddy Holly) and Peggy Sue Got Married, and was nominated for a Grammy and a Golden Globe award for penning the title track for the film comedy Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Crenshaw also wrote a book about rock movies entitled Hollywood Rock 'n' Roll, and has assembled compilation albums of the music of Scott Walker and the Louvin Brothers, as well as the acclaimed country-and-western collection Hillbilly Music . . . Thank God! Since 2011, he has hosted his own radio show, The Bottomless Pit, on New York's WFUV, Saturday nights at 10 p.m. ET.
But it's writing songs and making records that remain at the center of Marshall Crenshaw's creative life, and he's distinctly excited about the potential of his new subscription service. "I still think that recorded music is a great art form, I still love it and believe in it, and I'm still always striving for excellence. The fact that the Kickstarter thing was a success, and that people responded so well to the concept, felt like a good validation of that."
"This is a really inspiring situation," Crenshaw concludes, "and I think that it's gonna be a good way for me to proceed into the future."
In a country where interstates don't take you to new places, but to the same places, where everywhere you go you've already been or you've just left, The Bottle Rockets' new album absolutely nails a sound and a vibe with a palpable sense of place. Lean Forward is suffused with the determination and resilience of their distinctly midwestern roots; theirs is a celebration of pragmatism and tempered optimism, not the delusions and exhortations of glassy eyed zealots--they aren't going to fall for that. Oh, it's a flat out, smoking rock record, too.
Lean Forward continues the Rockets' creative resurgence ignited by 2006's Zoysia. Reunited with producer Eric "Roscoe" Ambel (who ran the knobs on the Bottle Rockets' seminal albums The Brooklyn Side and 24 Hours A Day), the Bottle Rockets do what no other band does better -- look into the hearts and minds and faces of the dying small towns in America and crafts populist anthems with the sympathetic eye of Woody Guthrie and sonic stomp of Crazy Horse. They are songs that demand the windows be rolled down and the volume turned up. And with the hooks, you'll wonder how they make such problems sound so good ...
Lean Forward is stacked with a sharp lyricism and gritty fatalism that looks off the front porch for inspiration, and has the locked down groove of a band on top of its game. "The Long Way" looks on the bright side of the path not intentionally taken and works into a joyous song-ending jam. Songs like "Done It All Before" and "Get on the Bus" shine with an irresistible buoyancy, as does "Shame on Me" which gets to the meat of the relationship matter that, despite our best intentions, we're all gonna screw up. "Hard Times" whips up a ZZ Top-inflected boogie with effortless mastery and a dual guitar attack that'll put some much-needed flare back in your jeans.
On "Kid Next Door," the lyrics bypass protest in favor of simple commentary on a war coming home, making it a far more powerful song no matter where one stands on the issue. It's a stone cold classic and handled with the deftness and conviction that speaks to the Rockets' sober-minded realism. To see that they've still got scruffy punk moxie to spare, look no further than "The Way It Used To Be" and the channeling of Bo Diddley via the Stooges on "Nothing but a Driver."
With their 15th anniversary now in the rear view mirror, the Bottle Rockets show no signs of letting up. Lean Forward is an album that celebrates the forces of erosion not earthquakes, of the marathon not the sprint. Honed in their towns and on their back roads, it is distinctly the Bottle Rockets. Rather than be confining, this identity broadens the appeal and strength of their music far from their backyards into our own. Their specificity speaks universally and the message is a simple one: Lean forward, man, because it beats falling back.
21SatNew Wave Fest
show detailsApril 21, 2018
The line up will include the SXSW, Van's Warped Tour duo The Fantastic Plastics, the legendary Xposed 4Heads, Dream Pop duo The Quilz and local New Wave favorites Radio Radio. WMSE Paul Host will spin local '80s discs between sets. The event is sponsored by WMSE.
THE FANTASTIC PLASTICS
Describing themselves as "The Future of The Future", The Fantastic Plastics mix new wave, synth punk, and electro elements with Orwellian and Sci-Fi inspired lyricism. The band is a two piece live act, consisting of Miranda Plastic on Moog Synth/Theremin, and Tyson Plastic on Guitar, as well as video installations, custom costumes, and more. Following a stint in Brooklyn, where they made an impact at stages like the Van's Warped Tour, CMJ Music Marathon, Northside Festival, the Chris Gethard Show, and the Kotaku/io9 Cosplay Ball.
The legendary Xposed 4Heads is a witty, social satire art rock band with high-energy and colorful performances like a mash up of B-52's and Devo. Lead by Mark G.E. and his 'band' of Milwaukee luminaries and veterans Kelp Chofs, Carter Hunnicutt, Andy Stilin and Greg Barta, which includes Star Girls Theresa and Linda. Xposed 4Heads headlined the 2017 DEVOtional Devo fan festival in Cleveland, OH and has songs playing on radio stations all over the US and abroad with music from their latest album Urgency Squad.
The Quilz are an Indie Synth-Pop duo consisting of producer Sage Schwarm & singer Becky Heck. Despite rumors that Becky is an artificial being, created during a freak electrical accident while Sage was working on a cover of DEVO's "Girl U Want", nothing could be further from the truth. We assure you miss Heck is a real girl. Anyway, since the "incident", The Quilz have been busy writing, recording & performing throughout the Midwest. A seven-inch flexi-disc and a 9 song CD is available now, and their full-length LP, entitled "Fishing For Ketchup", is due to drop Spring/Summer of 2018.
Great danceable music with a punchy rock and roll edge. That's New Wave. That's Radio Radio. Since 2009 this band of top MKE musicians has been playing songs no other band is covering, and in a way that makes you feel you are witnessing the real thing live for the first time. Artists like The Clash, Duran Duran, New Order, Elvis Costello & the Attractions, Devo, Talking Heads, Gen X, Flock of Seagulls, and a flock of b-sides and one-hit-new-wave wonders.
22SunApril 22, 2018
We love our land, we love the desert, we love the mountains, we love the people. We love each other. We love bonfires and chili lights and Sonoran dogs (look it up). We love dive bars with neon signs and carne asada tacos at 3am. We love dirty jokes, we love asking each other what we think about things, we love margaritas, we love Van Halen and Jimmy Buffett as much as we love Simon & Garfunkel and Kendrick Lamar. We love dogs, we love our van Tamata (think "tomato" with a western accent), we love you. It's true.
We've released 3 EPs and an album and played everywhere from Macon, Georgia, to Djibouti, Africa (long story, ask us about it). We've been lucky enough to headline a few tours and share stages with some lovely people like The War on Drugs, Zac Brown Band, Allen Stone and Ron Pope, to name a few. We've played arenas, theaters, clubs and dirty dive bars. Along the way we've seen our fan base grow steadily and learned a few things about traveling the country in a van (for example, never forget to fill up on gas in Ft. Stockton, West Texas).
We've literally done everything to this point without a whole lot of assistance and our music and demeanor reflects that authenticity. In our sound and in our show we are unabashedly ourselves and that's why we can pull off the smallest introspective folk tune in the crowd or a loud guitar spastic rock tune on stage.
We've spent maybe too much time on the road but we fucking love performing. We've grown up relying on ourselves and each other through heartbreak, personal struggle, and missing holidays and special moments at home. The show we put on brings people together in the most genuine way we can, singing with everybody in the crowd, having people's arms around one another howling, being honest about regrets and accepting others.
We care a lot. We've visited fans in the hospital and gone outside and played for kids too young to get into venues. We love and care for everyone who gives us their trust and love and ears to play for. We're liberal-minded and that's ok. We confront opposition, we're not violent, we believe in understanding and celebrate people's differences. We want to spread open-mindedness and caring with our music and at our shows cuz that shit's badass. Our message is one of acceptance, not in a circle-sitting-Kumbaya bullshit way, but in a way of acknowledging that we all have shit we regret, and we all have passions and opinions, and it's up to all of us to filter through our flaws and our regrets to find ourselves.
Don't judge other people, do your best to have a good time in life, and care about everybody. Like "everybody" everybody.
We recorded some new songs in Joshua Tree and plan on releasing a few of them over the next few months with a full album on the way. The songs are diverse--as diverse as we are being individual members of the band, and as diverse as the range of emotions we discover in our time on the road and at home. It's easy to want to avoid a broad set of stories for a record, to want to have a vibe or feeling that it conveys as a whole; but, this time around we decided to expose ourselves and our story for anybody to hear and to unabashedly be ourselves.
See ya down the road. Keep Howlin'...
26ThuApril 26, 20188:00pm $20 advance / $25 doorTickets available at http://stevehofstetter.com/tickets.cfm?CalendarID=8125
Author, columnist, and comedian Steve Hofstetter is often called the hardest working man in show-business. With all due respect to the late James Brown.
Hofstetter's national TV debut came on ESPN's Quite Frankly, where Stephen A. Smith yelled at him for three minutes. Hofstetter has also appeared on CBS' "Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson", Showtime's "White Boyz in the Hood", VH1's "Countdown", Sundance's "On the Road in America", and ABC's "Barbara Walter's Special", where he thankfully did not cry. He is the host and executive producer of "Laughs" on Fox networks, where he only cries occasionally.
One of the top booked acts on the college circuit, the original writer for collegehumor.com has also released six albums. Hofstetter has written humor columns for the New York Times, SportsIllustrated.com, and NHL.com, where he publicly admitted to being a Ranger fan.
After hosting Four Quotas on Sirius Satellite Radio for two seasons, Hofstetter moved to broadcast radio, and his Sports Minute (Or So) was syndicated on over 170 stations and in over 30 newspapers. Hofstetter's second live comedy album ("Cure For the Cable Guy") reached #20 on Billboard's comedy charts. His third album ("Dark Side of the Room") was the first ever pay-what-you-want" comedy album, since people were going to steal it anyway. His fourth album consisted of an hour of 100% ad-libbed material, which is, frankly, nuts. And his fifth album hit #1 on iTunes' comedy charts, which is also a bit nuts.
Hofstetter's brutal tour schedule consists of over 100 colleges and dozens of clubs every year, and is fueled by an immense online popularity, tons of press, and a Prius with great gas mileage. He reached 200,000 friends on Facebook and 400,000 more on MySpace, and high shelves in grocery stores.
While Hofstetter's live shows are routinely sold out, he is best known for his writing, first published at age 15, mainly to impress girls. At 18, he co-founded "Sports Jerk of the Week", an irreverent website featured by press like USA Today's Baseball Weekly, Sports Illustrated and CNN. And at 20, Hofstetter took a year off of school to head up web content for the New York Yankees. The Yankees won the World Series that year, which would have been wonderful if they hadn't beaten Hofstetter's Mets. Yes, he's also a Mets fan. Poor kid.
While an undergraduate at Columbia University, Hofstetter was a well-read columnist for the Columbia Daily Spectator and a voice of the Lions. After a summer writing for Maxim, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated for Kids, Hofstetter syndicated his column in several newspapers.
Without his glasses, Hofstetter also looks a great deal like Michael Rappaport.
27FriApril 27, 2018
Following the release of If I Don't Got You (2014) and Electric Religion (2015), Curry returns with the new EP Shine On. He is a prolific writer who aims to write and record a new release annually. When asked about the new songs, he prefers to leave interpretation in some cases to the listener, while being transparently forthcoming with others. The opener, "Blink of an Eye" finds the songwriter channeling inspiration from the Black Crowes, Eagles perhaps a bit of Chris Stapleton as he sings of the woes losing a woman, out of selfishness. The harder edged rocker "Caroline" is a feel good track. Curry offers, "the song presents that scenario where many young guys and gals face a young lady's father not pleased about the relationship, and the challenges of sneaking away for the sake of love. This one is a really fun one to play cause it always seems very easy for the audience to dance and sing along with it." The title track "Shine On" displays the artist's connection to the beauty of Memphis Soul and Muscle Shoals Southern Gospel Rock that shines with simple purity as he delivers the uplifting yet heavy lyrics. "Matter Of Time" follows with a softer, easy listening tone. Curry shares, "We've all experienced love that we thought would last eternity, and didn't quite end up working that way." The final track "Draw The Line" is a bit ambiguous by intent leaving the listener to find personal meaning. Curry continues to grow year after year as a writer, and is the antithesis of those who created in a confined space. The songs reflect his style and sound yet no two sound exactly the same. There is nothing cookie cutter about his approach or execution, and that trend seems to continue throughout his three offerings thus far.
Alongside a ton of headline dates across the U.S., and isolated appearances overseas, Matthew Curry has had the honor of touring with the Doobie Bros, Steve Miller, Peter Frampton, Journey, and others. He shares, "I've definitely learned a lot in doing this. And I've also been lucky enough to have befriended these guys as well. I've learned how the "'big boys' do it. and by that I mean a lot of different things. The production that goes into the shows, the energy and excitement that they put out when playing a live show, and many other things. But most importantly, in finding a great friend in Steve Miller, I've learned tons and tons about the music business. Sitting with Steve, he has enlightened me on what not to do and what to do. I've learned a lot about publishing, and the importance of owning your songs, and to have much better business. Steve has really taught me a lot, and really looked out for me when I was having difficult times with people I was working with. He is simply an awesome person I feel truly indebted to. Steve Miller articulated his thoughts about the young player to Ultimate Classic Rock offering, "..,wonderful guitar player [and] great songwriter in the Stevie Ray Vaughan area of virtuosity and originality." While Peter Frampton shared to 96.5 The Fox, "... someone asked me in an interview today if I thought there could be anymore guitar heroes. Well, hell yes of course and Matthew is one who will prove that to be true."
Curry is a Midwesterner who proudly articulates it is an honor to call that part of the country home. He offers, "We're more slow pace, say what you mean and mean what you say, decent type people around here. Somewhat unassuming. I think it also translates to my music as well - it is straight forward without the fads or gimmicks of the day." He grew up with a father deeply interested in the arts, and as he thinks back on a man who had such an influence prior to his passing, he reveals, "We both shared a passion for music that went deeper than anyone could know. My father's dream was to be getting to do what I'm doing for a living. Though it didn't quite work out that way for him, he had a great ear and great advice to help me as I was growing up. Losing him was the hardest thing that has ever happened to me, not a day goes by where I don't think about him, and not a night goes by where I don't lay down in bed and think about how much I miss him and the bound we had through music. Often times the thoughts that cross my mind don't only involve music though, I often picture in my mind floating down the river in the canoe with him, going fishing and camping with him and my brother, and learning about working on motorcycles from him, simple stuff like that makes me smile and remember all the great times we had together!"
Matthew Curry has played a hundreds and hundreds of dates throughout his young career, and as he continues to tour, he now finds himself with a very stable line-up of collaborators. On bass, Tim Brickner who has been with him the longest. His drummer is Francis Valentino, a heavy hitter with a dynamic stage presence. His rhythm guitarist Mike Nellas makes Curry's playing shine in the spotlight, while he is a strong background. The ensemble is billed simply as Matthew Curry, ditching the prior moniker simply per "The Fury" kept getting confused with "the Furry" or "the Flurries."
Matthew Curry continues to gain notoriety and his career in its essence is the definition of a bright future. It is his opinion that Rock n Roll is the genre within music that truly and deeply speaks from and to the soul. He simply aspires to build on the tradition that impacts listener in a way that is best shared as he states, "When you hear a great Blues or a great rock song, you can often get chills or it can make the hair on your neck stand up. I think the main reason being the soulfulness of both styles of music. That's one thing I've always strived for was to pour my soul out when I sing, play, or write. Because if you can do that, I feel like the better chance you will have of people latching onto your music."
28SatApril 28, 2018
This event will have Tallan and his band, returning to Shank Hall to perform their Channeling The Blues Sessions event. This event will focus on blues and blues/rock music that have impacted Tallan and his playing style throughout the years.
Classic blues songs by Albert King, Big Joe Williams to Mose Allison, Muddy Waters. Electric blues songs by Gary Moore and Buddy Guy to Alvin Lee and Rory Gallagher. Blues rock songs by AC/DC and Aerosmith to Savoy Brown and Joe Bonamassa.
Tallan will take the blues songs made famous by the musicians that influenced him and makes them his own. Tallan will deliver a performance that will give the everyone in attendance at Shank Hall, a 3 hour blues/rock show that will not be repeated again. This is a one-time event.